My Favorite “Hacks” for Getting Back in Shape

FullSizeRender 14

Post-college life was not so good on my waistline. Whether it was sitting in an office full of donuts nine hours a day, driving instead of walking or lots of craft beer, I had put on the post-grad 15 (or 20, let’s be real). I slowly lost about 6 or 7 pounds of it after getting a dog, who got me out walking for about an hour a day. But when it came time to plan my wedding, I knew I had to put the pedal to the metal and make some real changes.

I don’t want to be “skinny” necessarily on my wedding day, but I want to look like myself, and who I am in my head does not carry this excess weight. (This urge to look like myself that day also caused me to dye my hair brown again for the first time in 15 years.) When I’m 80, I want to look back on my wedding pictures and say things like, “I had ripped arms!” and not say things like, “Why did I have fake streaks in my hair?”

Trying to get in shape for my wedding has really reprogrammed how I eat (and live in general). So far, these have been my favorite tools/ tips/ hacks for getting back to “my happy weight.”

1. Having a Support Group

When I was younger, I was very secretive about being on a diet. God forbid I should do anything as gauche as admit that I tried at things! Now, the first thing I do is publicly declare my diet. For one thing, it lets my friends and family know that there is a reason why I’m not going elbows deep into that bucket of fried chicken. Then they can help keep me honest and steer me away from things like Shake Shack.

I also started a Facebook support group with some likeminded friends who are trying to be healthier. Not only do we give each other tips, but we help talk one another out of getting a little too obsessed. (A lot of us have ventured into 1200-calorie-a-day diets and gone a little off the deep end before, and we want to help one another NOT do that.) It’s been super helpful for me to have this understanding little community. I wish teen Becky had that!

2. Trader Joe’s

I recently discovered the majesty that is Trader Joe’s. That place has healthy food for relatively cheap, including edamame, delicious teriyaki tofu and pomegranate seeds. I have become addicted to their pomegranate seeds and eat a spoonful of those between workouts or whenever I used to eat a little Dove chocolate. They’re amazing, and only affordable at Trader Joe’s (the Trader Joe’s ones taste better too, I swear).

3. The Daily Burn

I love working out at home, mostly because I can play fetch with my dog the whole time (I’m not joking … this is my life). My favorite way to work out at home is using The Daily Burn app ($12.99/month). You’ve probably seen a million Hulu ads for it, and I’m here to tell you to click on that ad. The workouts are hard as hell (especially the Inferno program). The teachers are positive and will not fat-shame you. There is a huge variety of workout styles, including kickboxing, dance, pilates and yoga. Plus it works on any device, making it perfect for when you travel for work (which I used to do all the time).

4. Weight Watchers Mobile

I first let it leak to my parents that “wedding bells were in the air” when they demanded nine months notice to join Weight Watchers. “Join now!” was my response. What a romantic way to tell them you’re finally getting married! They made good on this and immediately joined Weight Watchers and started dropping poundage. I’ve always resisted Weight Watchers, but my mom gave me her extra cookbook and I started making recipes out of it. They were easy and delicious and made me feel great. It pushed me to try the online version, which I got three months of for $39.

I was eager to have something other than calorie counting to try. The biggest difference it has made for me is that it gives high points to sugary foods and zero points to fruit. Because of that, I’ve almost completely stopped eating candy and now eat tons of fruit.

5. Bento Boxes

Bento boxes are cute, sectioned-off Japanese lunch boxes that let you bring reasonable portions of different foods with you on-the-go. I’ve gotten into bringing a bento box full of watermelon, cherries and pomegranate seeds with me as I’m out and about. It helps me snack in the afternoons without turning to chips or other junk. You can get cute ones on Amazon or find them at an Asian supermarket like UnitedNoodles.

6. Nike+ Training Club

Are you not using this free app by Nike yet? Why not? They recently updated the app to include better videos/GIFs, and to be include men and not just women. (While I did appreciate Nike making such a gesture for women, I wondered why men were left out of its experience. It’s not like men only do crossfit/ bodybuilding right?) These workouts are just as good and portable as the Daily Burn ones, and don’t cost $13 a month. I like to have both though to keep the variety going.

7. Peanut Butter/ Energy Bites

Now that I don’t eat candy anymore (or at least not often), peanut butter has become my go-to treat. I put it on fruit, or just eat it plain sometimes. My sister Jenny turned me onto “energy bites,” a healthy cookie alternative that includes peanut butter, flax seeds and oats. I make a batch of 20 of these a week and pop them whenever I’m feeling snacky. They’re 4 Weight Watchers points, for what it’s worth.

I’ve been experimenting with the recipe but my current ratios are:

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup oats

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Super Seed Blend or flax seeds

1/4 cup chocolate chips

8. MyFitnessPal

As much as I rag on calorie counting for its tendency to become all-consuming, I find it fairly necessary to count your calories if you’re trying to lose/maintain weight. I have used this app for years because it gets to know you very fast, has almost every food known to man available, and it’s free (and pretty non-judgmental). Plus they have awesome content.


9. Withings Activité Pop 

As you may suspect, I am a numbers person. I am fairly obsessed with the “quantified self” movement, and find it very helpful to have a fitness tracker. I aim for 11,000 steps a day, and 7 hours of sleep a night. I’ve tried a few of the biggest fitness trackers over the years, and find the Withings Activité Pop to be the best. Why? It looks like a watch, not a plastic bangle, the app is awesome, it doesn’t need to be charged (instead it uses a watch battery), and it’s waterproof. If you get the watch, I recommend trying one of these magnetic milanese loop bands, which are cheap on Amazon and give the watch a more comfortable/luxury feel.

I also have the Withings Body Composition Wi-Fi Scale, which sends your weight to your phone. May seem like no big deal, but I can now see all kinds of crazy charts that show how my weight has changed over the last three years.

10. Happy Scale

Speaking of quantifying yourself, Happy Scale is an awesome fitness app. It gives you tiny micro goals to hit as you lose weight, and cheers you on as you go. So much easier to lose 2 lbs. and celebrate than just focusing on 15.

11. Bud Light Lime

I really love beer. Especially the really syrupy and strong craft kind that has notes of coriander or agave or Hawaiian plumeria or whatever. My future sister-in-law turned me on to the fact that Bud Light Lime is only 3 Weight Watchers points. (Most beer is 5 points). Now I keep it on hand to satisfy the occasional beer craving in a controlled, moderate way. (Yes I still have craft beers sometimes though. I’ll talk about that more in the Weight Watchers post.) PLUS Bud Light Lime used to have a big BL on the label, which I liked, being a BL myself and all.

12. Day One

I really love the Day One journaling app. I use it as a private Instagram where I can share pictures of food I like or leave my future self notes. It’s nice to have a personal space to reflect that isn’t all about broadcasting what you’re doing to the world.

13. Sparkling Water

This stuff is the perfect alternative for everything bad you used to like. It subs for all of the following: soda, cigarettes, sangria, creamy coffee drinks, beer, whatever. The New York Times wrote a whole essay about how LaCroix is the perfect clutch for those giving up vices. My favorites are LaCroix Pomplemousse, and Spindrift Seltzer water. The latter has actual fruit pulp in it, and is amazing.

I hope someone found some tips that will help them in this post. Please share yours if you have any!