Jen’s Favorite Things

Oprah Winfrey is a popular American TV personality, who built a multimillion dollar media business. During the 90s, she hosted a mid-afternoon TV talk show called, The Oprah Winfrey Show. At some point during the span of the show, Oprah started doing a segment called, “Oprah’s Favorite Things.” During one Christmas-themed show, she shared her favorite things and then gave one of each to her studio audience as a gift for being at the show (much to their delight and surprise). 

Today, as I am running, I am listening to a workout on a “new to me” app called, Aaptiv. My friend Pamela told me about Aaptiv last weekend when we were sharing training strategies as we prepared to run an upcoming 1/2 marathon (25K, 13.1 miles) in Kansas City. While listening to Aaptiv, I thought to myself how much I really liked the app and how grateful I was that Pamela shared it with me. “My new favorite thing,” I told myself. Then I started to reminisce about some of my other favorite things and how each has supported me in losing weight and getting healthy. So for today’s blog post, I want to share a top 10 list with you. Who knows? Maybe you will find your next “new favorite thing.”

10. Fitbit

FitbitI’m in love with my Fitbit. I bought it in February 2018 and was immediately hooked. My impetus for getting a Fitbit was to have a tracker to keep a count of my daily steps. What I found was a food journal, a sleep tracker, a water tracker and a progress log. The best part of the Fitbit is that every so often, and unexpectedly, I’ll get an award for some unknown achievement, like the Lighthouse Award for climbing the most stairs in a day, or the New Zealand Award for the most lifetime miles. And when I enter my weekly weight, I get a badge for every 5 pounds I lose. Talk about motivating and inspiring!


healthywageI started seeing ads in my Facebook feed about this website called Here’s how it works: a person signs up and places a personal wager on themselves. They invest money and when they lose weight, they WIN their investment back PLUS a bonus for winning. If the person doesn’t win, they lose the money invested. When I signed up, I committed to: “I want to lose 120 pounds in 15 months.” I weighed in with a starting weight and selected an ending date where my weight would be 120 pounds less. I have invested the cost of a gym membership on my bet, and when I win, I will get a 250% return on investment. The whole premise is “put your money where your mouth is.” In previous experiences of losing weight, I found I would get to a point where I’d lose weight, feel good, and then coast and not get to my final goal. Having money on the line has worked in motivating me to stick to my eating plan and keeping my word with myself to stick with it until the end. The other cool thing too, is Healthy Wage has individual and team challenges. I have participated and completed several mini challenges (usually a 3 month timeframe) and am currently captain of a team challenge where we are committed to losing 6% over 3 months. It’s been a super helpful accountability partner tool.

8. Aaptiv

AaptivLogoThis is an audio fitness app. The app can be downloaded from the Google Play store and once opened, you can pick a workout and listen to it while you’re exercising. The workout is led by a personal trainer and has music in the background. It makes the time fly by and is super fun! Also, after you complete a workout, a window pops up where you can input “done” and fireworks shoot off on your phone screen in celebration of the accomplishment! I love seeing fireworks!

7. Pedicures

PrettyToesI have always enjoyed getting pedicures and having pretty toes. One of my simple joys in life is sitting on the toilet and looking down at my pretty toes. I have also found since training for a 1/2 marathon, getting a pedicure is a great way to pamper my feet after putting them through a grueling long run. I have a pedicure specialist named Tan and he’s a master of pretty toes! Thank you Tan!

6. New Balance Running Shoes

NewBalanceAnother important tool, especially when walking, running or training for 5K and 1/2 marathon races is having a good pair of shoes. Last summer, when I started walking for exercise and I knew I needed a good pair of shoes, I randomly walked into a New Balance store and was personally fitted to the best shoes I have ever worn. The store had a machine you stand on and it registered how I stood on my feet – with most of my weight supported on the heels or on the outer sides of my feet. It also showed the curve of my arches. The colorful readout was very cool, and the salesperson was able to fit me into a pair of shoes best suited for my feet. I ended up buying 2 pair that day!

