Stuff We Like – Volume 1

Collectively, our staff has accumulated over 150 years of theoretical and practical knowledge within the exercise and nutrition fields. We’ve worked as personal trainers helping ordinary folks, as strength and conditioning coaches training elite athletes, in physical therapy clinics, hospitals, schools, retirement homes and just about everywhere in between. Suffice it to say that if a piece of exercise equipment or fad diet has existed, we’ve heard about it, studied it, and probably even tried it ourselves.

A lot of the stuff we’ve tried has been junk, but a few useful gems have proven to be valuable assets to achieving our health and fitness goals. Every so often, we’ll share some of our favorite training tools, foods, diets, and random other stuff we like so you can avoid the junk and stick to the things that work.

FitDay.com

No matter what your health and fitness goals are, you can benefit from keeping a detailed food log. Yes, it does require some extra work – recording everything you eat, weighing foods, etc. – but the pros far outweigh the cons. For one, it keeps you accountable. When you’re face-to-face with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and you know you’re going to have to write “Turtle Soup” in your food journal it’s a little easier to say “No.” Second, it helps you determine whether your diet is effective. If you’re struggling to lose weight, a simple look over your food journal will allow you to see if you’re getting extra calories you don’t really need (i.e., Ben & Jerry’s Turtle Soup).

The great thing about FitDay is that you only need to enter the amount of food you eat, the program automatically adds up your daily totals for fats, carbs, protein, fiber, cholesterol, and most of the major vitamins and minerals. FitDay already has a fairly comprehensive list of foods, and you can add your own custom foods if you eat something not listed. You can also track your weight, activities, mood, various body girth measurements and much more.

Green tea

If you were to have come to our office six months ago, you would have seen one of our refrigerators stocked with energy drinks of every variety. Sure, they were effective, but for an organization touting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle drinking artificially-sweetened and sugar-laden beverages was a bit hypocritical. That refrigerator now stores only water, and the energy drinks have been replaced with a jug of fresh brewed green tea (and occasionally other varieties).

   Tea, not wine

The benefits of green tea are too great to ignore, and the collective energy in our office seems to have improved since our over-caffeinated days. Like Monster and Rockstar, green tea offers a boost in energy, but the l-theanine makes it smoother and more subtle, and there’s no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Green tea is also a potent antioxidant, can enhance fat loss, and helps prevent a wide range of diseases.

Bands

In this case we’re talking about exercise bands, not The Beatles or Metallica (although we like them, too). Exercise bands basically look like giant rubber bands and come in various colors and thicknesses. Some of the many ways to utilize bands in your training program include the following:

• With body weight exercises to increase resistance
• With traditional exercises in lieu of barbells or dumbbells
• With traditional exercises in addition to barbells or dumbbells
• To assist with pull-ups, dips and other body weight exercises (see video below)

The great thing about bands is that they offer a unique resistance pattern compared to barbells and dumbbells due to their elastic properties. They’re also much more portable, so they can be used to increase the effectiveness of a workout outside of the gym.