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Living Well

Real Money: New year, no gym membership

It's no surprise that in the first few weeks of January, the gym's packed and there's no lettuce left at the supermarket. While having a "get healthy" new year's resolution is great, a $50-per-month, 5-day-a-week gym membership doesn't always fit nicely into a busy life schedule. That's why I came up with an alternative.

Welcome to my "I don't need a gym to work out" workout.

(Please Note: I don't have a Ph.D. or an M.D., and can't tell you how to work out. But I also don't have a gym membership card -- this is just what works for me. Maybe it can help you, too!)

Find your own "I workout and don't go to a gym" lifestyle

If you're a busy mom of three, a full-time student, or crunching the numbers at your 9-5 (actually, 9-9), finding time to go to the gym can be tough. That's why I have what I call, "The Apartment Hustle."

I live in a small city apartment (and work in Manhattan) so there's never time to do much because of long commutes. So, I started doing lunges on my way down the hall, sneaking in a few sit-ups while my next Netflix episode loads and even running (yes running) up the stairs to the apartment. It's everything you could want in a workout without having to go to the gym and work out.

However, once I'm done with the Apartment Hustle, I need a bit of recovery (because I'm actually a retired and very injured athlete at 21-years old). So, when it comes time to make sure I'm feeling A-OK, Paincakes are pretty great. These little ice packs stick to you for optimal recovery and you can just pop them back in the freezer for the next time you run up the stairs a little too hard and sprain your ankle.

(Not like I've ever done that.)

Healthy doesn't always mean gym membership

An intense, sweat-inducing workout can feel good, but it's not always about the physical. You may look good but it's about the mental part, too. Whenever I'm not feeling up to a 10-minute sit-up routine, I'll go for a long walk, break out the skateboard, or even play soccer (hence the retired athlete).

Finding a hobby to do can help make the "getting healthy" lifestyle a bit easier. You can get the exercise you want while still doing something other than lunging your way to the bathroom just to get toned legs.

(Shameless plug: We know just the place to get some pain relief if your activity gets a little intense.)

Check out these gadgets

With technology today, there are so many apps to use when you're working out (or to remind you when you're not). It really pushes me to stay on top of my workout (only because the notification won't go away). There are apps you can set up to remind you, apps that keep track of your heart rate, and even apps that track your workout if you run or take a certain number of steps per day.

If the hi-tech apps aren't up your alley, we have other products to keep you in the hi-tech-healthy circle. We have smart blood pressure monitors, TENS units, and a bunch of other connected pain-relief products, so getting healthy can be a tech lovers paradise, too!

Here's to a great year

Maybe it's a little late in January to still be saying, "happy new year," but I'm going to do it anyway. Even though some of those resolutions might be on the back burner already, it's not too late to set new ones.

If you're sold on my Apartment Hustle workout, it's available for the low price of $50 a month (just kidding). But, you can get the best workout and healthy lifestyle no matter what gym you go to, or what at-home substitutes you decide to take on.

It's all about doing what makes your body feel good and if the pain or injuries you thought were gone three years ago (oops, that's me too) we're here for the pain relief you need.

Athlete essentials

Living Well

Real Money: Making sure I get more from my wellness program

Discounts rock - I get a kickback for participating in a wellness program my health insurance company provides me. But that's not why I'm doing it. Sure, I get to save a bit of cash, but the benefits go way farther than that.

Fully participating in my wellness program has helped me focus on what really matters the most.

It's about the family

Yeah, it sounds cheesy but it's oh-so-true - I want to be around for my family.

As my husband and I were helping our toddler practice what he learned from his swimming lessons over the weekend, I was struck with a huge wave of gratitude. As in, I was healthy enough to sit in a pool for over an hour with a very (and I mean very) enthusiastic toddler kicking and waving his arms around.

I was also grateful for the fact that my husband was also there sharing laughs the whole time. It's a simple but fundamental reason why I work so hard. To be there for moments like these.

So yes, it may seem like a simple wellness program. However, if I can sign up for something that provides me with an incentive to be healthier, I have a higher chance of seeing a lot more moments like these.

Productivity ... FTW

Making sure I get more from my wellness program also helps me earn more money. As in, if I'm sick, I don't earn any money.

Yes, employers do give you sick days, but I'm a small business owner. I do give myself time to rest but if I'm not actively working, I don't get paid. That means being as healthy as possible affects my bottom line.

Besides, when I'm well rested and energetic, I can work much more productively. Meaning, if I do need to take time off, I can do so without guilt because it won't take too much effort to catch up.

Learning to listen to my body

Getting regular checkups is essential as it helps me train to listen to my body. It offers me an opportunity to ask my doctor on any health related concerns and fix any issues before it becomes a larger health concern.

For example, a few years ago I went through a really stressful time, both mentally and physically. During this period I ignored my body which I completely regret. Had I learned to slow down and listen to my body, I could have healed a lot faster.

Now, I've taken advantage of things like free classes, counselling and gym membership discounts so that I can take care of my body, I understand my body a lot better. I can tell a lot sooner if I'm feeling worn out, so that I can take some time for self-care.

Frankly, owning a business and raising a family is a lot of work and I feel like I can be a lot more present for both my husband and son when I'm healthy.

So while you may want to dismiss the wellness program your employer or health insurance company provides, remember it's more than that discount. The habits and routines you learn will help you live a richer life - inside and out.

Whether you budget week-to-week, or plan to use your FSA for bigger things, our weekly Real Money column will help you maximize your flex spending dollars. Look for it every Tuesday, exclusively on the Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.