Stay In Shape the Easy Way

Add up all the money spent on gym memberships, diet plans and doctor visits. Save the money and feel better.

FITNESS Think of all the wasted time spent laying around feeling miserable. Face it, being out of shape is costly and unhealthy. Don't just sit watching the pounds accumulate. There are simple life changes you can implement without increasing your food budget or paying for expensive gym memberships. You shouldn't have to be rich to be healthy.

Simple Dietary Adjustments

There's a frightening word, diet. The first syllable even sounds like death. Be brave though. You can live through this with some simple modifications. There are many fruitless fad diets but let's ease into this consumption control without extremes and little or no money. Set a goal to eat healthier — baby steps.

It's hard to break the soda and snack-food addiction, cold turkey (Doesn't that sound good?) — hard but not impossible. Try this: Begin by reducing your junk-food intake to one quarter. Instead of buying a case of 24 sodas, purchase a six-pack. Instead of two large bags of chips, buy one small. Steer away from the ones with excessive artificial flavors, colors and sodium. Manufacturers still make plain potato chips and tortilla chips. And what about good old-fashion popcorn, popped over an open flame in peanut oil — so much more healthy than microwave varieties. As you progress, try to minimize or eliminate high-carbohydrate, empty-calorie foods. By cutting back, you'll have more funds for healthy choices.

  1. Drink more water. Add a lemon wedge to carbonated water for more flavor.
  2. If you have a juicer or blender, make healthy fresh fruit drinks in place of sodas.
  3. Buy plain yogurt and mix with fresh fruit to avoid preservatives and artificial flavors.
  4. Replace one meal per day with a salad. Use oil-and-vinegar dressing with herbs.
  5. Season foods with fresh herbs like cilantro, rosemary, dill, and basal to reduce salt.
  6. Bake, broil or steam meats instead of frying (or sauté in healthy olive oil).
  7. Pack a healthy lunch instead of frequenting fast food restaurants.
  8. Drink a full glass of water before eating a meal to reduce calorie intake.
  9. Eat with the goal of being satisfied, not stuffed. Eat until eight tenths full.
  10. Cut celery and carrots into small pieces. Refrigerate covered in water for crisp snack.
  11. Between three moderate-size balanced meals, snack on raw fruit, vegetables, nuts, low-fat cheese, or yogurt.
  12. Look up healthy recipes on the Internet or consider one of the no-cost diet programs in the sidebar.

Simple Exercise Routines

Exercise your mind and your body will follow.

That's another nasty little word when your gut exceeds 39 inches. Yet doctors recommend exercise for good reason. Think of diet as patching the leak in the bottom of a boat. Exercise is required to remove the water weighing the vessel down. Cardiovascular stimulation tones muscles, increases metabolism and releases toxins. Aversion to excercise is often rooted in extreme thinking. Don't think of running marathons, body building or military boot camp. Don't become distracted by what you can't do; focus mental faculties on attainable goals. Exercise your mind and your body will follow.

Set a goal is to be active every day, perhaps even doing something you enjoy. If you like a sport like tennis, swimming or bike riding, all the better. (Caveat: If you've been sedentary for a prolonged time, consult a medical professional. Likely he will have you begin with low-impact routines.) When vigorous exercise is out of question there are still many practical activities that cost nothing and reap positive benefits.

  1. Walk around the block before taking your morning shower.
  2. Wash your car a couple times a week instead of paying someone at the car wash.
  3. Empty the wastebaskets in your house or office daily.
  4. Park a distance away from entrance when going grocery shopping.
  5. Look for parking spaces that are not near the elevator (side benefit: less door dings).
  6. If you go out for lunch, walk instead of driving to burn calories both ways.
  7. Sweep down the driveway and water the lawn.
  8. Do your own yard work instead of hiring a gardener.
  9. Perform stretches, crunches, or isometric exercises in front of the television.
  10. Jog in place for two sets of 5 or 10 minutes while listening to audio recordings.
  11. Pedal a stationary bike while reading or listening to music.
  12. Get some light barbells to perform curls when surfing the Internet.
  13. Walk your dog. If you don't have one, offer to walk your neighbor's.

The suggestions provided should not increase you monthly budget at all. In fact, you may discover that you are saving money. You may reap added benefits like less fatigue and fewer trips to the doctor. There are plenty more things to do. But when you're starting out, the key is simplicity and regularity. Seeing results or feeling better will motivate you to take more ambitious steps towards better health.

Tags: 25 weight-loss tips, dietitians, fitness, nutritionists, weight gain