If you are looking to lose some weight but don’t have the finances to buy pricy gym memberships or pre-made diet meals, you’ve come to the right place. There is certainly pressure to spend that money, as marketers relentlessly push the message that if you just buy their revolutionary product, the weight will simply melt away.
But real, lasting weight loss is not about gimmicks or fancy gear; it is about making a lifestyle change that you can live with. Diets fail because they are set up as a short term proposition. Indeed, people are led to buy first one product, then another, and another, yet they never get to where they want to be.
Instead, we are offering 10 ways to lose weight that don’t cost any money at all. In fact, you can even save money with some of them. This is all about minor changes you can make to the way you eat, exercise, and think about the role of food in your life.
10. Drink water before eating
Water is critical to our survival, of course, and is calorie-free. Tap water even provides a small amount of critical minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. What water does not have is protein, fiber, or carbohydrates, so we cannot live on water alone.
But, if you drink a glass of water before you eat your meals, the fluid will take up space in your stomach and help prevent overeating.
Water is also an important part of healthy digestion, so drinking beforehand minimizes the chance that you’ll suffer intestinal distress afterward. Eat less, lose weight, feel better. It’s a win-win-win.
9. Cut back on meat
Red meat is an excellent source of protein, but it does pack quite a few calories as well as saturated fat. White meats are leaner, but still fairly costly on the calorie scale.
We tend to think of meat as the centerpiece of any meal, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Foods like eggs, whole wheat pasta and bread, Portobello mushrooms, and potatoes also serve as an excellent anchor for side dishes.
Reducing the amount of meat you eat has another benefit – you will save money at the grocery store. Meat is one of the most expensive food items per pound that you can buy. Funnel those savings into some cute workout gear or a set of dumbbells to keep you motivated to exercise.
8. Get the right amount of sleep
Studies show that getting fewer than five to six hours of sleep per night will increase your chances of weight gain. On the flip side, sleeping more than nine hours in a stretch can also pack on the pounds.
That’s kind of a tricky line to walk, and remember that everyone is different in terms of how much sleep they need to function optimally.
We don’t really know why too much sleep is associated with weight gain, but researchers suspect it has something to do with the connection between sleep and depression.
However, we know that a lack of sleep affects the release of two hormones that regulate hunger. More ghrelin, an appetite stimulant, and less leptin, and appetite suppressant, are released when your body is chronically tired.
7. Practice mindfulness
One of the most basic principles of weight loss is being mindful of what you eat. It is very easy to eat too much when we nibble while distracted, such as in front of the television. Distracted eating causes problems throughout the day because food memories tend to inhibit what we want to eat later.
To lose weight, eat only when you are able to practice “attentive eating”. Plan meals that offer some novelty. Really experience the flavors and textures of the food as you dine. Forming strong memories about what you eat will naturally decrease your appetite; some studies suggest you’ll snack up to 10% less.
6. Reduce portion sizes
Did you know that how much you eat has a lot to do with how big your plate is, rather than how hungry you really are?
The same three ounce piece of steak looks a lot different on a salad plate than it does a 12-inch dinner plate. When there is a lot of blank space around our meals, we are tricked into thinking we haven’t eaten enough.
So an easy strategy to reduce portion sizes is simply to serve on a smaller plate. We promise you won’t feel deprived. Cleaning a full plate, regardless of size, will signal to your brain that you’ve had enough. Drinking that glass of water before you start helps, as well.
5. Join an online support group
One of the reasons people like going to the gym is the camaraderie and support of fellow fitness-minded folks. It’s also nice to have an instructor present to guide you into correct form for the moves. But since the gym can be quite expensive, you’ll need to look for mentorship elsewhere.
Luckily, in the glorious digital age there are all sorts of online groups that do just this. Check out your favorite social media sites for groups that specialize in the weight loss goals that interest you. If you don’t find just what you need, by all means, start it yourself!
4. Focus on bodyweight exercises
Skip the expensive gym membership – bodyweight exercises require nothing other than your body to perform. Moves like planks, squats, sit-ups, push-ups, and jumping jacks are classic examples. Aerobic exercises like speed walking or jogging are also considered bodyweight exercises.
You can also use everyday things around the house to add in some weight training. Putting away groceries can count as a workout if you lift your heaviest items multiple times before placing them in the pantry. And rather than carry that laundry downstairs just once, go down and up a few times before moving on with your day.
3. Find free workout videos online
There is no shortage of workout videos, and even television channels, that you have to pay for. But there are also plenty of people who wish they were famous and give their stuff away for free on YouTube.
Once the domain of teenagers filming jerky videos of their dumb stunts, YouTube now has thousands of professional and near-professional quality workout videos to choose from (and dumb kid stunts).
The website Fitness Blender offers over 500 free videos that can be filtered by type of exercise and desired length of workout. If you want to pay a nominal fee for the entire program, they put the videos into a customized calendar for you so as to maximize results. The program also tracks the effort you put in.
2. Do the math
In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. You can design a functional diet program all on your own by first determining your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). That’s the number of calories your body burns each day just being alive. This handy calculator can help.
Then go further to look up the calories in your meals and the calories that are likely to be burned by whatever exercise you do. Put it all together to figure out how many more calories you burned than you ate.
Generally speaking, if you keep your calories from food right around your BMR, you are sure to burn more than that as long as you don’t sit on your butt all day.
1. Walk everywhere you can
Walking is great for slimming the waistline! And while it takes more time than driving, there are all sorts of ways to multi-task that time. You get quality family time when you walk the kids to or from school.
The walk to work or around the block at lunchtime is a great opportunity to return some calls. And when you stroll to the corner market for milk, you also get some strength training when you carry that milk home.
Walking also saves money over driving. Wouldn’t it be nice to spend less in gas and maintenance of your vehicle? Those savings can also be invested in you and your health.
We hope these 10 tips inspire you to make gradual lifestyle changes that will help you achieve your weight loss goal. More than that, you’ll be making an investment in your overall health and longevity, which translates into better quality of life.
his is an investment that costs you no money, just the willingness to commit to it. Once you see the results, it’s easy to make the changes permanent.