6 Tips to Get Healthy and Fit on a Budget
When you think about staying healthy and fit, expensive gym memberships and costly diet plans may come to mind. But, it is possible to get yourself into better shape without bludgeoning your bank account. Getting fit is important. It can increase happiness, improve quality of life and reduce long-term medical costs. You just don't want to fall into debt during the process. Here's how to firm up your waistline without damaging your bottom line.
1. Revamp Your Diet
If your diet features a lot of red meat, it's time to make a change. Try subbing in chicken or fish as a healthy protein replacement. Boneless, skinless chicken is a great, low-calorie, high-quality protein, while fatty fish like salmon provides good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids.
Also, consider adding more fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Eating a garden salad with every meal will help, but don't limit yourself. There are likely quite a few produce items you enjoy. If there's a farmers' market in your area, shop for local, in-season produce to save money. Plus, farmers' markets often have a larger and fresher selection than your regular grocery store.
2. Save on Grocery Purchases
Besides saving on fruits and vegetables, there are ways to save on all the foods you buy. Clipping coupons is one easy strategy. Look for them in your Sunday paper, online or even on your mobile device. Organize all of your paper coupons in a file based on the expiration date so you don't miss out on any savings.
3. Exercise for Less
Skip the gym membership and exercise at home for free. Your neighborhood is a great place for walking or jogging, and you can take advantage of the local high school bleachers to bust out a series of stair runs, box jumps or body weight exercises. You can also check to see if there's a public pool in your area. It may not be free, but day passes don't cost much, and if you go close to closing time the admission price could be half off. If you have a little wiggle-room in your budget, you can invest in an affordable smart activity tracker, such as the Bowflex Boost, which is only $49.95.
4. Manage Your Time Better
One of the most common excuses for not getting in shape is lack of time. If you manage your time better, this flimsy excuse goes away. Run errands on your way to work in the morning or on the way home, and cut back on TV time and social media. Create a to-do list for what you want to accomplish each day, and you'll get more done in less time. When your time is better managed, it will free you up to hit the gym, go for a run or join a local soccer league.
5. Stay Active
Even when you're not working out, maintain an active lifestyle. Take a more vigorous approach to household chores. Try landscaping your yard instead of hiring someone, or head to a park with your kids. Never miss an opportunity to make the most of an activity; do lunges while you watch TV, pushups on the kitchen counter as you cook or wall squats when you brush your teeth.
6. Set a Budget and Create Goals
Sit down with a piece of paper and write out your goals, both monetarily and physically. Set a budget for groceries, eating out and fitness-related expenses, and make sure these costs fit reasonably into your overall monthly budget. Once that's done, write out your health-related goals as well. For instance, if your goal is to lose 30 pounds, use a calendar to write out weekly weight loss goals. Aiming to lose one to two pounds each week is a good place to start. Do the same for how many workouts you want to complete each week. If you fall short one week, simply double your efforts or readjust your goals.
The biggest obstacle to overcome when it comes to getting in shape is simply getting started. Even if you begin your workout program with a slow walk around the block, you're at least doing something. And once you get in the habit, you'll find that daily exercise can become addicting.
How are you getting healthier without spending too much money?
About Guest Author:
David Bakke writes about health, fitness, and money management on the popular finance blog, Money Crashers.