Eating Healthy Without Breaking the Bank

You have found your motivation (or maybe it has found you) and made the decision to lose weight and begin a healthier lifestyle. Congratulations are in order. That enthusiasm is the first step to success. Your second and biggest challenge is to eat well. It is widely believed that nutrition is the single biggest factor in any successful and sustainable weight management plan. 



If you’ve made the commitment, you will find the time to eat well, and it will quickly become routine, efficient, and rewarding. But what about the expense? A satisfying, nutritious, and low-calorie diet can seem like a luxury not available on every budget. Healthy eating, however, does not have to break the bank. Here are some of the tips to use to keep your fridge full of tasty, wholesome foods while staying within budget.

TIP #1: BUY YOUR VEGETABLES FROM THE FROZEN SECTION

There are many reasons why buying frozen vegetables is a great idea. First, vegetables in the freezer section are flash frozen at their peak ripeness. Your favorite veggies will still be yummy even when they are out of season. Second, frozen vegetables have a last longer. You no longer have to worry about your fresh vegetables spoiling before you get to cook them. Waste is expensive. Third, frozen is a great way to ensure you are getting your USDA daily-recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Finally, frozen vegetables typically cost less than fresh vegetables. ADDED BONUS: When you buy frozen, most of the prep work has already been done for you. 

TIP #2: BUY DISCOUNTED MEAT 

Grocery stores often put huge markdowns on meat when it is reaching its sell-by date. Don’t let a sell-by date scare you off. This simply means that the meat will maintain its freshness at the recommended refrigerator temperature for 1-3 days past this date. With the discount, you can stock up on great cuts of meat at a fraction of the price and freeze it until you are ready to use it. For added convenience, portion out your meat before freezing it for easier meal planning.

TIP #3: BUY GENERIC

Many generic store brands are just as high-quality as their name brand counterparts, and they cost less. Often, we are simply paying more for branding and advertising. Next time you are at the grocery store, compare the labels on your favorite brands with the store brand. You will often find that there isn’t much difference. You may discover that you do actually prefer the name brand and it is worth the cost to you; but on your quest to stay within budget, at least give the generic store brands a try. 

TIP #4: BUY HERBS FROM THE SEASONING SECTION 

You are now on what may seem to be a restrictive menu, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the food you do eat. Herbs and other seasonings are key to enlivening your palate and keeping your menu exciting. Why buy an entire bunch of fresh dill for the quarter teaspoon required by a recipe, only to watch the remaining dill go bad before you use it again? A package of dried herbs may cost a little more than the fresh bunch when you compare dollar for dollar on a single shopping trip, but dried herbs have a longer shelf life when stored properly and have more concentrated flavors (so you use less per recipe). You can save money by spending a little bit more upfront because you won’t be throwing away the leftovers. 

TIP #5: HAVE A PLAN BEFORE YOU GO SHOPPING 


Planning out your meals for the week ahead of time is another key to economic dieting success. To help save money and time, make a list of all the ingredients you are going to need. Check your freezer, pantry, and fridge to see what you already have. Mark those items off the list. What is left is your shopping list. Knowing what you need before you walk into the store will help you save in a couple of ways. First, you won’t be spending money on unnecessary items that you already have. Secondly, you will avoid the common pitfall of buying more than you need. If you are like me, you only have so much storage space for food. For those trying to lose weight, well-planned shopping trips are an essential way to stay focused, to stay on plan, and to avoid temptation. 

More on Fat Burning Without a Gym - 5 Ways to Get Intense Cardio Without the Gym

Do you need to take your calorie burning to the next level but aren’t making it to the gym in spite of your best intentions? It’s a dilemma! Fortunately, there are some great solutions at hand I’ll share here.


Maybe you have increased your activity with NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), but realize that what you doing isn’t intense enough for best metabolism and energy boosting benefits cardio benefits.

