10 Economical Ways to Lose Weight

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — If you’ve resolved to lose weight or get healthier this year, you’re not alone. According to a 2013 Outlook Survey organized by TD Ameritrade, 42% of Americans made health-related resolutions this year.

If you’re asking yourself how you’re going to lose weight and still maintain your budget, our budget experts say if you’re careful, eating a healthy diet is no more expensive than picking up that value lunch at your local fast food joint.

Here are 10 of their tips for losing weight while still maintaining a fat wallet:

1. Make monthly resolutions. “When a resolution is fresh in our minds, we tend to approach it with more vigor and commitment,” says Jeanette Pavini, a savings expert with Coupons.com. “So instead of thinking about the whole year, break it down by month.” That just doesn’t mean your weight goal resolutions, either. Pavini suggests shaking up the routine. For example, if your goal is saving money while losing weight, resolve to get into a habit of clipping coupons in January. In February, resolve to brown bag your lunch instead of eating out. Keep making those resolutions to form new habits throughout the year.

2. Ditch the gym. You don’t need a pricey gym club membership or a personal trainer to get healthy, says Dan Giuglianotti, a physician and certified health fitness specialist at the American College of Sports Medicine. Giuglianotti advises, “Try to get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days per week while watching what you eat and your clothes will start fitting better.”

3. Don’t ditch the exercise. Just because you’re ditching the gym doesn’t mean you don’t have to exercise. Walking, running, aerobics and yoga can be done at home, but if you feel you need exercise equipment, buy it used, says Kendal Perez, a savings expert who blogs at HassleFreeSavings.com. “Hit up discount retailers for basic fitness accessories like dumbbells, yoga mats and medicine balls for a fraction of fitness-store prices,” Perez says. “Thrift stores are another good outlet for discount essentials, and you can always scan Craigslist for bigger equipment.” She warns, though, to check out equipment thoroughly before buying.

4. Plan your meals. Everyone knows a planned meal is typically a healthier meal. Brenda Della Casa, director of online content and community at Preston Bailey Designs, says, “Plan your meals, and understand the way carbs, fat and proteins work in your body.”

5. Tap into friends for support. “My friends started a paleo challenge last year and we all uploaded our meals on a Facebook page to help one another,” Casa says. “I ate an enormous amount of veggies and fruits and lean meats. I never looked better; most of us were in great shape as a result, just in time for our friend's destination wedding in Puerto Rico.”

6. Find in-season produce. In-season produce is always cheaper. You might find these items at local farmer’s markets, health food and organic stores. “Enjoy food when it is bountiful and cheaper,” says Katherine Lindholm, a certified nutritionist with the North Texas Food Bank.

7. Read the sales sheets. Lindholm advises going online for a store’s sales sheet or picking one up as you enter the store. “Make purchases based on what's a good deal and what you will actually eat.” Also, it’s a good idea to check other store sales sheets; some stores will honor sale prices of their competition.

8. Don’t be afraid of salvage food stores. “When shopping at salvage grocery stores, it is more of a quality issue verses a safety issue,” says Rania Batayneh, author of The 1:1:1 Diet. “The Food and Drug Administration approves of outdated fare. The government agency determines that expiration dates are simply an indication of optimum quality as deemed by the manufacturer.”

9. Get rid of processed foods. “Eat as many unprocessed, whole foods such as beans, whole grains and vegetables as possible,” says Jill Nussinow, an author and blogger at TheVeggieQueen.com. “Instead of buying salad in bags, buy lettuce and wash it yourself. Cook whole grains and beans from scratch. They are incredibly affordable.”

10. Compare. Shop wisely for the best-priced items. Be sure to compare the per unit, instead of just relying on what may seem like the least expensive item based on the total cost,” says Charla McMillian, a National Strength and Conditioning Association-certified specialist. “Often when unit price is compared it may be discovered that the lower price reflected a smaller package.”

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