Fitness Apps and Listening to Your Body

Last week I mentioned that I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app out of curiosity about how my diet measures up to recommended guidelines.  Since then I have been recording my food and exercise (on week days), and I have one overarching thought about the app: It’s a helpful tool, but it’s still crucial to listen to your body.  Before I go into that, here’s what my week looked like in terms of workouts:

Monday: Running-30 minutes (AM); Walking-25 minutes (PM)
Tuesday: Weight circuits- 30 minutes; Walking-30 minutes (AM); Ultimate Frisbee- 70 minutes (PM)
Wednesday: Walking- 30 minutes (AM); Yoga-60 minutes (PM)

Thursday: Weight circuits (upper body)-20 minutes; Walking- 30 minutes
Friday: Running- 30 minutes

Let me draw your attention to Tuesday.  I burned a lot of calories through exercise that day–in the morning I lifted weights and did some light cardio, and after dinner I played a very intense game of Ultimate Frisbee with a group of friends.  The game was four-on-four, which means we all did a lot of running (with so few people on each team, you really cannot take a break,) and the only other girl playing (opposite team) was very comparable to me in terms of physical abilities (speed, willingness to crash into someone to catch the frisbee ;-)), so I was giving my all the entire game.

When we arrived back home around 9 PM, I had a substantial snack, but according to MyFitnessPal, I still fell way short on calories (and fat) that day.

myfitnesspal2

 

(Side note: check out my fantastic protein intake;  the only meat I had that day was about 2 oz of pork tenderloin at dinner.  Bam.)

Wednesday was a different story, however.  I took it easier with my exercise, but I was so much hungrier as a result of the previous day.  MyFitnessPal is just a tool and does not recognize that hunger can carry over, so on Wednesday I exceeded my recommended calories, fat, and…well, everything!  I think it would have been detrimental to my health to adhere strictly to what the app said I needed–my body knew it needed more.

My point is, this app is a great tool for getting the nutrients you need, but it doesn’t know your body as well as you do.  Listen to and honor your body!

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MyFitnessPal and a Sweet Question

I consider myself a fairly healthy eater.  Yesterday, out of curiosity, I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app, entered my height and weight, set it to “maintain current weight”, and recorded my exercise and food to see how I measure up nutritionally.

Here’s my report card from the end of the day:

myfitnesspal

 

I fell short in a few areas–fat, calcium, iron–and really nailed a few others–protein, fiber, and vitamins A & C.

What stuck out the most was that I’d exceeded their recommended sugar intake before lunch.  Hah!  What sugar bomb did I eat before noon, you might ask?  Blueberry muffin?  Cinnamon roll?  Nay.  I had a bowl of Kashi Go Lean cereal with blueberries, raw almonds, and unsweetened soy milk, coffee with the same unsweetened soy milk, and after working out, a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter.  Somebody stop me; I’m out of control.  😉

This prompted me to do some research on sugar, and I found a lot of conflicting information.  From what I can tell, the recommended amount refers mostly to added sugar, rather that those occurring naturally in fruits and dairy products.  Why, then, doesn’t MyFitnessPal differentiate?  Two-three servings of fruit can easily put one over their limit!  On the other hand, with very limited knowledge of chemistry/biology/etc., my understanding is that our bodies cannot tell the difference–sugar is sugar.

So what do we do with that information?  I say (again, with very limited knowledge on the subject…this is purely my experience), take a step back, don’t hyper-focus on how many grams of this or that, and just eat real food.  I know there are many popular diets out there that limit (or eliminate) fruit, but are you really telling that a highly processed protein bar with who-knows-what as a sweetener is better for my body than something that grew from the earth?  I don’t buy it.  Intuitively, I just don’t buy it.  I feel certain that the benefits of eating an orange far outweigh the grams of sugar it contains.

I am not criticizing MyFitnessPal for this–it’s a helpful tool that prompted some research.  Near the end of the day yesterday, the app showed me that I’d fallen pretty short on fat, Vitamin A, calcium, and iron, so I made myself a kale salad with Balsamic vinaigrette (umm, raw kale is disgusting, but I muscled it down for the sake of my health. ;-))  That helped close the gap on most of those nutrients.

Ultimately, it all comes back to my very basic belief about nutrition–just eat real food.

Do you use the MyFitnessPal app?  What do you think about it?
Thoughts on sugar?