How much money would you be willing to spend to reach your ideal weight? Americans spend close to $70 billion annually in the quest to shed excess pounds. What if instead of investing extra resources in weight loss, all you had to do was rearrange your budget and the weight would come off? Get this…We spend nearly $37 billion on soda each year. SODA! That’s like weight-gain-crack. Addictive, unhealthy, obesogenic, expensive. How much do we spend on chips? Over $6 billion. And $4 billion on cookies! I’m no economist folks, but we can make a tremendous difference in our weight if we simply shift our spending to items designed to improve, rather than sabotage our health. Read on to get a top ten list of items to move off your budget and a list of top ten items to add to it.
Spend less (or none) on the following items. You’ll save money while improving your metabolic status.
- Drinks, including sodas, shakes, and alcohol. Even diet soda may undermine your weight.
- Smoothies and juices. Eat the fruit in these to gain the fiber! Trust me, it’s better for your diet and definitely cheaper. Whether you’re buying your fancy juice at the grocery store or a juice bar, an apple will cost you less. There’s certainly no need for an expensive juicer. Cleanse your body without juice by eating a diet rich in produce!
- Fancy coffee beverages. Your barista may be part of your social life, but if you’re putting anything other than plain milk in your coffee or tea, you’re spending too much money and getting a needless sugar rush, which can fuel sugar addiction (that’s probably true even if you use a sweetener).
- Any processed snack food, including chips, cookies, Hostess products, Pop Tarts, pastries, cupcakes, Cheetos and so on. This nutritionally bankrupt stuff is not food and is merely a drain on your wallet. You gain nothing of value from it. Nothing!
- Activities or products that encourage you to be sedentary, including manicures/pedicures, movies, the newest/latest/biggest TV, etc.
- Dinners out with friends that involve pub food, Mexican food (unless you’re going to a Rick Bayless restaurant!), or diner food. Try getting something truly healthy (and not fried!) at a Fridays restaurant. It’s not easy to do. In fact studies show that eating more meals at home, rather than eating out, correlates with lower rates of obesity.
- A new remote control. Does yours needs replacing? Or maybe new batteries? Good! Try an experiment. Let it sit. Don’t replace the batteries or the remote. Either skip TV or if you must watch it, get up and move. (My husband is not going to like this one!)
- Expensive gadgets to monitor your health or activity level. You can track your nutrition with free apps or pen & paper, and track your steps with a cheap pedometer. Hey, if the latest tech gadget is truly what gets you moving more, then have at it, but if you’re trying to lose weight on a budget, don’t bother.
- Video and computer games and apps. I know, it’s 2014, but the more screen time we get (TV, computer, phone, etc.), the greater our likelihood of obesity. If you have an abundance of fun screen activities, it’s unlikely you’ll walk away from the screen to take a walk.
- A car. What are you driving? Do you need your own car? Those who take public transportation tend to get more exercise than those who don’t. With so many ways to car share and a plethora of public transportation options in urban areas, you may not need a car at all, or perhaps just one, rather than two (or more) for your family.
Here’s a list of things to add to your budget:
- A colorful array of fresh fruits and vegetables, so there is always something you’re in the mood for when you get hungry. If you don’t have fruits and veggies that are visible (forget the crisper in your fridge, put them at eye level or on your counter!), you’re unlikely to eat them. Read this one again so it doesn’t get lost and start your grocery list now!
- Nuts in your cupboard for snacking or meals. Add a reuseable BPA free container so you can fill it up again and again with a reasonable portion.
- A membership to a place that will get you out and walking on the weekends: Botanic Gardens, Zoo, Arboretum. Even better, find a list of local forest preserves or state/national parks that you can visit on the weekends and for family vacations. We just tried out Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. Both had great family hiking and other adventures and weren’t expensive to visit.
- New sneakers. Lace ’em up and get out for a brisk walk daily. The sneakers will pay for themselves. Your return on investment is your health! If you’re up for it, start doing intervals of walking and jogging.
- Dance music. I find dancing with my kids in our (small, but functional) living room is a fun weeknight activity that gets our blood pumping. We often dance for 10 – 15 minutes while dinner is cooking.
- Social Media: Reach out to your friends on your favorite social media platform and find out who wants to walk with you before, during or after work. Find a neighbor to walk with on the weekends. If you have a walking partner for your brisk walks, you’ll be more likely to stick to it. This is a freebie!
- Tools, machines and gloves to work in your own yard. If you live in an area where others mow the lawn and tend to the landscaping, save yourself some money and do it yourself! Get your kids out in the yard with you to mow, weed and plant this time of year. Shovel your own sidewalk in the winter.
- A bike! Except in inclement weather (that applies to rain, ice and snow, not cold), we use the saying “less than a mile, bike in style” to remind us not to drive on our neighborhood errands. Of course it takes more time to bike to the grocery store or the post office, but investing in a bike and basket is good for your body and good for the environment.
- A calendar for your fridge. Put a big star on each day that you hit 10K steps. Reward yourself with praise or perhaps something new to wear, but never with food.
- Good outdoor wear so you’ll still get out and walk despite the cold. Fortunately, we’re finally hitting spring weather, but don’t hibernate when it’s chilly. Treat yourself to a good looking hat, gloves and jacket that you’ll want to wear for outdoor activities. I bought a pair of ski pants (though I don’t ski) which help me to bike and walk in comfort all year round. They were cheaper than a health club membership for the winter months.
Thanks for listening and I wish you the very best of health!
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