But, sure, there are plenty of obstacles to getting to the gym! Limited hours, long wait times for machines during peak times, and travel time put regular gym workout seemingly out of reach for many.

Fortunately, though, there are ways to get intense aerobic activity without a trip to a fitness center.


Here are some things to keep in mind before you start with more intense activity:


  • Consult with your physician before beginning any intense exercise program.
  • Think about your fitness goals: strength building, aerobic fitness, flexibility, weight loss.
  • Review your schedule. Where can you carve out some time for a workout every day? You may need to vary the time of day your workout will be, as well as how long your workouts will be depending on how your day flows.
  • Your workouts throughout the week should vary in intensity from light to moderate, to heavy. It is important to allow your muscles to rest.
  • Your activities can vary according to your interests.


With this information in mind, here are some ways to incorporate some more intense physical activity into your life:

  • Professionals who come to you. Engaging the services of a personal trainer can be invaluable to keeping you on track, adjusting your workouts based on items you already have at home, and ensure that you are using proper form to avoid injury.
  • Online and/or video fitness classes. The video or DVD workouts have been around for a while. But if you want a little bit more variety or a class that is updated regularly, check online. Many fitness instructors offer online versions of a variety of classes. They are often not relegated to yoga, tai chi, or dance. 
  • Fitness trails at local parks. In an effort to increase community health, many municipalities have not only increased the number of walking, running, and biking trails. They have incorporated permanent fitness equipment with instructions on basic physical activities.
  • Adult sports leagues and training groups. Want to train for a race like a triathlon? There’s a group for that. Still want to play soccer or basketball or tennis or revisit elementary school with kickball? There’s a league for that.
  • Fitness Apps. You want to train for a 5K, or a 10K, or a marathon? There’s an app for that. You want 7 minute workout with a series of activities that you can repeat a few times if you have the time? There’s an app for that. You want a series of exercises targeting a certain area of your body, that may increase in number of repetitions? There’s an app for that. Need a reminder to drink more water? There’s an app for that. There are many applications available that can provide you instruction on activities to fit into your day.

Fitting an intense workout into your day can be a challenge. Luckily there are many options available that do not require you to go to the gym. Just do it!

Postpartum Weight Loss – 3 Strategies for New Mothers

Have you recently brought a beautiful baby into this world? Well, wow! You have just done something incredible!

Let’s consider your body, the changes it’s gone through, and, look at three key strategies to get back to great tone and a healthy weight.

As you began your journey through pregnancy, you were diligent in maintaining proper nutrition throughout your pregnancy to support you and your child’s needs.

Then you underwent the powerful, sudden and extremely physical process of giving birth, whether by natural or medical means.

Your body has gone through a dramatic transformation.

Here are three strategies to remember as you begin your post-birth weight loss journey: Taking it easy on yourself, prioritizing your health, and balancing nutrition and exercise.

1. Take it easy on yourself
Recognize that your body has gone through a nine-month transformation culminating in the climactic encore of the birth of your child. Because your body has gone through a nine-month transformation, returning to your pre-pregnancy form may take a little time. Your body will need time to recover from the actual birthing process, particularly if you had any health complications or medical procedures.

2. Prioritize your physical and mental wellness
It should be about you and not what others think of you. Aspire to be the best possible version of yourself instead of comparing yourself to others or an ideal based on society’s projected picture of perfection.

Adopt a maintain a healthy lifestyle that prioritizes your well-being while taking into consideration your post-pregnancy needs and a healthy weight and appearance will follow.
3. Balance Nutrition and Exercise
As with any weight management journey, you will have a two-pronged approach: nutrition and exercise. Let’s go through a few key points for each that are relevant to postpartum wellness:

Nutrition
When it comes to nutrition, a key rule is to pay attention to your body.

Eat when you’re hungry. You may be eating more frequently than you’re used to, but your body is letting you know. Just focus on healthy options AND to pay attention to how much you are eating each time.

