The weight-loss industry is a $20 billion per year business, and it is all trying to convince you of one thing: that you cannot get fit without their specific program, food, tracking device, gym, or equipment. To anyone just entering the world of fitness, it may seem as though you have to spend money if you want to see real results.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is it possible to get fit for free, but losing weight can save you money. Here is how your new fitness regimen can help both your waistline and your bottom line:
1. Portion control
Eating appropriate portion sizes is a relatively painless way to take off extra pounds, but it also helps to stretch your grocery budget. Instead of mindlessly snacking on chips or crackers, for example, count out the correct portion and limit yourself to that. You’ll find that you don’t have to stock up on snacks nearly as often if you eat the recommended portion size.
Similarly, Americans all tend to eat far too much of any food that we cook. Use your measuring cups and spoons to portion out an appropriate amount of cooked pasta, rice, soup, etc, and save the rest for future meals. And before you even start cooking, you can create slimming (and economical) portions. For instance, an appropriate serving of meat is approximately the size of your palm-which is far smaller than the average boneless skinless chicken breast. When you get home from the grocery, cut up your meats into the appropriate serving sizes and freeze or store them that way-and nearly double the meals you can get from each meat purchase.
2. Plan your meals and snacks
One of the reasons why diet programs with pre-packaged foods are so popular is because they take the dining decisions out of your hands, making it very easy to avoid the temptation of pizza delivery or drive-thrus. But you can also make meal decisions easy for yourself, without having to spend money on packaged food. The key is meal-planning.
Frugal homemakers have long understood the importance of planning a week’s worth of meals and snacks and using that plan to create a grocery list. However, this frugal tip is also an excellent way to take temptation off the table for the money-savvy dieter. Knowing that you have everything you need at home to create a light meal that fits in with your weight loss goals will make the idea of spending money on fast food much less tempting.
3. Walk your errands
On the other side of the fitness coin is increasing your activity. While nearly every exercise you could take up, including walking, does require some sort of special shoes or equipment, you can still save money by working out more. The easiest way to do this is by walking or bicycling around town in order to complete your regular errands. It will give you an excellent opportunity to increase your activity while reducing your gas consumption and wear and tear on your car.
If you live close to work, you could also begin walking or bicycling your commute, adding even more activity to your day. Even if you cannot safely or feasibly take your commute under your own power, you could still investigate the possibility of taking public transportation. You will likely have to walk to the closest bus stop or metro station, and you will still get the financial benefits of keeping your car in the garage more often.
4. Do your own chores
Another great way to add exercise into your life is through daily chores. Whether you are paying a housecleaning service to knock down cobwebs or a local teenager to rake and mow your yard, these are all chores that can help you to achieve your fitness goals, and that do not need to be outsourced. Rather than paying for both a gym and a yard service, keep all of that money and achieve the same level of fitness.
The Bottom Line
Getting financially and physically fit should not be mutually exclusive goals. While different fitness programs and gurus might be able to offer you strategies for your weight loss, they are not necessary. All you really need is a willingness to do the work and the determination to see it through.
Jason Price is from OneMoneyDesign.com. He’s a husband, dad, entrepreneur, financial coach and personal finance blogger. One Money Design is his personal finance blog where you’ll find fresh tips and ideas to improve your money life.