It’s that time of year again – time to make resolutions to build muscle, save some cash, and stop that nasty [insert habit] habit. When resolutions stick, they can make you healthier and happier. Unfortunately, most New Year’s resolutions don’t. Willpower alone isn’t enough. Thankfully, we’ve discovered a few new smartphone apps that will help you find fresh approaches to accomplish your personal goals. Download ’em now and start 2014 off right.
1. Lift (Free)
The first step in making resolutions is setting specific goals. The less lofty the goal, the easier to follow through. But just because a goal isn’t lofty doesn’t mean we don’t need encouragement.
Last year, I made a simple goal of doing 20 pushups every morning. Easy enough, right? It didn’t last. Less than three weeks later I was back to my old routine of doing pushups when it was convenient, and it became less and less convenient. Unlike bigger goals such as running a marathon or breaking a smoking habit, no one will give you a high five for doing a few pushups every morning. That’s where Lift comes in.
Lift helps you build a community of people who are also striving to add good habits to their daily routine. Your goals can be as simple as remembering to floss, or keeping up with French lessons. Just enter in your goals and click a check box when it’s completed and Lift will let other users know that you completed your goal that day. That’s when it gets fun. Other users will see that you’ve achieved your goal and give you “Props” — which is similar to, but feels way better than, a “Like.” You can also add a note to go along with your completed status to let others know what a badass you are, such as “20 pushups today, will go for 25 tomorrow” or “I flossed even though I only got two hours of sleep.” With other users watching your progress and encouraging you along the way, keeping even the simplest resolutions will be fun and easy. lift.do
2. Any.do (Free)
Your first task of the new year may be to write down a list of resolutions on a to-do list. Those are great. They help organize your life and make us feel accomplished. But long lists can also be overwhelming and lead to unnecessary stress. Any.do helps perfect the to-do list by making it easy to maintain and manage.
Simply type in your task and place it in one of several categories: Today, tomorrow, upcoming or someday. Want to complete a task by a certain day? Simply drag and drop the task into your calendar and set a reminder. An alarm will go off at the precise time you set. You can also categorize your various to-do lists in folders such as “Work” or “Personal.” Notes can be added to each of your tasks so your entire grocery list accompanies your “Go Grocery Shopping” task. The feature I like the most is the ability to share a task with another Any.do user. Delegating grocery shopping to your roommate was never easier. any.do
3. Fitnessbuilder (Free for 30 days, then $9.99)
Perhaps the most common New Year’s resolution is to get in shape. Gyms seem the most full in January, but most newcomers drop out by February. Why? Probably because going to the gym can be boring and unsatisfying. We tend to do the same workouts over and over and see very little progress. Although a personal trainer can make workouts more interesting by adding in new exercises and tracking your strength gains, they can be prohibitively expensive.
There are many apps out there that will act as your own personal trainer by introducing you to new exercises. My favorite is FitnessBuilder from PumpOne. After using it for a few weeks I can’t imagine going to the gym without it.
FitnessBuilder includes hundreds of preloaded step-by-step workouts to choose from based on your fitness goals (such as a beach body), a muscle group, or your preferred workout method (such as four-day split routine). The app’s best feature is that it introduces new types of exercises, with videos of each so you can make sure your form is perfect. Log your sets right in the app, including reps and weights, and track your progress with automatically generated graphs. pumpone.com/fitnessbuilder
4. Active Network’s Couch-to-5K (Free)
Never run a race? This is the year to change that, and Couch-to-5K is the app for you. It’s superior to other running apps because it helps users get back into shape gradually, through a combination of walking and running. Each day the Couch-to-5K gives you a daily workout geared toward those with very little to no proper running experience.
It’s easy to get started: The first workout involves a five-minute warmup of your choosing, then a combination of several sets of running for one minute, followed by walking for 90 seconds, then a five-minute cooldown. After you’ve completed your daily workout, you can post it to Facebook or Twitter for encouragement. The app also lets you choose among four different trainer voices. My favorites are Sergeant Block, who will make you feel like you’re in boot camp, and Johnny Dead, a brain-chasing zombie who will threaten your life if you don’t complete your workout. c25kfree.com
5. Level Money (Free)
A new year presents an opportunity to improve your financial situation by spending less and saving more. Some people get control of their finances through complicated budgets with multiple categories. For most of us, cumbersome budgets don’t work. What we want to know is much more simple: how much money do I have to spend today, this week, or this month to meet my savings goals? That’s where Level Money comes in.
Level Money provides an easy way to see how much money you have left to spend. After you link your bank accounts and credit cards to the app, it will figure out how much you spend on recurring bills and subtract that from your monthly net income to come up with an amount of “spendable” money. Once you start spending, the app tracks your finances in easy-to-read bubbles which show you how much you’ve spent today, this week, and this month and how much more you can spend before going into the red. Feel the urge to spend money? Just open the app to see if you can afford it.
It may make shopping less fun, but if you want to save some extra dough but hate working with complicated budgets, it’s the perfect app for you. levelmoney.com