Consistency: Are you in it for the long haul?

There’s a lot of talk going around about habits, goals, and bettering ourselves.

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about the concept of getting 1% better. If you get just 1% better every day, then but the end of the year you’ll have perfected whatever it is you’re trying to do.

The book Atomic Habits by James Clear (which is on my to-read list) encourages us to develop habits instead of setting goals. By doing so, we subtly change our own identity – how we see ourselves and present ourselves to others. You aren’t just going for runs every so often. You are a runner.

What it all comes down to is consistency. Nothing will become a habit if you aren’t consistent. You won’t reach your goals without putting in the work day in and day out. You aren’t in it for the short-term results (which you probably won’t see on a day to day basis). You’re in it for the month over month, year over year progress toward becoming the person you truly want to be.

Continue reading → Consistency: Are you in it for the long haul?

7 Free (or Cheap) Apps to Actually Improve Your Life in 2019

I LOOOVE technology. It’s amazing. I’ve been following a lot of tech YouTubers over the last few years just to keep up with everything that’s happening in the field.

That being said, I’m also aware of how much technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. (See previous post.) In fact, check out this report from the Nielsen Research Group:

According to the first-quarter 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report, nearly half an adults’ day is dedicated to consuming this content. In fact, American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media. Behind this surge are the growing use of new platforms, as well as the younger, multicultural generations who leverage them.

That was as of July, 2018. And I doubt things have gotten any better.

Smartphones, screens, and communication technologies are here to stay whether we like it or not. The question is, as per the previous post, how can we use these devices in a way that actually benefits our lives and brings some level of sustainable improvement?

Below, I’m going to share with you seven smartphone apps that are free or cheap to download that can help you achieve your goals. I’m a little biased, because these are apps that I use regularly. There may be better ones out there, but I haven’t found them. And I do a lot of research before downloading and using an app. [And I use an iPhone, but most of this should be applicable for Android users as well.]

WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT?

My Fitness Pal, by UnderArmour, is one of the best dieting apps out there. The free version has plenty of features for your average Joe. It tracks calories, it can scan the barcodes on the foods you buy, it has entire menus from restaurants, it tracks your macros (Fat, Protein, Carbs) and some of your micronutrients (vitamins and such). It syncs really well with Apple Health to track your steps and calories burned during other exercises. It’s fully customizable to your specific food needs, whether you’re trying to lose, gain, or maintain.

I was hesitant to try this for a long time. Some people say that weight loss is a simple matter of calories in versus calories burned. That’s partially true. But if you really want to get healthier, you need to focus on the right kind of calories. My Fitness Pal helps with that by tracking your macros. When I finally tried it back in September, I lost seven pounds within four weeks. I think that was a little too much, too quickly, so I backed off a bit. But at the beginning of the year I was pushing 200 lbs. Now I’m right in the low 180s. I feel much better than I did, and I’m still eating basically what I want to eat.

WANT TO GET IN SHAPE?

Nike Run Club is a free app that tracks your run/walks. It gives you the estimated calories burned, which syncs with Apple Health. It stores all your information and gives you certain achievements along the way. The app includes access to guided runs that are awesome whether you’re a serious trainer or a first time runner. I’ve been using this for a long time. There are probably better running apps, but for what you get for free, I haven’t found one to replace Nike Run Club.

Nike Training Club is another good free app from Nike. This includes different workouts – everything from yoga to plyometrics to strength training. You download the workout you want, it times it out and walks you through step by step. There are even videos demonstrating the exercises for you. I wouldn’t want this as my main strength training app, but it’s a good supplement.

Starting Strength is a company I first heard of a few years ago from The Art of Manliness Podcast. Brett McKay, the podcast host, has been in the Starting Strength program for a while now and has shared his journey on the podcast and through his website. Starting Strength is all about barbell training, emphasizing the core lifts – squat, deadlift, bench press, military press, and power clean. If you have access to a barbell, a squat rack, and plates, then you can do this program. The app is $8.99, which is a lot for an app, but it’s a LOT less than other fitness apps that require a monthly subscription. Through the Starting Strength app you will get access to instructional tutorials, customizable workouts, and more. The app takes all the guess work out of it for you. You tell the app what your 5-rep workset is, and it does the rest. It even tells you the exact plates to load onto the bar, so you don’t have to stop and do math in the middle of your workout!

It’s a killer program. When you start, you will feel like dying. But you will get stronger. Go watch these instructional videos to help you get a sense of what the program is all about.

WANT TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES?

Every Dollar is a free app from the Dave Ramsey company. Say what you will about his practices and principles – the system works. Financial Peace University has helped thousands of families get out of debt and find financial freedom. I hate budgeting. I hate finances. I hate all things to do with money. My wife is awesome at taking care of the vast majority of that stuff for our family. Every Dollar makes it so much easier to track where we spend our money. You simply lay out your budget for the month, plug in all your expenditures, and it does the rest. *Honesty Moment* We haven’t been using this nearly as much as we should, but it’s our goal to get serious about it again this year.

WANT TO GROW SPIRITUALLY?

Most Christians with a smartphone that I know already have the YouVersion Bible app. But I don’t think most people realize how many tools this little app can pack into it. You have access to virtually every English translation. There are links to videos for the passage you’re reading. You can make images of verses to share on Instagram. There are hundreds of great Bible studies built into the app from leading scholars, pastors, and authors. You can connect with friends and do one of the Bible studies together within the app. It can send you the verse of the day, so you can begin every day with an inspiring passage. If you have this app, spend some time exploring everything it’s capable of.

Pray as You Go is an app for 10-15 minutes of guided prayer and meditation. There is a new one each day, with a specific passage of Scripture, thoughts, questions, and prayers based on that passage. If you struggle with knowing how or when to pray, this app can really help you with that.



What apps would you suggest for helping us reach our goals in 2019? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a post!