4 Habit Trackers for Everyday Life

 

In December, we posted a blog with suggestions on how to be successful in creating your New Year’s resolutions. Now that it is a new year, we want to follow up with some specific tools that can assist you with tracking the progress of your resolutions in order to help you reach your goals.

Often times, the hardest part of starting or ending any habit is keeping track of how you have been doing or reminding yourself to keep up with the new habit. For many people, this is where habit trackers come in. Habit trackers are ways or places where we can keep track of habits that we would like to build or stop. They can be a great way to monitor your New Year’s resolutions or just to track everyday habits like going to the gym or quitting smoking. It can be anything that works for you. Some people like to mark on a calendar, while others use a journal or notebook. Many people use digital apps, which try to make habit-forming fun or interactive in order to assist them in reaching goals. Phone apps can help you see your progress in reaching our goals at-a-glance, while providing other data, such as graphs and charts, to help you along. All of these things and more are habit trackers.

Here are a list of 4 habit trackers that you can use to start, stop, or continue new habits or tasks. This list is just a small sample of the many different habit trackers that exist, take the time to look through the many options to find a solution that works best for you.

Habitica (iOS, Android, Online) is an app that helps you have fun while reaching your goals. Set up in the style of an old-fashioned RPG game, you input habits, to-do’s, and/or daily goals. You, then, create a custom avatar which can be leveled up by completing the items you’ve entered. As you level up, you receive rewards from your avatar, as well as fight monsters and adventure with others. For example, if your goal is to read for an hour every day your avatar can gain experience for each day that you accomplish that task. Unlike some other habit trackers Habitica has an online interface that you can use along with the app on your phone allowing you to track your habits in a way that works for you. Habitica also allows you to set customizable rewards. Every time you achieve a task or goal you are rewarded with new items for your avatar, experience that will allow your character to level up, and in game currency that can be used to buy cosmetic items for your avatar. You can also use that currency to set-up a custom reward, such as watching an episode of your favorite show for 20 currency.

Productive (iOS) –  This app, currently only available for iOS, will let you choose to enter your own habits, or select one of the prebuilt habits that they have available. With the free app you can have up to 5 at one time. With their interface you can choose whether you would like to build a habit into your life daily or on specific days, weekly, or monthly, as well as set the time of day (morning, afternoon or night) that you want each goal or task to be completed. The app also provides you with some information about how you have been on meeting your goals. It’s a fairly straight forward app for those who are looking for a simple and uncomplicated option.

HabitHub (Android) –  This app for Android devices is a great tool for those who like to have different ways of seeing how they are doing. With HabitHub, you can track up to 5 habits for free. Each habit will allow you to enter a schedule and time for completion. Where this app differs from some others is that it allows you to set more open-ended goals. For example, if your goal is to make it out to the gym 4 days a week, this app will not force you to choose specific days for you to go. Instead, it will track which days you say you went to the gym; and if it adds up to 4 days in a week, it will count that as a success! After a while of tracking habits, it will begin to display graphs and stats about your goals to help you see where you are excelling and where you can make improvements.

Bullet Journal – Not everyone wants or is able to use a digital habit tracker. For many of us, the tactile act of writing is more powerful than typing. Bullet journaling is another popular way that people follow their progress with new habits or tasks. What is bullet journaling? A bullet journal is a journal or folder that is set up to help you track and organize your life. Often times a mixture between planner, to-do list and personal diary, these journals have helped many people organize their lives and tasks. While not specifically about habit tracking, the flexibility of the journal allows you to make it into what works for you, and many people include a habit tracker into their system. Bullet journaling can seem overwhelming at first, but those who enjoy it will find that it can help them. While you can buy a journal made specifically for bullet journaling, the concept works no matter what type of journal you have: from spiral bound to Moleskine, all that matters is that it works for you. There are many YouTube videos, websites, and social media accounts dedicated to highlighting and discussing the ways that people use and set up their bullet journals. Below are a few links you can check out.

How to Bullet Journal

40 Things to Track in Your Habit Tracker + Free Printables

Bullet Journal Habit Trackers

For some people habit trackers can make creating or continuing change in their lives easier. They can also help us to see where and when we are struggling to reach our goals. Habit trackers are not for everyone, and using one on a regular basis can sometimes take time to get used to for those who have never used one before. These trackers are most effective when we use them to support the changes that we would like to make in our lives. Take time to reflect on how you are progressing in your goals and remember that long lasting change takes time. These trackers are a great tool for those times when you are reviewing your goals, and determining if any adjustments need to be made to help you on your path to success. We hope that this list can help our community members find a way of attaining their goals that works best for them!

