Guest Post by Jen Hayes
A few years ago, I began taking a medication that has the unfortunate side effect of increasing hunger, and I rapidly gained 50 pounds. I tried eating a healthier diet and exercising more, but I couldn’t lose even a few pounds. It seemed that no matter what I did, I continued to gain more and more weight. I would get frustrated, give up, and then repeat the same cycle over and over again.
When I finally got serious about drastically changing my habits a few months ago, I started seeing results and I’m thrilled to say that I have lost more than 30 pounds so far. I have been able to do this without becoming a runner (running bores me) or strictly limiting my calorie intake (I’m a snacker). I am also doing this on an extremely tight budget – my husband and I are struggling to pay off more than 100k of student loan debt in just three years, so there is zero wiggle room in our budget. It is entirely possible to eat healthy and exercise on a tight budget.
Whole Food, Vegan Diet
When I asked a fit, healthy friend of mine for workout advice, she was blunt. She said, “No amount of working out will fix a poor diet. You need to change your diet, and there is no way around that.” I resisted this idea at first. I told myself my diet wasn’t “that bad”. I ate a lot of fruit, I ordered salads at restaurants, and I didn’t drink soda. (I conveniently ignored the pepperoni pizza I was eating for dinner and the processed crackers I was munching on constantly).
Eventually, I decided that I would at least try what my friend suggested. She recommended eating a vegan, whole food diet. I completely cut out meat, dairy, and processed food from my diet. I started seeing results quickly. I wasn’t hungry all the time anymore, I felt full after eating a meal, I had more energy, and I started losing weight.
I was concerned about how much money I would spend on a healthy, plant-based diet, but I actually do not spend any more money on groceries than I used to. I no longer buy meat (which is expensive!), I typically don’t buy organic, and I am careful to only buy what I will actually use.
I’ve always hated running, but there are plenty of other fun options for cardio workouts! Two days per week, I walk on the treadmill at a brisk pace and I turn up the incline to make the workout more intense. I am fortunate to work for a company that has a free onsite gym. I’m too tired early in the mornings or after a full day of work, so I work out during my lunch breaks. (I eat lunch at my desk while I work). It feels great to work out for an hour and get a break from sitting all day. If I didn’t work for a company with an onsite gym, I would go for walks outside instead.
On weekends, I do my fun workouts. My company offers free gym memberships that include group fitness classes. I usually do Zumba and spin because those are both excellent cardio workouts. Once in a while, I will do something different like yoga or Pilates. If you get bored doing the same workout all the time, it’s fun to switch things up and try something new!
Three days per week, I do strength training at my company’s onsite gym. Because I’m not used to strength training yet, I still do fairly “easy”exercises such as squats, lunges, knee pushups, and crunches. I am working on continually increasing the number of sets I do and the number of reps. I plan to start adding weights to my exercises once I am ready to do so.
Discipline and Consistency
You may have noticed that I work out seven days per week. I am not running marathons or doing high-intensity types of exercise, but I am dedicated and consistent with my workouts. I apply the same consistency to my diet. I do not have entire cheat days and I do my best to eat a healthy diet even while traveling. When I do cheat, it’s not for an entire day and it’s something that isn’t too unhealthy – like a chicken Caesar wrap or a chocolate covered frozen banana.
It is entirely possible to eat healthy, exercise, and lose weight on an extremely tight budget. If running marathons or counting calories aren’t the right options for you, try eating healthier foods and incorporating fun types of exercise into your daily routine. With discipline and consistency, you can achieve your goal weight!
|Jen is an HR/Finance professional by day and a frugal lifestyle blogger by night. Jen and her husband are currently working on a crazy goal of paying off over 100k of student loan debt in just three years. She writes about healthy eating on a budget, destroying debt, increasing income, and living frugally. You can find her blogging at www.frugal-millennial.com.|