This is probably not the typical money-saving post you’ll read on health. I’m not a proponent of specialty diets or supplements. They work for some people, but not for everyone…and if you choose to do one, you tend to have to go through a trial and error period of time until you find what works for you. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: there’s no one diet or exercise regimen for everyone. You’ve got to find what works for you.
The other reason why I don’t promote any one kind of plan is that I don’t have the money to put into supplementation. I have found that whole foods work best…and work even better if you can cut out the crap found in processed (i.e. packaged) foods. Yes, there are other factors that make a difference. There’s been a lot of talk about gut health and pre- and probiotics found in foods, and those are important things too! There’s been talk about Candida and how it affects your health, and that’s an important fact also! I may do posts on both of these topics, and more, in the future.
Right now, I just want to talk about three simple–but difficult–ways you can improve your health without spending a dime.
The first is to hydrate. Almost everyone doesn’t drink enough water and, thankfully, we live in a land that has the technology to easily purify water. I don’t particularly like plastic water bottles on account of their chemical toxins, but sometimes we have to do what we have to do to get something in us. Drink water. Drink a lot of water. For a lot of reasons, like:
- Gets the bowels moving first thing in the morning.
- Keeps the skin, hair, and nails hydrated.
- Flushes out built up toxins from muscles.
- Keeps our cells happy.
- Keeps you full and less likely to binge eat.
The second is to reduce or eliminate processed foods from your diet. This is something that is really, really difficult for everyone, myself included. Packaged foods are convenient and quick, and our lives aren’t getting any slower. This is why meal planning is becoming more and more valuable for those who wants to eat better AND stick to a budget. This does require some organization and discipline. You’ve got to decide on your meals for the week. You’ve got to stick to a shopping list and avoid the goody aisle. You’ve got to stick with your meal plans even when you’re tired–so prepping on the weekend when you have some time is essential but hard to do when you just want to turn into the proverbial vegetable. In the end, you’ve got to decide what’s more important, sticking to your budget and health regimen or letting unnecessary costs and calories add up.
Let me add right now that I believe in cheating. Sometimes. The more I read and study nutrition, the more I believe that an occasional treat or cheat meal is good for our sanity. But by occasional, I’m thinking like twice a month or once a week, and no more!
I’ll also be completely honest on this one. I’ve had the roughest time doing this myself lately! Ever since I had Baby #2, I just want to eat crap. But it’s a vicious cycle to do so–when you eat processed foods (especially sweets, my downfall), it changes the chemical makeup of your brain so that you crave more of what’s not good for you. So tread carefully on your cheat meals or desserts. If you aren’t careful, they could lead you down a slippery slope that is very hard to climb back up. Please trust me on this. Right now, it’s my personal struggle in the health department! But I’m not discouraged and I’m not giving up!
Third, and last, to save more money, get moving. Go on a hike, walk your dog, mow your lawn, do something. In the short term, being a couch potato may seem like a great idea. We get tired. We come home worn and frustrated and wanting to gorge on that bag or container of our favorite comfort food. Go workout instead, for a couple reasons:
- It changes the chemicals in our brains from a fight/flight mechanism to a calming but happy one.
- It makes us pause and think about our choices.
- It reduces our heath expenses in the long run–this is a big one, as more studies are showing that going to the gym for an hour each day, but then sitting for 8+ at work, may actually do very little for us. THIS is why it’s so important to get up each hour and move around a little bit, even if it means walking down a hallway and back! Daily activity levels are vital, and may be more important than gym time over the course of a lifetime.
- It’s fun–find what works for you and smile while you do it, and watch your mindset change!
My mom has chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. There are many days that she hurts and is exhausted. But recently she told me that even on her really bad days she’s found that walking one block makes her feel better over the long term. In essence, it reverses a lot of the pain and fatigue she experiences because she got up and moved a little. Not much, but a little.
Want to hear more about my mom? Last winter, she could barely move around her house. This summer, she’s been walking 5-10 miles each day! Yes, you can do it too!
Want to hear another awesome story? I’ve got a girlfriend who wanted to lose quite a bit of weight. We discussed eating whole foods and moderate amounts of exercise to help her start the weight loss process. She didn’t want someone to counsel her. She just needed advice. One year into it, she suddenly contacted me and told me that she’d lost 55-65 pounds!! And felt terrific…and she’s looking terrific too! She’s back down to her high school weight, and we’ve been out for 13 years now!
I could go on, but I’ll stop here. There are a plethora of ways out there that are willing to help you lose weight and get healthy, but for a price. If you aren’t sure you want to spend the money OR if you don’t have the money, start with small steps. Choose one thing to work on and gradually add others until you’re achieving the healthy lifestyle you want to live! It takes work. It takes discipline. It takes dedication. But you can do it!