Watch your savings grow as your waist shrinks

Frugal Ways to Get Fit

by Adam Armstrong

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Times are tough. When we have to tighten down our belts, it is disheartening to see that our belts can't get any tighter due to the size of our waists. Sure there are tons of books, magazines, products, DVDs, and even games out there to help you lose fat and build muscle, for a price. If your budget is half as tight as mine, you'll be interested to know that there are tons of free ways to get in shape, and even a few that could save you money.

First thing that needs to get dumped are fast results. Any time we read about celebrities losing a bunch of weight or gaining a bunch of muscle rapidly, we need to consider that this is a direct result of having extra money. Actors typically get paid to get in shape, and if you have enough extra money, personal cooks and trainers will whip you in shape quick. Two pounds a week of fat loss is considered normal and/or healthy. Set a goal for losing between four and six pounds a month instead and you'll find it much easier to stay on track. If you goal is to build muscle, you should focus on increasing the difficulty of your exercises over time instead of worrying about raw numbers.

The next thing that needs to go is the crutch of supplementation. There are tons of pills of powders that claim to do something that aide in obtaining your fitness goals faster. Most of these products do something, but only a little something. You're better off focusing on what food you eat and less on the extras.

What you eat will make the greatest difference as to how you reach your fitness goals. It is much easier to not eat the junk food versus trying to out run it when jogging. Eat leaner meats (if you frequent your grocery store you will often times find leaner meat products on clearance or manager's special sale as they are less popular). Replace sugary and starchy food with more fruits and vegetables. Farmer's markets are a great place to get inexpensive vegetables. It helps your local community, and as a bonus, you can help the environment by cutting down on the price and emissions released from transporting the vegetables. Or, if you have a yard, you can grow some of your own vegetables. Not only are you getting healthy foods cheap, but also raising food doubles as exercise.

Which brings us to free workouts. The average gym membership costs between $40 and $50 a month, plus whatever other fees that may be attached, such as enrollment, locker, and late fees. Almost any exercise that is done in a gym can be done just about anywhere there is space with little or no equipment. If weather permits, you can walk, run, or cycle outside anytime. Though taking classes every now and again is advisable, yoga, pilates, tai chi, and qigong can be practiced any and everywhere and you'd be surprised at what levels of fitness you can reach using these techniques. Bodyweight exercises are a great substitute for weight training and can develop muscles to the same extent.

This sounds good, but you may be wondering how you are going to learn what works best or what to do to develop certain muscles. Magazines, books, and mail-order courses do describe how to obtain results. But instead of buying any of these, you can go to your local library and check out the magazines, books, and videos on exercise. If your library doesn't have what you are looking for, you can most likely order it through the library. Also, the Internet is loaded with advice; you just have to use discretion as you wade through it. And, best of all, you can try different things and see what works best and what you enjoy the most.

Cancel your gym membership. Find out where and when the local farmer's market happens. Check out some books at the library. Watch your savings grow as your waist shrinks. And most of all have fun.

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