I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have been hanging on to the past few weeks for dear life. Working too much with too many challenges, and I’m feeling kind of burnt out. Whenever I feel like this, I like to hit up Pinterest– like any true twenty-something gal would– and look at quotes. In between the Audrey Hepburns and quotes about not needin’ no man, there are a few good ones.
Original image from Pinterest, with personal edits.
I’m a bit obsessed with understanding everything about my body. I’m constantly circulating through new apps or websites to track my health, or learn new things. Through the dozens that I have tried (and seriously, it’s pathetic how many are on my phone right now), I have three that seem to be my most-used and most recommended to others:
My most used and tried and true is MyFitnessPal. MFP is a very user-friendly and no fuss calorie counter. You sign up, set your current weight, specify your goals, and there ya have it! It automatically sets nutrition goals for you based on your basic information, but you can also adjust it if you are looking to hit specific targets as well– like, for those who are on a special diet program. You add your food to your daily tracker either by entering it manually, or by scanning barcodes on the packages. You can also save “meals” that you frequently have for easy and quick tracking.
For fitness, you can track your cardio and strength training as well. The app will adjust your daily recommended caloric intake based on your exercise for the day so you can better judge how much food you should be eating based on your activity level.
My favorite part of this app though is it’s ability to sync up with other apps. I can sync my FitBit to it, so it will automatically adjust my caloric recommendation based on my daily level of movement that my FitBit tracks. I have yet to find an app that doesn’t sync with MFP, so it’s a really great app to start with. It’s my go-to when I want to keep track of my food, and I use it almost daily.
MFP can also be accessed online, and you can use the community features. It has forums to talk about fitness or health related activities, plus a blog option allows you to a place to reflect and help stay focused on your goals. This was my favorite part of MFP when I was first trying to lose weight in 2012.
Very similar to MyFitnessPal, but has a slightly different feel. It is a calorie counter, but if you update to the Pro version of the app, you can also set specific dietary needs or goals: gluten free, allergies, vegan or vegetarian, Paleo, lower blood pressure or cholesterol, breastfeeding, heart healthy, etc. This one was actually recommended to me by a college professor.
You track your food pretty much the same as with MFP, but Fooducate also doubles by serving you with nutrition information as well. When adding a food to the app, it gives you a letter grade for that item based on your dietary needs and the overall nutrition of the food. It will also alert you if the food you are entering goes against any of your specified dietary restrictions (ie. if you enter french fries, it will alert you it goes against your dietary specifications to eat “heart haelthy”). I love using this app for grocery planning and using the letter grades to plan my meals, as I like to think about the quality of the food I am eating as well as the caloric intake.
Fooducate also has a community aspect like MFP, and as a bonus, connects to the iPhone Health Tracker option. It is not as user friendly as a calorie counter as MFP is, but does a great job of helping you understand the quality of your food, which is why I use it with MFP.
SWORKIT is an exercise app that a friend introduced to me not that long ago. It is essentially a no-equipment circuit training workout app. You can choose from 4 categories: Yoga, Stretching, Cardio and Strength. Each major category also breaks down further for more specifically targeted exercises, like upper body strength, boot camp cardio, etc, etc. The app allows you to select the type of workout you want to do, the amount of time you wish to exercise, and then will take you through a workout.
It’s great for a beginner, as the app will show you a video example of the move you are supposed to be doing as it goes, so you can learn as you workout. Even as someone who considers myself a workout novice (or, at least at one point I was, but let’s not talk about that), it still has challenging moves so it can give you a good workout despite not using any equipment. I did an upper-body strength workout last week and was still sore two days after, if that gives you any indication.
It also tracks your workout, so you can see your progress as time goes on. SWORKIT syncs up with MFP too, so your workout calories get added into your daily calorie count automatically.
I purchased SWORKIT Pro to avoid the ads, and it still only cost $2.00. It really comes in handy when I don’t want to drive to the gym (like today, for example), but would also be totally fine to use at the gym too, like using the yoga moves or ab workouts. I definitely recommend this one to anyone.
. . .
Combine all three, and who needs an expert? You have your own gym, dietician and nutrition teacher all rolled into one (sort of!)
