What I Bought: Black Friday

The Thanksgiving weekend is coming to a close. There’s always some feeling of promise at the beginning of a long weekend — like I’m going to accomplish so much and feel amazingly rested. Then all of a sudden, it’s Sunday night and my work week is about to start again. I had a great long weekend with my family and Dan’s family. I was mildly productive, but there’s always more I could do. I’ve been reading through my first Toastmasters speech, but need to do a few practice runs OUT LOUD before the big day.

My Thanksgiving Day shopping was a bit of a bust, but Friday went much better (and I was done by 8:30 a.m.). When I say, “better,” I mean that I didn’t buy a ton of stuff I don’t need and will then return a few days later. “Better” does not mean tons of fashionable, fun stuff.

I started the morning in the least fun place of all: Home Depot. Dan wanted a couple ladders, and I wanted Dan to be happy. I woke up at 5:45 and couldn’t sleep, so I decided to just get up, get out and get done. Dan was beyond exhausted from nearly two weeks straight of house projects, so I let him sleep and ventured into the shopping wildnerness alone. Home Depot was a cinch — I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. It was probably the best trip to Home Depot ever. I didn’t have to follow Dan around looking at things I don’t understand, nor did I have to stand around watching Dan sort through every board of plywood, looking for the absolute most perfect board in the pile. I’d say there were about 15 employees per shopper, so I was practically escorted all the way to aisle 22 where my ladders were waiting for me.

Next I went to Old Navy. I returned the questionable necklace I had purchased Thanksgiving night, and also checked out the pajama pants, which were all half off. The prices of these might actually be better right now because of Cyber Monday. It looks like they are on-sale online, then an additional 40% off. Just in case you were interested in new pajamas! Here were my favorites:

old navy pajama pants| whatlindseylikes

I might have also purchased a couple cheap t-shirts and one pair of their slipper socks…I wore the slipper socks last night and this morning. Overall, they were comfortable, but the fit was a little weird on my feet. I wouldn’t buy another pair.

After Old Navy, I stopped at Petsmart for puppy pads. When we first got Dig, we lived in a condo with a slow elevator to the puppy potty area. Since we didn’t trust Dig’s tiny bladder to make it all the way to the ground level and out the doors, we trained him to use puppy pads instead. When we moved into the house, we considered trying to train him to go outside like regular dogs…but we were super lazy. And neither of us wanted to have to go outside with Dig in the winters…so puppy pads it was. Now I look for any opportunity to get them on sale, and Petsmart’s 50% deal was as good as it ever gets. I bought enough for almost the next two years.

Once I loaded up the multiple boxes of puppy pads into my vehicle, I made my way to Kohl’s. I ended up going a little overboard there. I blame the multiple people who told me about the amazing deals at Kohl’s and all of those people buying vacuums this weekend. I found the towels I needed for my office’s charitable giving activity and two cardigan sweaters, then decided to check out the vacuums. Here’s the cardigan I found — I love the open front.

sonoma open front cardigan | whatlindseylikes

Minutes later I had a vacuum in my cart and was wheeling it to the checkout register. I walked away with a pile of Kohl’s cash, which I’ll be using this week to buy more pairs of those Levi’s pull-on leggings.

I wouldn’t describe this as the most exciting Black Friday ever, but I was happy with what I found. Dan was super impressed that I had the ladders, and didn’t even seem to notice the other stuff I was able to sneak in. Score!

I hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving! Let me know if you score any awesome Cyber Monday deals 🙂

What I Bought: Thanksgiving

This post should actually be titled “What I Bought (And Will Subsequently Return): Thanksgiving.”

There are times when I go shopping that I get caught up in the excitement of the trip and buy a bunch of stuff that 1) isn’t actually a good deal or 2) isn’t flattering on me. That’s pretty much the theme of my Thanksgiving day shopping excursion.

