Mar 5, 2013

10 Ways to Lose Weight Without Losing Money

Photo by Jasmine Kaloudis

I’ve been carrying around baby weight for far too long, and decided that this would be the year that I’d take it off.  But you know me — I won’t spend a dime more than necessary.  And as far as I’m concerned, food should be the only expense when one is looking to lose weight.  I don’t see a reason for any of the following:

~ exercise videos

~ gym memberships

~ weight loss groups

~ diet books

You get the drift.  Why would you spend money on this?  You know what is involved in losing weight — you burn more calories than you consume.  So I’m going to tell you how to lose weight without spending much (if any!) money.

It should go without saying that you should be in good health before attempting any form of weight loss.  But as a disclaimer, I will repeat that you should seek out the approval of your doctor before any change in diet, exercise and lifestyle.  Any advice portrayed here is to be used at your own risk and with approval from a licensed health practitioner.


1.  Don’t Buy Diet Books — Go Online.  If you go onto Amazon and search for “diet books” you’ll get over 69,000 results.  69,000!  69,000 books that tell you the same things over and over again:

  • eat more vegetables
  • eat fewer refined carbs
  • stay away from processed meats, cheese and sweets
  • reduce your salt intake
  • stay away from junk food
  • drink more water

You do not need to buy another book telling you the same thing over and over again.  You do not need these generic diets anymore.  Focus on what you already know.  If you need specific information (such as how much protein, calcium, fat, or salt you should consume in a day), look up reputable sites for such information.  Otherwise, stick to what you know to be the correct way to eat:

  • eat whole foods
  • eat mostly fruits and vegetables
  • eat whole grains (oats, brown rice, whole wheat flour, etc.)
  • eat less meat (you need half a pound per week.  That’s it.)
  • drink water
  • get rid of your junk foods and processed crap

There.  At $20 a book for 69,000 books, I just saved you $1,380,000.

The only time that I think a diet book is justifiable is when you need it for a particular dietary condition you have.  If you have celiac, diabetes, or hypothyroidism, then that is something deeper.  But the books you will be looking for are more of a lifestyle-based book to help you control your weight from a medical standpoint.  Find a book that will teach you how to avoid foods that trigger your nutritional problems, like a gluten free cookbook, or a book that is geared specifically towards diabetes.  Don’t worry about books that just tell you how to to lose weight or what foods you should or shouldn’t eat (I already gave you that list!).  Find books that are based around your specific condition and leave the rest on the shelves.

2.  Or Go To the Library.  And don’t buy these books!  Go to the library first.  Check them out, take it home, and read it for a week or two.  Once you’ve decided whether you enjoy it enough to pay for it, then go looking for it (at a secondhand book store or thrift store first).

I spent hours in the bookshop today being nerdy...was looking for Christmas pressies and wound up getting some for myself as well :) What are your favourite 'diet' books? My favourite right now is definitely 'It Starts With Food'

Photo by Crystal Fieldhouse

3.  Don’t Buy Workout Videos — Go To Youtube.  Thank God for Youtube!  You never need to buy another DVD again.  There are movies, documentaries, sermons, seminars, biographies (actually as I write this, I’m watching American Experience: Wyatt Earp on Youtube — yes, I am a history junkie).  So why would your workout videos be any different?  Who needs DVDs anymore when they’re freely accessible online?  You can find yoga, pilates, aerobics, weight lifting, and even (God forbid) Sweating to the Oldies!  Or if you’re looking for Jillian Michaels, Billy Blanks, Tony Horton, Denise Austin, or even Jane Fonda, they’re all there too!

Now, if you find something you thoroughly enjoy, and want to purchase a copy of it for yourself as a way to support your favorite fitness guru, by all means purchase it.  But don’t buy haphazard videos without first reviewing them to be sure you’re going to like and use them.

4.  Don’t Join Weight Loss Groups — Go to SparkPeople.  SparkPeople is a wonderful website that is perfect for those of us who need the extra motivation and encouragement.  This site is a wonderful way to track and maintain a healthy exercise and nutritional lifestyle without spending a cent.  You can track your weight, food, exercise time, and be encouraged by others in your different SparkTeams and participate on Message Boards.

5.  If You Must Join a Group, Start One Yourself!  Organize a Biggest Losers group at your workplace, or host a Weight Watchers style get together at your home once a week.  Email friends or post on Facebook an invitation for others in your circles to join you — you’ll be surprised at how many would be eager to join!  Ask everyone to bring a small snack to share, and do different challenges like “Eat 2 Fruits every day for a week” or “Drink your 8 glasses of water a day”.  Or organize a walking group four days a week.

Healthy food

Photo by Daniel Kulinski

6.  Or Join TOPS.  Finally, if you want to join a group without doing all the work yourself, seek out a Chapter of TOPS in your neighborhood.  I heard of them through an aunt who participates in TOPS regularly.  It turns out that TOPS is a great, and incredibly cheaper, weight loss group that meets once a week to support and encourage one another.  In my local Chapter, I pay $32 a year for membership, and $2 a week.  The money I put towards the group pays for our group’s meeting location (we meet in the community room of a local grocery store) , and I feel that is a good investment.  I really enjoy my membership and find it very motivational and encouraging.

