How an App Started a Healthy Community
Since I started at VentureBeat in April, I’ve dropped 36.2 pounds.
What did the trick? It started with a Web and iPhone app called MyFitnessPal. It tracks calories consumed and expended using a searchable database of food and exercise.
I used the Web version for a while, but what really kicked my weight loss into high gear was an unexpected bonus: the social network that showed up to support me when I added the iPhone version. It helped me lose weight and it gave me tighter connections with my friends along the way.
Whenever I burn calories at the gym or complete my food diary for the day, MyFitnessPal alerts my friends on Facebook. When I note a weight-loss milestone, MyFitnessPal tells the world via Twitter. To supplement MyFitnessPal, I also spent four bucks on an iPhone app called GymGoal that tracks my workouts in greater detail.
I’ve continued to work out with my trainer, but now when he asks me how I’ve done, I don’t answer with generalities. I show him exactly how many calories I’ve consumed and exactly what I’ve done in the gym. Now I’m paying him to tweak my regimen based on real data.
Many joke about the pointlessness of status updates that inform the Internet about what you had for breakfast, but some of my friends have become obsessed with tracking these updates—and their attention helps keep me on track. And some of my friends have started using MyFitnessPal to post updates too.
Fitness can feel like a solitary pursuit. In the end, it’s all about you, right? But I found that it’s more rewarding to share your success and inspire others. I never thought my fitness kick would strengthen my friendships. That was an unexpected bonus.