Why You Don’t Need to Spend a Lot of Money to Give a Powerful Gift

One of the aspects of the Kuli Kuli story that first drew me in was the message of community empowerment. The Kuli Kuli mission is to use the moringa plant to strengthen communities on two levels: to nourish the local people within that community, and to provide economic opportunities to help grow that community. In both avenues, a group people work together to become healthier and stronger.
women's group

There is strength in the power of group motivation. I see this weekly in the fitness classes I teach at Equinox. Members support each other (and sometimes offer healthy competition) in an effort to grow stronger as a team. Anecdotal evidence suggests that running groups, book clubs, and cooking potlucks help support healthy behavior, often with minimal costs.

The science also supports this. Medical professionals and community health advocates are continuously looking for methods to fight the rising obesity rates in this country with minimal cost. They have found that establishing community-based education and support systems greatly improves the outcomes of healthy program initiatives. ShapeUp RI  is an online resource for Rhode Island residents, founded in 2005 as a way to encourage a more-active, healthy lifestyle. A 2010 article in the American Journal of Public Health found that this low-cost initiative had a great impact on the community, especially when paired with tutorials and participant feedback. Over 40% of the participants were able to lose 5% or more of their body weight in the 12 weeks.

More studies continue to support this finding. In 2008-2009, researchers applied the community-based approach to address diabetes and hypertension in China and found it to be a beneficial, low-cost tool in adhering to changes in diet and activity levels.  A 2012 study found that community-based intervention helped Iranians adopt the country’s new healthy diet recommendations.  A 2010 study of new moms in Australia found that having community support played a key factor in preventing weight gain.

So what does this mean?

It means you can encourage a healthy lifestyle by using affordable, community-based programs rather than spending lots of money on fancy fitness gadgets. Here are some suggestions for Gift Ideas to Support a Healthy New Year:

1) FREE: 21-Day Vegan Kickstart

Based on the work of Dr. Neal Barnard and supported by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, this three-week program offers tips, recipes, and online support to anyone curious about trying a plant-based diet.

2) FREE: Endomondo Challenges

Endomondo is actually a workout app that you can download to your phone or mobile device. It can help you track and record workouts, using your device’s GPS to log how far/fast you’ve run, giving you summaries each month, and give you an estimate of calories burned based on your individual profile. They have online community challenges each month that are free for users. Additionally, you can even challenge your Facebook friends to your own workout competitions.

3) FREE: Fit Bit Challenge

For friends who already have a Fit-Bit, the Fit-Bit Challenges are FREE. They offer workouts, motivation, tips, and daily encouragement to help you stay connected with other FitBit users. They even have celebrity challenges where you can join the team of a celebrity to help win money for charity. Fit Bits cost $80-$250 for the device, but these free resources can help you stay inspired.

4) FREE: Let’s Move America

I’d recommend this resource for families with younger kids. It’s great for those who are just trying ways to get more active without the competition of school sports. The Let’s Move America campaign has recommendations for both adults and children so the whole family can be involved. You can set goals for physical activity and healthy eating then track your progress to reach those goals.

5) $9.99: Downloadable Cookbook

Team up with your family, friends, or coworkers to put together some of your favorite healthy recipes. Using a software program like Blurb, you can import photos, choose a cover, and create a downloadable copy of your cookbook that you can then share and view on your mobile devices. Besides just encouraging healthy eating, this is a great way to preserve family recipes and to celebrate traditions like annual “Friendsgiving”.

Chicago Marathon Running Group