August 27, 2009, 5:00 am

Taking Care of Yourself; A Healthy Choice – A Costly Choice

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Frugal,Personal Finance
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healthy-stuffAfter 2 weeks of vacation, doing nothing but enjoying ourselves, we were having a glass of wine in a hot tub, 50 feet from a natural spring-fed lake (we have some pretty amazing spots in Quebec!) and I was thinking how great is this. On that last day of vacation, we dropped off our kids at my parents’ house, borrowed my father’s roaster and went to a spa for the day. This was one of the most relaxing experiences I have had in months! The people at the spa took care of us like we were the king and queen. It was simply delightful… except when it came the time to pay the bill. It is amazing how you can add to the tally just by saying “put this on 206”… 😉

I started thinking how expensive it is to stay healthy:

Eating healthy food

When we had William, we changed our eating habits in order to provide him with healthier food. No more chicken nuggets and french fries with ketchup for supper! Since then, we have improved our menu and now eat fish once a week, get lots of vegetables and fruit and try to buy bio or non-sugar added products.

We realized that most of what we buy costs a lot more than the “regular” products with all the “bad stuff” added. We were able to find a great place to buy our meat and we buy in bulk so it doesn’t cost a lot more than at the grocery store, and it is better quality and less fatty.

We are looking towards bio vegetables but they are still too expensive for our budget. Do you have any idea of how we can get good food cheaper than getting them at the grocery store?

Working out / Doing sport

Once on the way to eating less junk food, the next step to losing weight and getting in better shape is to work out on a regular basis. My wife and I tried 2 different avenues:

– I registered at a gym right beside my workplace. It is convenient as I don’t waste time going out of the way. On top of that, I can adapt my workout program every 2 months in order to get better and faster results. The fact that I am being coached by a trainer regularly, adds to my motivation. I want to make sure I improve from one meeting to the next! Unfortunately, a commercial gym and a personal trainer are far from being free. While I think it’s worth it, it does hurt my monthly budget!

– Since my wife has more willpower and is more disciplined than I, she decided to start her own gym at home. She read a few books, watched a few dvds and build her own workout program. We bought an elliptical machine (they are half price during boxing day!) and a few free weights so she can do everything at home. This solution is way more expensive initially and it requires the guts to get off the sofa at 8pm and starting sweating after a rough day. Another disadvantage of this option is that she now has the perception that she hasn’t improved her strength nor endurance much, considering the past 8 months on the program. It seems that your muscles learn the routine and don’t work too hard after all.

Spa, lotions, creams and other beauty products

Once you have a good looking body and enjoy a nice salad without dressing, you are ready to show off in a bathing suit ;-D What is the best way to do so? On the beach or at the spa! Seriously, getting a massage or going to a spa hydrates your skin and makes it look better. Creams and other beauty products will also help make your skin look “more healthy” and will give you a better appearance. While I really enjoy going to a spa once in a while (there is nothing better than relaxing all day with a good glass of wine!), I am not really into beauty products, yet. I’ll let you guess who is buying those at home 😉 Seriously, my wife is not a big spender on them either. However, there is still a “minimum” to be considered and it does make a difference to her skin.

So when you look at someone, looking super nice on the street. Someone who looks healthy, well built, tanned and you feel that person is almost shining; you can tell that they invest a lot on themself! Is it worth it? That is a very personal question, as it depends on how you feel about yourself and how you are affected by perceptions from others people. However, getting in shape and eating healthy food is far from perception and more about staying healthy. I think this part should be considered by everyone.

image source: Sakurako Kitsa

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I have never met anyone who has purchased an elliptical or stationary bike and not had it languish after awhile. Wife and I bought one from Craig’s list for $50 to train for a triathlon during the winter.

If you want a good way to get physically fit you could try to do a triathlon or half-marathon. It’s a big enough goal that you basically have to become somewhat fit for it, but still very do-able.

I am leading a little club of runners here at my work to their first marathon or half-marathon. Total of about 10 people so far who started only this year. The only thing they did before was some weight and maybe a little aerobics. Now they can run 21 K or, for 2 of them, 42K full marathon. Their bodies all changed. And it was all free, fun in a group, etc.

Regarding good food: I know you live in Montreal. There is tons of good and reasonably priced produce from the outdoor markets to Adonis supermarket to joining one of the produce coops.

To get really good and cheap produce, try Asian supermarket. I live in Toronto and I have been cooking for myself ever since I was in college.

One thing I find is that it’s always cheaper to buy vegetables and fruits from Asian markets. However, I would buy the meats from Korean supermarket though.

And in terms of exercise, it’s a life-style change. I have lost 50lb couple years back, and to maintain in current weight is extremely difficult. I have to keep changing the way I exercise. I started working out in Gym, but then I got bored, so now I change to playing sports instead.

The key is pace yourself. You will enjoy your exercise more and it will last a life time 🙂

by: Ryan O'Halloran | August 31st, 2009 (4:35 pm)

a good way we’ve found to eat organic vegetables cheaply is subscribing to a CSA (community supported agriculture) or vegetable share. we do one in the chicago area called Angelic Organics, we split it with another family and the cost is $370 for each of us for 20-weeks of a weekly 1/2 bushel box full of seasonal vegetables. so this amounts to about $18/week and you get a load of vegetables. you get what is in season, which is a great way to keep a good variety in your diet and try out different recipes.

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