(This cheesy 80s aerobics video will get you pumped!)
Lets face it, cultivating health can be REALLY expensive. Mind boggling, heart attack-inducing, paralysingly pricey. In fact so much so that sometimes it defeats its own purpose.
Fortunately with doctor google, a discerning eye, some cheesy videos and a bit of common sense there are ways to implement our own more affordable holistic health regime without breaking the bank.
On my journey of healing chronic gut pain, I’ve tried many different holistic health products and services, many of which were a great waste of money. However eventually I found the tools that did serve me, and now I live mainly without any pain. Naturally my mood is a lot brighter too when my physical health is good.
So here are 5 tools that helped me navigate the holistic health world on a tight budget… and some happen to be good for the planet too!
1. Find a holistic physician/ GP who has additional qualifications in nutrition (or who is at least knowledgeable/ interested in nutrition)
Seeing a medical doctor with a good understanding of nutrition is like receiving two services for the price of one. They might be a bit more expensive but overall it’s great value. I see an awesome integrative GP/nutritionist and her tips and advice on adjusting my diet reduces the risk of future ailments and potential pharma expenses down the track.
If you can’t afford such a practitioner consider writing a letter to your preferred health professional to explain your financial situation and offer to barter services, volunteer at the clinic or pay it forward later when you’re in a better position. I’ve don’t this a couple of times now and it worked out really well.
2. Only take vitamins if your dietary intake is inadequate, and if it is change your diet.
Many holistic doctors will encourage you to take supplements, which is fair enough since so many of us have inadequate diets and are too lazy to make changes. However, some doctors get huge commissions from vitamin companies and have a vested interest in pushing certain brands and regimes onto their patients. My doctor told me upfront she doesn’t take commissions and as such I find her advice more balanced and trustworthy in this area. Each to their own but supplements can be crazy expensive. I personally would rather prioritize my spending on better quality food.
There’s a disclaimer on many vitamin pill bottles which goes something like “vitamins may only be of assistance if your dietary intake is inadequate.”… so you have a choice here, you can either work towards a diet that IS adequate or take expensive supplements.
Having said that there are all sorts of arguments out there about why supplementation might be helpful/ necessary even when your diet is great. You can always give supplements a go and see if they help you, (they never helped me) but if you’d rather explore other options here are a few ways to “up your vitamin intake” naturally.
- Consider buying organic or biodynamic produce where soil enrichment practices are often implemented. If it taste good that’s a good sign that the produce is nutrient dense.
- If you can’t afford the above consider buying at least some things organic or growing your own veggies. Even just a few plants can make a huge difference.
- Eat veggies or salad for breakfast. Most people eat bland cereals for breakfast which aren’t particularly nutrient dense. I’ve grown to love eating a non-traditional breakfast such as tufu, nuts and veggies or fish and veggies with a liver cleansing Asian lemon dressing. Try it before you knock it, I swear it’s awesome!!
Intuitively most of us know that exercise is good for us. But if you need further convincing Google “scientific studies on exercise” and you can find endless research on the topic. Exercise is particularly awesome for mental health as it releases powerful feel good chemicals in the brain.
Exercise doesn’t need to be expensive. Simply walking, especially briskly or around hilly areas delivers great returns. I used to do Ashtanga hot yoga (at $17 per class) which was very challenging and used to hurt my knees for some reason. As hard as I tried I found it stretched me beyond my limits.
So I gave myself a more realistic challenge: if I could achieve simply walking most days for over a year then I was ready for hot yoga or something else more intense. And I did it .. one year of walking almost every day. After that year I found I really enjoyed walking and wanted to keep going with it..rather than going back to yoga. I also really enjoyed how it’s free! So to up the challenge from there I decided to continue walking and add aerobics videos to the mix (and an occasional $17 fitness class).
I got a cheesy workout DVD set from a thrift store (go captain planet!) , which I did religiously for 5 years! I even used to do the videos in the back yard with my housemates. We’d play a video on a lap top hooked up to speakers and get the benefits of the sun at the same time. It probably seemed a bit crazy to our neighbours but it was so cheesy fun!!! (weirdly the song “Let’s get physical” just came on in the cafe where I’m writing this.. ha love the timing!)
3. Go to student clinics for muscular skeletal or alternative therapy
Muscular skeletal therapies like osteopathy and massage can be $100 + per session! That’s more than my food budget for the whole week. You can often find student clinics housed within universities which offer these services and much lower rates. For example, I went to a student Osteopathy clinic when I sprained my ankle earlier in the year and it cost $20 for a session.
You get a 4th year student supervised by an experienced clinician/ teacher. They always come in to check what’s going on and make sure the therapy is correct. These guys have literally saved the day for me a number of times over the years.
4. Explore free meditation online or at buddhist centres
There is growing scientific research demonstrating the benefits of meditation. Yesterday I posted a few introductory videos on the benefits, which offer a good place to start if you’ve never tried it before.
Mindfulness meditation is the term you will hear most often as it’s found its way into standard psychological therapy. I’ve really enjoyed Jon Kabat-Zinn’s guided sessions such as this body scan.
If you prefer to go somewhere and mediate with a group of people there are often free or low cost sessions at community centres, buddhist centres or temples. Be careful of cults though, some groups might appear like traditional religious centres but are actually destructive cults. If in doubt look them up on the Cult Education Institute forum to see what other people are saying or enter at your own risk!
5. Channel your own health guru then write a contract to yourself… and sign it!
Many of us already know what we need to do to achieve better health. We all have an inner health guru that’s loaded with sound advice. Much of it is common sense, such as the ideas explored above but often we don’t actually DO what we know will help.
For me I sometimes think I won’t stick to a goal and get sucked into pessimistic ideas based on previous failures. To overcome this I created a note book where I list a goal/ intention and then if I achieve it later I write about it on the opposite page. This reminds me, every time I set an intention that I have previously succeeded many times before.
I have also found the simple process of writing a contract to myself and signing it quite helpful. Some people suggest making yourself accountable to others such as publicly announcing a goal and asking others to hold you to it. If you can find people who truly will hold you accountable then great but I have found this process backfired when people were a bit half assed about checking in and seeing if I actually was doing what I set out to. At the end of the day you’ve got to find that spirit within that wants you to succeed and be accountable to it. (note to self!)
If you’ve read this far then well done! I hope some of it has been helpful and wish you the best of luck on your health journey 🙂