10/31/2013 07:23 pm ET Updated Dec 29, 2013

Losing Weight Is Too Expensive

Of the many excuses I hear for why people don't lose weight, "It's too expensive," is a common one. Losing weight can be expensive if you make certain choices, but it can also be inexpensive. It all depends on your planning and on the choices you make.

Often people find when they begin watching what they eat that their grocery bill shoots up, especially at the beginning. This makes sense, because the staples you have on hand don't work for you anymore. You have to buy a whole set of new food staples. As your pantry fills up you should find your grocery bill each week is a little lower than the week before.

It is true that prepackaged junk food can cost less than fresh, healthy food. Just the other day I was in the grocery store and I noticed that almost everything on sale was garbage food, whereas the fresh fruit and vegetables were all full price. So your grocery trips may be more costly. But I want you to pay attention to how much you're really spending on food and drinks throughout your week. How about the drive-through or the corner store? How much are you spending at the donut shop? At the vending machine? At Starbucks? And what about beer, wine or other alcohol? You may be shocked to see a $200 grocery bill instead of $150, but at the same time you may be saving $100 or more when you stop buying all these extras. For the full picture of your food costs, look at what you spend on food and beverages in all areas of your life and not just at the grocery store.

Now think about how much you're spending on diet pills, diet drinks and potions. How about health care? Medicine? Insulin? Compare the cost of your grocery bill to the cost of numerous medications fixing all the health problems brought on by being overweight. And your diet also affects your teeth and gums. How high are your dental bills?

You may also feel you can't afford to exercise, because gym memberships can cost quite a bit. But think of this: most gym memberships cost about the same or even less monthly than one outing to the movies for two, with drinks and popcorn. Besides, you don't need a gym. Go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Go hiking or skating. Used weights and a bench are always available at garage sales and thrift stores for practically nothing.

It's easy to think of excuses when we are afraid to do something, or if we're not ready to make the changes necessary to be where we want to be. But if you really want to achieve weight loss you can do it, despite your financial situation.

Here are a few tips for keeping your food healthy and inexpensive:

1. Check the sales.
Read the flyers each week. If you don't receive them, you can usually find them online. Many stores now price match, so you don't have to run all over town looking for deals. A half-hour of homework can easily save you $50 per week. And stock up if you can afford to, especially if you have a deep freezer.
2. Base your menus around sale items.
If chuck roast is on sale this week, then eat that for your dinner. If chicken breasts are on sale, eat them.
3. Eat seasonal produce.
In the summer you can find lots of cheap produce. In the winter it's harder. Buy cold-weather vegetables to save money. Cabbage, beets and carrots keep well and are inexpensive in the winter.
4. Check the frozen foods section.
Frozen is just as good as fresh, and in the winter it's often better, because it can be less expensive and it hasn't traveled 3,000 miles to get to you.
5. Learn to cook.
The internet is filled with free recipes, along with tips on eating inexpensively. If you've never cooked before you're bound to have a few disasters, but you'll have successes too, and your successes will get more and more frequent as your confidence grows and your excess fat melts away.

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