My mom and I got to MOA at 4:30 p.m. Old Navy was the only open store that we cared about, so we bopped in to kill time. I bought a scarf that I’m really excited about, a throw for $5 that I don’t really care about and a necklace for $9 that I’ve already returned. I have no good explanation for why I bought the necklace in the first place. I think I reasoned with myself that it wasn’t worth standing in line at Old Navy for just a scarf, so I picked up the necklace to make it more legitimate. Then while standing in line, I saw the $5 blanket, so I picked that up too. I’ll probably keep the blanket and just use it for Dig somewhere in the house.

Next we went to Best Buy. My mom bought a DVD for my brother and I bought a bag of Snickers Minis and a bag of Sour Patch Watermelon. Both of those purchases were great — no disappointments! My mom ended up returning the DVD because she found it way cheaper at Target. So Best Buy really just ended up being a place for us to kill time and buy sugar.

By the time we got through the line at Best Buy, a few other stores had opened. I wanted to go to Loft where everything was 50% off, but apparently the MOA location wasn’t opening until 11 p.m., so we went into Victoria’s Secret next door. I seriously love Victoria’s Secret pajama sets. I think they are SO CUTE. They’re comfy and the prints are adorable. Also there’s something about the winter and the holidays that makes me want to buy every set of pajamas I find.

Here’s how I think I will look in Victoria’s Secret’s pajama sets:

victoria's secret pajamas | whatlindseylikes

Even though her hair is a greasy mess, it still somehow looks good. I wake up with greasy hair too, but usually one side of my hair is sticking up and things are flipping out all over the place.

victoria's secret pajamas | whatlindseylikesNo matter how much I envision myself looking like these models, it’s not how I end up looking. I was too lazy to try the pajamas on in the store — I just grabbed the size I assumed would fit and went on my way to the register. When I got home and tried them on I learned that the top was one size too small. Well, too small for a person with a gut. Clearly the model doesn’t have a gut: you can see she has tons of extra fabric in her shirt’s stomach area. Isn’t that fantastic. The pants are super comfortable and actually fit (well, the waist fits and the pant legs aren’t too small), but in the photos of the models, the pants look flattering, like they might be a boot cut. They are actually just wide the whole way down. And since the pants I bought are mostly white, they make my legs look even bigger than I already think they look. No thanks.

It’s also important to point out that the pajamas weren’t on sale. Technically I got a free pair of slippers with them, but I wouldn’t pay more than $5 for the slippers anyway, so not really a huge “get” in my opinion. My lack of logical shopping didn’t stop there. I bought a sleep tee that also wasn’t on sale. I bought it in the same size as the pajama set, and instead of the shirt being too small, it was overly huge. I think they are supposed to be slightly oversized, but this thing is HUGE. All of this will be going back.

Next we went to Gap. They had their super soft Bowery long sleeves tees half price (everything in the store — including clearance!! — was 50% off). I again was too lazy to try anything on, so I bought a couple in a size that I thought was right. Wrong. Too small. I will most likely return both of them rather than exchange for the right size. They’re cute and SUPER SUPER soft, but I just don’t need them. I really LOVE this grey striped one though!!

gap bowery long sleeve | whatlindseylikes

I also bought a few pairs of socks at Gap. I love them. They’re slightly thicker than most socks, but not so thick that your shoes don’t fit anymore. They will not be going back.

gap snowflake socks | whatlindseylikes

The fun continues! Our next stop was Macy’s. The store was a zoo — SO MANY PEOPLE. My mom and I both bought super cheap air popper popcorn poppers and an 18-piece Pyrex set. Nothing too exciting.

We left Mall of America after Macy’s — mostly because we were carrying too much stuff and needed to drop it off in the car, but then decided we really had no reason to go back into the mall. We left and went to Target, and ended up finding better Pyrex sets for the same price. Well, technically the same price — both sets were $18, but Macy’s charged you $25, and you had to mail in a rebate form to get the $18 price. My mom and I are both lazy when it comes to mail-in rebates, so we’re just going to return the Macy’s sets. We also bought a couple throw blankets.

