Maintaining healthy habits on a budget

Developing healthy habits is a good thing. No, a VERY good thing. Most healthy habits are cost neutral – walking, running, eating veggies, getting good sleep. No cost. All benefit. You finance folks like those sorts of deals, right?

On the other hand, there are healthy habits that cost a pretty penny. Fresh juice, protein powder, fancy workouts, sports massages, shopping at Whole Foods Market, etc. I could quite literally spend $100+ per day in the name of “healthy living”. If I had the cash, it would be very tempting.

Well, healthy habits are still maintainable with a limited budget. Instead of indulging in the pricy, albeit healthy, habits on a regular basis, I stick to thrifty alternatives and save the real deal for the occasional splurge.

Habit #1: Juice bar pit stops

photo source: LA Times

Benefit: Fresh vegetable juice is a great way to deliver the powerful vitamins and minerals in veggies to our systems. Juice bars (i.e. Nekter, Whole Foods Market, Mother’s Market, Greenleaf, and Purra Vida to name a few) have brought juice to the mainstream by making it convenient, delicious, and uber hip. (BTW, you have to be wearing Lululemon to place an order at Nekter). To combat the cold/flu/crap that’s going around, I like to order a shot of ginger and cayenne pepper. Yowza!!

Cost: $5 – $8 for 16oz juice. That might not sound very steep, but it adds up. I have spent $40 in juice runs since Friday (I’m trying to get healthy, ok). As a good friend’s husband says, “The budget says ‘NO!’.”

Thrifty Alternative: Juice at home. I purchased a Jack LaLanne Juicer from Costco for $125 a few years ago. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done. Most affordable juicers don’t compare to commercial juicers, but then again they really don’t need to. The cost of the produce isn’t insignificant, but it still doesn’t compare to the juice bar route. The juice blends we do at home are pretty straightforward (to keep shopping for veggies simple), but the benefits are all same. The main drawback is the clean up factor, of course. It takes me approximately 10 minutes from start to finish.

Habit #2: In studio yoga

Benefit: The core benefit of a yoga studio is the expertise of the instructors. The creative flow sequences and hands on adjustments cannot be replaced. Additionally, the camaraderie that comes with practicing yoga in a group is energizing and inspiring, especially when the ‘wonder yogis’ do impressive tricks.

Cost: It is not uncommon to spend $20+ for a single class and $150+ for a month membership. Plus, those of us with small kids must factor in the cost of childcare.

Thrifty Alternative: There are a few online yoga studios that provide free yoga classes. Additionally, many web-based fitness publications (ex. Tone It Up, Runner’s World Magazine) have online yoga classes. YouTube probably has a zillion awesome (and less than awesome) classes as well. Read more about at home yoga recommendations here.

Habit #3: In studio bootcamp workouts

Barry’s Bootcamp Irvine (photo source:

Benefits: Bootcamp style workouts follow the high intensity interval training format, making them extremely efficient. Barry’s Bootcamp is my favorite – it’s challenging, led by expert trainers, and super fun.

Cost: The cost is similar to any yoga studio ($20 per class, and $150+ for month). Again, no childcare.

Thrifty Alternative: There are two alternatives that I am very happy with. The first is Nike Training Club which has over 150 workouts, and specifically offers HIIT workouts. It has changed the way I workout at home. More about that here and here. Secondly, it’s been a blast to create bootcamp style workouts to do at my local high school football stadium with friends. If you’re in the area, you should check it out. More about that here.

Habit #4: Massage therapy

Benefits: Massage therapy can relieve muscle tension, prevent injury, and increase flexibility and performance. If you go the full “spa day” route, it is also one of the most luxurious and relaxing experiences EVER. (If you’re looking to spend a couple hundred bucks, make sure you do it at the Spa Montage. They offer free fitness classes and have a gorgeous pool and fitness center that spa guests can use.

Cost: $90 – $140 for a 60 minute deep tissue and/or sports massage.

Thrifty Alternative: Foam roll, bitch. It’s free, it’s painful, it’s effective. I have a love/hate relationship with mine. Tone It Up has a simple foam roller routine that targets the lower and upper body. Check it out here or watch the video below.

Habit #5: Quality protein powder

Benefits: Protein powder is a great way to add lean protein to your diet. Lean protein helps repair muscles, balance blood sugar, and reduce hunger cravings.

Cost: $55 for a 45-serving bag of vegan, organic protein powder. Perfect Fit Protein is my current favorite for multipurpose use. If I could, I would keep Arbonne Chocolate Protein Powder in my pantry to use in baking and the occasional smoothie.

Thrifty Alternative: I’m not sure there is a suitable alternative, guys. I’m committed to keeping my diet as healthy as possible and choose organic products whenever it makes sense. Protein powder is no different. So, until I find a vegan, organic protein for cheaper, I will stick to buying Perfect Fit Protein and use it for protein drinks only (as opposed to integrating it into snacks and bars).

What healthy habit would you practice daily if money weren’t a constraint?

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  • Reply
    02/06/2014 at 6:39 am

    I love Hot Yoga, but have a hard time justifying $100+ per month when my apartment complex has a gym. If money weren’t a constraint, I would try more new classes like TRX and pay for exercise classes at a gym.

    I love all of your bits about Tone It Up! K&K have truly changed my outlook on fitness and nutrition.

    • Reply
      02/06/2014 at 9:40 am

      I know! If I had spare cash each week, I would be trying new workouts all over the place! K&K are special for sure!

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