11 Weight Loss Tools That Are Worth the Investment

If you're serious about getting weight loss success, you invest in the right tools!

December 15, 2016
weight loss tools

Adapted from PUSH

Times are tough. Money is tight. I'm not suggesting that you have to buy a bunch of gadgets, but it's my job to give you the edge and help you make informed decisions about your investments. And the truth is, the right tools—some of which you may already own—save you time, establish accountability, get you motivated, and build your foundation. You wouldn't trust a home constructed by a builder with makeshift tools.

More: 8 Guidelines for Successful Goal Setting

Remember when you were a kid, how excited you were about your new clothes and cool lunch- box for the first day of school? Or how cool it was to move into your first apartment and buy your first broom, ladder, and laundry hamper? First day of school, first year out on your own, empirically both scary. You weren't scared; you were excited about your new "stuff," a fresh start, a chance to reinvent yourself. The tools make your journey easier, more exciting, and convenient. The right tools make your success more likely.

More: 7 Step Weight-Loss Troubleshooting Plan

Weight-loss tools spark enthusiasm, the fuel your spirit needs. I've listed them in order of impact. That is to say, the items at the top of the list have been proven to have the most dramatic impact on the success of the people I work with. Spend your money wisely. Each of these investments you can expect to use daily.

Diet and exercise journal
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1. Diet and exercise journal or app

You already know I'm a big fan of anything that fits conveniently into the palm of your hand. The more convenient, the more likely we are to adopt the habit of accurate calorie and exercise journaling. Your smartphone is really the way to go! However, some really great sites also provide free journaling tools and community accountability, such as SparkPeople.com, Teambeachbody.com, and Livestrong.com.

In terms of physically taking a pen to paper, I LOVE the Fitbook! It's simple, inclusive, small, and easy to use! I've listed your journal or journaling app as the most important tool. However, it's only effective if it's used as an honest record keeper. Um, and yes, those two last bites of Johnnie's pancakes need to be recorded! When in doubt, round up!

Fitbit
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2. Personal calorie-monitoring device

You need to create a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose a pound. The problem is, most people have no idea how many calories they have to burn to create that deficit unless they know how many calories they (with all their individual variables) burn per day.

Research has shown that the average person overestimates the calories he or she burns by 25 percent and underestimates the number consumed by 40 percent! Don't be that person!

More: 31 Days to a Flat Belly

You can track your calories for free with varying degrees of accuracy using a number of free sites. However, if money is not an issue and accuracy is, these monitoring devices are remarkable! Other than living in a lab, this is about the best way to know what's going on with your personal metabolism, sleep patterns, and caloric burn.

Keep in mind there's a big difference between a digital calorie-monitoring device and a heart rate monitor. I'm talking about a device that measures calorie output. The price keeps going down, and the accuracy continues to improve. Think of them as a metabolism monitor and truth detector all in one!

More: 7 Kitchen Must-Haves for a Successful Diet

When people say to me, "Chalene, I'm doing everything right, I've reduced my calories, I'm exercising every day, and I just can't lose weight," I strongly encourage them to get one of these devices. I've seen hundreds of men and women break long-lasting weight-loss plateaus by "knowing their numbers." When I started wearing a calorie monitor just a few years ago, I was shocked by how much I was overestimating my calorie burn in certain exercises and underestimating my daily activity rate.

The information allowed me to restructure my workout schedule to get the most bang for my buck. Call me a gadget geek, but these things fascinate me! 

  • Fitbit: Love the simplicity, small size, accurate info; there's no need for an additional subscription or digital display to read your information.
  • GoWear Fit: Made by the same company as the Bodybugg (see below), but with slightly different software and customer support system.
  • Bodybugg: This is the calorie-monitoring device worn by contestants of The Biggest Loser television show. I've worked with several contestants once they've been sent home to prepare for their final weigh-in on the finale show. I fell in love with the Bodybugg technology and the level of customer support. Less expensive, less technical options are out there, but this one (at time of print) is my current pick!
Portable food containers
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3. Portable food containers

When it comes to preparation, convenience is the key. You need the following sizes and quantities:

  • Two 1/2-cup containers. This size is perfect for snacks.
  • Four 1-cup containers. These hold 1/2 cup of brown rice and 5 ounces of chicken.
  • Two 1/4-cup containers. These work well for sauces and condiments.

