Getting Healthy? How to Stay On Track This Year: saving money while staying healthy
We all want to live a long, healthy life. Yet, many of us are less-than-proactive about achieving this goal. This is often due to a combination of financial, motivational, and accessibility factors. Let’s face it: gyms and exercise classes can be expensive, we might live far away from the nearest fitness center or work long hours that make fitting in movement difficult. At the end of a long day, the last thing you usually want to do is work up a sweat, and maintaining the drive to follow through on healthy behaviors day in and day out is, well, challenging. Still, it’s important to take steps forward for your health that make sense for your life and don’t break the bank. Being healthy can and should also be sustainable for your wallet!
Whatever your reasons for making healthy changes may be, Swift can help guide you towards living a healthier life while saving cash at the same time. Read on for our best money and health-saving tips.
Healthy Eating: How do I start?
Maintaining your overall health is 50% what you do with your body and 50% what you put in it. You can start by simply practicing healthier eating habits. Fueling your body with the proper nutrients and energy will help improve your mobility and performance as you move forward with a movement or exercise routine.
Try to reframe thinking about healthy eating as being on a “diet”, which can encourage an all-or-nothing mindset. You’re either trying to be ‘good’ and eat perfectly in accordance with your weight loss plan, or you’re being ‘bad’ by perhaps eating mindlessly or with no sense of control. Here are a few tips to take the stress out of healthy eating.
- Don’t think of it as a diet: By focusing on whole foods, consuming enough protein, increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, and eating mindfully, you can work on building habits that support a goal of healthy eating without tracking a thing.
- Find Healthy Swaps- Remove one unhealthy food choice at a time, so you’re not feeling deprived. This is a huge part of sticking to your new healthy eating lifestyle, as removing all unhealthy habits at once can make us run back to them all at once too. Big soda fan? Remove the soda, but think about a healthy way to enjoy a fizzy drink in place of it when cravings kick in. Try seltzer with a splash of 100% juice, instead.
- Get a Friend on Board- Don’t go at it alone if you don’t have to! If you’re making some pretty big changes to your eating habits, why not get a friend or family member on board? Not only will it make meal prep day more fun, but you’ll both have someone to help hold each other accountable.
- Pick a Meal Prep Day Each Week- Healthy eating doesn’t mean you have to make something from scratch every single day. This is where meal prepping comes into play. Pencil in one day each week to batch cook some of your favorite healthy recipes to enjoy during the busy week when home-cooked meals may not be an option. You may even want to set aside some time each week to look through cookbooks or food blogs to make healthy eating exciting with new recipes each week.
- Make it Fun!- Speaking of making healthy eating exciting, it’s important to remember that healthy eating can be fun, and it can absolutely be delicious. Make it fun by making a new meal plan for yourself each week, experimenting with foods you may have never tried before, and making healthy swaps that won’t leave you craving something unhealthy!
Healthy food is expensive- How do I reach my goals and save my pockets?
Eating healthy when money is tight can be challenging. Healthy eating is key to maintaining blood sugar levels within a safe and healthy range, which is key to maintaining and losing weight over time. While the cost of nutritious foods can quickly add up, eating on a budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice nutrition. With a little planning, you can enjoy nutritious foods without breaking the bank. You may be surprised at how much you can stretch your grocery budget with these simple tips:
- Shop seasonally: Fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper when they’re in season. Rotate your produce selections throughout the year to mirror the growing cycles. What’s better than a peach in the spring, a tomato in the summer, or a piece of corn in early autumn? Visit your local farmers markets for the best deals on locally grown produce. There you can build relationships with local farmers, learn about how your food is grown, and get recommendations for what’s freshest.
- Plan your recipes: Planning ahead allows you to think about your food needs, tastes and budget. You can adapt meals to fit your needs by using recipes with common ingredients. Different herbs and spices can turn common ingredients into meals with different flavors. You can stretch meals by making dishes that freeze well like soups and casseroles, which are budget-friendly and easy meals to stretch. You’ll also spend less time in the kitchen!
- Shop with a list: Once you’ve planned your meals for the week, create a shopping list with the ingredients you need. Having a shopping list makes shopping easier and faster, which helps you reduce impulse buys and take home only the items you need. Consider buying in bulk to save money and keep your pantry well-stocked for future meal planning.
- Buy frozen or canned: When it comes to fruits and vegetables, frozen and canned options can be healthy alternatives to fresh produce. They cost less, last longer and are often available in cheaper store brands. When choosing canned options, it’s best to select those that come in water, not syrup, and read the label to avoid any added sugar or salt. Skip frozen options that have added butter or cream sauces.
