Monday Q&A | Homeschooling Budgets, Cleaning while Homeschooling, and Budget Weight Loss

Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!

How much money do you spend per month (on average) on homeschooling? How do you keep it a frugal endeavour when it does feel like something you could easily pour a lot of money into? Any advice to someone just starting out on a minimal budget?

-Megan

I tend to spend all of my money up front in July or August, when I order supplies for the year. Then I’m usually set except for times when we run out of paper or pencils!

I typically spend between $100-$250 total for all four of my kids and I mostly accomplish this by buying curriculum on ebay or half.com.

A more detailed post about saving money on school supplies is in the works, so stay tuned.

I am a mother of 3 girls and planning to officially start homeschooling them this fall. :)

I’ve read posts on your blog about cleaning before… but I was very interested in finding out exactly WHEN you are able to clean with having the kids around/homeschooling.

I try to get my girls involved as much as possible (my two oldest are 5 and 3)…but I still need to put aside a lot of time to clean the house by myself.

Also, the laundry that needs to be folded keeps on coming (as you know)… I was just curious if you have a great strategy that works or any tips on how I can be more efficient with this.

-Karen

That is a tough thing about homeschooling…the people that make the house the messiest are always home! ;)

Just to give you hope, though, keep in mind that kindergarten doesn’t need to take all day. I typically can get our kindergarten work done in an hour or so. So, you should still have some time for cleaning.

(Here’s what we do in kindergarten.)

Still, even an hour a day is something, and once you have multiple kids doing school, the hours can add up a bit.

Here are a couple of things that help me to keep things sort of clean.

  • I give chores to my children.

Delegation is key, and this will get more and more helpful as your kids get older!

  • I make them clean up after themselves.

They clear their dishes, throw their dirty clothes in the hamper, make their beds, hang up their pjs, take their dirty laundry down to the laundry room, and clean up their rooms. Of course, it’s easier to do it yourself at first, but if you hang in there, you can teach them to do these things on their own.

  • I fold laundry while I’m doing other tasks.

Laundry is a body-consuming task, so I pair it with a mind-consuming task (folding laundry is quite mind-numbing.) I might fold laundry during family worship, while supervising piano practicing, talking on the phone, or while Mr. FG reads to me at night.

As my kids get past the preschool years, I have them fold their own laundry. It’s not perfect and I have to resist the urge to refold it all, but they do eventually get better at it.

  • I make a few things a priority: clean dishes, clean kitchen counters, and a clean living room and dining room.

The kitchen, living room, and dining room are the main living areas and having those under control keeps me sane even if the rest of the house is getting a little messy.

  • I don’t keep my house spotless.

Would I love to have a perfectly spotless house? Oh yes.

But I’ve (sort of) made peace with the fact that at this stage in my life, a perfectly clean home isn’t a reasonable goal for me. One day, the kids will all be grown up and graduated and then my house will be cleaner. But for now, my standards are just going to have to be lower.

Oh, and I do some chores throughout the day (dishes, putting laundry in) and when we’re done with school for the day, I tend to do things like vacuuming.

At 46, I am going back to graduate school, and so I need to be very frugal this year, more than ever.
However, I want and need to loose about 80 pounds. That’s a substantial amount of weight, and there are so many diet programs out there that promise to help! But they are all expensive–special foods, shakes, shorts, the works. I was hoping that I could lose by exercising and using portion control, and by trying to eat more good foods, such as fruits and vegetables. But, with the amount of weight I have to lose, I worry that isn’t enough. Have you or any of your readers dealt with this? Thanks for any advice!

-Barbara

I’m so glad my readers are here to help with this one because I don’t have much experience losing a lot of weight, except for pregnancy weight (and that seemed to come off fairly easy between nursing and being very busy with small children.)

To maintain a healthy weight, I try to eat food that leans toward the unprocessed end of things, with lots of fruits and vegetables. And I pay attention to what my body tells me about being hungry or full. Also, I typically am pretty active even on days where I’m not officially working out.

I definitely think that it’s possible to lose weight without signing up for an expensive program, and I think that a plan of eating healthy foods in appropriate portions is going to be much easier to maintain over the long haul than something like, say, Slim-Fast or Jenny Craig.

But here I’m going to hand it over to my readers, some of whom doubtless have good advice for you!

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Today’s 365 post: Cattails

Comments

  1. Adrienne says

    I don’t think you need to spend a cent to loose weight! The thing that helped me most in the past was keeping a food and exercise diary. I wrote down every single thing I ate (even if it was only a bite). This one thing really helped me to both think about what I ate and look at it objectively (everyone tries to get you to eat sugar for their “special occassion” – when I counted up how many of those come up on a regular basis it was easier to say no). When you have a lot of weight on you exersize can feel like a huge task. Just take it slow – even if you only can do 5 or 10 minutes of cardio that’s more than you were doing before. Keep track and watch yourself improve.

    • says

      Adrienne,
      I did the same thing. I kept a journal of what I ate. I decided I was going to eat a set amount of calories per day. I wrote down everything I ate. Then when my calories were almost gone, I was done for the day. I focused on whole foods — fruits, veggies, protein and whole grains. One day per week, I had any treats I wanted, within my calorie limits.

      I did this in combination with walking. I set goals for myself. At first it was just once around the block. Then it was twice, and so on until I was up to 3 miles a day, 5 days a week. I gave myself 2 days off per week, to take care of those days when I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule.

      I’ve had to do this twice. Once when I was about 20. I was a chubby teen, and at 20 lost about 20 pounds. Then a second time when pregnant with twins I put on a lot of weight that just didn’t come off on its own. I was able to lose this 25 pounds of baby weight by journaling what I ate and walked. I’m small and 20 pounds is a huge amount for me to carry around.

      It takes time, so you just have to celebrate all the little victories. And realize that just 1 pound lost is important, too.

      • Raye says

        If you have a smart phone there is a free weight loss program that will keep track of your dairy and history. It also track other nutritional information too so you can track special needs such as cholesterol or sugar intake. Also, if you don’t have a smart phone this program is on the internet too and it will even sync with your smart phone if you have one.

        Finally, if you have a lot of good recipes that you don’t want to give up this program lets you put in those recipes and then tells you the calories and nutritional information on that recipe.

        I use this program to maintain my weight and also record my exercise and I love it!

        The smart phone app for this program is called “myfitnesspal” and you can find it on the web at “myfitnesspal.com”

        • Cassie says

          I’ve used myfitnesspal, and love it. I don’t have a smart phone, but just log in from my computer. I’d highly recommend checking it out. By inputting your personal information, it will help you pick a calorie and exercise goal for each day/week. You can also connect with other people in your same situation and encourage each other.

          • Sharon Rowe says

            Yes, a food diary is great. It holds you accountable. For me it is a lot of trouble, but it certainly makes you stop and think about everything you put in your mouth.