What are your favorite apps? Share them in the comments, I’m always looking for new ones!
In the era of online dating, there is just about a dating app for every single person. See: SeaCaptainDate.com. Unfortunately, there are just as many creeps trolling said dating sites, rendering them practically useless for serious use.
In discussing these sites with friends, it seems clear to me that there are several niche markets that are still untapped by the online dating world. Sure, Tinder is good for a creepy quickie– or, in the case of two of my sorority sisters, meeting their significant others– but what about the other needs a young adult has?
So I had some ideas:
1. Cuddle Connection: Netflix Edition. You’re matched up by location, show preferences, previous viewing history, and length of regular viewing. Oh, you’re an attractive male who also enjoys watching six hours of food documentaries, and then switching over to Parks and Recreation for some light-hearted fun? Cool, let’s go get coffee. Somewhere with wifi, preferably.
2. Man Bun Meet-Up. Basically how it sounds. Men with the buns meet man bun enthusiasts. However, we request that you leave your brushes, combs, or scissors at home.
3. Boom-a-rang. Made specifically for kids who move home after college while we they are trying to “find themselves” and surprisingly, have a hard time meeting single people while they continually hide from the public in order to avoid running into anyone they haven’t spoken to from since high school. Features a special “block my graduating class” preference on the app to ensure minimal awkward run-ins.
4. Arranged dating. Like marriage, but instead of the terrifying life-long commitment, you just casually date for a few weeks. Basically like assigning partners in gym class, but a lot more socially awkward and probably more expensive.
Bonus: Forces you out of the “getting back out there” fear after you’ve been single for an extended period of time, and also helps deflect the awkward questions from your family members about your sexuality due to be single for that long.
5. SWOLEmates. Hooks you up with eligible young people who already attend your gym. They’ve already seen you at your physical worst (ie. after cycling class, where you are trying to simultaneously wipe the sweat out of your eyes AND walk down the stairs without having any feeling left in your legs) so there is no unobtainable exceptions.
Double Bonus: When it goes south, it’ll get REALLY awkward at the gym after, and it’ll be brand new motivation to look hotter than they do!
6. Workaholics. Matches you up with someone based on your work schedule so you both have free time at the same time. Someone to meet for drinks with once per week so you feel like you’re still being social (and can wear something other than your uniform), but then it’s not awkward when you don’t see each other for the rest of the week because you’re both busy working. Like a hired escort, but not as creepy, and you both pay for your own drinks!
And there we have it. I’m sure one of these is a million dollar idea. I personally would sign up for all of them, though I do think there is something to Netflix dating site idea. Does anyone know a good app designer?
1. Taylor Swift is everything. I was a skeptic before, but now I am a whole-hearted believer. All Hail Queen Tay Tay.
2. Gluten will kill you. So will sugar, and diary. As will all GMO-products. Actually, on second thought, maybe all food is awful. Just learn to survive on air and quinoa, and you’ll survive.
3. The Walking Dead is a thing. I don’t understand it, but supposedly it’s a Thing. Start watching it or get used to not understanding the work-place conversations about it because it’ll probably never stop.
4. Onesies are amazing. I knew this before, but had no idea the power of an animal onesie over a regular onesie. They’re not only cozy, but the added level of whimsey can brighten your mood when you didn’t even know you needed cheering up.
(Sidenote: Does my animal onesie make me apart of this group? Still undecided about how I feel about it.)
6. It’s really easy to lose a plane. And it’s also super hard to find that plane after you lose it. (Is nobody concerned about the Malaysia flight anymore!? Am I the only one?! ALIENS?)
7. It’s totally worth it to spend a few extra bucks on quality products. The money you save in the long-run by buying something better made that will last way longer will far outweigh the money you think you save upfront by buying the cheaper version you have to replace more often. Plan your purchases when your bank account can afford it, and just remember how awesome it feels to look good/feel good with said products when you use them.
9. Triple shot Americanos with a little bit of heavy cream are the best coffee-shop orders for several reasons: It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s universal (every shop usually has it), and it’s still different and decadent enough that you don’t feel like you’re wasting money when you order it (see: buying a black coffee from a shop when you could have made it yourself at home). Shoutout to the QueenSCB for this recommendation.
