Summer is the season when everyone is more determined to lose weight and get back in shape in time for all those beach trips. But, not everyone has the money to spend on gym memberships and expensive diet plans. Good thing there are plenty of ways to get fit on the cheap!
Here are some healthy strategies that will help you get fit without breaking the bank this summer—and help you stay fit throughout the year:
1. Move as much and as often as you can. Daily inactivity from your desk job, long commutes, and too much time spent on Facebook and Netflix are about as fattening as a steady diet of bacon, hotdogs, and chips, says dietitian-nutritionist Cheshire Que. Que suggests battling this by taking the time to stand up and just move about: type standing up while on your desk and make time for 5- to 10-minute stretches during your lunch and coffee breaks, walk around your home while on the phone, dance while cooking and doing the dishes, wash your car instead of taking it to the car wash, grab a coffee “to go” and walk as you sip, walk your dog every night, organize your room and home every weekend, bike or jog around your neighborhood—the list of activities you can do is endless! Mindful movement can offset all the sitting you can’t avoid and may help you burn more calories each day.
2. Follow YouTube videos and free fitness apps to exercise at home—or anywhere, really. You also don’t need to go to the gym to workout or invest in expensive exercise gear. Doing regular stretching, crunches, and exercise that make use of your body weight (i.e. push-ups, planks, etc.) require zero equipment and can be done within the comforts of your home for at least 5-15 minutes each day. If you want a change of scenery, head to your neighborhood park or jogging path. Just follow videos on YouTube and download free fitness apps that will guide you as you exercise at home. Pick from a wide variety of options, from yoga to HIIT (high intensity interval training) that you can easily watch and follow on your mobile phone. Examples include Nike Training Club and 30-Day Fitness Challenge apps (visit this Tom’s Guide list), as well as Popsugar Fitness on YouTube.
Budget tip: Need weights for your exercises? Just fill a 500mL or 1L soda bottle with water for instant dumbells!
3. Get your beauty sleep. Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain and obesity, according to Que. Make sure you get enough quality sleep by shutting down gadgets an hour before bedtime. It also helps to have a nighttime ritual, like taking a warm bath or sipping some hot tea (which will also aid your digestion)—ginger, chamomile, and green teas are good options. Keep essential oils with relaxing scents by your bedside table. Lavender is your best bet for improving sleep, while grapefruit essential oil, besides helping reduce mental and physical fatigue so you can relax completely, also has the added benefit of improving your metabolism—something you definitely need when you want to lose weight.
4. Go easy on sweets and fried food. Regulate your calorie intake and minimize junk food in your life—by this we mean fried, sweet, and salty food. Excessive amounts also make you bloat, and may cause a sudden rise and fall on your sugar levels, says Que. Instead…
5. Eat fresh. Fruits and vegetables cleanse the digestive system and promote weight loss. And because they’re high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, they help increase your satiety, making you feel full in just a few, smaller servings. Regular bowel movement also makes you feel you light and less bloated. Forget drastic and fad diets; instead, stock up on these veggies that are highly recommended by dietitian-nutritionist Que:
- - Chayote, which is full of fiber, thus promoting digestive health, and folate for DNA synthesis and healthy blood cells
- - Bitter Gourd (ampalaya in Filipino), which is rich in iron and has insulin-like properties that help control blood glucose
- - Moringa (malunggay in Filipino) and other dark, leafy veggies, which are also rich in iron that boosts and promotes good mood & combats fatigue
- - Carrots, which are high in Vitamin A, giving you healthy, glowing skin
- - Chinese Spinach (kangkong in Filipino), which is packed with a high amount of calcium, for stronger bones
6. Maintain a food & fitness journal. If you are serious about infusing your food with nutrient-dense ingredients and moving more (see tip #1), keeping a food & fitness journal is a great way to set up and maintain your meal plan and achieve your fitness goal. Just list all your meals and fitness activities each day—even something as simple as “Walking around the mall for an hour,” “Organizing the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator for 30 minutes,” or “45 minutes on the elliptical” and “100 crunches.” This encourages you to consume fewer calories, consciously move or even exercise more than usual, and provide the self-motivation you need each day.
7. Put cucumber or lemon in your water to turn it into alkaline water that you can drink all day. “Alkaline water is water that has been ionized, which means the pH level of water has been increased. The pH level is a number that measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0 to 14. For instance, if the level is 1, it means the substance is very acidic and if it is 13, it is very alkaline. Alkaline water has pH level of about 8 or 9 and pH level of normal tap water is 7, which is neutral,” explains the website of NDTV’s Food.
They noted that one of “the most important benefits of alkaline water is that it neutralises the acidity in our body by lowering excessive acidic content in the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract.” When you lessen the acidity in your digestive system, you also tend to lessen your tummy bloating.
Proponents of drinking alkaline water also list colon-cleansing properties, hydration, skin health, other detoxifying properties, and weight loss among the benefits of alkaline water, according to Healthline.com.
The website also cited some studies on the benefits of alkaline water, specifically for those trying to manage their weight. One study “suggested that drinking alkaline water may have benefits for people who have high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol,” while another “more recent study that included 100 people found a significant difference in whole blood viscosity after consuming high pH water compared to regular water after a strenuous workout…This means blood flowed more efficiently with alkaline water. This can increase oxygen delivery throughout out the body.” And if you exercise regularly, you know that better oxygen delivery throughout your body makes for a more effective workout.