January 18, 2010

Being Frugal and Being Fit: A Perfect Match?



Recently I got to thinking about weight loss and the struggles most people have with weight.  All you have to do is turn on the tv or radio and you’ll hear countless ads.  This being January, the whole ‘New Year, New You’ mantra is bantered around and used to hawk everything from fitness equipment to weight-loss pills to everyday groceries.  And then it hit me!

Having lost 65 pounds and kept it off for nearly 5 years, I started to wonder how I could manage my weight AND my grocery budget.  Is it possible?  I think it is!

I come from a ‘clean your plate there are children starving in [fill in country your parents used]’ kind of family.  We were never hungry, but my mom did have to figure out how to stretch everything to make sure there was enough.  My grandparents often had us over for dinner, and their depression-era beliefs were definitely imposed.

When I decided to lose weight I was hovering around 200 (gasp!, I know!) and tried to tell myself it was baby weight.  I knew the truth, though.  So, I signed up for Weight Watchers and thus began my journey toward a more healthful understanding of food.  Don’t get me wrong, I eat plenty of stuff I know I shouldn’t.  But, I am more mindful of what I eat which is definitely a step in the right direction.

But how does being frugal mesh with being fit?  I’m sure you’ve heard of and read about the concept of serving size.  Being of the hunter/gather tribe my brain still thinks that I may not be able to find myself a mastodon upon which to dine and thus I need to gorge myself each time I eat.  Except that I can easily find my mastodon-equivalent at my local grocery store.  So do I really need to eat a 10-ounce steak when a serving size is 4-ounces?  That’s 2 meals!

And then I finally got it.  My A-ha! moment.  If I prepared meals that were appropriate serving size I would (a) save money and (b) lose/control my weight.  I’m brilliant!  Since I don’t need to eat or serve to my family all this excess food I can better control my food budget AND encourage healthy eating habits — especially to my young daughter.

Unhealthy eating habits develop early.  We use food as rewards and we start to believe that we deserve these treats.  We convince ourselves that because the container says Light we can eat as much as we want.  Even our giant cereal bowls and dinner plates try to sabotage us.  The tiny 3/4 cup serving size of my favorite cereal looks very lonely in the giant bowl that is supposed to be my cereal bowl.  And so the cereal flows more readily to fill up the bowl so the milk doesn’t look so lonely.  But then I’ve just spent more money because I now have to replenish that box of cereal more quickly AND I’m taking in more calories that what I’m telling myself — it’s just one serving, right?  (wink, wink)

Food is necessary.  Excess is not.  By controlling portion sizes and being aware of the foods and quantities we eat we not only save money but also save our health and our calories.  Losing weight and managing our weight is about giving our bodies with the right amount of fuel.  Regardless of whether it’s 15 baked potatoes with salsa or one slice of deep dish pizza with extra cheese and extra sausage, we decide what goes in.  But our bodies decide what to do with what we’ve given it as fuel.

I think being fit and being frugal are a perfect match!  What used to be one meal is now easily 2 or 3.  I’m saving money by not over-eating.  And I’m watching my weight and being more fit by watching my food budget.

Disclaimer:  I’m not a doctor nor do I pretend to be one.  I am not a nutritionist, a fitness guru, a food researcher or anything like that.  I’m a girl who lost 65 pounds and kept it off for nearly 5 years.  I know what it takes to lose a lot of weight and keep it off.  But I’m not an expert.  Before you undertake any change in your diet or fitness regime, consult your real doctor and ask about what is best for you.  I do not advocate one weight loss system over another.  I used Weight Watchers and it worked for me.  It might or might not work for you.  Do what works for you!

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