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Bytesize Blog: Make yourself ‘appy’ this year - handy tools and apps for keeping your New Year's resolutions

Keeping New Year's resolutions has been a laughing point for decades - we never keep them. But, in the age of modern technology, what do we have available at our fingertips to aid us? James Congdon finds out

As the legend John Lennon once said: It’s ‘another year over and a new one just begun’. Although, actually, if you were anywhere near a shopping centre over Christmas, then he probably said it again… and again… and again…. but I digress.

With 2013 upon us, you’ve probably already thought about the changes you want to make. These targets are our very own little bids for fresh starts. It can be uplifting to think that we could improve ourselves with just a few changes. But, whether we want to quit smoking for good, excel further at work or be a little lighter on the scales, the problem will always remain the same – how do we keep these personal promises? Historically, the first two weeks of January are said to be the time when we’re most likely to throw in the towel.

Whether it’s a simple case of ‘drunken dreams;  impractical promises made over a glass of bubbly on New Year’s Eve, or whether we’re simply unrealistic with ourselves, it can leave us feeling dejected when we fail. But  rest assured that whatever it is you want to achieve over the coming year, there is more than likely an app for that...

Think about the tens of millions of the things that are downloaded from like the likes of iTunes on a daily basis. They fit so many different purposes – and so it stands to reason that more and more are now being designed with our resolutions in mind.

But how useful can they really be? A recent study from experience day company Buyagift.com found that 41% of people in the UK have avoided setting any goals for 2013. The same study also uncovered that of those of us that did make a resolution, 40% aren’t holding out any hope for success. Even more poignantly, though, 65% expect to fall short over the next month.

But the question is: how many of these people felt that way because of a lack of support or the right knowledge? How successful could they have been if they had access to the right app? Let’s take a look at two of the best ones that are out there at the minute.

You’ll get by with a little help from your friends…

Facebook friends, that is. Now we know what the Beatles were going on about in their hit song.  Any expert will tell you that you need to be surrounded by your friends if you’re to break a longstanding habit. But not all of us are lucky enough to have loved ones that are sympathetic to our plight - particularly if we are trying to give up smoking, for example.

However, in an age when social media and technology is allowing us to communicate on a grand scale, it surely stands to reason that it can be used to help us kick the habit through connecting us with likeminded people, and arming us with the right facts.  Now, cue the first of the two apps that we at Independent Technology rate at the minute.

Stub it out for good with the Quit FullStop app

If you’re looking to quit smoking and need a little help keeping your resolve, then this brand new Facebook app from leading quit smoking resource quitfullstop.co.uk is perfect. It allows you to log the date that you stop – which it then uses to update other users, and of course, your Facebook friends.

It will update every time you hit a milestone, and it’s designed so that you can track your success, it gives you handy pieces of advice and facts along the way – all of which are designed to keep you motivated. It’ll keep you updated on the rewards that you’ll reap for becoming smoke free -  for example, after 24 hours, it lets you know that your blood pressure and pulse rate has returned to normal; after 48 hours you learn that your sense of taste and smell will also start to recover. For me, this is what helps most: knowing why you’re doing it. The odd like from a few of your friends wouldn’t hurt, either.

Shedding those pounds at the click of a button

The key to resolution success is information – the right information.  When you’re trying to lose weight, eating healthily can be tough, particularly when you’re faced with reams of confusing and often conflicting information about calories this, and e-numbers that. This is probably why many of us let our weight loss plans fall by the ‘waist’ side – get it? Sorry…

But, Lose It is a great app for those of us who want to shape up for the coming year. Whether you want to be beach ready for the summer or want get back into that favourite pair of jeans, this handy tool is brilliant because you can record everything you eat – be it at  a restaurant or at home. This intelligent application will track your weekly calorie intake and the ratio of carbohydrates to proteins or fats. It can also be integrated with your social networks, so you’ll be able to share your success and encourage others to join you on your health drive. I’m finding humming that tune again... Thanks Ringo...

What else is great about this one is that the clever guys behind it have ensured that inputting your data isn’t a tedious process. They’ve streamlined it so that you can upload parts of restaurant menus, and it boasts a full database of foods and ingredients already so most of it is already there.

So whatever it is that you want to achieve in 2013, don’t give up prematurely – there are many apps out there that are ideal if you need that extra support.