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6 Tips for Reducing Meat Consumption

 

With the new year many people decide to make New Year’s resolutions, one of the most common resolutions every year is the decision to cut out or limit the amount of animal products that we consume by becoming a vegetarian, vegan, or simply, by limiting the amount of animal products in our meals.

 

But where do we start? What can we expect? When we have been eating animal products our entire lives it can be difficult to know what becoming a vegetarian or vegan can look like. In order to ease the transition, we have put together a list of things to consider when making the transition to becoming vegetarian, vegan, or eating a more plant based diet.

Slow transitions can really help

 

In our blog about New Year’s resolutions we discussed how to start small and build off gradual adjustments. This can build a strong foundation for a long term shift. Be patient and allow yourself and your body time to adjust to any new habits. However, be aware of falling into a cycle of not moving forward. Small modifications to your diet can help with long term change. But sometimes some of us can benefit from a more structured plan that helps us take next steps at specific times. It can help to talk with other vegans or vegetarians to learn about how the transition went for them (and to learn about yummy recipe recommendations). If you find yourself feeling ill or uncomfortable make sure to evaluate your diet to ensure that you are getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need. If discomfort persists talk with a local healer or health care provider.

 

Some people experience really strong cravings

 

Not everyone experiences these craving, but some people do. They can often be very intense. These cravings might be for things that you have never had cravings for before. This will usually pass with time. Often we get cravings as our body adjusts to new ways of receiving nutrients. Cravings can help you learn what your body wants or is missing. Sometimes a craving can be a sign that your body has adjusted to having more protein, certain vitamins, or chemicals found in the foods that you usually eat. It can help to be conscious of what you are craving so that you can find a substitute to satisfy your needs.

 

Be weary of substitutes

 

Just because something is vegan or animal product free doesn’t necessarily mean that it is healthier for you. For example seitan, a common meat substitute that is used in many vegan dishes, is made entirely from wheat gluten. People who are sensitive to gluten, and especially people with celiac disease, should avoid seitan. It’s important when making the transition to look critically at the foods that are available, especially if you are looking at mass-produced, ready-to-eat meals that can often be just as processed or contain high levels of sodium, sugar and unhealthy preservatives as those containing animal products. Take some time to look over the nutrition information on the back of ready-to-eat veggie patties and other premade foods as many products that are marketed as being “healthy” can be made with high levels of sugar, salt, and other chemicals.

 

There can be an initial cost

 

So the new year is here and you are taking steps to create change in your life. You’ve decided that you are going to cut out meat and/or animal products and that you are going to start cooking more meals at home. If your plan is to begin cooking meals at home more often and cooking is not something you have done in the past, there can be an initial cost as you gather the ingredients, spices, and other items to prepare meals. This initial cost can be offset with the savings in other places, such as money not used to eat out as often. It can also help to start slowly by adding in a new spice or item every so often during your grocery shopping instead of all at once. Also, if you are not accustomed to cooking there can be some trial and error as you learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Take your time, and allow yourself to experiment and learn.

 

Meals can be more than beans and salads

 

A common misconception about becoming vegetarian or vegan is that food options are limited. Many people have spent their whole lives eating meat and animal products at every meal, and it can be difficult for them to imagine meals without meat. We are here to tell you that there are so many good and delicious meals that exist in the world! One of the hardest parts for many people may be learning to cook or prepare foods that are balanced and nutritious. Here are a few places where you can find recipes that are vegan or vegetarian.

 

Laxmi’s Vegetarian Kitchen – Cookbook

Bryant Terry – Chef with multiple cookbooks

Decolonize Your Diet By Luz Calvo & Catriona Rueda Esquibel – Cookbook

By Any Greens Necessary By Tracye McQuirter – Website

Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey –  Cookbook

Epicurious – Website

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone By Deborah Madison – Cookbook

 

Start slow if you decide to eat meat and/ or animal products after a while.

 

If you have been a vegetarian or vegan for a while, be careful not to give in and go for that triple meat patty burger right away! Though small amounts of meats and animal products will probably not cause vegans and vegetarians discomfort, we recommend avoiding large amounts after not having them for a while as that can lead to some intestinal discomfort. This discomfort isn’t something that happens to everyone, but we recommend that you start slow. In addition to possible stomach discomfort, we have often heard from people that have been vegetarian or vegan for a while that eating meat can make a person feel heavy, weighed down, or sluggish.

