Exercise on a Budget

exercise on a budget

Let’s face it… money is tight for so many of us. We don’t have the money to spend on a gym membership, especially when we’re just starting out with our healthy lifestyles. The good news is that there are an abundance of ways to get exercise in virtually for free or low cost.

It is important to have good comfortable workout shoes. Invest in a good pair from a running store if you can, or make sure a cheaper pair fits you well. I know I started out with a $13 pair of shoes my mom got me, then bought a pair from Payless for half price for $10 after that. I bought the ones that supported my feet best, and Champion brand because they had treated me well before.

However, the cheap shoes only last six weeks or maybe eight if you’re lucky, simply using them a moderate amount. So I only recommend doing that if you need to in order to get started. After those Champion shoes I got some Brooks Ravenna 5’s and they ended up being the perfect shoes for me, although a bit pricey of course. Those lasted me eight months, walking quite a lot and even dipping into running with a Couch to 5K program.

Other than that, comfortable and supportive workout clothes are a must, but that could mean a simple tee shirt and some comfortable pants, made for exercise or not. I started out wearing what I had. Thankfully most of what I had were exercise capris/pants already, and I had plenty of tee shirts because they’re my main shirt-wear!

So here is a list of free or low cost ways to get in exercise:

  • Walking or running. You can find good Couch to 5K programs on Pinterest or other places like Jeff Galloway’s website that don’t cost a thing. Walking is such a great way to get started in an exercise routine too because you can go at your own pace, make it interesting by varying your routes, and easily work your way up.
  • Body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups, sit-ups, kicks and punches, walking in place, etc.
  • Local playgrounds or parks. Go climb on the playground equipment or run around the grassy areas with or without your children.
  • Sports. If you have sports balls, Frisbees, etc. around your house or yard, play some with family members or friends! This is such a fun way to get active and also interact with other people!
  • YouTube or Spark People videos. There are so many you can find on those places. Although, I have to warn you that YouTube videos get deleted quite often, and you can find more of the same stuff but it requires searching through periodically… at least in my experience.
  • Pinterest. There are so many workouts and exercise routines posted to Pinterest all the time. I advise caution with these though, I have seen some that don’t look too safe. So be careful and be realistic about what your body can do so that you don’t injure yourself, but really that’s true of any exercise routine anywhere!
  • On Demand videos from your cable provider. I used the walking videos on mine because they were something I was comfortable with and could do, and also tried some of the kickboxing videos, but there are so many others that are free too!
  • Exercise DVDs to workout from home. If you use Amazon or eBay you can get these relatively cheap, like $5-10 apiece for older videos. My favorites are Leslie Sansone’s walking videos and Biggest Loser Cardio Max.
  • Equipment such as dumbbells, jump ropes, and hula hoops are low cost as well.
  • Local community centers sometimes offer low cots for monthly access to exercise equipment/rooms.
  • Parks and Recreation programs are sometimes a good way to go, although some of their programs can be pricey depending on where you live. Some have walking groups for low cost though, so you can get that group atmosphere and socialize. Most offer some sports leagues or other exercise groups as well.
  • Gym memberships are still an option if you have places like Planet Fitness near you that offer low cost monthly memberships. These are definitely viable options if you don’t have childcare to factor in or have someone to help with childcare.
  • Relay racing, yourself or others racing yourself or others certain distances to see how far you can run. Possibly setting up checkpoints or even timing yourself to see improvements.
  • Obstacle course in your yard using what you have: boxes, metal/plastic or other durable boxes, ropes or jump ropes, mini trampoline if you have one, hula hoops, etc. Anything you can jump on or around or over. If you can’t jump, step on, in, around, or over.
  • Exercise video “channels” such as Daily Burn (free 30 day trial then $12.95/month), Blogilates is free on YouTube, Jessica Smith on her website and YouTube channel, or Fitness Blender (individual workouts are free while downloadable ones are $4-8).

So get cracking on that exercise! No or low cost options are all around you if you just take a look! You don’t need any fancy equipment or clothes to get started. That stuff can be fun, but it’s definitely not necessary, especially at first. Bust through the excuses and go enjoy yourself.

