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Free App Friday: 5 Tools For Healthier Living

Eating, sleeping, and moving around are relatively basic endeavors. A little tweak here and there can make a world of difference, though.

You don’t have to be a nut to be healthy. You just have to want to get healthier than you are now. Baby steps.

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Here are a handful of free, at-your-own-pace apps that can point you in the right direction if you’re looking to slim down or perk up.

1. If you’ve taken the “ignorance is bliss” approach to eating

Fooducate (Android, iOS) should be your undoing. Because nothing ruins delicious food like knowing how bad it is for you, Fooducate lets you look up something you’re about to eat and assigns a letter grade to each item. Honey Nut Cheerios? B-minus. You can do better. The app also leverages your phone’s camera to act as a barcode scanner for faster lookups. The grading system digs deep into each product’s ingredients, looking for things like excessive sugar, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and other additives.

2. If you want to tiptoe your way back into shape

Fire up the RunDouble Couch to 5K app (Android, iOS). The idea here is to slowly but surely turn yourself from a wheezing, sweaty Netflix addict into a wheezing, sweaty runner capable of trotting 3.1 miles without stopping to cry. I can tell you from experience that if you don’t like running, you won’t magically love running after completing the nine-week program, which starts easy–one minute of running followed by 90 seconds of walking–and ends with a weekful of 30-minute nonstop jaunts. But you will feel much better. The app is free for the first two weeks; after that, it’s a few bucks to unlock the remaining weeks.

3. If you’ve got permanent bags under your eyes

Make sure SleepBot (Android, iOS) has a spot on your phone. Arm the app before you go to sleep and it’ll detect movement and sound as you’re in la-la land. If you’re within 30 minutes of your alarm time, it’ll wake you up when you’re “least” asleep based on what it senses in the room. Long term, the app tallies up the amount of good sleep you’re getting each night and lets you know how much “debt” you’ve built up–the idea being that you’ll force yourself to get more sleep in order to catch up. And for super-heavy sleepers, you can set multiple alarms to fire off if you can’t be roused the first time around.

4. If you can’t stop thinking about butts

Try QuitNow (Android, iOS). It’s free and it just might work. The app presents you with a personalized dashboard, letting you know the day you quit smoking, how many days since your last puff, the amount of cigarettes you haven’t smoked, and the amount of time and money you’ve saved by kicking the habit. You’ll also be able to follow along as your body recovers the senses and functions that have been damaged. And if you’re having trouble, there’s a built-in user community that can encourage you. The app is free for Android and iOS but paid versions are available for BlackBerry and Windows Phone as well.

5. If you’re the competitive type

Find a few friends looking to lose a few pounds and willing to put some money on the line. The free Monitor Your Weight app (Android, iOS) is a simple, no-fuss weight tracker that works perfectly well for one person. But the app can store multiple user profiles, turning the solitary act of weight loss into a winner-take-all competition of epic proportions. If you can’t all get together regularly, everyone’s on the honor system for your Biggest Loser-style weigh-ins, of course, though if you want to lock things down a bit, the app syncs to connected smart scales from the likes of Withings and Fitbit.