  2. says

    I am almost done with my doctorate and have over 100 lbs. to lose to get to my goal weight. I purchased a fitbit as a graduation present to myself. It was less than $100 and it tracks my steps, activity level, and calories burned. I use the free accompanying website (you can pay an additional sum – I think $59 – to use the site’s trainer to help push you). I track calories and activities there. I have lost 30 lbs. just by walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day and eating the recommended number of calories. I have purchased more unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables, frozen plain fish and chicken, cheese, nuts, and whole grains. I actually spend quite a bit less on groceries because I was buying a lot of junk food.

    You will actually be very grateful as a grad student if you stick to unprocessed foods and make sure you walk or exercise regularly. I was always happier and more successful when I took care of my health. I wasn’t always great at it, but it made a big difference.

    • Liz says

      I so agree! Taking care of your body’s needs is going to help you so much in grad school. Don’t think of these as two unrelated tasks: the healthier you eat/act/feel, the more energy and focus you’ll have to get those papers written and books read. Plus, the better focused and on-task you can remain during your schoolwork periods, the more free time you’ll have to exercise, socialize, relax. It’s an all-around winning situation.

      Also, I would focus on developing healthy habits while in graduate school without a specific weight-loss goal. Too many goals at once will make it very difficult to accomplish anything, and only lead to guilt or disappointment.

      Good luck!

  3. Kerri says

    A little tip if your diet calls for protein shakes such as Slim Fast, etc. As long as milk doesn’t bother you, you can make a decent protein shake by using powdered milk. Put twice the amount of powder that you would use to make milk (so 2/3 cup powder per 1 cup of water.) Then add ice, fruit, sweetener, etc. For an extra treat, you can use a bit of sugar-free instant pudding mix. This tastes great! Powdered milk tends to go stale, so if the taste really bothers you, your package may not be fresh.

  4. WilliamB says

    Barbara, that’s a lot going on and I congratulate you on your goals! (Especially the education but that’s my own personal bias.)

    I was fat adolescence through college, lost it, and have maintained a healthy weight ever since. Even better, I’ve learned how to do it without it being an all-consuming thing. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned, a couple are personal and most are backed up by the long term studies at places such as the Yale Center and the Long Term Weight Loss Registry.

    1. Only permanent change leads to permanent loss. The implication here is that fancy plans of special meals and such don’t work in the long term.

    2. Slowly does it. It probably took a while to put it on, it _should_ take similarly long to take it off. Of people who have maintained weight loss, most of them lost weight very gradually. Losing 80 lbs can likely take 2 years or more. Weight Watchers, which has by far the best track record of weight loss programs, recommends setting intermediate goals.

    3. My ad-hoc observation is that it’s really useful to know personal style. I’m a “have some” type – I can have some french fries now, and some tomorrow if I really want more. Since I know I can have them tomorrow if I want them, I don’t eat a lot (or any) today; if I can’t have any tomorrow I load up on them today. My friend is a cold turkey type – he can’t stop at some but “none” works very well for him.

    4. What you eat may be more important than how much you eat. Highly processed foods, cooked foods, minced/pureed foods, all need much less work to digest so we get more net energy from them (see Richard Wrangham’s “Catching Fire” for a short readable science book on the subject; in the second half of the book he speculates wildly about how cooking changed human sociology – interesting but not relevant to the topic at hand). Therefore emphasize whole, or raw, or lightly processed -so carrot sticks rather than carrot juice.

    5. Do you know how to cook at all? I hardly want to add more to your schedule but if you can cook a bit, I recommend Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters” and his “Food Matters Cookbook” to you. Bittman is a New York Times food writer and runner who read an article about how raising meat animals contributes to climate change, and decided to eat far less meat as a result. He also lost 30 lbs, could run without pain again, stopped taking blood pressure medication and was no longer pre-diabetic – all without restricting how much he ate. He wrote “Food Matters” about his experience, it has about 75 recipes/techniques. Then he wrote “The Food Matters Cookbook” to share more of what he eats. It’s all about easy prep, whole foods, mostly plants, produce, and some meat.

    6. Create an environment that supports your direction. For me, that means having a lot of fresh, ready-to-eat produce around (even though that means I waste some of it), using dip for my veggie sticks, and spending extra to get *tasty* carrots and meat. It also means spending extra to get good chocolate because I eat less of it, and having some but only a little junk food in the house.

    7. You haven’t mentioned family or friends. They may, deliberately or not, be a barrier to your efforts. For example, one’s children might complain that mommy doesn’t go out for ice cream and is no fun anymore, or friends encourage you to “live a little” and go out with them. I can’t tell you what solution will work for you but be aware of external influences.

    8. Small changes add up. For most people making many hard changes at once is overwhelming, and leads to discouragement and failure. If this is true for you, I recommend small changes and giving them enough time to become automatic. So a first change might be few/no calories in drinks: milk not cream in coffee, diluted juice or water only, etc. After a month, try not eating after 8 pm. The month after that, pack yourself individual sized snacks (carrots, goldfish, whatever floats your boat). After that, 100% whole grain carbs for half your carbs (bread, rice, etc.).

    I could go on even more but I think I’ve written enough.

    • Lilypad says

      Re less meat: I lost 40 pounds easily when I became a vegetarian. Had I gone vegan (no dairy, no eggs), I probably would have lost another 10.

  5. Jane says

    If you’re looking to track calories daily and find encouraging articles every day, SparkNutrition is a free on line site that is very helpful.

    • Kayla says

      I assume that is part of Sparkpeople.com? I used that website to track my food and exercise when I lost weight a couple years ago. I really enjoyed the groups which were good for accountability and motivation. The articles are also helpful and there are workout videos too. The best part is that it is free! I need to go back to it after having my son 6 months ago. I lost all the weight by breastfeeding and walking but I’ve gained some back. I stopped walking most days because it has been so stinking HOT! (100F or high 90s for several weeks)

  6. Jenny says

    It is totally possible to lose substantial weight without expensive diet programs, because I’ve done it. However, there is something to keep in mind, which is that grad school is very, very challenging, much more so than undergrad. Not to be scary or defeatist, just to let you know that the rest of your life needs to be low-maintenance. But this can be done! For instance:

    1. It is much easier to get exercise into the day–you will probably have to walk miles around a big campus. When I was in grad school, we got a substantial discount to park at the very distant edge of the campus and walk in. Free exercise! Plus campuses always have gyms and exercise centers for students, and class schedules often leave weird breaks in the day that a workout fits into.
    2. Grad school often leads to stress eating. So think about whatever foods are your bad habit foods and just don’t let them into your house.
    3. Fruits, veggies and protein were really important to my weight loss–these can be expensive but also cheap depending on your choices–produce on sale, frozen for things like soups or smoothies where texture doesn’t matter, proteins like eggs, beans, chicken on sale, etc.
    4. You’ll be poor, so you won’t be tempted to eat out! That will help a ton.
    5. Habit can be your friend for both grad school and dieting. Figure out a set of menus that meet your goals and just keep repeating them. Before school starts, it might be helpful to figure out how many calories per day you need (there are online calculators) and count calories for a few days to set your “internal meter.”

