Live to Eat Well, Exercise, Be Well in Mind and Body

6 Ways to Improve Your Health and Finances at the Same Time

Having too little money and too many extra pounds – few things in life are rife with so much shame and fear. While it is typical to feel alone in your shame, the truth is that few people escape money and/or weight problems. Three quarters of Americans say they have money worries, and about that many Americans, children included, are overweight or obese.

According to the Financial Health Institute, 3 out of every 4 Americans report finances are the main contributor to their stress. That stress often results in negative coping behaviors like excessive drinking, overeating, smoking, escapism (television and movies). Those stress-induced coping mechanisms then manifest themselves in nasty ways – depression, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, and more. Medical bills then stack up, creating ongoing stress, and the cycle continues. A strong argument can be made that financial and physical health and fitness cannot be tackled separately, but must be a package deal.

Instant Gratification

Inherent in the discussion of health and finances, is that greatest of American traditions – instant gratification. Sure, eating half a box of Oreos or buying that new pair of shoes feels good in the moment, but the dark side of instant gratification is the loss of impulse control, leaving us slaves to consumption, debt, extra weight, stress, and ill health. Culturally, we are not taught to pause and weigh the costs before we eat and shop. Just do it. Just eat it. Just buy it. Charge it now; pay later. That is the American way of life.

This is why financial and physical fitness have to be addressed simultaneously. If we would intentionally sit down and calculate how much money we are consuming by satiating our physical appetite for food, caffeine, and alcohol, we would be shocked. When the desire to lose weight and gain health and vitality is coupled with the desire to lose debt and gain financial freedom, it can be a one-two punch that reinforces our commitment to tackling negative consumption habits.

But no one can be shamed into being a wealthier, healthier human being. Hate and shame don’t serve as motivators; they only serve to create an oppressive weight of judgement that few people can crawl out from under. If losing weight or losing debt were easy, everyone would do it. It requires sacrifice and hard work; it is difficult and overwhelming, and there is no quick and easy solution. And it’s hard to know where to start.

So start here. Here are 6 tips and tricks to improve your health and your finances at the same time.

1. Weigh the Cost

Eating out, coffee to-go, field trips to the bakery, drinks after work, hobby-induced grocery shopping – it all costs more than you think. By signing up for Mint, a free and online financial manager that links into bank account, you can take a hard and honest look at how much money you are physically consuming and literally flushing down the toilet.

2. Create a Budget

No doubt that last foray into expense tracking has you crying into your beer. Now dry your tears, put on your big girl or big boy pants, and create a budget using Mint, that magical financial manger. After your bills are paid, your first priority is to build an emergency savings account, followed by an aggressive elimination of credit card or student loan debt. Take a look at your leftovers, and assign yourself a modest allowance for restaurants, coffee shops, and booze. Download Mint on your smartphone to stay on track.

3. Use Food As a Currency

A helpful psychological tactic in rationing daily and weekly servings and splurges is to think of food as currency, a weekly allowance, or a per deim expense account. A weight loss program like Weight Watchers utilizes points instead of calories as a helpful and playful way to monitor and budget food intake. Dave Ramsey, author of Financial Peace University, actually used the Weight Watchers model as the basis for his debt elimination program.

4. Get Cookin’

Making food in your own kitchen is only a fraction of the cost compared to eating out. And you are in complete control of the ingredients and serving sizes. Have some fun and experiment with different grains, legumes, vegetables, and spices to kick up the nutritional value. Make a big batch, and you’ll have leftovers to enjoy for lunch at work. This is good news for both your wallet and your waistline. Visit websites like Eating Well for free nutritious and delicious recipes.

5. Find Your Muse

There is a reason creative types are often referred to as “starving artists”. Looking at your forlorn budget for food and entertainment, you could get depressed, or you could get creative. This is your chance to write that book you’ve been talking about for ten years, pick up the guitar gathering dust in the corner, learn to knit, break open the sketch book, grow a small garden, and make your own natural body products. By switching from a consumption mentality to a creative mentality, you open yourself up to a world of wonder and possibilities.

6. Make Exercise a Hobby

Unless you’re enrolled at a seriously expensive boutique gym, exercise is an affordable activity. A modest gym membership runs from $10-$50 a month – many of which offer classes in kickboxing, barre, bootcamp, yoga, and more. Instead of meeting your friends at the pub or at the greasy spoon, make some new friends at the gym and get moving. And when the weather is nice, enjoy a long walk, hike, or run outside. Those exercise-induced endorphins and Vitamin D from the sun will provide you plenty of feel-good motivators to keep you on track, both financially and physically.

