I heart My Fitness Pal

Apologies for the lame post title, but I thought it fit with the lameness of the name of my new favorite app: My Fitness Pal. Why Mike and Albert Lee, the brothers-developers who created this wildly handy app, thought the word ‘pal’ was a good idea I’ll probably never know. But in the end I don’t care – because this app is awesome.

Though I will admit to the need of dropping a few post-holiday pounds, I was not in the market for an exercise or food tracking tool. I like love technology, sure, but the thought of tapping into my iPhone every single morsel of food that passed my lips sounded…let’s just say less than fun.

What made me try My Fitness Pal was this cholesterol-compelling NYT article. The opening paragraph made me both LOL (literally) AND groan with recognition (cross outs are mine):

“When I received the results of a routine cholesterol test this summer, I was certain there had been some kind of mistake.  I’m young, unstressed and healthy, or so I imagined. I work out, too, and most impartial observers — and some partial ones — would describe me as lean. Plus, I eat a nutritious diet, I swear. So why did my LDL levels surpass my I.Q. — or, for that matter, Einstein’s?

The facts were stark: My genes predisposed me…”

Read the whole article here.  It was page 2 that sold me on the (sadly-named) app where the author describes My Fitness Pal’s enormous food database. And I concur – it is EASY AS PIE (sorry) to find and enter meals and snacks.  Truly.

In the ten days I’ve used this app I’ve lost 2 pounds (!) but best of all, I’ve made different (better, more low cholesterol) food choices – and felt good great about it.

Like, I went to Wendy’s and ordered a (gasp) salad.

This has NEVER happened before. Two years of blogging about adopting a more lo-co lifestyle and every time I lunched at Wendy’s I still ordered my traditional single hamburger, small fries and small chocolate Frostee (and I don’t finish the fries or Frostee). Yes, they have salads and baked potatoes, but NO I never once ordered one. Instead I just tried to limit how often I went. Rather unsuccessfully. Then felt the guilt.

But MyFitnessPal caused me to alter my order.

What happened was this. There was a long line at Wendy’s so to pass the time, I used MyFitnessPal to type in what I considered my pretty-low-fat-for-fast-food typical order. I was horrified to find it had over 1,000 calories (my goal for the day was 1,500 calories!) and 128 grams of cholesterol.


If that’s what’s in my teeny tiny order, how many calories and cholesterol are in the double bacon and other burgers? No wonder America has an obesity problem.

So, still in line, I studied the ‘Healthy Choices’ posters and typed Apple Pecan Chicken Salad into iPhone’s MyFitnessPal app. This healthy choice has just 340 calories and 55 grams of cholesterol: much more appropriate to lunch (meaning, only 1/3 of my goal calories for the day). Not to mention, it was a far more lo-co choice than my usual.

So I ordered the salad, which is topped with WARM CHICKEN (the only way I’ll eat a salad – something  has to be hot!) and some blue cheese, and was shocked to find it was delicious pretty tasty.

And that smug feeling as I looked around at the overweight diners eating enormous burgers?  Priceless.

My MyFitnessPal victory (see, it’s just a bad name, all around) was not limited to this solo outing.  At dinner last night at our local diner, I tried Multigrain Pancakes instead of my usual 2 eggs-over-easy on whole wheat toast (no butter) with sausage links and home fries.  Didn’t love it, but loved that I’d made a  healthier dining out food choice twice in one week.

Astonishing.  I guess knowledge really is, um, power.

Another great thing about MyFitnessPal is that it helped me exercise every day. Yes, I know I’m supposed to exercise daily – and I do, a lot, but, well, never DAILY.  But I have for 10 days in a row. Why, you ask? Well, when you put in your desired weight loss you get a calorie goal for the day and you get more calories when you exercise. I wanted needed those calories for wine. And it worked. Daily exercise meant I got to have wine, guilt-free, every night and still be at my calorie (and cholesterol) limit. Frankly, I can’t remember the last time I exercised for 10 days in a row.