    Counting calories, measuring portions and keeping food diaries can also be really helpful also. However they take attention to detail at a time when you are likely to be super-busy. So in your shoes, I would probably try to cut down the less helpful foods, increase the healthier foods, get more exercise, and then in a semester evaluate and add some of the other tools if I needed them. But however you go at it, Good Luck!

    • WilliamB says

      Good point about habit. So my #9:

      9. Habits are hard to break. This is true for good habits as well as bad ones. You’re starting a new thing so you’re perfectly positions to create habits that support what you want to do. It may be packing a thermos instead of buying coffee, or not using the vending machines, or parking at the cheap distant lot, or …

  7. says

    Barbara, so far everyone’s left really great comments, so I just wanted to add a very short suggestion. I successfully lost 45 pounds in graduate school on Weight Watchers and cannot recommend it enough. It inspires a true life style change and meetings (or the online forums) really help both with support and as ways to get new and creative meal and workout ideas.

    However, I know that WW isn’t always the most frugal option. For some (like me), spending money is an added motivation to keep on track, but sometimes any money is too much money. In that case, may I suggest My Fitness Pal? It’s completely free and I found it to be very similar to the online WW program. It tracks all of your stats, goals, and successes, and has a lot of forums and places to go to for support. I know there are other free sites out there, but this is what I’ve tried and found to be the best.

    Good luck with your weight loss and with school!!

  8. says

    For Megan,
    about saving money on homeschooling supplies.
    First of all I found that not having my kids in regular school saved a ton of money. We didn’t have all the expenses of school lunches/lunch boxes, and treats that would rival other kids’ lunches. Instead we just ate what we always ate. We didn’t have any expensive uniforms or school clothing to buy in one feel swoop in late August (although I think this is nuts whether you home school or not — just buy your kids clothing as they need it, not because a bunch of ads on TV say that it’s “time” to buy clothing). We didn’t have the extensive lists of supplies for the classroom to buy. We didn’t have extra transportation costs to get to/from school. I once estimated that we saved a couple of hundred per year, by not being in a public school.

    Second, we swapped text books with my sister-in-law’s family. She had children near my children’s ages. So we split the cost of reusable materials. We also bought a lot of books used through homeschool book fairs. After the 2nd grade, we skipped the readers which were part of the curriculum and read actual books, free from the library. My kids would read a combination of literature, that I would choose, and fun contemporary books that they would choose, for their reading program.

    I think that we spent about $140- $180 per year for 3 kids, up to 4 years ago. That’s just for books. We did a fair amount of field trips, but tried to keep those expenses down.

    Our budgeting system allows us to save year round for expenses that are incurred in just a couple of months per year. We put aside about $25-$30/month to cover all school related costs. And spent that money as needed.

  9. Amara says

    I second the notion that it is possible to homeschool very frugally.

    In fact, a news report last night suggested that public school parents spend $628 per child sending a child “back to school.” (Supplies, backpacks/lunchbags, clothing) Bah! Though I don’t know many families who probably spend half that amount, it certainly made me aware that somewhere, someone is spending loads of money on “free” schooling. My homeschool budget suddenly looked very tiny, in comparison!

    Our biggest savers are:
    1) swapping with other homeschooling friends who might have materials we can use for a year– math curriculum, for example.
    2) using our library for literature…our library even has “reserve buckets” for folks like me who reserve lots of materials…they are very homeschooler friendly and we love this!
    3) buying used from Amazon, our local used bookstore, the used curriculum fair in our area, or Savers Thrift (classic books are widely available and usually 4 for a dollar with coupon ;) )
    4) we also have a local homeschool resource library, and they often list free curriculum in our newsletter
    5) finally…I keep a “wish list” of materials I’d love to have, and we ask for some for Christmas and birthdays from relatives. I know a smart homeschooling mom who requested the Saxon manipulatives kit from grandparents as a preschool birthday gift. It basically looks like a really awesome collection of little toys, and I think she took “proper advantage” of an opportunity to get her child a little homeschooling equipment on a birthday that otherwise might have been filled with “junkier” toys and stuffed animals. I couldn’t justify a play Bible that I just loved from the Veritas press catalog, but my sweet mom thought it was the neatest Christmas present EVER to purchase for our little son.

    Never forget to keep things SIMPLE! Be blessed.

  10. Laura says

    I totally go with the whole un-processed thing and tons of fruit and veg (well, slight exagerration!) I would also cut out as many carbs as possible, its surprising how quickly your body turns them to fat.
    Fish is a fantastic low fat, high protein food, we eat lots in our house (I don’t eat meat at all, but love fish)
    The men in my house are meat eaters, but mainly eat skinless chicken breast, fillet steak.
    Also drink lots of water, it really helps.
    I know it can be a struggle, but a lot of bad eating , is down to habits, and after all we are creatures of habits, LOL.
    Good luck ;)

  11. Kathy says

    the weight loss suggestions are fantastic. As someone who has lost 35 pounds, I would say to be sure to bulk up your meals with the lowest cost veggies (cabbage and carrots, foe example.) Drink tons of water. Emphasize low cost protein (like canned tuna fish) and skip a lot of the refined carbs. Whole grain pasta is more $, but also much more filling.

    I have lost weight with no expensive shakes, bars, etc. I do spend money as a Weight Watcher, but I need the support. there is an online version of WW that is much cheaper. There’s also Overeaters Anonymous, a 12 step program based on AA. It’s free – and I think there are also now free meetings online. good luck. If I can lose weight- trust me- anyone can!!!!!

  12. SarahJ says

    I would also recommend weight watchers. I am currently finishing up my masters degree, and even in the MOST stressful times (the end) I am losing weight each week (I have lost almost 25 pounds since May, and have about 50 more to go!). As also previously stated it may not be the most frugal option, depending on the plan options you choose (~$45 /month) but it is backed by science and has outstanding long-term success. RNs have even recommended it to me.

    WW provide the support, encouragement, and flexibility of real food (no required shakes etc). I think that is part of what makes people stick with it. You can even go check out meetings for free, look it up online.

    WW also re-teaches you how to care and feed your body. In that way it isn’t a diet, but a life choice. I wish I would have started at the beginning of my masters and not the end, only because I have such success so far I wish I would have started long ago!

    Good luck in what ever you decide to do!

  13. Rachel says

    Everyone here has great ideas . . . a diary of some sort (I like myfitnesspal.com – they have a nice app too), and unprocessed foods is key. I also wanted to point out that although it may seem like you are spending more on food at first – especially as you stock up on basics, you’ll find you don’t stop for that extra snack or treat here and there which adds up, both in calories and cash!

    I sometimes like to think of a calorie-budget the same way as a regular budget. Is a bagel worth a quarter of my daily budget? Nope!

