How to Lose Weight on a Low-Cost Budget
It is possible to stick to a budget and lose weight? In this fast-food society, where quick is ofter better than healthy, how is it possible to save money and time while losing weight? Here are a few concrete ways that you can make it work for you.
Eat at Home
When you prepare meals and eat at home, you are in control. It doesn’t have to be fancy, you just have to have a few trusted recipes and a shopping list based upon planned meals that include whole wheat and whole grains, lots of fresh and frozen fruits and veggies, high-fiber beans and some lean proteins. You don’t have to be an expert in the culinary arts to make nutritious meals, and the cost of frozen fruit and veggies will definitely help when the produce you prefer isn’t “in season.”
Control Your Portions and You Control Your Intake
Invest in an inexpensive food scale and start measuring out your portions. When we guess, we tend to under-estimate just how much we are eating.
Reach for the Whole Wheat
Whole wheat alternatives offer more fiber, making them more filling and satisfying, plus they have so much more flavor. Use whole wheat tortillas, flat bread, pita, rice and pasta rather than white, and you will notice the difference. Bargain shop by checking the store flyers to get more bang for your buck and stock up when you can on non-perishable items.
Make Your Own 100-Calorie Snack Packs
This is a great idea for a quick snack. Don’t buy expensive processed packs, rather portion out individual servings of favorite healthy snacks (whole-grain crackers, pretzels, nuts, cheese or fruit) to pack in reusable containers or small Ziploc bags. Keep them handy to avoid the temptation to grab that bag of chips or cookies. You can also find 100-calorie bags of microwave popcorn that are really tasty and quick to prepare. When making popcorn at home, use a hot-air popper and sprinkle on some flavors. It’s whole grain, tasty and delicious, even when you don’t add butter!
Keep a Food Journal
One thing recommended by Weight Watchers and other weight loss companies is to keep record of the foods you eat. You don’t have to join to do this: just get a notebook and start recording the things you eat and drink. Better yet, download any number of free calorie tracking apps.
Exercise Your Way
Forget the gym memberships, just get moving. If you have access to a pool, use it every day. If you can, walk a couple of times of day, trying for 15 minutes twice daily to start, then gradually increasing the time. If you have a pet to walk, make the excursion longer to benefit both of you. Choose a new route to walk to the store that will get you some extra mileage. Try using stairs instead of a stair-master. Dance the night away instead of sitting at a table and drinking. Find those old yoga or exercise videos and “sweat to the oldies” one more time. Check the exercise programs on television or online and do that instead of watching mindless shows. The trick is to get started. Once you do, that’s when the benefits really begin. If you can, “buddy up” and encourage a friend to join you. This has proven to act as motivation and may help both of you keep on track.
Did you have a particularly great week or was it just the opposite and you feel the need for a cheat day? Take time to relax by renting a movie, buy yourself some new nail polish for an at-home pedi, have a small treat as an indulgence or just take the day off to enjoy the outdoors or time with friends. Sometimes, taking time to do nothing can be the best reward of all.
Double Up on the Veggies
Whether you feel you eat enough veggies or not, eating more can’t hurt. They give you the fiber you need for health and to feel full, can be inexpensive in season or when frozen, and add infinite variety to your diet. Instead of reaching for the meat, one evening per week, simply make a meal of whole wheat alternatives and veggies and see what you can come up with.
Drink More Water
Both coffee and tea have their place in a diet, but when you add creamers, milk or sugar, it can really add up in calories. Invest in an inexpensive Nalgene bottle with liquid measurements listed on the side, so you can track how much water you’re drinking daily. You can even add some lemon or lime for flavor. Drinking water also gives your body the illusion of being full, which can keep you from reaching for that morning or afternoon treat. Avoid sodas—even diet sodas—except for a once-in-a-while treat and avoid alcohol, which can lower inhibitions and take away your willpower to say no to that slice of pizza.
Stick to the Perimeter of the Store
The middle store aisles carry high-calorie, high-sodium processed foods and “convenience” items that add un-budgeted costs to your shopping list and unnecessary calories to your diet. Stick to the frozen fruit and veggie aisles, the produce section and the bread section of the bakery. Look for bargains at the meat counter. When you can, buy foods in bulk and portion at home to freeze and use as needed.