7 tips for frugal weight reduction

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Weight-loss is big business. A multi-million dollar industry, in fact, with Australians forecast to spend $603 million on weight-loss services in 2014-2015.  So can a frugalista lose weight without spending a lot to do so?  I hope to prove the answer is conclusively yes.

My goal is to reduce 6kg by Christmas.  Why Christmas?  Well, it’s a nice benchmark in our society.  I started around 3 weeks ago, and so far am down nearly 2kg.  So 4kg and a bit to go.

I have reduced weight in the past.  I was on Weight Watchers after the birth of Big A, and trimmed down 13kg.  Then I went to Taiwan, found managing the online program plus a new points system plus food menus that were way off the chart a challenge.  So I opted for an extreme acupuncture solution and lost a further 5kg.  I put on 20kg when pregnant with Little A.  I shed 13kg in the first month after birth while doing Chinese postpartum confinement (zuo yuezi), then reduced a further 4kg by healthy eating and exercise.  But it has crept up a bit during a Canberra winter, so now I am looking at frugal options to reach my mini-goal.

These are seven favourite frugal tips for frugal weight-loss.

  1. Write it down. I have always had weight-loss success when I write down what I eat and exercise.  And research seems to point to the fact that this is the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.  In dieting circles it is often referred to as keeping a food diary or ‘tracking’.  You could use a diary and draw two columns: one with food/drink intake and the other with exercise.  Or you could use on of the many free online dieting tools or apps.  I am using LoseIt.  It uses calories rather than kilojoules, and is American so does not have all food choices, but I have been using it on and off for over three years and find that whenever I stick with it I get results. The Australian Capital Territory (aka Canberra) Government has just embarked on an anti-obesity campaign including some gruesome imagery.  They are promoting the online livelighter system, also supported by the Heart Foundation, as part of the campaign. I haven’t trialled it, but it looks promising.
  2. Put a sticker over your scales. Goal setting, and focus is so important in achieving a weight reduction goal.  Taking a leaf out of a suggestion from The Secret, I often put a sticker or post it note over my scales with my desired weight on it.  Every morning when I get up, I weigh myself and visualise myself at my ideal weight.  I try to sit and imagine myself at my idea weight, and imagine how I will feel.  I imagine what I will be wearing when I celebrate, and better yet, try on my skinny outfit and imagine it being loose and comfortable.  The object is to turn the weight-reduction journey into something positive and exciting, something I want to attract into my life and feel good about, rather than something I feel I ‘should’ be doing because I don’t love myself the way I am.
  3. Find a diet buddy. One of the reasons that Weight Watchers and other weight-loss mechanisms are so successful in helping people achieve their goals is because of the weekly weigh-in.  You are accountable; they weigh you in and write it down.  You also get the motivational support about being with other people on the journey.  Napoleon Hill referred to the positive influence of being on a path to achieving goals with support from others as a ‘mastermind’ group.  It is extremely powerful.  And I have just found a diet buddy at work, and we will be sharing our results for the first time tomorrow.  Rather than sharing too many details, we will simply email each other with ‘up’, ‘down’, or ‘the same’.
  4. Movement is exercise. I don’t want to spend money on going to the gym, and even if my budget could stretch that far, time with my kids is more important.  But I believe that for weight-reduction purposes, your body does not distinguish between a calorie burned chasing after your kids or vacuuming the floor, or one burned in an exercise class at the gym.  I am a fan of a 1991 classic Fitness Without Exercise, where the authors admit that rather than hard-core exercise they were actually healthier eating a low-fat diet and doing chores around the house.  And I have a LOT of chores around the house and ideas for burning up calories with my kids, including chasing them around pretending to be a Gruffalo monster while they are on their bikes in the backyard.  I also use the stairs at work (often faster anyway), park my car a decent walk away from the office and walk whenever I can.  My kids are not at an age where it is easy to cycle with them both to areas nearby, but I hope to build up to this in 2015.
  5. Drink more water. We often eat when we are really thirsty.  Water will help fill you up, remove toxins, keep you hydrated and happy.  It is a dieter’s friend.  I keep a thermos at my desk so I can drink warm or hot water all day long.  Now all I have to do is remember to drink it.
  6. Diet friendly food can be cheap. The diet industry has promoted expensive low-fat foods as the answer to weight loss.  Often these foods are filled with too much salt, MSG, sugar (or sugar replacements) and artificial flavour enhancers.  They often leave you feeling still hungry and in search of more.  And you know what – low-fat healthy food can be cheap.  Legumes, whole-grains, tofu, eggs, seasonal fruit and vegetables are all extremely cheap and healthy.  You don’t have to be vegetarian, either, or go on a total red-meat protein fix.  Just aim to include more quality lean protein in your diet.  And learn to listen to your body about what it wants you to eat (not addictions like chocolate — healthy foods).  Those cravings are usually trying to tell you something positive.
  7. Positive affirmations. We often sabotage ourselves with negative thoughts: I’m always fat, I look ugly, my bum looks big in this dress, I can never get beyond a certain weight, I feel terrible, I deserve a chocolate because I feel tired/bad day, my clothes don’t look good on my etc.  We are often our own worst enemies!  Instead, find something positive to say and stick with it.  I am currently using something suggested by Louise Hay in promoting the book “Loving Yourself to Great Health”.  The simple but effective affirmation is “I am beautiful.  I am strong.  I am healthy.” Oh, and you may have noticed that I avoid referring to my journey as  ‘weight-loss’.  I you lose something, you might find it and put it back on.  So like to use more positive language about ‘reduction’, ‘ideal weight’, or ‘trimming down’.

So these are some of the reasons why I believe I will achieve my Christmas weight goal without spending a fortune.  In fact, I might even save money by eating less and being more active.  So, do you have any frugal weight-reduction tips?  And who wants to join me on my quest?


  1. I love these tips! Despite my seemingly unhealthy dining out habits, I’ve been a bit more conscious about what I eat when I am at home. My biggest game changer is meal prep. If I do that on the weekend, my week is sooo much better and more organised. If I don’t prep any meals, I tend to have spontaneous (and bad) meals out! But, I know we can do this! Jia you!

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