Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How To Make Your Health Dollar Go Further

I have a friend who regularly reminds me that if you jump off the top of an 80-story building, for 79 storys you can actually think you’re flying. It’s the sudden stop at the end that gets you. When I think of the financial boom, bubble and bust the US has just gone through, I often think about that image. We thought we were flying. Well, we just met the sudden stop at the end. The law of gravity, it turns out, still applies.

This was actually an introduction to an article in last week’s Age, written by journalist Thomas Friedman, but I just had to use it - quite the vivid picture, I thought!. If you live in the civilised world, the chances are high that the financial crisis has affected you. Maybe you’re lucky and it hasn’t hit you in the wallet, but it has to have made some impact, if just that you’ve been forced to listen to every armchair expert pontificate on reasons and outcomes for the situation at hand.

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones and your career, finances and plans are not dependent on current financial climate, and the only impact for you is a drop to your mortgage payments. But for many people, things are suddenly looking tight. Scary, even. And – regardless of promises that Australia will not enter a recession – it’s no surprise that many of us are suddenly paying closer attention to our outgoings.

So I thought now would be a good time to look at ways to flip things. To find the positive side of being forced to tighten the purse-strings. And to just share with you some great tips for making your health dollar go further regardless of what’s going on in the world. I think we can all agree that it’s always nice to save money, whether or not you actually need to. And if you want the 79-story-drop rush then you could even go ahead and re-invest the dollars you saved back into the share market! (No, that’s not part of my advice!)

Four Ways To Make Your Health Dollar Go Further

1. Buy Better Quality, And Cheaper

Did you know that the average fresh grocery spend at a market is between 30 and 40% lower than what you’d shell out at your suburban supermarket and is often half the price of shopping at express stores within the CBD? Plus, market food is fresher and there’s lots of interesting things you’d never find on the tired old shelves of the supermarket. Kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it? Going to the market can be more time consuming than running into the city IGA (mind you, how many times each week do you have to run out for last-minute groceries?), so why not turn it into a planned weekly excursion and have some fun with it. I’d suggest doing your weekly shop in one big hit, but if you’re up for a challenge then grab a friend, a sibling, or a handy neighbourhood kid (good for bag-carrying!) and set yourself a $15 budget each. The goal is to buy enough food for a delicious and tasty meal for two – see who can come up with the most interesting mix. Remember to arrive early for the freshest produce and greater selection, or at least check on the internet for closing time – most markets start winding down around 2pm.

2. Hit The Factory Outlets For The Latest Gym Gear
When it comes to non-Yoga exercise, even if it's just a simple walk down the street, costs can add up. The average retail cost of a pair of sneakers is around $180, but you’re paying top dollar to walk into that conveniently located city store. Find the factory outlets in your area (google it) and you can save up to 70% on your sports shoes. Same goes for gym gear. And I’m not talking about dodgy 80’s lycra jobs, factory outlets carry quality brand-name gear that is usually only one season out of fashion. Fact is, it doesn’t really matter what you clothe your bod in whilst exercising – Target leggings and your Dad’s old t-shirt are fine, but a good pair of sneakers is hard to beat. So why not shop smart – head down to Foot Locker or Rebel for a fitting, note down your preferred brand and style and then make the effort to hit the outlets on the weekend. Definitely worth the effort!

3. Invest In Wellness Not Sickness
Did you know that in 1998 Americans spent one trillion dollars on doctor and hospital care? And a further one point three trillion dollars on prescription medicine?! It’s fair to say that countries like Australia and the UK are proportionally similar to this. So how much of this horrifying expenditure is coming out of your pocket? And – more scary still – how much could you have prevented by taking preventative measures to preserve your wellness and quality of life? I’ve always thought that if you don’t spend the money on your health now, you will be forced to spend it on your sickness later. I know which I’d rather do. Especially when the reality is that sickness can cost a heck of a lot more than wellness. Don’t gamble with your health – in this case the obvious bet really is the best bet.

4. Challenge Yourself To Achieve Exceptional Stress-Handling Fitness
We all know that increased fitness helps us to handle stress. But how often do you truly think about and apply that information? Avoid the temptation to throw it all in and hide in the jungle with your hands over your eyes by actually making use of the dollars you are already spending on your health. Hit the Bikram studio three times a week (or more) – regardless of whether your work/financial world is falling down around you. Commit to maintaining your healthy eating plan despite the fact that colleagues are drowning their sorrows in creamy bowls of pasta. Get up early, focus on the positive, dance around in your living-room while singing into the vacuum head (okay, that’s just me) but basically do whatever it takes to remind yourself that this is your life, and that despite what’s going on in the world, in fact in spite of it, that the choice to be healthy, fit and vibrant is yours. And that now is definitely not the time to waste that Yoga membership or single-handedly fund your local pastry store’s Christmas party.

Remember –

Not just Food for Yoga. Food for Life.


*Do you have any tips for making your health dollar go further? Please share in the comments section!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What's Clogging Your Pipes

According to foodmatters.tv (now that’s a fascinating documentary - definitely worth purchasing the DVD):

‘A physician from Berlin, whose life work was performing autopsies, stated that 60 per cent of all the corpses he worked on contained worms and putrefied faeces in the alimentary canal. He further stated that in nearly all cases the intestines and colon were also lined with a crust of hardened faeces, making it evident that these organs had degenerated to a state of utter inefficiency.’

The article goes on to detail a fairly vivid and stomach-turning picture of your innards. Yes, I am talking about you. And - according to autopsy physician’s - that’s even if you drop the kids off at the pool daily.

This fascinating piece (please don’t read it while eating) concludes with a quick sales pitch for a colonic cleanse program. Personally, I haven’t tried this brand. But I do have a few tips of my own for cleaning up your dirtiest parts:

  • Drinking plenty of water is a start, but our tap water is purified, and this kills off important minerals. Add a pinch or two of organic sea salt to your water. A quality brand, such as Himalayan Sea Salts (any organic brand is fine), will add over 85 vital nutrients back into your body. This will aid all bodily functions, digestion in particular.
  • Practise Bikram Yoga regularly. As I'm sure you've already heard, the postures we practice in Bikram not only help us feel amazing both mentally and physically, but also enable our bodies to perform digestive and other functions more effectively.
  • Follow the 80/20 rule: Eat quality, non-processed, preferably organic foods 80% of the time, and keep the nasties to a minimum of 20% or less. The big offenders are caffeine, sugar, refined wheat products, and alcohol.
  • Consider implementing some sort of detox or cleanse at least once a year. This could be as simple as eating 100% organic food and avoiding all nasties. Personally, I’m a new but raving fan of the Isagenix 30-day cleanse. The products are organically based, contain quality proteins, fats and carbs (a balanced meal), I love the taste, they work out at less than $7 per meal, and they’re hugely convenient in my busy life.
Food for Yoga. It's Food for Life