En español | With the year many of us have just endured, maybe you're looking for a fresh start, a clean slate and a more focused path to happiness and health.
Perhaps 2021 is the year you slim down your waistline, drink less or kick smoking once and for all. Or maybe your goal is tied to financial health, such as spending less and saving more.
No matter what your New Year's resolution — or your New Year's intention if you've decided to chuck resolutions — you can find some guidance in the form of an app. After all, you always have your smartphone with you, so the motivation and tips you need to achieve your target may be a tap away. They're available for your tablet, too, in both Apple iOS and Android.
Lose weight, get fit
You're not alone if you feel you've let yourself go a bit when you stayed home during the pandemic. You may have eaten more and moved less.
Free apps like Lose It! and MyFitnessPal have millions of food items and restaurant dishes in their databases to provide an accurate look at your caloric intake for each meal. To make it even easier, simply scan the barcode of food products to automatically log the info. Set a goal, such as lose 10 pounds in four weeks, and the app will calculate what your caloric intake should be each day. Exercise is also factored into your daily routine.
Noom also has become a popular platform for weight loss with more of a psychological approach to achieving your goals. It's not about strict diets but rather a healthy balance of food quality and portion size. Its virtual coaches can help you conquer food triggers, make shopping decisions and show you “psych tricks” to building good eating habits. After a two-week introductory period, the program costs $59 a month, discounted to $199 for an annual membership.
Another option is myWW+, formerly Weight Watchers. The app complements the myWW+ program to customize a weight loss strategy for you. A meal prep tool called “What's in your fridge” helps you find out what to eat based on foods you have on hand. Fitness workouts, sleep monitoring and bite-sized meditation sessions also are part of the app, along with a barcode scanner, water tracker and daily recipe suggestions. MyWW+ starts at about $14 a month plus a one-time $20 start-up fee.
When it comes to fitness, the free Map My Fitness app lets you calculate the effect of your physical activity easily, whether it's a walk, jog, run, hike or bike ride. Your workout is analyzed, so you can see progress and stay motivated. The app can connect you with other users in your area if you want to join a group. You also can share your fitness goals and results with your social network. Devices, like activity trackers and heart rate monitors, are supported.
In a time crunch? The Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout is a popular and free app that gives you a short workout you can do anywhere, clear instructions on how to do each move and a countdown timer for each.
Cut back on smoking, drinking
If you have a vice, big or small, an app may help you scale back or quit altogether.
For smokers, the free QuitNow! app offers four main sections: Ex-Smoker Status, how many days since you quit, how much money you saved, etc.; Achievements, a breakdown of small tasks to achieve; Community, an area to chat with other former smokers for support; and Ex-Smoker Health, a list of health indicators to explain how your body improves day by day.
QuitNow! has other sections, too, including frequently asked questions with extra tips to quit smoking, an automated helper bot programmed to answer queries and recommended books to quit smoking.
Many offer professional tips to successfully stopping along with tools that track the days you've spent without a drink and how much you've saved, virtual badges, community support and a journal to help you record your progress and experiences.
BACtrack is both an app and a family of small breathalyzers that could help you make more responsible decisions and remind you when to slow down. BAC stands for blood alcohol concentration, a common measurement to assess your level of intoxication. Similar to what the police may use if they pull you over, BACtrack devices, such as the $69 keychain-sized C6, will give your BAC reading after you blow into the unit for five seconds, on the breathalyzer screen itself or via an optional app.
Manage your money
Similarly, Simplifi by Quicken shows your full financial picture by tracking all of your accounts in one place and offering insights to keep you on track. Simplifi provides a snapshot of bank accounts, credit cards, loans and investments with more than 14,000 financial institutions supported and is always up to date. This personal finance app and website automatically categorizes transactions, to show where your money is going, with an intuitive and elegant interface. The ad-free app also can project future balances, to help avoid setbacks and surprises and help you work toward a goal. Prices start at about $4 a month, $40 annually.
Marc Saltzman has been a freelance technology journalist for more than 25 years. His podcast, Tech It Out, aims to break down geek speak into street speak.