Suggestions for Staying Active on a Shoestring Budget

I’m in my early twenties and have only been able to claim “college grad” status for 10 months. I earn an unsteady – albeit enjoyable – living as a freelance writer. I spend most week nights watching Netflix, since that’s about all I can afford.

So, you connect the dots: this girl’s expendable income is questionable, at best.

However, these twenty-something financial woes (basic white girl problem, anyone?!) haven’t stopped me from discovering fun – and ideally, FREE – weekend pastimes. And nothing recharges my batteries quite like some physical exertion.

Fortunately, near my stomping grounds, there are several inexpensive and off-the-beaten-path activities, just waiting for a broke girl to take advantage of.

Exhibit A: hit up a local farmer’s market.

Exhibit B: explore a seaside nature preserve.

I’ll start with Exhibit A. First, here are some photos from my stroll among South Florida’s gloriously organic, locally-sourced, and seasonal produce (a.k.a. an au naturel lover’s dream!):

farmers market 1

eat organic!!!

farmers market 2

downtown Bradenton, FL locally grown fruit/veggie stands

farmers market 3

downtown Bradenton, FL fair trade product stands

farmers market 4

organic plants, holistic remedies, and homegrown spices/herbs

farmers market 5

my sister sipping homemade guava and sugar cane lemonade

Call me a “foodie” geek, but I just love the pulse of a downtown farmer’s market – even on a small-scale like this one I visited.

The air surrounding these produce stalls feels fresher somehow…more invigorating. The fruits taste juicier, and the vegetables crisper. There is an easy-breezy vibe and tight-knit sense of community.

It’s the textbook definition of autumn.

Which brings me to Exhibit B. I only live 10 minutes away from the Gulf of Mexico (rough life, huh?), and there’s a 487-acre nature preserve near the Anna Maria Island beaches.

This breathtaking coastal and wetland habitat is probably the area’s best kept secret, but I’m among the lucky few, who have stumbled upon its pristine beauty.

So, enjoy these snapshots from my Sunday afternoon spent hiking along winding waterfront trails, lined with postcard-perfect palm trees and marsh grass lazily lolling in the breeze. (Can’t help the alliterations…I am a writer, after all! Sorry not sorry.)

Robinson Preserve 1

Gulf of Mexico inlet

Robinson Preserve 2

natural wetland habitat

Robinson Preserve 3

trail to the 360-degree view observation tower

Robinson Preserve 4

view of the bay from the observation deck (St. Petersburg Skyline Bridge in the background)

Robinson Preserve 5

view of the wetlands from the observation deck

Robinson Preserve 6

another view of the wetlands

Robinson Preserve 7

that’s me on the tower’s top level

Robinson Preserve 8

Gulf of Mexico with the Skyline Bridge in the background

Robinson Preserve 9

view of the Gulf of Mexico from behind a mangrove

Robinson Preserve 10

coquina path through natural foliage

Robinson Preserve 11

inlet with overhanging mangroves

Robinson Preserve 12

Gulf of Mexico beach with sailboats in the background

This regionally protected environmental gem features several recreational – and yes, absolutely free – opportunities, from hiking/biking trails to canoe/kayak launches. The diverse scenery reminded me of an African savannah or a deserted tropical island.

For awhile, I even forgot this was still my hometown.

Whether you’re a Southwest Florida resident or occasional vacationer, if you ever find yourself tooling around these parts, I highly recommend a Robinson Preserve pit-stop.

And, next time you’re looking for cost-efficient weekend fun, check into local farmer’s markets or nature preserves in your own backyard. Both are fantastic ways to get moving without breaking the bank!

The Couple that Sweats Together Stays Together (No Innuendo Intended…!)

After a brief hiatus from posting (thanks to a long-overdue reunion with my boyfriend in the Southern-fried city of Atlanta), the blog is officially up-and-running once again.

I know…I know…

*insert dramatic sigh of relief here*

And just in case you’re a teeny bit curious as to what I’ve been up to this past week…yours truly was kickin’ it back with this handsome devil:

me and Brandon

(The girl’s not so terrible-looking either. Cough. Cough.)

Yeah, okay. So…Blogosphere, meet Brandon. Brandon, meet Blogosphere.

This photo was taken at a wedding reception following the recent Parisian nuptials of Brandon’s older sister. (And the Pinot Grigio I’m pictured with was my one-and-only glass of wine throughout the whole evening).

*insert round of applause here*

But what does this little recap of my ATL trip have to do with Health and Fitness (the 2 pillars of “Health Be a Hippie”‘s entire existence)?

Touche, my friends. That’s a fair question.

Well, Brandon and I are quite the active couple, if we do say so ourselves. Whenever we visit each other, the days are typically spent in motion. Our favorite bonding activity is exploring various surroundings via the old “2 feet” method. It gives us an opportunity to catch up on life during our time apart, as well as keeps our bodies moving for literally hours on-end.

Walking with Brandon through Piedmont Park (Atlanta’s version of Central Park) yesterday, I started thinking about some other physical activities couples could do together, rather than that cliche dinner-and-a-movie date, which – of course – we’ve all experienced but probably wouldn’t care to repeat.

Here’s what I came up with. Feel free to comment with any ideas that you and your significant other have put to the test!

  1. Rock Climbing: Many cities have indoor wall climbing gyms, complete with guided tutorials on how to get started. So, harness up beside your “honey” and compete to see who can reach the ceiling first. Check out Groupon or Living Social for some discounted rates on rock climbing in your area.
  2. Biking: Wipe the garage dust off those “2-wheelers” and take them for a spin around your neighborhood, through the park, by the waterfront, or even on a trail ride. There’s nothing quite like pedaling into the wind and taking in some scenery with that special someone whizzing along next to you.
  3. Hiking: If it’s been too long since either you or your “sweetie-pie” have sported some stylin’ Timberland boots (#NoShame), hit the elements for a rugged tree-lined expedition. Take your camera along, in case a woodsy couple’s photo-op presents itself, and rediscover nature while hand-in-hand.
  4. Tandem Yoga: Check into whether your local yoga studio offers partner classes, then roll out the mats and get your “namaste” on. This practice will improve strength, balance, flexibility, and body exploration. So, get to know your S.O.’s curves and dips by moving through a yoga flow together.
  5. Paddle Boarding: For those, who – like me – live near the surf, book a couple’s SUP (stand-up paddle board) adventure. A tour guide will lead you lovebirds through mangrove brushes and open water. Check out Groupon or Living Social for discounted rates on paddle boarding in your area.

paddleboarding   paddleboarding 2

Brandon and I became skilled in the discipline of SUP when he visited me in Florida last week. And I’m thrilled to report that – despite a painful history of tripping over my own feet – I managed to stay upright. But…by the time we finished, my upper arms looked more like wet noodles than the glisteningly-toned biceps I’d been hoping for. (Right. I’m such a badass!)