Stuff That Helps

If you are going to put yourself on a program there is just some stuff you need to keep you motivated, supported, and accountable.  Here is what I’m using plus stuff I’ve tried in the past.


applewatchApple Watch: I realize that this can be a pricey investment compared to the fitness wearables. But, now in its second edition, the Series 1 can be purchased for a more reasonable $249. I started with the Series 1 last year to combine calendar notifications, fitness tracking, and have something more appealing on my wrist than a rubber fitness tracker. At 38mm, the size was also in proportion with my smaller wrist compared to the Fitbit Surge or Blaze that had all the features I wanted. Once GPS was added, upgrading was a no brainer as I could now leave my iPhone at home, throw on some wireless headphones, and get out for a walk, run or bike ride without the phone strapped to my arm. The Series 2 watch starts at $349 and gets more expensive for “pretty” rather than function. The activity tracker, health app, and exercise apps are great.  I also added in an interval training app. Haptics let you know when you reach goals, nudge you to action, and for my interval app, tell me when I need to ramp up and cool down. For those GenXers out there like me, you can head to Amazon and buy a variety of bands and covers reminiscent of our Swatch days. It might seem like an over investment, but I always like wearing a nice watch and now I can and get more out of it.

fitbitFitbit (Retired): I started with a Fitbit Surge my husband purchased in a size too small.  Wearing it for a few days and I was hooked.  It tracked my steps, heartrate, sleeping patterns, and let me know about calls, messages, and calendar events.  The issue was it was so BIG! So, I switched to the smaller Charge 2 that had everything but the GPS. And, always thinking of the fashion, got purple. I highly recommend each of these wearables as they are economical and function packed.  They sync with every tracking app out there and you can share your information with friends and family. My reason for switching out to an Apple Watch was driven by form over function. Dressing up for clients and then having a rubber band around my wrist irked me. Guys are better suited to these. I wish Fitbit just got women better and didn’t tradeoff between form and function.

Tracker Apps

Lose It: loseit-iconI’ve used this for years to track eating and exercise.  Enter your height, weight and goal weight and pounds to lose per week to get a suggested calorie intake. I recommend 1 – 1 1/2 pounds. Your wearables can sync with Lose It to share steps and exercise. Entering food is easy as there is a comprehensive list of prepared foods and restaurant brands. It even tells you the differences between drinking a Guinness and a Sam Adams. Use the barcode scanner and eating on the go becomes even easier. Go to the website and your can enter in your favorite recipes and get their complete nutrient list. Upgrading to premium for about $39 per year is worth the price. Pattern analysis provides insight into positive and negative behaviors to achieving weight goals and linked to articles explaining why the pattern works. It also allows you to do more in-depth tracking of nutrients with detailed trending reports. The challenges you can join are diverse and help you with any goal you have from weight loss, to general fitness, to training.

apple-healthApple Health: Linked to Lose It, I can see a more comprehensive view of my calories taken in and burned.  It also tracks my heart rate.  There are reports that show trends and provide all my health and fitness stats.  I mostly check in on my heartrate as a way to see if I’m a bit anxious and need to relax.  If I wore my Apple Watch to bed I’d get better tracking while asleep, but I use that time to charge up.  This isn’t a significant app for me but it does check the box on tracking RHR(resting heart rate) the way my Fitbit did.

activity-ringsApple Activity Rings: This is my addiction to my phone. I watch my activity rings like a hawk. It took a while to not get discouraged and angry at myself if I didn’t close my rings. Now I just use it to make sure I haven’t been sitting on my butt all day. Sync’d to Lose It, I get a complete view of my day. You can adjust the goals for movement, standing, and exercise on the iPhone. Movement is for calories burned, standing is about how often you are up and about without raising your heart rate, exercise is when you go up higher in heartrate or are tracking exercise on the Watch. Haptics encourage you to move and let you know when goals are met.  The only annoyance I have as a traveler is that on a long flight, the app tells me to get up and move.


WeightWatchers: I joined WeightWatchers on January 6, 2017. The idea that you work around points and not calories was appealing. I also like that you could eat as much fruits and vegetables without using points. The program comes with an app, there is a community, and for the basic level you get a welcome aboard coaching session. For more money you can participate in the group sessions and a bit more you get personalized counseling.  Since WeightWatchers holds meetings at my office I thought this would be a nice way to keep me motivated and connect with my colleagues on a similar path.  Any program is what you put into it. There are “haters” out there due to changes in how points are defined for foods that has left life-timers and those in the middle of their plan to have challenges. It was easy to cheat the system in the old point system. Now, points are defined by calories and nutrient mix. I think this is healthier and fits better with what I want to change. I can eat cookies all day and stay in my points, or I get the right balance and get health while losing weight.  I’m not a fan of the app except to track the points. But it does have a barcode scanner.  I know I’m double entering with Lose It, but it doesn’t take that much time and overall is worth it. The recipes they provide are great and I’ve use them as they are or for ideas when cooking. While they aren’t helpful with my travel life, I’m hoping that my work meetings will help fill the gap here.

Boston Sports Club Personal Training (Retired): Back in the day when I was fit and running, there was a BSC a block down the street from my office.  My goal was to pull off some extra body fat and improve my running. I needed guidance on strength training and cross training.  I splurged and purchased ten personal training sessions. Yes, it was expensive. No, I don’t recommend doing this for more than ten sessions – you might even want to consider 3-5 instead. But, I do recommend them and intend to reward myself when I have lost half my weight to get some sessions. BSC (part of My Sports Club) helped me not only with exercise, but they also reviewed how I was eating and provided some nutritional guidance. I also like that they taught me to change things up when I ran in order to not get bored: wider strides, leaping intervals, marathon and half marathon training, route planning, etc. There locations in NYC, Washington DC and Philadelphia as well. There are plans to let you share your membership across locations but it is pricey. So, unless you frequent these cities outside of your home city, it isn’t worth the cost.

Jenny Craig: My very first weight loss attempt was with Jenny Craig. I only need to pull off about 15 pounds I had gained from taking my first desk job out of college. Some get the freshman 15, I got mine my first year after graduation. The program was great because I could buy their food and bring it to work for breakfast and lunch. I didn’t have to think about what to make or cook or even how to plan meals. Weekly weigh-ins and counseling kept me on track and the weight came off quickly. They worked with me to wean off the Jenny Craig foods so that I could maintain after I was done with the program. In all it worked well and I recommend it for those that are pulling off less weight and don’t travel. If you have a lot to lose, the amount of time you stay on their food most likely will make it more difficult to maintain after the program is complete. The other thing I get worried about with these programs is that you eat a lot of prepared food that is processed to bring calories down. I think it is better to eat whole foods.



Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck by Thug Kitchen LLC: I am no vegan. I came to accept vegetables in my late teens and always have to find ways that will get me to eat enough. I will on occasion go vegetarian to be health. So, in my pursuit of this current transformation, I figured I’d check out some vegan cookbooks. This one slapped me in the face with the title. Inside, the food slapped me in the face as amazing. Get over the fact that colorful language graces each recipe. I have a distinct trucker mouth, so it spoke to me. But, if you are a foodie, this is a great cookbook to expand your food experience and still eat healthy. They show you how to cook tofu and tempeh and like it. They provide recommendations on how to stock a vegan kitchen. They show you that going plant based doesn’t mean that food has to always taste like grass. I don’t care if you are on a diet or not. Get this cookbook.