Getting into shape is something that everyone over the age of 25 starts to worry about. As the body ages, it's easier to put on weight and a lot harder to take it back off again. In the seemingly endless effort to stay fit, expensive gym memberships, healthy smoothies, and fad diets that "promise" results can seem awfully tempting. They're also awfully expensive, especially if you try more than one.
The good news is that you don't actually need a fancy gym membership or a trendy high-ingredient-cost diet to get into shape. All you need is room to move, something interesting to listen to, and elbow grease. Here are our top pointers for increasing your calorie burn and muscle build without dipping into your wallet:
Don't Buy the Hype (Any Hype)
First and foremost, never by the hype. Whether it's a gym, a smoothie, or a dietary supplement you can get the same benefit from normal everyday non-expensive things that you can from a health trend. You don't need big specialized machines to burn calories or increase your stamina. You don't need a fancy supplement or wheatgrass smoothie to eat healthily.
As a general rule of thumb, if there is any "hype", then the cost is probably inflated from good old broccoli, rice, lean chicken, and a jogging track.
Get In Touch With Your Local Park
Speaking of the jogging track, all you need is your body and room to move around to get your daily exercise. In fact, most local parks have more than just a track for you to run laps around. Many have workout equipment like pull-up bars, balance beams, and benches that you can use for a variety of self-powered workouts. You can creatively use the playground equipment for a fun variation on getting fit in the park.
Free Weights by the Pound
Unlike gym memberships, free weights are yours once you buy them and you can work out with them without renewing your membership. Free weights like dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells are usually equal to about a dollar per pound at your local Walmart or sporting goods store. Therefore a pair of 10s (enough to give anyone a great cardio workout and tone those arms) will only cost you about $20 and the whole family can take turns pumping iron or use them to pump up your squats and power walks.
Eat Like You Tell Your Kids to Eat
There is tons of fad-diet hype about what to eat when you're trying to slim down or build muscle. While these diets often have a grain of truth, you don't need them. Don't worry too much about 'cutting out carbs' or eating dietary supplements. Just make sure you're following your own parenting rules of eating. You know the ones:
- Eat a well-balanced plate of protein, veggies, and carbs; extra protein if you're building muscle, but not too much extra
- Eat all your meat & veggies before having seconds on carbs
- Stop before you're really full, and drink plenty of water to keep from overeating
- Drink water all day long
- If you're hungry between meals, try veggies & dip or low-fat cheese crackers
Find Interesting Podcasts and Audiobooks
All too often, we stop exercising not because we're tired but because we're bored. It's boring to run around the track eight times to fill the hour. It's boring to do 200 squats even if that's your workout plan. It can even get boring to count the calories you're burning. What's not boring is a great podcast or an audiobook you can really get into. Interesting audio is the key to long workouts so you don't even notice how tired you're getting or how many calories you've burned. This is actually one of the secrets to popular gyms, and you can do it yourself with your phone and a pair of sport earbuds.
Take a little time to hunt down some really good audio media, then save the best for your hardest or longest workouts. You may even start looking forward to your morning runs or evening cardio so you can hear the next chapter of your story.
Talk to Your HR Department
"Employee wellness" is an increasingly popular workplace trend that is leading employers everywhere to offer in-house gyms, gym memberships, or scholarships for workout classes to their staff. Your employer might offer a program like this and you might not even be aware. Just in case, drop a line to HR asking if there are any fitness programs they can connect you with. There just might be something that fits your budget and schedule perfectly and, if not, nothing is lost.
Build It Into Your Routine
Finally, remember to build your workout into your routine. Paid fitness programs get you working out because you don't want to waste the money. Instead, save your money and use your own motivation to get yourself sweating every single day. The best way to do this is to make it a regular part of your day. Every morning, get in a workout and get sweaty before you take your shower. Or go for a run every day after work to pound away your work stress into the pavement, then come home and shower for a nice evening with the family.
Bringing fitness into your life doesn't have to mean a big expense for club memberships, equipment, or dietary supplements. Avoid the costly trends and fads and get your body into shape with willpower and a few practical budget decisions. Your local park, a workout schedule, the grocery store, and your own good judgment are all you need to build a no-cost workout routine your body will (eventually) love. And, of course, don't forget your audiobooks. Contact us today for more practical tips to guide everyday financial decisions.