I'd be interested in contributing to this project Kyle. I recognize that I'm so lucky because I'm financially stable and I have more free time than someone with kids or family requiring care. Someone gave me a flier for two months of free kickboxing classes, and I'm so stupidly grateful for that because it pushed me out the door. I get up three mornings a week in the dark and drag my sorry ass out to class. But I feel so good for it. So if I can help someone find something similar, hell yes.
Frozen vegetables are better than going without them. Yeah, nothing is going to be as good as farm fresh loveliness. But frozen vegetables can be cheap, and you can throw those into the ramen for bulk and nutrition. Plus they can last longer.
Losing weight without slipping into some bad obsession for me was very, very hard. Maybe just try writing everything down for a week or two. Don't try to do anything differently - just write it all down. Sometimes seeing it like that can make finding a place to begin all the more clear. When I realized I was eating two days worth of food at once, and then nothing for two days, I realized I had to try to balance that out. It's really goddamn hard to fight back against that voice of perfectionism. That's why I go one day at a time - every day is a new start, every day I can make the choices. It's helped me a lot.
My spouse can eat whatever. It's hard. I try to suggest take out from places where I know I can get something less calorie laden - so sandwiches instead of fried chicken. I try to steer him towards foods we haven't always eaten, so I can say we are getting variety when I'm just trying to get something with a vegetable that isn't covered in cheese sauce.
In my looking into the options of gym vs. YMCA I found out that the Y has a discounted program for those who need financial assistance. This is also something that people could look into, if they have access to a decent YMCA.
Still not sure which we'll end up choosing, but I lean towards the Y because of the pool and variety of classes. Also, they have a "couples" rate which ends up being a decent discount. If we lived closer to the beach, we wouldn't even need to be doing this.
I'd probably throw in a bit, but for me it's not that I need a gym membership, it's that I need a babysitter. If only teleporters were real. :p
I don't know if this is helpful at all, but some gyms do offer babysitting services for the hour or two you are working out. For instance, I get a membership to the local JCC (Jewish Community Center - you don't need to be Jewish though!) through work, and they offer really low-cost babysitting services for members. I wouldn't be surprised if some Ys do this as well. So check out gyms that are part of community centers, they seem to offer more services of that nature.
I know for many women, gyms can be a scary, and unsafe space, which leads women who are otherwise interested in getting healthy to avoid going to the gym. I was like this, because going to the gym after college (where due to going to a Bryn Mawr, was a rather safe experience) was never comfortable and I stopped going.
For ladies in the Philly/New Jersey/New York area, I suggest Lucille Roberts. It is an all women's gym and a very safe, very welcoming space to focus not on getting thin, but getting well and healthy. It is rather on the lower side of gym prices at $25 a month.
I hate to sound like a sales pitch, but it seems to make such a difference to many women to have a space to exercise in which they feel comfortable.
I found, myself, the gym a scary place -- there's the feeling that people are watching you trying to figure out how to work things, that you don't know where things are -- that sort of thing was troublesome to me. Having someone to go with you really helped me and also having someone who will goad you and who you can goad back to not skip is important.
I've been working on changing over to a healthier lifestyle myself and I've had a lot of the same struggles with getting started. There's one website that has helped me immeasurably and has a great sense of community. I'd like to share a few of the blog posts from this site and another food-based one that have very good advice.
One of the things that I learned is that it's not necessary to have a gym membership to get a good workout. I canceled my gym membership when I lost my job and now I do a beginning body weight workout at home. The one thing that I've found is that it doesn't take a lot of time to get in a good workout: three times a week with a rest day in between can do a lot. There's one guy on the site, Joe, who lost 128 lbs in 10 months and he travels for work all the time. He does body weight workouts in his hotel room and is careful of what he eats. Here's his story:http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/01/18/10-months-128-pounds-lost/
Here's a list of blog posts about different types of workouts:http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/category/workouts/page/2/
There have been a lot of people struggling to eat healthy foods while on a budget. Here is one article about that and a good round-up of links at the end of the article with more advice:http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-eat-healthy-save-money/#axzz2CDKGda3x
I also have a hard time with getting and staying motivated. One of the important things on the Nerdfitness site is the creation of good exercise and eating habits. It takes time to form a good habit, as much time as to form a bad one. Here is a good article about will power, how it's finite but can be circumvented by forming good habits. When you automatically do something, it doesn't take any finite will power:http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/10/08/willpower/
There was one other recent blog post on getting healthy despite your significant other. Being single, I can't speak to it myself but it's a good article:http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/10/15/unhealthy-spouse/
Finally, there's one recent blog post that's helped me a lot. It's a great synopsis of what works:http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2012/10/22/3-reasons-people-succeed/
I hope that some people find this site to be as valuable as I have!Edited at 2012-11-14 05:17 pm (UTC)
Some CSAs even have a discount program. The Farmers markets in some states do accept food stamps, and sometimes you can bargain the farmers down at the end of the day.
