How Losing Weight Is Like Saving For Your Future

I recently cashed in an Amazon gift card and treated myself to a shiny new digital scale to help track my weight loss.

I was excited when it arrived at our house on Thursday, but felt nervous when the time came to weigh in. I removed the device from its cardboard box and synced it with my phone. I knew it wasn't going to be pretty, but I slipped off my clothing, held my breath, and carefully stepped on.

The scale agonizingly panned through several numbers until it finally landed. I pushed up my glasses and peered down.

165.4 weight and 39.5% body fat.

“Okay, I've got a starting point,” I thought to myself, breathing out a sigh of relief.

Seeing these numbers, frightening as they may have been, was like finally analyzing my finances, gaining a clear picture of my savings rate and assets, and being honest about the work that needed to be done.

A Budget is Like a Diet

Budgeting is strikingly similar to following a diet. I've been monitoring my caloric intake with the help of MyFitnessPal on a daily basis for the past week.

After a few months, I'd imagine that making healthier eating choices will become more intuitive. Perhaps I won't need to log every meal, snack, or drink. I'll have formed healthier eating habits through several weeks of practice.

Following a budget was a daily activity for me at first, but eventually these habits became second nature.

Small Changes Yield Big Results

I remember thinking how frivolous it seemed when I saw friends order salad dressing on the side or skip an order of fries with a burger. I had a hard time seeing that making small changes in your diet had the ability to trigger significant changes over time.

When it comes to saving, I believe in the latte factor and how making small sacrifices in our daily lives can compound into to larger amounts of money over time. A $2 latte every weekday equals a staggering $520 at the end of the year.

It's Never Too Late To Get Started

Much like my diet, when I first analyzed my budget, I wasn't sure where to cut back.

I had several money leaks – an overinflated cell phone bill, too much health and car insurance, and out of control spending on food & drinks.

I began scrutinizing each expense, trimming the fat, and each month I was able to save more.

It's amazing how motivating even the smallest amount of progress can be. A pound a week or an extra $50 a month are worth celebrating.

There are no quick fixes when it comes to physical and financial health and both require long-term commitments. Life is a continual cycle of victories and setbacks.

It's never too late, no matter how far you believe you've fallen. Investing in yourself will always be worth it.

Readers: Have you had success at losing weight or saving for your future? Has one success inspired you to work harder at the other?

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Discussions — 33 Responses

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods October 6, 2014 on 6:10 am

    Congrats to you for taking charge and getting started! We have one of those scales as well, which I find very helpful. We did the couch to 5K (and then to 10k) program a few years ago, which was a great way to jump start our weight loss. We’ve also found that changing our diets for the long-term is the best way to stay healthy. Instead of deprivation dieting, we just wholesale changed the way we eat. Best of luck to you and I hope you’ll keep us posted!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Mrs. Frugalwoods October 17, 2014 on 9:36 am

      I really like that the scale measures body fat percentage! I’ve always been told that changing your diet should be about what you’re adding in (whole foods, more fruits and vegetables) rather than what you’re taking out. Thanks for sharing your success story!

      Reply
  • Kassandra October 6, 2014 on 7:40 am

    Several years ago I lost 60 pounds and have kept it off ever since (except the fluctuating 5 – 10 pounds that I am now working on). That was one of THE hardest things I have ever done for myself but I’ll never regret it. It took time and as you said attention to the little details. Great job for facing your starting point as a lot of people try to avoid the numbers on the scale when they begin their weight loss/fitness goals.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Kassandra October 17, 2014 on 9:37 am

      Wow, that’s amazing Kassandra! Congratulations! I love hearing a success story like yours!

      Reply
  • Louise @ Good Financial Choices October 6, 2014 on 7:54 am

    Well 2014 has been a year of fitness for me – from someone who had avoided the scales for 10 years, I also made the steps to purchase some snazzy (but budget minded) scales in April, and now in October I’ve lost over 3 stones. I agree it’s never to late to start 🙂

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Louise @ Good Financial Choices October 17, 2014 on 9:38 am

      Congrats, Louise! It’s been helpful to have the scale to hold me accountable, especially because it has been tracking my progress digitally on a daily basis. Thanks for the inspiration!

