Favorite Things

I get a lot of questions about certain products I use or like, and so I've dedicated this page for some of my very favorite things. If they are available on Amazon, I've included a link to the product on Amazon.com; so if it is something you're planning on buying anyway, and you click through to Amazon with these links, I get a small commission. And I thank you very much for that! :)

Regardless, I ONLY put things on this page that I really truly like and use myself, and you may see a lot of in my blog.

This is the newest version of a Garmin Forerunner. I've previously used the 205, the 305, and the 910xt... but when this Garmin Forerunner 620 came out, doing ALL SORTS of new data tricks, I just had have it! It's super expensive, but considering I use a Garmin practically every day, it's worth it to me. If you like gadgets and numbers, this watch is so fun to have! Not only does it tell you the usual pace, distance, etc., it now shows ground contact time, vertical oscillation, VO2 max, and projected race times. From Garmin's description, I was led to believe that you don't need a foot pod to use it indoors, but that's not true. A foot pod is still needed, unfortunately.

Another great running watch is the Garmin Forerunner 220. It's nearly identical to the 620 above, but it's about half the price. There are only a few things that the 620 does above and beyond the 220 (and in my opinion, they aren't really useful--your "vertical oscillation", "ground contact time", etc.). Even though I have the 620, I recommend the 220 to others. If I were to go back in time, I'd get the 220 and save a couple hundred bucks!

This is the Garmin Forerunner 910XT. I realize it's super expensive, so it isn't practical for everybody, but I loved it! This GPS watch keeps track of  pace, distance, calories burned, etc. It's about as accurate as you can get, I love to see my numbers improve with training! The 910xt is unique in that it can be used for biking and swimming, along with running (the "xt" is for "cross training").

This is a Garmin Foot Pod, which is to be used with a Garmin Forerunner when you want to run indoors--either on a treadmill or indoor track. It keeps track of your foot cadence (steps per minute) and allows you to track distance without the GPS feature turned on in the Forerunner. I use this when I run on the treadmill, and I have it calibrated to give me the same reading my treadmill does for distance and speed. This is also helpful when running where you may lose satellite signal, as I did during the Detroit Free Press Marathon in the tunnel--when you lose signal, it automatically continues to track your pace and distance.

This is the Delta SkyMiles American Express card. An odd thing to put on my "favorite things" list, but it truly is one of my favorite things! I use this card to go on trips--usually for free :) You earn "SkyMiles" for using the card, and then you can spend the miles on tickets. I go to Portland every year, and I haven't paid for a ticket yet, because I always use my miles. (If you use this link to apply and are approved, then I get 'bonus miles' for the referral).

Some of you were asking what I wear when I run outside in the winter. When it's cold, I wear Under Armour ColdGear Bottoms. The clothes from their ColdGear line keep you warm, despite being thin enough to not be bulky and in the way. When I wear these, I don't feel the need to wear two layers on bottom. (On top, I just wear a cheap fleece jacket).

And these are what I use to run in during the summer--the Under Armour HeatGear® Capris. I can't wear shorts (too much saggy skin on my thighs) so I like the Heat Gear capris. The compression fit holds my loose skin tight, so they're very comfortable to run in. Love these! (On top, I just wear sports bra and tank or tech t-shirt.

I've tried many different belts/pouches for carrying things when I run, but I've discovered a new favorite: The FlipBelt. It's a circular tube that you step into and pull up (like you would a pair of pants). There are little holes for stashing items (I've put keys, Gu, Shot Bloks, my iPhone, etc. in there--all at the same time). You flip it inside out so that the holes are snug against your body, and the items stay very secure. I tried one on at the Chicago Marathon expo, and was sold! I got the black one, but they come in a bunch of different colors.

I was very lucky to get to write a review on a Camelbak Marathoner Hydration Vest. They're pretty expensive, so I don't think I ever would have purchased one without knowing that I would like it. CamelBak sent me the Marathoner to review (here is a link to my review), and I was in LOVE with it! I've tried handheld water bottles and waist pack hydration belts, but I prefer this vest over those for sure. There is a ton of storage space, but it's surprisingly really light and not annoying while running. Love this thing!

