Battle Of The Fitness Bands – are they worth it?

Battle of the Fitness Bands, are they worth it?




Fitness bands can be a massive motivational boost as well as a neat and convenient way to track your training progress.  I personally use a Nike Fuel Band, but I wanted to explore the Internet and find out what people were saying about other popular Fitness Bands.  That’s what I did, and here are the results, listed A to Z with some pros and cons for each.



  • It delivers the most detailed reports of all the Fitness Bands.
  • It automatically knows when you’re running, walking, biking, or sleeping.
  • It measures Heart Rate (HR), a big plus for me.


  • Expensive!
  • Some users report that it has trouble telling the difference between watching TV and sleeping.
  • Does not measure distance

Price: upwards of $149.99



  • Strong in activity monitoring, does all the basics (walking, biking, running, stair climbing)
  • Great battery life
  • Silent alarm feature
  • Sturdy
  • Sleep monitor


  • No heart rate monitor

Price: less than $100


  • This one records your steps, how many hours of sleep you get per night, and your caloric intake as well with the help of the smartphone app.
  • That app has an elegant user interface that makes it very easy to use.
  • It’s easy to put on.
  • It connects with social networking sites, if you’re into that!


  • The device itself has no interface.  It’s a band without a screen, so you’ll have to keep your Smartphone on hand.
  • It does not sync automatically with your Smartphone.

Price: $149.99



  • It’s a simple, non-flashy design with a friendly user interface.
  • It tracks your steps, your sleep, and your calories.
  • It’s pretty comfortable!
  • Nike Fuel is a neat imaginary point system.
  • It syncs wirelessly to your Smartphone.


  • Some say the calorie counter is a little bit inaccurate, and the sleep monitor doesn’t stand up to that of the other brands.
  • What is “Nike Fuel” anyway?

Price: $125.00+


  • It’s tiny, and therefore very portable and discrete.  You could stuff it in your shoe, keep it in your pocket, clip it to your tie, tape it to your bicep…if you want.
  • It’s 100% waterproof.
  • Its internal battery has a year-long life.
  • The Smartphone app gives specific and practical advice for reaching your goals.


  • It’s tiny, and therefore easy to lose.

Price: $119.95


  • A detailed display shows steps, distance traveled, and calories burned.
  • The calorie-counter takes hills into account, which is pretty cool!
  • It also displays your heart rate and blood oxygen level.  Great for those of us who are training for events.


  • The Smartphone app has a crowded user interface.
  • Not exactly waterproof, but it will survive a splash or two.

Price: $100.00-$200.00


My Fathers’ Day gift two years ago was the Nike Fuel Band.  As a guy who likes to quantify things, I embrace the idea of having this black rubbery band around my wrist all day, every day. After a while, it becomes part of your look. Even after the battery runs out (about every 4 to 5 days), I keep it on for another day or two.  It sort of becomes a part of you.

I have to say, the Fuel Band keeps you on your toes – literally.  You are probably goal oriented.  I am too.  The Nike Fuel Band, like the other trackers I listed above, allows you to set goals of how much daily “fuel” you would like to burn or how many steps to take.
What’s this “fuel” thing about?    The “fuel” measurement is unique to the Nike Fuel Band and it may seem arbitrary at first, but over time, you’ll notice your daily average, which then allows you to earn more fuel points.  It takes some getting used to, but it’s a workable system.

My own goals are moderate: use 3,000 fuel points per day and take 10,000 steps. 3,000 fuel points is what an average, active but not athletic person would use.  I admit, there are days I fall short, but I try to hover around those numbers. There are also many days when I hit over 4,000 points. What’s cool is that if I am 1,000 steps away from my goal or need 500 fuel points to get to 3,000, I tend to do a little extra something to get there, e.g., walk up the stairs, park as far from the supermarket as I can, or do a fifteen-minute workout.

There are a few downsides to the Fuel Band I didn’t list above.  For instance, if I’m not moving the arm with the band on it, I get no fuel points.  So when I take a Citi Bike here in New York for 2 miles or so, I get no love.

I am not a fitness-band expert as I have only tried the Nike Fuel Band, but I know that a band that measures heart rate is best for me.  If you’re looking for a more detailed review, I suggest going to the experts here!

The Bottom Line.

•    If you’re doing hardcore exercise daily and like to see the numbers, I would recommend the Pulse O2.
•    Looking for something light-weight and user-friendly?  Shine.
•    If you’re looking for an efficient, no-nonsense bargain, go for the Fitbit.  It seems to be the most popular!
•    If you’re a casual exerciser and want something you can quickly slap onto your wrist before you go, the Jawbone is for you.
•    The Basis, I would say, is for those of us who need to monitor our body states in detail, or just like to have all the data. Most expensive but also has a heart rate monitor.
•    The Nike Fuel band is nice but not my favorite since I only ‘get credit’ when I move the arm that has the band wrapped around the wrist. However, It’s simple, durable, and has just enough features to keep my on my toes.

