Why I'm Not Coaching for Beachbody

In the past few months, I’ve done a complete 180 when it comes to healthy living. I started exercising and eating right (for the most part…), and I shared the process on a fitness-focused Instagram account. I noticed it almost right away: these mysterious “virtual fitness coaches” saturating my feed with sweaty selfies and motivational quotes. And it didn’t take long, once my account started to gather a following, for these ladies to start reaching out to me with offers to become a coach myself. They didn’t always mention their employer outright, but I only needed a quick Google search to tell me that these women work for a multi-level marketing company called Beachbody. That’s right, the dreaded “MLM” — what some people refer to as a “pyramid scheme”. Yikes.

But the peppy posts and the promise of a rewarding, engaging, self-propelled career were getting to me. So I did a bit of research.

Like any MLM, the premise of Beachbody is that its salespeople promote and sell its products to their social networks. In this case, it’s a collection of video series, a video-on-demand service, and a nutritional supplement called Shakeology. If you’re a human with a TV, then you’ve probably heard of the workout program P90X from the infomercials. That’s Beachbody. And if you’re involved at all with the fitness social media scene, then you might also have seen posts about Beachbody’s other programs like “Insanity”, “21 Day Fix”, or “Hammer and Chisel”.

Beachbody salespeople go beyond simply peddling their products. They also typically provide moral support to their clients via social media, making them “virtual fitness coaches”. Coaches pay a small fee for the infrastructure of their business (i.e. their personal Beachbody website, from which they earn a commission). But in order to successfully promote Beachbody from personal experience, coaches also need to buy into the programs themselves. Even at a seller’s discount, this can be a pretty pricey endeavour. This is how all MLMs work, so the startup costs were no surprise to me.

Then there’s the coaching recruitment aspect, which is pretty standard for an MLM as well. Whether it’s through commissions or bonuses, Beachbody encourages coaches to find others to join their coaching teams. This creates a structure (or upline) of coaches that provide business advice and support to newer team members. I have found it so interesting to see the wide variety of tactics current coaches have used to reach out to potential clients like me. It’s formulaic, but there’s definitely tons of room for personal flair.

So, am I turning down the opportunity to work for Beachbody as a virtual fitness coach because it’s an MLM, and therefore an evil company that wants to steal my money and take advantage of my friends and family?

Actually, no.

I already knew the basics about MLMs when I started looking into Beachbody. And I really liked the idea of promoting a healthy lifestyle and helping others achieve their goals, plus earning a revenue stream on the side. Obviously the startup costs are daunting, but I would cross the ROI bridge when I came to it.

The dealbreaker for me was actually the Beachbody products themselves. You heard the program names: “P90X”, “Insanity”, “Hammer and Chisel”. They’re high-intensity, hardcore, super-focused workouts intended to provide maximal results in minimal time. Some of them even come with meal plans to help you, ahem, “shred” or whatever.

Back when I joined Tone It Up, I mentioned that one of my favourite things about the program was that it was light, fun, and positive. Sure, there’s talk of being toned and lean. But the major focus is on creating a lifestyle that is sustainable in the long run. My fitness goals are a lot more about habit-forming than about “results”. And honestly, if the video has scary words like “Insanity” or “Max” in the title, I’m probably not going to try it — let alone stick to it!

I love promoting products that I believe in. (You’ll recall my NaNoWriMo obsession… my Agendio reviewpraise for my new Fitbit…) Unfortunately, I just don’t believe that Beachbody’s lineup of products would meet my current needs as a consumer, so I definitely can’t promote them as a coach.

That’s not to say that it won’t work for anyone! Do your research, watch the workout trailers on YouTube, and talk to coaches on social media. (Shoutout to Kate Rhue, a Beachbody coach who answered all of my annoying questions and is so passionate about her work as a virtual fitness coach! If you’re in the market for coaching, check her out!) But for now, I’m going to stick to Tone It Up for my fitness program, and earning an income the good ol’ fashioned way.

What are your thoughts on Beachbody?

Tone It Up Bikini Series

Hello, dear readers! I’ve been AWOL again for a while, but between work and the Tone It Up Bikini Series beginning last week, I simply haven’t had the energy for my poor little blog. I have mentioned Tone It Up on this page before (check that out here). But you might be wondering, “What the heck is the Bikini Series?” Friends, six months ago, I would have been asking the exact same question.

