Losing weight is difficult and requires willpower and commitment; however it does not necessarily mean having to spend big on expensive food, exercise equipment, gym memberships or weight loss programs.
People naturally assume that losing weight is hard, boring and most of all expensive. We believe it can actually be the total opposite.
Below, someone who has tried just about everything has run through your options for popular weight loss options, taking into account the effort, cost and impact it will have on your overall goals.
Please note the author joined Jenny Craig in 2006 so these experiences are slightly dated. With Jenny Craig, you pay a one off membership fee which entitles you to their services for a set period of time. You’ll have a counsellor assigned to you personally and you’ll meet them once a week to discuss your progress and plan and purchase food for the coming week. This weight loss model is based on Jenny Craig pre-packaged food and therefore you lose weight by controlling your portions.
Portion control works wonders in losing weight and the Jenny Craig food is well portioned and nutritious. This enabled significant weight loss over a 3 month period without increasing your activity levels. The moral support you get from having a one-on-one session once a week with your counsellor was also very helpful in keeping your motivation high.
You don’t learn to cook on Jenny Craig unless you hit your goal weight or endeavour to explore this on your own. Personally, having not hit my goal weight I stopped going (I got sick of the pre-packaged food), I didn’t learn anything about maintaining my new-found slimness and put everything plus more back on in 18 months. There is a maintenance program offered to members who reach their goal weight with recipes and other support, however you still need to make your goal weight for this to be offered by your counsellor.
With Jenny Craig you pay a membership fee which entitles you to their services for a year. You can choose how to pay this, i.e. all at once or over the year, but you got a significant discount for paying in a lump sum.
Once you’re a member, the other significant cost is food. You’re given a weekly menu with all the recommended Jenny Craig foods planned for each meal and snack for the week. You can substitute for other foods where you don’t like something and a lot of the snacks are fresh fruit or vegetables which you need to buy separately.
Personally, I cheated and didn’t buy the fruit and vegies, so I ended up spending about $100 a week on Jenny Craig food.
For this to be a good financial option for you, you need to assess exactly what you spend on food now. To give you and idea, shopping for one person I spent around about $60 per week on groceries, plus about $100 extra on the weekends for café breakfasts and dinner out. So $100 a week for everything to eat saved me about $60 per week on food while on the program.
Even if you follow the program properly and buy the fruit and vegetables, it is likely Jenny Craig will reduce your food bills as it will cut down on your weekend splurges.
The Lemon Detox Diet
The most important thing to know about the lemon detox diet is it isn’t actually a diet. What it involves is buying the syrup product, mixing it with fresh lemon juice (and some spices if desired) then subsisting on this, water and peppermint tea as long as you can.
Obviously, if you don’t eat, you lose weight. Read the instructions carefully, as you’re not advised to do vigorous exercise while on the detox. As long as you undertake this for the purposes of detoxing or kick-starting a new health regime, this will work for you. If you attempt to use the Lemon Detox Diet as a weight loss tool, the results are unlikely to be permanent.
A recommendation in the instructions is to drink 1 litre of salt water in the morning; it’s supposed to cleanse your digestive system. You will try it once and never again, so don’t bother buying the sea salt. Also to know, side effect of the syrup and spice is bad breath (which is why the peppermint tea is recommended). You can also lack energy due to, well lack of actual food.
1 tin of the syrup is $79 plus you’ll need to buy fresh lemons. So you’ll save on the difference between this cost and what you would normally spend on food for between 5-7 days (the recommended time to stay on the detox) if you can stick this out.
I found this works best when you know you don’t have a demanding week at work and no significant social events planned. The first few days can take a toll on your ability to concentrate and there is nothing worse than watching everyone else eat and drink when you can not.
Self Help Books
If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know that books alone are unlikely to significantly impact your weight loss journey. They will be able to provide you with more information about nutrition and exercise than you had previously, however a lot of this information is available for free on the internet. The main roll self help books can play for weight loss is extra motivation when you’re not feeling as committed as you want to be.
