Looking to make good on your New Year’s resolutions? Chances are there’s an app that’ll help you stay on track. Here’s a quick look at a few apps or sources for apps that address the top five 2020 resolutions.
Many apps are available in both free and paid subscription versions. The trade-off for getting it for free is you usually have to put up with ads and/or prompts to buy something within the app. Premium apps may be worth their cost if you want to access a larger body of content, more customizable features, and little or no ads. Premium apps generally offer a free trial period, but beware; the standard practice is to automatically charge your credit card unless you remember to cancel before the trial period ends.
Please note that we do not endorse or have any connection to the apps listed, nor do we receive any type of compensation from their developers. We’re not subject experts or professional app reviewers, but offer an end-user’s perspective based on our own research and use.
Free; Premium: $6.99/month; $34.99/year; $89.99/lifetime
Though it’s marketed as a diet and food-tracking app, this app is helpful if you’re looking for healthier food choices, especially when it comes to commercially prepared foods. Every food in their database gets a letter grade for nutrition, and when you click on “why?” you get a color-coded (red or green) explanation, such as a green-checked “minimally processed,” or red-exclamation warning regarding sugar content. Fooducate doesn’t leave you in a lurch when you discover a product isn’t the healthiest choice. You simply click on the “alternatives” tab and up pops a list of better-rated products of the same type.
Fit Men Cook
Developed by food and fitness influencer Kevin Curry, Fit Men Cook grew out of his own fitness and food journey to meet these goals:
- Food should be easy to prepare and affordable
- Food should be vibrant and tasty, never boring
- Preparing food in advance is important
- Following a,b,c, helps you achieve your fitness goals
The app provides a complete approach to meal planning and prep, with shopping lists (which can be synced to Apple Watch), nutritional information, and step-by-step video instructions. Search the 500+ recipes by ingredient, or by type such as keto, vegetarian, or high-protein meals. Curry pays special attention to meal prep so you’ll save time, money, and have what you need on hand to cook healthy food at home.
Managing personal finances
YNAB (You Need a Budget)
Free; Premium: $11.99/month; $84/year
YNAB emphasizes planning and prioritizing. You can choose to link your accounts to the app for ease of tracking your money, but even if you don’t, you can follow their four basic personal finance rules:
- Give every dollar a job.Take stock of your regular expenses and assign dollars to cover them.
- Embrace your true expenses.Plan ahead for the non-regular budget items too, because it’s often those types of expenses that send us into a financial panic (think a large car repair bill).
- Roll with the punches. It’s inevitable – there are times we overspend. By creating very detailed budget categories, you can look for areas to shave just a little over time to make up for whatever was overspent.
- Age your money. Over a period of time the goal is to spend less than you earn and break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
Bank and credit card apps
Check with your financial institution or credit card issuer to see if they have personal finance apps. It’s especially convenient to use their apps because your accounts are already there, eliminating the need to link or manually add information into another app. While security breeches have caused concern about online banking, bank security should be at least as strong as other personal finance apps you’d consider using. Some institutions don’t require you to have an account with them to use their app, so explore what might work best for you.
Nike Training Club
Free; Premium: $14.99/month; $119.99/year
With 328 workouts to choose from, you can exercise for as little as 5 minutes (under Short Workouts) or as long as 45. Every workout is rated for intensity and fitness level. Workouts found under “Collections” pull together a series of different workouts aimed at a particular goal, say, core strength, or workouts geared toward runners.
There’s lots of free content, but premium access gives you even more choices, including master trainer programs, and fitness and nutrition expertise.
The app tracks your activity, and you earn “trophies” for hitting milestones such as doing 3 or more workouts in a week. Motivational quotes are sprinkled throughout the site.
Johnson & Johnson Official 7 minute Workout
The app has 22 workouts you can choose from, varying in intensity and durations of anywhere from 7 to 32 minutes. The site promotes itself as a science-based program, with workouts designed by the exercise director at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute. Start with the Smart Workout section and, after answering a few questions, the app creates a variety of workouts specifically tailored to your level. Check out the short video tutorials to watch each exercise up close to see proper form and movements. The app keeps track of your workout time and also allows setting workout and inactivity reminders. With an uncluttered and easy to follow design, we especially like that there’s no distracting ad content on this free app.
Free; Premium: $9.99/month; $49.99/year
MyFitnessPal proclaims it’s the world’s most popular health and fitness app, and it’s highly rated across a spectrum of publications from Consumer Reportsto PC Magazine. Use MyFitnessPal to keep a food diary, log exercise, and access tools to chart your progress and even connect to its large user community for support and motivation. With a database of over 11 million foods, including restaurant meals and the ability to scan barcodes, you can track not just calories, but even the activity needed to burn those calories. You can search recipes by categories such as “high protein,” “low carb,” or “under 500 calories.”
The free version of MyFitnessPal that we used had a lot of ads and product promotions, making for a cluttered and not so easy to navigate user experience.
Variable pricing; about $50/month
Noom does many of the same things found on other weight loss apps such as food and exercise tracking, searchable recipes, etc. The app sets itself apart by focusing on the psychological aspects of how you interact with food. With one-on-one access to a certified health coach, you’re encouraged to address the specific triggers that trip you up. Additionally, short behavior modification articles are sent daily to help you mentally reframe the situations where bad habits develop (stress eating, boredom eating, etc.). Noom uses traffic light color categories to identify good, bad, and so-so food choices. After taking a quick survey where you provide basic information about yourself, your eating patterns, and your weight loss goals, Noom sends a customized plan with daily recommendations for the food groups. Noom falls on the pricier side of weight loss apps, though reviewers frequently cite the coaching as a worthwhile investment.
Improve mental health
JKZ Series on Mindfulness Meditation
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn is a leading author, teacher and advocate of Mindfulness Meditation, a scientific practice of breathing exercises to achieve mental and physical well-being. The Kabat-Zinn app is available in a three part series with meditations developed for the Stress Reduction Clinic, a program Kabat-Zinn founded through his association with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Series 1 contains the core practice meditations used by the Stress Reduction Clinic; Series 2 has shorter guided meditations (10, 20, and 30-minute variations); and Series 3 consists of ten guided meditations that expand upon the core material in Series 1. The app is a convenient way of obtaining this content, but not the only way. CDs are sometimes included in his books, which you can buy from most booksellers or check out from your library.
Doctor and Health System apps
Apps are usually free, pay for services; insurance may be accepted
While still a relatively new way to access care, the appeal of seeing a mental health professional via an app includes saving time, being in the comfort of your own space, and flexible scheduling. Rather than recommend any specific apps for seeing a mental health specialist, our suggestion is to contact your doctor or local health system to find online services offered through them. Going this route assures the health professional is properly licensed and qualified to provide care, something that can be a daunting task when navigating the world-wide expanse of the internet. Furthermore, an established health system will have security and privacy policies in place to minimize the ever-present concerns about hacking and privacy leaks.