Losing Weight and Paying Off Debt

I was thinking lately about how a lot of the tactics I put into losing weight are fairly similar to how I’m handling my debt payoff.  There’s been a few bloggers who have written about the correlation between keeping both physically and financially fit, and most recently Cash Rebel wrote about the positive feedback cycle from keeping track of both, so I thought I’d put in my two cents on the topic:

1) Treating food, and money, as fuel – I tend to have an addictive personality, and much like I emotionally ate, I also emotionally spent in excess.  However, when that “light bulb” moment came when I decided to lose weight, I started letting go of my emotional attachments to food, and started to view it as fuel.  And although I still obtain enjoyment from it since I have the Biggest Sweet Tooth This Side of the Mississippi(tm), I predominantly still view food to help me improve my physical being and health.  The same can be said with money – after I stopped my emotional codependence to shopping, I started to view it as fuel to help me obtain necessities in life.  Sure, I’ll still like some nice things once in awhile, but overall I am (starting) to view it as a mere commodity to help me sustain or improve my quality of life (and not inflate it).

2) Making food, and money, work for you – Mr. 1500 recently wrote a post about making money work for you.  Hopefully I don’t botch up his premise, but he’s essentially stating that with one dollar, you can either spend it on something fleeting, or you can invest it and give it a chance to grow and work for you.  I agree with this notion, and slowly implementing it in my daily actions, and feel it’s the same way with food/calories.  You can either eat something with empty calories and have it do nothing for you (or perhaps even be a disservice), or you can eat healthful foods that work for you so that you build muscle, improve your circulation or skin, and keep you lean.

3) Drinking “free calories” and finding free stuff to do – a popular weight-loss notion is that if you’re considering eating something, to drink some water first because you might just be thirsty.  Since learning this, I drink a lot of water and more often than not it fills me up just fine.  The best part is that it’s free, and it helps with my skin tone and activities since I’m well hydrated.  I kind of feel it’s the same with finding free activities – there’s a lot of simple pleasures out there that are free, whether it be a nice hike or reading a book, and it’s a good feeling to know that you didn’t pay for said simple pleasures, and that you still feel overall satisfied.

4) Eat Less/Move More, Spend Less/Make More – pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re trying to lose weight, there really is no magical formula other than eat less (and below your “maintenance” range) and move more.  Well, if you’re trying to pay off debt, it’s the same thing – spend below your means and try to think of extra ways to make money.  With the former, I suppose you have to strike a balance since you don’t want to go to any extreme, but for the most part that principle rings true in both cases.

5) Getting a realistic view of what you really need in life, both in calories and money – when I got serious about losing weight, I signed up to join Weight Watchers, and it gave me an idea of what portion sizes are/looked like and educated me on calorically dense foods, but didn’t frown upon the occasional taco so long as I kept at the calorie range (or “points”) for the day.  It was during those few months when I realized – you really don’t need to eat a lot, and restaurants these days have made portion sizes so out of control that “true” sizes look miniscule in comparison.  After unlearning disproportionate portions, and re-learning what true sizes actually are, I was able to lose weight a lot quicker since it clicked that I’m still eating full meals, just not gigantic ones where I’m overeating.  I think it’s the same with money – before, I always seemed to feel that I never had “enough” money which is why I was always in debt.  But now, since I’ve unlearned that I don’t need to do all this out of control spending to keep up with the Joneses, I can get a better grasp of what I actually need versus what I think I did.  The result is that I’m learning to live within or below my means since I’ve actualized what the portion size of my expenses really are, and paying off my debt quicker by doing so.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m human and still enjoy gluttonous splurges.  A strategy that’s really helped me out is the 80%/20% rule, in that I eat clean and keep fit 80% of the time, but allow a 20% “free pass” to eat sweets/savories or take some down time.  Well, I think the same can be said for personal finance once I’m relieved of my debt – to live below my means and invest 80% of the time, but allow for splurges that are important to me, like travel and clothes, for 20% of the time (Hrm, maybe 90%/10%, since I can’t wait to throw more money into investing).

Are there other times when you think they’re similar?

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38 thoughts on “Losing Weight and Paying Off Debt

  1. Yep, you nailed what I was trying to say and I like the correlation you make. I want to take it one step further.

    The thinking behind a diet and heart disease used to be that arterial plaque started accumulating at a late age in life. So, just start eating healthy when you turn 40 or 50 and you’ll be OK.

    However, scientists later discovered this was not the case. Arterial plaque starts accumulating almost from the get go. If you start off life with a poor diet, the plaque will be there when you’re just a teen.

    So, that Big Mac you eat when you’re 20 may come back to haunt you when you’re 50, just like the $3 that you wasted on it.

    • That’s a great analogy with debt – just like arterial plaque, debt accumulates and it might stick around for some quite time. Unfortunately I’ve made some poor choices in my 20’s, but hopefully I’m taking measures to at least reverse some of that damage.

  2. I really like how you found a good comparison between calories and dollar bills. I’m not a huge food or money splurger, but I do occasionally eat like crap, even though I know I shouldn’t. I feel a lot better about eating like crap though than spending like crap.

    • Thanks! That’s funny, I think I’m the opposite, but mostly because it gets harder for me to lose weight – a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips! haha I’d like to consistently achieve clean eating and spending, though!

