Gill Stannard

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fitter, healthier, cheaper

Simple, Green, Frugal is a collaborative blog exploring different aspects of living a simpler and more sustainable life. This might be an unlikely place to find weight loss tips but one of the contributors, Frugal Trenches has written about some healthy and cheap ways of obtaining your ideal weight.

The diet industry can be as disempowering as it is lucrative. Some companies’ focus on providing all your meals, the emphasis is on portion controlling (ie: small servings), heavy on frozen foods and light on education. Creating this kind of dependence is a costly solution. So too if your life is spent driving from point to point, relying solely on exercise in a gym or personal training environment.

Here are her tips, with additional thoughts of my own in italics.

“Frugal and sustainable weightloss”

1. Make the time each day for a walk, a 30 minute walk each morning, or on your lunch break or even after work will work wonders! Eventually try to increase this to 45 minutes to an hour.
Even better if this can be part of your daily commute, walking to work or school or to a further station or tram stop. Sometimes it is easier to walk for a purpose, to get you reacquainted with the other benefits of walking eg: seeing your world literally from a different angle, smelling the scent of the native plants after the rain, the meditative like effects from walking)

2. Start a food diary & be honest - have a good look at what you are really eating and see if you can find any patterns or areas where you could make changes.

3. Focus on getting your 5 a day - that means a mix of 5 fruits & veggies a day (minimum) with protein, dairy & good carbs!
Go for broke and aim for 5 different vegetable and 2 seasonal fruits. Nuts, seeds and beans fall into an overlapping category of providing calcium (in a more water efficient and ethical way than dairy), as well as being a vegetarian form of protein and a slow release carbohydrate. They fill you up as well.

4. Get as much FREE support as you can - go to your Dr, nurse or public health department. See if you can get a referral to a dietitian if you are really struggling or having food cravings etc.
This site has heaps of resources and links that can help broaden your relationship with food. What’s more, by calling me on air on RRR during the Health Trip segment you can get free advice on all aspects of your health.

5. Learn what a portion is! So many people eat 3 or 4x a standard portion size and wonder why they can't lose weight. Again a dietitian should help!
Or a naturopath with an interest in working holistically with food. Where most people go overboard is with protein. A serve of meat = a deck of cards, or if you need a handier (sorry about the pun) reference, its about the size of your palm (not your fingers as well).

6. Get some books from the library with good recipes in them to keep yourself motivated and encouraged.
I love my library and it has a great collection of cookbooks and magazines. But as you are online already, my tip is to list the ingredients your want to read and add the “recipe” eg pumpkin + tofu + recipe.

7. Get into the garden and get your house tidy! Gardening and cleaning are great forms of exercise! If you need to get moving when you are cleaning, try putting on some music and dancing around to it! Just remember you may want to close your curtains ;-) In fact, the week I painted my lounge I lost 5 lbs without trying!
Bugger the curtains ;-) open the door, crank up the music, dance in the garden, the street, under the stars!

8. Get on your bike (remember the helmet!). If you don't have a bike see if you can borrow a friends, get one on freecycle or save up for one! Always remember those helmets!
For those in Melbourne there’s the bike shed at Ceres in Brunswick. For a token membership fee they can help you rehab a recycled bike.

9. Phone your local council and find out all the info on your local pools, rec centres etc. Many offer free or subsidized sessions, see if there are any special promotions on or if they've received any funding that you could tap into. For example my local gym has lottery funded sessions with a personal trainer for free. You can only go once a week for 30 minutes but it is a great program!
Your local pool will probably have a gym with cheap classes, childcare etc to make it even easier for you to try a new way of moving your body. Also check out your nearest neighbourhood house or community centre for other discounted classes, like belly dancing, yoga etc.

10. Try to make your meals from scratch. You will then know what is going into them, how much butter, creams etc. I make a big batch of homemade soup each week, it costs me about £1 = $1.75 to make and I get 6 healthy sized portions. This is a good healthy, frugal meal which helps me keep my calories in check!
If you don’t know how to cook the neighbourhood houses will probably have cheap cooking courses too. Ceres also has some interesting classes including “Cooking for blokes”.

11. Make use of any free internet tools but remember to keep the focus on your health! We all have different bodies with different needs and I don't believe in a one size fits all approach!
If you are spending too much time getting lost on the net, set your kitchen timer on for 20 or 30 minutes. When it goes off, get up and walk about, even better have a little dance.

12. Buddy up with a friend or work colleague, see if you can start a walking group at work or try to get together with a friend a couple times a week to encourage each other, run or walk with each other.
Don’t forget your neighbours. Going for a walk with them, or offering to walk their dog, is a good way of connecting to your community and getting exercise as well. Likewise, mothers groups can get out of the lounge and into the world.

13. Remember what you loved doing as a child - did you love playing tennis or sprinting. See if you can incorporate what you love into your weekly budget!
Don’t forget the skipping rope – a cheap and fun way to do some short bursts of intense cardio work/

14. GET OUTDOORS - most of us have times in our lives where we feel like we spend the majority of our lives behind a desk, so try to make the most of the time you have off work to get outdoors! Like the picture at the start of the post, there are so many beautiful places to explore. Get a book out from the library about the city you live in or find out from your local council what walks are in your area and make use of them. Treat yourselves like tourists at the weekend and get out and enjoy what is all around you!

15. Finally, my personal motto is Forgive Yourself And Move On! We will all have the odd day or two when we eat too much and move too little, but honestly that is life. There will be birthday parties, work events etc, there will be days where everything seems to be going against you. When you let these days get you down, you begin to feel like you have to throw in the towel. Instead try to learn from those days, how did you feel, what coping mechanisms did you employ and brush it off as just another day.
If you are eating something fatty/sweet/fried etc then go for quality over quantity and enjoy every mouthful. Eat it slowly and consciously; listen to your body when it says it is time to stop. Never feel guilty.

Do you have any other tips you’d like to add?

1 comment: said...

Thanks for the kind words about my post!

Good Luck!