Ditch the gym, ditch the protein shakes and lose weight on the cheap

The health and fitness industry generates billions of pounds every year by convincing people that they must have a gym membership and the most expensive workout supplements. The truth is that you don’t need any of that to shed some weight.

Exposing the myth

If you’ve never had a gym membership, keep it that way. We understand that you want to shed some pounds, but is the gym really the only place where you can work up a sweat? Of course it isn’t!

It is beggars’ belief that so many people pay hundreds of pounds for a gym subscription, only to use the treadmill every day. We’d like to let you in on a secret: the pavement outside your front door is perfect for walking on. Oh, and it doesn’t cost you a penny.

Skip yourself slim

One of the most effective exercises you can do is a spot of good old-fashioned skipping. Give it a go! Have you ever noticed any of the big sports companies telling you to go skipping? Of course you haven’t – skipping ropes are cheap and won’t bolster their profits.

We’re also being told that expensive protein shakes are the way forward. Unless your targets include becoming an elite-level athlete, shelling out for powdered protein is another giant waste of hard-earned money.

At the end of a workout – be it a brisk walk, a jog or a game of football – simply drinking a glass of milk and eating a banana is a highly effective way to refuel.

Step away from the dumbbells

Everybody has at least one friend who has shelled out on a set of dumbbells, only to use them a handful of times before putting them away to gather dust in the spare bedroom. Too many people purchase weights with unrealistic expectations in mind.

Forget about buying a set of weights. Push-ups can be done anywhere, and they give you a great upper body workout.

The message is simple: ditch the gym, ditch the protein shakes and ditch the home workout kit. You’re better off putting the money towards a week in the sun!

Great ways to get fit for free outdoors

You’ve heard of the paleo diet, now try paleo fitness. Thousands of years ago our ancestors didn’t need gyms or treadmills or heart rate monitors to get fit – they just ran through the forests climbing trees and leaping over any obstacles in their path.

Why does it work?

It seems human beings just love nature. It’s a built-in feeling called ‘biophilia’. So however much time we spend in the office or watching Netflix, we still feel the need to get outdoors and top up on a nature fix. According to research, the sense of euphoria and accomplishment you feel challenging your fitness outdoors is great for your physical and mental wellbeing.

Get motivated

If your local park has an outdoor gym, workout equipment or a fitness trail to follow, then it’s easy to get fit for free. But if that isn’t available, it’s not difficult to create your own fitness adventure using your surroundings.

• Realise that everything and anything can be a workout – running after your kids in the park, crawling after your toddler or carrying bags of shopping home on foot. All can be great exercise for agility and your core muscles.

• Workout with friends – either hit the outdoor gym together or work out your own fitness trail through the local woods that includes swinging from branches, jumping over fallen logs and even scrambling up trees. Share your fitness knowledge and add some Pilates and yoga into the mix.

• Think of a new exercise every time you head outdoors – you might use two logs like dumbells or bench press a longer tree branch. Getting fit outdoors is also about using your imagination and seeing every obstacle as an opportunity to work out.

Change your perspective

This kind of outdoor fitness really challenges not just your body but your attitudes to exercise. It’s about realising that anything can be exercise and that you don’t need hours in the gym to look great and feel great. A high intensity 10 minute run around the park, or hurdling logs at full pelt in the woods will build cardio fitness, muscle strength and definition, for free.

The benefits of shopping in the reduced aisle

Every day supermarkets slash the price of their products that are going out of date – and these are placed in the ‘reduced aisle’. While most customers will casually walk past these goods while shopping, there are many individuals who purposely make a beeline for the reduced aisle on a daily basis. Have you ever thought about being one of these people? Here are just a few of the hidden benefits that you can experience by buying reduced food.

The bargains

Throughout the day supermarkets will gradually cut the price of their fresh products. Eventually this will equate to some absolute bargains – often including everything from rump steak to ready meals. Since these are usually ridiculously cheap, you can put the money to other use, such as a gym membership.

The choice

It’s easy to spend ages walking up and down the aisles in a supermarket while trying to decide what to buy for dinner. This can sometimes be annoyingly time-consuming, especially if you’re struggling to narrow down the selection. Meanwhile, if you limit your options to the reduced aisle you should find that it’s quicker to choose between the fewer items available. The time you save deciding could then be spent on going for a run to get fit.

