One of my goals for this year is to “continue to work out regularly (five times a week) and improve my diet (eat more fruits and vegetables and smaller portions).” Put in a broader sense, my goal is to be healthier.
Granted, I have not been exercising as much lately, but I have been sleeping more, which has been wonderful. I also think the extra sleep is what is keeping my weight stable when, in theory, it should be increasing. (This is also known as “the sleep diet.” Read more about it here.)
Anyhow, I know I am not alone in the quest to improve my health. I also know that in our current economy, it’s difficult to justify spending money on organic foods and gym memberships.
But living healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. It can actually be simple and cheap. Here’s how:
- Cook more homemade meals.
When you make your meals at home, you get the benefit of knowing exactly what is going into your food. Plus, cooking at home saves you from going out to eat or buying pre-packaged foods, which tend to be more expensive.
- Plan your meals ahead of time, and always take a list with you when you go grocery shopping.
Yes, planning your meals for the week takes a little extra time, but it helps you stick to your diet and keeps your budget in check.
- Shop at your local farmers market.
When you buy your groceries from your local farmers market, you get healthy in-season produce. It’s also an easy way to “go green” because you’re supporting local businesses and eating organically. Don’t have time to go to the farmers market or grocery shopping in general? Have fresh, organic food delivered to you through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. Learn more about CSA farms, and find one near you. (Note that this isn’t necessarily a less expensive option, but it can save you time shopping, and as the expression goes, “time is money.”)
- Buy canned goods.
It’s OK to buy canned fruits and vegetables, especially if you’re only cooking for one or if you’re worried about fresh produce’s short shelf life. Beans are another non-perishable item that tend to be cheap, are healthy and versatile.
- Walk or run outside.
Take advantage of the summer weather and go on an evening walk or run. When the weather turns cold, use free full-length workouts from Exercise TV.
- Buy a jump rope.
When is the last time you jumped rope? If you’re like me, it was probably junior high or high school. In the shadow boxing gym class I go to, one of our drills is to jump rope for 30-second intervals. I assure you, it’s way more challenging than it was when I was a teenager. It’s astounding how exhausted you can be in less than five minutes. A standard jump rope costs $4.99 at Target. Just think: For less than $5, you get one of the most efficient cardio exercises ever invented.
- Use your body weight for strength-training.
Nothing beats some good old-fashioned push-ups, sit-ups or crunches and squats for tone and strengthening exercises. If you want to add weights, use some of the canned fruits and vegetables you bought.
- Do yoga and Pilates at home.
Incorporate yoga and/or Pilates into your workout routine to improve your posture, balance, and core strength, which will round out your overall fitness. Again, you can find free videos on the Internet. Here’s a 20-minute yoga video for beginners and a 20-minute Pilates video for beginners on Joost.
For more tips on how to live healthier for less, check out Dennis Thompson’s article, “Living Healthily for Less” on HealthDay.
I tend to work out better and harder when I use the gym classes, although it definitely depends on the instructor. I generally do more when I have an instructor pushing me as opposed to relying on myself to be the drill sergeant. I tend to let myself off the hook the instant I start to feel too tired.
When money is tight, how does it affect your diet and exercise habits?