Everyday Living, Where My Money Goes

Dieting/working out on a budget

Moonlight left me a question last month when I was looking for subjects to write about: “Is it possible to get exercise without joining a gym?”

First off … full confession. I do have a gym membership. And I’ll be honest, I haven’t darkened the door of the gym yet this month. And probably little of last month. My only “good” excuse is my work schedule, but every time I think of my wedding dress, I panic a little inside so I have to get my arse to the gym and stop wasting my money.

So now that I’ve made my confession, the short answer is: Yes, you can get exercise without going to a gym. The trick is a) motivation and b) determination. (Perhaps the same thing?)

Here’s a couple of ideas that I’ve gleaned from personal experience and from talking to friends/family.

1) Walk the mall. This one belongs to my future mother-in-law who walks the mall daily with her best friend. And FMIL is an awesome lady – she does it to stay in shape and for the companionship aspect. This is a ritual that she’s practiced for years and has the worn out sneakers to show the miles that she’s pounded out.

Pros: Free workout/lots ‘o people watching.
Cons: I’d be sneaking a look at the deals. If you’re going to go walking at the mall, do yourself a favor and leave your wallet at home or safely locked in the trunk of your car.

2) Walking in general. Here’s a little known fact about me that I’ve desperately tried to recreate in my life. In 2006, while living in Northfield I managed to lose 70 pounds. It was one of the strangest things but makes so much sense – I limited my carb intake and I walked three miles every morning before work.

Pros: Anyone can walk. It’s easier on my knees than jogging ever would be (I tried in 2006 – I looked like a dork) and it’s simply a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. It’s also cheap and free. It’s a good way to explore your neighborhood. And although one of the cons I’m going to list is making time to walk – you can acheive this by choosing the parking spot furthest away from your entry door at work. Parking across the lot from the door at the grocery store, etc. Every step counts.
Cons: You gotta make the time and the effort to incorporate walking in your schedule. Also – take necessary safety precautions if you’re going to be walking in traffic areas. In Rochester, this means watching your arse on sidewalks and while crossing streets in clearly designated crosswalk areas.

3) Take a page from Kate Winslet. OK – I’m a freak for Kate Winslet who seems like a lovelier version of the Everywoman that I aspire to be someday. Her hero quotient went up a little bit when I read this article where she talked about her fitness routine. Does she credit those luscious curves to a personal trainer? Hell no – she works out on a daily basis to a DVD. God love you, Kate Winslet.

To jump on Winslet’s awesome bandwagon, I’d encourage people to take a look at their local library to find workout DVDs or videos. One reason why this is a win-win is that you won’t drop $10 on Paula Abdul’s “Shut Up and Dance” on chance and happen to hate it (in my defense, I found it in the bargain bin and was intrigued.). It’s also a good way to change up your workout if you’ve been working out with the same Cindy Crawford video since 1992. (Darn you Dacia for stealing that from me!)

Pros: If it’s icky outside, you can get your workout without leaving the comfort of your home. I also like to work out in my jammies.
Cons: Some of them really suck and you have to kiss a lot of toads before you find a prince of a video. (FYI – I’m in love with Leslie Sansone’s ‘Walk Away the Pounds’ DVDs. She’s a goddess … check her out.)

4) Free dieting help. OK – so you’ve found a good program that you like and you’re getting in some much needed cardio. Is there additional support out there that you should be seeking on your weight loss/fitness journey?

Every once in awhile, I’ll see an article on MSN that asks “how much does it cost to lose 30 pounds?” This article looks at the various programs that are out there like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers and helps people get more bang for their buck.

I’m not going to discount these programs – I know people who have found groups like Weight Watchers very helpful (and if you don’t believe me, you should meet my future sister-in-law … HAWT!). But I’m already wasting money on a gym membership … and the one time I joined Weight Watchers, I went to two meetings before I said “screw it!”

I’m not schilling for this particular website, but for now it’s free and although it’s chock full of advertising content, a lot of my friends have been loving SparkPeople to help them on their weight loss journey.

I’ve been utilizing SparkPeople on and off since 2007 and I find it helpful. You can track how many calories, etc., that you consume through their Nutrition Tracker. The site also has a strong support community, free recipes and email reminders with helpful articles.

5) Power to the people. It seems that every time I read a diet book or contemplate starting any new weight loss program, it inevitably says that one of the keys to weight loss is a good support system – i.e. – a friend, family member or co-worker that you can undertake this journey with.

OK – I usually say “meh” to this. But there are two occasions in my life where I admit that having a support group has bolstered me.

One was my old workout buddy Erin from Nfld. We took a Bosu ball/cardio class together. She’s probably one of the skinniest and loveliest people that I know, but we were equals in that class – the instructor kicked both of our asses.

February 2006. At this point, I had lost 20 pounds and I was in a weird sort of awe at my weight loss prowess. I just happened to be on the phone with my dad during a moment of awe.

“Dad,” I said matter of factly. “I’ve lost 20 pounds.”

There was a pause on the other end. “Well,” he said. “That’s two bags of potatoes.”

I can’t wait to lose a few bags of potatoes.

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2 thoughts on “Dieting/working out on a budget

  1. I have to say #1 on my list is your #5 – having a workout partner or buddy – over my “adult” workout life, the most consistent exercising came when I had a regular workout buddy doing similar or the same things as me.

    A topic that deserves honorable mention – the importance of a little resistance training in weight loss. My best/easiest/most healthy weight losses? The ones where I was weight training. Sometimes that alone was enough to just keep the weight at bay. And you don’t need a gym for that either – if you want to spend a little money you can buy a cheap set of dumbells, or there are thousands of exercises out there that use your own body weight or a wall as resistance. And you don’t need to be Arnold or even do heavy weights, just a little bit adds a lot!

  2. I can’t believe I’m admitting this but….
    my favorite workout tape is Buns of Steel…the ORIGINAL Buns of Steel. The tape was made in the mid 1980’s and has this Chuck Norris look-alike leading you through the exercises. There is a room full of people in leg warmers, headbands, and spandex. It kicks my arse everytime. Simple exercises that don’t make you feel like you have to be a supermodel.

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