If you’re still in college or a recent grad working with a limited budget, the idea of implementing a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming and very expensive. If you aren’t careful, you might find yourself shelling out lots of cash in the name of health—whether you’re overspending on organic produce, designer athleticwear or monthly membership fees for a fancy gym. This can leave you feeling lost and overwhelmed about what a healthy lifestyle means or is worth to you. To prevent an unproductive cycle of spending, here are some tools to help you invest in your health wisely.
While intentional inaction may sound counterproductive, it’s a great first step towards figuring out where your money is best spent. If you don’t figure out what works for you, you end up spending money on groceries and health regimes that aren’t beneficial at all.
Instead of following fad diets, begin to experiment on your own with nutritionally dense food. (A good rule of thumb is bright and bold-colored vegetables.) As you do this, pay attention to how these make you feel. After a meal do you feel energized or depleted? What foods are contributing to this? Increase your personal food knowledge and discover what foods act as fuel for your body and contribute to your overall health. This will help you allocate your budget towards foods that increase your energy and health versus empty calories or foods that deplete your energy. Shop locally to save money on fresh foods—you can often get a much better deal at a local produce stand or farmer’s market than a chain grocery store.
Another important factor of the intentional inaction phase of developing a healthy lifestyle is mindfulness (a.k.a. monitoring your thoughts). Self-talk can be helpful or hurtful to you, and whether it is good or bad self-talk, your body is always listening. The best part? Monitoring your thoughts doesn’t cost anything, and it can actually have healthy benefits! Pay attention to your daily thoughts and take time to analyze them in a way that is effective for you. Whether you prefer meditation, deep breathing or a daily journaling exercise, invest time in discovering how you talk to yourself. Are you standing in your own way, or are you acting as your own advocate? This awareness is the key to making real changes to your habits and your lifestyle.
Manageable Small Tasks
Find small, low-cost steps to help get you started on your journey to health. You know yourself better than anyone, so it is up to you to decide how you can set yourself up for success. If you don’t know where to start, try some of these tips:
- Do you enjoy working out only when you have fashionable workout gear? Treating yourself doesn’t have to mean breaking the budget. “We think like-new, on-trend activewear is the best gym motivator,” says Samantha Jacob, spokesperson for thredUP, an online thrift store that offers brand-name workout clothes at a discount. A little unsure about buying someone else’s gym clothes? Don’t be alarmed. “At thredUP, we have incredibly high quality standards, and only accept about 40 percent of the items we receive. Many of our activewear items are in like-new condition, or even new with tags! You can’t go wrong with up to 90 percent off Lululemon leggings,” Jacob notes.
- Do you struggle to eat healthy during the week? Try meal planning. Browse Pinterest for meal inspiration, draft a few grocery lists or pick up a meal planning journal or new food storage containers. Taking these tiny steps can motivate you to cook a week’s worth of healthy food that you can grab and go when you’re exhausted after work or running late to class. The best part is meal planning eliminates those last-minute stops at fast food restaurants—bad for both your health and your wallet.
- Does it feel impossible to get up for your morning run? Try setting your alarm to a favorite song and putting your running clothes and shoes right next to your bed. You’ll wake up in a better mood and have everything you need to get out the door within arm’s reach.
Regardless of what sets yourself up for success, gather some actionable items and write them down. Make these tasks small and manageable enough that they’ll stand up to the test of a busy schedule!
Habitual Healthy Action
The trick to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is action through knowledge. Once you’ve given thought to what you need to get started, your mind will find more motivation because it now understands the value of doing this action towards a healthy lifestyle. Turn your small actions into habits by understanding the importance of investing in your health and what it truly means to you. Whether it’s a budget-friendly gym membership or a carefully planned Trader Joe’s shopping list, you’ll be equipped with tools to avoid extremes and empty costs by knowing what works for you and your lifestyle.
Catherine Claire is stylist, blogger and reiki practitioner who knows the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Catherine is the co-founder of The Crystal Press and curates content for her own blog, Cathclaire. She also uses her wellness expertise to write for thredUP on everything from yoga tips to budget-friendly workout fashion. Click here to view thredUP’s selection of designer athleticwear, including items from brands like Lululemon, Nike and Adidas.