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Losing weight and paying off debt have more in common than you might think. Here are 10 things I've found in common as I work on both goals.

10 Things Losing Weight and Paying Off Debt Have in Common

February 28, 2017

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I’m back on the wagon again.

Since January 18th, I’ve been working hard to improve my health.

My friend A and I have been tracking all of our food with the My Fitness Pal app, plus I’ve been drinking around 120 ounces of water each day. I’ve also been going to workout with my personal trainer three times each week with no excuses. A and I have also been walking almost every evening for about 30-40 minutes (sometimes more).

And it’s paying off! In five-ish weeks, I’ve lost about 11 pounds so far. I’ve also realized lately that my journey to losing weight and becoming healthy actually has a lot in common with my goal to get out of debt.

Here are 10 things losing weight and paying off debt have in common.

1. Tracking is Key

Clear back when I decided enough was enough and I had to get my finances in order, the first thing I did was started tracking my spending with Personal Capital. I did this even before I started a budget and this blog. I knew that in order to make a realistic budget, I had to know what I was already spending in a “normal” month. This way I wouldn’t set unrealistic goals for my budget that I couldn’t meet.

Losing weight is the same way. For the first couple of days when my friend A and I started tracking our food, I didn’t worry too much about staying under the limit that My Fitness Pal had set up for me. First, I wanted to know how much I was actually eating on a “normal” day.

Even now after 5-ish weeks, I still track every single thing that I eat throughout the day from breakfast, to snacks, even the “late night” snacks and indulgences I sometimes give in to. 😉

2. You Have to Stick to Your Budget

This brings me to the next thing that losing weight and paying off debt have in common. You have to stick to your budget. If you don’t your overindulgence will run rampant, which is what causes both debt and being overweight.

You create a budget for your income so you can reach your financial goals, so why don’t we look at calories and food intake the same way?

It finally dawned on me that how many calories I can eat in a day is the same as how much money I can spend in a day, week, month, whatever. Now I make sure I make good use of my daily calories by making good choices…most of the time. And when I want to indulge, I make sure that I have “budgeted” for it so I don’t go over my daily calorie goal or my financial budget.

3. Don’t Forget Your Goals or Your “Why”

Since I started blogging and working on improving my finances, I’ve always had goals to help me along the way. This is the same thing you should do when trying to lose weight. Having goals and remembering why you are working hard to save money, pay off debt, or lose weight is what will keep you going when it gets hard. Trust me, it will get hard!

4. You Have to Work on Both Sides of the Equation

While I do think being frugal can make a difference in your finances, I know that just cutting spending alone is not enough to make you a millionaire. This is why you must work on both sides of the equation. You have to reduce spending and increase your income to truly get ahead.

When you are trying to lose weight, you have to do the same thing, which is why this is another thing that losing weight and paying off debt have in common.

You can start with just cutting calories or just exercising, but it will only get you so far. If you really want to make progress and reach your goals, you have to do both.

5. The Importance of Accountability

I wouldn’t be nearly as far in my financial journey if I didn’t have an accountability partner in my friend Laurie. Likewise, I wouldn’t be able to stay motivated to track my food and exercise daily without my friend A.

Accountability goes a long way in helping you to lose weight and pay off debt.

You can find accountability in a friend, family member, an online community on social media, or by starting your own blog. It doesn’t really matter what you choose, just find someone to help you stay accountable so you can reach your goals.

I also keep myself accountable by wearing my FitBit all the time. Mine is the old-school one they don’t make anymore, but when it finally dies, I plan to get this one to replace it:

I kind of can’t wait until mine dies because that one is so pretty. Ha! 🙂

6. Learn Your Triggers and Avoid Them

There are so many things that can trigger overindulgence when it comes to your weight and your finances. Both of these are such emotional things and you may not even realize it. Many people overindulge in spending or eating when they are experiencing emotional highs or emotional lows.

To combat this, you have to figure out what some of your triggers are. For me, I tend to overspend and overeat when I’m sad, lonely, or feeling down for some reason. But I’ve been working to recognize those times so I can try to combat them with healthier things instead of overindulging.

I also tend to overeat when I’m with friends or when I’m celebrating something. Eating has become such a big part of our social interactions and celebrations, so I’m trying to find other ways to do these things instead. But, I’m certainly not perfect. It’s a work-in-progress for all of us.

