The best apps for breaking bad habits (and sticking with good ones)

We all know that the beginning of the year really isn’t the best time to address our bad habits. If anything a lack of alcohol/chocolate/curling up in bed in the foetal position in January is going to make us less likely to do good things than going cold turkey on everything that’s nice about the world.

But it’s nearly the end of March, the weather is ever-so-slightly better, the nights are ever-so-slightly lighter and your summer holiday is ever-so-slightly closer, all great reasons to start doing more things and improving yourself just a little bit.

We’re setting you a challenge to pick just one of your bad habits and attempt to change it over the next few weeks. Don’t have one? Then use LittleBit to cultivate something new and worthwhile instead. Let us know what you choose, which app is going to help you and how you’re getting on in the comments below…

If too much caffeine is (literally) keeping you awake at night: Jawbone Up Coffee

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Jawbone is famous for its cool little Jambox speakers and Up fitness trackers, but recently it also launched a caffeine-tracking app, called Up Coffee. The app is designed to sync up with your fancy Up (or now Up 24) tracker, but you can still use it if there isn’t an activity monitoring gizmo strapped to your arm, just input some basic details about yourself and then add your caffeine intake throughout the day (remembering that it’s not just coffee that contains caffeine).

The app shows you your caffeine intake in an awesome, interactive little visualisation that looks like coffee beans filling up a jar (see the screenshot above). On a basic level you can view how wired you are with the beans – from sleep ready to wired – but you can also delve much deeper into your your stats too, monitoring your activity levels throughout the day and keeping a log of how you’ve done throughout the week.

Now admittedly Jawbone Up Coffee isn’t designed to completely kick your coffee obsession, but it will present you with more information about how your body is reacting to that seemingly harmless cup of java throughout the day. Also, the little warnings are pretty hilarious, I just tried to input my second coffee of the day and got a warning that read “This dose of caffeine could make you jittery. Are you sure you want it?”.

Jawbone Up Coffee is available for iOS devices for free.

If you can’t stop eating the bad stuff: Noom Weight

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We’ve written about Noom a few times before because it always comes top if you’re looking for a way to track your eating habits and activity levels throughout the day but don’t want to pay a fortune for a Jawbone, Nike+ or Fitbit wearable.

On the surface Noom is a simple and intuitive calorie intake and activity level tracker, once you’ve inputted your details it’ll tell you how many calories you’ve consumed and how many you have left. Its comprehensive database allows you to add everything you eat and there are even UK supermarket-specific meals too to make the whole process quicker and easier.

Granted you could use Noom to track all of the bad things you eat, which may just make you feel worse. But, the basic principle behind Noom is that tracking and visualising what you eat each day is the first step in understanding your body and making those all important changes. Unlike similar apps on the market Noom also serves up expert advice and motivational tips to ensure you’ve got a goal in mind and you stick to it.

You can pay extra to chat to a randomly selected group of other Noom users about your eating habits, which sounds weird and kinda daunting, but it’s actually the 2014 equivalent of trotting down to your local Weight Watchers to chat recipes and hop on the scales.

Noom Weight is available for iOS and Android devices.

If you want to quit smoking for good: Smokio

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Smokio is the first smart, connected electronic cigarette and smartphone app combo. Yep, there’s literally nothing that isn’t “smart” and/or “connected” nowadays.

The Smokio e-cigarette contains a special chip that tracks how much you use it and what impact it’s having on your body when you reach for an e-alternative rather than the real thing.

Everything you do with the Smokio e-cig is automatically synced up to a dedicated app on your smartphone using Bluetooth, so you can keep track of your usage, where you do it, when you do it and when your e-cig needs recharging.

Of course a certain level of willpower and motivation is needed to make the transition from normal cigarette to the fancy Smokio e-cigarette in the first place, but it’s the stats about how your body is in a much better state and how much money you’ve saved in the long run that might really hit home for those who are on the verge of giving up for good.

As you’d expect the whole kit isn’t cheap and starts at around $89 from the Smokio Store, but if you’re committed to quitting it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a lifetime of actual cigarettes.

