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Do the holidays have you stressed about finances? Are you concerned about how you will be able to eat healthy and exercise when money is tight? Have no fear, because there are many ways to eat well and keep moving, even on a budget! Just use the 3 P’s!

The first P is plan. Starting with eating, plan to save money by looking for coupons and sales and figure out how to use food items you already have by “shopping” your pantry. Also, plan by determining what meals and snacks you will eat for the week and put them on your shopping list. Include more affordable protein foods on your shopping list too, such as beans and canned tuna and salmon.

When planning for exercise, determine what exercises you enjoy. Figure out which of those exercises you can do with and without equipment. See if you have any things at home that can be used as exercise equipment, such as water bottles and canned foods for dumbbells. Also, keep a pair of good walking shoes in the trunk of your car to go on spur of the moment walks during a lunch break, while waiting for the kids to get off school, or anytime!

The second P is purchase. Purchase foods that are only on the grocery list, pick foods that are of the generic store brand, choose fresh fruits and vegetables in season, and avoid shopping hungry. Also try purchasing canned or frozen fruits and vegetables with little to no added sugar and salt because they can be less expensive and will last longer. Furthermore, when it comes to purchasing cooking equipment, check out the thrift store or dollar store.

The same goes for exercise equipment — you may find resistance bands or other great equipment. You can also borrow exercise videos from your local public library or even find some workouts on your TV. If you are tech savvy, you could consider downloading an exercise app on your phone or tablet. However, if you prefer the connection with people you can also ask around to see if the community has any gyms or recreation centers that are free or of minimal charge.

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The third P is prepare. Save time and avoid food waste by preparing large quantities of a single meal and freezing some for later and storing foods in a way that will keep them fresh for longer. It is always a great idea to incorporate leftovers into meals later in the week, which saves loads of time in today’s busy schedules.

Also, be proactive and set up a time and place for exercise. If it interests you, look for a workout buddy or exercise classes. Without a gym, try different exercises like dancing to music, going on walks, and gardening. Whatever it is, schedule it in! Alas, if exercise scheduling slips your mind that day, be mindful of your everyday choices. It is always possible to squeeze in activity throughout the day. For example, prepare yourself to choose the stairs and park farther away from the store, restaurant, or work place.

For more ideas on how to eat healthy and exercise on a budget this holiday season, please join our Registered Dietitian and Exercise Trainer for our next Healthy Eating and Activity for Living (HEAL) Class, now offered in two locations, where they will share lots of healthy tips to keep you moving and eating right! Thursday, Dec. 5, at 2 p.m. Mission Hope Cancer Center, 1325 E Church St, Santa Maria 805-219-HOPE (4673) or Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 3 p.m. at Mission Hope Cancer Center, 850 Fair Oaks Ave, 3rd Floor, Arroyo Grande 805-474-5300. Please call to make a reservation, we will be so happy to have you!

HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by Marian Cancer Care invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address: mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org

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