Your favorite fitness apps: MyFitnessPal

bcain@newsobserver.comMarch 10, 2014 

Last week we told you about a reader who used the “Zombies, Run!” app ($1.99) to get into shape to run 5K races (read about it at newsobserver.com/fitness). This week we’re looking at an app called “MyFitnessPal” (free), which got several enthusiastic endorsements.

This user-friendly app helps you lose weight by tracking your activity and what you eat. You enter your personal information and goals, such as how much weight you’d like to lose, and the program assigns you a calorie allotment. It also adjusts that allotment according to your physical activity (and it syncs with fitness devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone). There are mobile apps for iPhone and Android, but also a Web version. Everything is free.

Virginia Saam of Chapel Hill said the app helped her lose the 12 pounds she’d been trying to lose for 25 years. “It makes you very much aware of what you put in your mouth!” she said.

“After breakfast and lunch and my daily exercise, I know exactly what I should have for a snack and dinner and can adjust accordingly. Most foods are already in the database but you can scan products that are not or enter your own recipe.”

Janice Horner of Raleigh also uses “MyFitnessPal” and says the most useful part of the app for her is the integration of social media. She and a friend in Ohio set weight-loss goals and “connected” as friends on the app. “We can message each other through the app and provide updates on our progress,” she said. “We often message each other throughout the week to keep each other motivated, and we check in once a week with our weigh-in. This has made us both more accountable to our exercise and eating plan.”

Horner says she and her friend are both taking the “slow and steady” approach and have each lost about 5 pounds since January. She sees this as a lifestyle change instead of a quickie diet plan. “I only have about 5-6 more pounds to lose to meet my goal, and I already feel stronger and healthier since embarking on this journey,” Horner said. “Having a friend use it as well and being able to support each other makes all the difference.”

Kathy Matthews of Benson also swears by the app. “It has really helped me when no other diet or program has been able to,” she said.

We’ll run more fitness app recommendations next week.

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