Healthy Outlook: Best apps to keep your healthy New Year’s resolutions

photo by: App screenshots

Screenshots from apps that can help you keep your New Year's resolutions, clockwise from top left: MyFitnessPal; Waterlogged; Mango Health; Sleep Cycle

A new year can help to get into the mindset of a new beginning.

Still, sometimes just thinking about it isn’t enough. Keeping track of goals on paper or scribbled on a calendar works for some people, but there are smartphone apps that are more efficient and that fit better in a pocket. (We are going into 2019, after all.)

Here are a few apps to help you prevail — most of which I use or have used myself — sorted by your resolution. In all cases, there are plenty of apps out there that are similar to these, so do some exploring and see what floats your boat.

Get on track with a healthier diet

MyFitnessPal is an excellent food diary-style app. It allows you to set specific nutrition goals, and it lets you know when you reach or exceed them.

There’s a free version of the app that fills basic needs. There’s also a paid premium version of the app that comes with a fairly hefty price tag — $50 per year, or $10 per month — but it offers some pretty great features. It allows much more specific goal-setting, so for instance, if your doctor gives you a guideline for how many grams of carbs to eat per day, you can add that to the app.

Here’s why: Logging your food forces you to think about what you’re eating. When you log honestly, it may surprise you how quickly the calories add up (if you don’t, you’re only lying to yourself), or how much fat or sodium you eat in a day, for example.

photo by: Screenshot

This screenshot shows nutrition goal tracking on MyFitnessPal.

Platforms: It’s available for iOS and Android.

Drink more water

Waterlogged can help you track how much water you’ve had to drink every day, so you can make sure you’re drinking enough to stay hydrated and healthy. It will also remind you if you need to catch up to stay on track to reach your goal at the end of the day.

The app is free, but for a one-time $4 charge, you can upgrade to allow for more customization.

photo by: Screenshot

This screenshot shows the app Waterlogged.

Here’s why: In my personal experience, I’ve found that drinking enough water is the easiest and quickest way to make my body and mind feel healthier. It does so much for your health, helping every system of your body function better. You might not even realize that you’re living in a constant state of slight dehydration until you start to pay attention and see how much better you feel.

Platforms: Available on iOS and Android.

Step it up: Get more active

In this category, there are so many different types of options. Some, such as Fitbit and Garmin, work with a wearable fitness tracker; I wear a Fitbit Ionic and use that app to track my exercise. (You can read more about that online by visiting

There are other apps, such as Strava (iOS/Android) and Map My Walk (iOS/Android), that use your phone’s location service to map out your movement when you go for a walk, run or bike ride.

Folks with the nonprofit Get Outdoors Kansas earlier this year released a free app, getoudoorsKS (available on iOS and Android), which offers interactive maps of more than 4,900 miles of trails throughout the state. I was unable to use the app on Saturday, but its website hosts the maps as well at

photo by: Screenshot

This screenshot shows the Lawrence-area trails marked on

Not quite ready for a gym membership? Apps such as Nike Training Club (iOS/Android), 7 Minute Workout (iOS/Android), and Workout for Women (iOS/Android) are completely free, and they’ll help you get in shape right in the comfort of your own home.

Here’s why: Studies continue to affirm the importance of physical activity to our overall health — not just our waistlines. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released in November, say that any exercise — even just five minutes’ worth — is better than none.

Form, and keep, a healthy habit

Productive is a habit tracker that can remind you to fulfill any day-to-day obligations that may slip your mind, so if you’re looking for something to help you get into a healthy routine and stick with it, this one could be ideal.

Some examples: If you have a chore to do twice a week, or on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the app will remind you of that; if you have bills to pay around the beginning of each month, the app will remind you for roughly the first 10 days of the month to take care of those. If your goal is to exercise four times a week, you can mark the habit complete after each workout. Then, if you get to Saturday and you’ve only worked out twice, it will nag you that you’re overdue.

You can build a pretty streak of “perfect days” when you check off all your daily habits.

photo by: Screenshot

This screenshot shows a habit completed every day in December in an app called Productive.

A free version of the app is available, and it lets you track a handful of habits. It’s a bit limited, though. The paid version is significantly more customizable. I upgraded a long time ago for $4, but in the time since then, the app has changed to a subscription basis. The premium version is now $24 per year or $5 per month.

Platform: Sorry, Androids, but this app is only on iOS.

Never miss a dose

If you’ve considered tying a string around your finger to remember to take your pills, Mango Health is a much more circulation-friendly option — and it comes with perks.

The app is completely free. Input all your medications and the time or times of day you’re supposed to take them, and Mango Health will remind you each day at that time. It also allows you to add “care recipients,” if you need to help someone else remember their meds.

Where this app gets really cool is its gift card drawings. Each week, the app raffles gift cards to users who record when they take their medicine on time. I’ve been using the app for a few years now, and I won a $100 gift card to Target in February 2015.

Here’s why: There’s a lot of variability, but many medications should be taken at the same time each day to work effectively; for some, it’s an absolute must.

Platform: Mango Health is available on the App Store and Google Play.

Manage your blood sugar

There are a lot of apps out there to help keep track of your blood sugar and other vitals, so if that’s on your list, you’re in luck.

One that I’ve gotten to play with a bit is mySugr. It folds a lot of features into one place — track your blood sugar, of course, but also your medications, carb intake, insulin, activity and more.

Here’s why: Keeping a good diabetes logbook can be a challenge, and this app’s developer understands that from firsthand experience. Having that data is important, though, because it can help health care providers tweak therapy as needed and help users better understand and manage their daily lives, according to information on the developer’s website,

Platforms: The app offers many of its features in a free version on iOS and Android. There is also a paid version with a few added bells and whistles for $28 per year.

Also, the app has added a personal coaching feature for unlimited 1-on-1 interactions with an expert in the field. That’s $40 per month or $400 per year, but that may be a more efficient option for some.

Get more sleep

If you’ve resolved to practice better sleep hygiene, bravo — sleep is so vitally important to our overall health, and I think we tend to neglect it far too often.

I wrote extensively last week about an app called Sleep Cycle. (You can read that article at It’s a smart alarm clock that also tells you how well you’ve slept, and it can track various notes.

photo by: Screenshot

This screenshot shows sleep data gathered in the app called Sleep Cycle.

Here’s why: The app allows you to see how various factors impact your quality of sleep. For instance, did you exercise? Was it an especially stressful day at work? Did you have an extra cup of coffee in the afternoon? See how big a difference it makes.

Platform: Available on iOS and Android.

An added bonus is that many of these apps connect to one another — so for instance, Waterlogged will tell Fitbit how much water you’ve had to drink, and Fitbit will tell MyFitnessPal how many calories you’ve burned. It’s a nice little circle of apps.

Here’s to a happy, healthy new year for us all.

About Healthy Outlook

Healthy Outlook is a column written by Journal-World reporter and Health section editor Mackenzie Clark, in hopes of helping readers make their lives a little bit happier, healthier and more active.

Have questions about the world of health and wellness in Lawrence, or a health story idea? Contact Mackenzie:

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