I’m in my mid-twenties and the current economic state has hit me hard, really hard. I left a decent job that wasn’t paying me enough in a very expensive city, to pursue a better job in a moderately expensive city. The economy is not on my side right now, the job hunt is rough, but at least I have my health. And that’s important, because I can’t really afford any kind of health insurance right now.
Eating right and exercising are the cornerstones to any kind of healthy lifestyle. The problem is that diet foods and gym memberships are expensive. My solution involves a few tips that are easy to follow, inexpensive and won’t take up much of your precious free time.
Tip #1: Break the fast, and then break it again.
You’ve heard it before, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. By the time morning rolls around, most of us haven’t eaten for 12 hours. Breakfast jump starts your body for the day ahead.
A food plan that worked for me was to loosely follow the Special K diet. I believe any low sugar, high fiber, whole grain cereal will do the same. A bowl of cereal in the morning is quick, easy, and costs less than $5.00 a week. Don’t even have time to sit down for a bowl in the morning? Snack on cereal on your morning commute. I brought a box in to work and left it in my desk. As long as you don’t have to answer phones while you are crunching on delicious flakes and clusters, your boss probably won’t mind.
You’ve already got the box of cereal at your desk (or in your car). It’s already paid for. Sounds like you have a quick and easy lunch on your hands. Check out the side of most cereal boxes and you’ll see the iconic image of the Food Pyramid. Your body needs a lot of whole grains. What goes great with grains? Fruit. Oh look, the pyramid says you need a lot of fruit too. Toss some fresh or dried fruit in that cereal and you won’t get bored so easily with the same meal twice a day.
Tip #2: Take advantage of a good deal.
Fruit and cereal is a good meal when you don’t have the time or money to find something else you know is healthy. But a man, or woman, cannot live on cereal alone. Follow the Food Pyramid – you need vegetables, dairy, and protein too. Cue the Subway Five Dollar Foot Long. I eat 6 inches of fresh tasty sandwich with all the veggies (they don’t cost extra) for lunch now, and 6 inches for dinner later. Or, save it for lunch tomorrow. Yeah, save it for lunch tomorrow and make dinner at home with someone you love. Use locally grown vegetables and lean meats and you are being economical, ecological and healthy.
Tip #3: Walk.
I have got to get from point A to point B somehow and my own two feet are already paid for. Whenever walking is an option – take it. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to a mailbox instead of driving to the post office. I walk to the nearest grocery store with two reusable canvas bags and then I know I’ll only buy what I can comfortably carry home. I’m saving on gas and avoiding unnecessary, probably unhealthy, snacks. So now you’ve got your diet covered and if you can fit in an extra 30 minutes of walking a day go ahead and check off exercise too.
Tip #4: Mental health is health too.
I’ve made the half hour commitment to walking somewhere and I like being as efficient as possible, so I multitask. Any problems in your life right now? Of course there are. A stressful life is unhealthy, but a stress-free life is unrealistic. It’s just you and your thoughts when you are walking and it’s a perfect time to tackle any internal conflicts you’ve been meaning to suss out.
If you get tired of talking to yourself, phone a friend. Cell phones are expensive, but its 2009 and I know you already have one. A great way to save your minutes is to walk right on over to a friend or family member’s house. Strong interpersonal relationships are a vital part of a healthy lifestyle too.
Staying healthy when the economy is bad is really not hard. It may even be easier, considering the average person has less time and money to spend on frivolous unhealthy habits like expensive fatty meals and nights of partying it up at the club. That being said, I’m off to walk to the grocery store to pick up a box of cereal and call my mother.