This week more and more experts have been announcing that the recession is over, or soon will be. True though that may be, it is going to be quite some time before most of us stop feeling the stinging effects of lost jobs, high prices, and the like. We let go of many things that were considered to be luxuries, such as vacations, and gym memberships. The stress has taken a toll, and it is time to start taking care of yourself again. Still cannot afford that gym membership? You do not need anything expensive, or fancy to stay healthy in a bad economy.
Food for Thought
High levels of stress and worry often lead to less than terrifically healthy eating habits. Emotional eating become a popular past time, and instead of eating what is healthful, we choose calorie laden junk food, or comfort food. A meal chosen from the dollar menu sounds like a big savings, but not when it is costing you your health. You can get back on track and start eating healthfully again without going broke to do so.
To begin with, stop eating out, and stop wasting money on prepackaged foods at the grocery store. While boxed macaroni and cheese, ramen, and prepared mixes for delights such as Hamburger Helper seem inexpensive, they are chock full of sodium, artificial colors, and just plain junk. We all know that fast food is not good for you, so ditch the double cheeseburger, as well.
Learn to shop the perimeter of your grocery store. Those are the areas where you will find the fresh produce, dairy products, and meat, fish and poultry. You can also find some healthy baked goods if you choose carefully. Eat fresh fruits and veggies that are in season. Right now, that means apples, pears, winter squash, sweet potatoes and the like. Buy what is on sale. If you do not know how to cook these foods, there are plenty of great recipes on the web. Make it a habit to eat one fruit or vegetable at each meal. If you cannot afford fresh, then frozen and canned fruits and vegetables will do.
Also, eat more whole grains, such as whole wheat, or multigrain breads. Switch to brown rice and whole wheat pasta. If you must got into the interior aisles of the store, choose whole grain cereals, canned ingredients that become bases for healthy soups and stews, and skip the chip and pop aisle. Drink more water. It’s cheap and it is the best fluid for you. If you are sure you have no time for cooking each night, then cook large batches of healthy meals on days off, or on a free evening, then freeze the food for the week ahead. Carry your own, homemade, lunch. You will save money, calories, and you can control what goes into that little brown bag.
I Like to Move It, Move it…
Do not let the economy become an excuse for not getting enough exercise. So, you cannot afford to go the the gym, buy a Bowflex, or to take belly dancing lessons. I will venture a guess that you can afford a dance or exercise DVD, or a new CD to play while you exercise at home. If you hate the idea of a traditional exercise video, then go for a ballroom dancing video. I like the Dancing with the Stars video. it is fun, and it is a super workout. My daughters are using Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred video, and find it quite effective, and challenging.
Of course, walking is free, and 30 minute of walking, 5 days a week, does your mind, body and spirit good. If you do not like to walk in the cold weather, many malls open themselves up early for avid walkers. See if a mall near you provides this kindness. Other small, and free changes include parking your car as far away as you can from the location you are headed to–do not grab the closest parking spot at the grocery store, or WalMart. Walk to places that you would normally drive if they are close enough.
My landlords live in a house that is easily, and yelling distance, in sight of my little cottage, and when I take my daily walk, I stroll right past it each time. it is about two or three minutes away by foot. yet, whenever they come over to attend to an issue, they hop in their giant truck and drive over. Insane! You are not that nutty, are you?
Rearrange your house. The living/dining/kitchen area of my cottage is on the lower level, and my office is, by design, on the upper level in one of the bedrooms. This requires that I go up and down the stairs many, many times a day. Take the stairs at work, go for family bike rides, turn on a CD and just dance for the fun of it. You will feel better, stay active, and you will likely sleep better, to boot!
A good nights rest is essential to keep you sharp, help you maintain a healthy weight, and a positive attitude. If you are not sleeping well, or enough, make some changes to assure that you are getting enough rest. Turn off the TV, or the computer, at least an hour before bed. Do something calming, like take a bath, or read something that is not too stimulating. Cut back on caffeine, and exercise more, just not within a two hour range of bedtime. Set a decent bedtime, and stick to it, no matter what. Get up at roughly the same time each day. All of this is called sleep hygiene, and for a lot of people, in is not happening, especially if you have a TV in your bedroom.
And here are some final stay-healthy tips. Turn off the TV during meals. Eat together–revive the family dinner if it has been lost in your home. Take your vitamins, wash your hands often, and if you do get sick, or if your child does, stay home, and keep the child home. None of these tips are costly, or difficult. Now is the time to get started, before the Holiday season begins. Commit to sticking with your healthy changes. Being on a tight budget is no excuse. Now, grab an apple and get moving!