Weight Loss

How to save money on weight loss support tools

Weight loss support tools shouldn’t break the bank. Learn how insurance, HSA/FSA and other tricks can help you save on fitness, nutrition and mental health.
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Once you’ve committed to upgrading your food and fitness habits, it’s easy to start dropping hard-earned cash on cooking appliances, Instagram-ready ingredients and luxe fitness subscriptions. And there’s nothing wrong with having fun as you develop healthier behaviors.

But money stress negatively impacts the mental health of at least 40% of American adults right now. And a gym membership or healthier meal should not come with the side effect of threatening your emergency fund!

So while you invest in your whole-body health, read on to learn how a little planning can help you set a savings goal on fitness, nutrition and mental health tools.

1. Dig into your insurance offerings

If you’re losing weight to prevent or treat a medical condition, your health insurance plan may cover at least a portion of the costs for related diet and exercise services.

Do you take glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist medications like Tirzepatide (Mounjaro and Zepbound) or Semaglutide (Ozempic and Wegovy)? In that case, you probably have a condition that qualifies related fitness + nutrition costs as medically necessary. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), they may even be required to cover nutritional counseling.

Otherwise, many health insurers offer wellness programs packed with financial incentives. They may offer discounts for meal delivery services, fitness trackers, exercise apps, gym memberships and therapy sessions. Or you may be able to get a specific dollar amount reimbursed yearly for general wellness costs. Check your coverage for details.

2. Put your HSA/FSA to work.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) let you set aside pretax income to pay for medical expenses. If you’re losing weight to prevent or treat a medical condition, related fitness costs can become HSA/FSA-eligible medical expenses, too!

But gym memberships, fitness classes, trackers and workout equipment don’t automatically qualify. To file those receipts for HSA/FSA reimbursement, you need a Letter of Medical Necessity from a licensed provider detailing how exercise relates to your condition.

Shed It with Dr. B—a holistic prescription weight loss program—includes a Letter of Medical Necessity for fitness expenses. (If you’re already enrolled, you can find it on your patient dashboard.)

Or, take our $15 fitness consultation. If you qualify to get a Letter of Medical Necessity online, a provider in your state will email the letter to your inbox within a few hours. You can file it with receipts made on or after the letter’s date for an entire year!

3. Work it at work

If your job offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), it’s time to dig into the details.

EAPs are wellness benefits plans. Unlike insurance plans, which usually include copays and deductible fees, EAPs usually offer members a set number of entirely free therapy sessions.

Your employer may also offer a workplace wellness program that can include on-site fitness centers, free or low-cost gym memberships and fitness classes, or discounts to local health food stores. They may even offer financial incentives or schedule flexibility if you commit to the program. Check with your HR department for details.

4. Find free(ish) therapy

Changing habits to better your health takes a lot of commitment. If working through the challenges with a therapist can help, a few strategies can keep costs low.

Many insurance plans will cover a set amount of yearly sessions with an in-network licensed therapist—just check your copay or deductible contributions before booking your first session. If you see an out-of-network therapist, ask them for paperwork you can file with your insurance company for reimbursement.

Your employer may also offer a separate mental health or wellness benefits plan that includes therapy sessions. So check with their HR department for details.

Local colleges and universities with psychology or counseling programs may offer free therapy sessions with their (supervised) students. This is an excellent option for those who want to experience the newest therapeutic approaches.

Community centers and places of worship are also excellent places to find counseling or target support.

5. Simplify your kitchen

Eating well doesn’t require expensive ingredients or hours in the kitchen. Instead of loading up on organics at your favorite chain market, try nearby farm stands or farmer’s markets. (You’ll support local farmers and pad your pockets at the same time.) To reduce food waste, stock up on frozen vegetables—picked and then flash frozen, they’re packed with nutrients and super fresh. Buy ingredients you love in bulk: rice, oatmeal, lentils, nuts and nut butter can stay fresh for months if stored correctly.

If cooking is not something you want to add to your to-do list right now, meal delivery services offer affordable and healthy menus with enough options to keep things delicious!

6. Get outside

Many of us forget that many exercise options exist outside our front door—if we live where it’s safe to do so.

If the idea of walking, running, biking or hiking does not immediately spark joy, try to layer fun into the pre-scheduled time. Make it the only time you listen to a specific playlist, audiobook or podcast. Use the time to catch up with friends over the phone (wearing headphones to stay safe). Or do the opposite and stay unplugged, enjoying the sensation of focusing on your thoughts, surroundings and senses.

To add strength training to your outdoor routine, check if your local parks include fitness zones. On top of varying jungle gym-like bar structures, they may even offer resistance machines like you’d find at indoor gyms. And in fairer months, keep tabs on free outdoor fitness classes run by town-sponsored organizations.

Shifting small habits can make a difference, too. If you take public transportation, walk a few stops where you’d typically ride. If you drive, park your car further from the entrance to your workplace, school or shopping centers. Take stairs instead of elevators.

7. Mind the app

Many wellness apps offer free versions to help you stay focused on your nutrition, fitness and mental health goals. Here are a few top-rated options reviewers rave about.

  1. All Trails: Find a trail near you to walk, run, hike or bike, narrowing your search by whether it’s dog- or kid-friendly, by rivers or lakes, if wildflowers are blossoming nearby etc. The free version lets you favorite trails and create lists. Or pay $35.99 per year to download offline maps, get live condition warnings, get warned if you make a wrong turn, alert friends to your location and more.
  2. Nike Training Club: With a 4.8 rating and 500K reviews, this free app is beloved for its collection of classes and nutrition content. Upgrade to craft a personal fitness roadmap and get trainer support, too!
  3. FitOn: Often hailed on “best of” lists as excellent for beginners, FitOn offers personalized fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and motivation plans with instructors that reviews rave about. You can access almost all content for free. Or upgrade to premium ($25 for 6 months / $30 for the year) to download content.
  4. Caliber: This app is an excellent option for those who want to minimize muscle loss on compounded Semaglutide or other medical weight-loss medications. It focuses primarily on strength and “strength balance.” All classes are 100% free with no ads or paywalls. (Just pay for group and one-on-one training.)
  5. Sweat: Sweat was made for women. So women-led yoga, pilates, HITT and other classes are designed to target various life stages, and a “community” tab helps with accountability and motivation. After a free trial, membership runs $20 a month or $10 monthly if paid yearly.

*Ozempic® and Wegovy® are registered trademarks of their respective owners. Our use of these names is for informational purposes only and does not imply any affiliation, endorsement or approval by the trademark holders.

Sources:

Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America. (2024). TIAA Institute report finds ties between financial stress and mental health.

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