10. Invest in some of the rewards cards for your favorite stores. Maybe I’m slow to party here, but Sephora rewards points, and Starbucks rewards were the best thing to ever happen to me. I’m going to spend my money there anyway, so why not rack up points and earn free sh*t while I do it?
11. Everyone has a story. It’s super easy to make judgements about people, especially when you’re young and have a very narrow world view. Asking questions and getting to know people can teach you about the world, as well as about that person. And it’s usually the people with the seemingly most unimpressive lives that have the best insight and knowledge. Get to know your co-workers and neighbors and you won’t be disappointed.
12. Puppies are still cute. I know this seems like a given, but still. It’s worth it to remind everyone.
13. Time is short, but there is also a lot of it. Chase your dreams and your ambitions, but rest assured that although anything could happen at any moment, you do have time. You can act as quickly, or as slowly and calculated as you want. It’s okay not to have things figured out at 22, the same way it’s okay to feel like you’re at a cross-roads at 50. Move at your own pace, but know that there are consequences. The time you’ll waste, you’ll never get back. Choose wisely.
(Was that vague? Good. Life is vague. Buddha. Yoga. Find an approach to live that works for you and stick to it. But change your approach as you seem fit. Maybe this is too vague. Or maybe I’ve had too much coffee. Whatever)
The season for family, the season for commercialism, the season to hold your loved ones close, and most importantly: for giving.
I’m a sucker for random acts of kindness. An extra smile, holding the door open for someone, an extra big tip, or a random compliment can mean so much to a person, even though it may not be a lot of effort for you. You never know what kind of day someone is having, and how your small actions can affect their life in a big way.
Last week, a young couple– around high school age– sat down at a booth in my section of the restaurant. They ordered waters, and asked about prices of desserts before ordering one to split. It was clear that they were on a first date, and it was absolutely adorable. Immediately next to them was a booth of four very outgoing people: a grandmother, her daughters, and an older grandchild. They immediately noticed the young couple at the table next to them, and pulled me aside quietly. The ring-leader of the group asked for me to put the couple’s dessert on their check, and tell them that Secret Santa had taken care of it for them. It touched me so much that they wanted to do this for them, but made it clear they wanted it to be anonymous. I almost teared up at the gesture.
Time came for the couple to ask for the bill, and the look of shock on their face when I had the privilege tell them that their bill was already taken care of was priceless. The young man who was going to take care of the bill actually said “Is this a joke?” and made me assure him he wasn’t going to get in trouble if he left without paying. They were in genuine shock and awe that they had just gotten a free meal, courtesy of a total stranger. I was so happy I got to be the one to witness their excitement that they were the target of such an act of kindness. (And the tip they left me after getting a free meal didn’t hurt either.)
It’s things like this that really made me love the holiday season.
People are so grateful, and giving to one another. It’s been my dream each year that I would one day be in a financially stable enough situation that I would be able to play Lay-A-way Santa, and anonymously pay for someone’s Christmas presents on lay-a-way at a store. The holidays can be such a burden financially and cause so much stress at a time that is supposed to be magical, which is exactly the opposite of how it should be. Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate!) should be about family, friends and giving back, which is something I think we tend to forget.
Though we see tons of stories on the news and online about the not-so-nice things that tend to happen this time of year (see: Black Friday Shopping stampedes, and mobs at stores for special deals around the holiday season– like the pepper-spray incident at my local mall over some fancy shoe sale?), it’s things like this that really make the holiday season.
So, while you’re out getting your friends and family gifts, and taking advantage of the theme for the holiday season, remember to pass it on as well. Giving should never feel like an obligation, as so many people view it, but should be viewed as a privilege. The group that took care of the young couple’s dessert said they were fortunate enough to be able to have nights out like they do, and just wanted to pass it along. Tossing a few cents in the holiday collection bucket, or dropping off a toy to a local toy drive can make a world of difference for someone else in need, while it may not affect your life as much. It never hearts to pass the joy along to someone else.