Getting in shape doesn’t have to be expensive — think of it as buying a healthier

Since the turn of the year, newspapers have been filling their pages with articles on why you shouldn’t join a gym in January.  Out-of-shape journalists with very limited health knowledge tell us we should sacrifice gym membership to save on our money as we feel the pinch of the Celtic Tiger’s downturn.

The solution they offer is to walk for weight loss, stating that it’s only a limited number of people that use their membership after January so it’s a waste of money.   But what you save today in health costs will hit your pocket hard in the long term, because the spiralling medical fees of doctors and specialists will cause a bigger dent in your income.  The investment in your health now will prevent a lifetime of pain.

In the 1900s, pneumonia and tubercolosis were the biggest causes of death but now, eight out of the top 10 causes of death are diet related, including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.   Another excuse often heard for an inability to exercise is a lack of time. We all have 168 hours in the week, but the majority of people spend too much time watching TV.

You should invest at least three hours a week to your health. Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People put it best when he explains the ‘law of the harvest’.  A farmer plants his crop in the autumn, and through constant work and nurturing he is able to reap a bountiful crop in the summer.  A farmer cannot cheat nature and force the crop to mature earlier. This may have worked in school, cramming for your exams, but the reality is that the information you retained after the exam will have been very small.

This is the approach you may have taken on yourself towards your health. You may have put on weight and then tried to undo the damage you did to your body in a short space of time.   Slick marketers exploit the desires of women. By trying quick-fit diets, the reality is that your weight loss will be mainly water and muscle loss, which will reduce your ability tolose fat by slowing down your metabolism.

The true test of whether you have lived a healthy life in accordance with the law of the harvest will be judged by your last trip to the supermarket.

So here are some tips to implement into your life to help boost your well being:

  • You need to prioritise your health. If you are feeling the pinch with your finances, cut down on the items that are a cost to your health, such as smoking, alcohol and gambling.
  • Gym membership prices do vary. Shop around to match your requirements. The cost of a gym membership should be seen as an investment, not an expense. Monthly gym memberships are a fraction of the cost of your average Sunday morning hangover.
  • There are plenty of clubs, such as running, football, GAA or hockey, whose annual membership or insurance are very cheap. This has the added benefit of making new friends.
  • Exercise at the intensity that challenges your body. Walking is not challenging to the majority of the population, so it’s not beneficial for fat loss.
  • When you go to the supermarket, stick to the outside aisles as this is where the fresh food is kept. Make fresh, healthy and unprocessed foods the staple of your intake.
  • Seek a qualified coach, who can help set clear, realistic and measurable goals so you can monitor your progress. Success breeds success and your coach should help you stay motivated, so that your new health regime is a permanent fixture.
  • Remember: exercise adds years to your life. Act now, as prevention is better than cure.

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