FitBit and MyFitnessPal

fitbit, myfitnesspal, calorie counting, steps counting, weight lossKail got me a FitBit Flex for my birthweek. In case you don’t know what a FitBit is, it’s a fancy step counter that is all the rage these days. Excuse me — fancy step counter and sleep tracker. Newer models are going to feature a heart rate monitor and GPS tracker.fitbit, fitbit flex, myfitnesspal, calorie counting, steps counting, weight lossI was really excited about getting a FitBit because it syncs with the calorie-counting app MyFitnessPal, which I’ve been using for a few years. Studies show that “food journaling,” simply writing down in a notebook what one consumes in a day (without the calories), is one of the most successful ways to lose weight and maintain weight loss.MyFitnessPal factors in calories consumed through its vast database of foods, as well as calories expended through exercise. And now, since it has the capacity to sync with step counters like FitBit, I can factor in my steps taken in a day as well. You set your own daily net calorie goal (calories consumed minus calories burned) based on how quickly you want to lose weight (0.5 pound to two pounds per week, really the maximum healthy/sustainable amount one can lose week after week).fitbit, fitbit flex, myfitnesspal, calorie counting, steps counting, weight lossI started using MyFitnessPal in early 2011 and kept it up pretty religiously until we moved to El Salvador. One of my goals for Afghanistan is to get back to my pre-El Salvador weight/size (i.e. wedding weight). People always talk about the “Foreign Service Fifteen” and it’s no joke!Take that plus becoming morbidly obese during two months in the U.S. for home leave and training and, well, I have myself quite a fitness challenge for the next eight or so months. I’ve heard that people call Amman “the 10-pound post” because the food is so good and everyone gains 10 pounds.fitbit, fitbit flex, myfitnesspal, calorie counting, steps counting, weight lossLuckily, Kabul is the perfect post for losing weight and getting fit, since there’s not a lot else to doAt minimum, I work out six days a week — a combination of spinning, the gym and yoga. My best weeks I sometimes do two workouts a day (i.e. cardio in the morning, yoga at night, or some combination thereof).And even though I never leave the compound, I do quite a bit of walking (though you can see from above that it runs the gamut), which I can now track thanks to my FitBit. So far, I’ve averaged about 15,000 steps per day. My highest daily step count was 24,105, followed by 23, 561. These were anomalies, days I ran at the gym in the morning and then worked all day (including a Friday, normally our one day off), running around the compound for a high-level visit and major program launch.fitbit, fitbit flex, myfitnesspal, calorie counting, steps counting, weight loss, sleep trackerCompare this to one of my lowest days, a holiday that we didn’t have to work, when I literally only left my apartment to go to the cafeteria for dinner. (In my defense, this was my first day off after working a million hours over the previous 10 days for the aforementioned visit/launch.) But I often hole up in our apartment on our one day off, recharging from the week.One of the other things I really like about my FitBit is the sleep tracker feature, which logs your time awake and restlessness based on movement. My “sleep efficiency” is always above 90 percent (my highest was 97 percent). The health unit at post says sleep issues are the number one health problem they see, which is unsurprising given the stress levels and circumstances under which we live and work. No problem here, though. I am almost always in bed around 9:00 p.m., asleep well before 10:00 p.m. and awake for exercise at 5:30 a.m.Do you use any step- or calorie-counting devices and apps?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

7 thoughts on “FitBit and MyFitnessPal

  1. So cool! I’m very impressed by your 97% sleep night – – I’ve been using an app (free – it’s called Sleep Time, and I still haven’t even gotten above 90% sleep efficiency! Damn second graders. Good for you!!!ALSO – in Thailand, it SEEMed like we brushed the elephants with something and dumped buckets of water on them, but I have no idea if they actually got “clean”!! I hope you enjoy your holiday season :).


    1. Who knew second graders could torture you so much?! 😉 I’ve been able to sleep better here than El Salvador, but I think it has more to do with a strict routine than anything else.


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