I’m ready to move on to the next fitness tracker. Not sure which one yet.

But….. rumor has it the iWatch will be out soon! Starting price? $349

HERE’s a good review of the iWatch

HERE’s a fantastic XY wellness blog post on Fitness as a Lifestyle






The Mr. Happy Team Triumphs at the Spartan Race

The Mr. Happy Team Triumphs at the Spartan Race


The Spartan race this past weekend was a tremendous  (painful) experience.

It was a potpourri of emotions: grueling, dizzying, disheartening, camaraderie and exhilarating.

The Mr. Happy team: Austin, Gary, Geo and Brandon. Having a good time before going to Mountain Creek, NJ.




We arrive to the race. No pain yet,, just fun and laughter. Brandon (next to me)  is 17 years younger – and it showed. ;-) Very HOT and HUMID.




Good luck hugs all around as the Mr. Happy team gears up.


And here we go!



By now we have already gone through the barbed wire crawl: a low crawl through mud under barbed wire for about 50 yards in length where my head got nicked and scratched. After a walk through about 20 yards of water shown below,  we continue.


Austin and Brandon, clearly in great shape as they pause and laugh after mile 2 while they wait for me and Gary.


Spoke too soon…. Brandon cramps up. MAN DOWN!



Dr. Geo to the rescue!! Dijon mustard, water and salt to help Brandon with his cramps. Yellow mustard is thought to relieve cramps do to turmeric, which is used to give yellow mustard its color. Turmeric has many anti-inflammatory properties which are believed to enable the immediate relief. Cramps can be caused by a deficiency in acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that stimulates muscles to work. Mustard contains acetic acid, which helps the body produce more acetylcholine. This approach has not been verified by scientific research but it seems to work.



The Horizontal Wall Traverse is uses upper body, lower body, and core strength with a good dose of coordination to cross and tap the bell at the end. Gary shows great team effort by staying by me in case I fall. If I fall, I’d have to do 30 burpees. I don’t want to do burpees.

SparGeoSliding wall

Rope climbing? Oh no.  Austin is up.  My arms are dead after the Horizontal Wall Traverse. Rope Climb:  A rope is hung over a body of water/mud with a bell placed at the very top. Participants must “ring the bell” before climbing down.


Let’s do it!  And up we go.


Team effort is what its all about. Let’s go Gary, get up!


SparGeohelping gary

The penalty for missing the spear throw was 30 burpees. I was pooped by this point. Spear throw: from a distance of 20 yards we threw a wooden spear into a target. If the spear does not stick (and my didn’t) we had to do a penalty of 30 burpees.


 Object carry:  Throughout the course we carried a tire, rock-filled bucket, boulder and sandbag. Now I am dizzy and my legs are numbed – I can barely feel them. God help me.


I lost my grip. My arms give out.  I don’t know if I could make it further. Crazy!


Whew! I made it. Barely. Gary now has a swollen ankle. Is it broken? Or just a sprain? I don’t know.


Where’s Gary? Looking for Gary who  decided to go through the rock/bucket challenge with a (I think) sprained leg. C’mon Brandon, let’s go get him.


Found him. Let’s Go Gary!!! You can do it brother!


YES!!! What grit! You did it brother!



Just when I  question my decision on doing this, I read this guys shirt. And that’s exactly the message  I need to read. Let’s GO!


After a few more wall climbs, one herculean hoist and a log jump, the Mr. Happy team made it to the finish line.

 Wall climb: as the name suggests, runners must climb over a wooden wall. Walls range from 4–8 feet and are often in sequence. This obstacle may be repeated throughout the course.

 Herculean Hoist: pulled a cement off the ground using a pulley system.

Log Jump: Logs are arranged in a zig-zag pattern at varying heights and participants have to hop on them without touching the ground. A true test of balance. Yup, I failed this one too but made it through Gary’s help.


8.5 miles and 28 obstacles later… We jumped over  fire and made it to the end. In pain. No energy to smile. The Mr. Happy Team Triumphs!


Will I do it again? I’m too sore to answer that right now. There were times where I felt like I was going to vomit. Some delirium also set in around mile 6. It was too hot and those obstacles were grueling.

We definitely pushed ourselves to the limit.

Mr. Happy Blog with more pics

4 things I learned by doing the  biggest physical challenge of my life:

1. The human spirit is able to do anything to survive

2. People are genuinely good and want to help each under  extreme circumstances

3. I need to lose 15 pounds.

4. I’m not in optimal spartan shape.

OK, so,,, who’s in for the next one?

If curious, see this 1 minute plus video on the spartan race.

