You’re broke and can’t afford a gym membership, healthy food, or nice running shoes, so you *can’t* get fit, right? Uh oh, hope you haven’t been using one of those lines, because I’m about to bust them.
FACT: You don’t have to be rich to eat nutrient-rich whole foods, nor do you have to have one dime to exercise. However, you may be clueless of how to accomplish this if you’ve never done it before. Here is your guide to getting fit on a budget:
Exercise at Home
With a little imagination, getting in shape at home can most certainly be done. Here are just a few ideas:
- neighborhood or park running/walking
- climb stairs at the local stadium
- use the local recreation center’s gym, pool, or track
- find workouts on YouTube, here’s the one I use
- check out workout DVD’s from your public library
- do plyometrics in your backyard
- do bodyweight and/or HIIT exercises in your bedroom, read here about HIIT
- use your bedroom door for pull-ups, or bench press your toddler 🙂
Phew, this should be a whole separate post. The possibilities are endless.
Buy Produce in Season
Knowing what produce is currently in season is a great way to save money AND get maximum nutrition from your food. I’ve seen the price of strawberries, for example, fluctuate by as much as $3 per pound during the course of the year.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables will vary by your location, but a quick Google for your area’s seasonal food chart should provide you with answers. If not, it’s pretty easy to spot the in-season varieties at the store: they’re the ones on sale and featured in the weekly ads.
Buying locally will also help you to save money on your food bill. With less shipping and transportation costs to the producers, the savings are generally passed along to you.
The best place to find local food is your local farmer’s market, and because the food has traveled less, it will be more fresh and contain more nutrients as well. (Even better? Plant your own backyard garden!)
Buy in Bulk
Most grocery stores have bulk bins full of nutritious foods like beans, nuts, whole grains, and lentils for cheap. Quinoa, for example, is only $3.50 per pound at my local Whole Foods, which makes about a week’s worth of this protein-rich whole grain.
Greens like collards, kale, spinach, broccoli, and arugula are not only the healthiest foods available but also amongst the least expensive. Fill up your plate with greens and you’ll have a smaller waistline, a healthier body, and more green in your pocket.
Get More Protein from Plants and Dairy
Meat can be expensive, especially the organic grass-fed good stuff. You can cut down your food bill by getting more protein from plant sources like legumes, grains, eggs, and dairy.
Eat at Home
With a little trial and error, I’ve discovered that not only is it cheaper to eat at home, but it doesn’t take up nearly as much time as I thought if I plan correctly. Not only that, but now I’m in control of what I eat and also what my family eats.
Drive-thru Family meal for 5 = $34.45 vs. Spaghetti squash ($4), tomato sauce ($3), grass-fed lean ground beef meatballs ($8), broccoli ($1), and fruit ($1) for dessert for 5 = $17
Take-out pizza for 5 = $28 vs. Homemade pizzas, 2 whole wheat crusts ($4), pizza sauce ($3), skim mozzarella cheese ($2.50), sliced veggies ($5) = $14.50
(This isn’t even a fair comparison, because with ingredients bought for home, there’s always leftover to make more for next time.)
I know that someone out there is going to throw out “but I can get a McD’s hamburger for $1!” so let me address that in the next section:
Save on Doctor’s Visits, Prescriptions, Hospitalizations and Quality of Life
Let this sink in: If you’re regularly relying on fast and/or processed food, you’re probably either already experiencing lifestyle-related illnesses, or you will eventually.
How much do you spend on prescriptions, over the counter medications, doctor’s visits, tests, and blood work that you wouldn’t be spending if you were healthy and in-shape? You would also be investing in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke prevention.
Think about that the next time someone you know who doesn’t take care of themselves is admitted to the hospital for a lengthy, expensive stay with an illness that threatens their life. This doesn’t have to be you, as you can lower your chances significantly by investing time and money into healthy eating and exercise. You’ll have to pay sooner or later, but I’d rather pay a little more now and live a high-quality life.
Another note: many insurance plans now even offer a discount incentive for those who take care of themselves, don’t smoke, have healthy BMI’s, and have passing physicals.
How do you save money to stay healthy and in shape?