How Personal Finance Relates to Weight Loss

Thanks for sticking with me this week as I brought into the open some of my past bad behaviors, my current views on debt, and now my attempt to make this relevant to weight loss.  Whenever I try to explain the notion of a calorie deficit to a person who just doesn’t “get it,’ I say, “Have you ever overdrawn your bank account?”

50/365: Hanging in the balance
Creative Commons License Betsssssy via Compfight

For some reason, people who find math challenging often find money management challenging, too.  Unless you’re operating on the envelope system, money management is mostly abstract (but I digress).  A calorie deficit is when your body spends more than it earns.  When we spend more money than we earn, we go into debt.  When we spend more calories than we earn (consume), we experience weight loss.

Just as it took me “growing up” to realize that I was handling money inappropriately, emotionally, and for sheer pleasure rather than as a responsible steward of the funds would, I was also being capricious with my calories for the first two decades of my life.

I’d like to return to the take-away bullets from the previous posts.  Here’s what I said I learned about credit card debt.  I invite you to look at the list again, substituting the concept of food with debt:

  • Daniel made a lot of stupid decisions when he was younger
  • Daniel grew up and decided to “own” those decisions rather than “fold”
  • Daniel realized a few things about bad debt food behavior
    • Before you can address bad behavior, you need to step back and figure out why you’re doing it
    • You have to stop thinking about it emotionally and start thinking about it analytically
    • You have to prioritize and strategize your efforts
    • Stick to the plan and take baby steps
    • Celebrate your initial successes and roll them forward
    • Once you’re out of the hole, look forward and grow from the experiences
  • Daniel still uses credit cards eats food, but does so as a grown-up

I’m not sure why it wasn’t clear to me earlier, but the battle I fought and won against debt was very much the same battle I fought and am winning against obesity.

Now, let’s look at my grown-up views on debt, again switching out the concept of “bad” foods:

  • There are appropriate times to incur debt indulge
  • There are inappropriate times to incur debt  indulge
  • I feel I am much better at distinguishing between them now
  • Debt “Bad” foods can be a healthy part of your life if managed responsibly

I wrap up this series by encouraging you to look more broadly at your life and ask, “Are there any patterns here?”  For me, emotional spending and eating, both on “empty” expenditures, left me with nothing to show for it other than a wrecked “bank account.”  I’m so glad that I’ve been able to balance both my fiscal and caloric books.

If you need help settling either set of books, I encourage you to reach out to a professional for help.  As an employee of a state school, I have access to an Employee Assistance Program called GuidanceResources Online, which provides on-demand access to a wealth of resources to help me deal with everything from managing debt to parenting advice.  Check with your employer to see if they offer something similar.


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