How do I stay healthy on my part-time near-minimum wage budget? With a little creativity and some trade-offs.
I didn’t always think so, but staying healthy when you’re on a budget is doable. You may not be able to afford fresh juices, Whole Foods produce and vegan snacks (at least not on the regular), but pricey isn’t the only way to do healthy. I’ve found ways to balance my budget and my health and these are my top five:
1. 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. Because I wanted to save money, giving up sodas and almost all supermarket fruit juices weren’t so difficult. Now that I’m making more money, though, I still mainly drink water. I think I’ve lost the taste for sugary drinks. Check out these creative ways to drink more water if that’s a habit you want to get into.
2. I get my beauty sleep
A consistent bedtime schedule helped to overhaul my sleep habit and end my daytime fatigue. Getting nearly 8 hours of sleep every night leaves me more focused, alert and productive. But probably the biggest bonus to me getting more sleep is that I now have the energy to work out.
3. 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. These plant-based proteins also cost less than nuts.
4. 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 red meat. My main source of protein is chicken, which is often on sale. I also do a lot of protein powders; they go great in those smoothies and only cost about 50 cents per serving. I stock up on those when they go on sale! There are other budget-friendly sources of protein that I like: Greek yogurt, eggs, milk, soy milk, cottage cheese, Quinoa, tuna, peanut butter, and beans. Truly, there are enough healthy (and tasty) sources of protein that I don’t miss red meat.
5. 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 a huge difference. I’ve been doing CrossFit for a while now and enjoy it so much that 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 will probably keep trying to improve until I reach an 8.5 or 9. Wellness and living healthy is something I no longer take for granted.
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 able to perform at my best at whatever I have to do.
And nothing will make me quit on me.