Losing Weight on a Budget

3 tips for getting in shape without burning through cash.

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With gyms costing upwards of $50 a month, exercise can be pricey. Here is a guest post from Kyle James of Rather-Be-Shopping.com on how to stay in shape on the cheap:

Three years ago, I was at my annual physical, and my doctor told me I was 45 pounds overweight. Of course, I already knew this, as the mirror does not lie! But I was the king of procrastination and kept telling myself, "I will start working out next month." Next month would come and go, and, still, I did nothing.

But having my doctor tell me the health risks associated with extra weight did the trick for me. After all, I want to be at my children's college graduation ceremonies and weddings. So I vowed to get in shape. It took a year and a half of hard work and dedication, and I am proud to say that I lost the weight and feel great about myself. Plus, I did it frugally. No expensive gym membership or home gym system.

Here are a few of the things I did:

  • Find free calorie burners. Stop using the elevator—take the stairs instead. Park way out at the far end of the parking lot and walk. If you do these small things every day, you will burn a lot more calories every week, and, believe me, they all count!
    • Start walking or biking. The best way to burn enough calories to shed fat is to get your heart rate up for 30 minutes at a time at least three to five days per week. Forget the expensive gym membership. There are plenty of free ways to get your exercise. Start doing a brisk walk or bike ride around the neighborhood in the evening or early morning. Dust off that bike, or buy one if you don't have one! I ride my bike all the time. It is great frugal exercise. Plus, it is something fun that I can do with my kids.
      • Give yourself permission. As a very busy father of three small children, it was hard to give myself permission to exercise. So I try to exercise after the kids go to bed or at my lunch break, so it does not take away from family time. By finally giving myself permission to exercise, I came to the realization that I actually became a better dad. My mind was sharper, I did not get tired as easily, and physically I could keep up with my kids! Now I can run alongside my 6-year-old son and not lose my breath. What a great feeling.
      • Unfortunately, I cannot say I spent no money getting in shape and losing weight. I did buy a mountain bike and some free weights. In both cases, it was money well spent because they helped me reach my goals, and they didn't require a start-up fee and monthly dues like a gym membership.

        What are your tips for getting in shape without spending a lot of money? I look forward to your comments.

        Interested in guest blogging for Alpha Consumer? Please E-mail alphaconsumer@usnews.com.