Beating the Bulge on a Budget


One of the fantastic perks of living healthy is that a happy body means a happier you. No metaphors here – there’s chemical proof that good health is one of the best stress relievers we have. Unfortunately, the current financial crisis has many of us weighing the merits of this “stress relieving” healthy lifestyle against the financial stress of surviving organic produce prices and our monthly donation to that super chic gym we’ve joined. Irksome little paradox, isn’t it? Fortunately, we’ve found several great little loopholes that will let you keep your healthy lifestyle – and your tight budget too.

If you’re looking for food saver tips beyond the cliché “stick to a list” and “clip those coupons” (though we will say is a great place to order coupon books for fresh and organic foods – no clip-out hunt required) try:

Going to the Source
One of the fabulous things about New York is that we don’t really have to go to the source – because everyone comes to us! That includes “local” small farmers from as far away as Vermont – many of whom don’t charge a premium. Manhattan alone is home to more than 25 farmer’s markets, all of which are open different days of the week. Go to the Council of the Environment of NYC webpage for an easy to read map and diagram of where to find all the city’s wonderful markets.

(NY nutritionist, Joy Bauer)

Remembering That Not All Produce is “Treated” Equally
It’s important to know which fresh products are the most likely to have pesticide or other chemical contaminants, making them worthy of a pricey trip down the organic aisle. According to New York nutritionist Joy Bauer, apples, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, bell peppers, celery, potatoes and spinach are the fruits and veggies worth going organic for. Also, the likelihood of contaminants (and the price!) goes down for all types of produce when in season, so shop seasonally!

Doing Breakfast At Home
Even if you’re one of those people who can’t function without a double shot frap from Starbucks on your way to work, avoid splurging another $5-$7 on a take-out breakfast to go with it. Instead, fix a quick meal at home of simple foods like whole grain toast, fruit, granola and yogurt with a glass of OJ or milk – all of which pack a lot more nutrients than that bagel with cream cheese from your local coffee shop. If you must eat on the run, we recommend“>Odwalla bars. They’re more filling then those wimpy 90-calorie snack bars, and packed with tons of nutrients from organic ingredients.

On the fitness front, we’re all about taking advantage of the resources you’ve already got, like:

Your City
Take a cue from Rob Grader, author of The Cheap Bastard s Guide to New York City: A Native New Yorker’s Secrets for Living the Good Life–for Free! He devotes an entire section of his book to places and events around the city to help you stay fit and active, like Battery Park volleyball tournaments, free kayaking lessons at the Downtown Boathouse (Pier 26, 96 and riverside Park) and the free access ice skating rink they roll out in Bryant Park over the winter months. He also suggests that the $75 annual membership to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation may be worth your while, as some of its 42 parks offer access to legit workout equipment (Nautilus machines, lifecycles, free weights etc.) and workout classes like aerobics, yoga and tai chi.

Your Job
If you really hate to give up the gym, doing a little research through HR (or your health insurance provider) might uncover health-related employee perks. For example, health insurance giant Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield works with HealthyRoads, an American Specialty Health Inc. program designed to help employers, “renew their employees’ commitment to good health”. Possible benefits to qualify for are: discounts on fitness club memberships and services from chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists and dieticians, as well as less expensive vitamins, herbal supplements, sports nutrition products, videotapes, and yoga aids.

Whatever loopholes you choose to try out, give yourself a pat on the back for making a healthy you a priority in these tough times!

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