So, here we are. It’s 2016! Like many people I’m sure you’ve set some goals for yourself for the new year, whether it be losing some unwanted pounds, learning a new language, or getting ahead professionally. In our tech-laden society, there are some great apps and gadgets out there to help you with these goals,and so we wanted to highlight those today for our first piece of 2016.
So You Want To…
First, if you didn’t catch Kirk’s article on how he changed his habits and utilized tech during his own weight loss journey, I would highly suggest giving it a read here. He highlights a lot of great points and so I wanted to have that as a primer for the rest of my recommendations.
There are some great apps out there for both iOS and Android that can assist you with your weight loss journey, the first being MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal provides a user-friendly interface that allows you to manage and track your calories, as well as activity, and provides daily reminders for you to contribute as a means of establishing a routine. You can also connect with friends who are using the app and check in with them to see how they’re doing. This electronic accountability can actually go a long way. When you update your weight it will share your weight-loss with your friends, but don’t worry, if the scale tips the wrong way and you gain some weight, it won’t announce it to the world. You can also connect various activity trackers to measure your steps and exercise so that it can give you a more well-rounded look at your day.
Of course, a big part of losing weight is what you do in the kitchen. This is where apps like BigOven, How To Cook Everything, and Paprika come in. They are all extensive recipe apps that can help equip you with new and healthier recipes as you enter the new year.
It’s not just about the recipes, though, as a major part of healthy eating is knowing more about food: what’s in season, how to store it, different ways to prepare it, etc. Harvest fills this void excellently; providing a comprehensive list of fruits and vegetables that are in season based on your location, as well as tips on how to pick them out and store them for maximum shelf-life and flavor.
Of course, one of the best ways to start living a healthier lifestyle is to start exercising more, and a quality activity tracker can be an excellent motivator.
The first name that pops into people’s heads when they hear “activity tracker” is likely to be Fitbit. Since they began making activity trackers, Fitbit has diversified its offerings to cover a wide range of features and metrics. Starting from $50 and going up to $150-200, they’re also very reasonably priced.
Another major activity tracker that recently hit the market is Apple’s very own Apple Watch. With a built in heart-rate monitor, the Apple Watch tracks calorie burn as well as how often you’re standing throughout the day…but I think the most useful element of it is actually built into the “Workout” app. This app lets you choose a standard exercise such as rowing, running (outdoors or indoors), biking, etc, and set either a time, calorie or distance based goal. This could be very helpful if you have a goal of running say, 30 minutes a day, and to track how many calories that burns and how far you traveled. While they’re a bit pricier, starting at $350-400, they also have a lot more functionality than your standard activity tracker, alerting you to text messages, weather, email, phone calls and more.
Learn A Language
Learning a language is difficult on its own, but when you add in the hectic schedule most of us have with work and social obligations, getting time to learn a new language can be extremely challenging. That may be why Duolingo has done so well for itself. A free app, Duolingo provides support for multiple languages including Spanish, French, German, Italian and more. Each unit is built upon basics, phrases, and assorted vocabulary including food and animals. Sentence structure and verb conjugation are addressed in turn, all while using very easy to process, bite-sized lessons that you can do in 3-5 minutes. Since repetition and practice is key to learning any language, it strongly encourages you to check back every day to develop a “streak”, and rewards you with in-app points that you can use for various benefits. A great place for anyone to start.
Maybe it’s less about improving yourself physically, and more about developing yourself professionally. This year could be the year that you finally get that promotion, or land your dream job…but to get there you might need to work on your professional network, sharpen your resume and learn new skills.
Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a kid just starting out with their first retail job, it should be no surprise that if you don’t have a LinkedIn account, that would be your first and best place to start. By investing the time to complete your profile and establishing connections with your friends and co-workers, you can begin to establish a digital network that may prove invaluable in your future job search.
Is your resume looking a bit run-down? There are some great resume building apps such as Resume Star, which can help you quickly organize and present your work history and skills with an eye-catching design.
Wanting to develop some new skills to land that new position? Lynda.com offers an extensive library of courses on everything from Photoshop to Final Cut, Logic and more. Though there is a subscription fee involved, the sheer volume of content more than makes up for the cost.
If you’re interested in journaling, there’s one app that stands out: Day One. You can secure it with a passcode/touch ID, insert photos and other media, and set daily or weekly reminders to encourage you to continue journaling.
We hope that you get your 2016 off on the right foot, and we look forward to an exciting year!