 

These are just a few things to keep in mind as you move through your vegan or vegetarian path. Remember that long term changes take time. Allow yourself to experiment and learn what you like. Be kind, and gentle with yourself, and remember that changing our diets is a process, one that takes time and work. Allow yourself to lean into new and exciting things in a way that supports and empowers you, and remember that there is no one way to be healthy or healthier.

 

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New Year’s Resolutions

 

It’s that time of the year again where we get together and celebrate the ending of another year and when we share our hope that the next year will be brighter and better than the last. Every year, many of us make New Year’s resolutions in an effort to motivate us to create a change in our lives. Sometimes these resolutions are about starting something (e.g., going to the gym, keeping a journal, making art). Sometimes they are about stopping something (e.g.,quitting smoking, cutting out meat from our meals, spending less time on the internet). And sometimes they are about us speaking our hopes aloud (e.g., take a trip, get that job, move to a new place). Whatever your New Year’s resolution is for 2018, we all know that at times it can be difficult to maintain the motivation necessary to keep up with the resolutions we made.

 

In order to set our community members up to have success with their New Year’s resolutions, we have created a list of 5 things to keep in mind for your New Year’s resolution.

 

  1. Choose a resolution that matters to you

 

The first step to keeping any New Year’s resolution is to come up with something you TRULY  want to accomplish. I know this may sound obvious to some people; however, often times we choose resolutions that we have had little motivation or desire to do in the past or we choose something that we feel we should want to change based off other people. Choosing a resolution that you feel passionate about will help you work towards your goal and will help you stay motivated longer.

 

  1. Keep going

 

It happens to all of us at some point: no matter how much we want to achieve a goal or reach a milestone, at times it can be hard to motivate ourselves to stay on track in an effort to achieve that goal. Whether that goal is to go to the gym, quit smoking, cook more dinners at home, or any other resolution, the motivation to keep up the pattern can be difficult to find. In these instances it’s important for us to remember why we chose that resolution in the first place. Moreover, New Year’s resolutions are not always fun to accomplish. Sometimes when we are not seeing the results or changes in our lives that we desire it can become disheartening to us. But at these times we should remember that change happens slowly and that making a new habit or ending an old habit takes time and work. Don’t be too hard on yourself for slips and misses. Allow yourself the ability to adjust to new changes!

 

  1. Set small goals

 

Instead of saying “I’m going to stop eating meat in 2018” when you have never gone vegetarian or vegan before, start slowly. A nice way to set up an achievable goal is to work in small increments. As opposed to stopping or starting something all the way, which can be a jarring change in your life with little time to adjust, create a realistic timeline of small achievable milestones that will allow you to slowly reach your goal (e.g., try eating meat-free meals 5 nights out of the week). Allow yourself to feel excited (e.g., reflect back on how many weeks you’ve eaten 5 meat-free dinners). Celebrate when you reach your milestones (e.g., reward yourself with a burger on the weekends). Perhaps eventually you realize that you feel satisfaction eating meat-free 7 nights a week or more. By building upon smaller goals to reach a larger goal you can create a strong foundation that can, over time lead to a more permanent result.

 

  1. Be honest with yourself

 

Set up realistic goals and expectations by evaluating where you are (e.g., I currently smoke 2 packs per day) and where you would like to be (e.g., I’d like to smoke less than a pack per day). Don’t be afraid to restructure your goals. Only you know where you might have difficulty with your resolution. By being honest with ourselves and acknowledging where we feel we might struggle and where we feel we might flourish, we can find strategies and practices that can support our journey. Also, keep in mind that a New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be something you achieve in the first month and maintain for the rest of the year. For some of us a New Year’s resolution is a goal we would like to reach by the end of the year or one that we would like to achieve at some point in the year.

 

  1. Find Support

 

Support can come in many forms. Sometimes it is our friends or family. Other times it can be an app or website. Support is whatever you need it to be. Having that support can help you keep motivated during difficult stretches. Support can help you see progress that isn’t always easy to see in ourselves. Find what works for you!

 

New Year’s resolutions are different for everyone. However, by thinking through and planning we can set ourselves up for success in the future. What about you? Are there any ways that you are planning to set yourself up for future success?

 

Are you looking for a New Year’s resolution this year? Would you like to help allgo to continue to provide Health & Wellness services for queer & trans people of color? Do you like riding bikes or being around people who ride bikes? Consider joining allgo’s Hill Country Ride for AIDS Team. This is a great opportunity to set a goal and work towards it. If you can’t or don’t want to ride a bike you can still be involved. The HCRA relies just as much on community support as it does riders. From cheering and encouraging riders, providing water, or just being there to welcome friends and community members to pit stops or at the finish line has a huge and powerful impact. To find out more or to join the allgo team click here.
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