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February 8, 2013 • Health and Fitness, Reviews

Getting Fit with MyFitnessPal and GAIN Fitness

I have a confession: I am out of shape. Up until this past fall, I was doing great. I was running consistently, eating right, everything was great. But we sold our house, temporarily moved in with my parents, and are buying another house, all while juggling everything else in life. It’s been more than a little overwhelming, and I feel like I need to refocus and tune up before I lose any more fitness (or gain any more weight!) Running is always a reliable triple threat for me; I lose weight, feel stronger, and get mentally clearer. But my stressful fall made me realize I rely far too hard on running alone. To become more well-rounded at taking care of myself, I’ve turned to, what else? My iPhone — and the apps GAIN Fitness and MyFitnessPal!

GAIN Fitness

Strength:

Running is great, but it’s still important to cross train. Left to my own devices, I get very lazy. Every few months I would try to work light cross training into my running routines, but that lasted maybe one or two workouts. Part of the problem was the lack of variety. I would do a few sets of squats, maybe some push-ups and crunches, and when I was sore the next day I gave up.

So I decided to bring in some extra help. Last year I talked to GAIN Fitness about their iOS app, and how their app offers different types of workouts in customized increments, like personal training on the go. Saturday morning I fired up GAIN and selected a strength workout. A half hour later, I felt like a truck had hit me. I immediately set up a four-week strength routine.

Clearly I was more out of shape than I wanted to admit, and the GAIN app forced me to really work out properly, instead of just a few half-hearted squats. Now that I have a few more (painful, but getting better) workouts under my belt, I am beginning to understand why GAIN Fitness is working for me. Every workout starts with a warmup, and since the app dictates the specifics based on the planned strength routine I don’t have to rely on my own limited repertoire of jumping jacks and high knees. And having an enforced rest period between sets, plus a regular cool down, all help make the workouts more effective and well-rounded. Most of it is stuff I know to do on my own, but having the app remind me three times a week that it’s time for a workout dodges some of my lazy desire to just run. Plus, the app has a huge database of exercise combinations, so I won’t get bored easily!

Get the GAIN Fitness iPhone app here. (Free basic packs, paid upgrades available)

 

MyFitnessPal

Food:

Workouts are great, but I also recognize that the one-two punch of moving and the holidays left my nutrition in shambles. Again, this is one of those cases where I could slide by most of the time by just running more, or by just eating better, but I prefer a little added incentive. So I have been tracking my food intake through MyFitnessPal.

I know how to eat better. I fully recognize that Dunkin’ Donuts egg sandwiches are bad for me, and probably not even really made of egg, but it’s too easy to justify eating crap sometimes. “I ran this morning.”/”I will have a salad for lunch.”/”I lifted a really heavy box two days ago.” There are a million different ways that I can trick myself into justifying eating crap, all while assuring myself I know better, so it’s ok. By logging my food with MyFitnessPal, I am forcing myself to be accountable for everything I eat. It also helps with guidelines on caloric restriction, but even just seeing a breakdown of how I ate all day is powerful. And I have to admit, there’s a guilt factor too; it is easy to walk by a bowl and grab a handful of nuts, or munch on some m&ms in the fridge. But knowing I have to write down everything I eat, even the “I’m not hungry but hey there’s food” snacking, makes me think first. I’m also using it as a chance to focus on eating whole, real foods. Again, writing it down makes me more accountable; seeing the nutritional difference in real vs processed foods helps too!

Get the MyFitnessPal iPhone app here. (Free)

Get the MyFitnessPal iPad app here. (Free)

Results tracking:

I was going to be really brave and post my starting weight, but when I went to use the scale the batteries were dead (I swear I am not making that up.) So we will see. At the moment I have three rough goals for myself: One, I want to be strong enough that when we move to our new house in six weeks, I won’t be physically destroyed by all the lifting like last time. Two, I have a few spring races in mind, and I think with some weight loss and cross training a personal record could be possible. Three, I’d like to make these habits automatic. I want it to become second nature to be more mindful about the food I eat, and I want being truly fit to mean more than just going for a run. All these goals are vague, and that’s on purpose. If I set a goal for the scale, or a number of weights to lift, I will reach those goals and stop moving forwards. But there will always be another reason I need to be strong, and there will always be another race or endurance challenge. Between GAIN Fitness, MyFitnessPal, and my own stubbornness, hopefully I will be fit and ready!

Have you come back from getting soft and lazy to improving your health? What’s your favorite way to track and improve? Share your tips below!

 

5 Responses to " Getting Fit with MyFitnessPal and GAIN Fitness "

  1. Perry B says:

    I used MyFitnessPal after I lost a bunch of weight on Weight Watchers Online in order to maintain. It really worked well for a while…until I didn’t want to eat well anymore 🙂

    • Carly Z says:

      I understand! I also used Weight Watchers a few years ago and had success, but my biggest complaint was that I felt it wildly overestimated my activity points values…running 20-30 miles a week got me activity points that mentally have me a “free pass” so I stopped using it.

      That and I like all the numbers and details MyFitnessPal offers!

      • The big thing from when my wife Lisa was on WW was learning how to cook in healthier ways. I have always been a fruit and veggie lover, so that isn’t an issue … but there are so many ways to make better choices in how you prepare food.

        Another thing that is new for me this past year (and I am down ~95 pounds since last April) is no longer directly rewarding myself for exercise. In other words, before I would say ‘it is OK to eat that bag of M&Ms since I am running every day’. Um, no … and that is why I am in the best shape of my life …

  2. thsu says:

    The best thing I have found, for both men and women, is to lift heavy free weights with low repetitions. 2-3 times per week, 3-4 compound exercises each time, 5 sets of 5 per exercise, with a 10-15 minute cardio warmup, and a stretching cooldown. You can be in and out of the gym in 45 minutes.

    Your actual weight may not change that much, but holy cow does your waist line go down, as your fat converts into muscle, and redistributes itself away from your stomach.

    And no, women do not bulk up. Basically, in order to bulk up, you need testosterone, at male levels, which are about 15 times higher than female levels.
    http://www.weighttraining.com/faq/how-can-women-gain-strength-without-bulking-up-when-weight-training

    • Since we are discussing science of fitness, I am sure you are also aware that it is impossible to “convert fat into muscle”, but rather that you burn fat and build muscle. Just want to be sure anyone reading knows it is a myth.

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