What do you do when the excess weight finds your hips or belly again? You know you need to diet, but you’re also committed to frugality, and so many diet plans require expensive special food, regular fees for weigh-in or counseling, or supplements. Losing weight doesn’t have to mean that you spend a lot of money, though. Here’s how to lose weight without adding fat to your budget.
*Consider a real-food diet. To save money while you lose weight, find a diet plan that lets you use “real food”—vegetables, lean meats, fruits, whole grains—rather than processed, packaged special “diet foods.” You’ll save money by shopping at the grocery store instead of paying high prices for special food. Real-food diet plans include Weight Watchers and Atkins among other choices.
*Watch the treats. When I was on the Atkins Diet, I looked forward to my low-carb candy bar each day as a special reward. Those candy bars were expensive, though! I’d still spend money on the candy bars because they kept my motivation high, but these days I’d avoid the protein shakes, special low-carb energy drinks, low-carb baking mixes, and many of the other specialized low-carb products. I’ve done calorie-counting diets, too, and I can attest that there are many low-fat/low-calorie choices that I’d pass up in favor of real food.
*Exercise. No matter which diet plan you choose, exercise is your ace in the hole. It’s also relatively cheap. You can walk, play with your dog, join a low-fee gym, lift weights in your own home. You don’t need to spend big bucks to get your glow on, and exercising will jump-start your weight loss and keep it coming.
*Be kind to yourself. As the weight comes off, reward yourself frugally by treating yourself to some new clothes (purchased using your best frugal strategies, of course!), tea or coffee with a good friend, a long afternoon to read a good book, or a hike in the cool autumn air.
*Have a strategy for when (not if!) you have a bad day. Let’s face it, changing the way you eat is hard. You feel deprived. You might be hungry. Your body image has taken a hit on the way to admitting that you need to lose weight. You get bored with your diet foods. Maybe (gasp! Probably) you mess up and blow your diet. Don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself the gift of grace and kindness when you mess up, and plan to resume your diet right away.
Losing the excess flab doesn’t mean padding your budget. What low-impact diet strategies have you found that have a high impact on your weight loss?