I was devastated when I injured my ankle recently, and couldn't run. I felt like I would go crazy! I started reading about "deep water running" (also called water running, aqua running, and aqua jogging). It's basically where you wear a flotation belt to hold you upright in the deep end of a pool, and you "run" (do the same motions of running you would do on the ground). I was SO impressed with how tough of a workout it is! It works the same muscles as when you're running on ground, but it has zero impact on your joints. This Aqua Jogger Classic is the belt I use, and I love it!

For running in the dark, I love this Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp. It's very bright, but light weight, and best of all, it doesn't bounce. I had to run Ragnar with a headlamp that bounced, and it drove me CRAZY. When I got home, I bought this one just for those circumstances. I love it!

A fun little gadget to help you become more active is this Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker. This is the one that I have, and it's great--very easy to use, surprisingly accurate, and discreet. This tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, etc. On the app, you can compare steps with your friends, which is awesome. It brings out the competitor in me! ;)

This game is the EA Sports Active for the Wii. I had a hard time with it when I was obese, but I was determined to finish the 30-Day Challenge. LOVE this "game"--it's actually a really tough workout for being a video game! I was extremely sore the first week or so of doing it. There is a newer version out, but I haven't tried it, so I can't write my thoughts on it yet..

This is the Teavana PerfecTea Maker, what I use to brew my tea. I love love love this little thing! I was very intimidated to use it, but it changed my life. I had no idea how to prepare loose tea, but this thing made it a no-brainer. I just open the lid, throw a tablespoon of loose tea inside, then pour in boiling water and close the lid; let it steep for about 5 minutes; then you just set the whole thing on top of your mug, and the tea filters out through the bottom, leaving the leaves inside. I wrote a little about it here.

Kitchen Safe. This product is genius! One of my readers sent me the link when it was on Kickstarter. They were still trying to get the funds to develop the product. I thought it was brilliant, so I pledged enough to get the Safe when it was ready. I'm so glad I did! Here is how it works: It's a safe that only opens when the timer reaches 00:00. You can set the timer for however long you'd like, but you CANNOT open it until it reaches 00:00. I put my binge-y foods in there: peanut butter, almonds, chocolate chips, etc. I only let it open once a day, first thing in the morning. I take out what I'm going to use for breakfast (sometimes I like chocolate chips in my oatmeal, or peanut butter on an English muffin). Then I put it in the safe and lock it up until the following morning. Mornings are my strongest time of day, where I am least likely to binge; so it's not hard for me to lock it up. And then when I'm feeling binge-y in the afternoon, it's all safely locked up, so I can't swipe spoonfuls of peanut butter, or handfuls of chocolate chips. There are other things you can put in there, too--credit cards, video game controllers, cigarettes, medications, money, etc. I wish I'd bought a couple more of them when I ordered the first, because I filled it up pretty quickly ;)

Do I even need to mention my love for PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter?! ;) This was one of my most versatile, favorite foods while I was losing weight. I thought it sounded so strange at first, but once I tried it, it was love at first bite! Here is a post about what I use it for.

This is the Omron Body Fat Monitor that I use. If you're close to your goal weight, and the scale isn't budging, it's nice to see if you're lowering your body fat. You just input your height, weight, sex, and age, then hold onto the handles for a few seconds for a reading. I watched my body fat go from almost 50% down to under 20%. Here is a post about it.

I finally, after a decade or so, decided to get a new body weight scale. I loved my old Health O Meter, but when I saw this Balance 2 Digital Body Scale, I just thought it was so pretty! When I got it, I fell in love with it right away, and I'm happy making the switch. It's accurate and reliable, which is just what I wanted. It weighs up to 396 pounds.

This book, "Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance" is amazing. It is a "weight loss book" geared toward endurance athletes who are looking to improve their performance. It definitely focuses on eating the right foods to get you to perform your best, rather than just focus on the number on the scale. I normally despise "diet" books, but this is different from any I've read before.

This book, "What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets", is fascinating! It features 80 different people from around the world, and analyzes their diets, along with calories consumed. It's not a "diet" book--just very interesting to see how other people eat.

When I broke my jaw in 2010, I had to live on a liquid diet for weeks--so I got very creative with making protein shakes. They were so good when I started experimenting with different flavors! I make a lot of protein shakes, and this Oster Blender is the blender I use. I love it because it actually blends everything so well and there aren't any chunks of ice left when you make a smoothie or shake... but it's affordable! When I was researching blenders, so many people were recommending uber-expensive brands (upwards of $400!). This blender does all I need it to. (If you're looking for shake ideas, you can check out some of my recipes).