  3. Definitely a correlation between the two. I think that poor dietary habits often resemble poor financial habits. People eat terrible/don’t exercise and get away with it for 25-35 years, then they have all sorts of problems. The same is true for many people financially. They aren’t taught proper personal finance and so their spending habits are abysmal until they are almost bankrupt…

    Great post!

    • Thank you! I agree with that poor habits can lead to long-term consequences! I sometimes get frustrated with family members who have led that kind of life, but you can only lead a horse to water, I can’t make them drink. Hopefully they’ll get on board, though!

  4. Wow Anna, I definately enjoyed this deeper post from you! So you are more than just a Star Wars, Sarcasm pretty face 😛 I completely agree with all your comparisions. I don’t know why trying to get out of debt is so much easier for me then trying to lose weight and get fit but maybe it’s because I’m simply lazy haha. Although eating out less and trying more frugal activities like hiking has helped me keep the pounds off…I think once I am out of debt I am going to try the 80/20 rule too 🙂

    • Haha, aww, thanks GMD, that means a lot to me!! I wouldn’t call you lazy, though, considering you hike and walk everywhere! The 80/20 rule is definitely reasonable in my book – it helps you stay focused for the majority of the time, but offers some flexibility to have gluttonous fun, too!

  5. On #3, yes, yes yes. 90% of the time-Ok that’s an exaggeration, 50% of the time when I think I’m hungry I’m actually thirsty. I’ve been trying to drink more water and it’s amazing how much better I feel (less hungry, better hydrated, better skin).

    • I completely agree that half the time, it’s just thirst cues. The downside is that I frequent the bathroom a lot, but it’s better than stuffing my face with calories I didn’t need!

    • You know, I can completely relate to what you said. When I was ~30 pounds overweight, I thought I was fit, too, but it was only after I lost it that I realized what it was actually like to be fit (well, at least fitter than what I thought I was). The same with my finances – I didn’t think that my debt was so bad, but after reading about people without debt, it makes you realize how financially fit one can be. I’d like to think I’m no longer in denial and aiming to reach my potential. Wonderful insight!

    • Thank you!! And I couldn’t agree more with exercise – I was thinking about how some running/training insights also correlate with finances, but maybe down the line. It reminds me a lot of your post about volleyball and correlations in life!

  6. Thanks for the mention! I’d definitely resonated with number 5. I didn’t really know what I needed to spend in life before I started reading PF blogs and seeing how others could lead spectacular fun-filled lives for less than half of what the average American spends. Figuring out exactly how much you need to be happy/full is so important in finance and eating.

    • Of course, I thought it was a great post! It’s definitely interesting, isn’t it, that once you start gaining awareness, you realize you just don’t need a lot to get by in life when it comes to necessities, and still feel satisfied (perhaps even more because you’re not in the rat race to accumulate more stuff).

  7. Love this post! For me, I feel like it’s soooooo easy to just eat empty calories, or throw away a few dollars on something that will make me happy. I am an emotional eater/drinker, so not only do I have empty calories but I’m throwing money away on something that is not nutritious! I have gotten 10x better with eating healthier in the past few years and have cut down a lot. I’ve never had a problem with my weight, but as obesity runs in my family, I am also cautious/concerned. I am all about trying to get healthy eating/spending habits so you don’t feel starved/deprived!

    • Congrats on improving your diet, as well as spending habits! We have a lot in common with the emotional eating/drinking, so I definitely have to watch it. Obesity runs in one side of my family, as well, which is why I’m doing everything in my power to curb that. Agreed – it’s definitely finding that balance so that I’m not missing out, but still keeping things in check!

  8. I like this post especially number 4. Simple and logical idea. I’ve been wearing my pedometer for a few days. It’s embarassing to admit, but I walked less than 3000 steps yesterday. Move more for sure.

    • So nice to hear from you, Michelle! Informercials and diets always bum me out because it’s such a money waster – I think for the most part people just need to stick with that rule. Great job on the pedometer – I like anything that makes people more aware of daily habits/actions!

  9. Great post! Definitely a correlation between getting healthy and getting out of debt. Taking care of your “financial house” is just as important as taking care of your body 🙂

  10. I definitely hear ya on the similarities between losing weight and paying off debt. One thing I’ve noticed while I’ve been on a shopping ban and trying to lose weight – if I’m doing well in one (i.e. not spending) I’m doing not so well in the other (eating crap) and vice versa. I read somewhere that everyone has only so much willpower and when a lot of it is being used up in one area, then other areas suffer. And that seems to be holding true for me 😦

    • That’s an interesting concept – I’ve been keeping track of both things for the month, but not really analyzing it yet. I’ll have to think about what you said once April is over!

  11. You are on to something. Maybe there is a correlation to being healthy, physically and financially. In my year 28, I decided to become healthy. And it domino-ed into my financial health, career, and, ahem, love-life.

    • I’d have to agree with you there, though other than health I was a bit later in life at 32-33. Better late than never, though! I like how you had pandesal on your site! 😀

    • Lol if you ever come to San Diego, you have to try one of the numerous Mexican dives open 24/7! Way better than Taco Bell in my opinion (and unfortunately my waistline). 🙂

  12. I fully admit Taco Bell sucks. It is like Vanilla Ice. It comes on the radio and I know it is just terrible, but I have to listen to it.

    San Diego eh? You live in paradise!

    • I absolutely love SD and don’t take it for granted… not sure if we’ll stay here once we start to breed, but I’m loving it as much as I can while I’m here!

  13. Pingback: Link Love/Week in Review 4/20/13 | Budget and the Beach

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