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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Top Ten Tools in My Frugal Arsenol


I wanted to find a nice picture of a toolbelt, but after seeing this cute little incarnation,
how could I possibly have chosen anything else?   

Photo Credit: Adam Rice


Everyone has a set of items they fall back on to complete almost any task that comes upon them.  What are your top ten tools in your frugal arsenol?  Here are my favorites:

1.  Baking Soda.  I have yet to come across a stain, spill or situation in which baking soda didn’t help somehow.  Whether it’s getting pencil marks off the bright yellow walls (oh yes, she did!), scrubbing soap scum off the tub or refreshing a load of laundry, baking soda does the trick every time.

2.  Vinegar.  Baking soda’s favorite partner in crime, vinegar is just as sneaky and versitile.  As a window cleaner, a dishwasher rinse, a fabric softener, a hair conditioner, or a deoderizer, vinegar does just about anything.  Combine it with baking soda and you have a cleaning powerhouse!

3.  The Crockpot.  I figured it out the other day — I have burned my way through eight crockpots in my lifetime.  Our current incarnation is a 6 quart gem we scored at a yard sale for $5!  I will never pay full price for a crockpot again — too many people don’t know how to use them and they are given away on Freecycle or at yard sales all the time!  And what a treasure a trusty crockpot can be!  Whether it’s cooking supper, simmering bone broth, dying yarn, melting wax or simmering potpourri, that wonderful little pot can do just about any kitchen task you can think of!

4.  Coconut Oil.  Have you had a chance to try coconut oil yet?  No?!  Coconut oil is brilliant.  It’s a lotion, a salve, a cooking oil, a diaper rash ointment, a toothpaste, a cosmetic, a makeup remover, a lubricant, a hunger deterent… is there anything coconut oil can’t do?

5.  Department Store Flyers.  I celebrate when the flyers come to my door.  Why?  Because they are the perfect way to keep your home clean without any effort!  What other product will collect vegetable peelings, catch crumbs that fall down from baby’s highchair onto the floor, be twisted into fire starters, make great craft and coloring paper, can be shredded into cat litter, be stuffed into wet shoes to absorb the moisture, and yet still be tossed into the compost bin (no garbage!) when your task is complete!

6.  The Internet.  Oh my beloved Internet.  My prime source of news, music, information, entertainment, education, communication, and finances.  Where would we be without you?

7.  The Radio.  Of course, before the Internet, our good friend radio did all those things too!  I love listening to interviews, comedy shows, radio dramas, audiobooks, history programs, and of course, music!

8.  Spinach.  Huh?  Spinach?!  How is spinach frugal?  Well, for one thing it’s a dietary powerhouse — chalk full of everything from Vitamin A and K, to magnesium, to manganese, to folate, to various cancer combatting flavonoids.  But besides that, spinach can be served in pretty much everything, in every way.  Fresh in a salad, minced in a smoothie, freeze dried in a soup, baked in a lasagna, pureed in a soup… if you have a family member who doesn’t like to eat vegetables, spinach is a great tool for sneaking a leavy green into their meal.

9.  A Heavy Duty Cooler.  We bought ours at a yard sale for $2.  It’s a metal Coleman one with a metal handle that flips over the lid and locks it into place.  When we bought it, Michael commented, “When would you ever use that?”  I smiled.  Little did he know that it would be used for storing not only picnic goodies, but snacks on road trips, frozen meats from the market, making yogurt, transporting freshly caught fish, saving precious ice cream, and as a secret hiding place for various little stuffed toys.

10.  A Food Processor.  If I choose a kitchen item, I’d have to go with my food processor.  My beloved food processor was purchased for $10 (before I learned to haggle) off Kijiji many moons ago.  It has since paid for itself time and time again.  Baby food, smoothies, blended soups, shredded cheese, bread crumbs, ground beef, sliced casalrrots, homemade coldslaw, salad dressings, fish cakes, chicken salad, onion rings, and various other kitchen creations have all been brought forth by it’s happy spinning blade.

What is in your Frugal Arsenol?  I’d love to hear about it!



Photo by Teknorat


The last year has been so many things.  Overwhelmed, frustrated and scared, I took an extended break from miniMOMist for the last several months.  And it was with good reason.

Our family went through a dramatic transition last March.  Michael lost his job due to an unfair layoff and we were thrown into a financial and emotional turmoil.  Michael’s health was not good at that time either — we discovered that there were dark spots on his brain that we were warned could be a brain tumor or cancer, or multiple sclerosis.  As a young mother, facing the possibility of a future without the loving and compassionate support of the man you love and the father of your child, was devastating.

Before that, I had returned to the workforce full time.  Our objective was that we could try to conceive another child and by the time I was finished my maternity leave, Michael would’ve cemented himself well enough in his company as to allow us to live on his income alone.  Our reasons were good and valid, but I have lived with crippling, overwhelming guilt for over a year now, because in my heart of hearts, in my mind and in my soul, I know my place is at home.  I know I am a mother and wife, a home-keeper and Proverbs wife.  And as much as I enjoy my job and my coworkers, and am unabashedly grateful for the kindness my workplace has shown me over the last year, I know my place is at home.

