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December 22, 2010 11:49 AM   Subscribe

What should I spend $100 by the end of the year to help me lose weight?

My company reimburses up to $100 for "wellness" items - basically anything except food or clothing that will help you feel well. I've had coworkers deduct green fees for golf, gym memberships and therapeutic massages, as well.

However cliche, a New Year's resolution would be to lose weight in the coming year. What should I spend my $100 on in order to achieve this goal?

I'd prefer not to do a gym membership with recurring monthly fees, as another resolution is to save up to buy a house.

Thanks in advance!
posted by po822000 to Health & Fitness (37 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A good pair of running shoes.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:50 AM on December 22, 2010 [10 favorites]

Weight Watchers membership? Weights? Yoga mat?
posted by runningwithscissors at 11:51 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd get a set of free weights and some decent exercise DVDs. And a nice notebook to keep track of your calories and exercise and weight loss.
posted by bearwife at 11:53 AM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'd say a short series of yoga classes (when you buy in a series, they discount the per-class rate). My rationale: quick and noticeable results (when I did yoga for the same reason, I had some immediate weight drop and was gratified), you get to meet new people, depending on which city you live you can probably get between 6 and 12 classes for just $100—and it's also a great place to prepare your body to start doing other weight loss stuff if you like.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:53 AM on December 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'd do Weight Watchers online. I managed to gain weight even while training for a half-marathon; losing weight is all about what you eat.
posted by something something at 11:54 AM on December 22, 2010

A Fitbit?
posted by dayintoday at 12:00 PM on December 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

Put towards a bike and start riding to work.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:01 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone so far - I think I should add that I'd prefer to not do classes or Weight Watchers meetings, simply because my job schedule is fairly fluid and committing to something regular won't work. Let me know what other ideas you might have!
posted by po822000 at 12:01 PM on December 22, 2010

Maybe a bike computer, if you already have a bike and think you'd enjoy cycling, or a Nike Plus doohickey, if you already have an iPod/Phone and think you'd enjoy running/walking. For some folks, being able to track one's progress is a very good motivator.
posted by box at 12:01 PM on December 22, 2010

What kind of exercise activities are you doing now (or, if you're not currently exercising, what kind of activities do you think you'd enjoy)?
posted by box at 12:03 PM on December 22, 2010

A low cost and effective alternative to free weights is exercise bands.

Also, you might want to try a month or two of membership on They have a huge library of printable exercises (many using bands/weights), multiple diet plans, and diet/exercise log tools, as well as a supportive community.
posted by bearwife at 12:07 PM on December 22, 2010

Not sure if you can get a used Ipod Touch for that price, but that + a weight tracking app like Lose It (free - you can probably find paid ones) would be good.
posted by backwards guitar at 12:08 PM on December 22, 2010

Nthing Weight Watchers online. I use it (and they have a handy iPhone app) and it's great. I don't go to meetings b/c it's just not my bag and it's not a requirement.
posted by ACN09 at 12:14 PM on December 22, 2010

A good heart rate monitor.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 12:14 PM on December 22, 2010

my job schedule is fairly fluid

Often you can get a booklet of tickets for yoga or for the fitness activity of your choice that are each good for a non-sequential drop-in class. You can either try to get this from a fitness center/yoga studio, or from an individual independent instructor.
posted by fermezporte at 12:15 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @box: In a past life (before kids), I ran quite a bit. I'd like to get back to running. But truthfully, I've not exercised regularly in a year or two - and you can tell. So I'm open to anything that's kind to novices.
posted by po822000 at 12:15 PM on December 22, 2010

Skipping ropes and fruit.
posted by fire&wings at 12:21 PM on December 22, 2010

The Ultimate Body Press Dip Bar costs $97 from Amazon.

You can do all kinds of basic bodyweight and assisted-bodyweight exercises with it, mainly different kinds of dips, inverted rows and assisted squats, but a couple other things too. It is light and easily movable and a great item to have around the house to inspire you to do quick strength-training workouts.

When I was first trying to get in the habit of exercise, I would try to do 2 sets of a single exercise each day, and having it staring you in the face makes it a relatively quick commitment to fulfill.
posted by jameslavelle3 at 12:21 PM on December 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

Weight Watchers Online is great in theory but from what I recall it's expensive, and that $100 won't go very far.

A Fitbit sounds perfect for you.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:22 PM on December 22, 2010

Adjustable dumbbells. Something like these, which can grow with you. Need more weight? Buy a new plate for less than $1.00 per pound. You can also get a barbell that fits the same sized plates to help add a bit of variety to your strenghth training routine.

(I have no experience with that particular set of dumbbells; it was just the first thing I found to illustrate what I meant.)
posted by Aleen at 12:23 PM on December 22, 2010

Kettlebells - available sometimes at discounters like TJMaxx or used sporting goods stores.
Or a medicine ball or that cool dip bar that james recommended above. Have fun!
posted by pointystick at 12:26 PM on December 22, 2010

If you just want to lose weight, a good food scale will help with portion control.