  14. says

    I don’t have experience in losing weight so this will just be about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which is likely what you will have to do anyway. For me, it’s pretty easy to watch what I eat but takes an enormous amount of discipline to exercise. I have had gym memberships I never used and dvds I never watched. What ended up working was taking a group exercise class (in my case it was Bar Method, which is expensive I’m afraid but there must be other options that are less so). I have to sign up in advance and the class requires that I cancel 4 hours before the class to avoid penalty. This actually makes me view it as a mandatory appointment so I get myself to class and once there I turn myself over to the instructor and exercise happens. I also really love the class and having that communal element. I’m not sure what will end up working for you, but everyone knows that you’re supposed to exercise, yet it’s so hard to motivate oneself to do it. You have to either pick something you love to do (like dance or a sport), be super disciplined or incorporate it into your daily life. I have a PhD in the hard sciences and during grad school before I knew (or could afford) Bar Method, I lived in a 4th floor walk up so it was stairs and more stairs every day and I walked an hour total getting to school and back each day. And one quick note about food – you will have very little time and be tempted to snack all the time so I highly recommend NEVER buying junk food because if it’s not around you will not eat it when you are hungry. I used to go grocery shopping once a week or so, cook a large batch of grains (rice, couscous, kasha, etc) in advance and build meals around those. This will also sound strange to people here perhaps but I think it’s also ok to feel a little hungry and not be perfectly full all the time. The Japanese have a saying about eating until you are 4/5 full. Sometimes, because there is such an abundance of food now, I think we lose touch with what hunger is supposed to feel like.

  15. Jenelle says

    Concerning loosing weight during graduate school and being frugal. I finished up my Master’s about 3 years ago and had to live on my very small graduate assistant salary (about $7500 year) during that time. I would recommend planning and packing your meals when you will be on-campus (or just out in general). It is very tempting to go to the campus dining hall or grab something quick on your way to/from class, but that adds up. There were days that I had to pack three meals and take with me to work/class. Organization of this is key. You will need a good cooler bag and “ice bags” to keep the food cold throughout the day. Invest your money with these items, there are cheaper versions on the market, but you will see a big difference with a quality cooler bags and “ice bags”. Find some place on campus where you can fill up your water bottle on a regular basis. Many campuses now have water filling stations or ask in the dining hall if you can fill up your bottle for free. Keep a water bottle with you at all times. I became a fan of the mix-in packets (of tea) to vary up what I was drinking.

    I seem to always be on a diet of some kind, but have found the best luck with weight watchers. I’ve never joined, I’ve just utilized the internet to learn how the points system works (and then calculate points on my own) and then would pack my meals accordingly.

    Also look and see what type of excercise programs are available to you free becuase you are a students. Most likely, you can use the gym or pool. Try to scheudle that into your routine if you can.

  16. Shana says

    For weight loss on the cheap: I lost 90 pounds about 15 years ago. I did it TOTALLY on my own, other than joining a gym. I highly, highly recommend (these days) signing up for a (free) account with My Fitness Pal (www.myfitnesspal.com). You can track your weight loss – eating – exercise – every day and it doesn’t cost a cent. It’s very interactive, and it’s also fun :)

  17. says

    I will throw in a plug for loosing weight through sparkpeople.com. They have calorie trackers for entering everything you eat, exercise trackers, message boards, groups. IE if you need support too, they can help with that. I am a great fan with sparkpeople and lost 50 pounds with their help and have maintained that loss for a 1.5 years now. It is all for free. Don’t get too frustrated with the site at first, because they have so much there that it can be a bit intimidating.

  18. Amy says

    The most frugal most effective weight loss program I have been on is the no “white” diet. I cut back on everything made with white sugar and flour. Then added additional veggies and drank a lot of water.

    This led to a lot of life changes. Used to be a 3 cans of Dr Pepper a day person, and took high blood pressure and cholesterol pills. Now I drink one every once and a while. And only Dr Pepper, no genric like I used to, and don’t miss the everyday.

  19. says

    I have 5 kids (4 that are being homeschooled this year, 1 is an infant) with the oldest starting 6th grade. I have homeschooled from the beginning and can honestly say that I have spent less than $300, probably less than $250, on homeschooling for all the years total. I have found the best way to save money is to join your local freecycle group and a local homeschool group. You can often find educational resources offered on freecycle. As for the homeschool group, I can only comment on the groups I have belonged to (1 in NY and 1 in FL), but they have arranged free/low cost field trips, share resources they have found, arrange book giveaways/swaps, and offer free/low-cost classes. There are also a TON of free and low-cost resources on line.

    As to the weight loss, I lost 80 pounds in 1 year, back in 2003. I was also a full-time student and a mom of 2 pre-schoolers. I did not join any weight loss plans and did not buy any special foods. Every time I wanted to eat something “bad” for me, I asked myself if I REALLY wanted it and was it worth the fat and calories I was going to take in. If I did really want the food, I allowed myself to have a small amount and then I walked away. This kept me from bingeing later, yet kept the number of calories and amount of fat I took in to a reasonable amount. My “everyday” food was a variety from all the food groups. I worked on getting the minimal recommendations from each food group before I ate anything especially sweet or fatty. Usually, by the time I ate those servings, I was full and did not want much of the “bad” food. Over time, I eventually lost my desire for less healthy foods and although I have gained back some of the weight, my taste for most of those “bad” foods has not returned. As for exercise, I did not have a lot of “free” time to devote to exercise, so I did what I could by parking at the far end of parking lots and taking the stairs whenever possible. One of my classes was on the 3rd floor. In the beginning of the semester, by the time I climbed the stairs I could barely breathe, but at the end of the semester, I could carry on a conversation the entire climb and could have continued climbing several more flights. Another thing I want to to stress is to make sure you do not have any health issues that are preventing you from losing weight. I attribute the majority of my weight loss to being properly medicated. I have an underactive thyroid and another issue that affects my blood sugar, both of which can cause weight gain and prevent weight loss. It was not until I was diagnosed and treated for the second issue that I was able to lose weight, even though my diet was pretty good at the time.

  20. Rebecca B. A. R. says

    On weight loss, the easiest (cheapest) way to lose weight is to do a food diary and keep track of your calorie intake. You want to only take in around 1200 calories a day, especially if you are wanting to lose that much weight, and one day a week you can have an extra 300-500 calories as a treat. The hardest part will be having the will power to stay with it, so I suggest that you get a weight loss buddy that you are accountable to, and can talk with at least once a week. Just start with walking as exercise right now (30 minutes each day), or else you’ll burn yourself out with too much on your “plate” (no pun intended!). Your aim will be only to lose 1-2 pounds per week (after an initial possible larger weight lose at the beginning). It takes a lot of time and will power, and for a lot of people is hard to do, so get people to cheer you on and support your efforts! Good luck!

    • Roelien says

      I would not recommend to limit your calories to 1200! As WilliamB said, it is better to lose weight slowly. The disadvantages of eating very little calories:

      – you will feel hungry all the time, and this makes it hard to resist temptation. Also you will feel tired and sorry for yourself!