Between the legal meetings, the doctors visits, the struggles with our bills and the continuous guilt of being the working parent and not being able to be at home to take care of my family, I was overwhelmed.  I made some irrational decisions and took this blog down a path I shouldn’t have.  For that, I am sorry.  Instead of making things better for myself and my readers, I piled more on my plate and could not keep it up.

Several months have passed and we’ve learned that (Praise Jesus!) Michael does not have a brain tumor, cancer or multiple sclerosis.  He has changed his medication, improved his health by leaps and bounds, but still suffers from chronic fibromyalgia, panic disorder, migraines, allergies and fatigue.  The myriad of maladies he does suffer from make things difficult for him.  However, the courage and determination he has shown over this last year to learn new skills, to improve his health, and the repeated proof of what a wonderful father and husband he is has shown me far more than I ever realized he possessed.  I have never been prouder or more honored to be his wife and the mother of his children.

We finally see some light and peace on the horizon.  We finally feel we have encountered a corner and  are ready for the next stage of our lives.  God has granted us so much amazing grace and patience that we are amazed and humbled by His love.

We have so far yet to go, but we still have come so far from where we were.

I have decided to resurect miniMOMist and continue on from the path we initially took.  I have removed all the mistakes of my past because frankly, they are my past.  I will not dwell or wonder over them.  I was in a place of deep fear and panic and I am now standing in the light of God.  I am grateful but I have left it behind me.

I hope my readers will forgive me for my failure and will kindly give me leave to continue sharing what I learn on my path.  I am ready to return to what I lost and hopefully I will not be alone.

To those who were subscribers but unsubscribed when things changed, I do wholeheartedly understand.  And I don’t blame you.  I hope I can earn your trust again and we can share new experiences and stories.

For those who were and remain subscribers even after, I cannot thank you enough.  I do hope you will continue to have faith in me and my stories, and will continue to follow me as we grow into something bigger, better and more fulfilling.

“Sometimes you have to kind of die inside
in order to rise from your own ashes
and believe in yourself and love yourself
to become a new person.”

― Gerard Way

Clean Jokes (And A Good Cause!)

When you’re in a rough stage in life, laughter can sometimes be the best medicine.  Michael and I love watching comedians and comedy shows, but you have to admit, the majority of comedy on television is very, very dirty.  I am a pretty open minded person and can laugh at a lot of the jokes.  Tommy Teirnan, George Carlin, Chris Rock… they’re all hilarious.  But there is stuff out there that is not only vile, but really just isn’t that funny.

So I began a hunt, to find not only funny comedians, but clean comedians.  And would you believe it, there actually are some really funny, and really clean, comedians out there!

Of course, there is the mainstay in traditional clean comedy Bill Cosby.  Cosby has been entertaining us since his beginnings as a comedian in the early 1960s.  I have actually had the privilage to see Bill Cosby live a couple years ago, and he’s still just as funny at  74 as he was at 34.  Bill has done about 21 comedic albums over the years (and some singing too!), including my favorites, Why Is There Air? and Wonderfulness from the early 1960s.

Another comedian I’m sure you’ve heard of but probably have never considered is Bob Newhart.  You probably watched his shows at some point in the 80s (or are you too young to remember the 80s?).  But you might not have known that Bob Newhart also practiced stand-up comedy in the 50s through the 70s.  He does a lot of one-sided conversations and story-telling skits in his comedy, and I absolutely love that style.  In fact, he’s done 12 albums over the past 50 years, including  The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart and The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back.


One of our more modern, but still clean, comedians is Jerry Seinfeld.  This guy has really done it right — he had the most popular and highest grossing television show of the 90s, each episode beginning with a small piece of Jerry doing a stand-up routine in front of a club audience.  Not only that, but he’s only come out with one stand-up comedy album thus far (at least, that he wants you to know about!) and it’s hilarious.  Ironically, however, my favorite Jerry Seinfeld moment never occured on the television show nor in his comedy album — it happened on an episode he did with Larry King, during which Jerry gets a little ticked off at a question Larry asks him.


Here, however, is my main reason for writing this post — my comedic all-star, Jim Gaffigan.  This guy is funny.  I mean, seriously, laughing so hard you can’t breathe funny.  I love the little voice he does, narrating that one annoying critic in the audiance he is sure is there.  But how could you critique a guy who talks about food, holidays, and bowling?  He’s brilliant, funny and above all, clean.  And at age 45 and with 7 comedy albums under his belt, you know he’s got lots of ground yet to cover.  In fact, Jim just came up with a brand new album called Mr. Universe.  The cool thing?  This album is available only on Jim’s site for a $5 download.  Even better?  $1 from every $5 will be donated to The Bob Woodruff Foundation, helping veterans and their families.  A clean comedian who is donating profits from his special to help those in need?  Now that is awesome!


Who is your favorite clean comedian?  I’d love to hear it!


This post is a part of…

Works For Me Wednesday
We Are THAT Family
Finer Things Friday
Amy’s Finer Things


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