This '90s Sitcom Got Sandra Lee Through Her Post-COVID Diet

TV chef Sandra Lee has always stepped in when we needed her most. When we've been time-strapped, she's made us feel okay about using store-bought ingredients and even provided tips on how to do so in her long-running show "Semi-Homemade Cooking." Lee also helped us budget during the 2008 recession with "Money Saving Meals" (via The New York Times). And when the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to stay home and figure out how to make meals with whatever we had in our pantry rather than run to the grocery store, she was our guardian food angel once again with genius hacks.

Lee's own pantry in the early days of the pandemic was filled with creamy soups, pasta, lots of tomato sauce, and some pre-packaged staples including Bisquick and Red Lobster brand cheddar biscuit mix that provided limitless inspiration. She even had plans to make a "decadent cheesy casserole" with the ham left over from Easter dinner.

Looking back on 2020 in an Instagram post (dated January 4), Lee said she had gained 30 pounds with all the indulgent at-home cooking. To lose the weight, she mentioned she stopped drinking alcohol and eating red meat and made other changes to her diet. She also got on a treadmill and committed to a regular workout routine. But, like a lot of people, Lee found workouts to be boring. Fortunately, a '90s sitcom helped her pass the time while boosting her step count, as she told People.

Sandra Lee looked forward to working out with a little help from 'Friends'

As Sandra Lee noted in an Instagram post early on in her journey, she usually watches the news when she has the TV on. But when she started hitting the gym, Lee found something else to tune into that helped pass the time in a fun way as she logged miles on a treadmill. 

"The answer is watching outtakes and past seasons of 'Friends,'" she said. "I just got through 20 minutes on the treadmill keeping my heart rate at 170, and the time flew by." She added the workout trick really works to keep her motivated: "I actually look forward to it ... I tend to smile while doing it — I've even burst out in laughter. ...Thank god for Friends — they've got your back even when you're breaking a sweat!"

Lee also mentioned that she's most like Monica, the character played by Courtney Cox.

With so many episodes of the impactful show that first made waves in the early '90s, Lee had no shortage of material to choose from — and it's helped her to get near her 30-pound weight-loss goal. As of her birthday July 3, she shared with People that she's five pounds away from reaching the finish line, saying, "I'm pretty happy with where I am — I feel great!!!"