It felt as though I had landed in some sort of sick and twisted funhouse. And for the record, it wasn’t really that fun. As I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, the woman looking back at me wasn’t who I expected her to be. She looked old, tired, and I’ll just say it – overweight. What happened to me? Again?!

It didn’t seem fair. Hadn’t life thrown me enough curve balls to take out even the best home run hitter? When would the ups and downs of my life finally level off to some sort of even playing field? One that wouldn’t send me into another tailspin of self-loathing because yet again, I didn’t fit in with the pretty gals who seemed to have self-confidence that reached all the way to the moon. Worse yet, I didn’t fit in my clothes any longer either.

Living on a budget meant there wasn’t a whole lot of wiggle room to buy new clothes – even if they were just “new to me” from a thrift or consignment store. And there wasn’t room to buy a gym membership or a fancy diet that would run hundreds of dollars a month in “special” food. Nope, this time my tailspin of stress eating had landed me 25 pounds heavier than I was just six months ago, and I had to find a way out on the cheap.

So I searched and searched, hoping to find something (really almost anything) that would do the trick with my meager budget.

First, there was the inspiring exercise article that told me: suck your stomach in for 20 seconds as you hold your breath then relax and repeat for a total of 30 times in a set, completing five sets a day. This article boldly stated that I could even do this while I sat at my desk and worked. In my mind I thought, “This is exactly what I need, and it fits in my schedule.” Not to mention that it was easy peasy and totally within my budget. Well to my sheer and utter joy, one of my co-workers happened to walk by as I was sucking in my gut and holding my breath and proceeded to ask me if there was something wrong (my face must have been the color of a sugar beet). With a quick and full exhale and an even brighter redness in my face (embarrassment can do that to some people) I said no and quickly decided that this specific exercise would have to take its place in the annals of history as a bust – well at least it was a bust for me.

Then I remembered something I saw at last year’s Minnesota State Fair. It was a re-make (the new and improved version) of the vibrating-belt-belly-fat-shaker-weight loss-for-the-lazy (or incredibly wealthy) machine that would, while I stood there doing absolutely nothing, shake the fat from my body. Where the fat would go, I really didn’t care. But, the phrase “no pain, no gain” echoed in my brain over and over again and while it was easy and enticing, I decided to avoid yet another humiliation by not even googling the contraption.

A few weeks later my sister introduced me to a nutrition plan she thought might help me out. Since it was my sister, my own flesh and blood family, I decided to give it a whirl because she of all people, would never lead me astray or down the path of humiliation. Although I agreed to try it (okay, I was still very reluctant), I couldn’t help but think that I would either be starving from some sort of food deficiency, or I’d go to the poor house as I bought into it.

Oddly enough, I lost 20 pounds in short period of time and neither of those negative things happened. While I’ll spare you the sales pitch for the company, I do want to share some easy (and free) things you can do as you dump your diet, become healthier and still lose weight:

  •        Avoid refined sugars. They’re everywhere!
  •        Don’t add extra salt to your diet – it’s not good for your weight or your heart.
  •        Don’t drink diet sodas – they’re worse for you than regular sodas.
  •        Drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This is huge and will help flush out some of the bad stuff that sneaks in when we eat processed foods
  •        Watch your portions. You can still eat many of the foods you love, but in the right portions!
  •        Walk, jog or run. I started with walking around the block daily and upped the ante by doing it during my breaks at work (and no one saw me holding my breath while I did this). I also began using a device to track my steps (you can download free apps on your phone for this) and made a goal to walk 10,000 steps in a day. Now THAT was a lot easier than I thought it would be!

So, if you want to drop a few pounds on the cheap give the above a whirl for just thirty days. It’s free, it’s healthy, and you don’t have to hold your breath until you’re red in the face. I promise!