After Target, I decided I had had all I could handle for the night and went home. That’s when I tried on everything from Victoria’s Secret and Gap, only to learn that all of it needed to be returned.

So of all the things I bought on Thanksgiving, a vast majority of the money I spent will be going back. I had much better luck with my true Black Friday shopping, but more on that later.

What I’m Wearing: Thanksgiving Winner

I finally made a decision!

thanksgiving | whatlindseylikes

So this isn’t exactly what I had featured in my earlier posts (#1, #2, #3), but it’s a combination. I’m going with the teal top from Old Navy. It’s super comfortable and doesn’t cling to any of my trouble spots. If it gets warm, I can take off the cardigan and roll up the sleeves. Plus, I love the color.

thanksgiving outfit | whatlindseylikes

thanksgiving outfit | whatlindseylikes

I originally planned to wear grey pants and a black cardigan, but I switched those around. This grey cardigan is from Gap — it’s one of my favorite cardigans because it goes with almost every shirt I own. The pants are from Levi’s — on some websites they’re classified as jeans, sometimes leggings. I think they are more like jeans, but the fabric isn’t denim — it’s almost like a stretchy dress pant fabric. Anyway, they are mega soft and comfortable, and the waist is elastic! Which means I can eat a lot, and still comfortably bend down to pet adorable dogs.

thanksgiving outfit | whatlindseylikes

So I took the above photos this morning, but I took quite a few last night too…although those didn’t turn out as well. I’m going to post them anyway, just so you can see more angles of the outfit. Prepare yourself for lots of grainy, blue-tinted pics!

thanksgiving | whatlindseylikes thanksgiving | whatlindseylikes thanksgiving | whatlindseylikes

What I Want: Black Friday Wishlist

Black Friday (what color is Thursday?) is a shopping marathon. My mom and I usually open up the Thursday paper to review ALL of the ads, then we determine our plan of attack and make a list of everything we’d like to get. My mom and I will be heading to the Mall of America Thursday afternoon/evening. Most of the stores I care about are both in MOA and open Thursday night, so I’m hoping to finish most of my Black Friday shopping on Thursday.

I’ve checked some of the ads that have been released over the last week or two. Here are a few stores and deals I’m excited about.

Ulta – Opens at 8 p.m. on Thursday

Ulta has a great sale on products from the Sexy Hair line. The Spray & Play and Spray & Play Harder hairsprays, as well as the Root Pump and Root Pump Plus volumizers, are $6.99 each (regularly $17.95). I love Sexy Hair hairspray for my bangs – I need the strongest hold possible to lock those tresses in place. I still haven’t figured out how to use volumizer properly, but have decent luck half of the time I’ve used the Root Pump Plus volumizer from Sexy Hair. For $6.99, it’s practically cheaper than a drugstore brand. Now I just need to dedicate some time to watching YouTube tutorials for proper volume. I’m confident everyone else learned this a long time ago.

Ulta also have a deal on Clarisonic brush head replacements. I stopped using my Clarisonic Mia more than a year ago, but when I did use it, I always looked for an opportunity to buy the brush heads on sale. Ulta has a Black Friday sale where you get three brushes and an adorable little zip-up package for $44 (regularly $94).

J. Crew – 6 p.m. on Thursday (I think?)

The J. Crew Factory site has everything 50% off right now. There are tons of cute items, but I think I’d need an additional 50% off in order to be truly tempted. But if you’re good paying $35ish per shirt (and they have TONS of cute shirts!), you should check it out. Here’s the top I really want.

jcrew tunic | whatlindseylikes

I don’t actually know what the regular J. Crew store is doing. They had 30% off everything earlier this week with 40% off sale items, so my guess is 40-50% off for Black Friday and this weekend? Again, those deals aren’t enticing enough to me, so I’ll just be admiring their adorable clothes from afar this year. I couldn’t find their holiday hours listed on their site anywhere – I’m sure it’s somewhere in plain view, but I didn’t see it. I went to the store locator and checked the stores at my nearby malls with no luck about Thanksgiving hours. Super annoying. When I did a Google search, I saw one store in another state saying they open at 6 — I’m going to pretend that applies to Minnesota as well.

