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Sideshow: 9 Holiday Gifts for Someone Looking to Be a Little Bit Healthier

Nov 30, 2021
Looking for a gift for that someone who wants to be healthier - but not interested in supplements and bodybuilding? TheWho Cares Guys share nine ideas for non-intimidating, budget-friendly, life-improving gifts for that person in your life looking to be just a bit more health conscientious.

Episode Transcript

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Scot: It's a Sideshow episode of "Who Cares About Men's Health," and it's a very festive Sideshow episode. It's our Christmas episode where all three of us pick out three gifts each that you can give to somebody in your life that would help them be healthier. Not like the hardcore healthier, but the kind of health that we talk about on the show. So it might impact the core four or it might impact something else.

My name is Scot. I bring the BS to the "Who Cares About Men's Health Podcast." And to counter that, the MD to my BS is Dr. Troy Madsen.

Troy: I'm here and I've got my gifts with me. I'm so excited.

Scot: And Mitch Sears, Producer Mitch in the mix.

Mitch: I'm ready for today.

Scot: Who wants to start?

Troy: Oh, so much pressure. Who's it going to be?

Scot: All right, Troy. Why don't you go ahead and start since you've probably put more thought in this than the rest of us?

Troy: I've put a little bit of thought into this, but I have based my gifts on gifts that have been inspired by our guests this past year. So each gift relates to one of our guests.

So my first gift I'm going to give, Scot, is a wellness coach appointment. And we kind of said at the start we were going to try and keep these gifts under $40 each. So I looked at Peak Fitness through the University and you can get a 30-minute appointment with a wellness coach for $35. And that's as a member of the general public, not a university employee.

This is a tribute to listener Scott who set up an appointment with a dietician, but I think also was looking kind of for a wellness coach. So that would be my gift. You give this to someone and say, "Hey, it's free. I paid for it. Just do it. Just get whatever you can out of it." It's 30 minutes, and it might be something that helps point them a certain direction in terms of their general health and maybe gives them some ideas.

Mitch: Now, I actually did one of these a while ago. I think we mentioned it on a previous episode about Mitch's personal health journey, and they're great. I mean, in those 30 minutes . . . I ended up doing additional ones with this person, but they were able to take baselines, they were able to give me some directions on where to go, they were able to give me resources on types of workouts that might work best for me, numbers of dieticians to call, etc. And it was really nice. In that 30 minutes, I was able to get at least started in the right direction to improve my physical health and my nutrition. What a great idea.

Troy: That's cool.

Scot: Awesome gift.

Troy: Yeah, I remember you mentioning that now that you said that. That's cool that it wasn't just 30 minutes, like, "Okay, let's get some info." But they really gave you something to work with. So that would be my idea. You give that to someone, they can take out of it what they want, and hopefully come away with something useful.

Scot: One of the challenges can be just getting started or knowing what direction to get started in or getting some resources to get started, because it can be a little overwhelming at first, as we've learned when we've talked to our couple of listeners.

I'm not saying that they were overwhelmed, but I'm saying as we went through the thought process of what kind of advice to give, it's kind of a challenge if somebody has never really ever actively engaged in what they eat or actively engaged in types of exercises. So good call.

Troy: It's a starting point, yeah.

Scot: All right, Mitch. Gift number one from you.

Mitch: In the same vein, I was looking up online . . . One of the things that we talk about a lot is kind of this idea of getting social connections. It's good for your mental health, but I also wanted to mix in how do we make sure that we're doing nutrition and things.

A cooking class. I found some group rates on cooking classes that we can come in under that $50 range, get a couple people, and go learn how to cook something new. It doesn't have to be 100% the healthiest food ever, but just the practice of learning to cook.

I think about the series that we did this year with Theresa Dvorak, TD. And just those recipes that I learned how to do, I'm doing them. And so by getting out, by going and learning how to do another dish, what a great way to start cooking for yourself again.

Troy: Yeah, that's a great way. I was the person in this who had no idea what he was doing, and I think for someone who has maybe no experience with cooking, a cooking class would be intimidating, but I'd be like, "Hey, it's a gift. It's free. I'm not paying for it. I'm just going to go there and enjoy it and then probably walk away feeling more comfortable in the kitchen." So that's a great idea.

