Losing Pounds without Losing Money

by Kelly · 21 comments

in Money & Spending

I’ve never been what you could call a small girl, in fact, my Russian and Irish peasant heritage can be most clearly seen in my broad back, wide hips and sturdy thighs. I am proof of evolution’s insistence on the survival of the fittest; my body was designed to get me through a hard day’s work in the fields, and carry me through a winter’s famine.

But sigh, alas, be it as it may, society doesn’t like pudgy people, and frankly, I don’t feel my best being one. Not to mention that it’s not very frugal to have to renew one’s wardrobe in ever larger sizes because one’s old clothes can no longer be zipped up or buttoned.

So, I’ve decided to go on a diet. Not so much a diet, actually, as a restructuring of the way I eat. I know that I eat too much, and the wrong things, and my body tells me so- not just in the aforementioned ill-fitting clothes, but also the inability to walk up the three flights of stairs to my office in one go, the worsening affects of my fibromyalgia and the panting in the summer heat.* I’ve had to accept, also, that I’m not going to bear any more children, so there will be no undoing of all my hard work by yet another pregnant belly or milky breasts. I can no longer pretend that the baby belly has an actual relationship to the baby, instead of too many crepes!

Being frugal however, I’m reluctant to spend lots of money on losing weight. And it’s more than that- I also want to be able to make a permanent change in how I eat, not a system that I’m going to have to pay for for the rest of my life. I also want to integrate, fold in, go with the flow of these new life style patterns, to have them become a natural way of being, instead of something that I have to go out of my way to do. Part of my reluctance to pay for a diet solution also has to do with a few specific circumstances, like not liking the Weight Watchers leader in the area (yes, the one woman who leads all the WW groups near me), or feeling like I already don’t spend enough time with my kids without taking more time away from them to go to the gym.

Here’s what I’m doing- what I’ve found (so far) that work for me.

Calorie counting: I use my iPhone for everything (rarely to make phone calls, in fact) and always have it on me. So when I discovered an iPhone app, and website, called MyFitnessPal via my friend Laura of The Portable Baby, I knew I had to check it out. I love that it’s so easy to use and espicially that it has a lot of French food brands in the system, which makes adding foods or meals easy. I do wish that editing foods in a recipe on the website were easier, that you could add a different serving size, or that fruits and veggies were ‘free’ like in Weight Watchers, but overall it has made tracking my calories, exercise and water consumption natural and easy to do. I’ve even got my husband using it!

Strength Exercise: A friend of mine recommended doing an exercise called The Plank (in French, sorry!, or here’s something from About.com), at least once a day, and let me tell you…it works your tummy muscles! I like that it doesn’t take long to do and that I don’t need any extra equipment. I’m also starting to do The Bridge, which I first learned about in physical therapy nearly 20 years ago (!), to strengthen my back and glutes. Finally, for strength training at least, I’m also doing a yoga pose called Downward-Facing Dog, which helps strengthen my arms and shoulders and increases the flexibility in my wrists, sorely needed because I’m prone to tendinitis. The whole routine takes only five-minutes and isn’t too overwhelming, which means that I can do it every day (if I forget, once I’m in bed, I can pop out of bed and do it on the floor in my pajamas), it’s concrete enough to effect immediate change, and it doesn’t cause my fibromyalgia to flare up like other activities can do…I’m so out of shape!

Cardiovascular Exercise: I don’t really want to spend more money on a gym membership, so instead, I’ve started walking to and from work (20 minutes each day) twice a week. It’s a nice walk, and often faster than driving (another plus!). On top of my commute, I’m trying to do more physical stuff with my kids- running around with them at the park; today, for example, we’re heading off to the swimming pool.

Along with the regular advice (eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, drinking water and exercising more) I know that losing weight doesn’t have to cost money, especially not when it’s something that becomes a part of your normal lifestyle!

What are your tips on losing weight, but not losing money!

PS Emily has become in the Advocare line of health/nutrient/diet supplements. I know nothing about the company or the products, but I know she and her husband have achieved great success with them.

*I’m probably making it all sound worse than it is, but accept the poetic license!

I was not compensated in any way for mentioning any of the above websites or companies- I just really enjoy their products!


1 Angela April 10, 2011

Congratulations & good luck on your way to being healthier! Like you, one of my first steps was just walking more – I would get out of the subway several stops before mine and walk the rest of the way. When I was ready for the next step, I did the Couch to 5K training program (you can Google it, there are lots of similar plans out there) and have been running 3-4 miles about 3-5 times a week since then. (Oh, and I lost 20 lbs and it’s stayed off!) I never would have thought of myself as a runner, but Couch to 5K made the transition pretty seamless, and now I really depend on running to help me feel balanced overall, not just physically.

2 Kelly April 10, 2011

I have the couch to 5K app too (I’ve opened it once to look at it). Now that the weather is warmer and it’s daylight earlier, I’m planning on starting it. Thanks for the reminder!

3 Amanda April 10, 2011

I picked up a second-hand elliptical trainer off eBay for a grand total of $2.25 Australian Dollars just under two weeks ago – definitely something I can recommend to everyone at that price! 😉 Divided by about eight nights worth of elliptical training (I gave myself two nights off), at forty minutes per night, I think I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth!

Still yet to see the kilos drop, but I can tell I’m getting fitter. I almost died after ten minutes the first night – now I can get up to fifteen minutes without breaking a sweat!

4 Kelly April 10, 2011

Wow- do you mean under $3? or is the decimal point supposed to be a comma…? It just goes to show at how cheaply people will sell something that originally cost them a ton of money- and what a good bargain you can find! In any case, good job on getting started!

5 Amanda April 11, 2011

Yep, under three dollars! One person’s failed exercise regime is my gain…or something like that. 😛

6 Kelly April 11, 2011

Fantastic- lucky you!