5. Strike Back on Cinemax 

StrikeBackTalk about guilty pleasure. Relaxing with friends on a Sunday night, we were deciding what to watch on TV. “Have you ever seen Strike Back, Jen?” They asked, explaining that it’s a series on Cinemax about a special forces team from England called Section 20. “No,” I said. So, we watched a couple of episodes and I was immediately hooked on the show. A few months later, I was switching through cable TV and found all 6 seasons of Strike Back “on-demand” – where I can access the TV shows anytime. I was so excited! At the time, it was still winter in Kansas, so it was too cold outside to run or walk. I wanted to start training for a 1/2 marathon and planned to work out in the mornings on my elliptical machine. What I was able to do was call up a Strike Back episode on demand and watch it while I worked out. It was great! And on days when I didn’t want to get up and work out, but rather roll over and go back to sleep, I knew I would get to watch a new episode of Strike Back, which motivated me to jump out of bed and get my day started. 

4. A good scale 

ScaleWhen I started the Healthy Wage personal challenge, part of the challenge requirements were to weigh in. At the time, I didn’t own a scale. So, I went to a local pharmacy and bought a body weight scale. I chose the least expensive one and really didn’t pay much attention to it, other than it provided a number I could register on Healthy Wage for my personal challenge. In a conversation with my friend Adam, he told me about a great scale he’d bought on Amazon. It was digital, could do body fat composition, water percentage and a few other things. On his recommendation, I ordered it and Wow! – was I surprised when I stepped on the new scale for the first time. My weight was several pounds less than what I weighed on my pharmacy scale. I had both scales side by side, so I would step up on one scale… see my weight, then step up on the other scale… and see my weight. The weight measurement was different. Adam’s recommended scale weighed me less than the one I bought at the pharmacy. In that moment, I realized having a good scale to do accurate measurements set me up for long-term success. And, I don’t know if you have ever done this… but I found a way to cheat with my old scale. I could shift my weight or step on it in such a way that I could lower the registered number. With the new scale, when I step on, it doesn’t matter how I’m standing, it gives me an accurate weight each time. No more “cheating.”

3. Strava

StravaMy introduction back to running was when my friend Mike texted me and asked if I wanted to be his partner for a Valentines 5K race in New York City. The race was sponsored by the New York Road Runners (NYRR) and could be done virtually, so I didn’t have to physically be in NYC to participate. All I did was download an App called Strava and tracked my run on it. Strava Training app can track running, walking, cycling and swimming. It connects to your phone’s GPS system and creates a map of the workout route, the time it takes to complete the workout and milestone split times along the way. I’ve found it a great tool to carry while training for races. It’s also like Facebook where you can friend and follow people and give them “thumbs up” and Kudos!

2. Being Here internet radio show/podcast

kane-beinghere-logoAs I have mentioned in previous posts, I participate in leadership, communications and listening courses in New York City, hosted by Ariel and Shya Kane. The Kanes also host an online radio show called Being Here which is broadcast on VoiceAmerica talk radio at 11am Central US Time on Wednesdays. The best part about the radio show is there are more than 600 shows in the archives on all sorts of topics ranging from listening, living in the moment, workplace, family, relationships… you name it. The shows are available on the Kanes’ website:, or through podcast apps like Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Stitcher. I love listening to Being Here… because it’s like my friends are hanging out and running/walking right along with me. Listening to the shows during my workouts leaves me with a sense of well-being and wellness in myself, not to mention the endorphin rush of completing exercise for the day.

1. A support network of people rooting for me

SupportThe most important favorite thing I have in my life are the people who care about me and support me. I spoke with my parents a few days ago and they were asking me how my running was going and how my eating was going. I could tell in their voices how proud they were of me and how much they were rooting for me to WIN! When I’m in a funk or I’m out of sync with my life, I have several people I can reach out to – to talk about what’s going on, and to listen. I have been surprised by folks at work, who have asked questions about my training and have encouraged me. There is an article I found on which spoke about “The #1 Habit You Should Have to Lose Weight.” Wanna guess what it is? “Finding people to share your journey.” Here is the link if you want to check out the article. 

I feel honored to have so many wonderful people in my life. I’m also honored you are reading this blog. Thank you for your support and encouragement. I’m a firm believer in the following: “we are all in this together!” I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my favorites and if you want to leave a comment, I’d love to hear about a favorite of yours!  

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