Tips & Tools
5 Functional Tools for Fitness
Over the many years of being in this business, we found we are asked the same questions, over and over.
We sometimes add the most common questions to a standard Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. And, sometimes, a response deserves a higher profile, and is worthy of a blog post.
The challenge to preparing a response that is appropriate for “broadcast” is that an answer may work for one person, but it may not for the other.
However, today, we are publishing this Tips & Tools to respond to one of those common questions that is worthy of a tribute beyond the FAQ page; beyond a newsletter; even beyond a guest spot on Dr. Oz.
The question is . . .
“What can you recommend to help me reach my health goals?“
So, you might think a question like that — having been asked by a unique individual with unique health conditions and goals — is going to require a unique response for each person.
But, not so . . .
It turns out, we didn’t even have to think very hard to come up with 5 tools that everyone can use to help reach their goals.
“5 Tools for Fitness“, references some of the most basic factors to consider for:
- more energy
- stronger immunity
- clearer thought
- improved memory
- sustained motivation
- greater confidence
. . . and, so much more.
If these benefits are just what you need, and you want to get started without a moments delay, please read on …
Why These Five?
Just Breathe – As Dr. Weil would say, proper breathing is the best thing you can do for your health that doesn’t require special equipment, and it is FREE.
Most Eastern disciplines (martial arts, yoga, tai chi, etc.) make correct breathing techniques the cornerstone of the training. Make it part of your day.
To learn a very simple breathing exercise, as demonstrated by Dr. Weil, watch this YouTube video, the “ 4-7-8” technique:
You might think that from the moment you first enter this world, you would instinctively know how to breathe . . . properly.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Unless you have had formal training in a discipline that teaches proper breathing technique, the odds are your breathing could use some work.
Even if you have been trained to breathe — perhaps you are an athlete, a singer, a free diver, or a yogi — you may still forget to practice good technique, every day.
Proper breathing is so fundamental to your health that not breathing correctly will compromise every other effort you put into a healthier lifestyle.
This is why, when you think about tools to improve your health and fitness, you must begin at the beginning . . . with breathing.
Many techniques exist to encourage better breathing habits. We provided a link to one technique that everyone can do.
You will be amazed at what it does to increase energy and reduce stress. And best of all, it is Free!
If you do nothing else on this list, at least learn to Just Breathe.
Shop Smart & Clean Up – The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that each year lists the 12 most polluted (Dirty Dozen) conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables.
Also identified are the 15 least toxic (Clean 15).
The lists are FREE to download, but for a modest donation, they will send a pocket-sized card with both lists.
Or, also FREE, you can download an app for you phone, making it convenient to always have it with you for reference while shopping, and to be sure it is always up to date with the latest findings.
Get your Environmental Working Group Apps here: Click here for EWG Phone Apps
Our world has become so toxic that many of the health frustrations and chronic symptoms can be traced to toxic overload.
One of the most difficult to diagnose — and challenging to correct — is the effect toxins have on your endocrine system, which leads to hormone imbalances.
Because of the long-term penalties you’ll experience when toxins build up, our Item #2 is to simply reduce the amount of toxins you are consuming.
The first choice would be to only eat organic fruits and vegetables, but since that is not practical for most people (whether due to cost or availability), then the next best thing is to avoid the most toxic produce and choose instead the vegetables and fruit that are proven to be the least polluted among those that are “conventionally grown”.
Get Juicy – Comparing V8 Juice to fresh juice is like comparing a picture of a Ferrari to the real thing… both look good, but only one has the performance you want.
If you are unfamiliar with the potent benefits of fresh vegetable juice, the most entertaining introduction is courtesy of Joe Cross in, “ Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” , where he chronicles his journey to health.
Numerous examples of good juicers are priced between $50-600. One similar to Joe’s in the movie is available on Amazon here: Breville
[ Note: The reason we include Item #2 as one of our selections for Tools for Fitness is because with Item #3, you are consuming concentrated forms of the nutrition available in fruits and vegetables… if the produce is polluted with chemicals, you will also be getting highly concentrated chemicals.]
As a source for micro-nutrients and broad-spectrum trace minerals, mom was right . . . you need to eat your vegetables.
For most of us, it is a challenge to eat the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables our bodies require. This is why there has been a growing interest in the benefits of drinking fresh juice.
If you are unfamiliar with the benefits of juicing, one of the most entertaining and informative introductions to the topic is a documentary about one man’s quest for wellness.
After suffering for years from a debilitating autoimmune disease and weight issues, Joe begins the difficult task of bringing his body back to a balanced state.