      – if you eat so little, your body will start saving energy. Because muscles use energy (even when resting) your body will break down your muscles and not your fat reserves! Then when you start eating normal again, you will quickly gain all the lost weight again. I find it a bit difficult to explain this properly in English, so look for more information on the internet if you want.

      I do recommend a food diary to find out about what you eat now and what would be good to change.

      A great book about food habits is “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink. It’s not really a self help book but it has great insights about our food habits and how we are influenced by cues around us. And it gives tips about how to change our food habits in order to lose weight gradually.

  21. says

    To Barbara:
    I’d be cautious about weight loss all at once by some ‘magic’ program or shake. Just try changing your lifestyle long term. Some of the things that helped me drop lbs. was not drinking my calories (i.e. pop, juices, etc.) not going out to eat so much (a bigger deal than we think), not eating processed foods, changing my portions, eating 3 meals and snacks in between but staying within your proper daily calorie allowance (typically protein snacks like greek yogurt or cottage cheese are awesome), less salt, more water (especially with meals to help you fill up), more fresh produce, more lean meats, working out (even just a walk, brisk walking, and jogging– no need for a membership with that), taking stairs, not finding the closest parking space but being willing to walk, and carrying out groceries instead of using a cart (obviously if there isn’t a ton to carry out). Also, if there are ‘good deals’ at the store but it’s junk food I always tell myself, ‘Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.’ BUT don’t deprive yourself! Enjoy yourself AND be healthy! These are EASY things not many people give try!

  22. Becky says

    I find Shawn at http://www.344pounds.com/ to be very inspirational & encouraging with respect to losing weight. He’s lost over 100 pounds through calorie counting & exercise. If you read his back story, you’ll see he lost quite a bit of weight rather quickly by reducing calories & getting active. Being active doesn’t have to mean getting a gym membership either – walking is a great exercise!

  23. teresa says

    For budget weight-loss gal,
    You’re in the perfect time of your life to shape up and enjoy the next 40 years! In my mid-forties I went to school to become an O.R. nurse. Even tho’ the class load was very heavy, I got myself hooked on hiking. Not walking mind you, hiking! There were some beautiful hills around campus.
    Being a smoker, I had to start out slow. I would determine I was going to get to the top of a certain hill; then stop and sit for a few minutes when my heart was beating sooooo hard! Then I would go a little higher, ’til I couldn’t take it. Rest, then start again. I started to notice that when I started up again I would feel a tiny “high”. After a few weeks I could get to the top! So I started on bigger hills. At first I had to make myself do it. Then i started really looking forward to it, then I got hooked! I tell you: my attention, memory, ability to study effectively, grades etc all improved a thousand-fold. Dr. check-up said health was excellent.
    I just don’t believe in “diets”, what I did was make it easy on myself by cutting out a few bad foods I could live without: butter, mayo, burgers, icecream, and junior mints. I always got alot of protien in the morning, and if I did want a sweet I ate a bit of protien first.
    I am 5’8″ and went from 188 to 128 in 6 months! As i continued my hiking I could eat whatever I wanted, cholesterol levels were excellent, so was bmi. I started climbing the big rocks on the hills and I developed a core that was like a 20 yr. old. Had to show my friends my 46 year-old 6-pack. No sit-ups either! I know I won’t have many back problems with a strong abdomen like this. My depression problems are gone too!
    All this while enjoying God’s beautiful creation, and glorifying Him by having a healthy body that He gave me.
    It was so easy! Try it!
    Blessings

  24. Amanda says

    My husband lost 50 lbs in our first year of marriage while doing a one year master’s degree program. He and his identical twin have always struggled with weight, but now my husband is in great shape. There’s probably a 100 lb difference between him and his twin now. We’ve talked a lot about what made the change for him, and what is different about our lifestyle from his twin’s family.

    I think the main thing that changed was the fact that we cook almost all of our meals at home using lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Dumping the processed foods made a huge difference. We eat 3 meals a day, and all of them are healthy choices. However, we try and make quick things or cook with leftovers in mind because of limited time. It’s possible.

    Second, my husband once remarked that he now eats until he’s not hungry instead of full. The smaller portions helped a lot.

    Instead of eating to burn off stress, he’d go for a walk when he needed time to destress or process ideas. Some of his best thinking on projects happened on neighborhood walks.

    We each have limited personal money due to a tight budget. Without funds to buy junk food on campus, he didn’t eat nearly as many processed treats.
    Finally, my husband never tried to lose weight. Honestly, his habit changes were primarily the result of our marriage, and the weight loss was a surprise to both of us at first. A few changes that were part of my healthy eating habits helped him overcome years of weight struggles. The best part is that other health challenges are disappearing and he’s got sustainable habits.

    One last thought, all the changes my husband made when we married were changes I’d made a couple years previously when I was in grad school. I wanted more energy to work and study full time even though I didn’t have weight to lose, and I got it by switching the way I ate. You can do this and save money in the process. :)

  25. Halli Simpson says

    I too am on a weight loss journey and have found that sites like myfitnesspal.com and spark people are great! I used to use my laptop to track everything I ate, but I was able to get a smart phone super cheap when I renued my wireless contract and it’s so easy to track using that. I have lost a total of 65 lbs over the past 3 years and have another 60 to go. Here’s a rundown of things I find nessesary: 1) Find your target calorie range and use a tracking site or journal to record your food and exercise. 2) Find exercise that you are interested in! Zumba, water aerobics, jogging, walking. If you don’t absolutely love it, you won’t do it. 3) Aim for more whole foods. Pretty soon you won’t crave sugary things and you will have mounds of energy! 4) Find a fitness buddy. Having some accountability and fun at the same time make this change more successful. 5) Learn to listen to your body. Evaluate if your really hungry or if you just need a distraction to keep your mind off food. Also see how certain foods make you feel. Starchy foods (not whole grains) make me crabby and crave sugar, while plenty of veggies and protein make me feel good and my moods are more stable. Losing weight doesn’t have to cost anything extra unless you want it to. Cute jogging suits and the latest and greatest gadgets are fun, but totally not nessesary. I wish you well on your weight loss adventure! You can do it!

  26. Ann says

    I love myfitnesspal.com. I actually use it as an app on my smartphone, but I’ve heard the website functions the same way (and they synch). I eat way too much, if I’m not mindful of what I’m eating, and I am not realistic in my estimation of how much I am exercising. This app provides some accountability for me. It’s free, and I highly recommend it.

  27. Cynthia M says

    For losing weight, the two things that helped me the most was a food diary and eliminating processed foods. The food diary is so helpful because it makes you so much more conscious of what you are eating. When you are tracking your food intake you may notice patterns that either derail you or help you stay on track. For me, I noticed that I have to eat at least 30% of my calories from fat otherwise I’m more likely to binge. Also eating more whole foods especially more vegetables helps satisfy your appetite much more than processed foods will.

