I’ve always been a saver but I struggled with weight for a very long time. On the surface, I knew they are both quite similar. Getting out of debt and going on a diet are both about delaying gratification to dig yourself out of a proverbial hole. I didn’t understand how I could be so good at one thing, and so terrible at the other. But over time I realized some commonalities between the two. Saving money and losing weight are connected.
So if you’re good at one, and want to improve in the other – read on dear reader!
Keeping your eye on the big picture helps in both cases.
Recognize money for what it is – frozen energy – and use that energy to accomplish your goals. Giving up that $3 Starbucks coffee every day means that you can go on a vacation instead and see some part of the world that you’ve wanted to see since you were 8. Or take a night class and learn about something new and exciting. Or help your kid go to college, and kick start their dreams.
Perhaps losing weight in and of itself is not the proper goal. That just means you have no real health goals – or at least it’s a goal for the sake of itself. Instead, the better goal is to be healthy. It’s a lifestyle change – it changes how you act, how you exercise, how you consume. Losing weight is a side effect, in the same sense that not being in debt is a side effect of a healthy financial plan.
The game plan is the same in both cases. “This is a lifestyle, make a plan, figure out what you’re overindulging on, and address it one step at a time.” The end. Full stop.
Budgets and Diets are the same thing.
In both cases you have an artificially finite resource (X amount of dollars or X amount of calories). In both cases you have to be smart about allocating them, or you will run out early and suffer (walk everywhere because you cannot afford gas for your car, or go to bed hungry because you ate your allotment of calories early). This means you have to plan ahead on your consumption, realize when you are about to go past your limit before it happens, and say “no” to yourself.
Short Term Budgets/Diets don’t work unless they become permanent.
Did you ever decide you’d just not eat for three days to try to drop weight? How about not spend money for 3 days? Maybe that worked for a little while but you weren’t much better off from it a month later, were you? The only changes that stick are changes that become permanent – yes, the so-called dreaded lifestyle changes.
When someone tells me that they’re in debt, the advice is never “Well, just don’t spend money for the next few months and you’ll be fine.” That may work short term, but it doesn’t address the root cause. Because inevitably a person will revert to their status quo, and get right to where they started.
When someone tells me they are overweight, they are basically in “health debt.” The advice is not “Well, just stop eating so much for a while.” It’s not enough. Nor is it specific enough. You have to make a permanent change. Sometimes it has to be a big change. Sometimes it has to be a bunch of big changes. But the fact remains.
You have to work the Diet/Budget for it to work.
You can have the best of intentions when it comes to your plan. But if you throw it out every time it’s inconvenient, and consistently spend too much/eat too much – you aren’t going to get results. You have to be committed. And you must be consistent.
Putting barriers between you and spending your calories/money is helpful.
This may mean making a bunch of rules/conditions for yourself that you will not break. You will only drink Red Bull on Fridays, instead of every day. You will only eat cookies if you’ve made them yourself, by hand. You will only read your favorite book at the gym. You will only pay for coffee if someone else is at the coffee shop with you. You won’t drive down that one street with all your favorite fast food restaurants anymore – and take an alternate route instead. You will freeze your credit cards in a block of ice. You will put the chocolate in the trunk of your car, or on a shelf you can’t reach without a step stool. You will automatically transfer 10% of every paycheck into your Roth IRA before you can spend it. You get the idea.
Did you think of any other parallels? Let me know in the comments!
You may also like this post on how to make ourselves do the things we know we should.