10 Tools to Improve Your Life in 2017

Welcome to resolution season.

January is the busiest month of the year for gyms, yoga studios, spin classes, and boot camps around the world. A lot of people come out of the holiday season a bit fluffier than they would like, and the fitness New Years’ resolution is born.

I’m all about setting goals, and I love seeing the flood of people who start working out in January. If you’re anything like me, you’ve also set some personal goals as well. For me, I have a serious reverse bet* going on writing a lot of weekly content for the entire year, as well as doubling the amount of books I read, and growing some areas of business. I have a lot of accountability measures and reminders in place, all over my home office, so I’ll constantly be reminded of what I need to do.

The problem with goal setting in January, or anytime really, is sustainability. How many times have you told yourself you’ll lose 30 pounds by March, or pay off $10K worth of debt in six months? These goals are fine and well, but it’s very easy to get caught up in that end goal, and how far away it is. It’s not enough to have a noble goal; you need actionable steps and tools to help you reach said goal.

If you want to succeed with any goal, you need to develop sustainable habits that you can keep for a very long time. You want to give yourself every opportunity to succeed, not set yourself up for failure with lofty goals and no plan to get there.

Whether your primary goal is improved fitness, better control of your finances, starting a new business, or developing a new mindset and perspective on life, the tools in this list will help you reach your goals a bit easier. From apps to help you make new habits stick, to books on mindset and tools to improve your health and fitness in 30 seconds a day, these are the ten tools I’ll be relying on the most to help me crush my fitness, business, and personal life goals in 2017.

*That reverse bet? If I don’t write at least 6,500 quality words each week, whether that’s blog posts, emails, or working on new books and products, I have to buy a throwback, striped, Ben Roethlisberger jersey, and wear it every day for a week. As a die-hard Ravens fan, just the thought of doing this makes me dry heave a little bit, so brace yourself for all the written words this year.

Apps

I have my phone with me at all times. Yeah, I know – it’s a bad habit. I’m working on less phone time, but if you’re like me, and have it attached to your hand wherever you go, these apps will help you knock your goals out of the park.

MyFitnessPal

Don’t bother with the paid version – the free food tracking app is all you need. There are others like it, but this one is my favorite due to the social feature. I have all my clients add me as a friend and share their food logs, so I can check in whenever I want on what they’ve been eating.

That’s right, you can let the world see what you eat. Talk about accountability.

Just about every food you can think of is on there, and you can scan labels or type in restaurant menu items to get instant nutrition information added to your daily totals. If you’re into flexible dieting and tracking macros, you need this app.

MyFitnessPal (iOS)

MyFitnessPal (Android)

 

Streaks

Streaks is a very cool app I’ve recently started to use to track activities. You can set up various habits – drink 8 glasses of water daily, 30 minutes of exercise, 30 minutes of reading, and it shows you how many days in a row you’ve done each one, with the goal of building up your streaks. You can also set avoidance streaks – no smoking, no alcohol, etc…

If you get motivated by achievements and trying to beat your old records, like I do, this is a really great app to stick on your home screen, so you can check on your habits every day, and it’ll give you a notification on the app icon with how many daily habits you still need to do.

The official app is only available on the iPhone, but Android users can get an app that looks nearly identical, and functions the same way from what I can tell. I don’t own an Android, but, the pictures look about the same, so give it a try (or get an iPhone like everyone else).

Official Streaks (iOS)

Android Streaks (Android)

 

Audible

For anyone who doesn’t already know, I LOVE reading. Like, absolutely love it. There’s nothing like having a fresh, crisp, book in my hands, waiting to be cracked open.

Historically, I’ve always been turned off by audiobooks and e-books, at least when there’s a print version available. I still don’t own a Kindle, but I have converted to Audible. Anytime I’m in the car, on a walk, or doing my cardio, I’ll use Audible to make progress on whatever book I’m currently listening to. It hasn’t replaced reading for me, but over the last year, I listened to 7 or 8 books on Audible, books I wouldn’t otherwise have had time to read.

Pro-tip: Use Audible for fiction or otherwise light reading; it’s not great if you want to take notes or re-read parts of a book. Also, gradually increase your playback speed as you get used to listening – I am now rocking most audiobooks at 1.5x reading speed, saving me time and helping me finish books faster.

Audible is free to use, but you have to buy the audiobooks.

Never fear, I’ve got the hookup for you. Now through the end of January, you can get not one, but TWO free Audible books – that’s an incredible deal.

I suggest The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, or my favorite book of all time, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. All are excellently done, with amazing performances and even better stories.

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

 


Books

These are the books that can help change your mindset and dominate 2017. There are plenty of fitness books out there, so for me, a big focus is on growing as a person, not just as a guy who enjoys lifting weights. Rather than share my favorite fitness books, I wanted to share books that everyone can benefit from, even if you’re not big into working out right now. These are books that have made a massive impact on me, and should definitely make your list if reading more books is one of your resolutions.

 

The Daily Stoic – Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday is one of my favorite writers of all time. You may have heard of his previous books, The Obstacle is The Way, Ego is the Enemy, Trust Me, I’m Lying, or Growth Hacker Marketing. If you haven’t read his other stuff, or even if you have, this daily reader is an excellent book for your year.

Each day, you have a very short meditation or reading, to set your mind right for the day. I’ve found the daily meditations really make me think hard, and they make Stoicism easy, accessible, and very applicable to the modern world. Stoicism is not a bored, emotionless way of living, but a very focused and productive way to live your life. This book is amazing, and I plan on reading it every day this year, and for years to come.

I don’t care what stage of life you’re in, or who you are – this book is a MUST read for everyone.

Get The Daily Stoic on Amazon

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike – Phil Knight

Shoe Dog was good. Really, really good.