We ride along as he travels across the U.S., sharing his story with others. Witnessing his journey to get healthy is often funny, sometimes emotional, certainly informative, and without question, inspiring.
If you already have a juicer, we still highly recommend watching the movie. It will inspire you to pull yours from the cabinet and Get Juicy.
If you do not yet have a juicer, the same type of juicer Joe used during his travels can be found on Amazon, here: Breville Juicer
There are many decent and workable brands of juicer out there, but we have used the Breville brand for many years, and can verify the strength and quality.
Personal Fitness Trackers – Numbers 4 and 5 in our list are “gadgets” that help with the factor of motivation.
WEAR A NAG – Personal fitness trackers have evolved well past merely counting steps. They are now able to track your sleep patterns, measure your heart rate, and even “ nag” you to get up and start moving, if it detects you have been sitting idle too long.
If you wake up feeling tired every morning, you will be fascinated by the sleep mapping mode.
A fitness tracker can often be a helpful companion to keep your motivation in high gear.
Motivation is like the wind in your sails; you can chart the most direct course of action, possess the finest fleet of equipment, and don the most stylish See-worthy attire, but without motivation, your ship will be left to languish and bob along in a sea of despair.
Some people are fortunate enough to possess unbridled motivation, regardless of the obstacles thrown in their path.
Those people aren’t human, and they probably aren’t reading this.
The rest of us (mere mortals) sometimes need a gentle ‘nag’, and consistent reminders of our goals, to stay motivated.
If this sounds like you, then a personal fitness tracker may just be the ticket to help keep your bearing headed toward your goals.
Personal fitness trackers have become very popular, mainly for the wear-it-and-forget-it convenience offered by a simple, intelligent wristband.
What began as a basic pedometer (device to measure distance walked) has developed into a tool that allows you to set your daily goal, track your calories burned, measure the quality of your sleep, monitor and graph your heart rate, and even politely nag you when it detects you have been sitting too long.
These things are evolving so fast, this time next year, I expect to be reporting on a model that, as you go to bed, will ask how you want your eggs cooked for breakfast. 🙂
So, Item #4 is our suggestion to use a personal fitness tracking device that lets you Wear a Nag, without having to also hear how you left the cap off the toothpaste, again.
We have used the Garmin brand of trackers, but certainly there are plenty of other quality choices, notably, Fitbit, Polar, Nike, and others.
The image above shows the Garmin VivoFit, which I have personally used for a few years, but if I were to buy one today, I would probably choose the more advanced VivoSmart.
However, by the time you read this, there will likely be dozens of newer releases that will make for equally good choices.
The following link is to a selection on Amazon for the search, “Garmin Activity Tracker”, which will bring up a bunch of choices to compare features and pricing: Amazon “Garmin Activity Tracker”
Or, try the search “Personal Fitness Tracker” for broad range of selections.
[Note: We profile a bit more about the use of a fitness tracker (and show a real-world example of tracking data) in our blog post: “Why Does 10-Thousand Steps Mean Healthy Activity? “]
Ratios Rock – One of the certainties about the human experience is that few things will keep us motivated more than success.
A new twist on an old workhorse is our choice for Item #5… the bathroom scale.
If you are gauging progress only by the pounds, you must be using Grandma’s antique scales.
I’m sure you know muscle weighs more than fat. So, measuring success by weight loss alone can appear bleak.
An exercise program for weight loss also builds muscle, which means, a more accurate indicator of your progress is the ratio of body fat to weight.
To track fat ratios, BMI (Body Mass Index), and total pounds, try the FitBit ‘Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale’. Nothing motivates you more than seeing your own success.
Not long ago, the most information we could expect from a scale that measures our weight was, well . . . our weight.
Oh, how woefully inadequate that is for getting early feedback about progress toward a healthy, fitter, you.
Muscle weighs more than fat, so it is common to see no change in total weight, while at the same time, be replacing fat with muscle.
That is success, by any measure.
To assist you in recognizing early and incremental progress (even though your actual weight may not be changing), we suggest selecting a scale that will not only show your weight, it will measure your BMI… your fat/weight ratios.
Since we originally wrote about the smart scale, many more have entered the market, helping drive the prices down. We chose to mention the Aria Smart Scale because, at the time we published this, the Aria a good balance of reviews vs price.
This Amazon link to get started with your own comparisons, here: Fitbit Aria WiFi Smart Scale.
Each item in this Tips & Tools is about focusing on the basics.
The basics for 5 Tools for Fitness are breathing, toxicity, nutrition, and motivation.
We wish you much success.