7. It’s all About Sacrifice

Both losing weight and paying off debt require sacrifice, and a lot of it. You have to learn to say “no” to over eating and over spending. You might have to avoid things you used to do all the time, like going shopping or going out to eat. But if you make these sacrifices repeatedly, you will see progress and that progress will make it easier to say no in the future.

8. But, Sometimes You Have to Cheat

Even though I just said that you have to say “no”, don’t forget that there are times when you just have to cheat a little bit. If you’re overly restrictive and never allow for a cheat, you won’t be able to accomplish your financial or health related goals. Trust me!

If you get stuck in a pattern of being overly restrictive, you will eventually begin to feel deprived. When that happens you’ll go on a binge of eating or spending money that will cause a huge setback. That setback is bad enough, but sometimes it’s big enough to cause us to give up on our goals entirely instead of getting back on track and trying again.

Build in cheats by budgeting for them in your financial and food budgets so you can occasionally have that meal out with friends. You’ll be glad you did!

9. Progress Doesn’t Happen in a Straight Line

There are going to be ups and downs along the way as you work to lose weight and pay off debt. I’ve been there!

Although I’m a lot further along financially than I was when I started this blog, I still have a long way to go and it hasn’t been in a straight line. I have had to take on additional debt at different times along the way and while it’s not fun or easy, it’s life.

Losing weight is the same way. I’ve lost just over 11 pounds, but there are days when I weight in and I’ve gained back a pound or so. But the key is not to let these setbacks discourage you.

If you can’t handle the slight ups along the downward trend, try weighing in less often or checking your debt numbers less often so you don’t feel discouraged. The important things is that the numbers trend downward overtime, even if you occasionally have a slight increase day-to-day along the way.

10. …Or Overnight

Again, I know that even after 3.5 years of blogging about debt and my finances, I still have a long way to go. Neither financial progress or weight loss happens overnight. In fact, I’ve blogged about working on my health and losing weight several times over the years too. 🙂

BONUS: It Never Ends

Even after you reach your goals of losing weight and paying off debt, your journey isn’t done. It’s a life-long process to keep the weight off, stay healthy, and stay out of debt.

It might sound depressing, but you’ll always have to work to maintain your weight after weight loss and to avoid consumer debt after paying it off. Welcome to adulthood. 🙂

Are you working on losing weight and paying off debt? Have you found that they have a lot in common?

#5 is key!

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10 responses to “10 Things Losing Weight and Paying Off Debt Have in Common

  1. There are so many similarities between the financial and weight loss process, and you listed a lot of good similarities! When it comes to both weight loss and keeping your finances in check having an accountability partner who is going through the same situation as you is a great resource!

  2. Great post Kayla. I just started a life long program 2 weeks ago and have lost 6.4 lbs. It has to be life long and it had to be planned out. Keep up the great work!!

  3. Sacrifice works in losing weight and paying off debt. I am willing to sacrifice as much because I know it will be paid later on and I will feel accomplished with results I have achieved.

  4. 6. and 7. really resonate with me. I’ve been trying to lose a little bit of weight. I have worked to identify my triggers, come up with alternatives, or remove them all together (not buying the junk food in the first place!) I have surprised myself with how well I’ve done saying no. A mind trick I learned is to tell myself “I’m the type of person who says no when offered unhealthy things at work”, and it really helps! I’ve also found the more I say no, the more of an automatic response it becomes, so it has just gotten easier and easier (it was really hard at first). I’m not perfect, but that’s OK too – like you, as long as I deliberately give myself permission, I can easily say yes once and then go back to my normal habits.

    1. I totally agree! It’s so much easier to say no the more often you do it. I really, really struggle more with saying “no” to friends and family when I’m dining out with them rather than if I’m at home or somewhere by myself and I feel tempted. It’s easier to say no to me than to someone else.

  5. So many good points here, Kayla! I think my favourite is #4 – especially when it comes to physical fitness. For me, it’s way easier to exercise than it is to cut out some foods. That’s because sugar, salt, and fat are addictive – there’s a real cranky withdrawal involved. #9 is my second favourite. There’s a certain immaturity I’ve confronted in both my debt-payoff and my efforts to eat more healthy food – and that’s not fun to admit to. A moody lack of steadiness – being swayed by emotions. I’ve had to work on consistency despite mood. #8 is my third favourite . . . because I get a kick out of it : ) (And it’s true.)

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Ruth. 🙂 I totally agree that cutting things out makes me cranky too!

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