~Bonnie~

P.S. Check out my goals e-course: Goals to Become the Best You. It is a step-by-step guide with my help and assistance to make and pursue goals in a way that works for you! We have all felt discouraged or unmotivated to meet our goals. The trick is knowing how to go about your goals in a manner that can fuel you to move forward! Included is a 16 page workbook + guide, separate resources, and personal help through the community in the course. All this for the low introductory price of $30!

You are Beautiful, You are Worth it!

Motivation is something so many of us lack on a Monday! So I’m going to leave you with this thought:

 

YOU are beautiful, YOU are worth it!

be the best you

You are beautiful, even if you may not feel like it right at this moment.

All of us possesses beauty beyond what we perceive. We are beautiful in our own unique ways. We are one of a kind, we all have something to offer the world. One way to show that beauty is to be kind to yourself and others, to do what you can to help others and to be there for loved ones. What skills do you have that you feel proud of?

The most magnificent thing about beauty is that we can let ours shine through our actions. Hold your head high, be confident in what you’re doing. Live in the present and remind yourself that you belong. Even when you’re unsure of something, be confident in your ability to figure it out. We are all learning and stumbling through life in some form or another. Despite appearances, no one has everything together… and if they by some chance do, that state of order doesn’t usually last long. It’s an ideal, not a reality. Celebrate the beautiful disorder of life!

As far as physical beauty goes, it is so important to have that confidence in yourself. So take a moment to think… What do you like about your looks? It could be something minor or something major, just think of at least one thing. Then think of why you like that about yourself. What was it that you liked about yourself?

We are beautiful because of our experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly. All of those experiences have made us who we are. You ever hear of the saying “everything happens for a reason”? Well, it really does. It may seem horrible at the moment, but you will come out on the other side, stronger than ever! You will be whoever you are meant to be. Use your experiences to your advantage! What are some experiences you have had that you feel have been a blessing or lesson in disguise?

Share your answers to the questions above in the comments, if you want to! I’d love to hear what good feelings you have always had or discovered in yourself by just thinking about your own beauty.

sunlight picture

I will go first:

What skills do I have that I’m proud of?
My writing, my ability to help others, my natural ability to care for children (although that’s far from perfect lol), and my ability to thoroughly think things through.

What do I like about my looks?
My eyes, for one. I love how they are mostly green. My hair most of the time. It’s soft and healthy. My muscles that I’m currently working to build up and having some good results already. My unique double “earlobe” that I was born with on my left ear because it makes me feel special!

What experiences have I been through that I feel have been a blessing or lesson in disguise?
There are so many so I will list three:
1) My foot injury/issue because it has taught me so much and given me a chance to find more potential in myself than just being active!
2) Falling into babysitting my nephews full-time for a year and a half now, not to mention part-time before that since 2012. It has taught me a lot about parenting, and has also provided me with a closeness to my nephews that I wouldn’t have if I weren’t caring for them or just around them in general so often! It’s special even compared to my special relationships with my sister’s children.
3) Vacation in May when I took a road trip across the country. This is a good experience but it taught me so much more than I expected. The trip helped me find my belief and faith in God, it helped me realize how truly invested I am in my body and my healthy lifestyle, and so much more!

~Bonnie~

What Causes us to be Overweight?

I wholeheartedly believe that media and society’s pressure on us are a big part of why so many people are overweight, but obviously that’s not the whole reason and I’m not going to address that here. Neither am I going to address the scientific causes either.

What I want to address is the deep reasons, the ones that stick with us no matter where we go, no matter what we do. They’re always there at the back of our mind… Emotions! We all know these pesky feelings we experience can drive us to food for comfort, or lead us to eating more than we should. The good news is there is a way to make progress in not allowing them to control us. I’m not a psychologist, but read on to find out what I have found to work for me.

stressed out

  • Stress: This is a big one! We deal with so much in our daily lives that we feel stressed and overwhelmed.
  • Sadness: We all feel it to some degree, on a regular basis.
  • Loneliness: Even those of us who don’t want a lot of face-to-face human interaction crave some level of companionship!
  • Hopelessness: Sometimes we feel that no matter what we do, we can’t do anything right or make any progress.
  • Anger: I know I’ve sometimes felt so angry, that once that anger dissipated, I felt so hungry I could eat the whole house.
  • Guilt: Feeling guilty can lead us to food or drink to drown that guilt.
  • Fear: We can sometimes find food soothing when we’re afraid as well.

