While more than four in 10 Americans will make a New Year’s resolution, nearly a third of those will fail to keep them—that is, if last year’s success rates reported by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion continue to hold true. For those of us who do make resolutions, our well-being will most likely be on our minds. The Marist Institute survey [PDF link] found that health continues to be a major resolution-determiner for Americans, as nearly half plan to exercise more, lose weight, eat healthier, stop smoking, or just be healthier in general. About one in eight resolvers plans to save more money, and another one in eight will “try to be a better person.”
Want to improve the odds of keeping your own resolutions? Maybe a few of these free apps can help.
Drop the pounds
Like many weight-loss apps, Noom Weight has a calorie tracker that lets you easily search for that 460-calorie "lemon dill salmon with jasmine rice" meal and add it to your daily food log. You can also track your weight and the calories you burn exercising. And if you upgrade to the pro version ($5 to $10 a month), this app also makes losing weight a social experience. You can create a group of weight-loss pals and share recipes, workout tips, and words of encouragement to keep everyone moving toward their goals. The pro version also throws in expert-driven weekly articles and challenges. For Android and iOS.
LoseIt! keeps your diet on track by allowing you to set daily calorie goals and record your daily food intake and exercise all in the same place. Just input your meals to see if you’re over or under your daily allotments. Scan the barcode from a pint of ice cream, and LoseIt! will add that midnight snack for you.
For $40 a year, the premium version allows you to track your body measurements, implement a wide-range of activity trackers, and create your own weight-loss groups and challenges. And if you’re losing weight to manage a chronic condition, the premium version can track your blood glucose, connect a blood pressure monitor for readings, and e-mail updates to your doctor. If you’re really committed to weight loss, you can even purchase a $70-Bluetooth scale that automatically beams your weight-loss progress to the app. For Android and iOS.
Get into shape
GymPact proves that money is a strong motivator. You set a goal to work out a certain number of days a week, then you make a pact to pay an amount you can afford if you don't meet those weekly goals. When you do exercise, check in to your local gym using your smart phone. But don't try to fool GymPact: it tracks your location at intervals to ensure you're really exercising at the gym. Every week you meet your goals, you receive a little monetary incentive paid for by the GymPact users who didn’t get off the couch.
A five-day workout not working out? Just change your pact to something more manageable without being dinged. If you have an Apple iOS device, you can also download GymPact Anywhere. It uses your iPhone’s accelerometer to count your workout at home or outdoors, even when you can’t make it to the gym. Both iOS and Android users can pair the app with RunKeeper to make a pact to run, walk, or cycle a certain number of days a week. For Android and iOS.
MapMyRun provides reminders on your social-media newsfeed that your friends are more active than you are. But that's all going to change when you download this app. While some activity-tracker apps require you to sync to a small piece of wearable tech, this one needs only your smart phone. Anytime you want to go for a run, just access the app and go: It uses GPS to record duration, distance, speed, and calories burned for each workout. Then you can see the exact path you traveled on the map (either via your smart phone or MapMyRun.com) and share your New-Year’s-resolution success on your Facebook or Twitter account. For Android and iOS.
Get your finances in shape, too
Mint finds every financial account you have and pulls it into one place. You can easily view anything from your student loan and car note to your retirement account and bank account in the app. Mint lets you set a monthly budget, track your goals, and categorize and re-categorize your spending to your financial heart's content. It can even give you tips to help you control your spending and warn you when you’re in the red.
This app uses 128-bit SSL encryption—the same type that banks use—to keep your information secure. For added safety, you can only “read” information here, meaning you can’t move money among your accounts. And for the serious money cruncher, you can access and update account data on your computer at Mint.com. For Android, iOS, and Windows mobile devices.
Check (formerly known as Pageonce) not only tracks your spending across all your accounts, but also lets you manage your bills. It can remind you when bills are due, e-mail you when a large transaction is made, and schedule credit card payments without the hassle of snail mail or robot-generated voice prompts. It also uses 128-bit SSL encryption. And if you lose your smart phone, you can delete all your account information remotely. For Android and iOS.
While Square Cash may not help you budget your spending, it can help you pay back that ten-spot your co-worker loaned you for lunch. It’s simple to use, and is brought to you by the same company that makes the silver-dollar-sized white Square card reader that attaches to mobile devices and accepts payments on the go. Deposits take one to two business days, and all you need is an e-mail address and a debit card to complete a transaction.
For Android and iOS.
Cook up a (healthy) storm
Grocery iQ lets you create grocery lists for every store you visit. You can search for and add common products or type in your own. Almost out of skim milk? Scan the barcode, and it’s automatically added to your grocery list. Grocery iQ also organizes your shopping list for you, and sorts it by aisle. And if you’re buying farm-fresh eggs every week, for example, add them as a frequently purchased item for easy access. For Android and iOS.
BigOven lets you take your recipe cards on the go. Combine health with flavor by browsing its selection of more than 250,000 recipes by keyword, course, or ingredient. Need suggestions on what you can make with random ingredients in your pantry? Well, dinner is saved! Just enter three ingredients to get ideas delivered right to your phone. After you’ve found the right recipe, you can scale it for your family size and share it with your friends via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. You can even sync it with a free BigOven.com account, so you can add your own recipes and plan meals ahead of time. For Android, iOS, and Windows mobile devices.
Chances are you’ve searched for a recipe online; a certain popular foodie website usually makes the top-results page. Food Network in the Kitchen gives you its website in a convenient mobile package. You can access recipes that you've saved on the site, add ingredients to a shopping list, and watch helpful cooking videos from its library. For those who can't remember how to convert recipes by volume or weight, the app does that for you. There are also "quick & easy" and "healthy" recipe boxes to help you keep your healthy-eating resolution. And you won’t get into a cooking rut, as new recipes are added every month. For Android and iOS.
Kick the smoking habit for good
NCI QuitPal, developed by the National Cancer Institute, uses proven quit strategies and tools to help you become smoke-free. You can set a quit date, track smoking habits and spending, and read tips on how to keep cravings at bay. Need a little more positive reinforcement? Tell your Facebook or Twitter account to update your friends whenever you’ve reached a smoke-free milestone. Your loved ones can even create video messages within the app, or you can easily contact a smoking-cessation counselor for a free Internet or phone chat. For iOs.
QuitGuide, also by NCI, is less interactive but offers insight into what to expect when you quit smoking, how to deal with withdrawal symptoms, and what to do if you slip. Think of it as more of an educational tool than a tracking tool. Liked learning the NCI fact that your body begins to become healthier within 20 minutes after your last cigarette? Share it via Facebook, Twitter, or an e-mail. For Android and iOS.
Stay on task
Springpad might be the ultimate task organizer. Add a pad for to-do lists, another for articles you’d like to read in your downtime, a rated pad for movies you’ve watched, and several more for healthy-living recipes and exercise videos. Want to try out that low-fat blueberry muffin recipe? Just add any recipe from the Web (or create your own) to a "recipe notebook." Afterward, the notebook can generate a shopping list based on the ingredients list and save it to another notebook just for shopping lists. The possibilities Springpad provides are sure to help you keep your New Year’s resolutions on track. For Android and iOS.
Any.do simplifies your to-do list by reminding you every morning to plan out your day. Just take it one day at a time, and with a few swipes and keystrokes, you can create a clean task list that’s actually fun to complete. Say you need a reminder to e-mail a client first thing when you get to work, but you’re worried you’ll get sidetracked: With Any.do, you can set that reminder to sound as soon as you enter the building, thank to your smart phone’s GPS. You can even use Any.do on your desktop by syncing it with Google Chrome. For Android and iOS.
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