I haven’t belonged to a gym in more than ten years. I wouldn’t describe myself as a super fit, in fact I’m pretty lazy when it comes to working out, but my doctor is reasonably happy with my weight and diet and I do just enough exercise to squeak by.
I’m lucky to have a good metabolism and my Dad’s skinny legs, but I still keep track of my calorie intake (using this free app), cook most of our meals, and walk the dog a couple of miles as often as I can. I also try do some no-equipment exercises at home each day.
I don’t think losing weight (which, let’s face it is basic math – calories in, calories out), should be a massive growth industry, but it is. The U.S. weight loss industry is forecast to hit $66 billion this year. According to Marketdata Enterprises (a 33-year old market research firm that has tracked the U.S. weight loss market since 1989), the 108 million Americans who are dieting, are heavier than ever. Instead of buying less food (and spending less money) they are being targeted by advertisers to buy more pre-packaged meals, shakes, and supplements, and join costly programs.
The U.S. health club industry is worth upwards of $21.4 billion, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. I’m all for people working out at gyms but if the cost of a gym membership is going to cause you financial stress, don’t give up. There are some effective and fun alternatives that won’t cost you a cent.
Free workout options –
* Walk your dog (or a neighbor’s). My dog gets me out the door in the morning with his pleading brown eyes and his excitement whenever I dress in workout gear! I’ve also loaned him out to girlfriends who’ve wanted a jogging partner.
* Free outdoor gyms are popping up around Los Angeles. Weather permitting, exercising outside is the best.
* If you’re short on time and live near a hill or some public stairs, walk up and down those. It’s a super efficient way to get your heart beating and your legs pumping.
* Instead of meeting friends for a coffee, join them on a walking coffee date or walk to a cafe or restaurant together.
* Check out whether there is a local walking group you can join or start your own.
…and don’t ever beat yourself up for not exercising enough or for eating too much. Each day is a fresh start. Forget drastic changes, take baby steps, you’re more likely to stick with your new healthy lifestyle that way.