Old Navy – Opens at 4 p.m. on Thursday

Old Navy is offering 50% the entire store (I’m going out on a limb and assuming that clearance items aren’t included). I think I would load-up on basics (long sleeve tees, lightweight turtle necks, scarves) since those items are already priced relatively cheap. I’ve wanted a pair of slipper socks for awhile; they have some cute colors.

old navy winter accessories | whatlindseylikes

I don’t need any more pixie pants or workout clothes at the moment…although I could always be convinced that I should get a cute pair of printed compression capris.

Gap – Opens at 6 p.m. Thursday

I haven’t been super impressed with Gap lately – their clothes are not speaking to me. But I usually like their button-down tops and some of their basic tees. Since everything in the store is 50% off, I’ll check it out. I did stop by their outlet/factory store that just opened up near my house – the majority of the store was 50%, but even at that price, most of the stuff didn’t seem worth it. Plus, I took advantage of some sales at Gap.com yesterday — tons of sweaters that were $19 or less. I bought their raglan boyfriend sweater in this coral-y color. I’m usually not a fan of v-neck sweaters, but the color options available for the crew neck weren’t as bright.

gap boyfriend raglan sweater | whatlindseylikes

Best Buy – Opens at 5 p.m. on Thursday

I don’t typically care too much about deals on electronics, although I did obsess about an iPad deal a couple years ago. This year I was obsessing about a DSLR camera. I love my blog and want to make it as great as possible. While my cell phone snapshots of outfits have been totally OK, I’d like to take things to the next level. And I really do mean the next level – we’re not jumping to “pro photographer” status anytime soon. I’m going up just one little step.

I considered going the point-and-shoot route, but I figured that wouldn’t increase the quality of my photos by all that much. I really wanted more control of the camera settings. After doing a lot of research and scanning of Best Buy’s Black Friday ad, I was leaning toward the Canon Rebel T3i bundle. It’s a great deal at $500 (a savings of $400). The camera has all the features that I’d want, most importantly the articulating screen (which makes it a lot easier to know if my shot will include my entire outfit or only part of it).

However, apparently stores do all their best deals the week before Black Friday (I’m just learning this now, I guess), and Best Buy happened to have the Canon Rebel T5i (newer model) bundle on sale this week. Since I’m incredibly impatient, I decided to go for it. It was more expensive than the T3i bundle, but the camera body itself is a little better, as are the lenses that come with the bundle kit. Will it be amazingly better? Probably not, but I’m impatient and had saved money on a different big purchase, so I went with it.

Kohl’s – Opens at 6 p.m. Thursday

Kohl’s is the kind of store that I can walk around with no intentions of buying anything, but walk out having spent more than $100. My Kohl’s list for Thursday/Black Friday is pretty short. I need to buy a bunch of bath towels for a charitable giving activity with work. Other than that, I might check out Sonicare toothbrush replacement heads.

Where are you shopping? Will you shop on Thursday and Friday? What great deals am I missing? Oh, and are you shopping Small Business Saturday?!

What I Made: Lemon Barley Risotto

lemon barley risotto | whatlindseylikes

I make pasta for dinner at least twice a week. I know that’s horrible, but it’s so easy to make a giant pot of pasta that I can separate into enough for that night’s dinner, then several servings for my lunches at work. I might mix some red sauce and alfredo sauce when I’m making it for dinner with Dan, then I’ll use plain pasta with olive oil, parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper and a sprinkling of bread crumbs. Tonight I wanted to make something that wasn’t pasta, but I wanted it to be nearly as easy as pasta.

