Fitness on a Budget: How to Be Healthy Without Breaking the Bank

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When we start thinking about the ways we’d like to improve our lives, we usually include developing healthier behaviors. If you’re wanting to get fit and eat healthier, you can do both without spending large amounts of money. Here are some ways to eat better and exercise without spending too much cash in the process.

Look at Your Diet

First, start with the foods you eat. Diet is the largest contributor to good or ill health, depending on what and how much you consume. While the quickest, cheapest food is usually bad for you, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find easy ways to eat healthfully. The idea here is to consider the nutrient content in relation to cost. Avocados may be somewhat expensive, but they’re packed with good fats and nutrients. Ditto for beans and legumes, sweet potatoes, and eggs. Pack your fridge with lean proteins and fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, then start cooking! As you replace cheaper, less satisfying foods with ones that keep you satiated longer, you’ll find yourself eating less in general and craving less bad food that doesn’t keep you going.

When you’re craving something sweet, go for fruit. It’s naturally sweet and fills you up with fiber so that you feel full longer. Make your plate half fruits and vegetables at every meal and limit your meat and rich foods to a portion no larger than your fist. Choose complex, healthier carbs such as brown rice and breads, to give you energy and avoid processed white flour and sugar. It’s more important to think about how much you’re eating, as anything can be acceptable when eaten in moderation. So have that piece of birthday cake, but balance it out with low-fat, complex carb meals the rest of the day and week (or exercise more to offset the additional calorie intake). Drink lots of water and use spices, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice to add flavor to veggies and other foods rather than sauces or high-calorie toppings.

Start Exercising

Next, you’ll want to move more. Exercise comes down to movement, and you don’t need a fancy gym or expensive equipment. You can make simple choices to move more on a daily basis. Stairs or elevator? Park near the door or further away? Sit on the couch or go for a walk? While some of these choices may depend on weather and safety concerns, all of them are within your options when choosing how often and how quickly to move. You don’t need to run, but you can walk more and do fun activities that get you moving around. Put on some music and dance in your living room. Go bowling with friends. Ride bikes or go for a swim at the local Y. The point is to get moving and to do it regularly. If you make these tiny changes to your day part of your routine, you’ll be creating a healthier lifestyle in no time.

Many churches and city and county parks have free or inexpensive exercise classes, and Medicare covers YMCA membership for seniors with its SilverSneakers program. Ask your insurer if they offer gym membership discounts or other healthy lifestyle incentives. You can exercise at home with a jump rope, small dumbbell set or exercise ball. See if your local gyms offer family memberships to share the cost with a friend and have a workout buddy. Look for free exercise instruction or yoga classes online. And if your athletic gear could use some updating, or if you’ve never bothered to invest in some good clothing, then find some Old Navy promo codes to help bring that cost down a little bit. You can find opportunities to exercise for little or no money if you look for them, so look for them.

Finally, consider alternative exercises like yoga or meditation, or swimming if you have access to a pool. All of these are easier on your joints and muscles and allow for relaxation of the mind as well as the body. Yoga and meditation have been found to be helpful for those in addiction recovery as well because they help you to focus on the mind/body connection. When people are addicted, they are seeking a different psychological state to avoid whatever is making them unhappy (escape, relief, etc.). Both yoga and meditation help you access a peaceful, restorative inner sense of calm that can help you deal with the feelings that are making you unhappy.

Whatever your goals may be, make at least one about becoming a healthier, happier you. Start eating better and moving more, and you will soon find that you like the choices you’re making and the results you’re seeing and feeling. What could be better than that?

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