Yesterday, we looked at the financial strain that obesity causes for those that struggle with their weight. If you missed that post, you can find it here. Today, we look at how you can fight the battle of the bulge on a tight budget, both in terms of diet and exercise. So without further ado….
Eating healthy on a budget isn’t as easy as it should be, but it is far from impossible. The biggest obstacle to overcome affects those that shop with coupons and BOGO type deals at the local grocery store. Big agriculture and big food producers are always offering coupons and deals on their food products, and most of the time these products are of the highly processed variety. As foods become processed, their nutritional value decreases. Therefore, when you consume overly processed foods, you get far less nutritional value for your money. With that in mind, spending a little more money shopping the outsides of the store (where you typically find your fresh meat, dairy, and produce) actually provides you with more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients per dollar than shopping the inside of the store and chasing the deals. If you’re willing to spend a few pennies more to shop the organic parts of the store, the health benefits are even greater.
There is no arguing that shopping for the most healthy foods in a grocery store will cost you more than shopping the aisles for hamburger helper and microwavable meals, but that isn’t the only way to eat healthy. More and more cities and towns across the country are having weekly (or even daily) farmer’s markets, where farmers from the area can sell their products directly to you, the consumer. This works out great for all parties involved, as farmers can often charge a few cents more than they would get for their produce from the food manufacturers, and the consumer can get farm fresh produce way cheaper than you can find it at any grocery store. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms are also rapidly popping up around the country. In a CSA farm, many people buy shares of the farm’s produce prior to the growing season, and then share in the harvest weekly or bi-weekly. A great advantage of a CSA is that you are constantly receiving fresh produce, and often times you may get some crops that you would never have bought on your own. My wife and I joined a CSA for the first time this year, and we have learned that some veggies, like beets, aren’t as bad as we once thought. Never would have even tried beets if we didn’t have a few of them in our bag one week from the farm, but since we had already paid for them, we weren’t going to let them go to waste.
Another way to save on your grocery bill while improving on the quality of the food you eat is to find a farmer in your area that raises meat animals to be butchered and sold to individuals. Oftentimes, especially if you are dealing with a beef farmer, you can buy portions of a cow so that you don’t have to find a way to store hundreds of pounds of meat at one time. Again, my wife and I have a couple of farmers in the area that we use, one for eggs and chickens, the other for beef and pork. The great thing about both of these farmers is that they raise their animals on the pasture, meaning they have access to fresh grass daily and aren’t confined to a feed lot with hundreds of other animals in a confined space. They also eat foods that are natural to them, instead of all grain diets of many factory meat farms, and therefore the meat is much lower in fat and has a much higher nutritional value.
Click here to find CSAs, farmers markets, individual farmers, and other sources of local fresh meat and produce in your area. And remember, even if the price isn’t significantly cheaper than what you find in the store, the quality is usually so much higher. You’ll eat less food while getting a higher nutritional value, which is good for both the waistline and the wallet.
Just as with nutrition, exercise doesn’t have to break the bank either. Every one of us has access to one of the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment ever created, the human body. Even the most highly trained and fit people in the world can get a great workout using nothing but their own body weight to train with. Whether its running and doing plyometric exercises for those in excellent shape, or walking and doing push-ups, the body provides all you need to change they way it looks and feels. Of course, if you are willing to spend a little bit of money to add variety and additional options to your fitness program, that may help you reach your goals faster or keep you from getting bored. But the amount you spend on exercise is completely up to you, and spending all the money in the world doesn’t help you achieve your goals any faster than spending no money but having an iron will to make the necessary changes to your lifestyle.
Ultimately, everyone has the power and the resources to improve their health by changing their diet and increasing the amount of physical activity they get. For more information on getting fit without going broke, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org we can figure out the way that works best for your needs and your budget.