I found this recipe from Erin Motz (my favorite online yoga instructor). It was super easy, and required only a few ingredients. I added a little extra parmesan because, well, I like cheese.

lemon barley risotto | whatlindseylikes

Lemon Barley Risotto
This made about three servings…although Dan’s serving was fairly large.
What You Need
– 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
– 3 to 3.5 cups veggie broth (Erin’s recipe calls for chicken broth…but all I had was veggie)
– 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
– 1.5 tbsp butter (I used salted)
– 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (I’d like to pretend I have fresh-squeezed lemon juice, but I just used the little container sold in the produce area at Target)
– 1/2 cup parmesan (Erin’s recipe was healthier with a little less cheese…but I really like cheese)
– salt & pepper to taste (I didn’t use any salt or pepper)

What To Do
– Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and chopped garlic, then sautee until it’s lightly golden and fragrant (about one minute).
– Pour in the uncooked barley to butter/garlic mixture, and stir until the barley is coated. Let it cook for a couple minutes, stirring constantly.
– Add one cup of broth and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium.
– As the broth absorbs, add more broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing each 1/2 cup to absorb almost completely before adding the next. Stir regularly. This took me about 25 to 30 minutes. I multitasked —  made hard-boiled eggs, emptied the dishwasher, reloaded the dishwasher and handwashed a few dishes. Go me!
– Once your broth is gone, do a quick taste test — it should be soft and slightly chewy. If it’s still crunchy, add more broth. If it’s done, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the cheese and then the lemon juice.

I’m sure there are lots of good side items for this dish — I happened to throw a bag of frozen green beans in the fridge for a quick vegetable option. I put those in a bowl and drizzled a little olive oil over it, then sprinkled some MORE parmesan cheese on top. Yum! The green beans and barley risotto together were super good.

I’m pretty horrible about making side dishes with my entrees…it’s like I went to all the work of actually cooking one item — how can I be bothered enough to do another one? Maybe even more? I don’t know how better people do it. Something to aspire to, I guess. What are some of your favorite, easy side items?

What I Did: Joined Toastmasters

I hate public speaking. Just the thought of it makes my heart race, my voice tremble and my body drip with sweat. Most everything I try to say comes out in a hurried, nervous mess of words. This only happens for prepared speeches or presentations, though. I’m totally fine when I’m asked a question randomly and have to speak in front of a group. I’m also really comfortable with job interviews. So I think that means my fear is mostly for planned/prepared talking. Like if I prepare a speech, I know that I want it to go in a certain order and I want to make sure to include certain key points. When I’m giving the speech, I feel this immense pressure to make sure I stick to my planned order and hit all of my key points, and the fear of going out of order or missing something terrifies me. I’ve tried to explain to myself that no one else knows what my speech is supposed to look like, so if I go off track, I’m the only one who will know. But there’s no amount of reason or logic that can calm my nerves.

My fear of public speaking started early. I remember when I was a child – maybe 3 – I had an incredibly small part in my church’s Christmas pageant. All I had to do was knock on the pulpit – which was our prop for a door – and ask, “Is there any room at the inn?” I remember I knocked on the pulpit, then just before it was my time to speak, I started bawling uncontrollably and ran to my parents, who were sitting in what felt like the very last row of pews in the church – it was the longest run ever.

The fear followed me throughout all of school, into college and now into my career. I’ve done everything possible to avoid the chance of public speaking. There have been jobs I’ve decided not to apply for because one of the duties was to present project updates in front of leaders or other colleagues. I’ve requested not to be on some major projects because I knew I’d eventually have to talk about my work’s progress in front of a group. I’ve chosen a ‘behind-the-scenes’ role in meetings, even when the major focus of the meeting was a project I developed and implemented.

After I turned 30, I did what most other people who hit milestones birthdays have done: thought about where I am with my life and how that measures up to my internal expectations about my potential. I have a pretty high level of confidence in myself, and I feel like I could be this extraordinary person who can accomplish a lot. I was disappointed in myself that I’ve let this fear of public speaking potentially hold me back from awesome job opportunities and visibility/credit about the work I’ve done.

