Get your “beach body” on a budget

You don’t have to look like (or have the cash like) the Duchess of Cambridge to feel good in a bikini.

Ah, Memorial Day weekend—the unofficial beginning of summer and season of the “beach body.”  Instead of stressing over attaining a so-called “beach body,” it’s more important to focus on feeling healthy and comfortable with your body as temperatures rise and you can no longer hide behind a hoodie.  However, if you’re strapped for cash, sometimes cultivating wellness can seem difficult.  Buying raw and organic foods, gym membership, and exercise equipment can leave deep gouges in your bank account.  Here are some practical tips for inexpensive ways to improve your health through diet and exercise:

1.     Pick and choose what you buy organic.  Buy nonorganic fruits and vegetables that have thick skins, such as bananas and onions.  They belong to the “Clean Fifteen” fruits and vegetable s that contain little to no pesticides.  Produce such as apples and salad greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.) belong to the “Dirty Dozen” and can contain from 47-67 pesticides per serving.  Plus, foods belonging to the “Dirty Dozen” taste much better organic.  (Try biting into an organic apple and then into a nonorganic apple and you’ll notice the difference.)

2.     Grow your own fruits and veggies.  Even if you live in an apartment, you can grow some of your own produce and herbs in containers.  Growing food from seeds saves grocery and gas money and it’s a cost effective way to eat organic foods.  For concise and user-friendly tips, check out About.com’s selection of links listed under Fruits & Vegetables – Growing Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs in Pots.

3.     Keep your eyes peeled for free classes.  By doing a Google search or browsing Craigslist.com, you can often find listings for instructors and studios that host free fitness classes.  Of course, the range of your selection depends a lot on where you live (areas with bigger populations and a high level of public interest in fitness generally have a wider selection of free classes).  Additionally, the YMCA offers temporary reduced membership rates for individuals and households and they have a variety of fitness classes to choose from.

4.     Don’t buy what you can borrow instead.  Between the public library and Netflix (starting at 7.99 a month), getting exercise DVDs is incredibly cheap.  Also, it’s easier to incorporate a wide range of workouts this way because you’re not shelling out money tons of money for each DVD you get.

5.     Go the “French” route.  I love Mireille Guiliano’s approach to fitness in French Women Don’t Get Fat.  Guilianp endorses the way in which French women stay trim, which is by playing sports, walking, cycling, and opting out of doing things the easy way (i.e. taking the stairs instead of the elevator).  Staying active doesn’t have to mean doing P90X workouts; it can be as simple as taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood.

And, as a final note, if you’re taking care of yourself but still feeling anxious when it comes to your body, do yourself a favor and read this gal’s take on how everybody has a “beach body.

–By Jenna Cooper

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