Mitch: Well, go with them. If they're nervous, get yourself a ticket too. The two of you can go and cook together.

Troy: Go together, yeah.

Scot: Yeah, that takes care of that emotional health because you're getting some good relationships in there, and then maybe you might learn some skills in the kitchen, what some of those confusing words mean in recipes, some knife skills, that sort of thing. So that's a great idea.

My first one is also about cooking, and it was inspired by our series with Theresa Dvorak, the healthy man meals that you can make in bulk that are easy. I thought maybe some sort of a healthy cookbook with quick and easy recipes.

So we learned that preparing good food not only can help your emotional health, but it helps your physical health as well. For me, it was kind of a meditative state almost when I was in the kitchen and it feels good to make food for somebody else.

And I know Troy's spouse was really excited, and so was mine in a way that I haven't really seen her excited about other things that I've done around the house. I mean, that was really gratifying from an emotional standpoint.

I just Googled "healthy cookbook quick and easy recipes," and started kind of going through some.

Now, if you're not sure what type of cookbook to get, maybe go back to our healthy man meals series, go through those, and you might be able to have a better idea of what to look for.

I found one called "Easy 5-Ingredient Healthy Cookbook: Simple Recipes to Make Healthy Eating Delicious." It looked like she had a spaghetti squash recipe like we made. It looked like she had some sort of a Thai Curry thing like we made. That's $19.

And I'm going to take it another step further. Maybe do what we do. Find a friend and then make them . . . Say, "On Saturdays, we're going to both make the recipes and then talk to each other and compare notes."

It gives you something to talk about. It's good motivation. We know that when you do something with somebody else, you're more likely to do it as opposed to just going, "Eh, that's not a big deal."

And one last option that could be free. Maybe you put together a few recipes, there are a lot of free recipes online, and make up your own little cookbook for a friend, somebody maybe who wants to eat out less or wants to eat better.

I don't know how to package that as a present, though. I don't know if you put it in a physical binder or something like that, but if money is an issue or you have some favorite easy recipes you like, you could go back and use the ones that we offered in our series as a starting point, because we posted those online.

That's my idea.

Troy: Yeah, I like it. And even with that, Scot, maybe you give them those recipes you found online and say, "Hey, I'll come over and we'll make one of these together," or something like that. Make it more, again, that social thing, like Mitch was talking about. Also a great idea.

Scot: Yep. And I'll tell you if you listen to that series, having recipes you can make and then having recipes that you have food in the fridge makes all the difference because then when you're hungry, it's there. You don't have to make a choice. You don't have to go for the poorer options.

Mitch: So one of the things I want to say is being someone who got way into cooking for a while and got a bunch of cookbooks, and my partner is way into cookbooks, if you're looking for a cookbook and you're looking and you're trying to find one for someone who isn't the biggest cook already, stay away from some of the more complicated ones. They look really nice, they look really fancy, but if you get some of these really technical cookbooks, they are so overwhelming even for the more experienced cook.

If you're trying to give the gift to someone who is just starting out, be sure to find to cookbook that's on that level.

Troy: And didn't you mention one on the show? I thought you mentioned one that starts off super easy, like making eggs.

Mitch: "America's Test Kitchen." They have a cookbook series that's 101 recipes, and it really does. It starts out, "Here is an egg. Here is how you cook an egg. Here's what makes an egg delicious." And you kind of roll your eyes at it, but suddenly your scrambled eggs are the most delicious scrambled eggs you've ever had.

It's not just what you made in college, and it's like, "All right. Let's see what I can do next," rather than . . . I don't know. There's a Gordon Ramsay book that I've been handed before and it's like, "I can't even pronounce half the ingredients or know where they are in the store. No, thank you, Gordon Ramsay. I appreciate it, but . . ."

Troy: I'm liking the idea of the "America's Test Kitchen" 101 Recipes. That's a good way to go.

Scot: One last thought I have on that that you maybe think about. The best scrambled eggs ever, it's food that then maybe you will look forward to eating that's just as good as some of that fast food. We all know that the fast-food restaurants have labs and they chemically engineer that food to be addictive. I mean, in order to battle that, you've got to make some decent food. So I like that. That's good.