    For homeschooling on a budget, I try to get as much used or free resources as possible. I don’t ever buy those expensive programs/boxed curriculums.

    I use amblesideonline.org which is an free online curriculum that uses a lot of classical books that you can get free. Many of them can be downloaded from Gutenberg.org. I also use my library quite a bit if I can’t download it for free. Although some books are worth buying because you use it for many years.

    Outside of the Ambleside program I buy math, handwriting and spelling work
    books which are probably about $100 for the year for two kids. This year I did splurge on a writing program but that can also be done free or cheap.

    For basic school supplies I wait until after public school starts then the stores will put school supplies on sale. So I buy as much as I think we will need for the next year.

  28. Denise says

    If you need the structure of a program, go with Weight Watchers. For around $15 monthly, you can attend meetings, use their etools for calculating points and tracking what you eat, activities, find/create recipes, etc. No need to buy their special food—they teach you how to eat real food the right way! I lost 37 lbs. and have kept it off for over a year now.

  29. says

    Barbara,
    Buy the book It Starts With Food here http://whole9life.com. These people taught me how to eat healthfully and I’ve lost 45 pounds so far. They make it really easy to do just by eating real food. Then go to http://paleoonabudget.com to learn how to do eat this way cheaply. When you are ready to add exercise try http://www.marksdailyapple.com/ for help with that and more food ideas. This is a system that works that works that you can continue doing for the rest of your life. It’s giving me back my life.
    Note: I have no affiliation with any of those sites; they just have helped me enormously.

  30. Christina B says

    my nutritionist recommends sparkpeople.com the site helped me a lot. Check it out. It’s free, and it helps you track calories and workouts

  31. Erin says

    Barbara, to prepare for surgery, my doctor told me to loose weight. I looked into WW but it was so darn expensive! So I started using caloriecount.com because it’s easy and it’s free. You can track your food and your activity and there is even a mobile app. Using this web site only, and buying very little “special food” (such as light butter and lower calorie dressings), I have lost 40 lbs. since March.

    If you are diligent, you can do it. I still have about 45 lbs. to go myself but I just keep plugging away. Good luck!

  32. Jen says

    Barbara, I will also say sparkpeople.com is a great free resource. If you like a structured program, Weight Watchers online is cheaper than going to meetings. But, is basically the same experience as sparkpeople.

    As for exercise, are you going to a university with a fitness center? For undergrad, I went to a state university and it had a fitness center that was free for all students. We also had free access to the aquatic center, where there were lanes for lap swimming and water aerobics classes. I think I had to pay for the class, but it was heavily discounted because I was a student. Definitely something worth looking into. I figured part of my tuition already paid for these ammenites, so I wanted to get my money’s worth!

  33. Amy says

    I personally don’t have experience losing a lot of weight but I want to share my mom’s experience. She lost a substantial amount (and has kept it off) by eating a vegan, low fat diet without processed foods or a lot of sugar (She uses the McDougal diet). She loves this diet because she can eat as much as she wants and stay full but still lose weight since plant based foods are generally low in caloric density. It is also a very frugal diet because meat/processed foods are very expensive. This is what worked for her but it might not work for everyone.

    My best friend has had good results eating pretty much whatever she wants but setting a calorie limit to her day (I think it was 1,000 calories?). She she keeps track of all her calories throughout the day and “budgets” her meals and snacks to not exceed her caloric limit. Again this might not work for everyone, you have to be very disciplined about monitoring everything you eat and you will go hungry if you use your calories unwisely.

    So those are just a couple of ideas. Hope they help!

  34. Dorthey says

    @Barbra w- the Weightloss

    I too am 46, All i can Say is Drink Water &
    Portion, Portion, Portion, Healthy Choices,
    & You HAVE to Exercise !
    Walking, my Dr has told me is the Best for
    You.
    I don’t have Diabeties BUT that is a Good
    Healthy Diet to Fallow. It’s All about Correct
    Portions of all the Right Foods. Those company’s
    That sell their food Are Loaded with Salt &
    Preservetives !!! & COST ALOT ! There is No Miricle
    Diet Pill out there ( or I would hv Found it lol)
    You Need to Burn more Calories than you Eat.
    I go to the Library & look at different Diabetic
    Cookbooks & I go from there. Don’t be Discouraged
    But it Is Hard Work …. But Aren’t YOU Worth it ?
    A Healthy way to go is to loose Slowly or it will
    Just come back. Keep a Food Journal. I pretend I’m at
    A Fancy Resturant & People are watching my Manners…
    It works for me. A friend of mine puts a Mirror on
    Table & watchers herself eat… I just do it my way.
    Why pay someone to weigh You ? Get a Good Scale
    & do it Urself.
    Barbra, remember it’s Not a Race do it for You
    & Your Health.
    Best Wishes to You !!!

    • Laurie C. says

      About Homeschool expenses: some books you will sell the next year, others you will keep if you have younger children. So, you will recoup some of that expense. The books I sell after one year I usually get 70% or more of cost back on ebay, but that goes down if you keep them longer.

  35. Janknitz says

    Between the required school supplies (and some teachers even go so far as to forbid the brands of supplies carried by the Dollar Store), the extra supplies the individual teachers request (bad here in California, so they request reams of paper, boxes of tissues, hand sanitizer, etc.), the payments for school photos, expensive project materials, field trips (well over $150 last year for one kid!), chorus and band fees, replacing lost jackets and lunch bags (grrr!), etc. it’s EXPENSIVE. Not to mention they are constantly asking for donations for this and that and requiring your child to sell overpriced wrapping paper and candybars to neighbors and family–and putting enormous pressure on kids who don’t sell a lot. Homeschooling has to be FAR less expensive than public school.

    When they get to Jr. high and high school you have to add in student ID and organization fees, locker fees, locks, year books (over $100 in high school!), PE clothing, “spirit” wear, and fees for college tests like the PSAT, SAT, ACT, etc.

    There’s no escaping this stuff in a public school setting, so I have to be sure to budget for it.

  36. says

    This is for Barbara,

    Lots of good advice on the weight loss thing – I’ll just chime in with a few thoughts of my own. I lost about 40 pounds 15 years ago and have successfully kept it off – and I’ve been broke all my life. I have lots of tips for cheap & easy diet and exercise regimens, but for me, a HUGE part of my success was dealing with the whole emotional side of the issue.

    I mean you can grit your teeth and will yourself into losing weight, but my experience is that if you don’t address the underlying issues, you’ll never be able to keep it off – nobody has that much willpower. For me, the beginning was the realization that the gnawing feeling in my stomach wasn’t hunger, and that food was my way of not dealing with things that I didn’t want to feel.

    But it’s not as if dealing with your emotions magically makes the weight come off, you still have to change your lifestyle. For me the changes can pretty much be summed up in two words: exercise and vegetables!

    Anyhow, I have some blog posts planned on this topic where I will blather at length about what has and hasn’t worked for me. You are most welcome to come lurk if you are at all interested.

