Today’s guest post comes from Samantha who blogs at foodedu.blogspot.com. Make sure to check her out when you’re done here
Repeat after me: Your health is the best asset you have. You are responsible for your own health. Your health is the best asset you have. You are responsible for your own health.
So what does this mantra doing on a personal finance blog? If you ever listen to Suze …health and wealth go hand and hand…..
I want to scream (and like Ninja says…punch a baby in the face) when I hear reports in the news media that is too expensive for most folks to eat healthfully and engage in healthy behaviors. Sure it can be more expensive than eating Top Ramen for every meal—but “being healthy” is not too expensive and anyone who says so is making up excuses. I used to be one of those people—I know. And when I got real and started to take responsibility for my own actions—my life changed for the better. The consequences of poor health are extremely detrimental and may possibly over time, cause you to lose money. Lethargy, illness, and poor self esteem cause people to miss work, not work to their full potential, feel badly about themselves and puts people at risk for developing more serious diseases over time that cost a crap ton of money. So when I say it’s important to maybe increase your grocery budget by a few dollars to include some fresh fruit or take 30 minutes out of your day to go on a walk—I say it truly believing that these things will increase your quality of life.
Let’s eliminate a few fallacies up front: Eating organic, hiring personal trainers and fancy gym memberships are expensive, but these are not prerequisites to getting and being healthy. The diet and fitness industry put entirely too much propaganda out there and it confuses people to the point where they never find results.
There are two major things that any person can do to maintain their health: diet and exercise.
The diet and fitness industries will have you believe that diet and exercise must be extremely complicated. Unless you have a medical condition—diet and exercise are not complicated. Enough with the exercise programs on those creepy infomercials with Chuck Norris that promise weight loss. You don’t need the $500 month diet plan with the special foods. Diet and fitness can be relatively simple and relatively cheap—nothing to bust your head and budget over.
Here are my top 8 tips to maintaining health through diet and exercise on a budget:
1) Eat REAL foods: Real foods are those things in their pure form eggs, milk, vegetables, fruits and meats.
2) Buy REAL foods on sale and in season: Choose your fresh selections from those that are in seasons and consequently, on sale. Purchasing fruit out of season shipped from South America is a sure fire way to spend money unnecessarily.
3) Be choosy with “packaged” foods: Food that comes in a box or bag has generally been processed with a ton of added sugar, salt and fat. Be careful what you choose and stay away from convenience foods—they are generally more expensive and filled with crap. Packaged foods I like are: bread, whole grain cereals, oatmeal, canned vegetables and beans and peanut butter.
4) Spend some time at the meat case: Meat can be really expensive. I find that my grocery store has really expensive meat one week and really cheap meat the next. Stock up on lean cuts like chicken breast, turkey, pork loins and other lean red meats when they are on special. Also, don’t be afraid to buy a large pack and split it into smaller portions when you get home.
5) Eliminate Waste: Once you have purchased all your “healthier” foods—make sure you actually eat them. Pack lunches, plan dinners and don’t be afraid to experiment with new meals and soups to use all your food.
6) Get out and move: Going for a walk/run is free. Yes, I understand that every person doesn’t have a safe place to walk near their home—so go find one. Beaches, malls, parks and schools are safe places to exercise during the day and cost no money.
7) Pump it up: Strength training is also essential (I don’t always follow my advice). Buy some hand weights or purchase some inexpensive workout DVD’s to challenge you in new ways. I like Jillian Micheals 30 Day Shred.
8) If you must, don’t feel guilty to buy: Some people will only work out in a gym. I get that—its normally safer and offers more variety. If you think you will actually use the gym membership—rearrange your budget and make room for it. Remember: your health is your most important asset. It’s okay to make it a priority.
I believe that every person should have no-barriers entry to health. Every individual in every regional area will have some challenges. Running outdoors is not realistic in some areas and finding a grocery store close to your home is a challenge in other areas. And there is entirely too much diet/fitness propaganda out there. The reality though, is this: You have to punch your poor health, poor eating habits, weight issues and excuses in the face if you want to win. And yes, it may cost a tad bit more to buy some higher quality foods to fuel your body. It is all fine and dandy to get rid of debt and save a gazillion dollars for retirement—but what if you aren’t healthy enough to enjoy it once you get there? I don’t preach the health message from a vanity or beauty perspective—that is extremely dangerous. It’s more than body image or being “skinny”. It’s about being the best you, so that you can appropriately kick ass in the other areas of your life.