Get Fit on a Small Budget: My Fitness Confession

Get Fit on a Small Budget

I have to admit that I am doing a few things that I don’t feel entirely comfortable with today. I am sharing with you a very vulnerable place in my heart, I am exposing a time in my life that I wasn’t the most proud of, I am sharing one picture (of many) of a person that I don’t really recognize, and I am telling you that I am trying to be different…knowing that saying it out loud is the hardest part.

Get Fit on a Small Budget

In my college years, after numerous indecisions about what I wanted to do with my life, I settled on a career path in Food & Nutrition. While learning about the formula for calories, flunking my cooking class twice, and taking courses on exercise and physiology, I became a blimped out version of my former self. I ate out almost every single day, stopped exercising, partied hard, and lived a sedentary life. My hair suddenly became greasy, my face was shiny all of the time, I had chronic stomach problems, exercise-induced asthma, chronic back pain, high cholesterol, and I need to nap because I was constantly tired. Freshman 15 would have been mild compared to the Freshman 35 that I put on. It was such a gradual process that I don’t think I even realized what was happening.

So gradual, in fact, that I found it strange when I overheard a guy friend say that I had a pretty face and would be cute if I could just lose some weight.

I was that girl now.

I bring this up because I know that sometimes it can be hard to relate to someone if you don’t see the struggle, the work, and the decisions that are made daily to accomplish their current body, and the daily commitment that is made after you have reached your personal goals for fitness or weight loss.

Get Fit on a Small Budget

In my thirties, I am in better shape than I ever was in my teen or college years. My skin is great, I no longer take any medications, I have no chronic health conditions, I am at a healthy weight for my body, and I am proud to show my kids that physical fitness is an essential part of my day.  When a ten minute workout would have winded me before, I can now run on my treadmill miles at a time.

Each day that I put in my exercise time, I remind myself that I am running and exercising against a family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, low bone density, stomach problems.

I am running towards quality time with the people I love.

How is fitness and frugality related? Well, frankly, it is simple… the more fit you are, the less you pay in medication and doctor visits. Fitness doesn’t require a big investment at all, but it is an investment that will pay off for years and years down the road.

Get Fit on a Small Budget

Connect your workouts with your passions

Working out used to be a real struggle for me. Each day working out was a hurdle for me. It was something that I felt compelled to fight against my weight and health problems, but it never was enjoyable or something I looked forward to. All of this changed with a Groupon that I snagged for a local dance fitness studio. Some of my best childhood memories were dancing on a stage and discovering that there were dance classes for adults has reignited my passion for working out.  My biggest struggle now isn’t if I have to go the gym, but when should I LEAVE from the gym.

Abbi said it best in her article that she shared with us this week when she said, “Remember your childhood passion and transition it into your adult life.”

This simple switch really has been the key to my own fitness success this year. Groupons can be a great way to explore a new class or workout routine without making a large investment.  I have tried so many classes and gyms through their offerings and have had great success in adding variety in my workout routines without spending a lot of money.

Get Fit on a Small Budget

Eat healthier during the day

No matter how hard I was exercising, I was still eating whatever I wanted and not seeing the results that I was looking for.  As a mom it can be difficult to not give in and just eat whatever the kids are eating. My days were filled with macaroni, chicken nuggets, crackers, chips, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Unfortunately, that was not filling me up and I would feel hungry throughout the day.

One thing I have found is that starting with a smart menu plan for the week really helps to keep me on track.  Due to some of my own health struggles,  this past year,  I switched to eating gluten-free and it has transformed my life and eating habits. It also requires a lot of thought and planning to execute a health menu plan for us all and keep our family on budget.  Each week I make a batch of slow cooked steel cut oatmeal for the morning,  I try to make a double batch of taco meat so that I can make taco bowls (brown rice, meat, tomatoes, & lettuce, with a little greek yogurt to top) for my lunches, I  keep salad and smoothie fixings in the fridge for quick meals, and always have lots of fruit on hand for snacking.

Double batching items or making a pot of something that can be enjoyed all week are the keys to my success. Where I used to deprive myself of foods to lose and maintain my weight, I now eat what I want, but in moderation.

Although I would love to do all my shopping at an inexpensive market in town, I have found that I can feed our family a lot more healthy food exploring a discount market like ALDI.  One of my favorite offerings from that store is their produce picks of the week that have been deeply discounted for the week. Now it isn’t an issue to splurge on lots of fresh fruits and veggies since the price fits right in my budget and I work to incorporate this weekly produce item in our cooking for the week to keep our grocery budget on track.

Be frugal, but make wise fitness investments

Workout gear can be pricey, but doesn’t need to be. This is the time of year when workout gear is deeply discounted and the best time to stock up thanks to those semi-annual sales. The shops know that many of us are making resolutions to get back in shape and they drop the prices on fitness equipment in anticipation of this.

I get a lot of my workout gear from the Danskin brand for Walmart because most of my key pieces are $15 or less. I also have found that if I want to get brand name workout gear I check sites like Twice or Thredup for the expensive gear I want, but at half the price. Many people I know have had great success purchasing coveted brands like Lululemon on eBay as well.  If you want quality pieces, you can find them through these secondhand retailers.

One investment that you shouldn’t skimp on though is a good pair of workout shoes.  While new tennis shoes were a big investment for me, they are an investment that has really paid off and allowed me to workout longer and not feel achy after my workouts. Different activities require different types of shoes and being properly fitted is key to preventing injuries.

Don’t be afraid to make an investment if it will improve your fitness experience and help your endurance levels with working out. My tennis shoes are just one example of something that had held me back from feeling my best, and something that has made a huge difference in my motivation to keep moving.

Switch up your routines

If you are hitting a plateau in your fitness routine, then it might be time to switch things up a bit. For many years I had been working out at home. I found a lot of variation in my routine compliments of the library and the DVD’s that they offered.  Now I have joined a gym, which I consider one of the wisest investments that I have made. Since I am frugal, I try to be there 4-5 days a week (at least) so that I can really get every dollar out of my monthly membership, bringing the class prices down to around $3 each.

Think about what you are spending your money on and see if it could be allocated to something healthier. Do you have a movie club membership or premium cable plan? What if you put that money towards a gym membership instead?  With my cable plan and my movie membership, I felt forced to sit in front of the boob tube. After canceling the movie membership, I have felt less dedicated to television time and more dedicated to the things that matter most to me.

Workout buddies can be a wonderful way to keep on track with your fitness too. Having a commitment to others or making social engagements with them after your workouts can be a great way to stay on track with your goals while building lasting friendships.

Turn off distractors

The hardest part of working out for me are all of the distractors that can pull me away from my goals. I make deals with myself where I am not allowed to login to Twitter, Facebook, or my email until my workout is complete. What distracts you from reaching your goals? Some distractors (our children, for example) are more difficult to reduce, but many are silly things that could be pushed aside until your workout is done. I decided to take this all a step further this year and stopped updating my personal Facebook page after discovering just how draining these distractions were to my energy levels and time.

Get Fit on a Small Budget

(my beautiful inspiration)

Get inspired

What inspires you? Is it a picture of your former self on your fridge, is it having an awesome workout buddy that you can check-in with, is it reading the victory stories of weight-loss from other bloggers? Is it your beautiful children?

Whatever it is, get inspired and try starting a new workout routine today.

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Published January 08, 2015 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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