How do I stay healthy on my part-time near-minimum wage budget? With a little creativity and some trade-offs.
When Christine reached out to me and asked me to share some of my tips for staying healthy, I didn’t think I had much to share. I came up with this budget angle though because I’m proud of how I’ve been able to make healthy work. I didn’t always think I could live healthily. The fresh juices, Whole Foods produce and vegan snacks alone is about what I spend on my entire food budget. But, I’ve found ways to balance my budget and my health.
So here goes… here are 5 ways I stay healthy on a budget:
I drink water constantly
Water has no calories and is free, making it the best drink for my waistline and wallet. I use a Brita filter and love carrying around my water bottle. Giving up sodas and almost all supermarket fruit juices was not so difficult because I wanted to save money. As I earn more, however, I still mainly drink water and don’t yearn for anything else. Check out these creative ways to increase your water intake if you’re looking to get into the habit.
I get my beauty sleep
A consistent bedtime schedule helped to transform my sleep habit — and reversed my daytime fatigue. Getting nearly 8 hours sleep every night leaves me more focused, alert and productive. Probably the biggest bonus of more sleep is that I now have the energy to workout.
I eat frozen fruits & veggies
In an ideal world, I’d always eat fresh fruits and vegetables, but for me, now, that’s just not possible. Frozen fruits and veggies are my budget-conscious alternative. When I need to whip up something fast, I blend some frozen fruits with plain yogurt in my Bullet to make a smoothie. I usually top them with some Goji berries or seeds. When I do a smoothie bowl at home, I like to add a few slivers of almonds or seeds like pumpkin or Chia seeds. I eat a lot of seeds because they’re a great source of minerals, like calcium, zinc, and magnesium, they’re plant-based proteins and cost less than nuts.
I’m picky about proteins
When people think of proteins, they think meats, but one way I stay healthy on a budget is to rarely eat steak. My main source of protein is chicken, which is often on sale. Protein powders go great in those smoothies and only cost about 50 cents per serving so I stock up on those when they’re on sale. I also get a lot of my protein from Greek yogurt, eggs, milk, soy milk, cottage cheese, Quinoa, tuna, peanut butter, and beans.
I got enthusiastic about exercise
It can be hard to motivate yourself to work out if you’re not a gym person or if you hate exercise as a matter of principle (guilty), but finding something that’s not boring to me made it easier.
I’ve been doing CrossFit for a while now and the enjoyment factor keeps me motivated. I look forward to my classes all week. The rest of the time, I walk (about 3 miles a day). Not as much fun but I’ve come to accept that some things are worth the effort.
I once scoffed at living healthy but after seeing how much it has helped me with everything else, including my studies, I’m committed.
At this point, I consider myself moderately healthy; about a 6.5/10 if we’re using a 1-10 grading scale. Using Christine’s incremental approach to change, I’ll aim for a 7 or 7.5/10 next and keep going until I reach an 8.5 or 9. I’ll be okay at a 9.
My biggest struggle is being consistent, but this is what I’ve figured out: It’s just a mind game.
Being consistent is something I’ve been getting better at because I mentally psyche myself for what I do. I always keep in mind that I’m doing it (living healthy, that is) as part of a bigger plan to be the best me.
Nothing will make me quit on me.