To conclude, it bears repeating that neither your wallet or your waistline can afford to gorge itself on whatever it wants, whenever it wants. But take heart. Remember that we’re all in this together. Few people escape the worry of money and/or weight. So, let us lose the contempt – for both ourselves and others – and encourage and build one another up instead. Follow the aforementioned tips and tricks and chances are high that you will drop the weight and gain financial freedom at the same time.

 

 

 

Kale Watermelon Salad

kalewatermelonsaladMy friends Nina and Christian Elliot at TRUE Health and Wholeness in Arlington, Virginia fed me this salad multiple times at their home. It was love at first bite. Who would have thunk it? Watermelon, olives, feta cheese, kale – surely those ingredients don’t go well together. Yes, yes they do. Now that it’s summer and watermelon is everywhere, I frequently make this salad for myself and friends. Give it a try; summer salad will never be the same. And if you’re pressed for time and live in the DC Metropolitan Area, stop by TRUE Health and Wholeness in Arlington to pick up some delicious, grab-n-go food that is sure to nourish both your soul and body.

Kale Watermelon Salad
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 1 Salad
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups Massaged Kale
  • ⅛ cup Reduced Fat Feta Cheese
  • 8 Kalamata Olives
  • ½ Cup + Watermelon
  • 3-4 oz Grilled Chicken Breast (Optional)
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil
  • Squeeze of Fresh Lemon Juice
Instructions
  1. Rinse, dry, and massage your kale.
  2. Grill your chicken breast(s). If you don't have an actual outdoor grill, a counter-friendly George Foreman grill is a great alternative.
  3. Chop your watermelon into bite-size chunks.
  4. Assemble your salad with kale, cheese, olives, watermelon, and chicken (optional). Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the top and squeeze a quarter to half a lemon on top of salad to dress.
  5. Buen Provecho!

 

Become a Yes Person

Dont-say-yes.-Be-yes

They say psychologists say it takes 28 days to break or build a habit. Others say 21 days or 30 days. “Is this true Amber, or just mere folklore?” Not totally sure, but word is that the origin of said legend comes from a 1960 psychology book by Maxwell Maltz called Psycho-Cybernetics.

Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness

Whether or not such common knowledge is actually legitimate, I don’t know. But I do know this. If you say no to something once, it gets easier to say no to something again. Once you say no to something twice, saying no a third times gets a little easier. And so on and so forth. Call it resistance training for the mind and will. Once exercised frequently and consistently, you get stronger. But one can only lead a life of denial for so long before cracking under the pressure. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Nature abhors a vacuum. So you eliminate a bad habit for thirty days, now what?

Yes and Amen

Become a yes person. Say yes to positive, wonderful things every day until they become good habits. Same resistance training metaphor applies. If you say yes to something once, it gets easier to say yes to something again. Once you say yes to something twice, saying yes a third time gets a little easier. And so on and so forth. So, here’s my advice. For every bad and negative habit you exercise out of your life, replace it with one or two life-giving habits – be they spiritual, relational, physical, recreational, or otherwise. Think about it! What if we flooded our bodies and minds and spirits with so many positive things, with so much light, that dark and negative habits could not root, grow, and manifest? That is what I call a “Yes and Amen” kind of idea.

This is why I’m going to purpose to say yes to my daily vitamins and nightly flossing for the next 28 days. (I was shocked to discover, painfully, why flossing is such a fundamental health practice – especially after the age of thirty. #HumbledIntoSubmission……)

What about you? Well, if you need a little inspiration, I would highly recommend this short and lighthearted TED Talk by Matt Cutts called “Try something new for 30 days.” Enjoy!

Cranberry Kale Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Cranberry Kale Salad

The Truth About Kale

There is so much to say about kale. So much so that I’m going to let someone else do it. This is the part of the post where I refer you to WebMD – the online source to visit for helpful facts about food as well as an excellent stop for hypochondriacs to receive scary self-diagnoses. Read through their very informative page about kale and learn why you should eat more of it. For the “how” to eat more of it, that’s where I come in. Expect to see kale in many future recipes. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-truth-about-kale

Cranberry Kale Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lg bunch of kale
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lime
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • ⅛ - ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar (depends on how much vinegar you prefer)
  • 3 drops of liquid stevia
  • dash of salt
Instructions
  1. De-rib a large bunch of kale and chop into salad size pieces.
  2. Toss cranberries and almonds in with the kale
  3. Orange Vinaigrette: Juice oranges and lime and mix together with olive oil, vinegar, liquid stevia, and dash of salt. Pour over the kale and coat thoroughly.

 They Go Together Like Burt and Ernie

For the perfect food pairing, serve this salad with my recipe for Turkey Apricot Salad on Ezekiel Bread. Buen Provecho!

Turkey Apricot Salad with Cranberry Kale SaladPhotos By Erick Nelson