    Best wishes to you on your journey!
    xoxoxo,
    Cat

  37. says

    My mom went on one of those prepackaged food diets when I was a kid. The food had so many preservatives in it, she ended up in the hospital for a week. I also find that most people I know who go on diets like that end up gaining all the weight back once they have to start eating real food again. It doesn’t happen to everyone but it has happened to the majority of people I know.

    If you want to track calories and activity, there is a great free app called MyFitnessPal. It really helped to go get a good idea of how much I should be eating and is great for dining out at chains to help you make good food choices. It is a bit difficult to use if you make a lot of things from scratch.

    When things get busy in grad school, record your notes or sample questions (leaving a pause so you have time to answer the questions) and listen to the recordings while you exercise or do things around the house. It’s a great way to stay active and study at the same time!

    I just wrote a post on my blog about what I’ve been doing to lose weight. The pounds aren’t flying off, but I’m in much better shape and am losing about a pound a week.

    • WilliamB says

      Good for you – a pound a week is an *excellent* amount to be losing. Slow, steady, and sustainable is the way to go.

  38. Angela Edwards says

    I can speak from experience. I have lost 130lbs in the last 18months and have now kept it off for 4months. I did it without any supplements or costly things. I went online and googled a weight maintence calculator. I then put in my height and my ideal body weight. It then gave me the amount of calories I should eat each day to maintain that weight. The good part is by eating that amount of calories each day you will become that weight overtime. Then I kept track each day of how many calories I eat. I count everything from coffee to coffee creamer, etc… Exercising speeds the process by increasing muscle mass which burns a higher number of calories at rest. I found that the more “good” food choices I made the more food I could eat. Yeah I could eat the snickers (and some days I did) or I could eat a large salad. Good luck! You can do this!

  39. Stephanie says

    I’ve done Weight Watchers (and am currently doing it – 25 pounds to goal!). They have a $49/month plan where you can attend unlimited meetings and have access to eTools, which if you’re computer minded like I am are EXTREMELY helpful. Having accountability for me was key, and I was never good at losing weight on my own. I think the $49/month isn’t bad when you consider how much money you’ll save in the long run being at a healthy weight. Good luck in your journey!

  40. Jessica says

    I lost 35 lbs. after college over about 3 years while actually saving money. I started walking or biking a mile or two most nights after work and ate out less and less as time went on.
    I made decisions ahead of time – I wasn’t going to buy processed foods at the store – crackers, chips, cookies, etc. Also, I wouldn’t buy my beloved ice cream – at least not by the tubful to take home (there’s no one else to eat it here). I didn’t need a DQ Blizzard to de-stress after work. This saves alot of money!
    With those decisions made, I focused on eating more fruits and veggies. One of my favorites now is beefing up my spaghetti with lentils instead of meat. I also like “carrot chips” which are just sliced carrots sprinkled with Lowry’s seasoning salt, a little cayenne, cumin and whatever other spices sound good at the time and baked in the toaster oven.
    Don’t be afraid to take it slow!

    • Alexis says

      oooh carrot chips sound great! I’m trying to go gluten free and it’s very hard to find good, crunchy snacks. How thin do you slice your carrots?

  41. Kat says

    My fitness pal helped me lose a lot of weight. I use the app on my phone, but you can also use a computer for it. Good luck!

  42. Emma says

    Weight loss does not require an expensive program. Real exercise and proper eating is all you need. Proper eating can be more frugal than eating junk since you should be buying separate ingredients and actually making your own food, rather than buying pre-made, processed foods, which are more expensive options, generally. Invest in a good healthy cookbook and perhaps a personal trainer (every once and a while – to give you some pointers on how to improve your exercise regimen) rather than paying for special food/diet plans.

  43. says

    About the weightloss….I was / am in the same boat. A lot of weight to lose having gained 30kg in my first pregnancy and never really lost it (had 4 bubs in 5 years). I figure that I gained the weight slowly so I need to be okay with losing it slowly. You can get the weight off quicker using an expensive program but you can still lose weight by reducing portion sizes, getting active a few times a week, balancing your meals eating less sugar etc…You just have to be patient.

    Things I’ve found work..if I know that I’m going out for coffee and might have a cake then I just make sure my lunch or dinner that night is either small in portion or healthy like a small piece of meat and lots of veg. I don’t calorie count but I consider what I’m putting in my body and know that I have to eat less than the RDI of calories in order to lose weight. I weigh in once a week and go for a walk in the afternoon when my husband gets home from work a few times a week. I also make sure I put extra energy into things like vaccumming and mopping if I know I can’t get out for a walk. These are simple changes and yes, the weight comes off slowly…but I don’t feel like I’m on a diet and I’m not depriving myself off anything. I can have a piece of cake but just need to make sure I’m not then having hamburgers for dinner as well. I also take coconut oil daily as that can help when you have a slow metabolism or sluggish thyroid.

    • says

      Hi there!
      I would like to share my recent success in weight loss. I lost 18 pounds in 2.5 months. I first visited a nutritionist who suggested that with increased intake of fruits and vegetables and pure form of protein supplemented with half hour of brisk walking I can lose weight and do not need to join a gym.
      The principles that I follow are as follows : (some of the principles may not work for you or others since I am used to an Indian diet, but I think healthy food is healthy everywhere, so you can try to incorporate this)

      1. I never start my day with tea/coffee. I either have a fruit or cooked vegetables.
      2. Breakfast is again cooked vegetables. No potato. Vegetables are cooked in Indian way, home style cooking. No processed food or sauces added to it.
      3.Then when I am at work I take a big glass of homemade buttermilk. We usually make yogurt daily in India so buttermilk can be made fresh everyday.
      4. I keep on sipping hot/warm water through out the day. The key is to drink at least 3 litres of water.
      5. For lunch and snacks I have cooked vegetables, Salads mixed with yogurt or homemade dressing (no cheese , no high fat dressing) Keeping it simple and wholesome. I usually have Dal (Lentils and pulses) cooked at home on alternate days for proteins or 2-3 egg whites.
      6.I snack on fruits (avoiding banana, mango and grapes)
      7. Dinner is again freshly cooked veggies and salad.
      Walk : half hour minimum. I have a very demanding job but I still make sure it’s half an hour. I have given up on aerated drinks and eating out at the moment. I don’t have a sweet tooth so I am fine on that front.
      Eat small meals and after every 3 hours have something. I am avoiding carbs all together since I need to lose more 20 pounds before I conceive. My nutritionist says if you keep buttermilk,plenty of fruits and veggies/salads in your diet with protein, you will not need carbs. But you do need to eat A LOT of fruits and veggies with moderate proteins otherwise your health with go haywire. These are just guidelines and this has worked for me. I lost the weight without any fancy supplement. Trust me there are many such quacks in India who advocate skipping breakfast and having a protein shake instead. I laugh because our grandma’s (in any country) never had protein shakes but were in amazing health eating the right way!