Adulterated Herbal Supplements – what you need to know


Last week news took hold on the contamination and adulteration of herbal products.

According to this study, Canadian researchers looked at numerous bottles from 12 companies and found that what was on the label was different than what was about 30% of bottles tested. Many of the herbal products were adulterated with fillers such as wheat, rice and soybeans.

The study used a method called DNA barcoding to test the herbal products of interest. CLICK HERE for the BMC study and HERE for the New York Times article.

My Take On This

Unlike the popular belief, the dietary supplement industry is regulated by the FDA. In 1994 the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and in 2006 by the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection were developed to regulate the dietary supplement industry. The confusion is that dietary supplements are not regulated like drugs but regulated like food.

The rub is that there is no premarket approval for supplement production. Another words, there is an honor system in place that allows supplement manufacturers to produce products until proven unsafe.

How does DSHEA work?
DSHEA placed dietary supplements as a category of food and created a specific definition for dietary supplements. Further, DSHEA provided FDA with additional enforcement authority, including the ability to remove a dietary supplement from the market the agency considers unsafe.
It’s also the law for companies to abide by Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) rules enforce the following:
•    the design and construction of physical plants that facilitate maintenance, cleaning
•    proper manufacturing operations
•    quality control procedures
•    testing final product or incoming and in-process materials
•    handling consumer complaints, and
•    maintaining records.

More on FDA regulations with dietary supplements GO HERE to the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)
Again, the FDA does not have the resources to closely oversee over 1000 manufacturing facilities to assure that GMP rules are followed. So there are some companies that intentionally or unintentionally do not follow the rules – and no one will know it until a dietary supplement  proves to be unsafe and then it’s tested.

So clearly this is a problem.

People are  buying dietary supplements and not always getting in the bottle what is written on the label.

DNA barcoding has been questioned by experts in the botanical medicine field as not being an accurate method of measuring adulteration in herbal supplements – CLICK HERE for more on this from the American Botanical Council (ABC).

What should you do?

If your healthcare practitioner is versed in the field (Naturopathic doctor or Integrative MD) no need to worry. Such doctors typically have access to the highest quality of dietary supplements.

For example the nutritional supplement companies I use for patients are from companies with very high manufacturing standards that go beyond what the FDA requires. 90% of dietary supplements I use are from Designs for Health (DFH) or Douglas Labs (DL).

How DFH does things

In addition to strictly following GMP laws, DFH seeks third party company , namely the National Sanitary Foundation (NSF) who frequently visit manufacturing facilities to assure the highest level of manufacturing practices.

Every DFH dietary supplement:

•    Is evaluated and monitored for potential contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, and microbiological organisms
•    Is analyzed to confirm the quantity of all dietary ingredients, thereby ensuring the consistency and accuracy of our label claims
•    Methods to test for yeast and mold counts and pathogen screens for e.coli, staph and salmonella
•    Complete analytical screening of all raw materials and finished goods
◦    Independent third party residual solvent screens
◦    Potency verifications and pesticides tested at the Designs for Health analytical lab via High Performance Liquid        Chromatography (HPLC) and Gas Chromatography (GC)
◦    Independent third party heavy metals analysis via Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)

DFH is the manufacturer of most dietary supplements in XY wellness, LLC including Mr. Happy™.

How DL does things

Douglas Laboratories  has similar manufacturing standards to DFH including ISO-9001 Certification and ISO-17025 Accreditation for in-house laboratories  as well as NSF Certification.  DL are FDA compliant and have rigid procedures and manufacturing practices that are designed to monitor and verify quality throughout every step of the production process.
Their in-house laboratories test and monitor for quality and safety from the raw materials as they enter our facility through to finished goods.  Materials are kept in quarantine until they have passed testing specifications. Materials and formulas are tested for potency, purity, disintegration/bioavailability and stability. Additionally, this year ConsumerLab.com rated DL #1 Rated Healthcare Practitioner Brand Based on Consumer Satisfaction.

DL is the manufacturer of ProstP10x™ and Cysto Renew™

Doggy Bag Message

The study by the BMC should not deter consumers from consuming beneficial botanicals that have minimal to no side effects and can be very effective. There are over 1000 dietary manufacturing supplement companies and for sure, not all have the same manufacturing practices mentioned above  – but most do – especially practitioner brands.  A fabulous resource for consumers , for about $36 a year, that randomly selects dietary supplements and independently test them for purity is ConsumerLab.com.

I hope this clears up most of the confusion.

Let me know if you have any questions

Bear with me – technical glitch.


You may have noticed  the site looking a little different and not as functional. In the last 36 hours we have had a technical glitch causing this setback. We are working on it and it should be up and running by later today.  Thank you for your patience.

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Make it a fantastic day.

Dr. Geo