How to Lose Weight Without Spending a Lot of Money

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?

3 Ways to Lose Weight

1. Lose Weight by Taking Up Running

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.

2. Lose Weight With DVDs From Netflix

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.

3. Lose Weight with Resources From the Library

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.



Author

By , on Jan 11, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{20 Comments}

  1. Begin performing compound workouts. Mix up your movements by performing a lot more workouts that will really melt away fat all more than particularly around your stomach. Compound workouts like squats, chest presses, and chin ups are truly effective for burning up the belly weight even though they do not target your ab muscles directly.

  2. Susan Sanders:

    For tracking your eating and exercising check out http://www.NutriMirrror.com It’s a free website with great information, lots of support in the journal room for frugal ways to eat well and exercise.

  3. Lucille Roberts:

    There are gyms out there with very affordable prices and you will also save money by consuming less food.

  4. You can also find exercise videos at yard sales and thrift stores for $1-$2. Can’t beat it and you don’t have to pay the Netflix fees.

  5. I took up running in the fall (my girlfriend and I were very determinedly doing a Couch to 5K program), but it got very cold here very quickly. Even the parks & rec gym membership is more money than I can afford just for access to a treadmill, so I’ve just embraced the idea of getting fat over the winter and starting to run again in the Spring.

    When I was running, though, I invested in the Nike+ iPod shoe sensor: though seemingly a waste of $20, this was actually one of the best motivational tools I’ve ever purchased. The only downside is that they’re said to have terrible battery life…but I love the thing so much I’ll gladly shell out another $20 when my current one dies. Anyone else have one?

  6. I love using the “Watch it now” feature on Netflix! One hint I have found with watching movies and workouts on there is: I bought 2 cables that hook my computer to my TV screen. I hook up the cables and make a couple of changes in the control panel of my computer. It makes my TV look like an extension of my computer screen. I can then watch my movies on the TV instead of my little computer screen.

  7. B. Wallace:

    I know people aren’t supposed to say this, but you can lose weight without exercising. We eat to feed our bodies, so if I’m stationary for most of the day then I shouldn’t be eating like someone who runs 5 miles a day. Weight loss won’t be super quick without exercise, but then neither was the original weight gain! :)

    Exercise has its uses, but it really comes down to not overeating. Plus, when people exercise they tend to think that they can eat more and that’s not the case. An hour of moderate exercise, for example, barely burns off any food. Eating less not only saves our bodies from excess weight, it saves money too. I have an article about that here.

  8. I like the Wii Fit idea, i have not tried it but looking forward to getting it as a gift. I support lynnae, about running it is free natural and you connect with nature especially if you do it outdoors.
    I have also come to realize that not all people are are naturally inclined to get out and jog.. if you are one of those, get into a support group and you will certainly manage the expectations.

    Joseph

  9. I am soooo glad that you mentioned Netflix. I always bring this up whenever I hear people mention buying workout DVD’s and it seems to be forgotten. I love the Instant Watch selection myself and there were some Jillian Michael’s on there a while ago too.

  10. There are also tons of videos on youtube. I have done some abs videos and they have worked out really well for me. I can just do them in my room for free.

  11. Angelsong:

    I have a real challenge for you: What about weight loss for people with mobility impairments who cannot walk or run? I also cannot swim. I am in that group myself, and would love to know what options I have for meaningful exercise. My husband and I are both on a long-term track to weight loss via lifestyle change, specifically regarding our diets. We are using South Beach, which was recommended by my doctor…but I still feel I need a do-able exercise program of some sort.

    • Lynnae:

      Would a stationary bike be an option? Or what about water aerobics in the shallow end of the pool? When my kids took swimming lessons at the YMCA, there was a group that came in to do really simple weight exercises in the pool. They didn’t have to swim, as they were in water just up to their shoulders. I imagine the water resistance would provide a pretty good workout.

      That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. I’d love to know if anyone else has suggestions!

      • You can also do chair exercises without standing. When I found out I was diabetic, the nurse teaching my diabetes management class showed us several exercises to do in your chair for people who can’t do anything else. I’m sure you can find some instructions online.

    • deb:

      I do not know why you cannot walk or swim but am thinking it may be a lower body issue.
      You can do yoga…great for flexibilty and even strength training..some poses use your body weight and therefore become resistance and will build muscle and help bone density.
      Another thing you can do is upper body weight work..with light weights and a small bench or table…bench presses, flies, curls, tricep extensions..do 3 sets of 12 of each and then add more upper body exercises…burn calories and will build upper body strength..you can try sit ups, chin ups too

      eat more green less white
      no sugary drinks, water and tea
      add a vegetable and fruit each day, decrease meat, processed food
      no lunch meat unless very high quality
      no fast food, fast chinese or hoagies
      increase brown (rice, bread)
      multivitamin

  12. Kate:

    If you are paying for cable, sometimes the ondemand section will have free workouts. Someone told me about the ones on Comcast and they have become a lifesaver. Another good calorie counter is from Livestrong.com called The Daily Plate. I am going to check out the Couch to 5k – running has always been a great way for me to lose weight!

  13. We received the Wii Fit Plus for Christmas and since then, I have lost 5 pounds. While it isn’t free, a one time payment of $100 for the “game” is definitely worth it in my book. I hate the gym and for the most part, I dislike exercising all together. The Wii Fit Plus gives a great workout, but it is also enjoyable.

  14. Nicole:

    I personally do have cable tv (Comcast is my company), and I utilize their On-Demand Exercise TV. There are a TON of different work outs available on there, from yoga and pilates to Jillian Michaels to dancing to Carmen Electra to Billy Blanks tae-bo.

    It’s great, and there’s so much variety that you cannot get bored! Definitely recommend for those people that do have cable to see what their on-demand offers!

  15. Marcia:

    If you are looking for a support group for your weight-loss, may I recommend TOPS? http://www.tops.org. It is a great organization, not expensive and there are groups all over the place.

    • Lynnae:

      I worked with a gal who did TOPS a while back. She also really recommended it. Thanks for the suggestion!

  16. that is so funny that you just mentioned Netflix, I just discovered the YOGA section of netflix and found a bunch of streaming vids to add to my queue… That really is a great option if you are a member…

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