The exercise

Those prowling through the reduced aisle will find that they have to make daily trips to the supermarket rather than completing one big weekly shop there. This should mean that you’re getting more exercise because you’re out of the house more often. There’s even more calories to burn for those people who walk to the supermarket rather than drive.

The diet

The reduced aisle tends to consist of fresh food – like fruit and vegetables – that will soon be going out of date. This type of grub is typically healthier than other options, such as buying processed frozen food.

Give it a go!

It would be foolish to turn your nose up at cheap food just because it’s nearing its use by date. If you’re prepared to go on a nightly treasure hunt to the reduced section of the supermarket, you should find that both your financial situation and your health quickly begin to improve.

Healthy summer meals on a budget

Now the weather is finally turning and summer has arrived you might be looking for inspiration to keep you eating healthy in the heat. When the sun hits, it’s so tempting to reach for a beer or an ice-cream, and that’s fine to do, in moderation. But if you’re trying to keep fit and healthy, it’s good to have a stockpile of yummy meals, you can eat al fresco, enabling you to enjoy the sun but stick to your health and fitness goals!

Picnic at the beach, park or lake

A picnic is a perfect food solution to get you outside enjoying the sun without breaking the bank. Try delicious summer recipes, from salads to cous cous dishes, cold pasta and veggie sticks and dips to turn your picnic into a feast. Whether you hit the beach, lakeside or a park – find a nice open space near to you, take your picnic and head out of the house. If you’re enjoying your picnic with a group – ask everyone to bring something to contribute so no one ends up sending too much!

Healthy homemade afternoon tea

Who doesn’t love a get-together focused on cakes and sweet treats? With the average cost of afternoon tea between £20 and £35, not to mention the sugar count through the roof, it is not a healthy or cheap day out. Why not challenge yourself to host a healthy afternoon tea in the comfort of your own home. Buying a batch of basic healthy baking ingredients, including gluten-free flour, eggs and replacing sugar with sweetener, dates or cacao nibs, you can create lots of your favourite delicacies for a fraction of the cost you’d spend in a hotel and you’ll be eating a fraction of the calories! Asking your friends to contribute as little as £2/£3 can help you cover the costs, leaving you with a delicious celebration with friends for very little money.

Go around the world in a week

Why not set aside a week where you try dishes from around the world? Get your friends involved and take it in turns to host each night. You could try a big salad inspired with ingredients from the Med or a delicious Greek feast with lamb koftas, mozzarella, humus and veggie sticks to dip.

With so many healthy and delicious food ideas to try out this summer, there’s no reason to break your dieting goals or the bank!

Keeping fit on a budget

Getting fit and healthy can be an expensive business. From running shoes to kettle bells to kinesthetic tape, just getting ready to exercise can cost a small fortune. With so many options to choose from, it might seem out of reach when money is tight. There’s no need to worry as we’ve found some simple ways to keep fit without breaking the bank. Being on a budget doesn’t have to mean compromising on fitness. Check out our tips and start moving!

Free fitness at home

YouTube is the perfect place to start your budget fitness journey. You’ll find thousands of videos online with exercise programmes for Zumba, boot camps, yoga, aerobics and more. The best part is that they are completely free! Searching for highly rated videos can help you get the best from your training.

Take the stairs

A simple trick to get your heart pumping is to ditch the escalators and the lift. Work on the 4th floor? Hop off one floor early and take the stairs. If you get the bus, get off one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way. Leave the car when you need milk and use your feet. You’ll save money on petrol and feel better for it!

Tap the app

You always have your phone in your pocket, so take full advantage of it. With hundreds of free and low-cost apps to choose from you can monitor your steps, start a running programme or challenge friends to reach fitness goals. Whatever you choose, you can be sure it won’t make much of a dent in your finances!

Make a four-legged friend

It might be your own dog or the dog of a neighbour who works long hours and needs a helping hand. However you do it, dog-walking is the perfect way to get moving. Fresh air with a willing companion. What could be better?

Bargain hunt

If the gym is still calling, do your research before you commit. Many gyms have promotions for new members, free trials and even competitions to win a membership. Once you start, just make sure you keep going!