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The Coupon Lady: Saving money, getting healthy

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On June 1, I decided I wanted to get healthier and began a new diet plan. We’ve also been trying to declutter our monthly expenses to meet some new financial goals.

So even though I have recently buckled down on a healthy lifestyle, I had to really look at the expenses involved with getting healthy and decide what was necessary and what was not.

First, we made a hard decision to stop our gym membership. Before we moved to Evans, we lived only 5 miles from the nearest location, but now it takes me 20 to 30 minutes of driving, depending on which one I want to go to. With my odd schedule, I was having difficulty making the time for it. Most of my free time now comes late at night after the kids are asleep.

Instead of paying the monthly gym membership fee, I was able to find a gently used elliptical machine for $40 on Craigslist. I use it instead.

I also like to walk with the kids or while they ride their bicycles around the neighborhood.

I also pulled out a couple of cardio DVDs and weights out of storage and started using them again. We decided to buy the kids a swing set that can go into our backyard. We are looking forward to adding these healthy activities to our lives in place of the gym membership.

In the past I have done well with Weight Watchers. But the program costs around $40 a month and doesn’t include food. The program is pretty easy because you can eat anything as long as you know the points values; you don’t have to make yourself a different meal from the rest of the family. However, the program changes the values every few years, so you have to buy new books and materials.

Instead of rejoining, I looked at why the system worked for me. The secret of my past success in the program was the fact that I had to keep a food journal. Instead of writing down points, I decided to make a food journal and track calories. So I decided to look around for something that would help me.

As you might already know, I’m a bit of a technical geek. For my birthday, my husband bought me a refurbished Kindle Fire in a clearance sale and it’s one of my most treasured items.

I found an app for it called My Fitness Pal. The app is available for Apple, Android and Kindle platforms. My Fitness Pal has a huge database of searchable food items, and you can even calculate your daily and weekly intake of fats, proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins.

By using the planner on my computer, phone and Kindle to track my intake, I lost 33 pounds in three months.

We all know that eating healthy can be a challenge. When I began, I mainly purchased lots of diet convenience foods when they went on sale. However, as I was tracking my daily intake, I noticed my daily sodium levels were way over daily goals, so I decided to include more fresh vegetables into my diet plan and reduce processed foods.

In order to keep those expenses down, I follow the EPA guidelines for purchasing vegetables, choosing organic varieties only of those that are most affected by pesticides. I also concentrate on buying seasonal veggies while they are on sale.

I’ve gotten more familiar with Earthfare. If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up online for e-mails to get access to their weekly freebie. Last week was a free pound of organic apples with a $5 purchase.

Also, they have a separate text coupon available. Text “EAT” to 71700 to get a weekly coupon sent to your phone. A recent text was for 20 percent off your bulk foods purchase. I consider the bulk foods (flours, grains, beans, nuts, spices, coffee, etc.) one of the best values at Earthfare.

While you are at the store, look around for coupon booklets that are usually at the entryway or the customer service desk. You can apply couponing to eating healthy!


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