One commonly accepted myth is that living healthy is expensive. In recent years, most of our food sources in this country have become genetically modified, over-processed and filled with added hormones, chemicals, and artificial ingredients as well as added fats and sugars. It’s become so much our norm, that we have forgotten what real whole foods even look like! In this fast-paced world, we have forgotten affordable ways to fit in self-care and exercise. Rest assured, living healthy is a way of life and one that does not have to break the bank or stress you out.
Buying Healthy Food
Let’s start with busting the first myth that eating healthy has to be expensive. There are several ways to shop and eat smart while still saving costs. The first step is to avoid black and white thinking, that you are either shopping organic completely or are doomed to being unhealthy. Not everything has to be organic! Check out Environmental Working Group’s 2019 guideline lists of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen to know which produce should always be bought organic because of high pesticide content and what does not need to be organic.
- If you cannot afford to buy fresh or non-seasonal foods, frozen fruits and vegetables are a good alternative.
- The same concept can be applied to seafood. Fresh wild-caught fish is expensive. However, frozen and canned wild-caught fish can be much cheaper and is just as healthy. If choosing canned, make sure the fish is either packed in olive oil or water, not soybean oil or cottonseed oil, etc.
- If organic/grass-fed/pastured meat is too expensive, buy lean cuts of conventional meat instead to avoid the toxins that are stored in fat.
- Buy meat that is on sale and freeze it. If you buy meat that is marked down and don’t plan to use it that day, freeze it immediately. It will last for months in the freezer.
Next, do some shopping research. Know the stores in your area and compare prices. Look for sales. Even stores such as Whole Foods, put their fish and meat on sale from time to time and it can be cheaper than your local supermarket. Also, don’t forget that Whole Foods now offers Amazon Prime discounts and you can scan your phone app at the register each time you shop for great savings. Other cost-effective ideas:
- Buy in bulk from stores such as Costco. Costco has a lot of Paleo and additive- free options in meat, fish, and produce, as well as high-quality canned seafood and frozen options.
- Buy from the bulk bins at the health food market.
- Purchase spices in bulk and make your own blends. It’s cheaper and a fun creative way to make your own tasty rubs and seasonings.
- Make your own salad dressings. Not only are you avoiding the harmful corn-syrup and added sugars found in most store-bought dressings, but you will also find the taste superior using natural ingredients, and they are so easy to prepare!
- Join a cow or pig share. Purchase a large quantity of meat often from a local farm, and the price is often cheaper per pound than the grocery store.
Set aside time each week (maybe 1-2 hours or choose different days for different tasks i.e. cooking meat, or making salad dressing) to prep ingredients and make meals ahead of time. The goal is to avoid those last minute desires to order in, eat out or pick up a meal at the store after a long day. This will save you money and time. Also, learn to love leftovers! This is a wonderful opportunity to get creative and find new ways to turn last evening’s dinner into a fun salad or dish for lunch on another day.
A second huge myth to bust is that it must cost a lot of money to stay in shape. Not everyone belongs to an elite gym and has a personal trainer. And even so, there are ways to find deals for such services. Here are some examples:
- Check if your company or property has an on-site wellness program, such as Fitspot. If you don’t, pass along our info to your HR team or property manager.
- Take advantage of trial periods at different gyms, yoga studios, spinning studios, etc., or new fitness companies with a grand opening that are offering free classes, or membership discounts.
- Get deals on a variety of fitness classes and even spa/massage treatments via ClassPass, Groupon and LivingSocial sites, etc.
- Discover free exercise videos on YouTube, free workout/training apps as well as free podcasts targeted towards exercise and health.
- Never underestimate the old tried and true methods of exercise and nature! Get outside and go for a walk or run, bike around your favorite trail or park (or to work!), do yoga wherever you have room to roll out a mat, power walk your mall, practice squats, crunches, pushups, jump rope. The opportunities are endless!
Honoring Self Care and Mental Wellness
When we are busy and stressed, unfortunately, self-care usually becomes the least of our priorities. Yet, we must not negate the ultimate financial cost of ignoring cumulative stress. Prolonged periods of stress can also increase your risk of several diseases, including heart disease and cancer. According to a study, 60 to 80 percent of doctor’s office visits may be stress-related. Also, a 2012 study found that chronic psychological stress prevents the body from properly regulating the inflammatory response. Inflammation has been linked to the development and progression of many diseases. People who are exposed to long periods of stress are more likely to develop colds upon exposure to the cold-causing germs. A 2017 article by Business Insider also outlines several ways in which stress is making you sick. When you are sick more often as a result of unhealthy eating habits as well as chronic stress, additional doctor visits and medical bills are inevitable. Therefore, the more you monitor your diet and health on a daily basis, the more you save in the long run, including future possible treatments and procedures for the development of diseases that could have been avoided.
So how can you mindfully combat stress and emotional burnout in an affordable way?
- If your company or property isn’t taking advantage of a holistic wellness program, it’s worth sharing with leadership. Fitspot offers mental wellness and stress management experiences, such as chair massages, assisted stretching, meditation workshops and more.
- Mindfulness can be made easy through meditation apps such as Fitspot’s partner Whil or Calm, among others that are highly rated and widely used.
- There are also several free and affordable podcasts you can subscribe to that focus on mental well-being self-care.
- Search for promotions and deals on massages, acupuncture, meditation, and yoga in your local area.
Remember that treating yourself well is free. Allow yourself to indulge in those activities and moments that offer you relaxation, peace, and serenity.