Here it is in a nutshell. The Tone It Up Bikini Series is an eight week fitness challenge with an optional nutrition component, leading up to the first day of summer. Every day you have an assigned daily workout, some or all of which you complete first thing in the morning for your “Bootycall”. (Cheesy, I know — but hey, I didn’t come up with the lingo.) Then, if you’re a nutrition plan member, you also follow along with the meal plan. That means planning out and prepping “Lean Clean’N Green” meals every Sunday for eight weeks straight. And also trying not to eat Timbits. Which is basically impossible.

Am I crazy? Yes, probably. I never thought I’d be that person that gets up at 5:45am every morning to work out, but here we are. That’s pretty crazy in itself.

So yes, I’ll admit right now that on the surface, the Bikini Series is all about looking good in a bikini when summer arrives. That’s kind of awkward to talk about on this blog, given the wide variety of other topics I cover here. But this whole thing started when I realized that if I don’t make healthy eating and exercise a priority in my life now, in my early twenties, I never will. Kicking it into high gear is a great way to set myself up for positive habits moving forward. Plus, I have a pretty good track record with these timed, online, worldwide challenges, if I do say so myself.

If you’re wondering about costs, the challenge itself is free. However, here are the extras I decided to splurge on:

  • The Nutrition Plan — but this was free for me this time, since I made the one-time purchase back in January!
  • The Bikini Series Bundle — this package came with the premium Beach Babe 5 workout video series (recommended but totally not necessary) and a bunch of TIU swag.
  • The Bikini Series Journal — the particular edition is now sold out, but it’s basically a templated journal to track your meals, exercise, sleep, water intake, and Bikini Series goals. You can get an older version on sale here if you so choose. I’m finding it pretty helpful to keep me on track.

I’ll also mention here that there are prizes up for grabs on Instagram each week. They’re looking for consistent check-ins on Instagram (tagging @toneitup and #tiubikiniseries) to document your meals, workouts, and inspirations. Like many others, I created a Tone It Up-specific account for these types of posts.

Week Two of the Tone It Up Bikini Series has now begun, so we’re really in the thick of it. I’m feeling a little sore but pretty pumped about how things are going so far. If you’re thinking of coming along for the ride, go for it! There’s no harm in starting late — I was two weeks late for the previous challenge. It’s better than never starting at all! Hop over to the Tone It Up website to sign up for Bikini Series emails and start following the daily workouts. Hope to see you there!

How I Faced My Fitness Fears

About a year ago, I published a blog post entitled “3 Reasons Hiking is my Favourite Hobby for Exercise”. I provided those three reasons: a clear goal to achieve, no expectations about fitness levels, and the chance to experience the great outdoors. But I’ll tell you a secret, friends. Sure, I love hiking and its many benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. But the only reason it was my favourite hobby for exercise at the time was the second one on the list. I was afraid to try anything else because of judgment, both from others and myself. I was held back by my fitness fears.

In the past year, I’ve made some really cool changes in my life when it comes to health and fitness. I started caring a little more about how I’m fueling my body, and how I’m expending that energy. You might know that I recently started following daily workouts on ToneItUp.com, their Nutrition Plan, and the community on social media. And in the midst of all of this, I’ve had the opportunity to face some deep-seated (or not) fitness fears. Here are a couple:

  • I went to a fitness class.
  • I went for a run. Outside.
  • I walked into the Running Room and asked for shoe recommendations because I’d just started running. (And it wasn’t a lie.)
  • I made a change to my diet and exercise routines — and actually told people about it.
  • I posted about my habits and progress on Instagram for the (Tone It Up) world to see.

Why was I scared of these simple, basic, not-a-big-deal things? Honestly, I think I got so comfortable with being fitness-averse that admitting I wanted to make a change was terrifying. Plus, the fact that I’ve faced them doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re no longer scary. But as any good social media-savvy millennial would do, let me share an inspirational quote from Pinterest:

Facing Your Fitness Fears

So how did I face my fears? A lot of the time it took adrenaline — a snap decision, not giving myself the chance to look back, mull over it, wonder about all the things that could go wrong. Like many of us, I have a tendency to overthink things. (Okay, everything.) In my experience, the best way to outsmart that habit is to make your decision current. Don’t decide you’ll do that hard thing tomorrow, next week, or next year. Just do it now.

