by Stephanie Nickel
Making healthy choices is within reach for those in every tax bracket. Here are a few pointers on how to get fit without breaking the bank.
1. Drink more water. It saves money, reduces caloric intake, and has many additional health benefits.
2. Add sparkling water to juice. It’s less expensive than pop. It gives you the vitamins and minerals of fruit juice while reducing the high sugar content.
3. Load up on the fruits and vegetables that are in season. If you can buy from a local farmers’ market, even better. The produce is fresh. You support fellow members of your community. Plus, you often save money for a superior product.
4. And of course, if you’re so inclined and have the space, growing a small garden of your own can be a wonderful way to stock up on your favourites at minimal cost.
5. You’ve heard it before, but if you make a meal plan and a detailed shopping list, it’s less likely that you will give into impulse buys or revert to ordering in or popping a frozen pizza in the oven after an extra long day.
6. Even those on a budget can enjoy the luxury of eating out from time to time. Allocate x number of dollars in your monthly budget and stick to it. Maybe it will mean one decadent night out or a half dozen trips to the local coffee shop. It’s your choice. However, plan ahead. Just because you’re eating out doesn’t mean you have to throw eating well out the window. Most places have healthier choices these days. And even if your sweet tooth won’t leave you alone, splitting a piece of pie cuts the calories and fat in half and, truth be told, it’s usually enough to satisfy that nagging molar.
7. The only equipment you need for a good cardio workout is a decent pair of shoes. An MP3 player loaded with motivating music is a plus but not a necessity. There may even be an indoor track you can use at no charge when the weather’s bad.
8. Rather than investing in an expensive exercise machine or dozens of weights, resistance bands can be a great option. They are more economical and don’t take up much space. They are available in varying thicknesses, which determines the level of resistance.
9. And when you’ve been cleared by your doctor to exercise, just where can you find routines that work for you without investing in a personal trainer (though it’s great to hire one if you can, even to get you started)? There are countless sites on the Internet (i.e. sparkpeople), inexpensive workout DVDs at your local department store, and books you can purchase or borrow from your local library. (Do make sure they’ve been written in the last five or so years. Exercise philosophies change a great deal over time.)
10. If you decide you need the environment of a gym, you needn’t go for the most expensive option. Several gyms have basic memberships that may even include their exercise classes. Don’t be talked into paying for options you don’t need and probably won’t use. Many gyms have free passes. Be sure you’re making the right choice for you before signing on the dotted line. It’s important to have a thorough orientation, especially if you haven’t used the equipment before. Friendly, knowledgeable staff is also a plus.
What would you add to the list? How can we get work toward our fitness goals even if finances are a concern?
Stephanie Nickel, CLD, PTS is a freelance writer and editor, a labour doula, and a personal trainer.