Yesterday was one of those perfect gastronomic days. For breakfast, there was all you can eat fruit and pastries. For lunch, some deliciously “low calorie” Greek baked spaghetti with garlic bread you see to the left. To top off the evening, a bone-in filet mignon, with baked potato with the works, blue cheese wedge salad, and a couple glasses of pinot noir from Napa Valley.
All told, I probably consumed some 5,500 calories worth of food! I didn’t feel incredibly sick to my stomach (OK, maybe a little bit!) because I made sure I played an hour and a half of tennis before dinner. It was actually a wonderful experience since I normally eat half as much. When I was in the cab ride home, I had an epiphany.
Perhaps the reason why there are so many large folks in America is because people purposefully gorge themselves in order to lose weight! Eating great food is such a wonderful pleasure that it’s irrational not to. It trumps any negative feels about packing on weight otherwise we wouldn’t let ourselves go. Furthermore, the reason why there are so many people in debt is because it’s just so rocking fun to spend money you don’t have! Finally, it feels great once you pay back that debt! Double pleasure going both ways is why there is such a correlation.
GAINING WEIGHT IS THE PERFECT SOLUTION
Let’s say you are mildly obese at 5 feet 11 inches and 230 lbs. You enter into a weight loss competition with your fellow 5 foot 11 inch pal who is also slightly overweight, but weighs in at 180 lbs instead. Back in college, both of you were lean 160 pound fighting machines.
The goal is to lose 10% of your body weights in 3 months i.e. 23lbs for contestant #1 and 18lbs for contestant #2. Going from 230lbs to 207lbs is clearly MUCH easier than going from 180lbs to 161lbs. Yet, 10% is 10% and contestant #1 is calling contestant #2 a chicken for trying to bend the rules.
Hence, if I were a betting man, I’d bet on the contestant #1 (230 lbs) all day long! The mildly obese person not only will have an easier time losing weight, he’ll get to brag to his opponent and all his friends that he lost a whopping 23 pounds! He’ll gain a renewed sense of self esteem even though at 207 pounds, he’s still a little hefty.
Meanwhile, the 2nd contestant, despite getting down to the 160-170 level is a loser even though he looks fitter than contestant #1 at 200-210. The next time there is a weight loss competition, you bet your big buns that contestant #2 is going to gain a massive amount of weight so he can win!
THE BIG DOWNER
Here’s the real kick in the nuts for the contestant #2. Not only does he lose the weight loss challenge, he also misses out on all those years he could have gorged himself on tasty food! Eating is such a wonderful experience as I was kindly reminded of last week. To be able to eat to your heart’s content is a luxury unlike no other.
Contestant #1 was able to overindulge for years after college and gain 70 pounds. He enjoyed all of his meals, never felt guilty enough to do anything, and seldom ever had to work out. Now, contestant #1 can also capture the glory of losing weight, because it’s so much easier to do so when you are so much heavier.
IT ALL COMES TOGETHER WITH DEBT REDUCTION
You may be wondering what this weight loss shenanigan has to do with personal finance and I’ll tell you. The parallels to gaining weight to lose weight is the exact same reason why people go into debt to get out of debt! Think about it for a bit.
How awesome is it to spend all this money which isn’t yours to go on vacations, drive fancy cars, and have fine things? You’ll spend years enjoying the good life with other people’s money until your natural instincts kick in that you perhaps need to stop. It’s exactly why most people don’t keep gaining weight forever.
The day you decide that living the high life is over, you challenge yourself to get out of debt. You start a journal, a blog, a budget. Whatever it is, you start something that will get you out of debt. The more in debt you are, the greater the feeling once you finally do get out of debt. You are rewarded both ways for irresponsible financial habits and as a result, you may very well gain some weight and get into debt again!
Recommendation For Building Wealth
Manage Your Finances In One Place: The best way to become financially independent and protect yourself is to get a handle on your finances by signing up with Personal Capital. They are a free online platform which aggregates all your financial accounts in one place so you can see where you can optimize. Before Personal Capital, I had to log into eight different systems to track 25+ difference accounts (brokerage, multiple banks, 401K, etc) to manage my finances. Now, I can just log into Personal Capital to see how my stock accounts are doing and how my net worth is progressing. I can also see how much I’m spending every month.
The best tool is their Portfolio Fee Analyzer which runs your investment portfolio through its software to see what you are paying. I found out I was paying $1,700 a year in portfolio fees I had no idea I was paying! There is no better financial tool online that has helped me more to achieve financial freedom. It only takes a minute to sign up.
Updated for 2015 and beyond