I’ve still got a long list of fitness fears waiting to be conquered. But it’s motivating to look back and see how far I’ve come!

What fears are you facing?

My Tone It Up Meal Prep Process

Hey friends! If you’ve been following along on Flinntrospection recently, you’ll know that I joined the Tone It Up 2017 Challenge two weeks ago. It’s a six week healthy living challenge with both a fitness and a nutrition component. (Oops, I joined two weeks late!) I’d been following along with the Tone It Up workouts for a few weeks beforehand. So in spite of a crazy work schedule, I’ve been keeping up with the fitness portion. The nutrition, on the other hand, has been a struggle. There is a ton of planning, effort, and time that has to go into preparing healthy meals for the week. But this week, for my third round of Sunday Tone It Up Meal Prep, I’ve settled into a routine. If you’re on the TIU Nutrition Plan — or even if you’re not — this method might work for you!

Note: I do Steps 1-4 on Saturdays, and 5-6 on Sundays!

Step 1: Choose Your Meals

The 2017 Challenge edition of the Nutrition Plan includes a full six-week meal plan breakdown. But you’re fully welcome, and often encouraged, to choose your own meals. Plus, once the challenge is over, you’re on your own with choosing meals for the week. For Week Five of the challenge, I’m loosely following the schedule, but making lots of substitutions.

The TIU Nutrition Plan has some helpful printables for filling out your weekly meal schedule:

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Meal Plan Template

Obviously, you can make this for yourself too. Just type one up in Word, or literally draw it on a blank sheet of paper. (Or you can grab one of these — not an affiliate link, just a cool find.)

Once you have your template, write in all the meals and snacks you’re planning to eat for the week. I’m following the Nutrition Plan’s lead in making each weekday M3 (lunch) the leftovers from the previous night’s M5 (dinner). More complex recipes will show up on weekends, when I have time for them. I’m also loving make-ahead meals for weekday breakfasts, like Overnight Oats.

Step 2: Make Your Ingredient List

This step takes a bit of cross-referencing with your fridge or pantry. I pick a meal, look at the list of ingredients in the Nutrition Plan (if necessary), and write down whatever I don’t have in my kitchen. It’s also important to include quantities for the week, so you can aggregate them later on in the process. If you’re making enough for leftovers, make sure you’re duplicating quantities in single-serving recipes! After each meal’s ingredients have been accounted for, check it off everywhere it appears on your meal plan template. Keep going until you’ve listed ingredients for all of your meals, even if the ingredients overlap. It will look something like this:

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Ingredient List

Step 3: Make Your Grocery List

Now you walk through your Ingredient List and consolidate it into a grocery list, sorted by product category. Cross them off on the ingredients list as you go, and don’t forget to add your quantities. I have one of those “All Out Of” grocery checklists, so that helps the process!

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Grocery List

Why did I separate these two steps? Because it’s hard to look at a huge list of meals and flip back and forth between recipes to put together a list of, say, all the veggies you need for the week. I find it much easier to work by recipe. And once the ingredients are all on one page, consolidation is a breeze.

If you’re thinking of using the pre-made Challenge grocery list, a word of warning: it lies. (Okay, maybe not on purpose.) I followed it to the letter in my first week on the Nutrition Plan. I ended up missing some ingredients I needed, and having lots of things that weren’t even on the meal plan docket. For the sake of the environment and your wallet, I’d recommend making your own list!

Step 4: Write Your Meal Prep Checklist

The 2017 Challenge booklet also comes with a simple checklist for your meal prep adventures. It’s pretty reliable, but because of my volatile work schedule, I have to prep beyond the suggested list. Feel free to prepare whatever works for you. Pre-chop your veggies, make your frozen smoothie packs, cook your Monday night dinner, prepare your proteins, whatever! Make a list of all the tasks you’re going to tackle on Sunday.

Step 5: Grocery Shop

In the TIU world, Sunday has two purposes: Sunday Runday, and Tone It Up Meal Prep.

With your list in hand, head out to the grocery store and shop till you drop! But don’t drop. You have work to do.

