Whether losing weight and getting fit was one of your New Year’s resolutions or you use every January as an excuse to slim down, get more exercise and become healthier, we have some hints and tips to help you on your way.


Whilst we don’t claim to be fitness gurus or dieticians we do have great ways for you to save money whilst getting fit, especially as January and February can be difficult months in many ways for a lot of people after the excesses of Christmas.


Firstly, set yourself achievable targets based on your current level of fitness to avoid setting yourself up for failure.  If you fancy running a marathon, maybe leave signing up for one for 12 months if you have not done one before – many require an entrance fee.


Why not do the Cancer Research Race for Life – it’s only 5k and you can raise money for a good cause, whilst easing yourself in gently, before moving on to a 10k or a half marathon and aim for bigger challenges next year instead.  If you set smaller targets you are more likely to achieve them which will spur you on to take the next steps.


With any weight loss programme, set achievable targets.  Aim for 10% of your body weight to start with and then each time you achieve that amount you can aim for the next 10% until you reach your goal weight, giving yourself rewards along the way.  Keep a record and try to weigh yourself at the same time each week, and only once a week.

There are plenty of diet groups around claiming you can loose as much as you want in x number of weeks.  Whilst these groups are good for motivation by offering help and support along with great food and recipe ideas they can work out to be very expensive.  At different points throughout the year they will offer special deals where you get x number of weeks free or reduced rates along with free joining fees that seem too good to be true – that’s because they usually are!  Be careful as some tie you in for x number of months regardless if you have hit your goal weight or fallen off the wagon.  Each week they will also try to sell you food and equipment, making you believe you can’t cope without them – top tip to remember – no matter how nice and caring they sound they are running a business and work on commission so the more they get you to spend and the longer you attend the classes the more they earn.


Personally I have tried many diet clubs and some have been more successful than others.  However the best way to loose weight is to go it alone.  You need to be strict and hard on yourself and get members of your family to support you – it’s the best way.  What most people don’t realise is that eating is a habit that is hard to break and whilst diet clubs are offering you support and motivation when you stop attending you are back in the big wide world all on your own and that is when your bad habits could start to creep back in!


The best thing to do is make a diary for a week or so and look at what you eat, try to avoid any fried food and opt for oven baked or grilled.


Choose healthy foods with low fat instead of full fat options.  But be careful – many products sold as low fat, actually contain more sugar than their full fat counterparts!


Some diet clubs also have ranges of their food in supermarkets alongside the supermarkets own brand of healthy eating food.  Do a comparison to work out which has the best calorie, sugar, fat content and most importantly look at the cost.


Look at the size of your meal portions, is your plate piled high at each meal?  Do you find it impossible to leave any of your meal? Some people eat very healthy diets but their portion sizes are too big which means they never loose the weight.  Try filling half the plate instead of all of it, or try using a smaller plate instead.  This way you can have a full plate and eat it all but you will be eating less than normal.


If like me you were brought up to finish all of your meal and you still find it impossible to leave any of it even if you are full, start by leaving a potato or something small and over time you will stop feeling the need to finish everything and only eat the amount you need.


Snacking is also a big downfall.  If you can stick to your 3 healthy meals a day, cutting out all biscuits, crisps, chocolate etc. between meals, you will see your figure improving in a short space of time.


I believe you should still have a guilty treat once a week as long as you are sensible and use it as a treat and not a chance to binge.  Cutting out alcohol also works when it comes to loosing weight, lager and beer are very high in calories so why not look at having a glass of wine instead.  If spirits are your favourite try them with diet or low sugar mixers or even better cut out the booze until you have really started to make progress with your weight loss.  Start to introduce alcohol back into your diet gradually and never to the same amount as before.

The best way to loose weight is to eat healthily and exercise on a regular basis.  If you live a busy life you might feel you don’t get time to do any exercise but just by taking a few simple steps you will be amazed to see your fitness improving.


Health guidelines suggest you should do up to 30 minutes exercise a day.  That does not mean you have to run or cycle for that period of time.  Look at your day.  Is there something you could do to increase the amount of exercise you do?  How far do you live from work? Could you walk instead of drive?  This would have the added benefit of saving money on fuel.  Or could you park your car half way between home and work, and then walk the rest.


A brisk walk is one of the best ways to increase your fitness but if you don’t like walking do you have a bike in your possession? Perhaps cycle to work a couple of times a week or a cycle ride when you get home?


Just by doing something more that you are now will make a difference.  Running is also a big favourite.  If you have never been running or feel you are too unfit to get back into it, now is the perfect time as the evenings get dark pretty early so as long as you stay to a safe, on a well lit route you won’t be recognised by the passing traffic!


Joining a gym is always the popular choice for people wanting to get fit and loose weight.   However, gym membership fees can prove expensive with some tying you into a 6 or 12 month contract.


A friend of mine joined the gym with her husband for their wedding.  Whilst my friend took full advantage before the wedding the husband didn’t really go and they discovered they were still paying for the membership a couple of years later, when neither of them was attending.  She was horrified when she worked out how much money they had wasted!


Have a look at what you would use the gym for, if it’s running then look at going out for a run.  Same applies to the bikes and other cardio activities etc.  Getting out in the fresh air can do you the world of good.  If you like to use small weights then look at what you have in your store cupboard as baked bean tins can turn into great weights.  Most games consoles like the WII and PS3 now have great activity games and get fit programs.  You’ll have to pay for the program but if you look at eBay and other discount sites you are sure to pick up a bargain.


Loosing weight and getting fit doesn’t have to be a chore or expensive.  Research your options and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised and actually start to enjoy it.


Remember, always consult your Doctor before embarking on a weight loss programme.

Edited By: Sally-Ann Cox

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