Troy, circling it back around to you for number two.

Troy: Okay, gift number two. This is inspired by Chris Gee when he talked about "nerd neck." So this is a laptop stand. As I'm sitting here at my desk right now, I'm thinking, "I wish I had one of these," because I hunch over my laptop. A lot of us are working from home in areas that are just not at all ergonomically suited for us, and we hunch over our laptops and now we're spending hours and hours doing this every day.

So these laptop stands lift the laptop up and tilt it towards you to create a more ergonomically suitable environment where the laptop screen is at your eye level and the keyboard is up higher. So it's more comfortable just for your back, your neck, your hands, everything.

You can find these for $20, $30 online, and just a nice gift, something to hopefully prevent the "nerd neck" or help someone treat it if they're already experiencing it.

Scot: Love it, especially because we know that when you have poor posture, not only does it not look right, but we know those muscles get tightened. And in a state of tightened, they start to get weakened, and then you could be more likely to hurt yourself when you do exercise and do those sorts of things. So preventing that is super crucial.

Mitch, gift number two.

Mitch: All right. So gift number two is now thinking a little outside the box. Thinking about sleep hygiene and some of the stuff that Kelly Baron has talked about, one of the original gag gifts, which has significantly changed my life, is a toilet light. Do you guys have toilet lights? Do you know what toilet lights are?

Troy: No. This is a light on the toilet to help you at night so you're . . .

Mitch: Yes.

Troy: Interesting.

Mitch: They're like $10. You can get them on whatever online source. And it seems so ridiculous. They come in different colors. They perch on the side of your toilet. But what happens is in the middle of the night, if you need to go to the bathroom, rather than turning on a light, it has a blue-light-blocking, non-sleep-disturbing light so you can see exactly where the toilet is and you don't have to turn any lights on.

And I cannot tell you . . . It started out as a "ha-ha" funny gift, "thanks for the white elephant gift." That thing has broken and I have replaced it twice now. It is such a vital thing in our environment. We have the bidet. We could go into the bidet. A good bidet is expensive. But just that idea of waking up, not having your sleep being disturbed, go right back to bed. No need to turn on the light.

Scot: You don't have to turn on the big bright lights.

Mitch: Nope. It's wonderful. It's beyond wonderful. Toilet light. Look them up.

Troy: I am looking it up. I'm already intrigued because this sounds great. You stumble in the bathroom at like 2:00 in the morning. Number one, your partner is going to appreciate it because it's probably going to help a little bit with the aim. But number two, it probably makes it that much easier, like you said, to go back to sleep because you're not flipping on lights. And if your bathroom is right next to your bedroom, it's not disturbing your partner or whatever. So it sounds like that's a gift for the whole family.

Mitch: Absolutely.

Scot:All right. That was a good one. My number two is not necessarily inspired by anybody, but it's going to help with sleep as well. I'm completely copying Mitch, it sounds like, because every category he has put out there, I come in with something after that.

Mitch: Did you also get a toilet light?

Scot: No. A white noise machine for sleep. So these things, you plug in. They're $20 to $30, and you can get just the white noise, which is that noise or fans or they make the . . . These things you can change the noise. You could have a brook or sea waves or birds or bonfire or train. I don't know who uses trains, but whatever. I like the sea waves and the rain myself.

I started using it more and more when we got our new dog because our new dog is a little bit of a heavy breather when he sleeps. So it covers that really well, and it helps me get to sleep.

In the summertime, we have fans in our windows that run, so that drowns out noise. And then at the end of that summer season, it's so deathly quiet in the house it's almost disturbing.

They're cool, too, because you can take them along with you. They're very portable. They just use a little USB cord. So if you go to a hotel or something and you need a little help sleeping, they're $20 to $30. So just a little white noise machine for sleep.

Troy: Yeah, I love having white noise. I have an app I use on my phone, but I use it with headphones. I actually have these headphones I can sleep with. I started doing that several years ago. I had white noise before, but doing this, I'm just like, "I don't care. We're traveling, dogs are barking, I'm trying to sleep during the day, I don't care. I can't hear it." I have noise-blocking headphones and I use white noise. Yeah, a white machine, anything like that, I agree, I think it helps sleep for sure.