Step 6: The Real Deal — Tone It Up Meal Prep

Organize your groceries, pull out your checklist, and start knocking those things off one by one. Try to prioritize oven tasks, especially with long cook times, so you can maximize your efficiency. This is where I find it was the most helpful to have my Nutrition Plan printed out for easy reference, especially for new dishes. I have tried fifteen new recipes in the past two weeks, which is absolutely insane for me! It also helps to clean up as you go. Prepare for high volumes of dishes, food waste/compost, and Tupperware filling up your entire fridge! (And don’t forget to share #tiuteam photos of the process and the delish food on Instagram!)


That’s how I do my Tone It Up Meal Prep! How do you prepare your meals for the week ahead?

Getting On The Wagon With Tone It Up

I signed up for Tone It Up last week. I’ve been following the daily workouts for seven days now. And I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

 Tone It Up: I have no idea what I'm doing

Okay, let me provide some background here.

Exercise has never been a priority of mine. Unlike many young professionals, I’m not saying that I “fell off the wagon” when I graduated. I was never on the wagon to begin with. In fact, here’s a rundown of my fitness history:

  • Took ballet at the age of five. Was horrible. Never went back.
  • Passed swimming lessons up to Level 12, when they had that — basically, the one before official lifeguard training — then stopped. Never went back.
  • Tried out for exactly zero sports in high school.
  • Stopped taking gym class after Grade Nine. (Swapped it out for science or music courses…)
  • Basically hated all things related to exercise.

Recently, I’ve participated in Zumba, done some hiking, and practiced yoga (including some month-long challenges). I even did a bit of circuit training, sort of… But the frequency and/or intensity of these activities don’t constitute a healthy lifestyle by anyone’s standards, including my own.

So I realized recently that it’s probably in my best interest to take care of my body. You know, so I can live longer, feel better, not get winded when I go up a flight of stairs… That kind of thing. Plus, I want to avoid a midlife epiphany that getting in shape would have been so much easier if I had only started earlier. Right now, for example.

Except I’m not the type of person that can motivate myself to do something brand new, and then commit to it from the get-go. Plus, gyms are scary for newbies like me. Like I said, I really don’t know what I’m doing.

Enter Tone It Up.

Tone It Up: Karena & KatrinaIf you haven’t heard of it, Tone It Up (or TIU) is a website, a YouTube channel, and a massive social media presence run by Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott, two (extremely) peppy fitness trainers. Their site has workouts, recipes, an online store, and a community forum. The Tone It Up videos are pretty tough for me, though it’s clear how to modify the difficulty up or down with weights, duration, etc. They are also bright, musical, beach-y, and usually very feminine. A decent portion of their videos and a few of their recipes are available for free, but their famous “Nutrition Plan” and video series are for sale in the shop. So far, I haven’t personally purchased anything from TIU.

I’ll post a bit later on why I chose this program over the countless others out there, but here’s a quick update on how it’s going.

I’ve probably exercised more this week than ever before. (That’s not saying much… but still!) Everything on me has been sore at some point. I haven’t bought into the social media component yet, and I think that will be a long time coming. I’m getting used to waking up early to complete at least some of the daily workout first thing in the morning. That’s one of the requirements, known as the “Bootycall”. Also, I have never heard or used the word “booty” as often in my entire life — and it’s getting kind of weird, to be honest.

Will I stick with it? No idea. The ultimate goal of this experience for me is to normalize exercise in my everyday life. Having a video series and daily challenges gives it some structure and external motivation, which is helpful in this (very) early stage!

How do you stay fit — or get fit in the first place?

Motivation Monday — 5 Tips for Getting Things Done

Happy Monday, everyone! Or perhaps not-so-happy Monday… If you’re like me, you had a generally relaxing, lethargic weekend, and you’re not feeling entirely prepared to take on the long week ahead. I spent some time these past few days (mostly while sitting on the couch) thinking about what gets me motivated to succeed and get things done. Here are some of my findings — hopefully we can kickstart Motivation Monday together!

Create a productive atmosphere.

Sometimes, in spite of your plans to spend the day getting things done, your surroundings drag you back into your comfort zone. I find that it’s a lot easier to get to work when I first:

  • Make the room bright by opening the windows or turning on the lights
  • Play some working music
  • Clear away any distracting clutter — but be careful not to get sucked into procrasti-cleaning!