Where does this fear come from? Well, I did a Google search (who doesn’t?), trying to find techniques for overcoming my fear of public speaking and pinpoint where it originated. One site I found focused on trying to get to the root of where the fear developed, and then removing that thought process from your thinking. I thought, “Wow, this will be great for me!” I watched the 40-minute video and was let down. It basically told me that my parents had instilled this fear in me – the video kept asking me to remember times in my past where my parents put me down or acted incredibly disappointed in me. Other than times where I dated super disgusting guys, I couldn’t remember a single instance in my childhood where my parents made me feel like I wasn’t good enough or like I had disappointed them. My parents are so awesome. My mom is probably my biggest cheerleader. I’m positive that if I told her I was considering a run for president of the U.S., she’d ask if she could help with my campaign posters or debate outfits. She always makes me feel like if there’s something I want to do, there’s no doubt in her mind that I’ll accomplish it and blow it out of the park.

So my fear of public speaking has nothing to do with my parents’ disappointment in me.

However, I do think my fear of public speaking has to do with my fear of failure. I’m not saying that I’ve been a rockstar at everything I’ve ever done, but I haven’t had a lot of flat-out failures. I know there are plenty of mistakes I’ve made, but I’ve never had a fallen-on-my-face failure. Any mistakes I’ve made have been things that were relatively easy to either cover-up or recover from quickly, saving myself a lot of embarrassment. Part of that is because I’ve avoided any chance of doing something big enough that could have resulted in a huge failure. This goes back to where I spoke about avoiding job opportunities and big projects. Since I’ve always pictured myself as a bit of an overachiever, I’ve always wanted to work on things where I knew I could hit it out of the park. I like knowing that the bar for expectations is set relatively low so I’m guaranteed to succeed. After doing this for almost all of my career, I’m starting to realize that one who always aims for the least amount of risk can never really be extraordinary.

So after years of thinking about joining Toastmasters but being too afraid, I finally did it. For those who don’t know what Toastmasters is, think of it as a group of people who all want to improve their public speaking. Some are terrified of public speaking like I am, but some are just trying to hone their skills, maybe by trying to remove crutch words like “uh” and “um” from their presentations. There are Toastmasters clubs all over the world – it’s a huge organization. When I was in previous jobs and researched Toastmasters clubs near my offices, I usually found that either every company had its own club, or every office building had a club. The company I work for has two clubs, and the suburb I live in has five or six. If you want to know more about Toastmasters, ask me! Or Google it.

Deep down, I feel like I could be an awesome public speaker. I love being the center of attention, hence the reason I started a blog where I get to write about whatever I want and see how many people are reading it and then reaching out to me about what I wrote. I have no problem talking to a small group of people and telling a funny story. I love when people laugh at my sarcastic comments or my weird way of rationalizing a thought process. I think if I could get over this immense fear of failure, I could be a very entertaining public speaker. It would open up so many opportunities in my career, but it would also just be a huge boost of confidence. I can’t imagine anything better than speaking to a large group of people and hearing them laugh at a story I tell.

While I’ve done small speaking roles in Toastmasters already, I’m about to give my first real speech in early December. I’ve already written it, and I’m so happy with the way it turned out on paper. My Toastmaster mentor told me I’ve over-prepared, which I totally understand, but I explained to him that I NEED to have a speech I’m excited about so that it will hopefully help me be excited about presenting it, and that my excitement will be at least slightly higher than my level of fear. I’ll let you know how it goes. Please be thinking positive thoughts, mostly that I don’t hyperventilate or start crying.

What I Use: 3 Apps to Stay Fit – Part 3: MyFitnessPal

This is part 3 of my series on my favorite apps/websites for health. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Even when I up my game when it comes to exercise, I eventually plateau with my weight loss because I’m not eating the right foods. In fact, I’m usually eating way too much of the wrong foods. Portion control is not one of my strong suits. Nor is eating healthy in general. As you can tell by my Food I’ve Actually Made board on Pinterest.