If you want to do exercises at home, a decent medicine ball and 1/2" mat is plenty of equipment. You could probably find P90X DVDs used cheap if you're into video workouts.
posted by benzenedream at 12:27 PM on December 22, 2010

A really good chef's knife? Cooking for yourself, especially the kinds of food that make for healthier eating, can be made much easier by good knives that allow you to effortlessly slice and dice while feeling like an extension of your hand. It sounds like a small thing, but it makes a big difference to me when I weigh the effort of making a healthy dish with plant matter against a prepared frozen dinner or the drive thru.

Pair this with the secret of easy tasty veggies -- rough 1/2 inch chop lightly tossed with olive or canola oil and sprinkled with kosher salt at 425 degrees until browned around the edges. Works with carrots, yams, broccoli, squash, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes*....

*obviously cooking time varies by the vegetable
posted by cross_impact at 12:27 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would second the running shoes — mine cost about $100 and buying them encouraged me to go out and walk a lot more and run (slowly), because it was so much more pleasant. It made a big difference.
posted by dreamyshade at 12:34 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

No idea if this will work for you, but I like working out at home. I'd buy some Wii fitness games (or maybe workout DVDs). You could also do a subscription to an online service like ExerciseTV or YogaGlo that streams workouts to your computer.
posted by chickenmagazine at 12:37 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might want to look into exergaming programs.

I switched from playing Counter-Strike to Yourself! Fitness last year. Exercising at home was much, much easier than getting to a class; I was able to do a short workout every morning for about a year. (I subsequently switched from Yourself! Fitness to commuting by bike.) Runs on Xbox, Playstation 2, Wii, and Windows, although it may not work on post-XP versions of Windows. $30-$50.
posted by russilwvong at 12:43 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

What about a session with some type of nutritionist that could help you set out a meal plan for the coming year?
posted by heatherly at 12:46 PM on December 22, 2010

Tim Ferriss' book The 4-Hour Body for about $15 would be a great investment. It dispels lots of myths about weight loss, and may give you some new tools.
posted by Invoke at 1:09 PM on December 22, 2010

A mini stair-stepper like this. Takes up very little space, it's light enough that it can be used anywhere, bad weather is a non-issue, and no one else is involved. Use it for 1/2 hour while watching the news instead of from the couch, and watch those pounds drop off.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:16 PM on December 22, 2010

A few sessions with a personal trainer. Tell the trainer to teach you the most effective work outs to do on your own. See if you can find one who will come to your house and teach you to use what you have around you effectively.
posted by duckierose at 1:55 PM on December 22, 2010

You could get one or two of those big tubs of (sugar free) protein supplement. Protein makes your stomach think it's full quicker & better than anything else (which is why the Atkins diet seems to work for many people), so if you mix some of that up with some low-fat milk or soy milk, you won't feel like eating or snacking so much. This is basically what those diet shake powders do (often with some fibre thrown in) but I think you get a better deal if you buy the bulk stuff aimed at bodybuilders.

Plus, if you do some form of exercise, it'll help your body recover better.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:19 PM on December 22, 2010

A notebook to use as a food diary and workout log. Track every bit of food and as much workout data as you wish. Track calories if needed, but that may not even be necessary. Good luck!
posted by santaslittlehelper at 2:19 PM on December 22, 2010

Seconding FitBit or a Withings scale. They are fan-freakin-tastic.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:42 PM on December 22, 2010

Nthing running shoes, because they are a really obvious expenditure that won't have to be justified the way a knife or an iPod would. Also, as a novice runner, the shoes are the only mandatory piece of equipment and there was a degree of sticker shock when I saw the price tag on a pair of real technical running shoes.

Another idea: what about a few sessions with a trainer?
posted by Sara C. at 5:11 PM on December 22, 2010

Nthing a weight watchers online membership. $20/month will give you 5 months for your $100. In my first 5 months of the program I was down over 40 lbs.
posted by cgg at 5:20 PM on December 22, 2010

If you have a smartphone with gps, the Runkeeper app will track your runs (or walls, or whatever), showing distance, time, and pace, and show you your route on a map. Best of all, you can run to your own music and set it so the app will break in at intervals to announce your distance and time. At $10, it's probably the most worthwhile app I've purchased.
posted by itstheclamsname at 5:28 AM on December 23, 2010

A Gymboss timer for $15 (amazon). It's a godsend for doing interval training! It can beep really loudly too, for the extra "omigod what is that guy doing" factor when you're at the gym.

I (irregularly) do CrossFit workouts, which often involve interval training. I don't own a watch (I keep losing them) and wanted something more flexible than constantly looking at a watch, and Gymboss came recommended on a Crossfit forum post. The website looks...well, tacky, and it oddly enough has a learning curve, but it's well worth it.
posted by asymptotic at 6:37 PM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

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