Sometimes we feel so taken over by these feelings that we want to do anything to escape them… including turning to food in a misguided attempt to release ourselves from the feeling. We might feel reprieve but it is always temporary. Food does not solve our problems. Food cannot make us feel better long-term. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and an even harder lesson to follow through with by changing our self-soothing methods.

WHY

Here I would like to share with you why I am overweight, or at least part of the reason why since there are almost always multiple layers. The story goes like this… at age five, my mom and father got a divorce. Apparently I was pretty attached to him, although I don’t really remember him too much beyond a memory here and there. I was always on the smaller side before that but shortly after we left him and moved a few states away, I started gaining weight. I spent the rest of my childhood pleasantly “chubby.” Once I hit the puberty years, probably around age eleven and after yet another move, I started gaining more weight and faster. By the time I was twelve I weighed in at 180 pounds.

I didn’t think much of my weight beyond the fact that I was bigger than most of my peers… that is until I entered junior high. There I began to be a bit self-conscious of my weight and looks in general. The summer between junior high and high school, my stepdad had a stroke which caused all kinds of upheaval in our lives. We had to move and adjust, individually and as a family. That coupled with the drastic change of schooling, and I gained more weight. I ended up switching to a home school program with a friend when she brought it up, and that was the best decision for me. About a year and a half after his stroke, my mom lost 90% of her hearing and for a while couldn’t get any hearing aids. As anyone could imagine, this was another adjustment and tough on all of us.

At sixteen, when my mom and I joined a gym, I weighed 270 pounds. We went for a year and I lost 35 pounds without changing my diet. I found my love of exercise at that gym. Then we moved further away from that gym and I could no longer go when the year contract was over. I walked a lot after that but slowly gained the weight back as well as a little extra. A few years after that I started a weight loss journey all on my own at 289. That time I lost 76 pounds. This journey ended within eight months due to being in the hospital and having surgery to remove my gallbladder, then losing my first apartment and moving across the country. Once again, I gained all the weight back and then some.

Add in a few half-hearted attempts to lose weight in between… and a lot of stress here and there, as is the way with life, and by the time I started my current (and final!) weight loss journey, I was tipping the scales at 309 pounds. I didn’t start out thinking I wanted to lose 100+ pounds, but after I saw the weight on the scales and started learning about myself and weight loss even more than I already knew, I was in it for the long-haul. Here I am 16 months later, 120 pounds lighter than when I began and at a weight I haven’t seen since the beginning of my teens, and I still have mental and emotional issues I’m chipping away at on a regular basis. I know it will be a continuous process for me, and I might always desire to turn to food for comfort from these emotions, but I will not give in or give up.

Me before I started to now! A work in progress but have come so far already!
Me before I started to now! A work in progress but have come so far already!

You can do it for yourself too! Don’t let those emotions stand in your way. I know it’s easier said than done, but there is a way to retrain your brain to find other things to comfort you. Some of the ways I do this for myself: take a walk, call my sister and vent to her or talk things through, get a workout in, listen to my favorite or upbeat music, watch funny/entertaining shows, read some good books, or write it out. There are so many other ways as well! Find a way that makes you feel good, but that also helps you overcome those bad feelings. Work through them, don’t shy away from them. Sometimes we need a breather though and taking a break to give your mind a chance to neutralize can help tremendously in allowing you to think more clearly and find a solution.

~Bonnie~

Workout Wednesday- Change Things Up

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Considering that our bodies get used to what we do everyday and over time, it is important in weight loss to change things up periodically with our workouts. This could mean anything from exercising more to increasing the amount of effort we exert during exercise, or even adding in a new exercise. It is anything that wakes our bodies up and helps prevent us from hitting a plateau from doing the same thing day in and day out!