This is an absolutely fascinating and amazing autobiography about the creation of Nike, including it’s successes, but more importantly, it’s struggles. It’s easy to see Nike as a world-dominating brand, but learning about the many setbacks and obstacles the company faced will definitely motivate you to work hard at whatever it is that you do, even when the going gets tough.

Here’s a fun fact. Fans of running, like Phil Knight, will know about the great Steve Prefontaine, a key player in Nike’s early days, and one of the greatest runners who ever lived. As a completely unrelated, yet very important side note, I played in a rock band called The Prefontaines when I was in high school, a band that wanted nothing more than to be the next Kings of Leon. We almost won a local battle of the bands, and recorded some studio stuff before different colleges pulled us apart – but I thought you should know.

Those were the glory days for sure (photo evidence at the end of this article).

Get Shoe Dog on Amazon

 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson

Profanity aside, this is a thought-provoking and potentially life-changing book from Mark Manson. I went in not knowing what to expect, but man this book hits hard, and is a hell of a entertaining read.

The title explains it all, but this book teaches you how to figure out what’s really important, so you can stop stressing and worrying about insignificant things. If you constantly feel stressed, unhappy, or generally not as happy as you know you could be, this one is worth a read.

Oh yeah, the title of the book is censored, but not the contents itself, and the title should give you a good clue as to what the writing is like. If you’re offended by swearing, this isn’t the book for you.

Get The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck on Amazon

 

 


Fitness Stuff

Finally, we get to fitness stuff. These are three tools to help you improve your overall health this year, tools that will help you stay on track as you work towards building your best body ever in 2017.

Matt Dustin Fitness Elite Training Club

Shameless plug? Yes. But whatever, it’s my blog, and this is good.

Look, setting a fitness goal is easy; sticking to it is hard. My 100% free Facebook group is a community of people who will support you, keep you motivated, and push you to be better, all while having fun. We talk movies, workout stuff, recipes, motivation, and a whole lot more.

If you want to make some fitness friends and get some cool stuff in 2017, including video hangouts with yours truly, the group is the place to be.

Matt Dustin Fitness Elite Training Club (FREE Group)

Athletic Greens

Story time. About three months ago, I felt myself coming down with a bad cold, so I wanted a quick immune system boost. At the time, I was working across from a cold-pressed juice bar here in San Diego, so in I went. After telling the lady working that I wanted some immunity support, she sold me a pre-pressed concoction of kale, ginger, spinach, and maybe 3 or 4 other things. It tasted like fiery grass water – burned on the way down, with a horrible aftertaste.

This little bottle cost me $8.58, AFTER a discount.

For those of you who have ever shopped at Whole Paycheck Whole Foods, you know they also have a fresh juice bar, that will also run you $9 or more per serving.

The benefit of green juices is real. You get a whole bunch of micronutrients, in an easily digestible form. However, paying $9 for a blend of vegetables sucks. I think we can all agree on that.

Athletic Greens provides way more nutrition. I’m talking, 75 high-quality ingredients. Unless you’re eating 6-7 servings of vegetables per day, a product like Athletic Greens is the first thing you should buy to cover your bases. Without proper micronutrients, your health will suffer, and Athletic Greens is the highest-quality greens product on the market.

This will run you about $3.23 per serving, less than a coffee at Starbucks, and much cheaper than a typical greens juice at your local juice bar. You get what you pay for, and this is the best greens product available. You can buy all the vegetables each week and attempt to make them taste good, or you can have this sent to you once a month, and drink a scoop every morning.

Order Athletic Greens

Fitbit Charge 2

A Fitbit is a great tool to help keep you on track and motivated with your fitness journey in 2017. It’ll tell how you far you walked, how many calories you’ve burned, and syncs up with your phone and a whole host of fitness apps.

Is it perfect? No. The step count isn’t going to be 100% accurate, and I’m not aware of any formula or equation that can perfectly calculate how many calories you’ve burned, outside of a science lab.

A Fitbit is still very useful, as long as you don’t try to eat all the calories it says you burned. Setting a step goal and watching it on your wrist is incredibly useful to build good habits and stay active. Even it’s not perfect, it’s still way better than nothing. I love technology, and I love fitness, and the Fitbit is a really cool way to track your activities every day, especially if you’re trying to work on adding more cardio to your life. Like the author of this article.

Buy the Fitbit Charge 2 on Amazon

The FitCast

This is the podcast that started it all for me. If you’re a fitness enthusiast, this is a must-listen podcast. Guests like Dan John, Eric Cressey, John Romaniello, Mike Boyle, Craig Ballantyne, and many, many more fitness experts share practical advice on the show.

When I first got into working out, this podcast helped me so much, and eventually inspired me to get into the world of fitness. It cuts through all the BS you read in muscle magazines, and provides solid advice from experts who actually work in the field. Kevin is a great host, with some amazing guests, and I can’t recommend the show highly enough.

Listen to The FitCast

 


Wrapping it Up

January is a great time of the year. People everywhere are fired up about life, new goals, and a fresh start.

It’s important that the goals you set are obtainable, and you use every tool in your arsenal to reach them. This list shared ten of my essential tools, books, and fitness things for success in 2017, and I really hope you got at least one or two useful things out of it.

I’m always on the hunt for new stuff, so if I missed any awesome apps or other tools, drop a comment to let me know (or better yet, share with us in the Facebook group), and I’ll be sure to check it out and send you all the virtual high fives.

Bonus Pic

Here is a young Matt, 17 or 18 years old, playing an outdoor concert hosted by a professional snowboarder, and opening for Ashes Remain. A band who would go on to play with classic rock bands like 3 Doors Down years later. So yeah, I guess you could say I was a pretty big deal back in the day.

Hair. Prefontaine cut-off shirt. Baggy jeans. A party tent. The dream.

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