7 Tools to Help Get You in Shape

New Balance shoes
mamachick at 44

As you can tell in the picture, I’m a bit … um, “fluffy”.  I love that euphemism!  I’ve tried losing weight in the past with some success … for a while.  This year I reset my goal again for 10 pounds – for the whole year.  I wanted a modest goal that should be easily attainable. We’ll ignore the fact that I set the same goal for last year and it didn’t happen.

Well, guess what?!  As of July 1st, I’ve lost 11 pounds!  Exciting?  Yes, it is actually.  The last time I lost this much weight (non-post-pregnancy), I lost 10 pounds in 13 weeks … and then gained it back the next year when we had several life-changing events all at once.  This year, something just seemed to click and I am determined never to go back to where I was.

What is my secret?  Well, I can tell you I’m not here to sell you some new fad diet or exercise machine.  Hard work, plain and simple.  Though truthfully it hasn’t been all that hard.  The help of just a few tools have made it easier and even somewhat enjoyable.

I’ve listed 7 of my favorite helpers in this journey (I still haven’t reached my “destination”).  I’ll touch on each briefly here, but I hope to write more details on some of them in the near future.

1: Sparkpeople.com

My all-time, hands-down favorite tool.  Best thing about it?  It’s FREE!  Yep, you heard right!  For that low, low price you get: trackers for weight, food, exercise, motivation, interaction with other members, and videos. I’m on their website several times a day – either through my laptop or the iPad.

2: Fitbit

Fitbit One

Fitbit has several gadgets, but I’ve only tried out the Fitbit One. I purchased it just after the New Year with some Christmas money.  This is not just an expensive ($99) pedometer.  This little tool does so much more. It tracks steps, stairs climbed, distance, calories, burned and hours slept. I’d feel lost without it.

3: Active.com

Helpful information on upcoming events in your area, discounts on apparel and registrations and training plans. You can sign up for a free trial. I was impressed enough I paid for a yearly subscription.

4: Couch-to-5K

A plan to get you from the “couch” – in other words, a non-runner to 5K in 9 weeks.  I needed something to inspire me after I finished walking a 5K this spring.  You start off each session with a brisk 5-minute walk and end with a 5-min walk to cool down.  Week 1 starts with a 60-second run/jog followed by a 90-sec walk.  You repeat to cover 20-25 minutes.  The next week they increase the duration of both the run and walk until you can run a full 3.1 miles.


I temporarily dropped out in June because I was getting shin splints.  I still really like the concept of this program, but I may have to take it a little slower than their plan and/or find somewhere without hills to run.  I really miss running.  If I could get my body and our “children” to cooperate so I get some sleep I’ll start the program over again.

5: my MP3 player

If I’m just walking, I don’t listen to music.  I enjoy the quiet and am better able to pay attention to my surroundings.  But an invaluable tool for my progress in the C25K plan has been the Podrunner: Intervals.  Again, they’re free.  You download them, and they tell you when to run and when to walk.  If I had to rely on a stop-watch to tell me when to run/walk, I’d constantly be checking it and probably would have a tougher time keeping the pace.

Sansa MP3 player

This is an old MP3 player that barely works, but for now it does it’s job.

6: New Balance shoes

I love my New Balance Running shoes.  It took me years to figure out that shoes should be comfortable from the get-go and not require a lot of break-in time. My favorite place to buy these is Joe’s New Balance Outlet Shoe Store because they have great discounts. Problem is, apparently I wear a popular size, so I can’t always find my shoes. I got smart when my husband and I bought shoes the last time. I recorded in Evernote a list of the shoe brand, style identifier and shoe size for each of us. What a help that’s been – we’ve already gone back and purchased one or two more pairs since we know how well they fit. If you’re curious, this is their W580SB2 style. Funny enough my husband likes the “580” style too – his model is M580GL2 and is only different in color.

New Balance shoes

7: my family & friends

While some of the items above are important, there isn’t a priority to this list.  If there was, friends and family would have to be near the top.  My husband is very supportive of me.  I love the Facebook “attagirl!” comments when I post about my accomplishments, and I have a neighbor who has inspired me to keep running.  Most of the time I’m able to continue on my own, but every once in a while it’s nice to have a daily confirmation of what I’m doing.

 Do you have any fitness tools or tips you’d like to share?

* Note: This post contains affiliate links.  I’m sending you there because I’m a satisfied customer and I want you to feel the same!

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