It’s easy to say you’ll eat healthier and exercise more, but it’s tough to actually get started and keep going.
Sure, you can make exercise plans and collect recipes, but if you’re not prepared with tools to boost your success, you’ll quickly revert to old habits.
January 18-24 is Healthy Weight Week, and we want to help you find useful, time-tested tools that will make your resolutions easier to stick to and will help you reach your healthy weight goal. Read on for our favorite exercise and healthy kitchen tools!
Top 5 Exercise Tools
Exercise tools can help you keep track of your progress from minute one to pound 10, and keeping tabs will keep you motivated and more likely to achieve success. Instead of trying to remember these details day by day, here are devices that do it for you!
Fitness Tracker. We’re much more likely to change behaviors we keep track of, but how honest are we about how active we are? From sleep quality, steps taken, calories burned, to food intake, the newest generation of fitness trackers help you monitor your activity and keep you accountable. Small, wearable, and compatible with most phones and computers, these trackers link up to apps that keep long-term records of your behaviors and help you set goals, so you can make progress from start to finish.
Digital Trainer. Need a trainer or workout buddy that’s available all the time? A digital trainer can offer real-time coaching through a personalized cardio, strength, or flexibility workout plan and offer immediate feedback based on your heart rate, speed, distance, and calories burned. At the gym, outdoors, or at home, it can tell you to speed up or slow down and count down the minutes you have left until you’re done.
The Adidas miCoach Pacer is a popular digital trainer, while smartphone watches like the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Sony SmartWatch have this function on top of smartphone-linked functions like calling, calendars, messaging, web searching, and apps.
Heart Rate Monitor. Want to know how intense and effective your workout is? A heart rate monitor is a simple, easy tool to measure your heart rate in real time during a workout, as well as monitor your recovery time, so you can figure out the best intensity level for you.
The Polar FT-80 is a high-end heart rate monitor that has digital training functions, and can even measure how relaxed you are. The Sportline Solo 925 is a more affordable option that also monitors your distance, speed, strides, and calories burned.
Smart Scale. You can’t track your progress without weighing yourself, but weight isn’t everything. Even scales have become “smart,” measuring weight, body fat percentage, and wirelessly syncing with mobile devices to track progress, allowing you to stay on track with your resolutions. No need to fear stepping on the scale now – it’s your friend and motivator!
Fat Loss Monitor. Similar to the smart scale but simpler and more affordable, a fat loss monitor gives you a quick reading of your body fat and BMI by sending a weak electric current through your body. Getting a reading at the same time every day will help you get consistent percentage readings and let you know if you’re losing the right kind of weight – fat instead of muscle!
Omron makes an affordable model that keeps track of records for up to nine people.
Top 10 Healthy Kitchen Tools
One of the best ways to jump start weight loss is by eating better. Healthy eating means healthy cooking, and both are so much easier when you have tools that make meal preparation effortless, and these are our top choices.
Food Scale. If you want to weigh less, it’s a good idea to make sure your food weighs in at a good number, too. Compared to guesstimating portion sizes, a kitchen scale can help ensure you’re getting the right amount of protein and calories in your meal. And if you’re a serious cook or baker, it can do double duty and make sure your ingredient weights are spot on.
Portion Plate. Over the years, our plates have gotten bigger, and unsurprisingly, so have our bellies. Think about it – when your grandparents were growing up, the average dinner plate was around 8.5 inches in diameter, and the average restaurant plate size now is about a foot across, sometimes more! Thankfully, a portion plate can really help you control how much you’re eating and give you visual cues on how to arrange your plate. Ranging around 9 inches wide (the size of a salad plate), they divide the plate to be half fruits and vegetables, ¼ protein, and ¼ whole grains.
The Portion Plate is a 9.5-inch plate with pictures to help you plan healthy and balanced meals. More design-oriented? Slim and Sage make dishwasher and microwave-safe plates with geometric designs similar to what you might find on fine china.
Immersion Blender. You don’t always need a fancy blender to whip up a smoothie or make a smooth, silky soup. A handheld immersion blender allows you to blend and purée right in the cup or pot and achieve a luxurious texture because the whipping effect adds creaminess and volume without additional fat. Replacing a meal with a smoothie has been shown to help with weight loss, and eating a healthy, low-calorie soup can help you eat less overall. Want to make a lower-fat, lower-sugar salad dressing? Blend it up! Plus, hand-held blenders take up little space and are ridiculously easy to clean.
Food Steamer. For foods you can’t or don’t want to eat raw, steaming is one of the healthiest cooking methods you can employ, especially because it doesn’t require added oil or fat. Steaming also helps to retain vital nutrients, but it’s far too easy to overcook veggies, whole grains, and fish when steaming. You can take the guesswork out of steaming with a food steamer, and enjoy a healthy meal with easy prep and easy cleanup.
Oil Mister. Too often, we drown even our healthy foods, like salads, in oil. Why? Because it’s easy to pour a little too much in the bowl or in the pan. And all that excess oil means extra calories – a diet destroyer to say the least. An oil mister helps to add just a touch of oil, and can reduce the amount of oil you consume by an incredible 80%! Try adding garlic, lemon, spices, or herbs to the oil for better flavor.
Spiralizer. Love noodles but not the carbs? Then make noodles out of vegetables! A vegetable spiralizer can turn veggies like zucchini, squash, sweet potato, and carrots into thin or thick “noodles,” which you can gently blanch and serve with your favorite sauces. You can also shred cabbage for salads, slaw, or for a healthy taco topping. And baked curly “fries” made with sweet potato can be a special weekend treat, too.
Salad Spinner. Salads are a popular healthy meal, but the prep involved can be enough to steer you away toward something less healthy. A salad spinner can help wash and dry your greens quickly ahead of time and store them until you need them. An added benefit? Dry greens need less dressing, resulting in fewer calories. And you can use a salad spinner to wash and dry other foods like herbs and even berries.
Slow Cooker. If time is the biggest obstacle between you and a healthy, home-cooked meal, it might be time to invest in a slow cooker. Today’s slow cookers aren’t the crock pots of old – with digital temperature controls, timers, and even self-stirring functions, they perform better than ever. You can cook large batches of healthy vegetable soups, stews, whole grains like oatmeal, and foods that can benefit from a long cook, like beans and legumes, and refrigerate or freeze for fast, nutritious eating later in the week.
Fruit Infusion Pitcher. Drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated and can help you eat less. But if flavorless water doesn’t appeal to you, try a fruit infusion pitcher. With a perforated cylinder in the middle that you can fill with fruits like citrus, strawberries, cucumber, or mint, you can flavor your water without adding calories or sugar.
Grater/Zester. One of the biggest complaints about healthy food is that it lacks flavor, but that’s just because whoever is doing the cooking isn’t doing it right! A grater is an indispensible kitchen tool for adding flavor to food. Grate garlic and ginger finely and infuse their aroma into your meal. Lemon, orange, and lime zest add intense flavor to meats, marinades, salad dressing, yogurt, and more. And finely grated cheese atop a soup, salad, or other food means you need less.
With great tools at your disposal, you’re not allowing room for excuses. And from the gym, to the kitchen, you’re allowing yourself to get help in reaching your goal. Whatever your fitness goals for the year, whether it’s to lose weight or improve your overall health, take advantage of tools and technology and increase your chances of achieving success!
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.