When you're ready to make a change to your health and fitness, the goals you set can make all the difference. And fortunately, there are several tools that can help you stay the course and turn those goals into reality.
Here are some of the best apps, gadgets, fitness gear, kitchenware and other handy products you can use to make those healthy changes to your daily routine stick.
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1. A Fancy Planner
Writing out your plan of attack — meal prep and workouts, for example — and tracking your progress with a planner makes reaching nutrition and fitness goals much easier.
"I know the paper planner can feel a little outdated, but hand-writing out my schedule, workouts, goals and how I plan to use my time always sets me up for success and ensures that I remember to stay on top of my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.
2. Smartphone Apps
Put your screen time to good use by downloading an app that encourages healthy habits. The daily notifications might just be the extra nudge you need to stick with a certain behavior. Here are a couple of our favorites:
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."
Download 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 lifelong habit," McGrath says. Start small and don't overwhelm yourself, adding in another habit or two every two weeks or so.
Download it: StridesApp.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 goals, even if you can't get to the gym.
Adding resistance means you can do fewer reps, making it easier to squeeze in a quick workout even on busy days, 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.
Find the Right Resistance Band for You
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 workout," she says.
Incorporate 10 to 15 minutes into your cool-down routine or dedicate a whole active recovery workout to it.
Find the Right Foam Roller for You
5. Fitness Tracker
Whether your goal is to take more steps, log more exercise or improve your cycling speed, there's a fitness tracker that can give you the data you need. Two of the biggest names in the game are 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: Membership starting at $17/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, 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 toward those fitness goals and just feel happier each day, overall.
Buy it: Apple.com; Price: From $399
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.
Find a Food Processor You'll Love
7. 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.
Enter the Instant Pot, an energy-efficient pressure cooker that makes cooking healthy meals easy and quick.
Find an Instant Pot You'll Love
"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 as new. "I have a refurbished version and can back this statement! It's for a fraction of the cost," she says.
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 Stainless Clad Saute Pan.
Or try this less expensive option from Amazon — a bestseller with more than 19,000 reviews, averaging 4.7 stars:
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