Frozen veggies are healthy, as someone else said. And eating in season and from the bulk bins. I know it sounds odd to say to go to Whole Foods, but they have good bulk bins, and usually comparable/cheap prices for the whole grains. Also, sometimes ethnic stores.
If you know someone with a membership to Costco/BJs/etc, you can often get fruit/veg at great prices. (sometimes these warehouse stores offer a trial membership as well)
Shop veggies in season. If you live in a decent climate, container gardening....
Food, weight, body image - they are such a battle. It shouldn't be, but it is, and for so many people. I don't think we realize it's a battle until we're well into it. I grew up skinny, but with lots of people, even in my family, saying things like, "I can't wait until you're older and get fat." Then I hit 30, and age, combined with the medication I was on at the time, gave them their wish, and how gleeful they were. Amid all that, my father had a triple bypass at 46 years old. His father died of a heart attack at 50. I remember standing at the end of my father's bed in the ICU, observing that he was hooked up to two walls of machines monitoring his vitals and who knows what besides, that there were tubes everywhere, and a respirator breathing for him, and he had scars on his chest and on his arm and leg (where the surgeon had taken the arteries for the grafts), and I thought, "that could be me in 20 years." And that's when my relationship with food went wacko. I tried a lot of different diets, and while some worked short-term and got some pounds off, they always came back, and with friends. I tried a vegetarian and then vegan diet, and actually gained weight. I didn't know that was possible, but seeing as I was always hungry, never satisfied with what I was eating, grazing all the time, thinking about food all the time, with no energy to exercise, hair was falling out, everything ached, and I was having monster panic attacks, the weight gain shouldn't have been a surprise. I kept at that diet for 7 years, though - I felt virtuous, and miserable.
My acupuncturist was the one to finally break it to me that the vegetarian/vegan diet was obviously not working for me - I didn't feel healthy, and I didn't look healthy. That was the first moment of enlightenment and pointer back to sanity - "the perfect diet" is highly individual to a person - genetics, living and working environments, culture, lifestyle, stress levels and their sources, exposure to chemicals, toxins and pollution, addictions, habits, allergies, sleep patterns, medications, current life stage, social interactions, activity levels, and on and on, they all make us unique. And yet, with all that uniqueness, experts and media often still seem to cling to the idea that one diet should work for everyone, all the time, no matter the above factors. What a nutty idea. We learned about controls and variables in science classes for nothing?
There's more than one food pyramid out there. Dr Weil has one, the paleo/primal diet has one, vegetarian/vegan has one, Weston A Price has one, the Mediterranean diet has one, the DASH diet has one, and I'm sure there are many others...I guess we all have to research them and self-experiment with all those variables under consideration and try them to find the one we can cope with and the one that doesn't feel like a burden or punishment and one that actually makes us feel good. Or hell, create your own. And it can take awhile to find the right one, not to mention having to change it as life stage and other circumstances change. And then it's so easy to go off the rails and become obsessive and clingy with one particular diet because we think it "should" be the right one, despite what our bodies might tell us to the contrary.
Right now, I'm trying the paleo/primal diet. I was attracted to it because of its concept of "eat real food." It's working for me so far, in that I've lost some weight and feel healthier and sleep better, the hair loss has stopped, and the panic attacks have subsided. But I've been down this road before - seeing initial good results and then it all goes horribly wrong - so I'm not pinning my hopes on this being the way I eat for the rest of my life. Still, I'll stick to it until I have a darn good personal health reason to switch to something else, and hopefully, I'll be smart enough to recognize that reason, rather than deny it.
