How do you track your progress for health and monitor wellness? Chef V reaches out to a health expert to find out what’s the best app for fitness.
Of all the latest fitness fads (CrossFit, Rebounders, HIIT, etc.), wearable technology that lets you track your progress is one of the trendiest wellness topic as of late.
I’ve had some people ask me what I think about track your progress fitness apps such as the FitBit and Apple Watch. Personally, I don’t use those. Not because I don’t believe in being able to track your progress. But rather, because I have concern about how much radiation wearable devices emit. You see, many people have low or imbalanced hormones. And the EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) from all electronics are just one of several factors that can lead to hormone imbalance.
Moreover, exposure to EMFs may contribute to cancer. I’m not saying this to spook you out. My intention is not for you to renounce your modern, screen-centric lifestyle so that you instead live like a monk in a cave. But it is food for thought: cancer is like death by a thousand paper cuts. In other words, being exposed to a toxic chemical one time may not make you sick, but chronic exposure just might.
And, at the very least, EMFs can interfere with your natural circadian rhythm and sleep cycle. We’re already addicted to too much technology as it is. And when we have our smart phones right by our head as we lie in bed, those EMFs can hinder the production and release of melatonin from the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone that plays a major role in helping you calm down and prepare for sleep.
So what to do if you’re somebody who likes the idea of being able to track your progress? How to monitor your wellness without being bombarded by EMFs?
For answers, I sought out the advice of a fitness and wellness expert. Charles Clay is an Encinitas, CA-based fitness trainer, certified neurokinetic pain relief therapy practitioner and owner of GreatestU.com. Charles, who I have personally known for several years, is like the Da Vinci of the health/wellness industry. His thinking is so outside the box and his ideas radical and extraordinary. But his “alignment activations” and “vacation vibration” principles are profoundly healing and visionary.
Charles is like a cross between a personal trainer, quantum physicist, TedTalk presenter, and New Age philosopher who helps people turn their ordinary life into an extraordinary life. If you can’t tell by now, I think Charles is a remarkable healer and teacher.
Track Your Progress: Go Old School
One simple way to track your progress that Charles loves is to get an old school calendar. For each month, write what your goal is. A simple example: I am going to do something active every day. And each week, you can select an activity goal such as going to a yoga class three times a week and going for a walk three days a week. Mark a star or happy face for every day you accomplish your goals.
“Instead of getting a like on Facebook, you’re getting a like for yourself,” says Charles, who adds that by being able to track your progress each day on a calendar, this works on the dopamine receptors that triggers positive reinforcement. And, it’s also a way to cut down on using electronics and tech. Nothing wrong with monitoring wellness with an app. But perhaps we should be collectively thinking about ways we can cut down on being plugged in when we have the opportunity.
Track Your Progress: Steps and Sleep Matter Most
Despite Charles’ advice to go old school, he says he’s a big proponent of tracking steps during the day. And he offers a good suggestion if you, like me, have concerns about radiation from wearable devices. To negate the effects of the EMFs, Charles says you can buy a crystal that attaches to your device, or an EMF shield.
Monitoring wellness through steps is very important. Let’s say it’s 2:00 p.m. and at you’re at work and your wearable app says you’ve only taken 200 steps. It’s time to get outside and take a walk. Or, if it’s inclement weather outside, go up and down the steps. Being sedentary all day affects your mood and leads to stagnant blood circulation, which can manifest as aches and pains.
But according to Charles, perhaps the most important way to track your progress is to get an app that measures your sleep quality. “The ability to burn fat and gain muscle is directly tied to your hormones. And if we’re out of balance with hormones, your body will work against you,” he says.
Charles continues, “Getting good quality sleep is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to improve and balance your hormone levels. It’s a lot easier to lose fat even while you’re sleeping. We need to prioritize our sleep. Studies show that people crave more sugar when they sleep less.”
In addition, Charles says that the more fatigued you are, the more likely you are to skip workouts.
Track Your Progress With Sleep Cycle
To track your progress sleeping, there’s an app Charles loves. Although he advises leaving your phone at home when going for a walk and being unplugged as much as possible, there’s one app that’s changed his life.
It’s called Sleep Cycle. According to Charles, Sleep Cycle basically listens to you all night. It records your REM cycles and rates your quality of sleep. It can even record your snoring. And best of all, says Charles, is its ability to wake you up in a parasympathetic state rather than in a sympathetic, flight or fight alarm clock. In other words, the app wakes you up soothingly.
“Many of us operate in a near continuous state of fight/flight mode, fueled by stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol,” declares Charles. Anything we can do to limit the amount of stress hormones flooding the bloodstream will improve our health.
And Sleep Cycle helps reduce fight or flight, says Charles, by being smart enough to know not to wake you up if you’re in a deep REM cycle sleep. Instead, it waits up to a half-hour window of your alarm time to gently wake you with sounds of birds chirping or other natural sounds.
For the app, Charles again recommends some sort of EMF blocker, because in order to properly use Sleep Cycle, you do have to have your phone nearby when you sleep, such as on a nightstand. Also, Charles suggests switching to airplane mode at night; the app will still work.
Track Your Progress: Resting Heart Rate
Charles loves Sleep Cycle because it also measures your heart rate. You simply put your finger over the camera lens to record your pulse. Charles says that it’s important to record your pulse because resting heart rate is a valuable indicator of overall health.
“I recommend taking your resting heart rate each time of day, first thing when you get up,” he says. “The lower your resting heart rate the better, as your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood.”
Through practicing “breathplay” (a term Charles coined instead of using the more arduous-sounding “breathWORK”) and staying active, Charles claims that his resting heart rate is now averaging 48 beats per minute.
Sleep Cycle also allows for note taking. “Being able to take notes is another reason it’s my favorite app. Did I meditate that day? Did I have coffee this day? You can directly see how your decisions affects your mood, energy and sleep,” says Charles.
Also, Charles notes that if he eats late at night, his sleep quality is not as good.
“Once you improve your sleep and breathing, it’s so easy to balance hormones, have more energy and not need more coffee … this will put you in more of a rest and digest state,” adds Charles.
I highly recommend you check out Charles’ website, GreatestU.com so you can learn how to live in a state of vacation vibration. And, to learn how to be more mindful … even when your mind is full.