Scot: All right. Gift number three and the final gift. Troy saved the best for last. This better be good.

Troy: It better be good? So the theme here, it seems we all keep talking about TD, about Theresa Dvorak, and the amazing series she did with us on cooking. This gift would make her proud.

So my final gift is a windowsill herb garden. You can buy these little things. It's like a little herb garden. Just imagine how proud Theresa would be if we emailed her in a couple months and told her we made our recipes again with mint we grew ourselves, parsley, basil, oregano.

I had a hard time finding these things in the store, but it would be so cool to grow it and then use it in your recipe and just be like, "Not only did I make this, I also grew some of the ingredients."

So just a fun little gift, I think, for if you know someone who cooks or even maybe someone who doesn't cook a lot. Maybe even combine that with Scot's gift of the cooking book, or Mitch's gift of the cooking class, something fun like that. It'd be kind of cool to do.

Scot: I don't know if you guys have ever had plants before. Again, we come back to mental and emotional health. I find pleasure taking care of plants and watching them grow. That's just kind of neat. So not only would it help maybe make your recipes pop a little bit more, it might help your emotional health.

Troy: Agreed. Yeah, a little something for the winter months to bring a little life into your home and then make a nice meal in February.

Scot: Yeah. All right. Number three for me is something called YogaToes. I've sent you guys a picture of what they look like, and I'm going to try to describe them. Help me with this. So these are things you put over each one of your toes, but what they do is they kind of spread your toes out.

So I don't know if you ever did this when you were a kid? Put marbles between your toes.

Mitch: No.

Troy: Yeah. And walk around with them? Yeah.

Scot: I mean, I was a weird kid I guess.

Troy: I did it too.

Scot: Oh, you did? Okay.

Troy: Oh, yeah.

Scot: Imagine putting marbles between your toes. What YogaToes are is they spread your toes out in the same sort of way, except it's not marbles. It's a silicone/rubbery sort of thing, and you put those things on.

I'll tell you, when I was training for my marathon or if I had days where . . . I'd take them on trips with me, like when I went to New York one time and I got in 20,000 or 25,000 steps. My feet were just sore.

You put these on, it stretches out your toes, it helps your calves feel better, it helps your toes feel better, the bottoms of your feet.

And I just put them on when I'm watching TV. You put them on 10 or 15 minutes a day and it's amazing what a difference it makes.

I think feet are really ignored a lot of times, and I noticed as I was getting older, my toes were starting to kind of get into weird shapes and I couldn't even physically move my toes separately anymore, which I think could be a problem. I started using these YogaToes and started kind of wiggling my toes and doing toe exercises, and it makes a huge difference in how my feet feel at the end of the day. So that's my gift number three.

They've got various kinds and they're various prices. My only tip is if you use them, use them for only five minutes a day at first. You've got to get used to them. Otherwise, you can hurt yourself, like with any muscle thing that you do. I mean, it's crazy.

Troy: Yeah, I'm looking at that. I want to try those. That looks really cool. Yeah, I think it's that gel kind of stuff, it looks like, and that feel having that between your toes. Like you said, there's nothing . . . I don't know. I'm a huge believer, too, in taking care of your feet, and I think this could go a long way toward helping, like you said, your intrinsic muscles of your feet feel better and really working out some of that soreness there. So I'm thinking if I don't get this for Christmas, I'm buying it for myself.

Mitch: "I would like that."

Scot: Dropping a little hint. All right, Mitch. Gift number three from you.

Mitch: Okay. So being just a touch off-color again, this is inspired by a gift I got years ago from my parents, who are listeners. Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad.

Troy: Hey, Mitch's mom. Hey, Mitch's dad.

Mitch: Hey. Just awkward question, how much have you paid for the pair of underwear you are wearing right now?

Troy: How much have you paid?

Mitch: Yes. Is it a six-pack that you get from Smith's? Is that what you are wearing right now?

Troy: I will say it is not expensive. I will tell you that.

