How to Get Fit and Healthy on a Budget
When it comes to getting healthy and fit, we’ll come up with as many excuses as our creativity will allow. We’re like a third grader at 7 a.m., tirelessly scrambling for a new sick excuse to tell mom why we need to stay home from school.
But we’re adults, and it’s time we faced the reality that many of us are overweight and out of shape. The Center for Disease Control says that 34% of Americans age 20 and over are obese. That means one in every three of us has serious health issues. Outside of that 34%, many more of us haven’t jogged or lifted a weight since the Reagan Administration.
Somewhere near the top of our excuse list is money—or the lack of it. Gym memberships are so expensive. Cooking healthy food costs so much money. We tell ourselves that we can’t get in shape because it will mess up our budget!
Really? That’s not really true. If money is tight but you still want to lose weight this year, here are a few pointers to help get you started:
Cut the expensive gym membership.
You don’t need a hefty bill to a fitness club to get in shape. If you are one of the die-hards who regularly use the gym and get your money’s worth, then go for it. But some of us pay a crazy amount of money each month to run on a treadmill twice a week. You could save serious cash by simply running on a track at the local park or on the sidewalks and streets in your neighborhood. Besides, breathing a little fresh air in the great outdoors is good for you.
Skip the fad diets.
There’s always some wacky fitness guru out there who promises to sell the next “magic pill.” Don’t buy it. Those are just like get-rich-quick schemes; they don’t work. Buy your own diet food—it’s called fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins—and you’ll save money.
When it comes to buying healthy food, map out your menu before the week starts. Then, visit the grocery store and only buy the items you need. If you wait until 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday to try and figure out what’s for dinner, then you’re much more likely to make the quick and easy choice—something like McDonald’s instead of grilled chicken and green beans. Dave recommends eMealz, a simple online solution that plans your meals, helps you stick to your grocery budget and simplifies your life.
Don’t make things complicated.
If you can put one foot in front of the other, you can get in shape. Running is one of the cheapest activities you can participate in. All you need is a pair of tennis shoes. You don’t need the latest and greatest equipment. Some of that might help if you get more serious about running. But if you just want to lose a few pounds, there’s nothing wrong with a cotton shirt and a pair of gym shorts. And that goes for most activities that will help you get fit—just get out and get started.
Remember, baby steps.
If you’re getting in shape or getting out of debt, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Set reasonable, realistic goals. Unless you’ve been selected to be on The Biggest Loser or can afford a personal trainer and eight hours of exercise a day, you aren’t going to lose 100 pounds in three months. But you will make progress with a plan that works with your daily schedule.
Find time for short workouts.
Take a walk during lunch or your break. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the far end of the parking lot. Just look for opportunities to get some short exercise throughout the day. These brief bursts of activity will burn a few extra calories and cost you absolutely nothing!
You don’t have to broadcast your goal to the world, but let a few people know about your desire to get in shape or lose weight. That added accountability will help fuel you when doubt creeps in and you want to give up.
Managing your health is a lot like managing your money. Kelly, a Dave Ramsey fan in Florida, has started using a “calorie budget” to lose weight. “With this plan, if I don’t have the calories in my daily budget, then I can’t spend them!” she says.
When Kelly eats and spends calories, then she needs to work out to make up that budget deficit. In the past, she spent calories beyond her means, so now she’s working extra hard to “pay off” the calories that she borrowed on credit. “So far, I’ve lost six pounds,” she says. “I have budgeted to reach my goal by the first week of July.”
How cool is that? Kelly understands that getting in shape on a budget just takes a little extra planning and creativity. So if you believe that it’s too expensive to get healthy, then you believe a myth.