I haven’t always been the biggest fan of exercising. It just never seemed appealing to exert all of that energy, get covered in sweat, and pass out exhausted on the couch. Needless to say, I avoided Exercise whenever possible, which wasn’t good for my health or my wallet.
My turning point came when I entered the workforce. Since my chosen profession required sitting at a desk 8+ hours a day, I felt sluggish. I changed my diet, which helped, but I still felt tired, grumpy, and weak. I also was diagnosed with Restless Leg Syndrome, which made it painful to sit still for too long. I wasn’t happy with my appearance, my energy level, or happiness when I was sedentary all day. I realized I needed a change. I needed to get healthy.
The Long Journey to Get Healthy on the Cheap
The Free Gym
I tried so many things to get fit. My apartment had a gym for residents, so I began using the Elliptical for 30 minutes here and there. However, I didn’t have a set Workout regimen or goals and fell off the wagon. Fast forward, and Mr. Picky Pincher and I had moved into our first apartment together. That apartment also had a gym for residents, but since I was going by myself at dark in a questionable neighborhood, neither of us felt safe about that option. It was also a challenge to put on my workout clothes, grab my iPod, keys, and water bottle to walk five minutes to the gym. That’s a completely lazy excuse, but hey, that’s what happens.
It was apparent that this low-cost exercise plan wasn’t going to work for me.
I decided group fitness classes would keep me honest. And with a once-a-week commitment, it was more fun and less hassle than a daily exercise regimen. I tried out Groupons for Zumba classes at several studios in my area. But I soon realized that one high-intensity workout once a week wasn’t enough to get in shape. I was hardly fit enough to keep up with the instructors in Zumba, so I couldn’t get as much enjoyment out of dancing as I wanted. I realized that, while the group classes are a lot of fun, they’re best left as supplements to workouts, not workouts by themselves. Or I should have at least gone to them more regularly than once a week.
The Lazy Time
At this point, I decided to take a break from trying to get fit. Mr. Picky Pincher and I had just gotten married and life was crazy. Some days we barely had time to make dinner. My fitness goals fell to the side as we started to navigate our new life together.
The Get Healthy For Real Time
As Mr. Picky Pincher and I learned more about frugality and early retirement, we realized health played a vital role to happiness and financial stability. If you eat good food and exercise, you’re more likely to be in better health. That means you’re ultimately happier and richer.
I also struggled with body image issues. After we were married, we got comfortable. That meant eating out more than we should have and not eating well when we ate at home. I put on some weight after the wedding and, while it was only a few pounds, it was noticeable to me and I wasn’t happy about buying bigger pants. Instead of moping and complaining like I usually did, everything came together.
I had to eliminate the excuses.
I needed to be able to work out in my own home. Making a trip to a fitness studio or even a five minute walk to an on-site gym was enough to deter me. If the equipment was right in my face, it would be harder to find excuses to stay on the couch.
Mr. Picky Pincher and I made the decision to purchase an elliptical for our apartment. Since we’re on the top floor and try to be courteous neighbors, we wanted a quiet, quality machine with good resistance settings. After weeks of research, we fell in love with a Gold’s Gym elliptical.
The only problem was the price. The elliptical was $277 dollars!
Still, we considered it an investment in our health, and looked at the ellipticals one weekend. The first Wal-Mart didn’t have the elliptical we wanted, so we went to a second location, which had the elliptical for $277. We were hoping we could get a deal, and passed.
Out of desperation and/or determination, we checked a third Wal-Mart, and hit pay dirt. They had one Gold’s Gym elliptical left, and it was the pre-assembled floor model. They were asking $180 for it, and we jumped on the deal. To make matters even better, it rung up as $150 at checkout! So we ended up getting this elliptical for half price, due to both chance and stubbornness. It was quite a Picky Pincher find!
Now that I had a quality machine for cardio, I could finally do at-home workouts. But I still faced a mountain of self-imposed excuses.
My List of Excuses and How I Kicked Them In the Face:
- I don’t have time. This was my biggest excuse. Life’s pace picked up tremendously as our jobs grew more demanding and we devoted more time to money-saving, yet time-consuming, activities. By the time I could even think about exercise, it was 9 pm and all I wanted was a moment’s peace and a beer. I saw that if I couldn’t find the time, I would have to make the time. Instead of waking up at 7 am to get ready for work, I set my alarm to 6 am. This gives me thirty minutes for a workout and thirty minutes to clean up and get dressed for the day. Boom, time found.
- I don’t like exercising. I exercise at least five days a week, and most of those days I think, “Oh my god, why hasn’t it been thirty minutes yet?” The trick is to make it fun. When I’m having a particularly unmotivated and grumpy morning, I’ll switch up the workout routine or turn on some good tunes to make it more exciting. I also have “Romy and Michele”-esque daydreams of showing up to my high school reunion looking fit as hell, which also gets me through it with a smug smirk.
- I’ll get all sweaty. I’m fine with being sweaty during a workout, but afterwards I feel disgusting. Since I have thick hair that takes forever and a day to dry, a full shower every morning after a workout isn’t realistic. To tidy up before work, I dampen a towel or wash cloth and essentially give myself a sponge bath. I also use homemade dry shampoo to refresh my ‘do. While some people cringe at the thought of not immediately showering, it’s healthy for your skin to take these mini showers instead of full showers–especially if you bathe both morning and night.
- I don’t have workout clothes. After seeing all of those stupid Fabletics ads, I was insecure about not looking cute while I exercised. This was a stupid thing to think anyway, since the only creature that sees me work out is my hamster, and he doesn’t judge. I just started working out in my pajamas from the night before. I don’t lift heavy weights or do specialized routines that require tight-fitting clothes, so workout clothes are a nice-to-have but they’re not necessary. If you’re in the market for decent, affordable workout clothes, I recommend checking out your local Goodwill or Ross. Today I got two quality moisture-wicking shirts for $9 apiece.
My Workout Regimen
My workout routine evolves as I take on more challenges. Below I’ve listed the plan I made when I started from square one. Every weekday I wake up at 6 am and exercise for 30 minutes. My first goal is to get my four pack abs back, which I’m proud to announce are beginning to take shape. I’d also like to note that my Restless Leg symptoms have abated, thanks to exercise and diet changes. Be sure to consult with your doctor before starting a workout regimen.
Monday: 20 Minutes Elliptical. 10 minute arm workout.
Tuesday: 20 minutes elliptical. 10 minute ab workout.
Wednesday: 20 minutes elliptical. 10 minutes of squats.
Thursday: 20 minutes elliptical. 10 minutes of abs. Curse about how sore I am from squat day.
Friday: 20 minutes elliptical. 10 minute arm workout.
Saturday and Sunday: Rest
As you can see, my frugal journey to fitness has evolved over time, and it will continue to change. It’s important to find what works for you, as long as you find tangible ways to achieve your goals. Kick the excuses to the curb and do what you need to do for your health, happiness, and wealth.
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