I hear all the time some sentiment to this effect: "I want to eat better, but healthy food is so expensive." It gives me a shudder on multiple levels.
First of all, what is expensive about lentils (about 89 cents a pound), fresh broccoli (about $1.50/pound), or even boneless, skinless chicken breasts (my current circular has a special for $1.99/pound)? And secondly, consider "cost" in the big picture - as a preventive measure against expensive diabetes medications, additional quality and quantity of life, or as a substitute for weight loss pills, diet books, and other expensive "quick-fixes."
Sure, organic milk and grass-fed beef can start to add up on the weekly shopping bill, but the long-term effects of relatively small investments in health have major returns. This week, take some time to consider the costs - and bene-fits! - of putting a little extra cash into some very healthy places.
One perfect example is a swap for monthly gym fees. Even the least expensive gyms can cost $24/month - around $300/year. For the same amount, you could purchase a "home gym" of a Swiss ball, adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands, and a Bosu pad, and use a Netflix subscription (about $9/month) or the local library to rotate exercise videos you can do in your home.
Another way to "reallocate" your fitness dollars is to enroll a personal trainer - bene-fit offers individual personal training, one-on-one yoga instruction, weekly training plans, and longer-term running plans at incredibly reasonable rates. Sometimes knowing that someone is holding you accountable and responding to your personal needs can be the most powerful motivator.
Moving away from the gym, consider the way in which your "healthy surroundings" can make a difference in your fitness goals. Do you wear sloppy T-shirts and shorts to the gym (you know, the same ones you sometimes wear to bed)? Try budgeting in some matching, moderately-priced exercise apparel (my faves are Old Navy and Target C9, although Lululemon and Athleta are some great choices for a bigger splurge). Looking forward to your exercise experience, no matter where or what it is, can reframe fitness as something you dress up for, enjoy, and yes, bene-fit from!
And finally, back to the food. If you come home to a house full of processed garbage (which, by the way, is NOT so cheap!), it saps your willpower and makes the act of cooking healthy foods a burden or chore. On the other hand, if you come home to a house where fresh produce is abundant and visible (in fruit bowls and on refrigerator shelves, not stuck away in the crisper), healthy recipes are organized and easily accessible (try Epicurious for inspiration), and your kitchen is "cook-friendly" (a glass of resveratrol-packed red wine ready to roll, the closest radio ready to play your favorite music, and cute plates and servingware stocking up the cupboard), odds are you will begin to view healthy cooking and dining as a genuine treat.
In sum, in fitness and health as elsewhere, money well-spent reaps great rewards. Now is the time to rethink your budget, revise your habits, and get yourself started on a new financial path toward health and wellness.