      Reply
  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 6, 2014 on 8:37 am

    Good for you and your success so far! If you want an accountability person for myfitnesspal my handle is tiscali. I go on and off MFP for maintenance, but it’s just like a budget…if you don’t stick to it, it’s very easy to let a lot of things slip. For me there is a parallel between being a regular exerciser and keeping a steady budget. Although I started exercising years before I started my budget, both were hard to launch and stick with at first, but then it becomes habit, then eventually part of everyday life.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Tonya@Budget and the Beach October 17, 2014 on 9:40 am

      That’s awesome to hear, Tonya! I really enjoyed the exercise, but struggled hardcore with cleaning up my diet. It really is a constant challenge. Thanks for sharing your successes!

      Reply
  • Michelle October 6, 2014 on 9:08 am

    I need to get better at working out and being more fit. It’s fallen down on my list of priorities lately but I know I need to change that. I might join a DietBet so that I can get motivation from the fact that I might lose money if I don’t work out!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Michelle October 17, 2014 on 9:41 am

      Pact has been amazing! Even if I’m not really losing weight yet, it’s been great to exercise (even a 30 minute walk counts!) for five days a week.

      Reply
  • Bridget October 6, 2014 on 9:39 am

    LOVE THIS POST

    I see parallels between fitness & finance all the time — and I LOVE IT. I think a lot of people do, and that’s why so many PF bloggers and fitfreaks too. It’s all about tracking numbers, rebalancing, budgeting, etc. Love love love.

    I found I never had to manage my weight until my late 20s. I’m 28 now (29 next month) and I can’t believe how actively I have to manage my health to stay where I’m at… and the scary thing is I know it will just get harder as time goes by. Like with finances, I’m working really really hard at setting good habits now so they can support me later.

    Cheers to avoiding being unfit AND poor!! Let’s be wealthy & healthy!!!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Bridget October 17, 2014 on 9:44 am

      Thanks for the inspiring words, Bridget! I’ve noticed a significant drop in my metabolism since I reached my later 20s. Budgeting and saving definitely comes easier to me, but I need to think of my future self and seriously commit to wellness.

      Reply
  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde October 6, 2014 on 12:21 pm

    When I started out my weight loss journey I was over 200 pounds. Eek!! It took me 8 months to lose 50 pounds and it required a constant focus on my food intake and exercise. I definitely started to see the money correlation around the same time. So much so, that I wrote a book about it. 🙂 Good for you for starting your weight loss journey and getting serious about it!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Shannon @ Financially Blonde October 17, 2014 on 9:45 am

      Thanks for sharing, Shannon! I still need to read your book! Congratulations on your success. Losing 50 pounds is a massive accomplishment!

      Reply
  • Ciel Belle October 6, 2014 on 2:55 pm

    I have fallen off the excersie wagon, but I am determined to get back up there again. I think once you get a hang of it or commit to doing it – eventually it will become easier… just like having a budget!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Ciel Belle October 17, 2014 on 9:46 am

      Thanks for commenting, Ciel Belle! It definitely does get easier. I’ve found that just getting to the gym is the hardest part. Once I’m there I’m ready to burn some calories 🙂

      Reply
  • Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income October 6, 2014 on 4:20 pm

    When I am in shape and happy physically then most everything else seems to go better including financial decisions. I don’t have to make up for my lower self-esteem in body by a minor purchase. I am much more consistent with my money than my workouts. My money is automatic whereas my workouts depend on me and my work schedule. I do horribly during summer, but better in winter when I am inside.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income October 17, 2014 on 9:47 am

      It’s great that you’ve recognized that, Lance! I totally agree. When I’m feeling my best physically, everything is easier. Best of luck this winter!