I know you've probably seen this thing or something like it advertised on TV or on the shelf at your local discount store and wondered if they work. They do! As a matter of fact, I bought 20 sets last year and gave them away to all my fit-minded friends! You can find them at a variety of online retailers for between $9.95 and $19.95. I love the neat and tidy stackable system of Smart Spin Storage brand, but any brand will do!

George Foreman Grill
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4. The George Foreman Grill

Will any fat grilling machine work? Sure. But I've tried most of them. Let me save you some time and money and tell you good ol' Georgie boy (the George Foreman Grill) makes the best! I've had every variety of countertop grill in the last 10 years and nobody makes one better!

Now, here's why you need one. Even if you often cook on your stovetop or you think you'd beat Bobby Flay in a BBQ Showdown, a countertop grill strips a lot of the fat and cuts the preparation time down to mere minutes. In 5 minutes flat (less time than what you will spend wandering through your cupboards looking for something processed and crunchy because you are hungry RIGHT NOW), you can have a fresh breast of grilled chicken, grilled asparagus, and 1/2 cup of brown rice.

dvd workout at home
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5. Exercise DVDs

No, this is not a shameless plug for my own DVDs! Rather, this is to suggest that when you have a library of fitness DVDs, you always have options on hand. If you haven't tried an exercise DVD in recent years, or you don't think you can get a good workout at home, guess again.

More: How to Meet Your Fitness Goals on a Budget

Seven years ago, I partnered with fitness infomercial folks Beachbody to bring my health club workout to consumers. What I love about Beachbody's approach to fitness is that it's real. They don't sugarcoat anything. If you want a kick-ass body, you need a kick-ass workout. They are by far the best in the industry, bar none, and I'm not just speaking about my own products offered by Beachbody, but all of their workouts! There's something for everyone, and the programs are researched, tested, and pro- duced to the highest standards.

Exercise DVDs are perfect for exercising on the road, during inclement weather, or when you're just in the mood to have someone else motivate you! Whether it's an athletic workout, cycling, dance, plyometrics, speed and agility, or ethnic dance, there's a DVD to foot the bill.

digital food scale
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6. Measuring devices

Good news! You probably already have most of these—measuring cups, a digital food scale, and measuring spoons. Now it's a matter of putting them in a place where you will see them (and use them) every day. Remember, this is about creating convenient, second-nature habits. I keep my own measuring devices in a drawer under the exact spot on the counter I use for my own food prep each day.

More: 6 Mini Weight-Loss Moves That Lead to Major Results

Weigh and measure all food for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, you'll be a pro at sizing up portions and you'll be able to relax this practice. However, once a year, I ask you to spend 1 week back in this practice. Portions left unchecked over time get larger and larger. Every once in a while, do a little personal quality control inspection!

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7. Portable music device and playlist

Music is a universal motivator. Music boosts your spirits and gives you energy. Music motivates us to do more and push harder. If you have a smartphone that allows you to download killer selections, instead of buying a portable music device such as an iPod, invest $10 and 20 minutes creating an electrifying playlist for your phone. Daily, someone sends me a message asking how to find the motivation to exercise, and this is undoubtedly my go-to answer.

exercise bands
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8. Exercise tubing

Tubing is the bomb! You must have a set of tubing or exercise bands (often the two terms are used interchangeably) for travel purposes. I also love the affordability of tubing for those who are looking to build a home gym on a budget. They can be just as effective as using free weights while requiring virtually zero space. Choke up on the band to create a heavier resistance, or adjust to make them feel lighter! They're economical, lightweight, and easy to use.

More: 8 Body Sculpting Exercises You're Not Doing

Exercise bands can create the same resistance created by free weights. They look harmless, but they work! Your bicep doesn't care whether the force created is from a band or a weight. Though admittedly I love the feel of working with free weights, they are very expensive and require some space.

