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Game Shape On A Budget

By Giant Eagle , 01/13/13, 8:45PM EST


Ten Ways To Lose Weight and Save Money

Trying to get back down to your playing weight? 

Start your new year of nutrition with these no- and low-cost diet tricks to slim down and save money from Giant Eagle.

Fad diets and the latest trendy fitness classes can be pricey. These strategies will help you lose weight sensibly and save money at the same time.

1. Plan to cook at home. Instead of ordering takeout meals, which often tend to be high in calories, cook your own at home. With a few good recipes and a shopping list, you can make your own delicious low-calorie meals. According to one study, planning out your meals for the whole day really does help you lose weight.

2. Take the guesswork out of portion control. Some weight-loss programs work because they pre-portion meals for you, which is helpful, as studies show that almost everyone—including nutrition experts!—underestimates how much they're eating a lot of the time. But instead of buying expensive pre-portioned meals, try making recipes that offer built-in portion control, like mini meatloaves in muffin tins, or casseroles that are easily divided evenly.

3. Make your own snack packs. Pull out your measuring cups, get yourself a simple kitchen scale—and measure out individual servings of your healthy snacks (whole grain crackers, nuts, etc.) to pack up in reusable containers or small zip-top bags. You’ll keep a cap on portion sizes but avoid the cost markup that’s tacked onto those small packaged snacks.

4. Snack on popcorn. Popcorn is a super-easy, inexpensive snack that doesn’t cost most and – did you know? – popcorn counts as a whole-grain. Three cups of air-popped popcorn contains 3 grams of fiber and just 105 calories—provided you don’t add butter.

5. Get creative with your exercise options. You don’t necessarily need to shell out a monthly gym fee to get moving. Find fun activities you enjoy for free. If you’re just getting started with a regular exercise routine, try beginning with daily walks: start slow and build up time and speed. Other ideas for no-cost activity include jogging, hiking, dancing, simple strength-training moves like pushups. Or look for free workout or yoga videos online.

6. Buddy up. One of the most powerful resources you have for helping you to lose—and keep off—weight is your social network. Find a buddy who is also trying to lose weight and agree to help each other stay motivated. One study found that when friends participated in a group weight-loss program together, they lost more weight—and were more successful in keeping it off—than people who did the same program on their own.

7. Enlist Fido. Most dogs are always ready for a brisk walk and your pets need exercise too. Not a dog owner? Offer to sit for a friend’s while she’s away. You’ll sneak in a weekend’s worth of exercise—and have fun while you’re at it.

8. Treat yourself. Having an incentive for reaching your weight-loss goals can certainly be motivating but such treats needn’t break the bank. Yes, a weekend at the spa would be nice but so, perhaps, would be a new bottle of nail polish for a home-pedi or a “night off” from your to-do’s to simply chill, with a rented movie.

9. Shop for in-season produce. Vegetables are great for weight loss, as well as all-around health. They’re low in calories and high in water and fiber—two things that keep you feeling full. Save cash by shopping for those that are in-season. Frozen veggies can be a great bargain, with just as much nutrition as fresh, since they’re picked and frozen at their peak.

10. Eat smarter. Yes, of course, eating less leads to weight loss—and cost savings, especially if you cut down on the right things. Start by cutting your portions of pricey meat and poultry to the recommended 3 oz. Or swap out meat and poultry for cheaper vegetarian proteins like beans, lentils, tofu and eggs for some of your meals. And if you’re eating out, eat half of a main course and save the other half for lunch tomorrow—an easy way to stretch your budget and whittle your waistline.