What I Learned After 760 Days on MyFitnessPal

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Can MyFitnessPal Help You?

I spent years and years trying to lose weight the wrong way. Then I learned how to lose weight properly and found out that it’s not that complicated. It’s by no means easy! The trick is that it takes a lot longer than most people think. Read about my early story and about what I learned after 760 days on MyFitnessPal.

What is MyFitnessPal?

MyFitnessPal (MFP) is essentially a calorie counting app that you can use on your iPhone, Android or computer. It has a huge library of foods that are readily available to search with correct food data. The app also includes a scanning function for quick adding of calories from food packages.

MyFitnessPal Logo

MyFitnessPal has a comprehensive social media aspect to it as well. I have “friends” on my feed that I haven’t met in real life – but I can cheer them along on their weight loss journey as they watch and cheer me on mine. I quite like being able to see how other people are doing in their weight loss.

MyFitnessPal also offers a paid version but I haven’t found the need to upgrade yet. That may change in the near future, who knows.

My Short Story

I haven’t always been fit. Far from it. In fact, for most of my life I have self-identified as “fat.” All through high school, I was a big guy and that didn’t really bother me. I went to the gym because I believed all of the advertising telling me to go to the gym if I wanted to lose weight.

What I Learned After 760 Days on MyFitnessPalI KILLED myself in the gym – 3 times a week for at least an hour a session. I would do 40 minutes of cardio and lift some weights or do some machines. I played volleyball and was generally active. I ran this gamut for literally years.

From the age of 15 to the age of 28 I went to the gym doing variations on this failed routine.

But you know what? It didn’t work. I was still fat and wasting a lot of time at the gym. To give you an idea I am 6’1 and weighed 240 at my heaviest – 25% body fat. This isn’t morbidly obese or anything, but I really wanted to change. I didn’t want to be fat, but really had no idea of how to handle weight loss. To everyone I spoke to weight loss was as “simple” as “eating right” and “going to the gym.”

I had done that, but hadn’t had any success.

First 500 Days

So what happened? Why did I start counting calories? I realized that after almost 15 years of going to the gym religiously and getting no results that I must have missed an important piece to the puzzle. And it turns out that piece was actually quite simple in theory – very difficult in practice.

That piece was this – weight loss is 95% about how much you eat. How much you eat directly affects what you look like.

Armed with this new information I decided that I was going to do an experiment. See if counting calories helped speed up my weight loss. What I liked about counting calories is that you can control how much you eat but you don’t have to restrict your food choices.

Up to now I had only “Successfully” lost about 15 pounds. And that was hard-fought for. It was May 26, 2014 when I first started this experiment and I set myself up to eat 2100 calories per day. I figured out how many calories to set my target at using this calculator. The reasons behind using this calculator and not MFP’s calculator is a whole post by itself! 🙂

Pretty quickly I saw a drop in my weight. It was clear after a few weeks went by and I had dropped a few pounds a week during that time. I went from 210 to 195 within my first 3 months.

This was a drastic change to how I had lost weight in the past. I was spending less time in the gym. Not doing any “official” cardio and still was losing weight. I was absolutely hooked. And I LOVED tracking my calories.

Fitbit + MFP = Success

One aspect to calorie tracking that confused me at the beginning was how do I account for the activity I do during the day. So I picked up a fitbit. And I started trying to hit 10,000 steps a day. I paired my fitbit with my MFP account and it automatically adjusts my calories based on my activity every day.

This really helps me stay within my calorie goals because with my 10,000 steps I’d usually add around 300 calories. Quite enough for a delicious evening snack.

760 Days in (just over 2 years)

After 760 days of MyFitnessPal I’ve learned a few hard lessons.  I’ve learned a few easy ones too.

But the main thing I’ve learned is that the quick fixes and 21 day “BLASTS!” just don’t work.

They sound great in theory, but in practice, they are far too short-term for any lasting results.

After 760 days I’m just feeling like I get it. Like I understand my body a lot better. I’m finally at a point where I know my body well enough that I could gain and lose weight pretty much at will.  Gone are the New Years resolutions. Gone are the guilty evening cookies. In fact, most nights I eat a bowl of Coco Puffs (45grams) and 45 M&M’s (40grams) before bed. With some pudding.

When I started on MFP my daily calories were around 2100 per day. Now my daily calories are closer to 2500 per day with a real food amount of close to 3000 calories. I’m in maintenance at this point in time and I’ve got my diet pretty well sorted out.

Wrap-Up

Now, I can’t imagine getting my snacks together without entering my food. It’s become a part of my regular routine and something I think I’ll probably continue doing.

I’ve learned a lot about myself, about nutrition and my body in these last 760 days.

Mark Paralovos
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