2012-11-14 08:45 pm (UTC)
Re: inspiration and ideas
I think the key with exercise is that you need to find something that moves you (pun intended) in and of itself. Gyms never worked for me -- I've tried them off and on over the years and could never stick with it because gyms are BORING. Running on a treadmill? I'm just waiting and agonizing for my 45 minutes to be up. Running outside? I get to meditate, mentally process things that are going on and/or bothering me, and it clears my head. There's also the issue of timing -- having to add an hour to get to and from the gym to my workout time is much more difficult to squeeze into my busy schedule than just throwing on my workout clothes (which I'd have to do anyway) and walking out the door.
So if someone is having trouble finding motivation for the gym, it may be time to try something else. Some sort of team sport club. Organizations that teach specific skills (that happen to be athletic) rather than just pushing weights around. If anyone is in Chicago, there are three gyms available which teach aerial circus skills, and Actors Gymnasium, at least, offers scholarships for financial hardship. (The other two are Aloft Loft and MSA Circus Arts.) There's also Forteza Physical Culture center, which has historical physical combat classes: Bartitsu (Victorian hand-to-hand based on Jiujitsu), rapier fencing, broadsword, etc. They're full service and have physical trainers and nutritionists on staff.http://www.actorsgymnasium.com/http://www.aloftloft.com/http://msacircusarts.com/http://fortezafitness.com/
As for food, unfortunately the good-fast-cheap adage applies -- pick any two. I have managed to reduce my food budget significantly while improving the quality of my food simply because I'm taking the time to cook with whole foods. Nothing is pre-packaged. I even make my own bread (HUGE savings, right there). In fact I'd recommend the cookbook Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day to anyone considering this route. There's some up-front cost for equipment (containers to mix and store the bread dough, and the baking stone, although I'd recommend going to a home improvement store and getting untreated terra cotta tiles and seasoning them yourself -- one-tenth the price of "official" baking stones and they're the exact same thing). But overall I saw my food budget go down by over $50 a month just from cooking/baking from food rather than from a package. And I believe that getting rid of the chemicals they put in pre-packaged stuff will also help; I can't imagine that a metabolism that evolved processing actual organic stuff would react in a predictable fashion to trying to process things that are not food.
When time is at a premium, perhaps try doing your entire week's worth of cooking in one go, and reheating through the rest of the week.
The biggest thing, though, is recognizing that this HAS to be a lifestyle change, not a temporary thing you do to lose weight before going back to the way things were. If you stop exercising, you will lose health and fitness, and gain weight. If you value feeling comfortable and capable in your own body (which I feel is a really important part of self-care), it needs to be built into your life in such a way that it's not that "extra" thing that gets shoved aside when things get busy. Things will always get busy. You will have to decide how important self-care is to you.
Oh, almost forgot -- in addition to many farmers markets accepting SNAP benefits (food stamps), some of them (in Chicago, anyway) get grants so that they can provide matching benefits. That is, at my local market, if I spent $10 or more on SNAP tokens for the market, they'd give me an extra $10 worth of tokens for free. Not huge, but helpful. I'm also a fan of Trader Joes -- better quality produce, and pricing that is competitive with or sometimes even cheaper than the cheapo mega-chain groceries.
For context, I created the permanent lifestyle change in my early 20s and lost 65 pounds. In the last 5 years or so I've gained 10 pounds but lost two more sizes. I'm ovo-lacto vegetarian but beyond that and the whole foods cooking follow no "special" diet.Edited at 2012-11-14 07:28 pm (UTC)
I'd contribute to a chip in.
I didn't post about my own battle, but a lot of it rang so true.
I am so lucky to be in a position to afford exercise (I do Bikram Yoga which helps not only my weight issues, but also various auto-immune health issues I have) and eat healthily these days.
I talked this over with my wife. I have bad self body image. I also have little time. I am a father with a child and need to be home to help out my wife. I had gym memberships but I would spend 1-2+ hours at the gym and that was not time efficient for my family.
So I invested and bought the adjustable 5-25lb dumbbell set. I went online and looked up dumbbell workouts. I got my workout down to 25 minutes. There are plenty of free online tips for doing cardio that do not involve jogging. Many are aerobic exercises that you can do in your room. I just did google searches and found so many different exercises. The great thing is you can find many routines. This way you can change them up every week. Just collect them and print them out to follow.
I do a quick 15 minute stretch/yoga routine in the morning followed by 10-15 minute quick dumbbell arm routine. I switch it up sometimes to a cardio dumbbell exercise if I need to leave quicker. The stretching/yoga helps my body overall since I sit in a chair at the office all the time.