7 Meganne April 10, 2011

I have found that losing weight has actually saved me money! Eating more veggies is where I started, but I also cut my meat intake down to 3 meals a week. Right now I maybe eat it once every one or two weeks. When I do eat meat, I don’t eat huge portions of it. It’s also helped my fibro immensely. It seems like the less meat I eat the better I feel.

Counting calories is great. I rarely do it anymore, but I’ve learned over time what portions should look like. Most of the time I simply eat about half of what I put on the plate for my fiance, who needs over two times the amount of calories I do in order to maintain his weight.

Doing just these two things has caused me to lose 20 pounds!

8 Kelly April 10, 2011

I actually don’t eat a lot of meat- mostly from frugality, but also from taste. I’d eat even less if there were better vegetarian meat substitutes in France. That’s a good point about it helping your fibro- we do eat chicken and fish quite often, and I wonder if eating less of that would help with the fatigue.

My husband only wants to lose 5 kilos (about 10 lbs) but he gets 300 calories more a day then me- life’s not fair sometimes!

9 steve April 10, 2011

A co-worker and I both lost 50 pounds each using a free iphone app called “lose it” . Also rode my bike 20 minutes several times a week. It works!

10 Kelly April 10, 2011

Off to check it out- thanks!

11 savvysavingbytes April 10, 2011

Heading toward a still larger dress size was also what finally galvanized me into action and losing weight. And I too didn’t want to spend any money to shed those pounds. Luckily I’ve always been a big walker — at least an hour a day –which I think probably saved me from total Blimpland. My problem was I had simply been eating too much and far too many sweets, so those were the two areas I attacked:


12 Cara April 11, 2011

Hi Kelly
Fellow French expat here in Bretagne…
I have been in France now 13 years, and after about a year here, had sent over (and continue to do so) FITNESS VIDEOS and DVD’s from the States.
Not only do they end up much less expensive than the (mostly lousy with lousy hours) gyms…but they can cure a bit of homesickness with the really American-y-ness of the whole setup.
I have three kids so I know from having to pull myself back into shape.
also know (as I’m sure you do) that the jours du marché sont beaucoup moins chers and you can get better stuff than at the hypermarché.
Cara : )

13 Cara April 11, 2011

I get them off ebay, less expensive. There is one lady who sends them over at the real cost of sending them over (5 dollars-ish), totalfitness.com.
but I check them out first on this site too…

bon courage,

14 Kelly April 11, 2011

Thanks for the link! I buy a lot of DVDs on Amazon and have them shipped to my dad or mom- then pick them up whenever I go back.

15 Bette April 11, 2011

Good call on not “buying into” WW, etc. Even if you did put out the $$ to join some type of weight loss program, you would still have to do most, if not all, of the things you are planning to do anyway! You obviously already have the know-how, knowledge and information on what you need to do, so why pay someone else to tell you!

Healthy weight control/maintenance is about a lifestyle, not a costly program. Your plan include very specific lifestyle changes that are rock solid and inspiring. Family activities, such as hiking, biking, swimming, etc. are also a great way to stay healthy while also teaching the kids about fitness and making great memories together.

Best wishes!

16 Melissa Daniel April 11, 2011

How I lost weight without spending lots of $$:
1. I spent around $10 for a book on learning how to run. Then I completed the beginner’s running schedule.
2. I use the LoseIt app on my iPhone to count calories or I log using http://www.loseit.com
3. My digital cable service has a channel called FitTV, that has a ton of workouts to choose from.
4. My building has a workout room, so I started using that.

17 Suzanne with Laughing Wallet April 11, 2011

It sounds like you’ve made a great start with some simple exercise and using your iPhone app! Another great FREE resource is your local library. I’m sure different libraries have different inventory, but the local system where I live has exercise DVDs as well as books that you can check out.

I know you’ll need choose exercises carefully because of your fibromyalgia, but you might find some interesting new exercises to add to your repertoire, and mixing it up can help improve both the effectiveness of the exercise as well as your interest. Good luck with a worth endeavor!

18 Melissa April 12, 2011

Hello! I spent a couple dollars on a pedometer and make a conscious effort to walk 10,000 steps a day (about five miles). Most of these steps come in the form of running in place. I can do this in the kitchen while prepping dinner (obviously NOT while chopping veggies) or while watching TV (most of the time.) I have also found that picking things up at night and putting them away is a quick way to accrue a few steps and has the added bonus of a clean living room in the morning.

19 Sizingdowndiva April 17, 2011

Look for local running events. Here in Chicago, runners always meet up at sporting or athletic shoe stores for runs after work. Some stores even reward frequent runners by giving them dollars for miles they complete. If you don’t have any locally, you could try starting your own group.

20 Donna in Seattle April 24, 2011

I’ve had great success in the past w/ WW, but I hated the time to go to mtgs too. I just recently joined online, and it’s beyond terrific–easy, interesting, graphs to see your weight loss…and it cost $17/mo USD, which is a bargain at any price for me! The ease of tracking (I don’t own a Smart phone–won’t pay Sprint the $70/mo!) online whenever I check my email keeps me honest, and you track your activites too. Seeing the activity points add up during the week helps too! Good luck…I’ve lost 13.5 lbs in a month!

21 Fox May 29, 2011

“I’ve never been what you could call a small girl, in fact, my Russian and Irish peasant heritage can be most clearly seen in my broad back, wide hips and sturdy thighs. I am proof of evolution’s insistence on the survival of the fittest; my body was designed to get me through a hard day’s work in the fields, and carry me through a winter’s famine.”

I love this! I’m much stockier than my waifish sister (who never seems to gain much weight). Sometimes it’s a struggle to remind yourself that you’re NOT built to be some tiny little thin thing.

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