Make a list.

It’s always helpful to have a roadmap when it feels like there’s way too much to do. Making a list with manageable, “bite-sized” tasks allows you to prioritize the things you need to do. It also shows you the light at the end of the tunnel: once these items are checked off, you’re done! I currently use Todoist for my to-do lists at work and at home.

Make it a habit.

It’s hard enough to get things done. It’s even harder when your usual routine is to lay about and not get things done. This is usually compounded by sleeping in on weekends, which is apparently equivalent to giving yourself jet lag every weekend and then expecting it to just magically disappear on Monday. I’ve been making an effort to shift my schedule seven days a week so that I have the energy and habitual foundation for motivation each and every day.

Solidify your motivations.

People make goals for lots of reasons: out of necessity (like work), to improve themselves, to impress others, and lots more. Some motivations are stronger than others. This step is a personal one: find out what’s important to you, and pursue the goals that match that motivation. And more importantly, don’t wallow in guilt when you fail to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself. It might be a clue that you’re not seeking motivation in the right places. Set goals that truly matter to you.

Just do it!

Sometimes there’s a task that I know will be pretty quick, but rather painful. Rather than hemming and hawing over when to do it, if ever, this is the time when it’s best to just rip off the Band-Aid, so to speak. Just hold your breath, shut off all of your internal complaining, and do it. This approach definitely doesn’t work for everything, and it’s usually only sufficient motivation every so often. But sometimes, as much as you’re going to hate it, you just have to do it.


I have an exhausting week ahead, but I’m hoping to take things one day at a time and find motivation for the tasks on my list!

Side Note: I had to use a couple of these tips today to motivate myself to write a blog post in the first place!

How do you prepare to get things done on Motivation Monday?

6 Tips for a Better Night's Sleep

I did not have a very good sleep last night. Lying in bed with my eyes (almost) closed, my mind was racing! Ironically, I was thinking of all of the things I had done wrong that evening when it comes to preparing for the night. So in the interest of learning from mistakes and taking advantage of the online accountability of a blog, here are some of my best tips for a restful night — a.k.a. how to get a better night’s sleep than me.

1. Stick to a sleep schedule.

Having a steady schedule is key when you want your body to just know when it’s time to wind down. In fact, Fitbit just added a fun feature to their mobile app that plans out your sleep schedule for you, and sends you notifications when it’s time for bed. Of course, I left my phone in another room, and completely lost track of time. Mistake number one.

2. Avoid screens.

You have probably heard that it’s best to turn off electronics a couple of hours before bed. And if you’re like me, you probably completely ignored that advice. Logically, though, it’s understandable that getting your eyes and brain active by staring at a screen right before bed isn’t a great idea. Plus, there’s the biological component: the artificial light from a screen simulates daylight, messing with your melatonin levels and prompting your body to wake itself up (more on that here, if you’re interested). And yet, I was on the computer right up until bedtime tonight. Oops.

3. Get things done the night before.

Some of my issues with falling asleep stem from the dread at having to wake up early in the morning, with so much on my list of to-dos before I even leave the house. I find that I sleep easier knowing that some of my early morning chores are complete. So pack that lunch, pick that outfit, or take out the recycling in the evening to save yourself some stress.

4. Make a list.

The previous suggestion isn’t always feasible, of course. If that’s the case for you, I’d recommend keeping a pen and paper on your nightstand. That way, when you do remember something important, you won’t need to keep yourself awake, worrying about whether you might forget it. This is a tip that’s super helpful for novelists as well (NaNoWriMo, anyone?) for those midnight flashes of inspiration!

5. Cool off.

Instinctively, cooler temperatures indicate to our bodies that it’s nighttime. (Believe me, it’s science!) However, the allure of fuzzy PJs or a cozy comforter can sometimes lead us astray. Don’t bother going down the path of getting all bundled up, only to spend the next hour removing layer after layer before falling asleep!

6. Cut down on the caffeine.

I may have mentioned that I work at Tim Hortons. (Just kidding. I definitely mentioned it.) And since I transferred to a new department this month, I’ve been leaving the office around 8pm each night. That means my last cup of coffee is around 5 or 6 to get me through to the end. So when I read that I should be avoiding caffeine six hours before bedtime to ensure a good night’s sleep, all I can do is laugh and move on. But hey, maybe this advice will work for you!