It’s also useful in order to keep challenging our bodies to do a little more, which will help increase our endurance and strength as we move forward with our goals. So besides being a way to help stave off a plateau, changing our workouts up will help increase our fitness levels, which is a fun and interesting reward for our hard work and a great step towards overall health! Not to mention the added bonus of keeping things fresh for our minds as well. At least half of our battle is mental and keeping things fresh for our minds in this way really aids in keeping things interesting and engaging.

joggers

The recommended timeframe for changing things up is every 6-8 weeks, which works really well all around. This Spark People article explains why it’s a good idea: Habits of Fit People: Mix It Up. In there it’s mentioned that you should change your entire workout routine up every 6-8 weeks, however I believe that you can change things up in smaller ways if that works for you. I know that I was very limited in the beginning, where walking outside and indoor walking videos were pretty much my only workout choices, and with my joint problem and other issues that’s all I could do. So I changed things up by doing completely different walking video workouts from the library every two weeks at first. That worked for me. I also increased my walking distance and time, did longer videos at home, etc. as I was physically able to.

Trust me, changing things up here and there will keep things moving smoothly for much longer than they would be if we simply moved at a steady, unchanging pace. Try something new and exciting for you when your workout routine gets boring, add more time or intensity to your current workouts when you’re able to, and do whatever works for you to keep things fresh!

~Bonnie~

Tip Tuesday- Tracking Food and Exercise for Weight Loss

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A very big piece of advice I would like to pass along to you is to track your food and exercise, in some shape or form. It has a lot of benefits, more than I could ever list. So here are the highlights.

These are just a few methods of tracking:

  • Online or through an app: Spark People and MyFitnessPal are just a couple that I’ve had personal experience with and have found work well. There are likely countless others.
  • Computer: some programs such as Microsoft Works and Microsoft Word have food and exercise logs. You could also create your own custom food/exercise logs with simple tables or other buttons within some of these programs.
  • Paper and pen: go old school and use a notebook to write down what you have eaten and done for exercise or print logs from programs and use them to write them down.

journaling

Now you may want to know what is so important about tracking food and exercise when you are trying to improve your health and lose weight. I’ll tell you why I believe it to be so important:

  1. To see where you stand throughout the day as well as at the end of it, such as eating within your calorie range, getting enough fruits and vegetables, getting enough protein or fiber, not getting too many carbs or too much fat.
  2. To measure physical capabilities and see how much more you can do compared to when you started or even a couple weeks ago. Some ways to see progress would be with time (minutes), distance, speed, repetitions of strength training exercise, increasing the weights for strength training, etc.
  3. To see what works for you as well as what does not. That way you can repeat what does work and cut out what doesn’t. You will be able to look back and see trends to help you decide your course of action going forward. If you weren’t keeping track, how would you know?

As you track your food and exercise in one form or another, you will also find that it gives you accountability to yourself. It provides you with the chance to see what you’re doing each day in relation to your goals and progress. Keeping track of what you eat and what exercises you do, as well as possibly even how you felt about it if you want, will help you to continuously move forward.

Then as you go along, you will know how to change things as needed and find what works for you. A lot of this weight loss thing is finding what works for you personally. Sure, you can get a million and one ideas from the internet, but some things will work for you and others won’t. Some of it won’t interest you and some simply doesn’t work for you or your body, and this is one way to keep track of that as well.

~Bonnie~

Motivation Monday- Reach for the Stars

Follow your dreams.
Follow your dreams.

Life is short, and we only live once. There’s no reason to put off our dreams until later. So reach for the stars! No one is stopping you but you.

Write those dreams down, commit them to yourself on paper. Then make a plan and take a leap! You won’t know how much you are capable of until you give it a try. There will likely be quite a bit of trial-and-error involved, and a lot of reevaluating and adjusting as you go along but keep moving forward no matter what!

If you have the drive to succeed and the willingness to put in the necessary work, you will get there with time. Never give up on trying to find what works. There is always a way to get what you want and sometimes just involves just finding a way to accomplish it.

Be happy, do what you love!
Be happy, do what you love!

