How much are you spending to lose weight?
Although you might think eating less would surely be cheaper, most dieters end up spending a shocking amount on special foods, magazines, weight-loss club subscriptions, gym membership and more. The “dieting industry” turns over billions of pounds and dollars every year.
Here’s a few statistics for you:
- Americans spend $40 billion a year on weight-loss programs and products.
- The total value of the UK diet industry was valued at over £10 billion in 2003.
- Failed slimmers in the UK (people who had made a new years resolution and not managed it) surveyed by Norwich Union Healthcare had spent £335 million during their attempts to lose weight.
I find it a bit worrying that so many businesses have a monetary investment in keeping us fat. Because, ultimately, the dieting industry needs people to be dieting! And by the time you have successfully lost weight, you may well feel reliant on your weight loss club, gym or magazine subscriptions to help you stay thin …
If you want to opt out, or at least reduce your dependency on the big dieting companies, here are a few tips.
Join a council or college gym
It’s often a lot cheaper to join a community or council run gym than a big name one. For example, my Virgin Active gym membership cost £40/month off-peak, whereas my council gym membership was under £30/month (for full membership, including use of a pool). I’ve just enrolled on a part-time postgraduate creative writing MA at Goldsmiths College, and prices for the gym there start at £15/month – and it’s open to members of the public, not just students.
A local gym often won’t have the snazzy equipment or the little extra freebies that a swankier place offers, but you’ll be supporting your community and helping to keep the gym open for those who can’t afford to go elsewhere.
Read blogs, not magazines
Have you bought a diet, health or slimming-related magazine this month? I used to get through several every month, adding up to around £10-£15 total. I loved the inspiring stories of people’s dieting or fitness success, the informative articles, the “tried and tested” products that alerted me to new goodies on the market … but eventually I realised that after you’ve read a few of these magazines, they’re all pretty much the same. I rarely went back to re-read them, or used any of the diet plans.
Instead of buying magazines, I switched to reading online blogs and newspaper supplements for free. There’s loads of stuff out there, but some of my favourites (in no particular order) are:
- The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl (for inspiration)
- Cranky Fitness (humour and a sceptical look at the latest studies)
- Limes and Lycopene (nutrition and well-researched information)
- Diet Blog (all round advice, tips and a look at dieting-related news)
- Weight Loss Resources has monthly articles and product reviews that are available to non-members.
- The Times Health is free to read, and has a mixture of news and features
- The Guardian Health & wellbeing is similar, though leans more towards features than news.
Switch to own-brand “lite” ranges
If you buy “low-fat” or “light” products, avoid ranges like Weight Watchers’ if you want to save money. All supermarkets in the UK have their own “light” range – Be Good to Yourself for Sainsbury’s, Count on Us for Marks & Spencer, Healthy Living for Tesco and so on. These often come in at a few pence more than the regular versions, but they’ll be a lot cheaper than a branded variety.
For example, at Sainsbury’s, Weight Watchers’ light cream cheese costs £1.24 for 200g, whereas their Be Good to Yourself version costs £0.94 for 300g.
Never buy weight loss pills or drugs
As well as being potentially harmful, dubiously (if at all) effective and hardly encouraging of healthy eating habits, weight loss pills and drugs are horrifically expensive.
Unless you’ve been prescribed medicine by your doctor, don’t ever waste your money on a quick-fix drug – no matter how many happy testimonials are listed, or how much “scientific proof” is offered.
Don’t waste your money
You don’t need magazines, special foods, expensive health club membership or dangerous drugs. Losing weight is straightforward: you can find out everything you need to know for $5 (until the end of today!) in my Dieting Basics ebook (if you’re feeling really strapped for cash, at least get the free sample!)
(Image above by quinn.anya.)