In my March “Thoughts From the Editor Column,” I shared a few of my favorite healthy bargains. Here are a few more bargains I didn’t have room for, but that definitely earn their keep:
Yoga: I used to take a weekly Monday night class that I adored. It cost me $15, and I figure it easily saved me thousands over the years in chiropractor appointments and spared me stress-related illnesses of all kinds. It also gave me an equanimity and ability to breathe through discomfort that has come in very handy over the years.
Alas, that class was canceled, so I’ve had to improvise. I now do some yoga at home on a regular basis, squeeze group yoga classes in when I can, and also attend a monthly two-hour Saturday yoga intensive, which costs about $20. The difference I feel in my body, and the level of flexibility I’ve been able to maintain doing even this little bit of yoga is extraordinary. It has also given me a practice and life-skill I intend to keep using as long as I live. I consider yoga a terrific investment of both time and money for virtually anyone.
My Runner’s World subscription: I really like this magazine for its breadth and depth, for the fascinating and inspiring stories it tells, and for the practical advice it churns out month after month. I’ve been a pretty casual runner for the past several years, and the magazine has remained relevant to me during that entire time. I suspect it will continue to be relevant for as long as I continue to run. www.runnersworld.com
Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil: Being Greek myself, I like to buy the Greek stuff by the big metal canister and decant it into a smaller bottle I keep by the stove. Thirty bucks worth lasts me about six months, and I use it for almost all my cooking. I can’t fathom how many olives it takes to make a canister that size, but I feel like I’m getting a great deal, and it’s a lot cheaper than buying it by the bottle. http://olvil.com/oil.html
Heart-rate monitor: I bought a good one for about 100 bucks several years ago, and have gotten huge payback from it. It really changed the way that I went about exercising (e.g., I stopped going harder than I needed to, and also quickly realized that interval training delivered huge benefits), and it was hugely motivating to see my numbers change over time. You can get a cheapie monitor for $50 these days, but it’s worth paying a little more to get one you really like. Make sure to get one that’s comfortable and has the important features you need. I personally don’t care for calorie counters and all that, but I like having customizable zones and the “out of target zone” beeper to keep me between the lines. www.polarusa.com
Desert Essence Blemish Touch Stick: Not that I get blemishes or anything, but when I do (or when I sustain little paper cuts in the line of duty), I find this fresh-smelling tea-tree oil antiseptic (packaged in a handy roller-ball applicator) heals things up fast and it travels like a dream. I think it costs about $5 and you can get it at Whole Foods and similar places. I keep one in my travel bag, one in my purse, and one in the bathroom drawer. Also good for de-stinking stinky environments: Just apply to hands and wave around in the air. I do this on airplanes from time to time. www.desertessence.com/skin-care/face/tea-tree-oil-blemish-touch-stick
Local food: I’m not going to get into a big thing about the nutritional value or food ethics here, but the fact that people in my community go to the insane amount of work involved in planting, growing, harvesting and delivering breathtakingly beautiful spinach, delicate berries and other eye-popping produce absolutely blows my mind. The care and respect with which they raise animals for milk, eggs and meat is completely exceptional in today’s food-production world. It often involves insane hours and backbreaking labor, and is typically at best a breakeven proposition for them. And sometimes, if you get the fruits of their labors through a CSA or farmers’ market, they cost the same or less than conventional stuff. Even when it costs more, it’s generally nowhere near as much as it deserves to be. www.localharvest.org
OK, I could go on and on, so I’ll just keep adding stuff as I think of it. Meantime, if you have healthy bargains of your own you’d like to share, bring ’em on at community.experiencelifemag.com/2010/02/healthy-bargains.html.