For something different today, I’m tackling a recent question from reader, Hope, on frugality and weight loss. She asks:
you’re interested and willing, would you write a post regarding
frugality and weight loss/health? I know you’re losing baby weight and
you may have other knowledge to share, too.
My story is that
like so many, I’m overweight AND in debt. The two seem to go together
and it seems to at least partly be from the inability to say no to
yourself. Anyway, I’m on Dave Ramsey’s plan (thanks to you!) and I’m
trying to cut back all things that are a non-necessity. Currently I
have lost 25 lbs in the last 3 months by doing Weight Watchers ($39.95
per month) and exercising. I have a $42 a month gym membership but I
haven’t used it in months since I’ve been exercising at home. I have
about 100 lbs more to lose. These two things would be easy to cut out
of my budget and I would save $62 per month. However, I need the
accountability of a weigh-in to continue to lose the weight so I’m
hesitant to cut Weight Watchers.
I’ve been working out at home all summer but once the rain hits I may need to go to the gym. Do you have any advice? – Hope
first off, I just wanted to say that I’m so impressed at your
motivation and determination to become more disciplined! My mom always
says that discipline in one area of your life invariably spills out
into discipline in other areas of your life, too. So, way to go!
the only weight loss I’ve ever dealt with before is losing pregnancy
weight, I’m not sure that I am the most knowledgeable on helping with
this question. I do know that determination and discipline go a long
way, as does accountability.
Here are a few thoughts I had for you and then I’ll open up the floor for others to share:
I would first examine what it is about Weight Watchers that is helping you lose weight. I am guessing it is the accountability. I’ve never been to a Weight Watchers
meeting before, but I’ve heard that you have to weigh in and I know
that if I knew I had to weigh in in front of someone else every week,
that would be a big motivation to me! I also think you have to track
points and they keep track of that as well, am I right? Both things are
basically that you are just paying for accountability.
You could easily accomplish this same thing without paying the money by asking an acquaintance or two to be your accountability partners.
But, you would need to make sure that anyone who is going to be your
accountability partner is going to be a "slave driver." By that I mean,
you don’t want to weigh in front of someone who is too positive and is
going to respond "Oh honey, you’re doing a great job. I’m so proud of you for your hard work, even if you gained five pounds this week." No, you want someone who will really and truly keep you accountable for the long haul and won’t let you be a slacker.
if you can’t find someone who will be this sort of persistent,
force-you-to-be-disciplined accountability partner, then I say that
paying for Weight Watchers
until you reach your goal weight and maintain it, might very well be
the way to go. In the long run, losing the weight and keeping it off
will not only make you feel so much better and give you so much more
energy, it will also invariably save you a lot of health problems in
the future. And sometimes, paying for something means you are
attributing value to it and thus will follow through with it.
As far as a gym membership goes, I’m not sure what sort of exercising you’ve been doing, but there are many cheaper alternatives to paying full-price for a gym membership.
I’ve heard from some that you can often swap a few hours of nursery
services each week at the gym for a paid membership. That might be
something to look into. Don’t be afraid to be creative and think
outside the box. Call around to different gyms in your area and see if
they have any discounted rates for those who can’t afford a full-price
membership. Ask for a deal. Who knows what they might say? After all,
it never hurts to ask!
are walking as part of your exercise, you could find an indoor place to
go and walk on rainy days. What about a large store, or mall, or church
or school with a gym? Again, think outside the box here and see what
you might come up with.
weather is nice, I’ve been running or walking everyday, which has been
great! I also enjoy a few exercise DVDs and found it’s much more
effective for me than trying to just do my own calisthenics or pilates
Also, this doesn’t help with the rain thing, but it’s another thinking-outside-the-box way to guarantee some regular exercise–sign up for a walking newspaper route!
We recently took two walking routes on as an entrepreneurial thing to
do as a family. The pay isn’t that great, but the exercise is fabulous
and when you’ve contracted to do the job, you have to do it whether you
feel like it or not!
Now, for a few weight-loss ideas and thoughts from me:
Moderation is key. Only eat when you are hungry and then, do not overeat. I repeat, do not overeat.
