How to lose weight and get fit for free (or really cheap)!

11 tips to help you lose weight, get fit and not spend a fortune doing it!

Living in a complex with 2 gyms then moving to an apartment opposite a gym you’d think I’d use one more. Nope. I barely used the one in the building I live in and well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions right?

Since having paralysis issues and other health problems resulting in surgeries in 2015 (then again in 2017), I have struggled to get back to the body I wanted. During the 7 months in 2015, I put on weight, lost muscle tone and saw my body deteriorate while I could do nothing to stop it (or so I told myself). My on again off again relationship over the next few years didn’t help either. I felt pressure to do things his way when it came to health. Not because he pressured me, I put the pressure on myself to do what he was doing and fit in with whatever diet or regime he wanted to do. It messed me up.

Recently, I had an epiphany about my health, my size and exactly what I want in my life. Health is a priority but I hadn’t shown that fully with my actions. Eating junk, not using the resources I had here and basically telling myself I’d start properly tomorrow saw me fluctuate and not get anywhere. Once I realised how I was self-sabotaging and made some changes things got moving. Now, I feel stronger than I think I ever have in my life. I am smashing personal bests plus have taken on being a coach for my daughters’ football. My energy levels have skyrocketed and I am achieving so much more in every area of my life.
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Before we start

Here are a few things I want you to consider or do before we get to the nitty-gritty tips.

Track your progress

Get a notebook and write down your measurement plus how well you do at each exercise and food intake if you want. I got a 365 day journal and each day list out the exercise I do, what I eat and drink, how I sleep and my energy levels so I can track it over time. Doing this I can see when I have more energy, what contributes to it and replicate it. Over time I increase my exercise and can see how much I have improved e.g going from 10 pushups to 20, planking for 30 seconds then improving to 60 seconds and so on.

 

Lose the scales

One of the biggest changes I made is getting rid of scales. Weighing yourself is not the best measurement of your health or how you are going with your size. Instead, get a Dexascan if you want which will show you your fat percentage vs muscle percentage on your body. If you don’t want that, you can also measure your body with a tape measure and write it all down. Seeing the size of your hips, tummy, arms, legs, chest, neck and body, in general, can be confronting. How cool will it be to compare later though? Weigh yourself if you want, then get someone to hide them and only weigh yourself at the same time each month (to sync with your cycle) because so many things can make your weight fluctuate.

Hormones, water retention, what you ate the day before, lack of sleep etc all impact the number you’ll see on the scales. It’s not a reliable measurement though it is the measurement most people go by.

This post is going to cover tips including your mind, what to get and where to get it, exercises and things I have personally changed. Some of the regular excuses such as “I don’t have time” or “I don’t have the energy” are covered too!

Remember, whatever you choose to do, have fun with it!

1.) Change your mindset

Unf*ck Yourself: Get Out Of Your Head And Into Your Life” by Gary John Bishop was eye-opening (in case you couldn’t tell from the title, it contains swearing!) From the beginning of that book, my mantra changed. Constantly telling myself “I am willing” saw me workout more and commit to it fully every day. “I am willing” is the first of the 7 assertions in his book and it is the one that created a huge shift for me.

What is really stopping you from working out and having the health you want? You are. Change your mindset and focus, if you really want something you will make it happen. Since doing this, I have a clear vision of myself as my ideal size and strength. I’m up at 6 am or earlier everyday and workout before anything else. Making it a habit while mentally being in a state of focus and being willing made it easy.

Another good book which helped me is The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss (I will state the sex element in this book made me roll my eyes, but the rest is good).  Also, learning about the paleo diet, keto, autoimmune diet and gut health all helped in my awareness of food and health.

2.) Have a goal

“I want to lose weight” is not a goal. Be specific, make the goal measurable, attainable, realistic and set a time frame. For example, I have a couple of goals. My overall aim is to be a fit, toned size 10 by 30th June, 2018. My smaller goals to enable me to reach that goal have included:
I will do 100 kettlebell swings in one workout by the end of this week. This was done the other week as I built up my kettlebell swings again. You don’t need to do 100, but this goal was a smaller one, easy to measure, specific and had a time limit. It contributes to the overall goal.