Enter MyFitnessPal. I started using this app a little less than a year ago when a girlfriend and I had planned a last-minute trip to Florida. We couldn’t possibly stand another three months of Minnesota winter without a sunny, warm-weather vacation. Here’s basically what it looked like outside when we decided we needed to escape:

It seems pretty in theory...

It seems pretty in theory…

I had been running, but not consistently. I knew I needed to ramp up my time on the treadmill and the number of days I was running, but I also knew that miles alone wouldn’t be enough. I did some research (LifeHacker reviewed these top 5 user-generated sites/apps) and decided that MyFitnessPal was the best option for me. (I did a review of MyFitnessPal shortly after I started using it — you can read it here.)

Anytime I eat something, I enter it into MyFitnessPal to track my calories and other nutritional information. I can enter it in manually by doing a search, or I can scan the barcode (if it comes from a container with a barcode). You can even find most chain restaurant items too.

chipotle

Honestly, the functionality of MyFitnessPal is so expansive that I probably don’t even know half of what it can do. One cool thing I learned this summer is that I can enter recipes I find on Pinterest. All I do is enter the website with the recipe, MyFitnessPal will recognize it and tally up the nutritional information. Then I can select that as my meal, and just enter how many servings I consumed. If it’s a recipe you make often, you can save it to use it again the next time you make it.

recipes

You can also save meals. If you’re like me, you might make something and eat it for three or four days during different meals because you have leftovers. Or it’s something you eat all the time. For me, I typically eat the same post-workout food (hard boiled egg) after my treadmill runs. This made it super quick to enter.

meals

Using this app helped me learn that I eat way too much sugar. I knew I was eating some, but I had no idea just how much I consumed every day. It also helped me ask myself, “Is this food really worth it?” I typically snack throughout the day, and it’s usually because I’m bored, not because I’m hungry. Putting it into MyFitnessPal helped me see how it would impact my calories/nutrients for the day, and then helped me decide that the 5 minutes of enjoyment I’d get out of that Snickers bar probably wasn’t worth the 300ish calories and guilt I’d feel the rest of the day.

MyFitnessPal also was great for tracking my physical activity. You can enter your workouts, and it’ll calculate how many calories you burned based on what you did. I don’t think the strength training/weight lifting calculations were accurate…but that’s OK. I liked tracking my running, as well as any walking I did throughout the day. It was helpful to see how little activity I was getting outside of my workouts. There were quite a few days that I didn’t even crack 2,000 steps (approximately a mile).

Another feature of MyFitnessPal is your weight loss tracking. When you first start using the app, you enter your current weight along with your goal weight. MyFitnessPal will then tell you how many calories you should target per day to help you reach that goal. You can enter your weight every day if you’d like (I usually entered it twice a week), and it helps you see how far you’ve come and how far you have to go.

MyFitnessPal has a newsfeed that’s similar to Facebook, but it highlights things like, “Lindsey completed her food diary today and was under her goal!” Or, “Lindsey worked out for 60 minutes today and burned 500 calories!” It’s nice if you have a few friends who are also on MyFitnessPal and you can “like” each other’s posts, and leave inspirational words of encouragement. There were days I didn’t stay under my calorie goal, which means a post will go up that says, “Lindsey completed her food diary today.” Since there was no mention of being under my goal, it’s pretty clear I didn’t make good choices. It was always nice when a friend would leave a comment like, “There’s always tomorrow!” on the post.

What you need: Basically just your smart phone. I use an Android phone (Samsung S4) and the app works smoothly for me. Most of my friends have iPhones and the app seems to work fine for them as well. If you wanted to track your physical activity throughout the day, you might want a pedometer of some kind. My phone has one built in – I believe there are lots of free apps with step counters if your phone doesn’t have one built in.