My life was pretty much completely changed for the better when I started using this Black & Decker Rice Cooker! It's SO very simple to use, and it cooks perfect rice every time. I've made white rice, brown rice, wild rice, short grain, long grain, etc., in this it, and I've never been disappointed in how it turned out. My family eats a lot of rice (and I ate a lot of it while losing the weight), so it gets a lot of use!

This Presto PowerPop is a popcorn maker that you use in the microwave. You just add kernels (plain) and throw it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. When I was following Weight Watchers, this was my favorite way to get in my healthy oils--I would pop the kernels in this thing, then drizzle 2 tsp. of canola oil over it, and shake a lot of salt on it. It tastes just like movie theater popcorn! I like this thing because it's hard to burn kernels in it, which I'm notorious for doing ;)

This book, "Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons" is a MUST READ for anyone who is considering running a marathon (or even a half-marathon). It had great info and advice. Hal Higdon has fantastic training programs for all distances, and I really enjoyed this book.

This book, Hansons Marathon Method, has forever changed the way I think of marathon training! It's not the typical approach of most "cookie cutter" programs out there. The Hansons Marathon Method is probably most known for the fact that your long run only goes up to 16 miles (rather than 20). I trained for the Chicago Marathon using this method, and if I ever do another marathon, I would definitely use it again. I felt fantastic during the race, and recovered very quickly. The plan is available online, but it doesn't make much sense without reading the book. The book is a great read! Here is a post in more detail about my thoughts on the method.

I've read dozens of books about overeating and binge eating, and none of them every really "spoke" to me... until I read "Brain over Binge", by Kathryn Hansen. It is extremely unique in dealing with binge eating. For a long time, I didn't want to read it because the author was bulimic, and I assumed that the book was dealing with bulimia. The book is geared toward binge eaters (since bingeing is a part of bulimia), and I can't even describe how mind-changing this book was. If you've struggled with binge eating, and haven't found a way to deal with it, I highly recommend reading this book. Don't just skim it, either. I read it twice, and the second time is when I picked up on a lot of new info.

I've always wanted to be able to eat "intuitively" (not counting calories or points), and I've read LOTS of books about it--but never really "got it" until reading How to Have Your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too: Stop Binge Eating, Overeating and Dieting For Good Get the Naturally Thin Body You Crave From the Inside Out (Binge Eating Solution Book 1). This book explains intuitive eating so well, and not only describes what it is, but tells you HOW TO DO IT. I highly recommend this book!

The GoCat Da Bird Cat Toy. I feel kind of silly including this on MY favorite things, but I write about my cats a lot, and I noticed a big change in my cats when I got this toy. They absolutely love it. Even Chandler, who weighs 25 pounds and barely moves to change positions on the couch, will get up and play with this toy like he would've as a kitten. It basically looks like a fishing pole with a bunch of feathers on the end of the string. When you swing it through the air, it looks like a bird, and my cats all go nuts for it. Eventually, they destroyed the feather part, but this one comes with two replacements.

This item below isn't available on Amazon, and I don't get anything for recommending it; but I write about it a lot because I love it!!  I've linked to the company's website instead.

David's Tea. Oh, my. This tea is heavenly! I was never much of a tea drinker until I discovered loose leaf tea. It's so much better (and there is so much more variety) than the little tea bags you can buy at the grocery store. I've tried a few different companies, but David's is, by far, my favorite. There are some amazing dessert teas that feel like a treat, but have less than 5 calories. When I'm feeling snacky, this tea is my go-to to avoid a binge.  

My very favorite flavors, starting with my #1: Red Velvet Cake, Salted Caramel, Glitter & Gold, Read My Lips (all of those are black teas); Movie Night (green tea); and Birthday Cake (rooibos tea). If you've never tried loose leaf tea, and you're unsure, I always suggest the Red Velvet Cake first. I don't know of anyone who hasn't liked it ;) I've asked David's a couple of times for a discount code to provide for my readers, but unfortunately, they said no. Maybe if they see lots of traffic coming from here, they'll consider it in the future!

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