Cheap Tricks For Staying Healthy When You’re A Bit Skint
While most of us have good intentions when it comes to staying healthy, the reality is that at some stage we all end up falling off the wagon and getting hit by an ice-cream truck. It happens. Ice-cream truck incidents aside, a budget crisis is often one of the biggest roadblocks on the road to wellness glory. Well bugger that, joining the wellness brigade doesn’t have to have an admission price that makes your jaw drop to the floor and eyes bug out like a character from a Looney Tunes cartoon. Here are some tips on how to stay well when you’re a bit skint (because one of the side effects of being healthy is not bankruptcy).
Just like that slick new guy in your life that seems too good to be true, when it comes to expensive superfoods don’t believe the hype. Those unpronounceable berries harvested by hand from virgin rainforest located in a country so remote you would have Buckley’s chance of locating it on the world map are probably no better for you than foods commonly found at your local greengrocer. And those hideously expensive ‘miracle’ powders that arrive in packaging so elaborate, it’s not clear whether you’ve bought a nutritional supplement or a bottle of perfume unearthed from King Tut’s tomb? Probably not worth investing your hard-earned moolah in. With big marketing budgets designed to position their product as the latest answer to everything, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you have to fork out stacks of cash just to be healthy. Truth is, unless your doctor has told you you’ve got nutritional deficiencies, everything you need to maintain a healthy, balanced diet can be picked up cheaply at your local supermarket or farmer’s market.
Nicole Dynan, Accredited Practising Dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, has plenty of dietary hacks for people on a budget. Operating Sydney’s Good Nutrition Co. Dynan recommends stocking up on low-cost, nutritional powerhouses like eggs, legumes, broccoli and oats. “Rather than forking out your cash on fancy mueslis, get back to basics with some plain rolled oats. Oats are packed with essential nutrients, including protein, fibre, B vitamins, vitamin E, and many more. They keep us feeling full, so we’re less likely to get the urge to snack mid-morning. They can be made up into a winter warming porridge or bircher muesli, or added to a smoothie for a filling snack or breakfast,” says Dynan.
Buying fruit and vegetables in season (think oranges, mandarins and pumpkin in winter and watermelon, cherries and mangoes in summer) will also keep costs down, as will filling your freezer with low-cost frozen veggies and fruits. “Having a back-up of fresh produce in the freezer can mean the difference between a nutritious meal or vegemite on toast! Fruits and veggies that are picked for freezing tend to be in peak condition (when they are most nutrient-packed),” Dynan explains. “While they may lose some nutrients during packing and over time, snap freezing locks in most of the goodness.” So stock up on those frozen berries when they’re on special and enjoy months of frozen fruit for smoothies without having to pay $8.99 a punnet when they’re out of season.
El Cheapo Fitspo
If you’re clever about it, moving your body doesn’t have to cost a cent. Sure, you could splash out on a brand new wardrobe of designer leisurewear and join an expensive gym in the hope that your investment will motivate you to move (a common tactic that rarely works and typically results in nothing but guilt spirals). Stuff that! Nothing beats heading out with your besties to tackle a big-ass hike over the weekend. You know those massive, mother flippin’ marathon walks in nature that make your legs scream for mercy but your soul cry out for more? The best thing about those types of hikes is if you string a few together over the course of a season you’ll not only gain real fitness benefits but you’ll also get to enjoy some nature-time and time to reconnect with your buds over something other than a bottle of wine and a bitch session (guilty as charged).
Another top way to stay active is to take advantage of how much competition there is out there. There are hundreds of businesses vying for your dollar, and those businesses often give away free trials to group fitness classes, free yoga class passes and free introduction weeks at gyms. Often there is no obligation to sign up or pay anything. It would be entirely possible to work the scene for months if you’re savvy about finding gyms, yoga schools and pilates places that allow you to try before you buy. Truly, the free classes are there for the taking, so why not? There is no shame in this game!
Sometimes, making a small investment in your health is a good idea that pays big dividends. Buying a bike to cycle to work or uni, or going on longer cycles for fun on the weekend is one of the best investments you’ll ever make (and you’ll save money on petrol and public transport costs too). There’s no need to splash out on an expensive road bike with a zillion gears either – simply scour eBay and Gumtree or hit the local garage sale scene to find a trusty second-hand steed (you might also find some sweet vinyl while you’re at it).
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Sometimes turning to self-help books and talking things over with friends isn’t enough to safeguard your mental health. Battling on alone while struggling with mental health issues isn’t going to help. This is one time in your life where you need to call in a professional (and nope, we’re not talking about Dr. Phil). Psychologists and other mental health professionals spend years studying what makes people tick, so getting a referral from your doc and turning to an expert is a great start to getting back on track. While our government often acts like a good-for-nothing deadbeat, sometimes they surprise us by getting their shit together to deliver the goods. One thing the powers-that-be got right is the decision to offer a generous Medicare rebate to people needing to access appointments with an approved mental health professional. The savings are quite significant, so if your head is giving you grief, get to a doctor and talk about your options – help might be way more affordable than you think. Either way, your mental health is as important as your physical health, so take
care of it.