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There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to weight loss. Many people think that if you are physically healthy, you do not need to think about food. This is the same for being financially healthy. It is often thought thought that if you have a lot of money in your savings account, you do not need to think about money or plan ahead because you have a safe cushion. Reality couldn’t be far from the truth!
In the case of losing weight, dieting is very short sighted. While on a diet, you will count calories, routinely exercise, eat healthy, and be much more aware of what you are eating. These habits are successful and cause you to lose weight. Having met your weight loss goal, you might now think it’s safe to stop thinking about food. Now that you’re healthy, you will loosen the grip on your food habits; then become confused when the weight comes back.
This bad habit of a short sighted goal can happen when paying off financial debt as well. While aggressively paying off debt, you’ll constantly check your budget, be more conscious of your spending habits, and think more about your financial future. Then, once the debt is paid, you start to think of all that extra money you now have. Maybe you buy something as an reward. Then you find yourself losing track of your spending. It won’t be too long before you find yourself in trouble again.
Learning to be financially healthy and physically healthy is the same process: Make conscious decisions, plan ahead & be patient.
To maintain physical health, you have to be conscious of what you eat all the time. This doesn’t necessarily mean counting calories, but simply being aware of what you’re eating and have eaten. If you ate a greasy burger on Monday, you don’t want to eat another one on Thursday. Spending habits are similar. If you indulged in a $20 manicure earlier in the week, you don’t want to make a hair appointment for just a few days later.
Staying aware of your spending and eating also allows you to treat yourself when necessary. If you’ve been saving up for an item that you really want, finally making that purchase (or eating that meal) will feel great.
Remaining aware of your spending and eating means you can plan ahead. If you know you will be eating out with friends on Saturday, you would skip buying lunch throughout the week. If you plan on doing a costly weekend activity, you will curb your spending earlier in the week. If you’re going to a friend’s house for a bbq, you might eat something healthy at home first so you don’t eat too much there. If you’re going out to a bar, you could have a beer at home first, so you only buy one once you’re out.
I know that small goals are great, I prefer them as well. But when it comes to your financial and physical health, this will be a long-term journey. Be patient. Weight-loss and debt removal is just the first step in the process to a healthy lifestyle. In this step, the lessons you learn (eating better & spending less) will be used for the rest of your life. These lessons will turn into habits and will hopefully result in an entire lifestyle change. Getting your debt and weight under control will mean that you have to change permanently. You are in these problematic situations because you were doing something wrong. If you lose weight, then go back to your old life and habits, the weight will come back; the debts will come back. This will be a permanent change that takes time.
With that said, make sure you enjoy the new habits; the new lifestyle! Don’t starve yourself! Don’t completely stop spending! If it’s fun, you’ll stick to it. I know that if I was on a grapefruit and applejuice diet and had to think about eating like that every single day for the rest of my life, I’d go crazy! You have to enjoy this change.
Forget about diets altogether and instead figure out ways to eat what you already like, in a more healthy manner. Forget about strict debt removal practices and figure out ways to purchase what you already like, for cheaper. Instead of paying $5 for that Starbucks coffee, make it at home. Love that Olive Garden pasta dish? Make it at home so you can control the butter, salt and calorie amounts. This is the only way to ensure that you won’t go back into debt or won’t put the weight back on.
Share your advice for beginning weight & debt wrangling below!