Column: Lose the fat, not the cash

By: Heather Tarnopolsky - Budget Reboot

 | Apr 10, 2014 - 12:34 PM |

Winter has its benefits: hot chocolate on a frosty night, movie marathons by the fireplace, holiday feasting with family and friends — all things I look forward to come Nov. 1 each year.

But now it’s April and I can’t count how many winter nights I’ve had indulging in comfort foods and hot chocolate. Too much hot chocolate.

If you’re feeling like me, a couch potato, it’s time to shape up. But don’t be lured by costly gym memberships and diet meal programs which can run up expensive monthly fees.

Instead, try these low-budget tips to achieve your goal of being swimwear ready by summer.

Get more active

Gym memberships can be sticky when it comes to monthly fees and contract obligations. Skip the cost and workout at home or outside. I’m no fitness instructor, but I do know the benefits of the Google search engine.

Look for at-home exercise methods depending on what you’d like to achieve.
Do more free activities that you enjoy, but don’t seem like work — walking the dog, jogging with a friend or trying that fun dance number on your child’s gaming console.

Day-to-day routines can always use a little tweaking to ensure you’re getting more activity. When visiting a store, park furthest from the entrance so you have a longer to walk to get there. At work, use the stairs instead of the elevator.

Join groups with the same activity interests. The only cost involved is usually the initial start-up gear. For example, a hiking group may only require hiking boots for you to join. Check out your local leisure guide for group activity opportunities or start up your own with friends so you can all save.

Header: Eat healthier. Diet is a major contributing factor in your plans to get swimwear ready by summer. Focusing on your diet in addition to exercising will fast track the results you’re striving for.

Skip the drive-thru

The convenience of fast food is not worth the damaging health effects or the cost to your bank account every time you order that meal deal. Instead, pack a lunch for work in addition to planning your family dinners for the week ahead.

Planning meals saves time and money if you stick to it. Search online for budget friendly and healthy meal options. Write a list of grocery items and only purchase lower-cost brands.

If you’re one to forget packing a lunch, try stocking up on items in your office for the week ahead. No more excuses to run out for a bite to eat as you will already have healthy items on hand that were previously purchased on budget.

Getting active and eating healthier provides many obvious benefits but when done using my tips above, can save you a lot of money as well.

Oh, and steer clear of chocolate bunnies this Easter. I wish you the best of luck. See you at the beach.

Heather Tarnopolsky is a Sun Life Financial advisor in Greater Sudbury. 

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