The Fit Life on a Budget

13 Sure-fire Tips for Success

I’m not going to lie— living a fit life isn’t always easy. But it does get easier over time, once those fit choices become a part of your everyday life. During those times when it does seem hard, I find that it becomes a lot easier to make excuses. Some of the more common ones I hear are things like, “Eating healthy is too expensive! Or, “I can’t afford a gym membership, how am I supposed to get in shape?”

Sure, healthier foods are more expensive than ordering off the dollar menu at McDonald’s. And yes, joining a gym will cost roughly $20 to $30 a month. But if your health is important, there are ways to make it work and stay in shape on a budget. Besides, investing in your health now may prevent you from having to spend money on medications in the future, on issues that could possibly have been prevented.

Below are some ways to stay active and incorporate healthy eating and exercise into your life for little or no money at all. I hope these help get you on the road to a long and healthy life full of happiness.

The Fit Life on a Budget - 13 Sure-fire Tips for Success

Check out local farmers or farmers markets. Most of the time the prices are much cheaper and the food is tastier and of better quality. They often give you discounts when you buy a lot at once.

Drink tap water. Get a Brita® and filter your tap water. It ends up being much cheaper than buying water bottles— especially if you are drinking a gallon of water a day!

Clip coupons. My mom used to do this every weekend when the Sunday paper came. I need to get better at this, but it is definitely a great way to save lots of money— just watch TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” show if you don’t believe me!

The Fit Life on a Budget - 13 Sure-fire Tips for Success

Buy frozen fruits and veggies. Frozen berries are amazing in smoothies and the prices are often half the price of fresh. Frozen fruits and veggies are pre-washed and pre-cut, which saves preparation time and they last forever in the freezer. In fact, if they are frozen right when picked, frozen fruits and veggies can contain more nutrients than fresh ones. Just don’t forget to check the ingredients to make sure no sugar or sauces are added to them.

Avoid impulse buying. The best way to avoid impulse buying is to make a list and stick to it. Also, eat before grocery shopping so you avoid buying foods that are not on your list because you are hungry.

Prepare your food in advance. Cook all your meals for the day in advance or before going to bed the night before. It takes 30-40 minutes, saves you stress about what you’ll be eating the rest of the day, and you eat healthy while saving money.

The Fit Life on a Budget - 13 Sure-fire Tips for Success

Buy in bulk. Costco is my favorite store— I save a TON of money on veggies, fish, salmon, steak, rice and oats. Foods that do not perish quickly are great to buy in bulk.

Grow your own food. This is the best way to save money on produce. It always tastes better when it’s home grown and you can control what you put on them to keep bugs off.

Join a gym when there is a special offer available. Certain times of year are better for offers depending on your location.

The Fit Life on a Budget - 13 Sure-fire Tips for Success

Utilize the Internet as a personal trainer. Many fitness professionals are using YouTube, Instagram and Facebook as ways to market themselves. They will upload videos of exercises and mini fitness routines for you to try in your own home. Even my personal website,, is a great way to learn about health and fitness at a very low cost.

Be creative when training at home. Push-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises around, and they can be done anywhere. So can lunges, squats and triceps dips, along with most abdominal exercises. If you need extra resistance, something like a milk jug filled with water or sand while doing squats or lateral raises can make the exercise more difficult than no weight at all.

Find a friend or neighbor with a fitness background and offer a trade. Everyone has something to offer another person, so use this as a way to gain a trainer or workout partner without spending money. You could offer to babysit, get groceries or do some laundry in exchange for training sessions.

Find a local park or ball field that has bleachers. Use the bleachers for running up and down (think Rocky Balboa) or step-ups. Stairs in your home also work for this. Back in Michigan, my girlfriends and I would run the stairs at the park every week in the summer when I prepared for the Olympia. It was an amazing workout!



Nicole Wilkins

Nicole Wilkins is three-time Figure International and four-time Figure Olympia champion, as well as a Met-Rx sponsored athlete and certified personal trainer. For more with Nicole, check out "The Fit Life" column in each issue of FitnessRx for Women. Also check out her DVD, "In Pursuit of a Dream," for tons of detailed information on training, nutrition, and life of a top pro athlete! You can order the DVD now at Nicole's Website!

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