The broke girl’s guide to getting buff

If Janu-worry has gotten the better of your budget, here are a few tips to help you win the weight-loss battle without breaking the bank.

The battle of the bulge is always a long and hard one and is often made more challenging when you have to rely on your own knowledge, limited resources and equipment.

Most people will tell you that the price of a health and fitness-focused lifestyle can be exorbitant. When buying groceries, the healthier options are always more expensive.

Then there’s the training gear, the cost of a personal trainer and gym memberships. And don’t forget the rising cost of supplements.

READ MORE | Whey and creatine prices on the rise

The list is endless and can sometimes make you feel like weight loss is unlikely to happen without them.

When faced with these financial constraints, the first step is to realise that you can still achieve great results without breaking the bank. It might be a little more challenging, but it’s not impossible!

Diet first

We hear it time and time again; “abs are made in the kitchen”. Many people go as far as saying that the formula for successful weight loss is only 20 percent exercise, with the remaining 80 percent dependent on what you eat. It’s therefore best that you sort out your diet first.

Advocates of the Banting and ketogenic diets, for example, state that as long as a calorie deficit is maintained, fat loss will continue with no need for exercise.

Since you’re on a budget, try to choose lower-cost foods such as chicken, oatmeal and eggs.

In terms of fruit (mostly omitted if on a Banting or keto diet) and vegetables, look for specials and combo deals.

It may also be a good idea to start your own vegetable patch. Produce such as carrots, green leaves and tomatoes are easy to grow, and provide an ideal base for salads. Also, consider creating a set menu using a few low-cost ingredients.

By eating the same basic meals almost every day, you’re able to prepare your meals in advance. In addition, you take the guesswork out of your weight loss because you have already calculated the calories associated with your ‘go-to’ meals.

Where it’s not possible to purchase high-cost ingredients or food, a calorie- and portion-controlled eating plan might be a better approach for weight loss. While it’s not ideal to consume simple carbs, bread is a staple in many households because of its accessibility and price.

Therefore, it’s best to figure out a way to eat it and still lose weight by implementing nutrient timing dietary techniques such as carb backloading.

With the calorie-counting approach to eating, it’s important to create a calorie deficit from what you eat and your exercise routine. In this way you will be able to eat lower cost foods in moderation, provided you stick to the recommended calories. Just remember though, it’s always best to eat a ‘clean’ diet whenever possible.

Focus on essentials

Since you’re probably going to be exercising at home, you might be contemplating buying some equipment. In which case, stick to the minimum requirements; you’ll need dumbbells, kettlebells or resistance bands for muscle building or toning.

You could also consider using water bottles or buckets, weighted bags, or anything else that adds suitable weight for a more cost effective resistance training option.

For cardio, you can create a step bench using planks or wood. Other low-cost cardio equipment includes skipping ropes and trampolines. Jumping rope may seem simple but it is one of the best aerobic activities. Also, running, especially short, intense sprints, can be done anywhere and costs nothing.

There are also numerous online resources that demonstrate advanced bodyweight or calisthenics exercises that can take your home-based training to the next level. The only thing limiting your ability to reach your goals when training with only your body weight is your imagination.

Fitness is a click away

Fitness and diets are trending topics on social media. Professional athletes and personal trainers post their meal photos and daily workouts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

It might be fun to follow your favourite professional, and add their exercises to your routine. YouTube also has a wealth of workout videos and programmes available. The best channels to follow include Popsugar Fitness, The Daily HIIT, BeFit, Blogilates and BodyRock TV.

Read fitness magazines

Many women who reach out to us about their body transformation stories say that fitness magazine was instrumental in their journey.

Use the information in the magazine )and online) pages to gain knowledge about training, diet and supplementation.

You’re basically getting expert knowledge for under fifty rand. Now that’s a bargain!


Sometimes all you need to get fit is your phone or mobile device. There are plenty of free fitness and diet apps available that include exercise guides for yoga, strength training, cardio and eating plans. You can also log your workouts in terms of distance covered, reps completed and calories burned.

It’s basically a personal trainer in your pocket, which also means that you can take your workouts almost everywhere.

Hit the ground running

Running is one of the cheapest forms of exercise. And, get this, you are actually a step above the gym-goers by running on the ground as it has the potential to burn more calories than on a treadmill. To do so, take it up a notch by implementing hills, dirt roads and trails into your routine.

Just remember that running is a high-impact activity so it’s important to wear the correct footwear and consult a doctor or physio if you have any existing injuries or joint problems, especially in your legs and hips.

Written by Robyn Frost

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

When he's not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He's worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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