Let’s face it: living a healthy lifestyle can be really, really expensive. From clean food, to gym memberships, to exercise equipment, to supplements – the cost adds up fast. Many of us (including myself) can’t afford to eat and live extremely healthy all the time – our budgets just don’t allow for it. Which means we have to compromise, and that’s where things get tricky. Which healthy things are we allowed to go without? How can we stay optimally fit and healthy without going totally broke? As a single 20-year-old person, I am in the process of creating my own healthy lifestyle according to my budget and needs, and I have discovered some things that have helped me. Hopefully they work well for you too.
(Note: The tips I’m giving are aimed towards those without serious health issues or allergies. Of course if you are allergic to dairy or gluten or soy (or all the above) you will need to take extra special care with your diet. You can still apply these concepts, it just might need to look a little different for you depending on your needs, and there is nothing wrong with that).
Start with the basics. There are a lot of extremes in the health and fitness world. From those who believe all of your meals must be organic and as “free” as possible (GMO-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, etc.), to people who think they are healthy if they eat 2 vegetables and only have one serving of dessert per day, it can be confusing to figure out what is best for you. (And by the way I’m not necessarily saying either extreme is wrong, they just don’t work for everyone). An easy way to get rid of some of the confusion is to narrow your options down to the facts nearly every health expert agree on: that a healthy diet should be full of lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats, and minimally processed foods. Basically that the closer a food is to it’s natural state, the better it will be for you. That is something you can implement into your diet no matter what your budget is, and in doing so you automatically eliminate a lot of junk from your diet. Try eating more fruits and veggies, and finding minimally processed sources of protein and nutrients, such as lean beef or chicken, nuts and seeds, and salads. If you can’t afford to buy everything organic, that’s okay. Getting lots of fruits and veggies in your diet is a lot healthier than eating Ramen noodles or Mac ‘N Cheese all the time. Don’t aim for perfection. Start with the basics and work your way up from there.
Make use of what you already have. A lot of people assume that to get fit, you have to go to the gym or buy expensive equipment. That simply isn’t true. There are a lot of ways to work out using “equipment” you already have, even if it’s just your bodyweight and a chair. And the workouts don’t have to be boring either – doing three or four 20 minute interval style workouts per week is enough to make a huge difference in your fitness. For some awesome home workout ideas, check out 12 Minute Athlete and FitnessBlender. They have some really fun workouts for any fitness level that use a variety of equipment, from just your bodyweight to dumbbells and kettlebells. Don’t let your lack of gym membership or equipment keep you from getting fit, there are plenty of options for you to use in the comfort of your own home!
Plan ahead. You can save a lot of money simply by thoroughly planning your meals and workouts ahead of time. That way you know exactly which groceries you need (no splurging when you shop hungry), and you don’t have to sit at your computer for an hour trying to find a workout to do. Setting time aside every week or month to plan everything out will save you a ton of time (and excuses) later on.
Prepare your own meals. Eating out and grabbing meals on the go is an easy way to spend a lot more money than you have to. Try looking on Pinterest or Allrecipes for inexpensive, healthy meal ideas, and don’t be afraid to prepare them yourself. This is a great, simple way to save lots of $ every week. Leftovers can also be a real life-saver when you make a meal that lasts for days (especially if you are single and don’t have to share with your family).