Another is I will do 30 minutes of yoga 3 times a week for the next 3 months. Write down a specific goal, then break it into steps. If you want to lose 10 kilos or drop a dress size, how will you do it? What steps can you celebrate along the way? E.g. losing 5kg/having sugar 10 free days this fortnight etc.

3.) Get some gear

While exercising can be mostly free, I do recommend a few things to help take your workout to the next level and protect your body. The last thing you need is to workout then injure yourself and be out of action. Here are the main things I have.

A good sports bra

Protect your boobs I can’t stress this enough. Do not exercise without proper support unless you want saggy boobs. My favourite sports bras come from Ryderwear because they zip at the front and everything feels secure, plus they are on sale for under $25! Don’t let the pictures of bodybuilders put you off, their gear is fantastic.

A mat

Have a yoga mat or something to workout on. Don’t put your body through the stress of working out on a hard floor. You can use towels layered up but yoga mats can be as cheap as $10, so it’s worth it.

A kettlebell

You can use it for so many exercises but kettlebell swings alone are one of the best workouts you can do. Ensure you have the correct form when you do them though and that you have warmed up a little. Don’t launch straight into them. I got my 8kg kettlebell swing from Rebel Sport.

Activewear

Since I workout first thing in the morning, it is not uncommon for me to do it in my pj’s. However, when I go outside or if I am doing a long workout I have activewear. (Again Ryderwear is one of my favourites). Good activewear is worth it. Whipping sweat away from your body, enabling your skin to breath and supporting your body more than cheap activewear. I’ve tried a variety of brands and always go back to a few favourites. Try them on, see what feels good for you and go with that.

Another option is to check out Catch Of The Day which often has deals on activewear and sneakers plus loads of other things.

Support your feet

At home, I am barefoot when doing yoga and most other workouts. When I workout elsewhere I wear good sneakers. I get mine from The Athlete’s Foot (which is also where we get the shoes for my eldest daughter). They last ages, you walk on their mat to see how you walk and what sort of support you need then are matched to shoes. They have a loyalty program and sales too, so use that to save money.

Socks matter as well. I used to use cheap socks from Kmart, which are fine. Travel socks or merino wool socks are my preference now. They are designed to handle the sweat you’ll create working out and my feet are much better (plus smell less) wearing these.

4.) Do the right workout for your body

Exercise is not a one size fits all situation. In fact, men and women have extremely different bodies. Did you know your cycle plays a huge part in how you workout, how effective it is and what you achieve? Not to mention the weight, cravings and issues like that we already know. Check out this video, it’s long but absolutely worth it. He also covers PCOS a bit at the end which I have.

When I was in a relationship, as I mentioned, I kept trying to do what he was doing. It wasn’t right for me, I struggled and floundered. Now my workout consists of 20 minutes to 1 hour of yoga in the morning followed by kettlebell swings and a series of exercises. My strength has increased drastically with this, I enjoy doing it and my body has changed.

5.) Be mindful of what you eat

It sounds simple yet so many of us struggle with this. What we eat dictates 70% or more of our weight loss (or gain)! Are you making the right food choices? Take some time to learn about nutrition or watch documentaries on sugar. That alone will surprise you. My lifestyle is such that we don’t eat wheat (I am celiac), dairy is limited and I rarely have it at all, fresh produce forms the bulk of what we eat and lean protein.

I use HelloFresh for our meals a few times a week (you can get $50 off here) and I cook vegetarian on the other nights. Alternatively, many I know have had great success with The Healthy Mummy.

Before you put anything in your mouth, ask yourself why you’re eating it? Often we eat out of boredom or habit, so are you actually hungry or do you just want it because it’s there? I eat because it’s there so no longer buy junk food. We have a treat night on Friday night, that’s it. The rest of the week there is no ice cream, chocolates or any junk food in our house. My children behave better, their moods are calmer, we can focus and overall, life is easier the way we eat.