If you never were much of a meal planner before, this may be a good time to start. Initiating meal planning at this time helps particularly during the trials and joys and caring for your small child. It will also help you create a healthy example as your child grows.

If you are breastfeeding, then keep in mind that you should follow similar nutritional choices that you had made during your pregnancy. Research from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) indicates that breastfeeding can help accelerate weight loss, but recommends a daily multivitamin, an extra 300-500 calories per day for milk production, and three additional servings of protein to preserve lean body mass.
You can make extensive use of your freezer for a few things: when you’re to tired to cook, to control portion sizes (particularly for those sweet cravings), to avoid unhealthy temptations, and to reduce the temptation of ordering out.
Exercise
Prior to incorporating any exercise regime, it is imperative that you discuss your personal physical issues with your doctor and progress slowly.

As with any exercise plan, you should focus on your whole body, and not just target your abdominal region specifically.

Beyond this, there are two major areas that you may have to contend with:
     • the separation of your large abdominal muscles known as diastasis recti
     • a weakened pelvic floor

Similar to your meal planning strategy, make your exercise a daily activity, incorporate your child into your routine whenever possible, and ensure that you have comfortable appropriate clothing to give you quality support.

Simple activities that may take some time include:
     • walking (with your baby and/or your dog)
     • deep, full-body breathing, incorporating all of your abdominal muscles.
     • Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor
     • dancing
     • baby-friendly gyms (whether it is a mother-baby fitness class or a gym that provides childcare)
As your child begins to eat more solid foods, you reduce or stop breastfeeding, and your major back and abdominal muscle groups have strengthened, you can reassess your exercise activities, goals, and timeline. At this point, you may shift to a strategic weight management plan to get back to your pre-pregnancy figure.


10 Ways to Get Those Calories Burned Without a Trip to the Gym

Want a slimmer body?  Know you need to burn more calories but not making it to the gym in spite of your best intentions?  You’re not alone!   Fitting time in the gym between work, commuting, family, chores, friends, and sleep is a big challenge for many of us!

Fortunately, relief is at hand when you realize that there are many ways to up your activity and daily calorie burning without a gym.  Read along for a great list of 10 ways to do just that!

Before getting to that list, though, consider three important points:

First, though, remember it’s possible to out-eat any activity level and still not lose weight so controlling your food intake is still important.

Second, be clear on both the health and weight loss results you want. What are your goals? Mobility Weight loss? Strength building? Increasing your fitness level might require a structured exercise program but that’s a topic for another blog.  Here you are looking purely at the calorie burning benefits of activity so you can be flexible.

Third, for most of us, starting small is the way to go. Increase your activity progressively so your body can adjust. It may be easier than you think to increase your NEAT (Non-Exercise activity thermogenesis), or all those daily activities that aren’t that vigorous.

So, here’s our list of 10 ways to burn calories without the gym:
  1. singing in the shower or on your commute
  2. some of those basic inside household chores: cleaning, laundry, sweeping, cooking
  3. some of those basic outside household chores: yard work or gardening
  4. low impact activities that use your mind and body: hopscotch, jump rope, darts, badminton, charades, mini golf, bowling, dance)
  5. regular walks, perhaps with your dog or window shopping
  6. practice good posture 
  7. fidget
  8. basic stretching
  9. get chilled to make your body shiver
  10. use apps to help track your movements 

Think about how your typical day flows, keeping these activities in mind, and imagine progressively adding more of these activities to burn more calories on a daily basis.


How can you add NEAT movements into your day? An early morning, lunchtime, or after dinner stroll? A screen break to stretch and socialize? Seated exercises at your desk or on the couch? Active social activities? Singing and dancing along as you complete various tasks?



The more you move, the more your body uses energy. While these activities won’t necessarily burn a lot of calories, the increased mobility often will make you want to do more. And you don’t need a gym to do them.

What other calorie-burning activities can you think of? Share in the comments!