One of the top New Years resolutions every year is losing weight. Fortunately for those of us who are trying to lose weight and get out of debt at the same time, you can lose weight without spending a lot of money. Forget the expensive gym memberships. Forget the expensive exercise equipment. Those things are great, if you can afford them while still meeting your other financial goals. But if you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend, it is still possible to lose weight and get fit.
Losing weight comes down to two things: eating less and exercising more. I’m going to focus on the exercise portion of this equation, since that’s where people tend to think they need to spend money. If you need help with eating less, check out Spark People. It’s a free tool that helps you track your eating and exercise habits to help you lose weight.
But what about that exercise? What are some low cost options?
For the cost of a pair of running shoes, you can lose a lot of weight by running. Several years ago my husband lost 50 lbs. by running and watching his food intake.
If you’re new to running, you can start out by alternating running and walking. You don’t even have to figure out the intervals yourself. Couch to 5K is a free program designed to get beginning runners off the couch and running 5 kilometers in 9 weeks.
On the site, there’s an option to buy the program, but there’s really no need. The schedule is free, and free podcasts are available to help you with your workout.
If you can’t handle the Couch to 5K training schedule, don’t worry. You don’t have to do the program in 9 weeks. Spread it out to 18 weeks, if you like. The important thing is that you’re up and moving.
I know I talk about Netflix a lot, but I really use Netflix for everything…including my workouts! For years people have bought DVDs to help them lose weight in their own homes. The problem with that is eventually you get so sick of the DVD, you don’t want to work out anymore.
Netflix solves that problem in a couple of ways. First, when you request a DVD by mail, you can keep it as long as you like without incurring late fees. That means you can use a workout DVD until you get sick of it. Then just mail it back and get a new one. They carry a wide variety of fitness DVDs, so you’re sure to find something that appeals to you. Currently I’m enjoying Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred.
The other way you can use Netflix to lose weight is with their instant streaming feature. You can stream workout DVDs straight to your computer (or your TV, if you have a Roku player). Not all workout DVDs are available for streaming, but there is enough of a variety that you can shake up your workout routine a lot.
Netflix memberships with unlimited instant streaming start at $8.99 a month. That’s a little more than I prefer to pay just to lose weight, but since I also use Netflix for homeschooling, streaming TV shows, and entertainment on the weekends, we get more than our money’s worth. And if you already have a Netflix membership, it’s not any extra out of your pocket.
This is the least expensive way to get workout DVDs, because it’s free. If you have a great DVD or video section in your library, you can check out workout DVDs. If you’re taking up a new sport like running, you can also check out training guides.
The upside to using the library is that the resources are free. There is a downside, though. The things you want to check out may not always be available. And if you really enjoy a DVD, you don’t get to keep it as long as you like.
Also, if you live in a smaller town, your library options might be limited. If interlibrary loan is available at your library, you might be able to check out DVDs from different library systems. My library website states that borrowing audio-visual materials through interlibrary loan can be difficult. Before you use interlibrary loan, check on the fees. Some libraries offer interlibrary loan at no cost. Others charge to use the service. My library charges $5 per interlibrary loan search (even if they don’t find the item), so I never use it.
If you would like even more options for losing weight without spending a lot of money, check out your local parks and recreation department. Though not free, many communities offer low cost fitness classes. Paying for a class is less expensive than joining a gym.
Regardless of what you decide to do, if you work hard at eating less and exercising more, you will find that it is indeed possible to lose weight without spending a lot of money.
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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