Over time, I noticed my tastes changed. Previously a chocoholic, now I find it too sweet and the other week when I had our treat night, I couldn’t think of anything I craved or wanted. So I ate vegetables and eggs! Boring, but I was fine with it.

Look for ways to swap out your regular food, wean yourself off your addictions and change your routine. I realised I liked something sweet in the evenings and usually reached for ice cream. Switching to herbal tea has satisfied that small ‘need’ without adding loads of sugar and calories to my body right before I go to sleep.

6.) Lemon water

Start your day with lemon water or at least water in general. Drink at least 2 litres a day (aim for more, especially if you exercise) and you will notice the difference. Lemon water kicks your metabolism into gear making everything else you do more effective.

Drinking enough water each day not only helps you feel fuller (often we think we are hungry when we are actually starting to get dehydrated), but it has other benefits. Being hydrated helps you think clearer, have more energy, clears your skin and helps fight aging. It is way cheaper than anti-ageing creams too! Take a bottle with you everywhere you go. Fill up on water when you go to cafes and have water before meals.

7.) Use free workout options

This requires you to be committed but can save thousands. Each morning I do Yoga With Adrienne in front of the mirror. With the mirror, I can check my form and her workouts explain everything. She has loads of videos for beginners going over form, basic moves and the necessary foundations for yoga. You can find her channel here.

Run around the park or make a commitment to walk further. Last year I sold my car so we walk almost everywhere and feel much better for it. Use apps like Strava or My Fitness Pal to track it all and compete with others if you want.

Look for fitness equipment you can use. Many ovals and parks now have fitness equipment with guides on how to use them. They’re free and it can be a great way to break up your usual routine.

Check out MeetUp and similar places for free exercise options near you, classes on yoga, tai chi, dance lessons and more. You’ll workout in a group and get to know other people. Every morning near me there is a 1 hour workout session similar to what I saw when in Vietnam. A whole square of people meeting to do a specific workout to music and anyone is welcome.

8.) Implement incidental exercise

Use the stairs instead of the lift, do 10 squats before you jump in the shower, try a wall sit as you wait for the kettle to boil. Incorporate small things like this into your day and any time you have to wait for something to increase your level of activity. While it’s not the same as a full on 1 hour workout, if you do a few of them throughout the day when you previously weren’t working out at all, it all adds up.

We live a few floors up in our complex so I use the stairs as much as possible. Pushups, planks, situps, crunches, squats, wall sits and similar exercises are easy to do in my kitchen or bathroom and don’t take long. I do this on top of my morning workout.

9.) Workout first thing in the morning

Getting up at 6 am was a battle for me. Staying up late, having issues with insomnia then sleeping as long as possible in the morning was my pattern. Once I committed and decided “I am willing”, everything changed. My alarm was set for 6 am and when it went off, despite wanting to hit snooze, I repeated the mantra and got up. Starting with yoga, then once I had finished a session I felt energised and tackled a harder workout.

It has made such a difference in my energy levels and mood, my kids can tell when I have done it and when I haven’t. Doing it first thing sets the tone for the day. By being conscious of my health from the moment I wake up, I am showing myself what is important. Doing it first thing helps reduce cravings and the desire to sneak a snack in. Leaving it until the end of the day almost guarantees I’ll put it off because I’ll be tired or simply not feel like it.

Get up and do it straight away.

10.) Get involved with the kids activities

Ice skating parties are the party every kid seems to have at our school. So far, I am the only mum who has gotten on the ice when we’ve gone. The party hosts (both the mum and the worker at the ice rink) are grateful I am willing to do it but it is also an incredible workout for me. If you want to know where every muscle in your leg and butt is, go ice skating!

We typically stay longer and have skated for up to 3.5 hours at a time! The same thing with a trampoline party, I was the only parent to get out there.