With these suggestions in mind, I hope we can all get a better sleep tonight!

What’s your best advice for a good night’s sleep?

K is for Knuckle Cracking

I have the bad habit of getting into bad habits. First it was thumb-sucking, then it was nail-biting, and now, it’s knuckle cracking. (And hair splitting. And hangnail pulling. The list goes on.) I do it when I’m bored, when I’m stressed, while I’m talking or listening… So essentially, I do it all the time. Whenever I think about it, my joints suddenly feel like they’re floating or something, and I get the irrepressible urge to crack them. One unique thing about my personal knuckle cracking is that because I have very tiny hands, when I crack my knuckles, the sound is particularly high-pitched. Instead of that shudder-inducing cracking sound that some people’s joints make, my knuckles just make a little clicking sound. That’s not annoying, right?

Okay, I know, it’s totally annoying. So today, for the letter “K” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I did some research on knuckle cracking, and the negative impacts it can have on my joints. But first, let’s talk about what is actually happening in those joints.

 K is for Knuckle Cracking - An MRI of Knuckle Cracking

According to this Wired post (from which I also got the above gross GIF), the popping sound and feeling comes from a bubble forming within the synovial fluid, due to the negative pressure as the joint comes apart. Weird, but let’s move on to the facts: what are the long-term impacts?

Well, according to this article from Mental Floss, this academic paper, and this video (which actually cites the paper as well, but maybe you’d rather have a British guy explain it to you instead of reading it):

…the answer is no, guys. Knuckle cracking doesn’t cause arthritis, or any long-term pain. In fact, it increases the range of motion of the joint — at least, immediately following the knuckle cracking.

So unfortunately, my plan to convince myself not to crack my knuckles for health reasons has failed miserably. I guess my motivation will have to come from a desire to not bug my coworkers anymore with my incessant knuckle cracking.

Do you crack your knuckles? If you quit, how did you do it?

Goals for 2016

The new year is finally upon us! Well, actually, it’s been upon us for three days now. I love using the new year as a fresh start for pursuing my goals, so I’ve spent the last few days composing a list of the goals I want to achieve in the coming year. Last year was pretty great, and I was able to accomplish many of the goals I’d set out for myself. But there were still many things on my list that I didn’t complete. The common trend in those unachieved goals was that there was no clear motivation behind them – they were just items on a to-do list that were never done. This year, I really hope to focus on the goals that will have a real impact on my life.

More steps per day on my Fitbit

I purchased a Fitbit Flex back in September, and I love being able to see how much exercise I get on a day-to-day basis. I’d like to be more consistent with increased activity levels this year so that I can improve my emotional and physical well-being. My realistic goal is 50,000 steps per week, but I’d love to hit 70,000 (the recommended 10k per day)!

8 hours of sleep

This one is so hard to stick to, especially when the rest of my household doesn’t have a fixed sleep schedule (that’s the boyfriend and the cat). I personally benefit in a lot of ways from getting enough sleep, so I’d like to make this a habit!

Read more

I used to be a voracious reader, but now I’m ashamed to admit that Netflix has taken over. Reading has all of the benefits of television for me, without the downside of lasting lethargy. I’ve already started making a list of books I want to read on my new Kindle (both fiction and non-fiction), and I hope to wean myself off TV as much as possible.

Knit a pair of socks

This one is a bit arbitrary, but I just got a set of circular needles for Christmas, and I want to tackle the quintessential knitting project!

Improve my technical skillset

I haven’t narrowed this down yet, but I want to become more proficient in technology. This might be in the form of a new programming language, a concept or course… I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Keep blogging

As I mentioned when I launched this blog, I want to stretch my writing muscles, share my thoughts, and get to know myself a little better. I hope to post at least every other day and nail down what this blog is really about!

Identify my dream job?

I don’t want to jump the gun here, but if I don’t make it a goal, how will I ever achieve it? I hope to do some soul-searching and research in the coming year.

Track and plan my goals

I’ve got a really sweet planner (more on that later), so I want to use it! Creating mini-goals will help keep me motivated and on track to succeed.

What are your goals for 2016?

