When it comes to starting your 2021 strong, the goals you set can make all the difference. The problem is that usually people make them too challenging or vague, then forget them a month later. But there are a few ways to increase your chances of sticking with them and finding success.
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And who better to share their favorite tools for turning those New Years' resolutions into reality than experts in the health and wellness field? Here are some of the greatest apps, gadgets, fitness gear, kitchenware and other handy products you can use to help you power through your resolutions and make those changes to your daily routine stick.
1. Fancy Planner
Writing out your plan of attack — meal prep and workouts, for example — and tracking your progress with a planners makes reaching your diet and fitness resolutions much easier.
"I know the paper planner can feel a little outdated, but handwriting out my schedule, workouts, goals and how I plan to use my time always sets me up for success and ensures that I remember and stay on top of my schedule with no questions," Kat Wiersum, certified Pilates instructor and Interval instructor at Studio Three in Chicago, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
What's more, you can save your planners to observe your progress year to year. "I look back on the previous year's planners to see how my goals and life have evolved! It's always inspiring to see how far I've come over a year," Wiersum says.
Buy it: LoveSweatFitness.com; Price: $35.00
2. Smartphone Apps
A meditation app can help you zero in on your goals by tuning out the noise.
"Learning to be mindful and taking just a few minutes every day to meditate has been shown to improve sleep and decrease stress, both of which can make other goals like 'eat better' or 'work out more' a lot more achievable," Gabrielle McGrath, LDN, a registered dietitian for Baze, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Headspace in particular is easy to use, great for beginners, evidence-based and practical. "It has really helped me integrate mindfulness into my day-to-day," McGrath says. "Plus, I always have my phone with me, so I can literally do it anytime, anywhere."
Buy it: Headspace.com; Price: $12.99/month (after 1-week free trial)
You can also download a habit tracking app, like Strides, which lets you check off the habits you're trying to build throughout the day or at the end of each day.
"This will help you feel the joy of accomplishment and help you turn an activity into a life-long habit," McGrath says. Start small and don't overwhelm yourself, adding in another habit or two every two weeks or so.
Buy it: StridesApp.com; Price: free
Keeping a food diary is one of the most effective ways to manage your weight and make sure you're on track to reach your healthy eating goals. So of course, we couldn't miss the opportunity for a little shameless self-promotion for MyPlate. You can download the MyPlate app for either iOS or Andoid and easily track calories, stay focused and achieve your goals!
Buy it: LIVESTRONG.com; Price: free
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3. Resistance Bands
"We've seen 'em, we love 'em and they work!" Andrea Wright, interval instructor at Studio Three, tells LIVESTRONG.com. Resistance bands provide a challenging full-body workout, so they're great for staying on track with your resolutions, even if your gym hasn't reopened.
Plus, you're able to squeeze in a quick workout wherever you are, since adding resistance means you can do fewer reps, Kristine Kubat, CPT, instructor at Shadowbox and SoulCycle in Chicago, tells LIVESTRONG.com. Just make sure to get a few different resistances — lighter, medium and heavy — for targeting your various muscle groups.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: varies
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4. Foam Roller
Affordable and easy to store, a foam roller can do wonders for your workout recovery efforts, Kubat says. "It requires some patience and effort, but it is the best way to work out the lactic acid build up in your body from a good work out," she says.
Incorporate 10 to 15 minutes into your cooldown routine or dedicate a whole active recovery workout to it.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $24.95
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5. Fitness Tracker
Whether your goal is to take more steps, log more exercise or improve your cycling speed, there's a fitness tracker than can give you the data you need. Two of the biggest names in the game — Apple Watch and WHOOP.
"I just recently started using WHOOP, and its data has given me huge insight on my sleep, recovery, and performance not only in workouts but in my daily life," Wiersum says. "I use the information about my heart rate and strain and how my sleep affects my day to set myself up for success every single day I can."
Buy it: WHOOP.com; Price: starting at $18/month
Wright relies on her Apple Watch to track her fitness journey and sync up her favorite jams to her workouts.
"If you are new to your fitness journey, don't let those numbers or apps intimidate you though as there are so many other amazing tools with this watch," she says. You can use the breathing app to help alleviate stress and anxiety, for example, which can also help you better work those fitness goals and just feel happier each day, overall.
Buy it: Apple.com; Price: from $399
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6. Food Processor
"A food processor is such an essential item for me that I use multiple times per week," says registered dietician Kelly Jones, CSSD, LDN. "I make my own hummus and dips in big batches so that I have some for the week ahead and can freeze more for a week in the future when I don't have time to prep."
It's a great gadget for planning easy snacks and pre- and post-workout fuel, too, which can help you stay on track with your healthy eating and fitness goals. "I also make energy bars and bites regularly to fuel my workouts or pack for a snack on the go," she says.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $34.49
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7. Slow Cooker or Instant Pot
Cooking at home is much healthier (and less expensive) than getting takeout every night, but it requires time and attention, which can make mealtime difficult when you're trying to eat healthier while juggling a busy schedule.
"I'll always love my slow cooker more since I can throw ingredients into it the night before or morning of, and have food ready to eat as soon as I wake up or get home after a long day," Jones says.
It's the best way to have delicious and nutritious meals ready and waiting for when you get home, with minimal effort on your part. That way you can't get lazy end of day and just order GrubHub again!
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $19.99
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A blender is great for tool for meal prepping and whipping up healthy and delicious meals and drinks. Maggie Michalczyk, RD, recommends the Vitamix.
"It's super versatile so you will definitely get your money's worth — you can make everything from smoothies, nut butter, soups, sauces and pancake batter," she says.
What's more, you can cut the hefty price tag by buying a refurbished version that works just as good at the new ones! "I have a refurbished version and can back this statement! It's for a fraction of the cost," she says.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $269.95
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9. Sauté Pan
Sure, it might not have all the bells and whistles of a "gadget," but a pan can be used for cooking so many different healthy dishes, and so while it's simple, it's super effective.
"Everything from veggie stir frys to curry and soups can be cooked in here. It's definitely one of the foundation pieces of a healthy kitchen," says Michalczyk, who likes Made In Cookware's 3.5 QT Saute Pan.
Buy it: MadeInCookware.com; Price: $135
Or try this less expensive option from Amazon — a bestseller with more than 4,000 reviews, averaging 4.5 stars.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $35.50