4 ways to use your smartphone for your fitness goals

It's for more than Candy Crush and Instagram. Seriously!

It’s for more than Candy Crush and Instagram. Seriously!

Now that January is winding down, so are many people’s motivation to keep up with their resolutions or goals. Particularly the ones to lose weight. I know this because I’ve seen the crowds at the gym already start to dwindle (though, the beast of a winter we’re having might be at fault as well) and I see some of my friends in my weight loss/getting healthy support group beginning to have a hard time, too.

It’s not difficult to figure out why. It’s fucking freezing out. Who wants to leave their house to go get sweaty? A huge bowl of mac and cheese definitely tastes better than a big salad when the thermometer is barely registering 0. We’re spending so much time trying to stay warm that it’s almost impossible to think about anything else.

But what if I told you there was something you could use every day to keep yourself motivated and on track, despite the cold weather? You’d tell me I was lying but then maybe you’d want to know what it is. Since I hate suspense and I don’t want to make anyone angry, I’ll just tell you.

It’s your smartphone. And you don’t have to spend any extra money to use it to keep track of your fitness goals, either.

Seriously. I wouldn’t recommend something you’d need to spend money on (because, if you’re like me, you need all your extra money to pay for your enormous heating bill). In fact, for most of these, you won’t need to download apps (although I will give you a few, just in case); you can just use the features that come standard on your phone:

  • Notes–I am someone who needs to write down what I eat in order to be successful in changing my habits. I prefer a notebook, but, in a pinch, I will use the Notes feature on my phone. Not only is it good for that, but you can chart your weight and measurements, keep a grocery list of healthy foods to buy, write down recipes, and, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can make daily notes of your thoughts and feelings. If you don’t want to use your phone’s standard notes feature to track your food, my app recommendation is My Fitness Pal. It’s extremely comprehensive and, if you’re into using your social network for support, you can add friends and work together.
  •  Music–I have an iPhone and I love the fact that my phone syncs with my iTunes. I can use the songs I already have and create playlists for different types of workouts (when I’m not taking a class). There’s also iTunes radio for the days I want to mix it up. I also have downloaded Spotify and Pandora, and use those as well. The only problem with the radio and the apps is that I refuse to pay for the premium versions and the commercials interrupt my flow. But honestly, some of the Pandora fitness stations are fantastic. You can just use the commercials as your rest. These are especially great for at-home workouts and drowning out the horrible tunes that is usually pumped through the gym speakers. Music makes working out so much more pleasant.
  • Reminders–I don’t know where I’d be without the reminders feature on my phone. I haven’t downloaded any sort of fancy one; I just use the one that came standard on my phone. I love that I can create different lists in pretty colors. If you’re using your reminders for your weight loss or getting healthy journey, you can set reminders for weigh-ins, taking measurements, time to go to the gym, create countdowns to milestones or events (like a 5K or Zumbathon), or even set a reminder for a daily inspirational quote to pop up on your phone. Those extra motivational words are sometimes what you need to get through a particularly rough day.
  • Pictures–I got this idea from a new friend of mine (who’s lost almost 200 pounds! On her own! With no surgery or medication, just diet and exercise. She is an inspiration). From the beginning of her process, she’s taken monthly selfies to see how she’s progressed. Then, when she’s feeling particularly bad or meets someone who doesn’t believe how she used to look, she can pull out her phone and look at the photographic evidence. If you’re like me, you hate taking pictures but there really is no other way to truly see how far you’ve come. And remember, you don’t have to Instagram (the fact that I just used that as a verb makes me a little sad) or put them on Facebook. You can keep them for yourself.

If you need some additional ways you can use your smartphone for getting healthy, you might need to download some apps. For that, I recommend Pinterest (for workouts, recipes, quotes, and other inspirational ideas), Facebook (and start a support group with some friends. You can check in with them through your phone throughout the day, which is really helpful if you’re at work where there is temptation everywhere), and if you’re a member of a YMCA, ask if they have MobileFit. You need to sign up at the branch but there’s an app you can download that gives you daily workouts you can do at pretty much any gym. It’s helpful if you travel or switch between gyms or if you’re just not sure what a good workout looks like.

Getting healthy is pretty difficult and the industry will have you believe it has to be expensive. Using your smartphone and good old fashioned willpower, you can prove them wrong.

What’s your favorite app or smartphone tool to help you with your health goals?

 

 

 

BHB Coaching Class giveaway!

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If you want to start a blog but don’t know how or are struggling with your blog, this class is a great resource. It’s taught by 8 knowledgeable and successful bloggers and right now, the price is only $100 for the 8 week class (and that includes some freebies, too!). So follow the link above and secure your spot!

And, from now until January 31, we’re running a giveaway for 2 free registrations to the class. There will also be 5 second prizes of 50% off the registration. Good luck!

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Very Interesting Blogger Interview #4: Ian from The 30 Something Student

This is the fourth installment of my Very Interesting Blogger series (you can read about Tonya, Eric, and Jeff as well). For this interview, I talked to one of my good blogging friends, Ian from The 30 Something Student. I spent a lot of time with Ian at last year’s FinCon and he’s a seriously awesome guy. When you’re done reading his interview, make sure to check out his blog.

Ian interview picsMe: You’re a pretty busy guy, Ian. You work, you blog and you’re finishing grad school. You also play guitar in a band. Can you tell us about that? 

