Fit Hungry Mama

One mama's journey of finding balance with food, fitness, family, and fun

How to Get Healthy On a Budget

on January 8, 2013

Getting fit while on a tight budget isn’t as hard as it sounds. Here are some money-saving tips that will turn you into a calorie burning machine!

NUTRITION:

You can eat healthy without blowing your budget. All it takes is a little planning, creativity, and common sense.

1. Eat at home! Not only does it save on overall spending, you get to control your portion sizes and the ingredients involved in the meals! Knowing what goes into your meals will make you a more conscious eater.

2. Plan home-cooked meals around sales ads. Most sales ads come out on Sundays, so make time to browse the grocery flyers each week. Focus on the fresh meats, fresh produce, grains, and dairy sections and search for recipes involving those items! If you have a deep freezer or second refrigerator, stock up on meats that you can freeze for later, frozen produce, and dairy items.  For even more grocery savings, combine coupons with sales items.  This is especially good for dry goods like cereals, pastas, dairy, and frozen goods. Just be sure to only clip coupons for nutritious items!

3. Shop the perimeter of the store to get the most health for your money! Lots of good deals can be found here. Most produce is high in fiber, which will keep you fuller longer than the empty  highly processed carbs found in most of the aisles of the store.  The dairy section has lots of healthy low cost choices to choose from – eggs, egg whites, deli cheese (stay away from the cellophane wrapped junk). Greek yogurt, which has twice the protein than regular yogurt,  has become very popular and one of the several brands available is usually on sale each week. The meat section has plenty of sale items to choose from each week. Focus on skinless chicken, turkey breast, ground poultry, lean cuts of pork, and fish.

4. If possible, buy generic. Generic goods are often processed at the same plants as name-brand goods. In other words, most of the time you’re just paying for the product’s fancy label. If you prefer organic or natural products, see if your store has a special brand name for organic/natural products.

5. Drink more water!  An easy way to save money is to add more water to your daily diet. Don’t bother with pre-packaged bottled water. Instead, buy a water filter for the home (like a Brita pitcher or one you can attach to your kitchen sink faucet). It may be expensive at first, but in the long run this investment will save you a lot of money. Another money saving idea is to cut back or cut out sodas. Soda has no nutrient value, which means it is a waste of your money.

EXERCISE:

Don’t think you can get fit without a gym membership or expensive workout dvds? Think again! Some of the best exercise you can get is FREE!!

1. Go outside and get active! Play with your kids, go on walks, runs, hikes, and bike rides. Call up some friends and play some sports together.

2. Take advantage of your neighborhood amenities. If you live in a HOA neighborhood or  an apartment/condo complex, you most likely have access to a free gym, pool, and other resident-only amenities. Make the most of your HOA fees and monthly rent payments!

3. One of the best pieces of exercise equipment is the human body. Do a web search for “equipment free” exercises and you’ll be surprised with how many moves you can do just with your body. All you need is a little floor space!

4. Use typical household items as workout equipment! Stairs are great for leg  exercises, pushups and planks, and cardio work. Tables and chairs make great support for tricep dips, weight lifting, push ups/planks, and leg work. Walls are great for beginner push ups and wall squats. Gallon jugs, canned goods, and water bottles make great weights for strength training. The possibilities are almost endless!

5. Try before you buy (workout dvds). Go to your local library for free fitness dvd rentals. If you have a Netflix (or similar) membership, see if they offer workout videos. Look online for exercise demos.  Or start a dvd borrowing system with your friends!

EXTRAS:

If your finances allow it, here are some inexpensive items worth investing in:

a) food scale – to properly measure out serving sizes/ingredients listed in ounces. This is really helpful when measuring out calorie dense foods like cheese, nuts, chocolate chips, and potato chips as well as dry pasta and meats.

b) water bottle/jug – to encourage you to drink more water

c) adjustable free weights set, several sizes of dumbbells, resistance bands – for at home weight training routines

d) jump rope – great for cardio in small spaces

e) exercise/yoga mat  – for stretching or exercises done on the floor

f) measuring tape – to measure key areas for inches lost

g) body fat analyzer – to track fat loss and muscle growth (I recommend Omron)

h) pedometer – to track your steps

i) heart rate monitor – to make sure you reaching your ideal heart rate during cardio

j) notebooks – one to track inches lost, body fat percent changes, and weight; one for exercise routines, especially if your  goals are to improve cardio endurance and/or muscle strength; one used as a food and emotion diary so you can keep track of what foods make you perform and feel your best and the emotions associated with your journey.

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