For me, eating sensibly, exercising enough and being healthy go very much hand in hand with being frugal. The one essential ingredient doesn’t cost a penny – determination. No amount of expensive gym memberships, tins of ‘diet drinks’ or superfoods can give you this. It’s already there, waiting inside of you! In fact, beware of the ‘buying things instead of doing things’ trap where you buy memberships, diet pills, expensive programmes of various sorts and feel that’s you sorted now. Without the determination ‘things’ are worthless.
Of course bringing it to the fore and keeping it there can be quite tricky. You have to respect yourself enough to know that you deserve to be healthy and slim. We are burdened with a media that seeks to convince us we should be twiglike to be beautiful which can be very undermining to our self esteem. Feeling bad about yourself can lead to typical ‘falling off the wagon’ behaviour – 5 packets of crisps and a large chocolate bar… horribly self destructive. So, try and avoid programmes, papers and even books that espouse this sort of nonsense. Instead seek out inspirational books, mags and websites that help you feel good and motivated. You are beautiful already and deserve to be healthy
This is not a page detailing a precise diet and exercise regime, rather a selection of tips that I’ve found work for me. Mix, match and adjust to your own needs, circumstances and tastes. Needless to say it does not constitute medical advice and you should seek your doctor’s advice before starting any new food or fitness programme.
Portion control – have a look at your plate of food. Could it feed 2 people? I have a habit of piling a bit too much on there, especially if it’s something I love. Better to go for a smaller portion and savour every bite. Eat slowly and appreciate the flavours. You will feel more satisfied this way than you will wolfing down a much larger quantity of food. Your body will also digest properly chewed food better.
Some worries about wasting food are left over from childhood and frankly rather nonsensical. It does not help starving people in other countries if you eat too much food. It’s just as wasteful as binning it, having the extra pounds sitting on your body. Could some leftovers be popped in the fridge for tomorrow instead? Or given to the dog as part of his meal? Whatever, it’s better in the bin than on your bum!
However if you have a food or treat that you really adore, don’t deprive yourself of it. Just watch the portion size and really enjoy it. No stuffing it in your mouth in a hurry while being busy – sit down, relax and fully appreciate it… now and again… One piece of high quality dark chocolate, fully savoured, is far better than a gobbled down large bar of dairy milk any day.
Look for ways to make your favourite foods healthier: leave the cheese off a pizza and maybe make it wholemeal or with a spelt base; use apple puree in cakes instead of fat; try your own homemade baked chips instead of deep fried; make your own healthy curries; instead of dairy ice cream give soy based ones a try or fruit sorbets…
Try growing some of your own food. This can be as basic as a pot of herbs on a windowsill to digging over a bit of the garden for veggies. Both will give you extra nutrition and connection to your food and the latter even some good exercise!
Walk! Walking for 20 minutes a day will raise your heart-rate and metabolism for the rest of the day – so best done in the morning. Not too gentle a stroll though – listen to your own body and set your pace. You want to be working but not exhausted. Look for walking opportunities – could you leave the car at home and walk, or get off the bus a stop early? Not only free but might save you a bit.
Let excercise become a part of your day, a habit even. This is quite a hard tip to write generally as we all have different things we like doing. You have the choice of joining a club or class or doing bits at home. Some yoga on your living room rug is very effective, as is pilates, a gymball workoutand even ballet (all things I like!). I now have a habit of jumping on a rebounder when I come out of the shower. Yes I do put my clothes on first! On goes the music and off I bounce for a few minutes – it’s just part of the day now. Find something you like and get doing it.
The 5 Tibetans are a little known, yoga-like set of exercises from ancient Tibet also known as the Tibetan Rejuvenation Rites. Said to make you younger and get your chakras all spinning at the right speed. They certainly give you an energy boost and strengthen and tone the whole body. My arms slimmed down considerably while practicing these and now have really nice definition. The exercises are detailed online here though I found the write up in Shazzie’s Detox Your World more thorough.
Ditch the scales. Nothing can spoil a healthy plan like standing on those things after a week of lots of excercise and angelic eating to be told you are heavier or the same. They are not good indicators of fat loss as you often gain muscle weight during exercise. Also ladies tend to have monthly weight fluctuations that are nothing to do with fat. Your clothes and how you feel in your own body are a much better guide.
Give yourself treats. There are lots of non-food lovlies to lavish oneself with. Try a nice new bath oil with your favourite music playing – taste is only one of your senses, nourish the others too. A new book, ornament, plant, candle etc. can all brighten your day. Even a glass of wine now and then, though in moderation. Taking alcohol to excess is obviously really bad for you but also makes you forget the reason that you shouldn’t eat the whole family size chocolate cake in one go. I wouldn’t really advise new clothes (with the exception of things such as gloves, scarves and undies) until you have reached a comfortable and healthy weight – and buying them too small for the future can be quite demoralising.
Cultivate a way of being that really appreciates the beauty in the world around us – stand and stare at the sunset, the night sky, hills, fields, mountains, trees, art, architecture – see what you can do to beautify your own little patch.
Some ‘be good to yourself’ recipes:
Fruit smoothie Nothing’s easier or better for you than a smoothie. It’s a great breakfast option. I usually use mango and banana as a base – if you’re not used to smoothies that’s quite a good starting point. Peel and roughly chop the mango and banana and pop them in a blender or smoothie maker. Pour over enough juice or water (or a mix) – pineapple is really sweet, orange will give a tarter taste – to cover and blend. If too thick add some more liquid. As you get into smoothies you can experiment with extra additions – blueberries, peaches, strawberries, apple (seeds too if you have a powerful blender) even things like goji berries, raisins, pumpkins seeds, cashew nuts (make it creamy) are great. The addition of a teaspoonful of spirulina powder gives a huge nutrient boost (gives you energy even when you’ve had no sleep!) and is a slight appetite suppressant.
Mega Salad Get a large plate and put lots of gorgeous raw things all over it! Suggestions for things: chopped lettuce makes a nice base – there are many different sorts to try too; baby spinach leaves; bag of mixed salad leaves; radishes; finely chopped onion makes it very tasty; grated carrot; grated red or white cabbage; sprouted seeds or beans; nuts; avocado; tomatoes – again lots of varieties to try; cucumber sticks; celery sticks; chopped apples or oranges; herbs; and some not quite so raw additions: cooked beetroot; houmous; dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with rice – bit fatty and salty but fine in moderation); sweetcorn. You can eat as is or make a dressing: basic dressing is a 3 tsp olive oil to 1 tsp cider vinegar but you can add allsorts to it: a little wholegrain mustard; tahini; fresh chopped herbs. You could use lemon juice or soy sauce instead.
Chocolate Cake – yes! in moderation of course Ingredients 300g wholemeal spelt flour 100g. sugar 1 teaspooon of bicarb 2 tablespoons of cocoa about a third of a cup of sunflower oil (alternatively pureed apples, prunes or dates will substitute – you can also reduce the sugar if you do this) 1 tsp of vanilla extract soya milk or water to mix to a good thick batter – don’t want it too runny
Mix your dry ingredients then add the wet ones and stir well. Bake at 200C/400F for about half an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Variations: add the juice and rind of an orange for choc orange cake; put chocolate chips on top prior to baking for an extra treat; a mashed banana makes it into a stickier choc banana pudding.
We also have lots of frugal recipes here with low fat options marked.