One last great thing about My Fitness Pal: this easy-to-use app helped me see just how lo-co my daily diet is – and the answer was surprisingly low cholesterol except for the eggs and sausage diner order.  That felt great.

For weight loss AND cholesterol counting, I can’t think of a single thing I’ve done in the past two years that I had more fun using & was more motivating than My Fitness Pal.

Oh, wait – I forgot.  The really great one last thing about My Fitness Pal — IT’S FREE.


Lipitor can cause diabetes in women

NBC Nightly News and MSNBC reported just hours ago that a new, 10-year study by the US government’s Women’s Health Initiative shows that statins (the cholesterol-lowering Rx drugs like Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor) may cause Type 2 diabetes in women over 50. Here are 2 key paragraphs from an MSNBC.com online article, Statins Linked with Small Diabetes Risk:

“A new side effect seems to be emerging for those cholesterol-lowering wonder drugs called statins: They may increase some people’s chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.” “But more and more doctors are urging otherwise healthy people to use the pills as a way to prevent heart disease. For them, the findings add another potential complication as they consider whether to tackle their cholesterol with diet and exercise alone or add a medication.”

Watch the video here – in it, Brian Williams states, ‘women who take Lipitor or other statin drugs for cholesterol have an approaching 50% greater chance of developing diabetes.’  That is scary indeed – suggesting, at minimum, caution for women who take Lipitor or other statins as a preventative measure.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Of course this does NOT mean that if you take a statin that you should stop – if you have concerns, call your doctor. But for those of us trying to lower cholesterol without statins, this adds fuel to the fire…and hopefully some motivation to keep working at lowering cholesterol with diet and exercise. This is breaking news – I’ll be doing more research and posting here as I learn more but wanted to get this out as soon as possible.  If you have questions or comments, please comment here or on the Going Lo-Co Facebook or Twitter pages.


Goin’ Low Cholesterol

Changing to a low cholesterol lifestyle (read the About Me page for WHY I have to change) feels, well, totally daunting.

I started with good intentions and high hopes.  How hard could it be?

My first step of course was to google ‘low cholesterol.’  (Thank goodness correct spelling doesn’t matter because it is nearly impossible for me to type cholesterol’ correctly.  That ‘e’ always ends up as an ‘o.’)

But the results were disappointing.  All I found were diets that I could buy (and even those looked sketchy), a bunch of medical jargon, and loads of disparate and very basic info about proper diet for lowering cholesterol:  cut out animal fats and start eating oatmeal, grains and fruits/veggies.  Plus exercise daily.

But I know all that already.  We all do. The question is:  how are we supposed to actually DO that? Where do you start?  It almost feels like you have to go vegan or something – and that is just way too dramatic to be realistic, at least for me. (Especially w/ an underweight teenage boy who would like to eat steak every day… and chooses no food rather than, oh, say chicken, if no beef is available.)

So, I’m determined to see if I can bring down my cholesterol on my own.  Because I REFUSE to go on Lipitor at age 47 without a fight.  While it may turn out that I have to go on a statin – everyone in my family eventually does — there is just no way I’m going to go on more meds unless I’ve tried EVERYTHING first.   (Did I mention yet that I just had to go on Rx Prevacid for acid reflux that will not go away?  Am hoping that delightful new development is temporary…)

And that means I need to find a way to overhaul my (our family’s) eating habits.  A way that does NOT require spending hours/day planning meals or cooking.  A way that does not require me to cook entirely separate beef meals for my son – and maybe, just maybe, could shift his eating habits the tiniest bit.

I’ve got four months to make progress — before my doctor insists on a statin.  Four months to research, learn and implement a new Lo-Co lifestyle.  (OK, it’s a stretch, I know… but I can’t keep typing ‘cholesterol’ and loco is how I feel right now, so I’ve invented “Lo-Co” as shorthand for Low Cholesterol.)

Four months to my next fasting blood test.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping that keeping my mind and fingers busy with this blog will keep me away from the Phish Food … let’s hope so, because I bought THREE pints on Thursday before the snow storm…and haven’t yet tossed them out!)