If you feel like a big couch potato: QuickFit’s 7 Minute Workout

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According to research, we should stop feeling intimidated by lengthy workouts and people who are training to do their tenth marathon in our Twitter feeds, and instead treat our bodies to short blasts of high intensity exercise – 7 minutes of the sweaty stuff to be exact.

Sure it might just be the latest fad in a long line of fitness crazes, but the exercises included in the 7 Minute Workout all get different parts of the body moving and leave your heart pumping as if you’ve just come back from a pretty intense run.

There are a number of different apps on the market to introduce you to the 7 Minute Workout (not to mention some great YouTube videos), but our favourite is from Quick Fit.

The app takes you through all 12 exercises of the 7 Minute Workout giving you 30 seconds for each with a 10 second break in between. The voice commands are simple and ensure your form is spot on, but they’re not at all patronising like some other workout apps on the market.

HD videos accompany each workout so you can check you’re doing the exercises right. You can also try and keep up with the number of reps the little dude does each round too, but don’t worry if you can’t – it’s much better to start off slow and ensure your form is perfect before you try and smash through 297385 reps in 30 seconds anyway.

There’s a performance tracking section within the app that keeps track of your workouts and your progress and once you’ve done a fair few you can unlock a special workout dedicated just to your abs.

We know that even the smallest bit of exercise can seem too time-consuming and daunting for busy and tired people, but try and just commit to three sets of the 7 Minute Workout each week and we promise you’ll sleep better and feel a bit fitter after just a few sessions.

7 Minute Workout – Quick Fit is available from iTunes for 69p.

If worrying takes over your day: iCouch CBT

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Now this is a really specific one, and it’s ideal for those whose main habit is worrying.

To those who don’t tend to over-think or worry too much this will seem like a strange addition alongside kicking caffeine or a stop smoking kind of habit, but to those prone to a bit of worry and anxiety throughout the day, it could have a really positive impact.

iCouch CBT is an app designed to help you deal with worries and it’s based on basic CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) methods. We’re in no way therapy experts here at Shiny Shiny, so do your reading if you’d like to know more, but iCouch CBT works on the premise that you need to work through your worries one step at a time to understand them, turn them into something more positive or just realise they’re not worth the time and effort.

To some this may sound like a real challenge, but once you’ve added a worry into the iCouch CBT app it’ll guide you through a process of working through it. For those battling with big anxiety problems and depression it may just be a drop in the ocean, but it’s worth a shot and has certainly helped calm me down on more than one occasion in the past.

iCouch CBT is a little pricey for an app at £2.49, but well worth it. It’s available for iOS devices from the iTunes app store here.

If you want to set new goals and start much better habits: LittleBit

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LittleBit wins hands down in the adorable app stakes with its small smiling face and friendly “Hiya” welcome every time you log-in. But it’s not being included in this list because it’s cute, but because it’s a really simple and effective way to encourage you to hit your goals and cultivate good habits – one small step at a time.

All you have to do to get started with LittleBit is create a New Habit, which can be anything you want like go for a run or floss your teeth. LittleBit will then remind you to do it and encourage you to take a picture of it, earning you a “Bit”. Once you get 21 “Bits” you can complete your habit and unlock a big photo reel of your achievements – but let your good intentions slide and you can start to lose “Bits”!

The beauty of LittleBit is that you can only focus on one habit at a time, which takes the pressure away and makes you more likely to keep on track and make just one small change gradually rather than being overwhelmed by about 39873485 ways you’d like to improve your life.

LittleBit is available for iOS devices.

If you’re looking for a much healthier and worthwhile distraction: Duolingo

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Maybe you don’t need a big app intervention to overcome your habit, but just a new distraction. There are literally thousands of apps and games that are much better for your health and wellbeing than downing cupcakes and coffees, but a personal favourite of ours here at Shiny Shiny is Duolingo. The intuitive language-learning app keeps you occupied, allows you to compete against yourself each day AND helps you learn a brand new language in the process. If you could train yourself to reach for Duolingo instead of that coffee cup/remote control/cigarette then you’ll be in a much better (and multilingual) state, we promise.

Duolingo is available for free on iOS and Android devices.

By Becca Caddy | March 28th, 2014





Becca CaddyThe best apps for breaking bad habits (and sticking with good ones)