As I was reviewing the comments and feedback, I realised that my post was underdeveloped for the most part and too long for reading. With that, I decided rather than writing in all 5 categories in each week with a shallow perspective, I will zoom in on one of the 5 categories and attempt to be more extensive in developing my thoughts.
When I first started school at Yale-NUS in Singapore after National Service, I told myself that I will become fit and fab without all of the flab. Yet, the common sayings of how being fit and paying for your groceries are expensive. Coupled with the supplements that you have to buy, I thought I was sure to go broke.
And then, there is the pervasive culture of FOMO (fear of missing out), where everyone is always partying and it feels like if you don’t go, you are missing out. But if you go, you will lose out on your gains or money.
1. Take up a Campus Job
I signed up to be a student associate for Athletics, cleaning up the gym and Multi-purpose hall after hours. Apply to be student tech support, a student librarian or student admin support. The administration will definitely not overwhelm you with an unreasonable amount of work because they understand that you are a student. The campus jobs pay relatively well and will definitely help supplement your expenses throughout college. Trust me, the money you accumulate in doing these supposedly menial jobs add up and definitely help you cope with your expenses.
2. Eat well in your Campus dining hall
While it is tempting to eat out and gorge yourself with pizza and doughnuts, resist it so that you can avoid adding inches to your waistline. I recommend eating at your college dining hall, because not only is it oft-included in your college fees. There are probably tonnes of healthy options ranging from healthy salads to satiating meats. This fattens your wallet and definitely help you lose inches off your tummy.
Here are some hacks I personally employ for to maximise gains and clean-eating while having a more flexible diet.
- Eat a copious amount of vegetables (raw lettuces are extremely low in calories and add volume to your stomach)
- Couple that with some good old chicken breast and add a tinge of mustard to go along with it. That is one low calorie and delicious serving of amazing micronutrients.
Only when I have finished at least a whole bowl of salad, then am I allowed to eat more. What this does is that it limits my capacity to consume calorically dense food.
Basically, if I ate a whole salad already, my finite stomach cannot fit too much in!
3. Prepare your grocery list
This has helped me tremendously over the summer breaks because I shop with a clear goal in mind and not buy junk food I do not need. This helps especially in the case that you do not live on campus (as many of my friends do, living in their own apartments or at home) This makes it much more difficult for you to buy junk on impulse because you already have a game plan you have to execute. Furthermore, clean healthy wholefoods and low-calorie snacks are actually relatively cheap in the supermarket which can actually save you, even more, money compared to processed and high-calorie food in the frozen aisle section.
Pro tip: If you are buying food to prepare for your meal on the very same day, go ahead and check out the reduced to clear section, where fruits/veggies and on good occasions, meat are reduced to clear. Very often these foods are still relatively fresh, just make sure you check the quality of these goods prior to purchase.
4. Save on Supplementation
I was once the lad that chugged on supplements every other day without an emphasis on my diet. They were big ticket items that would cost me more than $100 with each purchase. Yet, I did not see any gains or improvements. Conversely, once I started to focus on eating right wholesome foods, I saw myself losing weight and becoming stronger. These supplements are meant to complement your clean and functional diet, and not substitute nutrition. So, if you are looking to save cash, you do not need to buy supplements, focus on eating good food!
Pro Tip: if you are really desperate for supplements, what I suggest you do is wait out for warehouse sales when the supplement stores seek to clear inventory. They usually offer really good discounts, some up to 90%. Avoid going to flagship stores like GNC which charge really expensively with a limited range of supplements.
5.Scrooge on gym memberships
I found out that gym memberships can be really expensive and monthly subscription fees can burn a huge hole in my pocket. Thus, I decided to make a commitment to use my school’s gym through the semester and during the summer as well (even when I was interning). I would say milk your tuition fees by working out at your school’s gym. As long as the gym has dumbbells, barbells and weight plates, that is more than enough for you. Once in a while, replace weightlifting with going for a run outside (free too!).
Pro Tip: Calisthenics have become a global trend recently with its focus on complex variations of simple bodyweight movements and the extensive use of a pull-up bar. These exercises aim at strength, mobility and flexibility while giving you a good physique. This is perfect for anyone who does not have access to gyms because this is available at nearby fitness corners in your neighbourhood.
One of the more popular YouTube pages is THENX, which covers bodyweight workouts in-depth helping novices understand and master these workouts.
6.Make Google your coach
When I started out, I was confused and lost, because there are all these weights yet I have no idea on what to do. While most people would consider hiring a personal trainer or spending money on paid programs, I knew I was trying to save money! So, In doubt, I did what I could only do Google. I found out that not only does the internet have an ocean’s worth of information on nutrition and exercise. It also has sample workout plans catered for beginners to expert level, ranging from powerlifting, CrossFit to bodybuilding. So, when you need help with getting workouts, try googling buzzwords like “6-week workout plan”, “muscle building workouts“ etc, they will definitely help you build muscle while saving precious dollars!
Pro-tip: Bodybuilding.com has a wide range of workout and nutrition plans that come free which are perfect for beginners. Based on your goals of either putting on muscle mass or losing fat, these customised programs not only have detailed workout videos to guide you through, they also allow you to track your training progress. What I recommend as well is understand your gym and learn to substitute exercises when the equipment listed in the video is unavailable in your gym.z
Here are some of my favourite programs that I have embarked over the years:
Steve Cook’s Big Man on Campus
Kris Gethin 12 Week Daily Trainer
Jim Stoppani Shortcut to Shred
For the ladies, they too provide materials to guide you through as well!
7. Find a Partner
I found out that the improvements in my health and fitness, exponentially increased when I kept myself accountable to like-minded friends.
In the gym, they make sure that I did my reps with proper form, and spotted me when I was failing. In my nutrition, they kept me away from the calorically dense snacks and junk food that would have gotten me fat. The best part about friends is that they are completely free. The fact that they prevent you from sustaining injuries and racking up exorbitant medical expenditure on recuperation while keeping you in check when you go food shopping. So trust me a “fitness buddy” will not only get you fit but save you money.
Pro-tip: Find a bro/sister who is fitter or stronger than you. This keeps your ego in check and also they will be more than willing to help correct you with your form when you are struggling.
As Proverbs 27:17 says, as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
In the temple of gains, with the sacred iron in your hand know that as your put the work in, allow a fellow bro to sharpen your skills.
8. Limit your partying
We know alcohol kills our gains so to the party animals out there, you will never regret saying no to partying late on a Friday night. But, you might regret when you always say yes to partying. Through my time in college, I realised partying hard only helps in emptying my wallet, and decimate my calorie count completely. So, my advice is to limit your party habits to maybe once a month where you allow yourself to relax and let loose without feeling the guilt of destroying your budget and gut.
Pro Tip: If you drink alcohol, don’t drink mixers. Soft drinks are the bulk of calories, take the hard liquor straight instead. They might taste like hell, but they will reduce the caloric damage done to you.
or feel free to hit me up for feedback 🙂