Scot: No. And I will also tell you it's time to be replaced.

Troy: I think this is just a guy thing. Underwear, you're just like, "Who's going to see it? I don't care."

Mitch: Exactly.

Troy: I don't know when I bought this underwear. It's been around a long time. I couldn't put a year on it, but yeah.

Scot: All right, Mitch. You've got us intrigued. Are we going to splurge? We're going to splurge on something?

Mitch: Yes. This is the year that you buy the $30 pair of underwear. I cannot tell you . . .

Scot: I don't know.

Mitch: No, I know you are like . . . I don't know if I've brought this up before, but this is the way that a lot of people respond to it. I was the same way until my sweet parents got me a pair. And they're like, "This has been life-changing. Your father loves them. Try them."

They got me and Jonathan a pair. They're amazing. I cannot tell you, when I started running, there's no rubbing. There are no problems with sweating down there. There's no anything. They're amazing. Everything stays where it's supposed to be, they wash up really good, they last forever, and that's kind of it.

We spend our whole lives doing these cheapo pair of underwear that we just throw away and we don't even look at the options. I'm just going to tell you I've tried a bunch of different brands. I'm not going go too far into them, but SAXX, Separatec, there's a whole bunch of different ones. Some that are more geared towards runners, different activities, but they all are about $30 and everyone just gasps and it's like, "Ugh, $30 for underwear? Why?"

Scot: I don't even pay $30 for dress pants or jeans.

Mitch: I know.

Troy: My shirts are around $20.

Mitch: That's why I'm saying just one. Just one to try it out.

Troy: And are these boxers or boxer briefs?

Mitch: Whatever you need. They come in briefs. They come in boxer brief, loose-fit boxer, long-leg, trunk. I'm a big trunk guy. I love the trunks.

Troy: See, I just feel like if you had that, though, you would wear it once and then obviously you're not going to wear it multiple days, and then you would just be . . . Are you washing these every day, or do you just feel like, "Now I've got to buy 10 pairs of these so I can just have them and have them every day"?

Mitch: I mean, you will eventually find yourself spending a whole lot of money on underwear, but I'm just going to tell you it's night and day. I have never gone back. There's been a time or two when you're on Week 2 of not doing laundry and you're back to the old underwear, and it's like, "What am I doing to myself?"

Scot: "What am I doing with my life?"

Mitch: Right. And that's why I'm saying go out and just get one. Just try it out.

Troy: Yeah. Obviously, women are a whole lot better about this than we are as guys. They clearly will buy nice underwear, and it doesn't have to be like anyone is seeing it or anything. It's just like, "I just want to feel good." And us, as guys, we're just like, "Hey, I don't care. I've got my $2 pair of underwear," or whatever it is from the multipack. But yeah, it's a great idea. Something that you're comfortable in.

Too, like you said, I think if you're participating in any kind of athletic thing, if you're running, whatever, it does make a difference. If you're wearing cotton underwear while you're running, forget it. You're going to be so chafed up. It's just miserable.

Mitch: Exactly.

Troy: And maybe that's it too. Maybe's it's a nice pair, like you said, that you're wearing on a daily basis. And maybe if you know someone who's an athlete who would just like a nice pair underwear, you get them a nice pair of whatever. Nike, Under Armour, they all make some more expensive, nice underwear for working out.

Scot: Well, there you go. Three guys, nine Christmas presents for people that are perhaps interested in becoming a little bit more healthy. So if you get any of these, be sure to let us know. There are lots of ways to reach out to us, which Troy will tell you about now.

Troy: Oh, man. We have not done this in months. You have your little tag on the end, you do, so I've forgotten everything, but I know you can . . .

Scot: All right. I'll go ahead and take care of it.

Troy: I'll try. You can contact . . . we're on Facebook at On the web, You can email us at Or you can call our listener line. We would love to hear from you. It is 601-55SCOPE. Did I get that right?

Mitch: Yes.

Scot: You got it right. You did it all.

Troy: Sweet.

Scot: Nice work. All right. And if you do any of these Christmas presents, let us know how it works out for you. Thanks for listening, and thanks for caring about men's health. "Jingle Bells" me out.

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