More: 6 New Ways to Use Resistance Bands

Don't buy crappy bands at a discount store, though! They don't last. I love the durability of the tubing offered through Beachbody as well as SPRI, Inc. Beachbody includes its tubing in many of its deluxe workout DVD systems, and SPRI offers a Traveling Trainer kit. This easy, safe, and effective program kit comes complete with three SPRI Deluxe Xertube products of varied resistance, a door attachment, a 26-minute exercise video, an exercise instructional guide, a diner's guide, and Michael Sena's personal training workout programs. The kit runs approximately $50.

chocolate shake
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9. Emergency food

I  think it would be superfreaking fantastic if you farmed your own sugarcane, breakfast was fresh berries from your organic garden, and your children drank water from the stream on the mountaintop where you lived in your log cabin constructed entirely of recycled paper products. But let's get real.

More: Your Guide to the Best Convenience Store Snacks

By this point, you understand that I believe the "lesser of two evils" approach to food is more realistic than professed perfection. Of course unprocessed is the way to go. Duh! But unless you have a full-time assistant following you around, you need an emergency plan. Despite your best planning, there will be plenty of moments when you have 5 minutes to get out the door, you haven't eaten, and there's not a piece of fresh food in the house! While unprocessed organic whole food is our goal, that might not be in the cards when you find yourself stuck at the office at 7:00 p.m.

Here are a few things I recommend you always have on hand:

  • Top-of-the-line meal replacement shake with protein
  • Raw almonds and freeze-dried fruit
  • A box of the best engineered protein bars

I shy away from endorsing specific brands of food, though I do have my faves! The choices you make boil down to cost, ingredients, and personal preferences with regard to taste and texture. I'm sure the food police will send me enough hate mail to fill a room for this suggestion, and I'm not fazed. That's because I've met thousands and thousands of people who, when 100 percent unprocessed perfection wasn't available, believed they had failed their diet and turned to a far worse alternative than a protein shake or protein bar (both of which are processed . . . **oh no** . . . gasp!).

More: 5 No-Brainer Healthy Meals for Busy Days

It's okay! Permission granted to not be perfect! You need healthier options for the days when the healthiest of options are unavailable.

When selecting meal replacements (bars or protein powders) choose whey over soy (unless you're vegan or lactose intolerant). Look for brands without additives, as many of the lesser-priced bars and powders are not much more than sawdust! And your healthiest options are 100 percent protein concentrate, not isolate. Just like fresh fruit is more nutritious than canned, there is less processing involved in a concentrate than in an isolate. Vegans might also consider hemp proteins. Though such foods can be difficult to find, every one of us needs an emergency food plan!

running shoes
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10. New kicks!

What was it about the first day of school that was always so exciting and wonderful? It wasn't all the learning you'd be doing, it was probably because you had a new outfit and really fast new shoes. Not much has changed. In addition to providing you with the proper support and cushion you need for your soul-mate workout, new shoes may also inspire you to put your plan into action.

More: Your Complete Guide to Sneakers for Every Workout

Studies show that when we feel good about what we're wearing on the job, we work harder and longer. The same is true of our workouts. As for the type of shoe, I don't recommend a particular brand. Every foot is different. Visit a sports retailer with a knowledgeable sales staff who can address your footwear needs.

Calorie counter
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11. Calorie reference guides

Forget trying to memorize or estimate calorie counts; invest in a small portable reference guide that fits neatly into your purse, office drawer, or car console.

For smartphone users, an app is your best bet. You will find the calorie, fat, protein, and carbohydrate counts for your favorite foods according to brand, size, and portion, plus restaurant entrees, fast food, and more! Whether it's the extremely thorough, convenient pocket-size CalorieKing (from $8.50) or a free app like the überpopular Livestrong.com app for iPhone and Android, the difference is in the numbers. Underestimating consumption by as little as 1 ounce per day can result in more than a 10-pound weight gain over the course of a year.

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Tags: dieting