How I Quit Nail-Biting Using Apps

I’ll start this off by saying that it wasn’t easy. Nail-biting has been a 16-year habit for me (a solid 73% of my life), and an unpleasant one at that. For context, I’d say I was a middle-of-the-road addict: I would bite them right up to the nailbed, but usually not beyond. The exception was back in middle school, where a combination of stress and boredom really took a toll on my fingers. It hurt! Not to mention the hangnails, infections, and inability to scratch or grasp anything that needed nails. At that point, I knew it was time to stop, but I didn’t really know where to start. It was so ingrained in everything I did.

My thumb in July 2014. Ick.

My thumb in July 2014. Ick. And this is nowhere near the worst of it.

Like most people, the first thing I tried was straight willpower. It was just a habit, right? All I needed to do was not bite my nails. Simple enough – but not easy. I could last about a week or two this way (and only when I was really trying). But when it came time to clip my nails shorter so they wouldn’t break or tear, I’d just bite them off and start all over again. The second one of my nails had a jagged edge, I knew I was screwed. It took me a long time to finally figure out that I should carry a nail file with me, but even that solution wasn’t very effective since I was prone to forget about it.

Next I tried keeping my nails painted. A number of problems arose from this:

  1. It was hard to keep up – every time the polish started to chip off, I’d be back to biting.
  2. My job at the time only allowed clear nail polish, and since I couldn’t see it to remember it was there, I’d end up biting anyway.
  3. I ended up not minding the taste of it. Gross, I know, but that’s the truth.

Then there were the drastic measures: bandages on my fingertips, gloves everywhere all the time, that gross-tasting polish stuff. They all failed; none were consistent enough to actually make a lasting difference.

#nailspiration

#nailspiration

About a year ago, I started getting really excited about apps for everything – games and stores and fitness and organizing and finance and writing… and it occurred to me that there must be an app to help people quit nail-biting habits. When I sought them out, I found lots! But most of them didn’t suit my needs. In fact, many were general habit apps, and a lot of them tracked on a day-to-day basis. Back then, it had become so bad that I couldn’t even make it a day without biting my nails. It was pretty demotivating to see long streaks of “missed” days. Not to mention, if I happened to bite my nails in the morning, I would treat it like a free-for-all and end up biting them straight through the day – it would all look the same on a habit tracker anyway.

Much further down on the Google Play search list, I found a funny little app simply called “Nail Biting“, and it looks like this:

Nail Biting App

And that’s it. You open up the app and press the “I DID IT” button whenever you bite. To be clear, it was a little annoying to have to open the app every time (I would have preferred a widget), but because the app itself is so simple, the loading time was negligible.

The cool part, which ended up being the most helpful, was the granularity of the statistics:

nail biting app stats

Hourly! So exciting!

I used this app on its own for a few weeks. I did see my no-biting stretches increasing, but I still had some slipups now and then. Once I was able to go a day or two without biting, I added another app to the mix: HabitBull (the free version). This app has a lot of features and is good for lots of habits, which I won’t get into here.

This is my real progress back in April. The thought bubbles indicate comments I've added to those days.

This is my real progress back in April. The speech bubbles indicate that I’ve added comments to those days.

I would log my nail-biting in the Nail Biting app throughout the day, and then transfer the number of times in the day over to HabitBull before bed. I would also add comments to days when I filed or clipped my nails, since those were they days I struggled the most. It was the combination of mindfulness and accountability (in the form of red “missed” days) that made the difference. Plus, I love charts.

It took me a few false starts on HabitBull, but as of April 14th (260 days ago), I no longer bite my nails! I stopped using HabitBull in August; it was getting pretty tedious to record each successful day.

how I quit nail-biting in 2015 using apps — progress

Progress!

I should clarify: I no longer bite my nails. I still do, on occasion, pick at them, tear them, or randomly find that I’ve got my fingertip in my mouth after zoning out for a while. I’m working on those things. The longer I go without biting my nails, though, the easier the other pieces of the puzzle are to leave behind.

Unfortunately, I’ve also noticed that my nailbed doesn’t seem to be growing back. Every time I clip my nails, it sort of looks like I’m starting from scratch (though not nearly as gross). So a warning to you nail-biters out there: even if you quit, your nails may never be as good as new.

Do you have any nail-biting struggles or tips to share?

Happy New Year to all!