Look, nobody's perfect. At any given time of the year, you can probably think of at least one or two things you'd like to change about yourself. And what better opportunity for reinventing yourself than the start of a new year?
The most popular New Year's resolution is to lose weight. Don't bother. For those of you setting more realistic goals, here are some books, blogs, apps and extensions to help make 2015 your best year ever.
If you want to…
…Love your body.
BOOK: "Body Respect" by Linda Bacon
Michelle Allison, who writes the blog "The Fat Nutritionist," recommended this one to us. The book goes into more detail about health and eating without focusing on weight loss, she said.
BOOK: "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us" by Michael Moss
Have you always suspected processed foods are the devil, but weren't exactly sure how or why? Let this book put the fear of god (and saturated fat) in you.
BLOG: Move and Be Free
Another recommendation from Michelle Allison, who says, "This guy's a personal trainer from Australia who writes a great blog about body image and exercise and working out." Topics include "Body Acceptance," "Perspective," and "Health" in addition to things like training, running, and bodyweight exercises.
BOOK: "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo
This book, written by a professional organizer who has achieved celebrity status in her native Japan (they even made a TV movie about her!) recently published a translated version of her manifesto. Her main thesis is this: Discard (toss or donate) anything in your house that doesn't spark joy. Don't worry about how much it cost, how recently you wore it, who gave it to you as a gift — if it isn't bringing you joy, it doesn't belong in your house.
Kondo's book is a bit curious to the average Western reader: She advocates things like thanking your shoes for their hard work at the end of the day and allowing socks and jewelry to "rest" when not in use. As the New York Times points out, this kind of anthropomorphism can feel a little silly in practice, but it's an interesting way of changing your relationship to the things you own. I, for one, read this book over Christmas, and am very excited to get home and start donating all the books I've owned for years but haven't read (per Kondo: "'Sometime' means 'never'") and refolding things in my drawers ("Folding is really a form of dialogue with our wardrobe.")
BLOG & APP: Unfuck Your Habitat
Have you ever needed some foul-mouthed motivation to clean? Meet Unfuck Your Habitat. The site will help you figure out manageable ways to clean your house in small increments (called 20/10s). You can send your Before & After photos to be featured on their Tumblr, so you won't be the only person to appreciate how neat your living room finally looks. Read the helpful Welcome Packet to learn more.
Unfuck Your Habitat also has a great app that's only 99 cents on iOS and Android. (NOTE: Due to church lady filters, it's known as "Unfilth Your Habitat" in app stores.) It has a 20/10 timer, challenges by room and by time, and a "Random Unfucking Motivation" button that gives you a pop-up message like "MY NANA WOULD BE SO DISAPPOINTED IN YOU RIGHT NOW" or "EXCUSES ARE BORING."
Evernote is good for organizing everything. Seriously, get Evernote.
…Stay on a budget.
APP: You Need a Budget (app is free; software is $60 after 34-day free trial)
This app is a one-stop-shop for managing your money and staying on a budget. You need to pay $60 for the desktop software to go with the app, but you can try it free for a month first.
APP: Out Of Milk (free for iOS and Android)
There are approximately one million apps out there for grocery lists. This one has a couple of unique features: You can import recipes to create custom lists, it has a to-do list function, and most importantly, it lets you scan items in your pantry so you can know what you already have at home.
SITE & APP: CreditKarma
CreditKarma is a free site that keeps track of how much you owe on your credit cards and other loans. It gives you a rough idea of what your credit score is and breaks down your spending by category. The app is helpful for when you're about to plunk down your credit card and need a reminder that you still owe the Big Banks big bucks.
…Manage your stress.
APP: Self-help for Anxiety Management (free on iOS and Android)
This app was designed by the University of the West of England specifically for people who struggle with anxiety. Self-Help for Anxiety Management — SAM for short — lets you record when you're stressed and helps identify your triggers.
APP: Headspace (free on Android & iOS)
Meditation and mindfulness have been big buzzwords for the past few years. If you want to get into it, Headspace is a great place to start. The soothing British narrator talks you through the five-minute sessions, frequently reminding you that it's OK that your brain can't stop going a mile a minute the first few times you try it.
The first ten 10-minute sessions are free, but you can cough up a few bucks to get longer meditation sessions and some activity-specific ones.
EXTENSION: Shut Up
You know what's stressful? Reading the comments at the end of news stories. You know you shouldn't be doing it, so you tell yourself you'll just read the first two or three to get a sense of the general reaction, and then hours later you're furiously typing up a response about how, no, that missing airplane is NOT Obama's fault. Time to let it go. Banish the peanut gallery from Chrome with the extension Shut Up.