LB’s Level Up Life List

LB’s Level Up Life List

By: LB Chambers

If you know anything about me, you should know that I am basically obsessed with trying to improve.

It’s a great excuse for me to try new things and not feel embarrassed (Oh, I’m sorry super intense rock wall climber, is this your life’s’ calling? Please don’t judge- I’m a newbie!) and to try lots of awesome things (why yes, I will make four different batches of oatmeal cookies to see which I like best, thank you internet).

But in January, right after the New Years, I completely drop the ball. That’s right. While the rest of you are starting new workout regimens, cutting out gluten, or making time for family, I’m normally on my couch watching Death Becomes Her. Needless to say, I need a little kick. Which is why around this time every year (at least a full week after everyone has been kicking butt in the new year) I start working on my November list. A list I create before the holiday season of all the stuff there is no time to accomplish and I need to get on in January (as soon as I can turn off Netflix). And this year I am using technology to it’s full advantage.

Maybe some of you have read my geeky healthy article, in which I encourage using apps and hero inspiration to fuel workouts and goals- this article is along those same lines.

But instead of being healthy, these are ways that technology can help you improve as a person all around.

So without further ado, check out my top five technological finds for a better, smarter, you this year!

LB’s Level Up Life List:


1.) fitbit 

At first glance this little wristlet looks like a watch, and when you first learn about it it sounds like a basic pedometer. But that is just giving fitbit so little credit.

Fitbit is a pedometer, sure. You wear it during the day and it tracks the steps you take. But it has a tracker that automatically syncs with your computer (phone, tablet, etc.), and on your technological device of choice is where you actually really use your fitbit.

Through the fitbit app (or on it’s website) you create a profile, and from there can record your water intake, create and monitor calorie goals (and the knowledge Fitbit has about food is intensely expansive).


Best of all, fitbit does a ton on it’s own. The bracelet keeps track of high activity minutes, steps, distance, and even your sleep cycle! Fitbit only needs to be charged once a week for about an hour, and it’s good to go for an entire week.

You can even program fitbit to wake you up with a silent alarm that vibrates your arm (and you) awake. This alone makes my fitbit worth having.

To be honest, at first fitbit and I really didn’t get along. I simply couldn’t believe how little I really walked during the day and was feeling fairly shoot the messenger. But now I consider my fitbit to be the wake up call my body (and my poor under walked dogs) desperately needed.

I wear it under bracelets or sleeves and even if I’m bare armed it’s understated enough to not draw attention. I track my water intake, my sleep patterns, and my exercise level with maybe a minute of work on my end throughout the day.

How much easier can making your body healthier be?

For the new year, I highly recommend anyone interesting in improving their health try and work something like fitbit into their daily routine!


2.) Khan Academy


If you haven’t checked out Khan Academy then don’t waste a minute and get there today. Khan Academy is packed with hundreds of education videos; everything from American History to Renaissance Art to what the differences are between SOPA and PIPA.

The videos are fun, easy to understand, and rewindable. No shame here in watching again and again (yeah, about that SOPA and PIPA video…totally watched that more than once).There are also lessons that can bring you up to speed with all that math and science you learned in high school and college and that (if you’re anything like me) completely forgot. Or, if you’re looking for something new, try their Computer Programming courses! They are a lot of fun and each video and exercise only takes a handful of minutes to complete.

Best of all? Completely free. Yup, absolutely free. You can even download the free app, then download the free videos to watch when you have no internet connection (after a long flight where I watched only American Civics videos, I landed feeling very well informed!). It’s fantastic! Khan also has regular updates with new lessons, and new educational videos that correlate with current events.

If you’re looking to expand your horizons with education in any field, Khan Academy is a great way to start!

khan academy

3.) Duolingo


As much as I love Khan Academy and my fitbit, I possibly love Duolingo more. Duolingo is a free language learning website that encourages progression through lessons with rewards, points, and leveling up! It’s a video game for languages!

Confession time. I took french in middle and high school for six years. SIX YEARS. I even did  study abroad and was practically fluent when I went to college. Now? I can ask the time and do a great impersonation of Louis (the crazy chef obsessed with Sebastien) from The Little Mermaid, but that’s about it.duolingo

Until this week! I began Duolingo on Monday and dedicated myself to spending thirty minutes a day doing the French classes as a recap. And today was able to have a full french discussion with an old friend! It was incredible, and completely due to Duolingo’s teaching style. Of course I’m not going to claim that Duolingo will make you fluent in a week, but through translation and listening quizzes it certainly is a great way to start learning!

So even for those of us not looking to freshen up our old skills, Duolingo is easy and fun. Currently I am also taking the german, and while it certainly isn’t flying by like the french lessons did, I am still walking around singing “Ich bin eine frau” and “der apfel est rot.”

By breaking the language down into lessons, and then incorporating the just learned words and phrases into later lessons as you go (very seamlessly, I might add), before you know it you know dozens of words in your chosen language- and with the points and leveling up you want to keep going!

4.) Rails for Zombies

So while I owe basically everything I use for entertainment to coding and coding masters, I actually know little to railsforzombieszilch about the entire process. Which is why I began hunting for ways to learn coding at home, and how I found Rails for Zombies. Rails for Zombies is a fun, interactive way to learn Ruby on Rails, an open source web application framework, and is used to run Twitter.

Now, my experience with Rails for Zombies is extremely limited as I have been focused on learning Python through Khan this last week and feel that two languages at the same time might confuse me just a bit- but I have completed the first lesson and know I will be back for more.

Needless to say, so far I’m impressed. Rails for Zombies uses an in browser code editor so there’s nothing to download or try and figure out. It’s all laid out in the form of fun videos, lessons, and challenges.

If you’re looking to level up your technological skills and knowledge (or maybe create something new, or find a new passion!) try Rails for Zombies!


5.) Information is Beautifulinformation is beautiful

So learning more about your body and getting healthier, learning more about any subject, learning how to code and learning new languages isn’t enough? I didn’t think so. Then try Information is Beautiful! After all, you deserve a break that is as informing as it is beautiful and Information is Beautiful is just that (see what I did there?). Information is Beautiful is dedicated to collecting the world’s data and bringing it to their reader’s in the most beautiful way possible. Just take a look at some of the absolutely gorgeous images below.

So after trying the above websites, take a moment and just explore the Information is Beautiful website- you won’t believe how much you’ll learn!

Of course, no one can learn everything, and we all have busy lives with family and jobs and don’t have time to dedicate everyday to improving ourselves. Some days are just too busy and accepting that is the only way to stay sane (in my opinion).
But bookmark these websites, start a profile, and you may be surprised by how often you find yourself drifting to one to of these sites (or wearing your Fitbit) and learning a little!

Whether it’s just watching a video on World War II, brushing up your basic Italian, trying out Python, or exploring a graph on snake oil supplements- you’re learning and leveling up for a better and more accomplished you!

What are you doing to level up this year? Let us know!