There are a few times during the year where most people make an extra effort to get healthy – summer is one of them! When we go on holiday and tend to wear less we become more conscious of what we look and feel like.
Being healthy is not just about exercise, it is about what we eat, our sleep, what we drink, what we listen to and watch on TV and where we live, what we do for a living and who are friends are. All areas of life can have an impact on our health. With so many things to think about, getting healthy can seem quite overwhelming – where to start!?
The best place is in looking at what we eat and drink and the amount of exercise we do (or don’t do!). People often say that getting healthy can be expensive and so this blog post is all about how to get healthy for summer on a budget.
Where are you now?
Whenever we are trying to change something, we have to acknowledge what the current situation is. Thinking about your day, what kinds of foods do you eat now? Would you think they are healthy? If you aren’t sure, take a look at the NHS Eat Well guidelines. These set out simply what you need to be including in your diet each day to get a healthy balanced diet. You can work towards it, just take a day at a time.
From this you will soon begin to see where you need to make changes with food. For most people that’s about cutting back on sugar and processed foods and introducing more fruit and vegetables. It is interesting that healthier foods are often more expensive than processed, convenience foods. You would think that with the impact on our health it would, and should, be the other way around. We will address how to find healthy foods on a budget further down this post. For now, let’s talk about exercise.
Do you exercise every day, every week or not at all? Here are the NHS recommended exercise guidelines. Be honest with yourself about where you are now – you will know whether you are doing enough exercise or not without looking at this guide, but if you aren’t quite sure, have a quick read through.
Eating healthy on a budget
There are literally hundreds of places you can go to find out about healthy eating and recipes. The NHS is a good place to start with guidelines because it gives you an idea of what you need to include every day. The BBC Good Food website has literally thousands of recipes that you can then look at to start eating healthy. There are also free apps you can download to help too. Spend some time researching healthy eating, recipes and tips.
Cooking from scratch
Most healthy eating involves cooking dinners from scratch. This might seem a bit overwhelming at first if you aren’t used to doing it, but just give it a go. You might be a secret Jamie Oliver and find you absolutely love it. There is also something very satisfying cooking a lovely dinner for yourself and your family that you have cooked from scratch rather than took out of a box or the freezer to warm up.
Once you start to cook foods yourself rather than buying processed or convenience foods that you simply put in the oven or microwave, you find that you have more ingredients than you think. At first you might need to buy spices or dry/cupboard ingredients, but once you have made a few recipes, you find that you start to know more of what you like and you have the essential ingredients you need in stock. You actually end up buying less than if you are cooking freezer or convenience foods.
Most often you have left overs when you cook from scratch and so you end up saving money because you can freeze the extra and have for lunch the next day or another dinner. After a couple of weeks of trying new recipes you also become a bit braver with trying things yourself and you can begin to use what you have in the cupboard rather than needing to go out and pick something up, which of course adds up and costs extra money during the week.
Supermarket sale foods!
Supermarkets always have times of the day and week when you can get foods cheaper. This is usually just before they close and on a Sunday afternoon before all the new stock is put out for the coming week. If you go to a supermarket regularly you will know when this is and if you don’t, ask the staff! You can pick up fresh meat, fish, fruits and vegetables that are all still within date or close to the end at less than half the price! This gives you such a massive saving. You might cook up dinners for the week and save even more time and money or you could freeze some of the food you buy too. Doing this really does save you money.
What do you drink?
On a daily basis what do you drink? Tea, coffee? Soft drinks? How much sugar is in your drinks. Do you drink alcohol? Drinks, especially bottled ones often contain a lot of sugar. Try to remove the amount of sugar you consume overall and particularly in drinks. If you do drink alcohol, stick within the recommended guidelines. Here is the UK alcohol guidelines from Drink Aware. Sugar in drinks and alcohol contributes a lot to not only weight gain but the quality of your health too.
Exercising on a budget
Not everyone can afford a gym membership, but there are lots of ways to exercise without needing one. If you would like to join a gym, spend some time researching on the internet for offers. Gyms and health clubs always have special deals on membership where you can get introductory weeks free or where joining fees are waived. Summer is a great time for this because lots of people want to get fit and healthy and the clubs know this and so have deals running to make that easier!
If you can’t afford the joining fee you could always try and ask if it can be waived. If you don’t ask you don’t get and sometimes the gym would rather get you to sign up for the membership than have you pay the joining fee, so don’t be afraid to negotiate. Always be sure to understand what you are signing up for because some gyms just have monthly memberships where you can cancel anytime and some have you sign up for a longer term.
Swimming is a great form of exercise and in local community pools you can just pay as you go. Everyone Active memberships are also affordable and give you the swimming included. Shop around!
Not sure what to do?
Starting an exercise regime can be a bit daunting so if you aren’t sure what to do then do a little research. You don’t need a personal trainer either. Firstly, just be sure there are no reasons you shouldn’t be exercising i.e. medical conditions and if you aren’t sure, just check with your G.P. before starting to exercise.
There are thousands of people out there who offer free videos on You Tube, Instagram and Facebook to give you free advice and tips on exercising. Make sure the person is reputable and you can do this by looking at their website, reviews and comments. If you are exercising and don’t feel well, stop! Listen to your body and stay safe. Again, if you aren’t sure just check with your G.P.
What do you enjoy?
We all like different things and a good start is just figuring out what you like and don’t like. Sometimes you will know and sometimes it is just trial and error. Go for a run, swim, bike or workout with weights. Decide what you enjoy doing. Exercise is so much better when you enjoy it and if you are slogging your guts out running around the park hating it, you won’t reap the benefits and you certainly won’t continue for long either.
Talking of outdoors, you don’t need a gym. Get outside and because the weather is warmer (ok, a lot of rain sometimes too but we are in an English summer!) you can workout, outside. You might find some cheap weights for sale on eBay or get yourself a skipping rope. Run, walk or jog around the park. Go hiking, mountain biking or swimming. The list goes on.
Just do it!
As the Nike saying goes, just do it! It doesn’t matter where you start, just start. One of the biggest obstacles to exercise is you! We overthink it and then make excuses for not doing it. Your mind and body will benefit from exercise and it will begin to help you with any unhealthy habits you might have. If you do drink, exercising will help you reduce the amount you drink and you will feel much healthier for it. Be kind to yourself, patient and just enjoy it.
How to get healthy for summer on a budget
There is no hard and fast rule that works for everyone. We are all different, but if you can look at where you are now, be honest with yourself about what you eat and your exercise you can start to make small changes that will impact on your health. When you start to feel better in your body you will begin to feel better in your mind. When your mind and body are in harmony you will start to notice that your relationships improve, you feel better about work and your life starts to change…all for the better. Don’t let money be the excuse to eating healthy and exercising. As we have explained you can get healthy on a budget and once you start this can become all year round and not just for summer!