On Losing Weight: Comparing Physical Fitness And Financial Fitness

Since starting with the Volumetrics weight loss plan about three weeks ago, I’ve lost twelve pounds. I should add here that there was some intense days of physical labor in there centered around moving, but still, twelve pounds is an impressive weight loss for such a short period of time. I’m not dehydrated – I’ve been drinking a lot of water – and I’ve been taking my regular vitamin supplements. In fact, I actually can’t complain about the food in the diet too much – you can eat as much as you like of a lot of things with it.

So why am I mentioning this diet success here on The Simple Dollar, which is (ostensibly) about personal finance? Many of the same techniques that work for dieting and healthy living also work for personal finance. I find myself using many of the same mental cues and thoughts in both activities.

Using visual reminders to stay on focus. With personal finance, I often use images of specific goals to motivate me – for a long time, I used a picture of a house to keep on track. With dieting, my visual reminder is a photograph taken of me at my heaviest – every time I see it, I feel sad and it builds my resolve to stay on task with my dieting choices.

Marking my progress using a progress bar. I often use a “progress bar” to keep tabs on my progress towards various goals. As I save a certain amount, I fill in a bit of a progress bar; after I lose a pound, I fill in a bit of another bar. This tool really helps me to see how every little bit contributes to a bigger goal.

Making good choices. For me, this usually means thinking about and researching the moves I make. I’ve started investigating the nutritional content of food much more carefully than before, entering into a new healthy relationship with food that didn’t really exist before. I’m also learning to cut down a bit on the excesses. Sounds like good financial planning, doesn’t it?

Using the ten second rule. As with frivolous purchases, I’ve taken to pausing for ten seconds before I eat something to think about it carefully. This has really helped, as I’ve talked myself out of eating at least a few items that were simply terrible for me.

Allowing myself occasional luxuries. My real weaknesses for food are twofold: big, monstrous, juicy hamburgers (using 75% lean burger on the grill, with the drippings hitting the flame below and sizzling up, the smoky flavor going right back into the meat) and Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream ice cream. I allow myself one or the other once a week now and avoid the temptation for the rest, knowing that I will either have a grilled burger on Saturday evening or some delicious ice cream on Sunday. This is very similar to how I plan and prepare for frivolous purchases like my recent Wii purchase – I plan ahead for them and am thus much more able to behave well knowing that I’m doing it the right way.

Exercise is like an investment. Not only do you get the immediate benefit of dropped calories, but you get the “interest” of being in better condition when you need it (better oxygenation and better lung capacity).

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