Last year my daughters started playing Auskick and I got involved as a parent. This year, I have been trained as a coach and will assist the older girls group each week on all the drills. You can find our club here, it’s free and based in Melbourne. Get involved with your kids’ sports and activities. They will absolutely love it, your relationship will be stronger plus you get a workout. You may even learn new skills plus make new friends.

Ice skating with my daughter:

11.) Be accountable

I work better on my own, but others find having someone to workout with helps a lot. My sisters and I have a Facebook group (private for us only) where we discuss our health goals and progress. The accountability helps and is free! Personal trainers are another option, but they aren’t cheap. They hold you accountable, create a program for you and if you’re committed can help you a lot.

Personally, I haven’t used one. I do my workouts at home mostly, occasionally go for long walks with a friend and have accountability with my sisters. Choose a way for you to be accountable and stick to it. Check in with a friend, join a Facebook group or similar to help you achieve your health goals.

Stop with the excuses

“Excuses are the lies we tell ourselves so it doesn’t have to be our fault!” I’m not sure who said this but it’s true. We don’t want to take the blame or accept we are making choices every day and more often than not it is easier to not workout and easier to eat junk, or so we think. The longterm ramifications of neglecting our health are significant and no amount of money can get your health back once it’s gone.

Here are the most common ones I have heard and some solutions.

“I don’t have any time!

Review how you spend your time. There are 18 time-saving tips for busy mums here. As a single mum of two kids, one with autism, running a business, travelling when needed, studying, coaching football, working out a minimum of 1 hour a day and still cooking dinner etc, you have time. How you manage your time probably needs adjusting.

How much time do you spend watching TV? Scrolling social media or doing things you don’t need to do?  Eliminating TV from my daily routine freed up so much time! Are you doing all the housework? Outsource it or get your kids involved. We have a chart on the pantry door with my kids chores each day. At 9 and 10 they are capable of doing everything in the home. I don’t make them do everything, they have set chores, but when required either one can pick up and do what is needed. Doing it all yourself isn’t good for you or them. Teach them how to do more and get them to do it.

“I don’t have any energy!”

Firstly, I and everyone else I have spoken with or read about agree they have more energy when they workout, especially if they do it first thing in the morning. Start small and build up to more if you need but do something.

Lacking sleep, having issues like insomnia, having too much on your plate and being stressed out all impact your energy levels. Insomnia was a problem for me since I was 14 until recently. I tried pills, psychology, everything. My sleep was messed up. Now, I sleep with earplugs in, an eye mask so the room is dark, I am conscious of the temperature in my room, got a good bed and mattress and make sure I am in bed by 10 pm. It took a little getting used to, but it works. A cup of herbal tea (non-stimulating) around 9 pm helps me wind down too. Writing in my journal, planning the next day and having things sorted so I can relax when I get in bed reduces the mind racing with a million thoughts when I am trying to switch off too.

Keep a sleep diary for a week. Write down when you go to sleep, when you wake up, how often you woke in the night and for how long. Record your exercising for the day, if you had caffeine or not etc. All these things can impact your sleep. Get a free sleep diary chart online and print it off to use it.

Next, take note of your energy levels. What increases it and what decreases it? I get energised hanging out with other people, but certain people drain me. Knowing I am doing a personal best with something, achieving a goal, playing with my kids, travelling, avoiding caffeine and things like this all help with my energy levels. Be aware of what gives you more energy and change your life accordingly.

“I have no money!”

You can use free YouTube videos, walk around your block, do yoga at home and use your own body for resistance training. As you do more and have more energy, you can put that energy towards making more money if you want and there you’ll have it – cash for fitness.

Personally, I think including health in your budget is important. Health insurance, ensuring your groceries are packed full of nutrition (you can find ways to get free and super cheap groceries here if needed), doing sports etc. Work it into your budget now or pay the price later.

Also, look at all the ways you can make extra money if you need such as 18 ways to make money or 43 ways single mums can make money.

How do you get fit and healthy on a budget?

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