The big thing is we DO NOT allow any food with High Fructose Corn Syrup into the house. Our snacks are all dried fruits (we choose the ones with no sugar added) or nuts from nutsonline.com. So my only cheat time is lunch. My wife and I create a lifestyle to allow us little room to slip and be bad. We also try to eat lots of veggies and cut down out pasta and rice intake to 1-2 meals a week for dinner.
The other thing I do is to NOT look at the number weight on a scale. I look at the shape of my body and I gauge my weight by how well I fit into my skinny jeans. Obsessing over a number is not good for my brain. Seeing how I look in the mirror is better. Gaugeing my weight by the clothes I own reinforces the reality of what I see and feel.
Just wanted to add my 2 cents.
's comments about food expenses, maybe see if there is a local food co-op that can offer better prices? Another possibility is to get a bunch of friends together to see about negotiating bulk prices for staple items from grower's markets. Small local businesses may be worth approaching too for something like this.
I'd be happy to contribute to a ChipIn for fitness memberships.
One thing most people do not really realize is how slow their metabolism can get once they hit certain age. I am eating less than I was 5 years ago, and 5 years prior to that and etc. Once you hit mid-30s or so, every 5 years or so increment means that you have to eat even less (or exercise more).
I am blessed with "Asian genes" (we look the same from 20-50s, then we age a billion years in a day), and my wife also looks very good:http://richardmanphoto.com/PICS/20121111-L1017373.jpghttp://richardmanphoto.com/PICS/20121017-_A173312.jpg
We eat fairly balanced meals and any fast food is in the order of cheap Asian noodles rather than McD and the like. She sometimes counts calories. We can definitely do more exercises. Unfortunately, our favorite exercise is Tai Chi and that actually teaches to move very efficiently, i.e. not very cardio nor working your muscle at all.
The thing is, for me, gyms and access to healthy food aren't enough. They aren't the problem. My own head is the problem space. And perhaps getting access to the counseling that could really help with the real problems BEHIND my weight problems.
If you have an unhealthy relationship with food, with alcohol, with sweets, whatever, you can work out obsessively and it doesn't do a damn thing to help the real problem. You're still addicted to food for comfort. It's not that you don't understand how calories in should balance calories out. It's that you understand it and you just can't bring yourself to see the sacrifices necessary as worthwhile.
When it comes down to it, I know my problem is more with using food (and alcohol) as mood altering substances. Weight gain is a side effect of that, which I hate. I can exercise until I'm blue in the face and sometimes work out to unhealthy levels...yet it's not the solution to my problem. If I don't combat the mental issues behind it all, access to a gym and healthier foods just don't do a damn thing one way or another.
Edited at 2012-11-15 01:27 am (UTC)
wroughtirony: Your internal dialog is wrong, it's really fucking hard to do those things!
You sound just like my therapist! She loves to remind me that a lot of the challenges I face are difficult even for people without any mental illness and I should give myself credit for the things I do instead of focusing on the things that I should do.
I just wish I could somehow detach the idea that I'm a horrible failure as a human being from observations and ideas about things I could change for the better. If I didn't get that "you're worthless!" jolt every time I thought about changing my diet a little or working out more, those things would be way easier.
The other thing I forgot to add is the reason I do not follow the number on a scale is because it shows total weight. Whether you gain muscle or fat the scale shows it as one number. This is why I use the mirror and my skinny clothes as a gauge of my weight loss. I gained more arm muscle and lost weight yet the scale showed me gaining number weight. The muscle was heavier than the fat. I lost some fat but gained muscle.
Sometimes number do lie when you don;t factor int he equation and only look at the total.
I would be willing to do the chip in. And if we get something going and at least one person goes to the gym, I am going to promise to get myself to the gym I pay for already. :) I admit, I am lazy and don't want to get on the freeway to get to my gym. :/
On the subject of people watching you at the gym...The don't. People are there to work out and really only care if you are hogging the cardio machines. And most people there will be happy to show you how to use a machine if you don't know how. I actually liked showing people stuff when I was getting my butt to the gym.
On the subject of cheap food. See if there is a farmers market nearby. Our grocery bill each week is 1/4 what it was since we started to hit the market every week. :)
I also wanted to share an example of the my supportive/non supportive husband. Last night I did not get home until 7pm (I leave for work at 5:45am). I was exhausted and texted him to ask him to start the rice for dinner so I had just the rest (tofu and squash) to saute when I got home. Instead he got mexican take out because he thought I would be too tired to cook.. :(