      Reply
  • Myles Money October 6, 2014 on 4:41 pm

    Brilliant move: first you get an idea of the problem, then you give yourself goals to tackle it… it’s EXACTLY like personal finance.

    If you want to see big gains rapidly, I would advise Tim Ferris’s slow carb plan. It’s really easy, you’re never hungry and the weight just falls off. And it’s easy to keep the weight off too. If you try it for a week, you’ll be sold. Promise.

    Basically you cut out all white carbs (flour, sugar, rice, potatoes, etc.,) and you eat as much protein and fresh veg as you can. Then, once a week, you go completely wild and make up for lost time by troughing cake, pizza, beer… whatever you can lay your hands on. That allows your liver to replenish its energy stocks and then you go back to the “diet” (although it doesn’t feel like dieting). I’ve been doing it for the past year. It just works…

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Myles Money October 17, 2014 on 9:49 am

      Thanks for sharing, Myles! I’ve heard of the slow carb plan and will have to look into it more seriously. I’ve definitely had success cutting out flour, sugar, and booze – hard but it absolutely yields results!

      Reply
  • Kate @ Money Propeller October 6, 2014 on 6:59 pm

    I downloaded My Fitness Pal before, but uninstalled it because I never used it anyway, but now, I just installed it again because I’m more motivated to watch my weight. It’s been 4 days now since I replaced eating rice to cereals because I’m an Asian and we love rice. 🙂 Great job Kate!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Kate @ Money Propeller October 17, 2014 on 9:50 am

      Mmmm, I also love rice! Rice and pasta are my weaknesses. Best of luck, Kate!

      Reply
  • Allan October 7, 2014 on 6:31 am

    I totally agree! Except that it seems easier for me to manage my finance than my weight ahah!

    It’s funny because I was actually planning to add that goal to my blog pretty soon. If I’ve been able to save steadily every month, I guess I should be able to manage my health a little better too…

    I’m not hugely fat because I used to train a lot, swim, do martial arts, go to the gym for years… but over the last 8 months, I spent a lot of time doing renovations and eating the proverbial hot dog french fries and coke trio every week many times per week and I ate too much pizza too… and worst.. I didn’t go to the gym for months and kept paying for my monthly subscription… 🙁

    I could afford to lose at least 15-20 pounds or replace them with muscles. I could also work on my cardio…

    Good luck with your goals

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Allan October 17, 2014 on 9:51 am

      Thanks for sharing, Allan! I can definitely relate to your challenges. Work has always come before my health, but hopefully not anymore. Good luck on your journey!

      Reply
  • Andy@artofbeingcheap October 7, 2014 on 9:15 pm

    I have often felt like budgets are like diets for another reason. I am good with money but I have never really made myself a budget. I don’t have to because I understand how to spend well, and I don’t go around wasting money. People who aren’t good with money need budgets because otherwise they don’t know how to spend.

    Healthy people don’t need to count calories because they know how much healthy food they should be eating and can just manage their food intake intuitively. On the other hand, I am big fat guy, and need to keep myself on a strict calorie budget or I will overeat.

    It is interesting that money and food can be so very similar, and yet I am great at one and awful at the other.

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Andy@artofbeingcheap October 17, 2014 on 9:52 am

      Ditto, Andy! Proper diet is a constant struggle for me. I would love to get to the point where I don’t need to count calories and I’m making the right choices on my own.

      Reply
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  • Tre October 25, 2014 on 7:53 am

    I’ve found that there is a correlation between my weight and debt. They increase and decrease together 🙁 My FitnessPal is a great tool to keep your eating on track.

    Reply
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  • Taylor July 23, 2016 on 11:42 am

    This popped up on my Pinterest feed and couldn’t be more relevant to me. I’m on a weight loss journey right now and every single pound is a small victory. It’s surprising a lot like making budget cuts!

    Reply
    • Kate Dore Taylor July 24, 2016 on 9:46 am

      Good for you, Taylor! It’s an ongoing challenge for me, too!

      Reply

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