Health on a Small Budget

One of the recent #fitblog chats on Twitter addressed some really good topics that I wanted to share here. I’ve written about a lot of these topics before and I’ll include those old posts here for new readers to catch up on.

The topic of getting and staying healthy while on a budget is a popular one. With the economy in the gutter and so many people without jobs, it’s difficult to rationalize spending money on things that might seem “frivolous.” Paying $50 a month for a gym membership is understandably ridiculous and maybe not worth the money. Never fear! There are most definitely ways to get into shape without a gym membership. So Don’t Break the Bank Getting Fit.

One of my biggest regrets when losing 110 pounds was how much money I wasted on clothes shopping. I had to buy clothes in smaller sizes every single month. That is not a complaint! I was definitely excited to be able to buy smaller sizes, but spending money on clothes that I only wore a few times was wasteful. There were even clothes that still had the tags on them that I never got a chance to wear.  I passed the clothes onto friends who were trying to lose weight, so in the end it wasn’t a waste. But my advice for someone losing a lot of weight: buy clothes at a second hand store until you’re at a size you’re going to be at for awhile.

Q1) What are your favorite budget friendly food staples?

My response was fruit and vegetables. One of my favorite things to do in the summer time is to go to the local Farmer’s Markets. There are too many in Portland to list and I’d much rather support small, local farmers than a big chain store.

Also, growing my own vegetable garden was a very budget-friendly thing. We had so much fresh lettuce that I had to give a ton of it away last summer. And it tasted so much better than anything I’ve bought from a store.

Other affordable staples are beans, rice, anything you can buy in bulk. Buying ground turkey, chicken and pork chops from Costco and freezing them was one of the smartest things we did. We always have healthy options on hand as a result.

Q2) What are some common misconceptions you’ve heard about your healthy way of living?

I once had a coworker ask me if I was on a diet because I was having an orange for a snack. I was shocked at the question and didn’t know really how to answer…I just said no, I like fruit. And it’s the truth. I’m so used to eating fresh fruit as a snack I don’t even think about it. Is it weird?

Q3) Let’s hear it… What are your go-to FREE workouts you don’t need a gym for?

This is where creativity comes in.  When the weather is nice in Portland (i.e. not raining), it’s easy to stay fit because there is so much to do! Hiking is a big one. The Gorge is about a thirty minute drive from Portland and packed with hundreds of scenic hikes to fit any fitness level. There are free hikes and ones that cost $5. Either way there’s plenty to do out there.

Mt. Hood is a good place for outdoor fitness too. There’s a ton of hiking there plus it’s a good place for snowshoeing in the winter. Once you spend the initial cost of a pair of snowshoes, it’s a free activity except for gas.

Bike riding is another good activity that doesn’t cost much. Commuting to work by bike is even better. Running outside or on a local school track is free. Not only that, if you have iPhone, download the FREE Nike Training Club app for some great home workouts.

Q4) Confession Time: What is one thing you spend an unnecessary amount of money on? How can you fix it?

My answer was my running shoes. A few years ago I got fitted for some running shoes at a local running store–which was free, by the way–and it was the best thing I ever did.  I had been wearing the wrong type of shoes for my feet, body and stride. Getting fitted is the best way to prevent running injuries.

I spend a ridiculous amount of money on my Brooks Ravenna running shoes because they are like magical clouds on my feet. They feel fantastic and are worth every penny. The shoes run around $100-120 depending on where I buy them and whenever I see them on sale I buy a pair. I buy new shoes 2-3 times a year as they wear out. Trust me, GOOD SHOES IS WORTH THE MONEY!

QUESTION: How would you answer these questions?


Holiday Gift Guide: Runners

Holiday Gift Guide: Runners

Runners like toys. There’s no getting around it. Someone that’s into fitness will love getting some running toys for the holidays. Last year Michael’s mom gave me a gift card to a nearby running store for Christmas. Best present ever! I desperately needed a new pair of running shoes.

If you have a runner in your life, here are a few of my favorite things you might want to get for them:

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Nathan Speed 2 Waistpack with Two 10-Ounce Nutrition Flasks–I have one and I love it. It worked great for long training runs. I used it when I ran Hood To Coast. It’s a must have for any runner. I like that it doesn’t slosh around too much either.

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GUs–A runner needs fuel. I like GU brand personally. I’ve tried almost everything out there and decided that GUs tasted less like chemical burning than most of the “energy” things out there. Get a case for your runner.

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Garmin!–Oh my gosh! If you bought this for the runner in your life they will LOVE YOU. When I was running a lot I desperately wanted a Garmin. I was such a nerd about my stats and really wanted one of these babies to track all of it. I never got a Garmin but that leads me to my next item…

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Polar Heart Rate Monitor–I never got a Garmin but I absolutely love my Polar HRM. It absolutely changed the way I worked out, for the better. Being able to properly track my calories made a huge difference in my weight loss. I love my HRM and would never go back to not using one.

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Running Shoes–New Runners often make the mistake of buying cheap shoes. Sometimes it’s about commitment, we aren’t sure we’ll stick with it, we don’t have the money, etc. But investing in a GOOD pair of shoes will make a world of difference. Bad shoes = injury. Take the time to get fitted for good shoes. And then buy them for cheaper online. 🙂

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Tune Belt Sport Armband for iPhone/Blackberry–A cheap little stocking-stuffer that will make your runner happy. I prefer to have my music when I run or workout and this makes it easy.

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Smart Wool Socks–I don’t wear anything else when I workout. I love my SmartWool. They feel great, they never give me blisters, I don’t sweat in them. They are the perfect socks in my opinion. I have thick pairs for snowshoeing or hiking, thin pairs for running. Love!

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Compression Tights–Finally, my favorite fitness item I own is my compression tights. Michael got them for me for Christmas last year and I love these. They feel so fantastic. Compression tights are a lifesaver for people training for long distance runs or cycling events. They work great during events and also for recovery afterward.

Lots of fun toys for the runner–or great ideas for you to make your holiday wish-list. Enjoy!

QUESTION: What are your favorite running items?