Note: I haven’t been paid by ZP Challenge or any of its affiliates for this review. I just think this is a helpful, free app that can help anyone who wants/needs some accountability while they make lifestyle changes.

A stack of pancakes made with maple syrup inside them.

“I don’t want this pancake, Mom. It’s all burnt on one side.”

I take the pancake off the Mountain Kid’s plate and we pick out another, less burnt, one.

I get the burnt pancakes, because well … that’s how it works in my house. I eat the leftovers, and whatever my family won’t eat.

Sometimes, my pancakes are spot on, even when they’re burnt. This particular batch had maple syrup inside instead of sugar, so the hint of maple without the stickiness was divine.

Not being the family’s human garbage disposal is one of the things I’ve been working on since joining the ZP Challenge a little over a year ago. The free app, available for iOS and Android, allows users to pick from four categories — family, money, food and fitness. Each time you do something good toward these categories (say, not eat all the burnt pancakes) you click on the category. Your tally adds up. If you register enough points during a challenge cycle, you could be on your way to winning some cash.

The ZP Challenge interface.

As a member of Team Red, White and Blue, I have been able to participate for a while, but never thought I’d actually have a chance to win anything. Along the way, I found it useful to see my progress, even in doing small things, add up.

After the fall/winter 2016 challenge ended, I got an email saying I was one of the 100 finalists. After an interview, my responses were evaluated by the ZP (pronounced like zip) judges. And I got this notification. No, Appalachia isn’t in Nevada and that’s not how I spell my name most days, but it’s still pretty cool.

From the ZP Challenge Facebook page.

After the interview, I thought about my answers to the questions. Some of them showed that I keep my goals close to my vest. I don’t really tell people about them, which doesn’t help with accountability. I’m at a point where I need that outside accountability to push forward. Things are shifting in my life and when that happens, I tend to loose my focus. And I can tell that my focus is slipping by how little I’ve been accessing the ZP app these past few weeks.

So the entire family is going to ZP Challenge with me. We have some daily and one-time goals and habits. Each day we complete a thing on our list or do something that fits into the categories, we’ll add it to the app. 

Our family ZP Challenge.

I am doing the challenge by thinking small, not drinking soda for a day or doing one thing a day toward one of the other categories. Then I add another habit when I’m ready, sometimes the next day, sometimes the next week.

And the number moves higher. I’m not a person who has lost a lot of weight or some of the other inspiring stories I’ve read on the ZP Challenge website. Heck, some days I wonder if I can subtract points for all the bad days/decisions I’ve made. 

But I’m still going at it — keeping  on in my own way, at my own pace. And I think that is part of what I like about the app. There is support staff and community feature to help with accountability. But it’s judgement free. If you have a bad day, it doesn’t count toward your points and no one is going to yell at you except yourself.

So, if you want a bit of accountability that the entire family can get involved in (or not), try the ZP Challenge app.