10 Free Ways to Lose Weight

You don’t have to break the bank to lose weight.

It’s bathing suit time again. I’ve always joked that I have a November weight and an April weight because every year I think about what I’ll look like on the beach and I don’t want to look like a whale, but I also don’t like paying for stuff I won’t use, and I’ve been through them all.

I’ve dropped a bazillion dollars on gym fees, but I’ve found going to the gym makes me self conscious. There are these beautiful gazelle-like creatures lifting and jogging and their sweat smells like cotton candy and I’m in the corner on the oldest treadmill they have, huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf next to a 90 year old woman whose kicking my butt so I usually just sneak out, go home and eat a pint of double dutch chocolate ice cream with half a jar of peanut butter on top in my shame.fitness

Then there is the on-line subscription I’ve had to weight watchers. Although I love weight watchers and totally believe their system works to lose weight and maintain it, I never liked having to pay 3 months in advance and then a monthly fee after that to log my food and calculate my points. I always do great for three months, then notice I pretty much eat the same things over and over and think I can get rid of my subscription and just keep eating those things, but the moment I quit logging my meals, I start putting weight back on.

Thankfully there are other products I have found that work just as well for me that are free. Here are ten of those free ways to lose and maintain weight:

  1. My Fitness Pal: This app has to be my all-time favorite. Free to download in the google play store, you can log your food, keep up with your caloric intake, weight, exercise, steps, and even macros (the amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat in your food). You can upgrade for $9.99 a month for premium features, but I’ve lost just as much using the free service.
  2. S Health: This came standard on my Samsung cell phone. It isn’t my favorite, but it has many of the same features as my fitness pal and is doable.
  3. Spark People: Sparkpeople.com is a wonderful, free community where you can interact with others, share recipes, log food and exercise and use a multitude of diets.
  4. Pinterest: Are you kidding me? There is no reason to eat crappy food when there are thousands of healthy alternative recipes and tons of exercise routines on Pinterest.
  5. Community race tracks: There are several tracks in my town that the community uses to walk, run or exercise on. Many high schools or universities have open tracks, parks and other areas. My father-in-law always enjoyed walking, when he got older and it was too hot for him to walk outside, he went to Wal-Mart and walked the aisles and bought a water going out the door.
  6. Home Fitness: This one is a no-brainer, exercise at home and eat healthy. Old-school push-ups and jumping jacks can go a long way. Even walking in place and swinging your arms with some heavy cans of soup in them can get you on the right path.When I was in high school, I ran the stairs in my house, jumped rope and jumped up and down doing squats on a stool my mom kept in the kitchen. For years, I got home from work at 6am and there was a Yoga show on. I did the exercises with them and it helped me wind down after a long night at work.
  7. Youtube: There are literally hundreds of channels on Youtube with free exercises.  I wanted to buy DDP Yoga, but I wanted to preview it before I spent the money on it, so I searched it on Youtube. There are several people who film themselves doing the exercises with the DVDs and lots of previews and recipes from Dallas Page himself.
  8. Water Your Body: This is another app I love. I do not have an internal sense of when I need to drink something. I am literally never thirsty and tend to drink only when I eat. This leads to constant dehydration, dry skin, poor oral health, cracked lips, organ sickness, slow metabolism and water retention. Water your body app has an alarm that goes off about every hour to remind me to drink something. When I do, I can log what I drink to make sure I am drinking an appropriate amount every day.
  9. Noom: Noom Coach is an app that coaches you through eating better, exercising, logging your food and exercise. Noom gives you goals to master and really nurses you through your weight loss journey.
  10. The Gabriel Method: This one can cost you money if you so choose, but there are several free products John Gabriel offers on your weight loss journey, from recipes to e-books, this guys, no more dieting, psychological approach and delicious recipes are great. He often has free webinars you can attend, (and some that cost tons) but I love his approach and takes so much stress off of your health goals. No more pints of peanut butter chocolate shame, but tons of peanut butter chocolate recipes that are actually good for you and so good!

The Importance of a Buffer

age of money
YNAB ages your dollars, basically it is rate of spending vs. rate of deposit. Read more here.

Are you living paycheck to paycheck? I’d say many people do in an American society of debt overload and over indulgence do. We just weren’t raised to be savers. We look at our grandparents and great grandparents who still cut the bruised parts of fruit out and finish eating the rest and shake our heads. We think, “I will buy you a whole basket of peaches if you’ll just NOT EAT THAT!” We throw out vacuums when the belt breaks, think buying a brand new car on loan is cheaper than fixing the one that’s paid for and go pick up a burger at the local fast food joint when we just don’t want to cook. But saving is important, and over indulgence has entire generations in financial ruin. That’s why it’s important to create a buffer.

A buffer is a category you create in your budget; it’s rule four for my favorite budgeting software, YNAB. It’s different than saving for rainy day expenses, those expenses that only come up annually, or on an as-needed basis, like doctor visits and vet bills (which you should be planning for them as well!) It’s the one to six month’s salary you save so you are no longer living paycheck to paycheck, and you add to it each and every paycheck. It can be a small amount, or it can be large, It’s totally possible and most people can raise a one month’s salary buffer within 6-9 months of budgeting.

The question is, why is it so important? There are many reasons why you want to have a buffer, number one being a little thing called Murphy’s Law, which the financial guru Dave Ramsey suggests always happens where money is concerned. Murphy’s Law is an old adage, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.  What if you get fired, hurt, sick, there’s a death in the family, you have to have hip replacement, your car catches fire, your house catches fire, you hit someone with your car, and so on and so on. There are so many reasons to have that extra money handy, just in case those paychecks stop rolling in.

How much do you want to save in your buffer? Start with one and keep adding to it, you can never have too much “just in case” money. When I started using YNAB, I usually had about $30 on payday, debt, no savings, no investments, nothing. Now, three years later, we are debt free (minus our mortgage), we have an ever-growing, fully funded buffer , a separate emergency fund of $1000 and still manage to save for our 52 week savings plan. We did remove all but about $200 of our investments from Lending Club and Betterment and just put it in to savings and CD ladders. We still have the $200 because they were notes that wouldn’t sell on Lending Club so they’ll just sit there til they pay out, (one of my issues with Lending Club).

Where do you want to keep your buffer? You can keep it right in your checking account, along with your rainy day funds and your every day expenses funds.You can also consider moving it to a savings account, simply to earn a higher interest rate off of it. Either way, you want to have it tangible if you need it. YNABers aren’t usually fans of lots of accounts, it can get messy and confusing, but I am also not a fan of putting all my eggs into one basket, especially in this day with identity theft and debit card thieves out there. Basically, it’s your money, put it where you want it.

BONUS THOUGHT: You know those people who say you shouldn’t save while you still have debt? Well, I think they are wrong, especially in this particular circumstance. You may have a problem come up way before you will be out of debt, and if you need to choose between adding an extra $10 to your credit card payment and adding an extra $10 to your buffer, until it’s funded with at least a month’s worth of wages, I would choose the buffer.