David Bakke is a frequent contributor for MoneyCrashers.com - he shares tips for saving money, self improvement, building wealth, and more.
In February 2013, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey underwent lap band surgery to help jump-start his weight loss efforts. Although some have criticized him for this step, Christie went through the operation in order to improve his overall health. Although many of us do not have the finances for such procedures, we do have willpower and the ability to make healthier choices. Even if the path isn't easy, living a healthier lifestyle means fewer medical bills, and the ability to spend quality time with your children and hopefully grandchildren. The time to get started is now. Here are 5 tips on how to live a healthier life.
1. Develop an exercise program.
Whether you purchase a gym membership or not is up to you, but exercise has been proven to improve physical and mental health. If you're concerned about costs, consider a thirty-minute brisk walk around your neighborhood followed by a regimen of sit-ups and pushups at home. If you need a gym membership for motivational purposes, try Gold's Gym. Memberships are normally $20 per month, but if you wait for a sale, you can get one for $14.99 in most cities. This is truly the most cost-effective way to get your exercise if you can't do it on your own.
2. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Check the Internet to see if there's a farmers market in your area. In most cases, farmers markets offer a wider variety of fruits and vegetables and feature lower costs and equal quality when compared to supermarkets. Even if you don't have a farmers market near you, moving toward a diet filled with produce can certainly benefit your waistline.
3. Curtail and eventually eliminate bad habits.
If you're currently smoking a pack of cigarettes per day or downing several beers each night, there's no point in trying to quit cold turkey, unless you're incredibly disciplined. If you're not, consider simply cutting back on the beers, or you could investigate the benefits of e-cigarettes. The out-of-pocket costs are much less than what you would spend on a carton per week, and you can gradually transition away from the habit. If you're younger, don't fall into the trap of starting. Choose healthier activities and you're going to be much better off in the end.
4. Create goals.
No matter what you're trying to accomplish in your efforts to obtain a healthier lifestyle, it's important to create goals. If you need to lose fifty pounds, set up a schedule to drop three pounds per week. Track your progress and adjust your strategy as necessary. If you're trying to quit smoking, shoot for going down to a half pack per day, and eventually achieve a smoke-free life. Rome wasn't built in a day so you need to be patient, but give yourself something to shoot for.
5. Reduce your level of stress.
Think job stress doesn't affect your health? According to the American Psychological Association, 53 percent of Americans reported having personal health problems because of stress. Therefore, you want to eliminate stress from your life as best you can. Stop worrying about the things you can't control, and focus on the things you can. Address issues head-on and don't leave any worries to linger.
Once you're living a healthier life, it's time to start shaving your health insurance costs. You can benefit by raising your deductibles, and if you've recently quit smoking, tell your employer's HR department. Living a healthier life is great, just make sure you translate your improvements into real cost savings.