It's Monday morning. You tentatively step on your dusty bathroom scale and look down at the number between your toes. "That can't be right!” you exclaim. So, you weigh yourself again. Same number. You move your scale a couple feet over and then step on it again. Same number. In a moment of despair you scream, "I'll do anything!" However, your "anything" does not need to include shelling out big bucks on a diet. You didn't pay to put on those pounds, so why should you pay to take them off?

Americans spend $33 billion a year on weight-loss products. Don't contribute to that astronomical sum; instead, read on to learn how to drop pounds without dropping dollars:

Get Cooking

Pre-packaged diet meals are expensive, not to mention generally chock-full of artificial ingredients. Instead of buying pricey calorie controlled frozen meals, why not make your own? Check out diet friendly recipes with posted nutritional information (i.e. calories, fat, protein, etc.) such as the free recipes posted on CookingLight.com. After you cook your healthy meal, separate individual portions into plastic storage containers and freeze them for later meals.

Get Online

One tried and true weight loss technique is to keep a journal of your daily food intake and exercise. While you can go old school and break out your pen and paper, it is much easier to journal this information online. On Livestrong.com, you can use the Daily Plate application to keep track of your information. On Daily Plate's free online and exercise tracker, you can search from a library of more than 1,532,500 foods and 1,500 fitness activities in order to track your caloric intake and calories burned. Similarly, Fitday.com offers a free service where registered users can set weight goals, log daily food intake and exercise and track their progress. If you have an iPhone, then check out the free dieting applications “Lose It!” and “Calorie Tracker”.

Get Social

Some weight loss programs (i.e. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig) have weekly meetings that function as a quasi-support group for members. If you want to find a support group but don't want to spend any money, then check out Meetup.com to search for a group of like-minded dieters and exercisers in your area! Also, some people who have problems related to food choose to attend free, 12-step support groups as part of Overeaters Anonymous.  Or, why not start a Biggest Loser style weight loss competition at your office? You can even try asking your HR department if they'll offer up a prize for the "Biggest Loser." If you prefer the anonymity of an online weight loss support group, then you can always join a virtual group on Sparkpeople.com.

Get Reading

Before you pay for a diet book, peruse titles you're interested in on Google Books. On Google Books, I was able to read 100 pages of the bestselling title "Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss" and 69 pages of the well known "The South Beach Diet." If you want to buy a title you previewed on Google Books, first check if your library has the book. If not, then buy a used copy on Amazon.com.

Get Moving

Our ancestors stayed lean without Zumba, Crossfit, or spinning; so can you! There is no need to pony up your hard-earned cash for a gym membership or expensive group exercise classes when there are plenty of free ways to get your sweat on.

  • Weather and daylight permitting, lace up your sneakers and go for a run or walk.
  • For an indoor workout, power walk around an indoor mall or walk up the stairs in a multi-floor apartment or office building.
  • If you're already paying for cable, then some providers such as Comcast include exercise TV in the free OnDemand library. Likewise, some digital cable providers offer the FitTV channel.
  • Do you live near the athletic clothing store Lululemon? If so, consider attending one of the free weekly yoga classes offered in the store.
  • Also, check with your city's Parks and Recreation Department to see if it offers any free exercise classes.

With these tips, you can no longer use the "I don't have the money” excuse as a reason to postpone your diet. Why not get started today? There is no time like the present!

NOTE: Remember to consult with a physician before beginning a new diet or exercise program.

This has been a guest post by Lisa from Miami, FL
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