7.  Don’t Join a Gym — Get Outside!  Go for walks.  Do a boot camp at the park.  Go biking with your kids.  Jump in rain puddles.  Garden.  Get a manual push mower.  Wash your car.  There are so many ways to get your workout outside.  Why go to a big building that smells of sweat and is full of grunting behemoths who make you uncomfortable?  Outside you get fresh air, plenty of space, no waiting in line, and no time restrictions!

MN days

Photo By melgupta

8.  Or Get Equipment for Free!  Go onto Craigslist, Kijiji, or Freecycle and look for treadmills, ellipticals, mini trampolines, free weights, exercise bikes, or cable machines.  Often people just want these things out of their basements so why not offer to go get it?  Even if you’re visiting a friend and see a treadmill being used as a coat rack, ask them if they use it.  If not, offer to take it off their hands.

9.  Or Buy It Secondhand.  If you strike out on finding a piece for free, why waste money buying a brand new one?  Go look on Craigslist or Kijiji again and find one that’s being sold secondhand.  People spend way too much money on these things early in January and then by April, they realize they’re never going to stick to it and try to sell it for half the price. That’s when you step in, snatch it up for cheap, and bring it home.

10.  Whatever You Do, Stick to It.  Whether you do or don’t spend any money on your weight loss plan, the important part is to find a program or plan that works for you.  Then stick to it.  Any and all weight loss plan will work, but only if you stick to it.  Find something you can live with, be it no sugar, vegan, or 2 hour a day workouts.  Whatever works for you, and is approved by your doctor, stick with it.

My own diet is based more on eating whole foods and several of the principles from Eat Right for Your Type, due to various dietary allgeries.  I love my new diet and I do feel great when I eat this way.

This post is a part of…

Tackle It Tuesdays at 5 Minutes for Mom
Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda!
Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family
Finer Things Friday at Amy’s Finer Things


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  • “At $20 a book for 69,000 books, I just saved you $1,380,000.” — LOL! Thanks for that!

    I must confess: I bought a gym membership in December. BUT my husband and I use it for a getaway (we can’t run together, because he’s 6’3 and I’m 5’3!), and my eldest son and I encourage one another to go when we don’t really feel like it — so it works for the motivation part.

    LOVE your tips, because it’s really about your whole person, not just the number on the scale. Even if someone doesn’t lose a lot of weight, they are healthier, because they took care of body, mind and spirit.

    Pinning your post!

    Peace ~ Kim

    • Glad you liked it Kim! :D Thanks for the Pin. I’m glad you found something that works for you — that’s the most important part! As long as you are able to find a way that works for you, you are on your way to health! :D

  • Just a heads up on the whole grains… There’s more and more research emerging (on the web and at the library!) that low-fat/high grain diets are actually counterproductive to weight loss and are unhealthy. We took all grains (wheat, corn, rice) and almost all legumes (especially soy) and white potatoes out of our diet just over two months ago… I’ve lost two inches off my waist, an inch off my thighs, and my husband has lost more than 15 lbs. (that’s not even adding exercise yet because of our schedule, but there’s a goal to incorporate it). Further, my oldest son has seemed much more mellow and less rambunctious as he was stuffing empty carbs through the day. We eat a lot of proteins, fruits, veggies, nuts, etc. We have had almost nothing processed or containing additives and we aim for as high a nutrient content in every calories. It is a high fat, high calorie lifestyle and we feel great!

    • Very good advise, Kit! I’m so happy you figured out something that works for you. Grains and potatoes have never bothered me at all, but if I have too much meat in my diet, my body does not tolerate it and it will definitely let me know! I find it really interesting how different people respond to different levels of different nutrients. I myself cannot tolerate high levels of dairy or meat, but I can eat wheat and carbs til they’re coming out my ears! :)

  • Love love love this! So many times we are led to believe that buying a certain product will solve our weight issues. You did a great job of summing up a lot of great resources that people can use for free. I never thought about going on YouTube for exercise videos. Genius!

    • When I started doing yoga, this was the first place I went. Just look for a safe, reputable video and you’re golden! :D

  • You are a smart mamma! I want to give you a big bloggy star. I am a Personal Trainer by trade for many years (too many to admit) and I will tell you this- I agree 100 percent! One of my favorite things to tell people is what they don’t need to get fit! Carry on- and best wishes with reaching your goals!

    • Awwww, I get a bloggy star! *giggle* Thanks so much Dawn. I trained to be a personal trainer and now work in a physiotherapy clinic. Thanks very much for your encouragement! :D

  • yep, there are a lot of ways to lose weight without loosing money. Big factor indeed is going online. Why buy books when you can find the contents online! It saves a lot!

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Minimomist and daughter nada and naomi
miniMOMist is an account of Mike, Nada and Naomi's journey into realistic minimalism, with the goal centered around simple living, and enjoying each other rather than things. We are a faith-based family and blog about our belief in God regularly. Our love for one another and our passion for a simple, minimalist life brings us much joy and pleasure.

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