  44. Heather Anne says

    I must admit that I’ve just skimmed the other comments (due to having a busy morning) but I wanted to encourage you that losing weight is possible without joining any program. The key is watching what you eat – both ingredients and portions. I joined http://www.sparkpeople.com which has a free food journal and helps you keep a proper proportion of things like fat, calories, protein, carbohydrates. They offer lots of inspiring ideas and recipes. And it doesn’t cost anything!!! :) Personally I have to watch how much I’m eating and when/why I’m eating. I notice I eat when I’m tired so adding just a little exercise and making sure I get rest, I do much better with eating only what my body needs for the tasks of the day. Buying “healthy foods” can seem like it is more expensive but really as you eat foods that are packed with nutrients, protein, etc…you actually need to eat less (due to empty calories). Small steps — try not to waste anything, borrow an exercise DVD from the library, start a food journal, drink more water…choose one step per week. Being healthy should be the goal!

  45. Melodie says

    Hi, just wanted to comment on the frugal weight loss. I have lost 15 lbs in a month by simply adding more beans into my diet. I find that I like to snack alot during the day and roasted beans make a great, low-fat snack that is filling and thus leads to me eating less of the fatty snacks. I searched online for sweet beans recipes and dessert beans recipes and found many recipes where the beans replace some or all of the fat. Also, adding beans to a soup or chili will cut down on the amount of high-fat, high-calorie meat needed to make it feel filling. With the wide variety of beans available and many recipes, I do not feel deprived at all and dried beans are very inexpensive. You just have to make sure to add them to you diet slowly, if you are not used to them, you may have some digestive issues at first, but these will go away as your body gets used to them.

  46. elaine says

    Barbara,
    I am so glad that you asked this question, but more importantly that so many readers responded.
    I am 56 and just completed my first year of grad school. I will be finished in May, 2013. Like you I have about 80 lbs to lose and keep worrying about it. It is time for action!

    All these ideas are wonderful and I am going to print them out so I can read and reread them.

    I wish you the best of luck with your degree and the weight loss!

  47. BJ says

    Thank you, Kristin, for posting my note for everyone to see, and than you, everyone, for your informative responses! You have left me with many good ideas and a lot of hope. Options bring hope! God Bless, Barbara.

  48. Erika says

    With regards to losing weight, I have to agree with a few commenters that Weight Watchers is really effective. If you don’t mind attending meetings, check out your health insurance plan to see if there are any discounts! My health insurance is through Blue Cross Blue Shield, and they reimburse $150/year for Weight Watchers (meetings, not online) and $150/year in gym costs. They tend to not advertise it very much, so you might have to look through your plan documents to see if it’s an available option.

    • Kris says

      I would like to add that I lost 60 pounds through Weight Watchers and August is my 5 year anniversary of keeping it off! It IS an initial expense. However, we eat out less and cook more at home and that has saved money–and it will save you money in the long run on healthcare costs. I love Weight Watchers because it is about REAL eating–not deprivation or special shakes–and because you can plan in your day to enjoy a treat.

      Exercise was a big part of my weight loss. I have found that if I exercise at least 5 days a week, I am more likely to stick with it. It’s too easy to make excuses when I only work out 2 or 3 days a week–I look at it this way; I wouldn’t skip brushing my teeth so I shouldn’t miss out on exercising!

  49. Lisa H says

    For Barbara who is worried about her weight. The biggest mistake most people make while trying to lose weight is that they “go on a diet” or “diet program”. Don’t think about this as trying to lose weight, think about it as changing how you eat. When you go on a diet you are only making temporary changes. It is easy to go back to old habits after the weight is off and …guess what?!!? The weight comes back too!!!
    You need to make changes in how you eat that you can do FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!! Keep water and peeled veges and apples in fridge for when you feel hungry. Eat food as real as it can be.. as little canned,preprocessed, prepackaged as you can!
    Drink water, drink water, drink water!!! Calories in what we drink add up FAST!! Being properly hydrated keeps your body functioning properly and helps it to get rid of toxins. Also a lot of times when we think we are hungry we are actually thirsty!
    Walk everywhere!! Park your car as far from the store/library/school as possible and walk a little farther! Leave the car at home and bike or walk. Take the stairs.
    All these easy (and free!) things add up to pounds!!
    Good Luck in school! Lisa

  50. says

    This is for Barbara. I had a 100 to lose and just kept losing the same 5-10 pounds over and over. I reviewed a book called the Blood Sugar Solution for my blog, and then decided I needed to try it as I have multiple health problems. It took me awhile to work up to it, but I’m so glad I did. I’ve begun to lose weight, but more importantly I feel so much beter after only a few weeks. I’m in this for the long haul.

    If you would like to read the first chapter, here’s the link. I have no connection with this book and do not accept pay for my reviews. I’m just a happy reader of this book.

    http://sunnyislandbreezes.com/?p=5203

  51. says

    Hey Barbara! Just wanted to throw something else in–we learned in a nutrition class that cutting out about 500 cal a day means you lose about 1 lb a week, and then adding exercise brings it to about 2 lbs a week for most people. More than that is supposedly too fast, so just make sure you give yourself time and don’t look for an over-night fix! (And don’t just go without food, switch to the good stuff like other people have said here.) A lot of the expensive, commercial diets don’t work in the long run (except weight watchers). Also, the HBO mini-series weight of the nation had some great ideas and some really super inspiring stories from people who talked about how they lost the weight and kept it off. http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com/ <–You can watch it for free!

    And… start a blog if you don't already have one? lol! Maybe if you do, you'll have people to help you stay on track! Or I'm sure there are other communities online out there.

    Good luck!!

  52. Erika says

    Hi Kristen,
    Not sure if I’m putting this in the right place, but hopefully my comment will make it to you anyway!

    I finally made it to Aldi yesterday! I was really impressed with the prices, and the store was really clean and bright, which made shopping so much more enjoyable. Just a few questions (and I think you may have addressed this earlier, but I couldn’t find the posts).

    1) What is up with all the packaging on the produce? The prices were great, but I was a little turned off by the amount of packaging. It seemed like everything was on a styrofoam tray and shrink-wrapped. Not only did it seem wasteful, but I also wasn’t all that happy that I couldn’t choose the amount of produce I could buy (for example, I couldn’t buy one tomato, I had to buy 3). Clearly this isn’t your problem :), but I was wondering if when you visited the headquarters if they addressed this question. I’m curious!

    2) Have you ever made up a list of recommended/not recommended items? I purchased a lot of different items just to give them a go, but I am wondering if you have any tips.

    Thanks!! :)

  53. Sharon Rowe says

    For Barbara,
    Try Sparkpeople.com. It is free and has all sorts of trackers and advice to help. There are also forums and other online support from other members. These two parts are similar to some of the help you would find from Weight Watchers or TOPS (Take off Pounds Sensibly.) As a matter of fact, TOPS is a non-profit group that is very reasonably priced (a few dollars a week when I belonged.) An exercise buddy is also a good thing to have for motivation.

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