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Technology to help you keep those 2015 pledges

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E-cigarettes are available in newsagents, supermarkets, online, as well as in their own stores all over the country

E-cigarettes are available in newsagents, supermarkets, online, as well as in their own stores all over the country

E-cigarettes are available in newsagents, supermarkets, online, as well as in their own stores all over the country

As the Christmas trees of Ireland start heading for the dump, and mince pies, candy and booze lose the guilt-free accompaniment of, "sure go on, it's Christmas", people all over the country will have spent the last few days taking stock of themselves - who they are and who they want to be.

Every year, there are surveys done to see what people's resolutions are and the same answers always seem to gravitate towards the top of that list: lose weight, get fit, quit smoking, stop drinking and spend more time with friends and family.

The good news is that there has never been a better time to attack these goals. Technology these days has given us an unbelievable range of tricks and toys to help keep us on the right track.

I'm sure a lot of you will be thinking that you don't need gimmicks to achieve your goals, just a little willpower, which is true - but in reality, this is too Spartan an approach for many. Despite the negative moniker, gimmicks can be a great way of staying interested in the task at hand. They give you something to replace your ritual with; something to keep idle hands occupied.

E-cigarettes have become hugely popular over the last 12 months. They've been around for a while, but it seems everywhere I go now, there is someone puffing away on one of these things. E-cigarettes are available in newsagents, supermarkets, online, as well as in their own stores all over the country. So, if you can't seem to kick the habit on your own, give them a chance. It could add years to your life.

For weight loss and exercise, some of today's toys are undeniably impressive. Last year, I was given a Fitbit tracker as a Christmas present. It's like one of those little rubber bracelets that you see with charity slogans on them. You wear it on your wrist and it records not only the distance you covered in the day, but also when you were active, how active you were, and even how well you slept. It then sends the information to an app on your smartphone, where you can input your diet.

The Fitbit tracker is just one example of what people are calling ''wearable technology'; these are predicted to be huge in 2015. There are some great new gadgets due to hit stores this year, with many of them designed to improve health and fitness. For example, Moov, which is a virtual coach worn on the leg, can help you out with fitness tips, advice on posture etc, as you work out

For those of you who want to be closer to friends and family in 2015, technology may be the answer for you also. I am not an advocate of people sitting glued to Facebook for hours on end, but things like Skype, Facebook or WhatsApp can be a great way of actively keeping in touch without being there. If you are really busy and don't have time to see some of the people near you, WhatsApp is a great smartphone app. It doesn't suck you in with endless junk to browse, it just lets you text for free as well as send photos or record messages.

To all those beginning the New Year with a new leaf, I'll leave you with some words from F Scott Fitzgerald's character, Benjamin Button: "It's never too late to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same; there are no rules to this thing. You can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you live a life you're proud of and if you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."

Sunday Independent