Instagram, the long-time iPhone-only app, recently came out with an Android version and then got acquired by Facebook. Plenty of people got all pissy about it because it might “ruin it.” Hopefully it will remain the amazing app it is. For now I see it as the more the merrier.
Instagram is pretty much my favorite app. Now I enjoy a good game of Draw Something and Words with Friends and I won’t deny my admiration of the Starbucks app in developing customer loyalty. But despite all that, Instagram is my favorite and all awesome people should be using it. Why? Well let me tell you five reasons you should download Instagram now.
1. It’s like a photo diary of your daily life.
Now be wary, I might get a little deep and sappy here. As someone who lives and plans life from big moment to big moment, Instagram makes me appreciate the smaller moments of my everyday. From time to time I look at my photo feed as a whole and appreciate the beauty of each day from the sunrise on that early morning drive, to my pup watching snowflakes fall, to random joy I find at the office. “Just another cup of coffee” or “that bouquet that’s going to wilt tomorrow” becomes a little artistic pick me up that lives beyond that moment in my memory. When we’re not looking, time flies, and I don’t want to look back at days, months or years of my life and forget the things that shape me, however small. Okay, cheesiness done.
2. It makes your phone photos looks pretty sweet.
They always say the best camera is the one you have with you. Let’s face it, in this day and age I don’t carry my beautiful Nikon SLR (appropriately named “the baby”) with me everywhere, but you will rarely see me without my iPhone. Even when I don’t have service. I know, I’m “that girl.” That all being said, my phone takes pretty decent photos and is there to click away at a moment’s notice. With Instagram you can then add filters, enhancements, and/or the appearance of shallow depth of field (that blurry back or foreground that makes it look like it was taken with an SLR). Then instantly share with your other social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare, email, Posterous) or just with your Instagrammers.
4. It’s a creative outlet.
When I was little I used to lay awake at night, not able to sleep because I had creativity that I needed to let out. I’m always looking for a way to do, share, and create. Whether for a little mid-day therapy or just because I saw something amazing, Instagram lets the creativity out. And it’s #instagood.
4. You can connect with the world through images.
Now the three reasons I named before are reason enough, but here’s where Instagram gets really cool in my opinion — the community. As humans, images are one of the things we can connect to across cultures, languages and other barriers. Photos evoke emotions and while I may live an entirely different life as someone across the country or globe, we may both react the same to a photo. You can choose to set your photos to private and share with a small group of approved friends, but I feel the experience is most rewarding when shared with others in the community. I may have never had a conversation with someone I follow, but I feel through their images I get to know them. They get a peek into the beauty of my life and I get a peek into theirs.
5. You can connect your images through hashtags.
A few weeks ago my friends called me a “hashtag whore.” I cried a little bit. And then I told them why #hashtagsareawesome! Hashtags help you connect with others in the Instagram community. Similar to Twitter, Flickr, etc, they categorize your photos so you can connect like images such as #travel, #breakfast, #iphoneography, or #dogsofinstagram. There are also photo challenges that use these tags to share with others that participate. Basically it’s a good way to start sharing with a wider range of people. If you want to check out some of the most popular hashtags on Instagram, you can see the top 100 here.
So to sum it up, Instagram is fun and also free. Download it and then follow me @amfairbanks. Let’s be friends (pretty please with a cherry on top)! What’s your Instahandle?
It’s the new year and this week I have been getting my butt in gear. I’m aiming to exercise five days a week and eat a healthy diet within my calorie limit.
Now I don’t know about you, but I hate feeling constrained to food I hate, constantly struggling to count calories and forcing a workout schedule upon myself. There’s a reason it never works for most people. Many start off strong, but give up after a week or two once they get back into old habits. Despite that, people who are track their diet, exercise, and weight tend to lose weight more consistently. That means the key to success is tracking your real-time progress and following your schedule so you can get real, measurable results.
Why I like My Fitness Pal.
You set the goals.
When you create an account, you input your health goals whether you’re looking to maintain and tone or lose weight. Having it written down where I see it everyday and tracking progress is half the motivation I need to keep going.
It makes counting calories easy — even fun.
I am a snacker. I am much more likely to eat 5-7 little meals a day than I am to sit down for 2-3 large ones. In many ways this is the ideal way to eat for your metabolism, but when I stop watching what’s going in, it’s easy to end up over-indulging. With the MFP food diary you simply look up the food you ate (down to the exact brand and amount), and input it into breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks where it records all the nutritional info. Now for the fun part — they also have a handy barcode scanner so you can scan the exact food your eating and it is added instantly. Yeah, I’m a nerd, but I sort of get excited to use the scanner.
Once you start tracking, you will start to make smarter decisions about where to “spend” your calories. You find yourself choosing an apple instead of muffin or a side salad instead of fries to conserve your calories. Afterall you don’t want to get to dinner and realize you only have 200 left. Beyond calories, it also measures your other daily nutrients like fat, calcium, fiber, etc so you can make sure you’re reaching your nutritional goals there as well. I don’t worry too much if I go over on vitamin C, but if I’m way over on fat even if I’m under on calories, I know I need to watch it.
It makes me want to exercise.
The site has tons of different exercises and is measured by the amount of time you spend doing that exercise. A lot of losing weight is about your caloric intake. If you are maintaining your weight by consuming 2,500 calories and you lower that to 2,000, you will begin to see results. Now if you eat 2,500 calories but burn 500 at the gym, you still net out at your caloric goal of 2,000. You see the incentive here? I love food and those calories represent something totally delicious I would otherwise have to abstain from. I started to notice how much more I love my workout days over my “too lazy to get off my ass” days because I got to eat a little more. Also on days I know I have a party or a dinner out, I plan ahead by burning some extra calories to make up for it.
You can track weight, measurements and progress.
Not only can you track your daily progress in your caloric intake, but you can track your weight and measurements week to week. It creates a graph so you can see progress since your last “weigh in.” You can add custom measurements too! For instance I added stuff like body fat and water weight (since my scale tracks those) as well as measurements like my waist, hips, thighs, etc. Tracking this shows your visible progress and gives you even more motivation to keep it up.
Connect with friends for motivation.
Find other fitness pals or even share info with your actual workout buddies to keep you in line and cheer you on. I have a few friends in different states and we all comment on each other’s posts when they’ve accomplished something great like losing weight or rocking it at the gym. Don’t worry — they don’t have to see it all. You can choose to keep all your info totally private if you want, or control what your friends see. With my friends, my feed will share when I’ve lost weight (but not if I’ve gained) and my workouts.
To sum it up.