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Keep your New Year's resolutions: a Holiday Gift Guide

Ahhhh, New Year's resolutions. You promise that you're going to take better care of yourself, improve your life, and then you usually break all of those resolutions by January 2nd. This year's going to be different, right? Here are some gift ideas to help you keep your 2009 New Year's resolutions.

Weight Loss

Unless you're the lean and mean marathon Mac man and real-life action figure Adam Engst, you could probably afford to lose some weight. Resolving to lose a few pounds is a classic New Year's resolution, and one that's very easy to break. Fortunately, there are some Mac and iPhone applications that can help you to stay the course:

CalorieKing Nutrition & Exercise Manager for Mac OS X -- This US$45.00 application has a huge food database and makes it simple to drag-and-drop caloric information into a food diary. Exercise tracking and a weight log are included as well.

BeFit -- TUAW covered the debut of this US$15.95 Mac application earlier this year, and it remains a good program for tracking what you put in your mouth. Remember, you can get BeFit at half-price if you're a current Jon Brown Designs customer.



There are also iPhone apps that can act as your digital Jiminy Cricket (he was Pinocchio's conscience, remember?) by being with you all the time to keep you in line. There are a lot of free weight trackers, but my personal favorite and a great one for gifting is:

WeightBot (click opens iTunes) -- It's cool looking, functional, and a wonderful way to keep track of your weight loss. For more details and screenshots, check out this earlier post. WeightBot is currently on sale for just US$0.99.

A nice free gift for a friend or loved one who is a member of Weight Watchers is to point them at the Weight Watchers Mobile website. It's at http://mobile.weightwatchers.com (the user must have a Weight Watchers Online account in order to use the system).

Drink More Responsibly

These apps ought to be required for the TUAW staffers who will be attending all those cocktail parties at Macworld Expo 2009. While they aren't designed to stop you from drinking (AA is probably your best bet if you have an alcohol addiction to fight), they will keep you from drinking too much too quickly.

Buzz Buddy (click opens iTunes) -- For US$0.99, this BAC (blood alcohol content) calculator features a well-designed interface, a graph that shows how long it's going to take you to get back into legal range, and a "call a cab for me" button. The person using the app at right is in serious trouble at this point...

Drink Buddy (click opens iTunes) -- No, it's not from the same developer, but it is a similar app. Drink Buddy sells for US$3.99 and can be used to track the BAC levels and the number of drinks for an entire entourage. Drink Buddy's tracking capability might actually help you cut back when you see just how many drinks you down during a month.

Relax

With the economy tanking, Steve Jobs dropping his Macworld keynote, and other nerve-wracking events shaking our lives on a daily basis, we can all use a little more relaxation. There are a couple of iPhone/iPod touch apps listed here that provide soothing sounds that can be used for meditation or just blocking out the world.

Ambiance (click opens iTunes) -- This US$0.99 app is one of my favorite tools for relaxing. I put on my iPhone earbuds, find a sound that I like (rain, stream, and waves are very relaxing), set the timer for 30 minutes, and then lay down and close my eyes. A half-hour later I'm relaxed and refreshed.

Tranquility (click opens iTunes), from Freeverse is another relaxation iPhone app. It features a 60-minute relaxation and meditation track called "A journey Within" as well as a number of soothing sounds. The interface is beautiful, with many amazing photos included.

Want to take a Yoga class with you wherever you go? iYoga is a Mac application that talks you through poses, provides timing for each pose, and displays photographs. If you want to create your own classes, iYoga is your tool. You can also download classes that have been created by iYoga.

iZen Garden (click opens iTunes) -- Providing a Zen garden that you can tend on your iPhone is sure to "center your mind, relax your psyche, and relieve your stress". It's a US$2.99 trip to the local Zen Buddhist temple.

Exercise More Often

The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat less and exercise more. Here are some gifts for you or your buddies that can help burn more calories and enhance your fitness.

The oddly named PumpOne company has a series of fitness apps created for the iPhone (clicks open iTunes). iPump Total Body, iPump Office Stretch, iPump Fat Burn, and 15 other apps range anywhere from US$0.99 to US$2.99 each, and are designed to provide different workouts. Each contains exercise images, videos, and audio coaching, and provides progressive training. This is definitely a good series for the iPhone or iPod touch owner who wants the most out of exercising.

For the Mac user, Open Fitness Desktop for Mac tracks your fitness activity and monitors your progress. There's a free trial available, or the personal version can be purchased for US$39.99.

If you or a friend are thinking about taking up running for fitness in the New Year, Runner's Log is an exercise journal for the Mac. The application can import information from the Nike + iPod, and it's available for US$19.95.

Speaking of the Nike + iPod, it's still a great device for runners who may not have an iPhone 3G. It's only US$29, but requires an iPod touch or nano. Hey, there's another gift idea!

iPhone 3G users have a friend in Trailguru (click opens iTunes), which is my personal favorite app for tracking walks, runs, and bike rides. It captures your track from the built-in GPS of the iPhone 3G, calculates speeds, distances, and elevation changes, and then all of the information can be uploaded automatically to the Trailguru website. The app is free and the new version provides Google Maps of your surroundings, lets you take geotagged images for upload to the website, and can warn you when you lose GPS lock.

Stop Smoking

Most of the people I have known who have successfully stopped smoking just decided one day that they didn't want to do it anymore. For those who don't have the willpower to go cold turkey, there are applications to help you through the process.These two are iPhone/iPod touch-only, which keeps them close at hand when you get the urge to light up.

My Stop Smoking Coach with Allen Carr (click opens iTunes) -- This US$4.99 iPhone app features "the world's leading expert on stopping smoking". What does the app do? It leads you through 14 games that are designed to break you from the coffin nails habit. Perhaps the thought of having Allen Carr (at right) chastising you for sneaking a smoke is enough to make you stop.

Quit Smoking Now with Max Kirsten (click opens iTunes) -- Quit Smoking Now was used by none other than actor Ewan McGregor to stop smoking. Hey, if it can stop Obi-Wan Kenobi from smoking, it must be good! It's US$7.99, cheaper than a carton of cigs. No word on whether Max Kirsten is going to come out with an iPhone app to stop Ewan from kissing Jim Carrey. Our President-Elect could use this application if anyone wants to send him an iTunes Gift Card.

Regardless of whether or not you keep your New Year's resolutions, all of us at TUAW want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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