I think we could all agree that we would like to live healthy lives and to help our loved ones do so as well. In fact, many of us moms quite obsess over this. Do you remember the first time your infant got a cold? I swear I took my son’s temperature so many times that he has hated thermometers ever since. 🙂
But, health is more than just the absence of illness. We not only want to live life free of sickness, we want to thrive. We want to give our families good food, a clean living environment, opportunities for fitness, and a rejuvenating home.
However, sometimes it seems that the rich have a monopoly on these things. I mean, have you seen the price of organic meat lately? Not to mention a family gym membership? When people start talking about organic mattresses, my ears automatically tune them out because I know that we can’t afford it.
So, is healthy living possible on a budget? Absolutely.
Here are a few tips for Healthy Living on a Budget:
1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is positively essential to a person’s health. When we are rested our bodies and brains function better. Our immune system is able to fight off illness. We have better cognitive functioning. In fact, chronic sleep deprivation can cause adults to perform at the cognitive level of someone who is legally drunk. Now that’s scary!
So, make sleep a priority. I have to set a bedtime for myself and ask my husband to help me stick with it. I have even made it one of my weekly goals when I need to get back into the habit of going to bed early! For me this means being in bed by 10. However, in order to be in bed by 10, I have to start my evening routine much earlier. I make lunches, lay out clothes for the next day, start the dishwasher, and read for awhile. Only then can I crawl into bed ready for sleep. You can get more tips on How to Create an Evening Routine here.
2. Exercise at Home
I love the gym. After the birth of each of my children, I splurged on a gym membership for six months–and it was wonderful! I relished my evenings at yoga, Pilates, or Zumba classes (not in small part because it was often my only time away from young children!). However, a gym membership is not typically something we can include in our budget. So, we’ve had to get creative.
I have taken up running. Now, I am not very good at it yet, but I do feel a real sense of accomplishment as I watch my distances and times improve. The best part–it’s free! If you need some encouragement to start running, try finding a partner. Or, sign up for a 5K as motivation. (This is what I’m trying. I am hoping that my sense of pride will not let me utterly fail at such a public event; therefore, I’ll prepare for it. We’ll see how it works!)
If running isn’t your thing, check out some exercise DVDs from the library or watch one of the many YouTube videos that contain workouts. I am especially fond of 10 Minute Solutions: Rapid Results Pilates and Zumba Fitness: Step it Up DVD. Both workout can be done in less than half an hour but are fun and effective.
3. Real Food on a Real Budget
After reading Lisa Leake’s 100 Days of Real Food and Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, I am convinced that our modern American diet is killing us. So many of the health concerns in Western countries are caused by our diet filled with chemicals, overly processed products, and refined sugars. Now, let me stop right there. I never thought I would sound like a “health nut” who obsessed about every ingredient that was in her food. I am typical Midwestern girl who grew up on tuna casseroles and lots of beef. But, after my summer of reading and research, I believe that I need to make a change in how I feed my family.
The problem? Shopping for “real foods” can be really expensive. I am still learning, but I have picked up a few tricks over the past few months:
-buying in bulk can be cheaper, especially for things like oats or yeast
-small farmer’s markets tend to be less expensive than big ones (I got to our local one and spend $20 each week. I’m able to get eggs and most of our fruits and vegetables for that price.)
-grow what you can (Even having a few herbs or a small plot with tomatoes can help reduce your grocery budget.)
-barter with friends (If you have friends with gardens, see if they have extra produce they are willing to give away or sell at a reduced price.)
-take Money Saving Mom’s Grocery University–an audio course that helps you lower your grocery budget while maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Finally, I have come to realize that increasing our grocery budget slightly is worth it in light of our family’s overall health. I have increased our budget by $10 a week–not earthshatteringly big, but enough to allow a bit more wiggle room as I try to purchase more healthful foods.
4. Don’t Neglect Your Spiritual Health
In the Orthodox Church, we believe that our spiritual state impacts our overall health. A person can have a healthy body and still lack contentment and peace. So, in our quest for health, let us not neglect our souls. By implementing family Morning and Evening Prayers, by attending the Divine Liturgy, by going to Confession, by fasting, and by giving to others–by participating in the life of Christ in the Church, we affirm that our spiritual health is important to us.
It is absolutely possible to embrace healthy living on a budget. Will you join me as I seek to improve my own health and that of my family? I feel that I am still in the learning stage of this process, and I know that many of you are as well.
What tips do you have for healthy living on a budget?
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