The Expense of Being Healthy
The reason so many people are unhealthy isn’t a lack of knowledge. For many, it isn’t even a lack of motivation. For many, the reason that getting healthy feels so unattainable is just how expensive doing things the healthy way can be.
Think about it. Fresh produce costs easily three times as much per pound as the frozen or canned versions of the same fruits and vegetables. Workout gear and gym membership prices are astronomical and, even with so much effort into making healthcare more affordable, seeing a doctor can cost as much as a month’s pay (if not more) after all of the tests, office visits, and prescriptions are paid for.
It’s difficult to justify these expenses if you don’t feel like you’re sick or like you’re out of shape. According to the Huffington Post, a person can save more than $500 per year choosing the cheaper and less healthy varieties of foods. The problem is that most of the time, problems develop very slowly. Nobody has a heart attack out of nowhere. The body gets worse and worse until a heart attack (or some other huge problem) is the only thing that can happen. And trust us when we tell you, treating a major problem is going to cost far more than it would have cost you to work steadily at your health over time. Plus, is it really worth it some day be wealthy without being healthy enough to enjoy it?
It’s also worth noting that the chemicals used to preserve those less healthy foods are one of the biggest exacerbators of health issues. So, in effect, you are literally making yourself sicker and costing yourself money in future medical and recovery expenses by going to “cheap” route now. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but very true all the same!
This doesn’t mean that we don’t feel your pain. It’s difficult to pay more than you think you can afford now in an effort to help yourself later. For example, converting your standard “chair in a cube” work environment to a standing desk is better for your overall health and Investing in standing desks is more cost efficient than paying for physical therapy to correct that permanent slouch you’ve developed from sitting all day.
Still, even though you know it isn’t a huge investment, when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, coming up with $1400 for a desk seems daunting. But $1400, when you compare it to the nearly $40,000 it costs to cover the expenses for treating a cardiac event, doesn’t feel like such a big deal does it? Especially, since you can save up over time for a proper standing desk while using crates and stands on top of your existing desk in the meantime. Or, even better, ask your employer to cover the cost for you!
It is also worth noting that the most expensive options do not always have to be the ones you choose when you decide to get healthy. It seems contradictory but, while buying the least expensive food and health options often leads to worse health overall, buying the most expensive options does not necessarily guarantee you the best health. A lot of the times, that added expense is to pay for branding, not nutrients or quality.
So how do you tell the difference? How do you get healthy without falling for branding or bankrupting yourself?
This is particularly important when changing your eating habits or starting a new workout routine. There are some who believe that, in addition to expense, one reason that switching to a healthy diet is so difficult is that people are conditioned to like the cheaper stuff! So the better for you healthy stuff tastes strange or even bad the first few times someone eats it. That said, by changing out parts of your diet for healthier ingredients slowly over time can make the transition easier and eventually your taste will switch too.
The same is true with a workout routine. You’re not going to go from arm chair quarterback to running a marathon overnight. Build up your strength and stamina over time, through programs like couch to 5k, etc.
Use What You Have
You don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment to cook healthy meals and you don’t need an expensive gym membership or the fanciest workout gear to get in shape. Use what you have on you! Use your current cookware and, as they wears out, replace them with a better (and, yes, typically more expensive) models that will last longer. For working out, you’ll need some really good shoes. Beyond that, your existing sweats or a t-shirt and shorts will do just fine for now.
Instead of trying to find a cheap gym, use one of the hundreds of workout and training apps that are available to help you get into shape in the comfort of your own home (or local park). We’ve already mentioned Couch to 5k. The Gorilla Workout is another popular option.
Remember: spending money now to literally save money and live longer later isn’t a silly thing to do. It’s a worthy expense!