Why getting fit will save you cash in the long run
I was in tears of joy when I heard this as it marked the culmination of three months' of perseverance and determination: I had just run for 30 minutes straight without a break.
I have been doing a Couch to 5K program.
There are numerous apps that offer the program - both free and paid - and the goal is to take someone with couch potato fitness to running up to 5km within eight weeks. I was so unfit I couldn't complete the first week of simple interval running, but I kept going and discovered an unexpected and new love of jogging.
Back in May, I was struggling to fit into most of my clothes. I'm an emotional overeater and, as we went through bushfires, hail and COVID, I found I snacked my way through stress recovery. I know I'm not alone in this, as several friends shared they are also struggling with excess COVID weight.
When you are in stress/survival mode you do what you can day to day. And for me, that meant probably a bit too much home cooking while cocooned indoors.
I am determined to shift this. I have a red and white dress a few sizes smaller I aim to fit in on Christmas Day, but my goal is about more than vanity.
To me, it's about self-love. For years, I didn't exercise as "didn't have time" in my busy life.
Now I prioritise going for a jog, doing tai chi, cycling and meditating - and none of these activities cost money, assuming you already own a bike. There are plenty of free videos and apps you can download to help you meditate.
Being active and eating well also models good habits to my two primary-school aged boys. There's no point yelling at them to get off the computer if my bum is planted on my chair in front of my screen!
Here are my budget-friendly tips for shifting the COVID kilos.
1. Find accountability partners
I set up a Facebook group with three friends and we touch base with each other on Mondays. Just knowing I am accountable has stopped my weight from blowing out. This doesn't cost a thing.
2. Write it down
Most weight-loss programs are based around expending more calories than you intake. The same principle works for budgets as well, ie: spend less than you earn. Recording what you eat, drink and the exercise you do is referred to as keeping a food diary or 'tracking'. You could use a diary and draw two columns: one with food/drink intake and the other with exercise. Or you could use a free, or moderately priced, app. I use My Fitness Pal (myfitnesspal.com) which has a free and paid version.
3. Make active transport part of your lifestyle
You are more likely to exercise if you make it part of your daily routine. I moved to an inner-city unit so I can walk and cycle to appointments in a deliberate effort to craft more activity into my life.
4. Try a free gym trial
If you want to invest in a gym membership, make sure you find one that works for you. Ask if they will offer you a trial so you can see if you like it and are likely to use it.
5. Eat better
A key reason many people in developed countries are increasingly overweight is we eat too much. Well, duh! One way to eat less is by serving on smaller plates. Smaller portions also equal a smaller grocery bill.
6. Buy frozen diet meals on special - then keep the containers
I'm not usually a fan of processed foods, but when starting on a weight loss journey, it can be useful to incorporate some meals that are calorie-controlled. Buy some frozen meals when they are on special and keep them in the freezer for those times when you are tired and prone to ordering take away. And keep the containers. Use them to create your own budget-friendly, portion-controlled versions of the same meal.
7. Meal plan
Do you overeat to avoid food waste? I regularly do, and I've learnt the best way to avoid this is to stop bringing too much into the house to begin with. Draw up a healthy menu plan for the week and try not to get tempted by too many non-essential food items.
8. Drink more water
We often eat when we are thirsty. Water will help fill you up, remove toxins and keep you hydrated. Drinking tap water from your water bottle is much cheaper than buying a takeaway coffee or a fancy sports drink.
9. Diet-friendly food can be cheap
Low-fat, low sugar, low-calorie healthy foods can be cheap. Lentils, chickpeas (below) , beans, whole-grains, tofu, eggs, seasonal fruit and vegetables are all extremely cheap and healthy. You don't have to be vegetarian, either, or go on a total red-meat protein fix. Just aim to include quality lean protein in your diet as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.
Watch Serina Bird on Channel 10's Studio 10 for more top tips
Originally published as Why getting fit will save you cash in the long run