Flashback to December 2015: I’m panicking because it’s three weeks before my destination wedding and it just occurred to me that I’m going to be in a swimsuit in 21 short days. Oh, and it’s Christmas holidays and my pals turkey and shortbread are in town. My fears compound because I’m sporting my winter whites, a.k.a. a creamy white complexion that hasn’t been touched by the sun since August. Oh and did I mention my honeymoon is a backpacker-style South American adventure that includes a high altitude Machu Picchu scramble? 

I had 11 months to plan our nuptials in Cuba, but (of course) it seems I still have so much to do. I concede that it would have been more practical to tackle the to-do list earlier in the year. It also would have been prudent to get into a workout routine three months ago... like my bridesmaids did (wait, why are they working out more than I am?!).

The important wedding tasks and vendors are secured and there are a host of things that can’t be firmed up until we meet the wedding coordinator on site in Varadero. But the fitness issue - I need to get a handle on this, yesterday.

If you find yourself in a similar kind of pinch, here’s a solid plan of attack that worked for me:


Set SMART goals

SMART goals are: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

Specific: Generally speaking, my end game is to feel comfortable and confident in a swimsuit. Admittedly, my goal could be narrowed to something measurable like ‘lose ten pounds,’ but this is the lazy bride’s guide to getting fit. Plus… see below.

Measurable: I don’t own a scale - nor do I want to - but I still require a way to quantify my progress. I’ve heard so much hype around fitness trackers recently that I literally have a eureka moment with my solution: wearable tech! (Side note: Did you know that 52% of wearable tech owners primarily use their devices to stay motivated to exercise?1)  

A Fitbit seems like the obvious choice, but at my local drugstore, a brief inspection of the packaging leaves me with more questions than answers. The design is so utilitarian, the screen is so small and where are all the buttons? I leave empty handed, but go home to do a little research and ask around a bit. One of my friends tells me she got her fitness tracker from TELUS and that they were super helpful with the setup and answering all her questions. Happy for the fact that I don’t have to figure this out on my own, I make an appointment for a free Learning Centre session at my local TELUS store.

I meet with Mieka, a smiley TELUS Learning Centre Expert (and Fitbit wearer). Based on a great discussion we had on my fitness needs she recommends I use the Fitbit Charge HR. This model measures altitude and floors gained which will be handy because I’m also “training” for our honeymoon. We’ll be hiking Huayna Picchu’s grueling 650 steps at Machu Picchu, and I’m worried about how I’ll fare at high altitude. Mieka then patiently takes some time to thoroughly walk me through using the Fitbit. I’m not exaggerating; she literally boots up the device and waits while I set up the account. I pepper her with questions as she demonstrates how to use it, and how functions like friend challenges - bridesmaid challenges in this case - will help me get moving with my SMART goal. 

Achievable: Kick-starting a workout routine with no rest days means I need to be careful not to overexert or injure myself. That could put me out for a few days, killing momentum or worse, sabotaging my results completely. I’m going to stick to my strong suit: cardio. In a stroke of good fate, circumstances have us living with my future parents-in-law for the month and they just bought a brand new treadmill. I have this “achievable” thing on lock

Realistic: I need to create a plan that’s going to fit between sleeping, eating and working. Not only that, I need to ensure this initiative won’t be waylaid by the innumerable number of bridal beauty appointments and last minute wedding and holiday errands.

Time-bound: No worries here. Three weeks until departure!


Double Down on Your Diet

They say that fitness and getting into good shape is 80% diet and 20% activity. I rarely (read: never) diet, but once I start intentionally burning calories I suddenly take stock of what’s on my spoon. After all, why am I sweating it out if I self-sabotage with empty calories? I boot up the Fitbit app and investigate the Food Plan function Mieka showed me. There’s even a setting for a water consumption goal, how neat is that?!


Eat for Fuel

I have a sweet tooth; I love chocolate and pastries. I test out a home-grown strategy where I concentrate and focus on the most distilled taste of sugar. I imagine sucking on a cube of white granulated sugar. I repeat affirmations about my distaste for it. Then, every time I crave a sweet or think about eating something with sugar, I imagine that the taste of that food is ruined by that same super high concentration of sugar. Surprisingly this is quite effective and helps me to consciously avoid sweetened foods and eat foods that help fuel my workouts instead.


Identify Your Opportunities for Failure

I prefer to work out in the evening; this is part of my ‘attainable’ aspect. It’s the time of day I feel most optimistic about being active and also the most energized. However, it coincides with dinner, which presents a conflict in my routine. I have identified this as an opportunity for failure.

I need to make sure that I eat a large enough lunch and supplement with snacks. Having a fridge full of fresh ingredients also means I won’t beg off to the supermarket (and make impulsive, hungry-stomach dinner decisions) instead of getting my workout in. If I weren’t such a lazy bride this is the part where I would have boasted about meal planning. Instead, I’m going to tell you to do it.

What are your opportunities for failure? Identify them and brainstorm ways to defend against them. If you’re struggling to identify them, have a think about which excuses you’ve told yourself in the past that have sabotaged a workout routine.

So how did I fare in the end? 



fitbit charge
Credit: J. Larsen

A shot of my Fitbit Charge on my honeymoon at the top of the Huayna Picchu

Week 1

“Oh my god this is tough. I can do 30 minutes, right? Longest ten minutes ever. I swear these are long minutes. Why am I working out in long minutes? This playlist sucks. Make note to create a better pump-up playlist. Don’t look at the workout timer. Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look. $%^$ I looked, ugh. Wow, the only way I’m hitting 10,000 steps is with a workout. God I’ve been lazy. Should I be using a stand up desk at work? Is sitting at work slowly killing us?”

“Is five miles an hour fast? Hey, why is this treadmill in miles? Five is fast. So fast. I bet I can push this to 40 minutes. I’m not even breathing that hard.”

Week 2

“Feeling cut! Rocking these jeans. Why haven’t I been doing this forever?” This is rather...meditative. Gosh I do my best thinking on this treadmill. Is there any way to write notes without falling on my face? No...I should just embrace this screen-free part of my day. I don’t know why I was panicking before, I’m going to look decent on the beach. Maybe even good. Note to self, book a spray tan before bed.”

Week 3
“Can I even plateau in 18 days? Is that possible? Oh look, my resting heartbeat is lowest while snuggling with fiancé. Should I be working out to a podcast? Can you work out right after a bikini wax? 16,000 steps logged on the Fitbit, nailed it.”


The Verdict

So how’d I do? Surprisingly well I think. Take a look: 

beach jennJ. Larsen

I’m looking pretty relaxed and comfortable right? Goal achieved.

Consistency was the biggest key in changing the way I looked and felt. Do what you can with the time you have, do your best to eliminate opportunities for failure and double down on diet. I know you can get the same results. I can not emphasize how important it is to start with a SMART goal, carefully considering each of the five elements. Why? Because you can’t hit a target with an arrow if you can’t see it. Arming yourself with the right attitude, optimism and commitment will get you there.

While the wedding, Cuba and workout regimen are behind me, my Fitbit still reminds me each day when I hit 10,000 steps. And yes, I totally feel guilty when I don’t.

By the way - Huayna Picchu was awesome and the altitude wasn’t even that bad either courtesy of my 3-week cardio binge. 

machu picchu jenn
Credit: Jenn Larsen

My Fitbit Charge from TELUS counts my steps at Machu Picchu. 

Source: 1 - https://www.marsdd.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/MaRSReport-WearableTech.pdf



Want to know more about my Fitbit at TELUS or Huayna Picchu?
Drop me a line below or tweet me @JennLarsenMPM