Spring has officially sprung, and with the warmer days and longer nights there also comes a sense of foreboding. It’s inevitable, but the appearance of spring means another season is right around the corner – bathing suit season. While I am generally a healthy person and stay active year-round, I tend to overindulge throughout the winter, which means that without fail, I have a few pounds to shed and some toning to do before I’m ready to bust out the bikini. Thankfully, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve that get me feeling better and looking better in record time.

1. Drink your breakfast

You’ve no doubt heard the old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yet in today’s hectic world, many people resort to quick fixes like transfat laden fast food breakfast sandwiches, or high carb fare like bagels, both of which are high in calories and low on nutrients. Instead, opt for a nutrient dense smoothie packed with fruit and vegetables and get your day started right and your metabolism in high gear.

In a quality blender, like the Breville 5-Speed BBL605XL, toss in some sugar-free almond milk, Greek yogurt, half a banana, mixed frozen berries (nutrient and antioxidant powerhouses!), spinach, 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds (which are packed with fiber, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids), and select the pre-programmed Smoothie setting. The Breville BBL605XL’s powerful 750-watt motor and ice-crushing central blades will  automatically alter in speed to blend your breakfast to the perfect creamy consistency. And you won’t need to worry about stopping mid-blend to push or stir your ingredients toward the blades because the Hemisphere blade and bowl technology pulls ingredients down from the top as it blends the ones below.

If smoothies aren’t your cup of tea, try and augment your morning meal with a glass of fresh juice. Juicing has become popular over the past decade and for good reason – fresh juice is packed with nutrients, giving your body the kick start it needs in the morning to stay going all day long. Depending on what you juice, it can also be a supplement for your entire morning meal. All you need are some ingredients and a juicer like the Cuisinart Compact Juice Extractor. Its one touch operation, removable pulp container, and adjustable flow spout makes it a breeze to juice to your heart’s content. And it’s quiet, so you don’t need to worry about waking up your partner or roommate when you juice first thing in the morning. Just google some delicious and nutritious juice recipes and get started!


2. Crank the tunes

It’s no secret music is a motivator. I’ve had days where the last thing I wanted to do was clean the bathroom or reorganize a linen closet, but once I put on some tunes, I was dancing and shimmying my way through my chores. The same is true for getting motivated to start – and keep – working out. With the right playlist, your workouts will go faster, you’ll work harder, and you’ll start seeing results in no time.

But bringing your stereo to the gym is a faux-pas, so you need a decent set of headphones. In my experience, the best headphones for sweaty activities are ones that are comfortable, sweat-resistant, have track control on the cord, and allow you to take calls (yes, I am that important). A fantastic option is the Inspire Talk In-Ear Headphones by Yurbuds. These bad boys come at an awesome price point, are sweat- and water-resistant, and feature an in-line one button mic that lets you control tracks and answer calls without having to touch your mobile device.

But best of all, they come with FlexSoft and TwistLock technologies. Made with flexible silicone, the Yurbuds Inspire Talk headphones are super soft and ergonomically designed to avoid nerve rich areas of the ear (FlexSoft). They also twist into place so they never fall out, even when you are working so hard you think your lungs will explode (TwistLock).

3. Get moving

Speaking of lungs exploding, it’s a no brainer that in order to shape up for the summer, you need to get moving. I’m a big fan of classes at the gym, because there is nothing more motivating than a teacher yelling at you to move your behind while a 65 year old grandma makes you look like you’ve never done cardio a day in your life. Another of my go-to workouts is rowing. Because it’s a workout that targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, it is an exceptionally effective workout.

If you’re lucky enough to have the space to accommodate one in your home, check out the LifeCORE Fitness Rowing Machine. It’s supportive ergonomics protect your core while you row the pounds away, and its combined air and magnetic resistance setting gives you enough resistance for a challenging exercise session. To make your workout as enjoyable as possible, you can tune into the Race program on its LCD display and try and beat the computer! If you opt not to compete, the Manual program will let you just dive in and row. Either way, you’ll see a running tally of your time, strokes, strokes per minute, calories burned, speed, distance and pulse.

4. Track those calories

At its most basic, losing weight comes down to a simple mathematical formula – burn more calories than you consume. While there are other factors that need to be considered when shedding excess weight, such as eating the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that if you stick to this guideline, your waistline will start to shrink.

There are a plethora of apps and tools to track your calorie intake, and many that also track caloric output, but none do a very good job of tracking both accurately. Enter the Jawbone Up24 Activity Tracker. A wristband available in small, medium, and large, and in onyx or orange, the Jawbone Up24 is used in conjunction with its Up app to track your sleeping, eating, and movement patterns. You can easily track the calories you consume by scanning a barcode or typing it in, and best of all, it accurately tracks calories burned for whatever type of workout you are doing.

Other useful features of the Jawbone Up24 are its SmartAlarm, which tracks your sleep cycle and wakes you at the right time so you wake up refreshed, and its Idle alert, which lets you set up a reminder when you’ve been sitting still too long. In a nutshell, the Jawbone Up24 is the perfect companion for people that want to take control of their health and get motivated to make better choices. Like any modern piece of technology these days, you can also share your progress through the Up app on a variety of social networks.

So there you have it folks. Four ways to feel better and look better for this summer. It’s already the end of April, so it will be here before you know it – get going today!

Stacey McGregor
Stacey McGregor is a marketing and communications professional based in Vancouver, BC. She has a passion for the written word, loves learning about new technology and gadgets, and enjoys sharing what she learns through Best Buy's Plug In blog.