Dec 23, 2007

The Cost of Being Healthy

I recently decided that in order to be happy and healthy, I need to revamp my entire life. No more starving myself all day (out of laziness, not anorexia) and eating giant meals at night... or paying for a $46.99 a month gym membership that I used once a year.

In order to be healthy in the coming year, I signed up for another gym membership. This one is at a gym a bit closer to my house, and it's only $27 a month. That's still a lot of money if I never use the gym, but I'm going to force myself to go at least three times a week in order to make sure I get as much bang for my buck as logistically possible.

The gym membership isn't what is going to cost me the most, though. That would be the cost of buying fresh produce and healthier options when I eat out. Since I don't eat red meat or chicken, my health options are usually fish dishes, often the most expensive at a restaurant. I've been to the grocery store about three times in the past month to purchase apples, kiwis, cauliflower, and so on. I keep finding these great healthy (yet expensive) alternatives to things I might eat... like Flax Jacks instead of pancakes (their delicious, easy to make (just add water) and pretty damn healthy) -- but cost-wise, Bisquick is the better option.

Now, I'm also focusing on actually eating what I buy, instead of letting it go to waste. Living alone, it's so easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of food purchased or made. Most recipes just assume you live with a family full of hungry people, and help you make 3-6 servings of food. If I make 3-6 servings of food either I'll eat it all (not healthy) or it will just end up in the trash - or worse, stinking up my refrigerator.

Last week I started tracking my diet closely on SparkPeople.com, that site I found when searching for free workout videos on YouTube. It's actually pretty cool - it's free (always a plus) and it helps you track everything you've eaten and figure out how many calories and other nutrients are making it to your digestive tract.

What I learned this week is how fast calories add up when you're eating out, and how slowly they add up when you're eating a small, healthy meal or snack every two hours.

My goal is 1200 calories a day. I'm 157lbs right now, which at 5'3 is not acceptable. I've also let myself get so out of shape. I've never been the fitness type, but I also tended to weigh in at 145 to 150 without any extra work. Two years ago I was down to 127lbs, my lowest since I was a kid, and I did that by biking to work five days a week (30 minutes each way) and then, well, getting depressed and eating very few calories per day. I don't want to do that again, exactly, but I'd like to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle for good.

That means I have to throw emotional eating out the door. I haven't been that bad lately -- I don't think I've downed an entire box of Oreos in one sitting since college. Still, I was shocked to find out just how many calories is in one Baja Fresh Nachoes meal -- (1890!!!). That's probably with meat, but still. That's way more than I'm supposed to eat in a day, let alone one meal.

Another typical meal I'd eat in my "old days" (aka, last month) would be what I'd pick up on a trip to Taco Bell...

$3.14 for...

-A Bean Burrito (370 calories)
-A vegetarian taco (unclear how many calories since I get beans instead of meat, but the reg. crunchy taco is 170 calories)
-The cheesy fiesta potatoes (290)
-A Large Pepsi (100 calories per 8oz, large = 32oz, so that's 400 calories, maybe a little less given that they put a lot of ice in there, I'll say 350 calories)

So that $3.14 meal didn't cost me much in the piggy bank, but it cost me a good 1150 calories. That's about how much I'm supposed to eat in a day.

Which makes me think that it's good I generally ate only one meal a day in my, uh, past life, because otherwise I'd be a balloon right now.

The thing is, healthy eating is no longer an option for me, it's something I have to do. I'm at high risk for so many different problems later in life due to having PCOS, and I'd rather eat healthy now than have to deal with everything down the line. Meanwhile, like any other girl, I just want to feel beautiful and desirable. I don't have unrealistic expectations, I don't want to be skin and bones, but... I'd give anything, ANYTHING, to be able to wear a bikini and feel proud of my body.

How much will it cost me? I can't do fast food anymore, apparently (or -- I could do Taco Bell, I just need to get ONE of those items instead of all of them. But it's probably better I stick to healthier foods that are more filling and avoid the fast food altogether.) The good news is, I'll be saving money here and there on drinks, since I'm cutting drinks besides water and milk out of my diet for now. I'll have an occasional glass of red wine with dinner, but no more beer, or cocktails, or soda or juice. All of that has got to go if I want to be able to fit into those size 6 jeans I bought the last time I lost weight!

But the cost of buying healthy food is going to add up too. The vitamins alone are pricey, but I know my body needs them. I wish health insurance would take into consideration my diet, and perhaps accept me as long as I keep eating healthy. It seems I'd be of higher risk to them if I wasn't do anything about my diet or lifestyle. Well, that would only make sense, and as we all know, the health insurance system in this country doesn't make any sense at all.

With that, it's time for my mid-morning kiwi. Did you know that you can eat the skin of the kiwifruit? In fact, the skin is the healthiest part of the fruit, with tons of fiber! Amazing, right? I was always afraid of kiwi skin. It is kind of fuzzy and brown, but if you close your eyes it just seems like the skin of a peach or something. It doesn't have much flavor, and it's a total waste to not eat that part of the kiwi.



3 comments:

Deirdre said...

That's great :) I lost about 15 lbs during 2007 with sparkpeople.com. It took a while since i hit a lot of plateaus but i'm starting fresh on wednesday and i'm hoping to get 15 more in 2008.

Good luck!

Ryan said...

I'm lucky that I live in a climate that tends to make itself friendly for exercise outside (although not so much recently) but I just refuse to pay for a health club membership; I'd rather buy running shoes, weights, or bike stuff.
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Ryan
http://uncommon-cents.net/

SF Money Musings said...

I just discovered sparkpeople.com through mypoints. they send all sorts of great tips.

that's exactly the problem with recipes - they assume you're making for 3-5 people and cooking for one is challenging enough as it is.

have you looked at buying from the farmer's market? i buy mostly from there or chinatown and pick one vegetable and that's what i eat for the entire week instead of buying multiple kinds. it's usually cheaper and healthier to buy local.

as for emotional eating one of the most difficult things i've done is clear my pantry of all the unhealthy stuff like brownie mixes and chocolate so im not so tempted. i baked them and gave them to people in pretty boxes for gifts. at one point i baked a box of brownies and ate half the baked ones.

i've been reading "twelve steps for overeaters" to gain control over my food issues. it's a very easy to read book and the journaling part helps you deal with food and portions.

1200 doesn't seem too bad. i average 1100 calories daily mostly because i skip dinner - not hungry enough and my lifestyle even running at the gym doesn't make me that hungry. you should check out www.60in3.com. gal who runs the site has some really good posts on meals and exercise.

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