Yeah, it’s just something I get to do with some of my real good buddies on weekends. When we play a lot, like we have been this past year, it can definitely make things pretty busy and something ends up suffering from a lack of attention. Typically, we play shows on the weekends but we usually practice during the week. If we are writing new material practice becomes fairly frequent. It can make getting to all my other obligations tough. I usually try to have way too many things going on at one time. It’s usually a bad idea but that’s what I do.

I understand that completely. Having too many things going on at once is a way of life for me. 

Me: How long have you been playing guitar for? When did you first join a band? Is that band still together or are you in a different one? 

Ian: I have been playing guitar for quite a long time now. I suppose something like 18 years. I definitely should be a lot better, but hey, I play in a punk band so no one is really expecting much. When I was young I was kind of off and on. I would play for a while, get discouraged and quit, and then start playing again when I got motivated.

I joined my first band as basically as soon as I got a guitar. It was super fun and I remember we had to have older friends drive us to our first couple of gigs because we weren’t old enough to drive or we would get one of our parents to give us a lift. We didn’t last that long maybe a year or so but I still know all the guys that were in it. Two of them are basically my best friends. Being in that band also was the first time I had ever been booed onstage. I like to think that attributes to my thick skin.

The band I am in now has been together since 1997, so really only a year or so after my first band called it quits. We have had a few lineup changes here and there but for the most part the core guys are still in it. Usually it’s just life stuff that makes people have to quit. I only think there was one time when stuff got bad and uncomfortable between members, well maybe twice.

Together since 1997? That’s longer than the shelf life of most bands! And marriages. Quite impressive. 

Me: Do you do it for fun, to earn money, or both? If you do earn money doing it, at what point did you decide to make the switch from hobby to income earning opportunity? 

Ian: It is definitely for fun. If I was doing this for money it would be a serious planning error. There isn’t a lot of money in being in a punk rock band unless you are one of the lucky ones, but that doesn’t really matter to me. It is one of the most fun things I do now or have ever done. I get to go out of town with my buddies, hang out in a new place and meet new people or see people I know from other cities on a fairly regular basis. Another thing is that it is all basically for free. The band will cover food, gas, etc. and plenty of times the bars or clubs we play will give us free food and beer.

Like I said, we don’t really go for making a bunch of cash. If a lot of people decide they like our band a lot and want to pay us, that’s great, but if not, we are fine with that as well. We do make a few bucks though and have lately been taking a little better approach to our finances and investing more into merchandise and what not. It allows us to not be in as much of a pinch when you want to record new music or drive farther away to play a gig. You definitely can earn money playing, you just have to be on the road for 200+ days a year or something crazy. I would actually be ok with that if we were taking a more serious approach. In the last year we have picked things up and hope to play around 50 gigs or so next year. That’s basically like 4 a month or two weekends a month, a very doable and realistic number.

Free food and beer are pretty good perks. However, not good enough to be on the road for 2/3 of the year. I commend your choice of a reasonable number. 

Me: What’s been your most memorable gig so far?   

Ian: Wow, over the years there have been quite a few but I think the most memorable one was with this band called Strung Out. They were pretty big in the late 90’s early 2000’s and actually are still doing very well. Anyway, I was like 19 and our band in general was pretty bad. Somehow we talked our way onto a show opening up for these guys. The place was pretty big and packed, I would think somewhere close to around 1,000 people. I remember walking onto the stage and just being like “oh shit” what did we get ourselves into? I mean honestly, we had no business being up there. It was the first time I had been on a stage that you could run on. I was used to tiny little stages where everyone is packed together and on this stage the other guitarist was like 20 yards from me or something silly. Anyway, it was a lot of fun and we got yelled at for eating their food in the backstage area. We thought it was for all of the bands, but it definitely wasn’t.

I seriously cannot get over what punk bands name themselves. 

Me: What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about starting to play guitar or join a band? 

Ian: If you want to start playing guitar I would say learn how to play a powerchord, just Google it and you will figure it out. It is essentially the basis for rock guitar. Then I would start doing the other practice techniques that you find in books and what not. When you get tired of playing “Three Blind Mice”, start busting out the power chords and play some AC/DC, Green Day, or whatever. Once you know those chords you will be blown away by how many songs you can play.

If you want to join a band I suppose there are two ways of going about it. You can be a career musician, which means you better have some damn good chops, and just be a hired hand and play with bands that will pay you well. Or you can get some friends together, figure out how to play an instrument just enough so it sounds somewhat like music and have fun. I have noticed over all the years playing, you get the best crowd reaction when you are actually having a good time, even if you are screwing the songs up. People like to have fun and if you are having a good time on stage it gets infective with the crowd. That’s pretty much it.

He’s right. If you know about 4 chords, you can have a very long and lucrative career in music, particularly punk music. Just ask the remaining members of The Ramones.

BHB Blogger Coaching Class: An explanation (and why you should join)

You see the link at the top of my site? The one about the blogger coaching class? You’re probably wondering what that’s all about.

I suppose I should tell you.

In August 2012, I started a blogger mentoring program. The idea behind it was to pair veteran bloggers with new bloggers for one on one mentoring and coaching. The idea came to me as I spent the greater part of an afternoon dwelling on all the [...] Continue Reading…

Very Interesting Blogger Interview #3: Jeff from Sustainable Life Blog

Late last year, I started the Very Interesting Blogger series (read all about Tonya and Eric in their interviews). When I thought of who to interview, I thought of Jeff from Sustainable Life Blog who, despite the fact that he picks on me mercilessly (both online and in person), is actually a pretty decent guy with a great blog and some hobbies that are, for lack of a better word, insane. So we talked [...] Continue Reading…