Despite what pop culture may suggest, it is entirely possible to be your “best self” when it comes to your health. You don’t need fancy runners or a personal gym. Nor do you need to spend half of your last paycheque on the latest “super-food” craze. With a few basic changes to your lifestyle, you can make strides towards better health in no time!
Work out without forking it all out
You don’t have to spend a lot to get fit. Save yourself the price of a gym membership by purchasing a few basic pieces of equipment. All you really need are an exercise mat and some dumbbell weights. Thanks to YouTube, you can find your favourite exercise videos to build your own customized work-out routine. Remember to start small, with short repetitions, and increase slowly.
For a comprehensive work-out like you would get by going to a gym, include several types of exercise. Cardio is great, but it’s also important to build strength and flexibility for full-body fitness. Tai chi or pilates are great ways to tone your core muscles. If yoga is more your thing, click here for a wide variety of routines. You’ll find everything from yoga for your sore back to meditation and breathing exercises.
Are you a social butterfly who prefers doing things with others? If so, you can make the most of your budget by choosing social activities that involve some form of work out. Consider signing up for a group yoga or dance class. Not only will you be doing your body a favour, you will likely be more motivated by exercising with others.
One step at a time
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to getting (or staying) in shape. When it comes to fitness, you’re better off being the tortoise, not the hare. Set incremental goals for yourself and tailor your exercise routine to your own abilities. The same goes for your eating habits. Seriously, who wants to be the diet police to their own body?
Moderation is key, of course, but you are only delaying the inevitable by completely depriving yourself of your cravings. Rather, turn a few of your guilty pleasures into rewards for meeting other health-related goals. For example, completely cutting out sugar is not something to do “cold-turkey” style. Rather, limit your intake by avoiding sweets, soda and other sources of refined sugars. Opt for fruit instead: you’ll still get some sweetness, along with a healthy dose of fiber. Sure, some fruits can be expensive, but start by aiming to eat a banana and an apple per day. This is an easy, economical way to add some fruit to your diet.
Minimize your meat
You would be surprised how much you can stretch your food budget while still eating a healthy diet. For starters, meat, particularly red meat, is much more expensive than vegetarian sources of protein. Therefore, try going beyond “meatless Mondays”—limit your meat intake to a few times per week. Chickpeas, beans, tofu, eggs, nuts and seeds are all great alternative protein sources. Need some inspiration for incorporating them into your diet? Check out this food blog featuring simple, every-day vegetarian meals.
Start with the basics
Legumes like chickpeas and beans can be used for a wide variety of meals including curries, salads and soups. Don’t forget to buy the economy size for staples like whole grains, whole wheat flour and legumes. Lastly, shave dollars off of your grocery bill by making your own condiments from scratch. See the above-mentioned blog for recipes for everything from guacamole to pesto and hummus!