Recently I have started indulging in dreams that are bigger than anything I had ever even considered before, such as running a half marathon in May and possibly a full marathon six months later. Not to mention pursuing my dream of working from home while juggling all of my other responsibilities. This last one has been one of my dreams as long as I can remember but I never thought of it as a true possibility, I just fantasized about it. Now I know I have it in me and I just have to find a way to do so and keep trying until I figure it out.

Remember, you can scream and you can cry but never, ever, give up! If it matters to you then it’s worth pursuing and making it work for you! You really can do it!

~Bonnie~

Sharing Sunday- The Marvel of Pet Therapy

Pets are a valuable part of our lives. Many of us even consider them to be our “babies” or furbabies. The most amazing quality of our pets is the therapy we receive from them.

It’s quite simple really… Pets keep us company when we’re alone. They also give us a listening ear when we need one, without talking back or assuming we need advice. Even if they’re not truly listening, they can provide us with the illusion that they are. They can be our sounding board when we need to hear what we’re saying out loud to think it through but don’t want to discuss it with an actual person, or when we feel like no one will understand. Not only that, our pets supply us with some much needed cuddles! Just simply petting their soft fur or showering them with attention can be calming and distract us from our problems.

It’s such a beautiful give and take relationship. We take care of them and in turn they take care of us in a way sometimes other people cannot. Our pets fill the gap where everyday human interaction really doesn’t fit the bill. Sometimes they even give us support when our loved ones don’t.

katie pretty baby
My beautiful furbaby, keeping me company and snuggling.

This is my precious furbaby, Katie. She is a Siamese mix and we got her twelve years ago when she was a not-so-little stray kitten. She is a rather small cat though, weighing less than six pounds. She was originally meant to be my brother’s cat, but she hid under my bed from the very beginning. He would get in her face a lot, even chasing her under the bed to drag her out. Eventually she started jumping up on my bed and would let me pet her. I gave her the space she needed though and she appreciated me for it. We definitely started bonding from the that point. A few years after we got her, my brother gave in (without my asking) and told me she could be my cat. Over the years since then, our bond has only gotten stronger. We are really attached to each other now.

While anyone with pets can relate, she can be obnoxious sometimes and noisy. The Siamese in her makes her quite vocal at times and occasionally just won’t stop crying at me no matter what. I love her though, she is my baby and my one constant in a world of chaos and upheaval. She brings me strength when I’m feeling low, and comfort when I’m feeling sad or hopeless.

She even approves of my joining a gym, here she is cuddling up to my new gym shirt when I joined last month:

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Pets are amazing creatures. Some might say they are just animals, but I say they are more than animals. They are a part of our families. They give us so much for simply taking care of and loving them.

~Bonnie~

Steady Saturday- Hurdles and Roadblocks to Weight Loss

There is always a detour... find another way!
There is always a detour… find another way!

Whether we like it or not, there will always be something attempting to get in our way. Hurdles and roadblocks will come at us from all angles at times. We have to be resolved to not let anything stop us!

That saying, where there’s a will there’s a way, is perfect. If we are resolved to make our new lifestyles work for us and to never give up on getting healthier, we will find a way to get us through.

Let out those feelings of frustration in a constructive way and then set to work searching for a way to get through or around the hurdle. There is always some way to make it work for you and to come out the other side stronger than ever. Sometimes there’s no way around it at first and those are the times you will learn something you wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to learn. I know this from experience as I’ve had quite a few of them and there is always something I learn from it. I wouldn’t be where I am in my journey if it weren’t for my trials. So in that way, I appreciate my own obstacles.

Obstacle course.
Obstacles.

Next time you are faced with a hurdle, take a deep breath, release the frustration, and then find a way to use it to your advantage. Get through it as soon as you can if possible. If you can’t get through it somehow or it takes a while to do so, start figuring out what you are meant to learn from it. I guarantee there is something valuable to be learned each time, no matter how hard it is to discover. Either way, remember how strong and triumphant you will feel on the other side. It is an awesome feeling!

Obstacles may be unavoidable, but they are truly useful experiences. Believe in your ability to triumph and keep pushing forward whenever something appears in your path!

