New Years is a time of rebirth -- little surprise, then, that so many people choose it as a time for trying to build themselves a new body, either through exercise or dieting. Unfortunately, even the best intentions have a hard time surviving the January freeze, and many people abandon their fitness routines before February.
If you're looking for some assistance on your journey to better health -- inexpensive assistance, of course, because so many of us have resolved to get our finances in shape, too -- here are a few smart, low-cost items that can help you get on track to a new body in the new year!
1. Track Your Progress with MyFitnessPal.
Fitness fads come and go, but most experts agree that the secret to getting fit is actually pretty simple: to lose weight, most people need to eat less and work out more. But, when it comes to actually tracking your food intake and exercise, things can get pretty complicated.
There are a host of websites and apps to help you with this, but my personal favorite is MyFitnessPal. It's free, it has most common foods pre-loaded into its database, and it's easy to add your own favorites. With minimal effort, you can input your goals, get the program's estimate of the number of calories you should be consuming, and start tracking your weight-loss progress.
2. Set a Goal with Couch to 5K.
Whether you plan to run your first marathon or just want to walk around the block every day, the first step is setting a goal. Choose something that is attainable, yet ambitious, the kind of aspiration that will push you to achieve, without making you feel overwhelmed. MyFitnessPal encourages users to set themselves a target weight, and other apps -- like the Couch to 5K program -- are designed to help you realize your goals. And the best part about setting a goal? It's free.
3. Try Resistance Bands.
When it comes to working out, the best route is probably a gym membership. The trouble is, memberships can be expensive, and studies have shown that 4 out of 5 people who have gym memberships don't actually use them. If you're interested in doing more exercise, but aren't sure that you're going to be able to commit to hitting the gym at least a few times a week, you might consider boosting the effectiveness of your at-home workouts with a set of $5 resistance bands.
4. Spring for Dumbbells.
For that matter, a set of cheap dumbbells can add a lot more power to your workout, be it a half-hour aerobic routine or a walk around the block. And, at $3 and up, they're far less expensive than a gym membership or a Bowflex.
5. Switch to Green Tea.
Experts agree that green tea is one of the most useful nutritional supplements when it comes to losing body fat. The recommended amount is the equivalent of nine cups per day, which explains why many people take their tea in pill form. But if you're up for going the tasty and natural route, prices start at $2 for twenty tea bags.
6. Give Ginseng a Go.
When it comes to performance-boosting supplements, the go-to ingredient is usually caffeine. If you're interested in something a little different, you might want to try ginseng. While it has been used for centuries as a natural remedy in Asia, contemporary studies have shown that, among other benefits, the herb can boost muscle endurance, aid in muscle recovery, and support the immune system. Ginseng tea is available at numerous health stores, and ginseng energy shots cost a little over $2 apiece.
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Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.