Are you struggling with losing weight and spending a ton of money in the process. These budget-friendly ideas will help you fight the battle without breaking the bank.
Gym memberships, special food and drinks, personal trainers, workout clothes—losing weight can feel like this whole crazy subculture…and a very expensive subculture at that.
Just thinking about how much getting in shape is going to cost can be enough to literally throw in the towel and give up (and who wouldn’t)? YOU certainly don’t have $80+ to spend on a gym membership, hundreds to drop on clothes, and extra cash to drop on personal trainers, races, and stuff you might not even use, amiright?
So, like many people, you just give up, put it off, or assume now isn’t the time.
Well, guess what? Losing weight doesn’t have to cost tons of money. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost anything at all! Seriously. I’ve done it and I’m still working on it, but I know if I can do it, you can too.
Now, I’m not gonna lie. Money can help. Access to a gym can be motivating and inspiring. Races can provide the right sense of purpose for some people to get out there and train. There are apps (check out Zova!) and Fitbits and tools to track and help you figure it all out and measure your progress. There are foods and supplements galore. If you want to spend money on losing weight and working out, well, there are plenty of opportunities.
However, working out and losing weight are totally doable on a budget. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy. You can find motivators that work, inspiration galore, and apps, tools and videos to inspire you.
So if you want to lose weight or just get fit, here’s how to do it without spending a bunch.
Getting started can be as simple as putting on your sneakers and walking around the block. If you feel like it’s not that easy or you need more planning and prep, then you’re overthinking it!
Dig out your tennis shoes from the back of your closet, put on something comfy—sweats, pajama pants, shorts, whatever—and go! Make it a goal to just get some movement in each day, even if it’s just walking. Boom. Easy. Simple!
Set your goal at something manageable at first. Start at 10 minutes or 15 minutes, and then work your way up. Pencil it in on your calendar every day. If you do this very simple task, you’ll see results. You might not see massive weight loss, but you’ll feel more energetic and your stamina will go up.
Plan Meals Ahead
Exercise is super important, but one of the quickest ways to see results (that costs nothing and can even save you money) is to start planning what you eat. You don’t have to invest in a bunch of crazy diet food or supplements or nutrition bars. Plan your meals, eat at home more and eat out less.
Restaurant food is so delicious partly because they put all kinds of sugar, salt and butter into the food before it gets to you. It adds richness and yum, but it also adds up to weight gain. Fast food isn’t any better (although there are some relatively healthy choices available)—but beware!—you might think ordering a salad or chicken sandwich seems healthy, but you may find out it has thousands of calories!
Make it your goal to eat at home more often. Try some of our 15 minute meal ideas or make freezer meals ahead of time. You can still eat out of course, but by making simple switches like veggies for fries or skipping dessert, you can make a big difference. Order water instead of soda and make it a goal to never drink your calories.
These easy meal switches and plans can help you save money AND lose weight fast.
Set Up a Home Gym
I know, I know. Setting up a home gym seems super expensive, right? But it doesn’t have to be. Chances are you already have most of the things you need on hand!
We scored a NordicTrack Elliptical for $25 on Craigslist because it needed a simple battery swap. I paired it with some $10 free weights from Wal-Mart, a yoga mat and ball I already had, along with some resistance bands. For literally less than the cost of one month of a gym membership, we built a seriously great home gym, all set up in a corner.
Look around your house and see what you already have, like DVD workouts, a kettle ball, a stair stepper (or even a stable piece of furniture). You can find plenty of easy free online workouts on YouTube or other spots around the web.
Find an App to Help You Move
I downloaded the Zombies, Run! app and was amazed at how fun and motivating it was. It really got me moving and I had fun—and I didn’t even think about! My husband tried Pokémon Go, which I wasn’t as into, but he logged 20,000 steps in just a day on vacation!! (Not bad for a free app, right?)
Find an app that works for you. There are so many to choose from. If you’re just looking for a basic plan, try C25K (Couch to 5K) for free. This program gives you an easy to follow running plan that will take you from no activity to running a 5K in eight weeks, with workouts three times per week for 30-40 minute sessions.
Another great starter app is Runtastic Six Pack. This ten-week plan to “six pack abs,” involves working with a training avatar and no extra equipment or setup. You get video tutorials on strength training and exercises, too.
Find an App to Help You Diet
There are so many food-tracking tools and resources out there. Why? Because food tracking works! When you write down what you eat, you’re more accountable and aware of what is going into your body. Again, it can be a “who has the time?” issue, but if you’re serious about wanting to lose some weight, food tracking will really help you see results.
You can use an old-fashioned journal or write your meals in your planner, but to get a little more out of it, a food-tracking app can be great! MyFitnessPal is amazing and easy to use. I definitely wasn’t a big fan of counting my calories and writing things down, but then I started to see results—and I promise, it really makes a difference. The app is free, and it’s one of the most popular fitness trackers out there.
There are plenty of free apps to choose from, depending on your style, too. SparkPeople offers workouts, food tracking and diet tips. Rise Up is an app that helps those who struggle with body image issues, through healthy dieting and weight loss. Calorific is visually appealing and gives you red, yellow, and green indicators as your track your food to help you make good choices.
My Diet Coach is super cute and gives you a fun avatar so you can see your changes as you go along. If you’re a fan of Instagram (or like to document things with photography), try See How You Eat Diary where you journal by simply snapping a picture of your food.
The idea is to find an app you love and that you’ll use regularly.
If You Can Spend a Little
If you have some money to spend, a fitness tracker like a Fitbit can make a world of difference. I would say, if you can afford to spend between $69 and $199 on a fitness tracker, it could be a game-changer for you.
If you can’t afford it, a pedometer will do and many smartphones offer a pedometer feature now. A simple, small pedometer can be picked up at a pharmacy for about $10 and can help you get an idea of how many steps you take in a day, which can really help you hit your targets and goals.
A pound is about 3,500 calories and 10,000 steps per day will have you burning about 2,000-3,500 calories, putting you on track to drop a pound per week. It’s not fast, but weight loss that is slow and steady is sustainable and will stay off. There are many diets and workouts that promise you a chance to drop ten pounds in a month, but unfortunately, that’s just not sustainable—so when you stop, the weight will return (ugh)! Pacing yourself slowly but surely will keep you at your goal weight for life!
Losing weight and getting fit doesn’t have to be hard or expensive, and the results are so rewarding! When you fit into your pre-baby pants or feel like you can run around with your kids without getting winded, it’s totally worth the effort.
I know if I can do this, you can do it, too!