~Bonnie~

Freebie Friday- FREE Vacation Tips for Weight Loss

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Vacations are a ton of fun. The anticipation alone in the time leading up to it is just so exciting that we can’t possibly contain ourselves!

While we’re focusing on weight loss though, vacations can be a bittersweet event. We all know it’s super easy to gain weight while on vacation… simply thinking of all of that food, the foods easily available and the foods that are not available that we’ve been relying on to lose weight, can be enough to make you want to give up on your weight loss goals while away from home. Not to mention the serious lack of exercise options compared to what we’re used to in our controlled home environment. It can be our worst nightmare in this sense.

I want you to be rest assured, because there are indeed options available to you and there is a way to minimize the effects of weight gain while on vacation. Ideally you will break even, not gaining but also not losing. However, these tips are simply designed to help you to not come back with a lot of extra weight. These tips are what I found to work for me in the past year while making vacationing fit into my new healthy lifestyle.

vacation tips

Along the theme of the rest of my blog, we all have to find what will work for us and tailor these tips to our specific vacation and needs.

Disclaimer: If you do your best on vacation, eating pretty well and getting as much exercise as you can, you still may come back with water weight from traveling. It’s an unfortunate side effect. So don’t be discouraged. It’s normal and the water weight will come off with a little time!

~Bonnie~

To receive the freebie, simply click on “Freebies and Newsletters” at the top and follow the link to download from my direct website!

You can contact me here as well, but only if you’d like:

(edited 10/19/2015)

Coming soon… A Goals E-course + Workbook for $30! Stay tuned, I will be posting about this by the end of the week (October 24th)!

Thriving Thursday- Establishing a Lifestyle Change

Exercise
Exercise

You’ve heard it before, likely too many times to count, that in order for your weight loss to stick you need to establish a lifestyle change. I’m here to tell you that this is absolutely true. Weight loss will not magically make it to where you can eat whatever you want or chuck exercising once you reach your goal weight. You will need to continue with these new habits you’ve created for yourself for the rest of your life. That’s not to say that you will have to exercise at the rate and intensity or restrict your calories as much as you have been to lose weight, but you will still need to keep your habits going.

“Lifestyle change” sounds so cliché to most of us by now. We see and hear it everywhere as we immerse ourselves in our weight loss efforts. I know it sounds cliché to me even though I wholeheartedly believe in it and even though my lifestyle change has become just a way of life for me. This phrase sums up all of our focus on building a healthy life for ourselves. That is our goal, to be healthy individuals and to live a fuller and higher-quality life.

Healthy eating
Healthy eating

Now you may want to know that if this is so vital to being successful, how to achieve it, so here are some tips:

  • Start small and remember each step in the right direction is progress. Make small changes and simply focus on making one good choice at a time. This way it is much more manageable.
  • Remember that slow and steady wins the race. It might sound enticing to go full force from the very beginning and keep going at that pace, but you will hit a burn out wall. So take things slow and focus on your progress. Sometimes you may feel like you’re not making any progress at all and that’s okay, as long as you keep moving forward and keep trying you will see progress soon enough.
  • Make sustainable changes- start eating and exercise habits that you can stick with long-term. Find exercise you enjoy doing and healthy foods you enjoy eating. You can change things up and try new things but don’t exercise too much or restrict your calories too much too fast.
  • Arm yourself with information. Research healthy habits, recipes that sound good, and find things that work for you. There are so many possibilities out there!
  • Keep yourself motivated- surround yourself with people who have similar goals, read blogs or articles about people who have lost weight or are losing weight currently, join weight loss websites/apps where there is no shortage of support (such as Spark People where I found just this), and keep searching for things that interest you in your new lifestyle.

That’s the simplified version. Obviously there is more to it, but some of it we all have to figure out for ourselves because we are all different. We need to find what works for us in particular. So please, don’t be discouraged if what works for someone else or what you feel should work for you doesn’t, because there is so much more out there than just that! Make your lifestyle change work for you and it will be so much easier to stick with because you will learn to enjoy it.

~Bonnie~