A favourite for book for me is “The Secrets of Skinny Chicks” by Karen Bridson. This book goes into the detail of daily lives of skinny women, both those naturally blessed and those who work at it.
The lengths some of these women go to too maintain their bodies had a de-motivating effect, I sometimes felt I was happier being a little overweight than they were being skinny!
The financial impact of self help books is the cost of the book itself. Self help books start from $20.
Weight Watchers (WW) is a weight loss program which does not provide all your meals (although you can purchase some WW foods at meetings and in supermarkets). When you join you complete an assessment of your weight, height, age and daily level of activity among other things which will tell you how many “Points™” you are allowed per day. All foods have a Points™ allocation based on the total number of kilojoules and saturated fat per serve. You can earn “negative” Points™ through exercise, and you can save points by using less than your daily allowance, which can be used at a later date during a one week period.
Therefore, WW provides a framework for you to organise the foods you want to eat and the exercise you want to do around how many Points™ you should consume in a week.
There are several options or “plans” for joining WW. The two I’ve personally tried are the Unlimited plan and the Online plan. Unlimited allows you to attend meetings of WW members for support, information and a weekly weigh in plus access to the online tools, while Online allows you access to the online tools provided only.
The Points™ allowance is foolproof, if you follow the program as intended and maintain your motivation, you will lose weight. Plus check out the handy tips on the website through official WW articles plus on the community boards, especially on how to fill up on 0 Points™ value foods when you aren’t feeling satisfied.
This is a long term solution, it is unlikely you will lose weight quickly and as a result, it can be hard to keep the motivation consistent as you go along. This is especially true when you hit a plateau and stop losing weight.
The Unlimited Program allows you to attend as many meetings as you need a week and gives you full access to the online tools. This is approximately $60 per month. This does not include any food costs. Note that I found I spent slightly less on food when I began WW as I was buying more groceries and dining out less.
The Online plan costs approximately $17 per month. If you want to go to meetings on this plan you have to pay extra at the meeting, however you have full access to the online tools. This again will not include food and you will need to be aware of what you spend before starting the program and after to assess your savings on food spend.
Personally, I’ve tried gym memberships twice now and both times I haven’t gotten my money’s worth, mostly because I just couldn’t find the motivation to stick to it. So I’ve come up with some low cost other options to get out of the house and active.
Currently, I’m doing kick-boxing through my local community college, and the cost has worked out to be less than $17 per session for 8 weeks. This also has the added bonus of introducing you to people in your local area you may not otherwise meet.
These colleges have a huge range of things you can do for exercise and including dance classes, Pilates, tai chi, boxing, tennis, golf, jogging and more. Most have internet sites and you can join online, or many will do a letter box drop a few weeks before the start of a term so keep an eye out.
If you’re looking for something low impact, Pilates is particularly good. A class is about $30 for 1 hour and you’ll be put into a small group of people. It’s a very pleasant way to wake up in the mornings or relax at night. The benefit of spending a little bit upfront and taking some regular classes is that once you’re comfortable you’re getting the moves right, you can potentially stop paying and do the exercises at home for free.
Walking / Jogging
Once you have the right clothing to be comfortable walking or running and some supportive shoes, this form of exercise is free of charge. The cheapest shoes you can pick up at running shoe specialists are around $100, however, these can last for a number of years if you look after them. I have found it is worth the investment, I have gotten far more blisters from $20 runners from a department store than I have from specialist shoes.
A winning combination
The formula for weight loss is as follows:
Weight = Food – Exercise
Therefore to lose weight you need to make sure your body is convinced to consume its current stores of energy (otherwise known as fat) rather than the food you consumed that day.
Managing food or exercise is not as effective as managing both, therefore the best weight loss solution will include both. Personally, I use WW online to manage my diet, regular weekly walks around the neighbourhood and my local community college to keep the exercise portion interesting.
I come back to my favourite self-help books when I’m finding the going tougher than usual. Everyone’s weight loss solution will be different, but it is important to know that your wining combination doesn’t have to impact your savings; you don’t have to spend a lot to lose a lot!