- Cut cost with coupons: Coupons are a great way to save on your grocery bill, especially if you have your shopping list planned out. You can search online, in-store, and in the mail for coupons for the ingredients on your list. Even low-value cents-off coupons can really add up. Just by using five 50-cents-off coupons a week, you can end up saving over $100 each year.
Getting Moving: How do I start?
Almost everyone knows about the importance of exercise, but for many people, applying what they know to their daily lives is a challenge. If you’re starting out from square one and don’t have an established movement practice, it’s a good idea to start off small and build with consistency as opposed to going too hard in the beginning and burning yourself out.
Walking is a great form of exercise that’s low-impact, which means it’s easy on your bones and joints. While walking may not seem like much, a three-mile walk will burn about 300 calories, get your heart rate up, and maybe even help you break a light sweat. Even better, you’re not as likely to be sore the day after a long walk, making it even more likely you’ll be ready to do it again the next day. Remember, it’s better to do a moderate-intensity workout three times a week than a super intense workout just once and then never again.
Exercising is expensive, what do I do?
While specialty gyms may come with fancy equipment, experienced trainers, and fully-stocked smoothie bars, they often come with a very hefty monthly fee. This can be cost-prohibitive for many people looking to establish healthier habits. Luckily, we are living in the Golden Age of free and inexpensive fitness options. Here are some tips for how to get a sweat without spending a buck!
- Go take a hike: Parks, foot paths, trails and pedestrian zones. All are great places to take a hike! Walking is free and most public parks cost nothing to visit. If you do go to a trail with a fee, search the web for free or discount days, senior or student discounts, and other promotions. Hiking is great both solo or with a group, you can take in the sounds of nature or get lost in a good conversation all while getting your body moving.
- Search YouTube: Everything you want to learn, you can find on YouTube. From yoga to tai chi to weight lifting, there are TONS of free workout videos hosted on YouTube. Just be sure to do your due diligence and look for videos by creators who are transparent about their background and qualifications. Keep in mind that without an instructor there in person to watch you, you may be more likely to get hurt. Always pay attention to your form and make sure you’re exercising safely by using a mirror to watch yourself.
- Try a free trial: Maybe you’ve had your eye on a new barre class or cool fitness app. See if you can get a free trial before committing to your purchase. Many apps and classes offer free introductory periods such as a one-week trial. Just be sure to cancel before you’re charged for the full amount if you don’t want to pay for full access.
- Opt for a budget-friendly gym: If you’re more of a gym person, you might be tempted to go for the expensive membership. However, if you’re new to fitness and/or getting back into a routine of moving your body, you might want to try a more budget-friendly option. Some gyms cost as little as $10 a month and come with all the basic equipment you need to get in a great workout. Many of these more affordable gyms will even include a free introductory personal training session to help you get to know the equipment.
- Organize a pickup game: Looking for a more casual and fun way to stay active? Try organizing a pickup league of friends, colleagues and/or neighbors to play your favorite sport. Basketball, volleyball, baseball, soccer, and handball all lend themselves to pickup matches, and can be great ways to build both community and fitness at the same time.
Consistency is key
When it comes to achieving any goal, consistency is the key. Staying consistent with your health goals can be tough, but it’s so worth it. The only way to make this more manageable is by establishing a routine that works for you and then sticking to it, even on the days you don’t feel like it. Start with simple regimens to practice staying consistent such as waking up at the same time everyday or taking at least a 5 minute walk daily. Consistency is the most important step because it’s the only way to guarantee that your healthy practices become a lifestyle.
Your consistency with your goals is not only determined by what you do, but also how you feel. And how you feel is often determined by the choices you make—and the way those choices affect your mood and overall well-being. The key to staying consistent with your health goals is to first understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Take a moment to research, talk to your doctor and identify what your specific goals should be based on the status of your health. Once you know that, then it’s easier to figure out how to achieve that goal in a way that works for you!
Track your progress. Take consistent note of what’s working and what isn’t, so you can adjust your approach accordingly. If you’re hitting the gym three times a week, but not losing weight, then maybe you need to up your time in the gym or cut back on the junk food. If you’re eating healthy, but not seeing results, then maybe you need to add more veggies into your diet.The most important thing is to be flexible when it comes time to make adjustments—that way, you’ll always be on track with your goals!
Getting healthy and saving money don’t have to be mutually exclusive. With the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to feeling your best, and having a little extra in the bank.
DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.