Getting fit and eating healthy can be incredibly expensive. Boutique gym memberships that cost $100 or more a month, classes that can be $30 per session and fresh, organic veggies that cost five times more than their non-organic counter parts. All of these things make it seem impossible to get the summer body everyone is after. Enjoying the warm weather in shorts or feeling comfortable in a swim suit isn't impossible - you just have to know where to save. Here are some tips to get you in great shape and look your best this summer.
1. Work Out For Free
Use playground equipment and park benches to do body weight exercises like push ups, pull ups and dips without paying the price to go to the gym. There are different levels of difficulties depending on what you start with. A good example of a workout routine can be found here with a video.
2. Bike Share
If your city has a bike share program, try cycling home (or part way home if it is really too far) from work at least one day a week. Nobody wants to arrive at work sweaty, but on your way home who cares? This is an easy way to burn some calories and save money on gas. Most programs will allow you to pay for a monthly or yearly membership, so the more you ride, the more you save in the long run.
3. Swap Coffee Dates For Cardio Dates
Instead of meeting friends over coffee and snacks, go for a walk, run or bike. Not only are you saving calories by not eating them mindlessly, but you're burning extra calories while catching up with a friend. Instead of happy hour with work friends, convince them to join you for a fun new class at a gym. A trial class will be less expensive than drinks and better for your body.
This will cost you nothing but give you so much in return. Sleep is essential for keeping your metabolism fired up, replenishing cells in your organs and for letting your muscles grow. It also helps keep your hunger in check by regulating hormones responsible for hunger. So hit the hay for a whole lot of free, fitness benefits. Check out the National Sleep Foundation for more information on the importance of sleep and tips to help you fall asleep.
5. Hit up Free Yoga Classes
Most yoga studios have free or by-donation classes each week. They are the same classes, but open for people who can't necessarily afford the cost of regular studio fees. If you can work them into your schedule and consistently attend those classes, you can get fit without paying a premium.
6. Stay At Home
If you aren't comfortable going out in public for your workouts, you're not alone. There are many ways to workout in your own home with minimal equipment. You can download apps on your phone, watch clips on YouTube, purchase DVDs or find websites that have routines you are interested in. Some are free, likeTrain Online and others require a subscription like Yoga Today.
7. Need A Boost? Try Creatine Monohydrate
This natural substance is found in foods like pork, beef and salmon. Vegans and vegetarians don't get any creatine in their diet and it can be a real energy drain. Creatine monohydrate supplements are inexpensive per serving and can give you a boost to your stamina before a workout AND help you build lean muscle. Medical studies done on men show dramatic increase in energy and muscle growth but new studies involving females show even greater effects.
8. Have A Lighter Lunch
Cut out the calorie-dense bread a couple days a week and use lettuce wraps. This will save you calories, money (lettuce is less expensive than bread) and you get to eat more of the tasty fillings rather than the bread.
9. Count Your Calories
There are so many free apps for your phone or desktop to track your calorie intake. If you're more conscious about what you're eating and how many calories are actually in that chocolate car, chances are you'll put it down. Apps like My Fitness Pal even use a bar-code scanner so you can still keep track even on the go.
10. Grocery Shop Smarter
Keep a grocery list on your phone to make sure you only get the things that you need. If you have a list to stick to and an idea of meals you want to prepare you won't be tempted by the expensive pre-made foods. If you are loyal to a chain, many grocery stores have their own apps that let you make a list and show you special sales and coupons that could save you big. Check the app store for your device and see where you can save.
11. Don't Waste What You Have
Food waste is one biggest wallet drains people have. By over shopping or not knowing how to rework prepared foods, many of us throw away hundreds of dollars a year in food. Shop smarter as mentioned above, then learn to rework your left overs. Add some cooked meats to a salad, toss leftover rice with fresh vegetables, or bake muffins with over-ripe fruit. Learn how to make food last longer, and use leftovers wisely, even make your own jam with extra fruits.
12. Use Meat Alternatives
Meat is expensive, but a plain veggie dish isn't going to leave you feeling full for long. Use meat alternatives like tofu and beans that are much less expensive and will satisfy your hunger.
13. Skip The Latte or Frappucinno
Opt for a regular coffee to save calories AND money. Lattes are made with milk or cream and sugary syrups. Use them as a treat and go for a plain cup of coffee for your daily caffeine needs. Hate the taste? At least go for fat-free and sugar-free versions to save calories.
14. Skip Pre-Packaged
While it might be really convenient, those 100-calorie packs aren't cheap and often times they're nutritionally empty. A small bag of Oreos is still just an Oreo, even if it is 100 calories. Instead, buy a box of granola or nuts, (or even your cheater snacks like cookies) and divvy them up yourself for the week. Keeping the box at work? Keep a measuring cup beside it so you can scoop out a single portion. Often we find that a full serving is enough to satisfy a craving, but if the whole bag is right there, then you're going to eat more.
15. Fake Tan
This doesn't work for everyone but a little bit of added color can bring out muscle definition making you look as fit as you are. Not as fit as you would like? You can cheat a little bit by adding definition around the abs with sunless tanner too. This video can show you how to do it.
Spanx has a line of swimwear so even if you're still working on your fitness goals, you can get a little boost on the beach.
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