This will go a long way in curbing the pounds. If you feel somewhat
hungry, try drinking a big glass of water and see if your hunger goes
away. Sometimes that’s all it takes to tide you over for awhile. If you
have a habit of eating while you are on the computer or sitting in
front of the TV, slice up an apple or two to eat or a bag of carrots
instead of that bag of chips or package of Oreos. Not only will you get
in some great nutrition without much thinking about it, you’ll also
save yourself a lot of calories. As an aside, limit vegging or lounging
in front of any kind of screen as much as possible – this will also
help keep the pounds off!
Avoid processed foods.
Not only are they not good for you, processed foods are usually loaded
with calories and artificial stuff. Rid your cupboards of anything
artificial and then don’t buy any more of it. Along the same lines,
avoid anything that says "Reduced fat, reduced calories, reduced
sugar…" these types of foods are usually crawling with artificial
junk and do not help your health in the long-run. Instead of eating
artificial foods, learn to enjoy made-from-scratch goodness. Make it
yourself, if at all possible, and your pocketbook will thank you!
This is a big one for me and probably my very hardest since I admit to
having a sweet tooth. I do allow myself a few desserts per week, but
since I’m trying to lose my last few pounds of pregnancy weight, I’m
really cutting back. And it’s amazing the difference it makes. What has
helped me is to just not have sweets in the house as much as possible.
Also, when I’m craving something sweet, I will eat a piece of fruit
instead or bake some whole-wheat bread and then eat it fresh with honey
Cut the soda and latte addiction and you’ll cut a lot of calories.
Instead, drink lots of water. I also occasionally drink fresh homemade
juice and usually daily have at least one or two cups of herbal teas.
As much as I love drinking a Starbucks coffee every now and then, I’ve
resigned myself to avoid it almost altogether until I’ve finished
losing the last of this baby weight. I have a huge mug that I fill up
with ice water and carry around with me all day. Having it nearby me
throughout the day means that I drink more. I try to drink the
equivalent of at least eight glasses of water a day when not nursing
and at least 12 glasses of water when nursing. For extra zest, I’ll
often squeeze a little lemon in the water, or make .
Eat a diet high in fiber.
I try to have the majority of my diet be made up of fresh fruits and
vegetables and whole grains. Not only do you feel better eating this
way, it’s better for you, and it’s hard to gain extra weight on this
kind of diet!
Always be looking for ways to incorporate more exercise into your life.
Park farther from the door of a store and briskly walk. Take the stairs
whenever you can. Stand instead of sitting. Jog instead of walking.
Don’t eat after 8:00 p.m.This might seem like a strange one, but it works. If you are really hungry after
8:00 p.m., eat some veggies or a piece of fruit to curb your hunger.
Take on a new hobby or interest.
It’s not my usual thing here to tell you to add something new to your
plate (um, no pun intended), but if eating is a sort of "hobby" to you,
branch out and try some new things to get your mind elsewhere!
Volunteer, organize your closets, plant a garden, do some in-depth
cleaning project, learn a new domestic skill, go clean someone’s home,
take a class, start a business… do anything you can do that gets you
away from food and keeps you busy! Pretty soon, you’ll realize that
you’re so busy doing other things, you’ve forgotten to eat! (Please
note: I’m not advocating we just cram our life full or that we live a
life so busy that we often forget to eat. But sometimes, we need to get
out and get distracted so that we can get over addictions – which is
really what over-eating is.)
Write down everything you eat and drink each day. You’ll be amazed at how helpful this simple little exercise can be. I often find that I think I eat a lot less than I do and I also think
I drink a lot more water than I do. Writing it down helps me to see
just exactly what I’m putting into my body and helps me be able to
adjust my diet accordingly. Utilize a program like or SparkPeople.com to help you track your progress, fitness, water intake, and diet each day.
Most importantly, if you are a Christian, ask the Lord for grace.
This is the most important. Don’t try to lose weight in your own
strength. Go to the Lord and ask Him to help you, to give you the
discipline, and the self-control. He is able!
are some of my thoughts on the subject. I’d love to hear others "weigh
in" with advice, personal testimonies, or tips for losing weight
without breaking your budget. Also, if anyone has any advice or
experience with Weight Watchers, gym memberships, or other weight loss
programs or helps, please do share in the comments section.