No, not that kind of tool. The good kind. The helpful kind. In fact, I’ve got quite the little health/fitness toolbox I’m working on.
To be successful at anything, I strongly believe that you have to have the proper tools. They can be physical tools that you carry with you or mental tools that you carry within you. Regardless, they are the things that will get you through your journey.
On my health/fitness journey, I’ve got a number of physical tools:
- Trainer 2.0 — He has been, perhaps, one of the best investments I’ve made. He’s a positive force in my training routine. He offers the right mix of positive encouragement and good ol’ fashioned pushing. He knows me enough to know when to push and when to back off just a smidge. When he saw I was on the verge of tears one day due to Amor No More, he altered what he had planned and put me on the heavy bag — punching its lights out.
- Shoes — I never imagined that spending $100 on running shoes would ever be something I’d work into my budget. But I’ve learned that running shoes are an investment that I’m happy to make. I’ve tried several different brands, including Brooks, Mizuno, Nike, Adidas and Saucony. And, so far, the Saucony shoes are my faves. And I have a “running store” where I will always buy my shoes and running gear — they are so helpful and know just what my feet need in a good shoe.
- Heart Rate Monitor — I love my heart rate monitor (HRM). The one I use is a Polar F6. It’s been a great addition to my toolbox and has really helped me evaluate my workouts and really get to understand my body and how it works. Plus, it’s much more accurate than the machines. For example, the other day, I was on the elliptical. At one point I glanced down at the machine and it said I’d burned 491 calories. My HRM, on the other hand, said I’d burned 322. Quite the difference, no?
- GPS/iPhone — I love having MapMyRun on my iPhone. It’s nice to be able to accurately track how far I’ve run, especially since most of my outdoor runs are done on a path where I couldn’t drive my car to track distances. It easily tracks my distance and pace. I also can log my workouts on it and track my improvement (or lack thereof). Plus, I can run with my music and track my run on one device.
- iPod Shuffle — I decided to get an iPod Shuffle when it got darker out in the mornings and I had to move some of my morning runs indoors. Really, I only used my iTunes on shuffle mode, anyway when running. And, there’s no need for a big, bulky iPhone attached to my upper arm when running on a treadmill. Besides, it’s so cute and tiny and green.
- Fit Book — This is the best of the tracking books I’ve found. It’s small enough that I can carry it around the gym but big enough that I have room to write in it. One the left side page, you track your workouts. On the right, you track your food. I sporadically use the food pages, as I also track with MyFitnessPal. But it’s handy and convenient. There’s also lots of room for tracking goals and motivation, which is really important in my journey. And, honestly, I really love the tiny pen that comes with it.
- Gym Membership — I think this goes without saying why this is beneficial, but in addition to my outdoor runs, I love the group spin classes and the flexibility that a gym membership gives me with my exercise. Lots of cardio equipment to choose from. Plus, the gym is where I fell in love with strength training.
- A Pretty Water Bottle — Really, this just makes getting in all my water more fun. Plus, I like pretty things.
- This Blog — “I Am Losing It” has been so much more than the outlet I planned it to be. It’s become about accountability, celebration, therapy, community, support, inspiration, success, sharing, growth, friendship, honesty, faith, strength and so many other things. I can truthfully say that without this blog I wouldn’t be where I am today in this journey.
- Food Scale, Measuring Cups and the Like — Portion control is super key for me. And having a food scale has helped me immensely. I have the Weight Watchers scale (only because I had a coupon for it), but really any decent digital food scale would do the trick. And I actually have two sets of measuring cups because I couldn’t keep up with the dishes in the beginning. I can eyeball certain portions these days so don’t have such a hard time keeping the measuring cups clean. But every now and then it’s good to go back and just double check and make sure your “cup” hasn’t become a cup and a half.
- Weight Watchers — In all honesty, this tool was much more important to me in the very beginning of my journey when I was needing support, encouragement and proof that I can do this. I’m stronger now. More sure of myself and of what I’m doing. These days I’m more focused on paying attention to what my body needs and how much (from food to exercise to rest) rather than making sure I follow the WW program to a “T.” Plus, there are some parts of the program I agree with and some that I don’t. But, it was key in the beginning. It gave me the initial push I needed to get to where I am today.