Sunday, January 3, 2016

Planning the 21 Day Fix with Menu Planner for iOS

The key to success on the 21 Day Fix plan is definitely in the planning. It is a simple concept that uses color-coded containers of various sizes that make it easy to ensure you are eating the right balance of foods, but you still have to translate it into daily living. Ultimately, it's a numbers game, and some advance planning goes a heck of a long way towards making sure you are able to do it right and see the best results.

Having the right tools at your fingertips is key. I have tried many ways to menu plan as I figured out what works for me, everything from basic handwritten lists to fancy spreadsheets with formulas that showed me how many containers I had left as I planned. Ultimately, I ended up wanting something that was easy to use on my iPhone and iPad, so I turned to my favorite planning app, Menu Planner for iOS.

It has a huge variety of features, but they don't get in the way so you can use as many or as few as you like. It can be used as a basic way to just type out your plan, or can be extended to include attached recipes and shopping lists created from your plan.  There are so many possibilities to really take your 21 Day Fix meal planning to the next level!

Adding Meals

Putting in your meals is as easy as tapping Add Meal, choosing the type (Breakfast, Snack, etc) and then tapping the + symbol to add an item. Type the food or meal name, and then you can just click Add as one-time use, or select the recipe or food that comes up (it's all customizable - to add a food or recipe name, just click the + sign on the top right and select which to create.


Adding Containers

To list out the containers for each meal/snack, I use the iOS symbols that match up with the container colors (found by clicking on the emoji icon on your keyboard). Just click on the dots next to the meal name and choose Add Note, then type in the containers used. To see a quick overview of the day's containers, tap on the sort button on the bottom and it shows only the meal titles and notes.

Copy/Move Meals

This is probably my most-used feature. I repeat a lot of what I eat, particularly things like breakfast and snacks, so it makes meal planning fast. Also handy for copying over leftovers from the night before. Bonus that it brings all the notes with it, so you don't have to retype the containers. To use, just tap the three dots to the left of the meal and select to Copy or Move, and it'll open up a little calendar to select the day to copy/move to, along with a preview of what's already planned for that day.

iPad version:

Adding/Viewing Recipes

It's handy to be able to have any recipes you need at your fingertips, so I also use the Recipe section a lot. There are two ways to add recipes - you can type them in yourself, you can import full recipes from the built-in web browser (only works with more major sites), or you can import just the link so it brings in the recipe title and links you straight to the page. Not only does it make it easy to view your recipes when prepping and cooking - they link right from your meal plan - it also provides great meal-planning inspiration by perusing your recipe book after you've got a collection in there. You can add to your plan right from the recipe book, and see the last time you had something.

Viewing Your Plan

There are daily, monthly and weekly views for your meals that makes it easy to see what you've got in store for making a shopping list - the iPhone and iPad are set up a little differently. My favorite view is the iPad's weekly view - it lets you see your entire week on a single page with the containers in the notes listed. From here you can also print your plans if you're more of a paper person. Tip - the notes aren't included in the printed copy - use a screen shot of the weekly view then print that.


iPad version:

There are lots of other features, from creating shopping lists to tracking your pantry stock, but that's how far I take it.  Perhaps this year I'll take it up to the next level!

For more app recommendations, check out my Top Apps for 21 Day Fix Success post.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Top Apps for 21 Day Fix Success

Like many out there these days, my iPhone is never far from my hand.  So when I started doing the 21 Day Fix, one of the first things I did was seek out apps that would help me keep up with it.  It's not difficult plan, but it is a big lifestyle change, and it takes some organization and planning to get the best results.  Here are my top recommendations for apps to help you succeed on the 21 Day Fix!*

21 Day Fix Tracker - Free - this is the official app from Beachbody, and it's fantastic for basic tracking.  When you open the app you tell it your gender and weight, and it presents the correct ratio of containers for your size.  Then for each meal just tap the containers you ate (allows for half containers), and it shows you what you have left for the day.  Great way to see the balance of your day too!  There's also a notes section that can be used for tracking workout details or a food diary, a handy area where you can see the complete food lists for each container, and a section where you can input measurements and weight for before and after transformation tracking.

Menu Planner - $2.99 - this is a menu planning app I have used for years, and it turned out to be perfect for planning the 21 Day Fix.  It's a full-featured app that not only lets you create custom meal plans easily, but also can import/store recipes, generate shopping lists from your plans, and even be used to track pantry inventory if you want to get really into it.  I love how simple it makes to create and view my plans (bonus that it syncs between your iPhone and iPad).  To track the containers I'm using while planning, I use the emoji keyboard on iPhone, which has hearts or diamonds symbols in each of the container colors.  For more details on how I use it, check out my post - Planning the 21 Day Fix with Menu Planner for iOS.

Waterlogged - Free - getting enough water is so key to seeing great results on the fix, and this app is a simple one for making sure you're hitting your goal.  The 21 Day Fix app above has water tracking, but I like the extra elements that this app brings, particularly the reminders.  For whatever reason, remembering to drink water is hard for me, even when the bottle is sitting right in front of me.  This app can remind you at regular intervals, or just when you're behind on your water goals.  You can also customize your goals and the size of the containers you drink from, which I really like.

BodyShot - $4.49 - it might be intimidating, or not seem all that important at first, but believe me when I say that you will appreciate having before and after pictures, even if you never share them with a single person.  Seeing proof of the changes in your body for yourself is extremely motivating to keep going!  Results truly are addictive.  Use this app to store pictures and track weight and measurements and you'll be able to see your progress easily at a glance and view side by sides.

Day One - $0.99 - one of the things I really wish I had done more of in the beginning was track my progress mentally and physically in a way I could revisit.  When I began the 21 Day Fix Extreme I also began using Day One as a fit life journaling app, and it has helped me not only have an outlet to share my victories and struggles, but also in a practical sense to easily reference which weights I used the last time I did the workout, and how I did with them.  It's also great way to form a private "brag book" of sorts of your fitness journey and revisit just how far you've come on times when you need a little extra motivation to keep going!

Facebook - Free - OK, you've probably already got this one.  But it's a must-have to join a challenge group hosted by a Beachbody coach that gives you an extra level of motivation, accountability and cameraderie you just can't get doing the program on your own.  Having support is so important, and finding people who have the same goals and are trying to reach them in the same way goes a long way towards helping you stick with it.  I have met so many wonderful people through my groups, and I owe a lot of my success to them!

Pinterest - Free - this is definitely the best place to get new ideas!  I have created quite the collection on my 21 Day Fix and Shakeology Pinterest boards whiling away the time waiting in lines or riding in the car.  You'll find recipes, meal plans, tips for eating out, and so much inspiration for how to use those little colored containers while still keeping things interesting.  It can start to feel repetitive sometimes, so I often turn to Pinterest for new inspiration to change things up.

Photofy - Free - if you're participating in challenge groups or sharing your journey anywhere, having a good photo editing app is a must.  I have gotten completely hooked on Photofy for creating fun photo collages, adding artwork and text to my photos, and sharing my experiences on the 21 Day Fix in a more creative and inspirational way.  It has so many features it's hard to name them all, but it's so versatile - you can drag borders to display collage photos better, add filters, select from a lot of fonts and artwork elements, add shadows, and more - there are even stock photos for creating your own fitspirational photos.  Easily my favorite photo editing app now!

*note that all of these are for iOS
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