The weight loss industry is just that, an industry. From diet foods and supplements to trainers and programs, trying to lose weight can cost a lot. Fortunately, it doesn't have to. If you'd like to lose weight without emptying your checking account, I've got 5 realistic and simple ideas you can employ starting now.
1. Skip the gym and trainer.
If a monthly gym membership and personal trainer fees are out of reach for you, don't despair. There are many other ways to access the knowledge of trained professionals. Fitness DVDs are quite inexpensive and readily available. You can even check them out from your local library if you'd like to give the workout a try before committing to your purchase.
Applications like Nike Training Club and iFitness also offer various workouts you can tailor to your fitness level and schedule. Best of all, you can take your tablet or phone with you when you travel, leaving you no excuses to skip a workout. Finally, a service like FitFusion offers a subscription-based service which gives you online access to a variety of professional well-known trainers and their workouts.
During nice weather, it's refreshing and invigorating to be outside instead of stuck in a gym. You can walk, jog, run, bike, hike, garden and swim.
2. Buy real (healthful) food.
It seems like every week there's a new diet drink, bar or supplement introduced. These foods can be helpful, but they are not necessary. The best way to fuel your body to lose weight and feel your best is to give it real, whole foods. Whole grains, vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy and lots of water should be the mainstays of your diet. Avoid processed foods and foods high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. I buy fruit and nut bars so I have a good snack if I need one. I also spend some of my grocery budget on extra produce and salad items so I can make good choices.
3. Dress for success.
It is motivating to have fun workout clothes and shoes, but don't blow your budget on exercise wear. After all, you're going to sweat all over your clothes. Good shoes are important for preventing injury, but they can be found online or a clearance sale. Shoe styles change often, so old models are discounted on a regular basis. Stores like Target and Wal-Mart have decent clothing options for reasonable prices.
4. Park the car.
Walking more helps in 2 ways. First, you'll burn more calories. Second, you'll use less gas. If you have several errands to run in a shopping area, park your car in a central location and walk to stores, even if it means making trips back to your car to drop off your purchases. Think of other places you can walk or ride a bike to, like work. More steps mean more activity, which, over time, will translate into better fitness and a trimmer body.
5. No gadgets needed.
Technology is helpful in losing weight. Instead of buying an expensive fitness tracker, try a free app or online community. Millions of people use Lose It! and MyFitnessPal with good results. Runners like fancy GPS watches, but they are a luxury, not a necessity. Plan running routes online with sites like runningmap.com. You can use your phone or buy an inexpensive MP3 player to listen to music and podcasts while you work out, or just enjoy talking with others or being alone. I find running without distractions quite therapeutic.
After you've used these tips and lost weight, use your savings to buy yourself a new wardrobe.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.