The Best Way To Lose Weight And Become Debt Free

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.


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!


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.


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!

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Updated for 2015 and beyond

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. David M says

    I certainly hope that people do NOT gain weight to lose weight or go into debt to get out of debt! However, nothing that people do surprises me. Thus for some percentage of people, which I hope is a small percentage, most likely do these things.

    Regarding weight loss – I have lost 20 pounds over the last year and I feel great (173 down to 153 and I’m 5′ 7″)! I had weighed around 170 for the last 20 years and never thought I would get below 165 pounds. What made me lose the weight – an office “greatest loser” compitition got me motivated! I lost 10 pounds in 2 months and then was around 160-165 for the next 8 months. What got me to lose the last 5 pounds – we bought Wii Fitness. Every day you gain weight – he gives you hell! I hated him asking my why I gained weight and thus I ate less and exercised more.

    Getting out of debt. I grew up poor and thus never had a lot of money and I HATE debt.

    I had college debt that was on a 10 year schedule but I paid it off in 4 years.

    I had a car loan out of college that was for 3 years but I paid it off in 18 months. I have purchased 2 cars since then paying cash.

    I bought a house 2 1/2 years ago with a 15 year $330,000 mortgage. I just refinanced $205,000 into a 10 year mortgage that I will definately pay off ahead of time.

    Regarding it being a wonderful experience to get out of debt after being in debt. I’m sure it is and I applaud all the people that are trying and/or have suceeded (I’m not talking about a 1st mortgage you can afford. I’m talking about: credit card debt, car loans, student loans, etc that people could not afford).

    Everyone, try not to over induldge in food or debt this upcoming holiday season – it’s not worth it!

    • says

      Well done on your weight loss! That’s pretty damn huge as a percentage of your total weight.

      Think about this though.. if you got a call from the produce of “The Biggest Loser”, who said you get to go on the show to win $1 million bucks in 3 months, wouldn’t you EAT YOUR HEART out and enjoy all the good stuff so you can lose it?

      Although you hate debt… you sure have given a lot of examples of taking on debt!

      • David M says

        You Wrote, “Although you hate debt… you sure have given a lot of examples of taking on debt!”

        Yes, and I hated the debt, and did love, getting rid of it!!!!!

        • says

          But, I really think you LOVE debt, otherwise, why the heck would you take on debt in the first place? You love the things debt buys, otherwise you wouldn’t buy it!

          Now, you love getting out of debt, so it’s a pure win-win!

          Am I being brilliantly logical, or no?

      • Norman says

        Isn’t there a fine line between brilliant and lunatic?
        However, your point is well taken. I do think there is something to your logic here. Otherwise, why do people yo-yo their weight or go into debt for a vacation?

        • says

          I think the Yo-Yo folks are having a BLAST! They love the feeling of great food and shedding all the excess again. Same thing with debt.

          The Yo-Yo’s know how to do it right. Look at Oprah! She’s killing it!

  2. says

    Nice analogy but while getting out of debt can leave a massive positive influence on your life getting out of obesity can leave a lot of health problems so it’s not worth the risk.

    I’m a few pounds over right now…. ok maybe 15…. Working on losing them now. I figure when I am down to ideal I can do sporadic splurges as long as I keep my health in check. My fitness is good and my heart works well so not too worried there just gotta lose that ring.

      • says

        I’m fit as a fiddle but a round fiddle…… Shredded underneath most likely so really honing in on the diet to see what i’m hiding under those 15lbs!!!! First time in a long time that I am being so tough on myself and I can feel the weight dropping already, the weekend is my best friend and my worst enemy though as I am off to the beach sailing again and that often involves whiskey, Egyptian hospitality (more food than the imaginary feast in Hook) and no massively strenuous activity!.

        If you are obese then the safest thing you can do is get out (healthily without crash dieting) but purposely getting into it is a bad idea I think as it can leave a shed load of problems such as high blood pressure and fat in your arteries (high cholesterol) that is very hard to get rid of. You can also be left with extra skin that needs to be surgically removed and other nasty things….. Just think it pays to live a life of moderation with smaller fluctuations in both directions rather than pushing to extremes in both ways.

  3. says

    As someone who got herself into debt, it definitely wasn’t so I could brag about how I got myself out of debt. It sort of just happened through some poor planning and a much too optimistic future! Sort of like gaining weight; I don’t think anyone plans on gaining weight only to say they lost x amount of pounds when they decide to diet. It sort of just happens, then one day you wake up and say, “What the…? How did that little roll of fat get there?!” I think your logic is a big off; maybe you had too many carbs yesterday! ;)

    • says

      “What the” lol!

      Maybe you misinterpret. I’m saying that it feels awesome to eat great, unhealthy food so that’s a positive while you gain weight. Then it’s a postivie when you get fit again and feel good going the other way!

      Same thing with debt. Feels great spending money you don’t have and finally paying things off!

      • David M says

        You wrote, Feels great spending money you do not have.” For many Americans it might. However, this have never been the case for me.

        I would be MISERABLE, if I could not pay off a credit card in full. Maybe this is why I have $200,000 in US Saving Bonds as a cushion!

        • says

          I donno, honestly. Let’s say you are born rich and have $1 million in your savings before ever working. Do you think the thrill of paying for a European vacation or buying that car you’ve always wanted is the same as if you were poor, worked all your life to fINALLY be able to take your wife to Paris and Rome? No!

  4. Robert Muir says

    Not having a weight problem, I cannot relate to that side of your hypothesis, but having been in debt and having gotten out of debt, I can say without reservation that I will never get back in debt regardless of how much “fun” it might be racking it up.

      • Robert Muir says

        Just catching up on your comments eh? ;-)

        I (we) got into debt because I was the “normal” consumer idiot. As long as we could afford the payments, we could “afford” the purchase. No thought went into saving whatsoever. I would receive the credit card bill and pay $100 over the minimum and think that I was doing well. The fact that we were charging $200+ more per month didn’t matter. After all, we hadn’t hit the limit.

        I didn’t wake up until I was 39 (1999) and tripped over Dave Ramsey. His book, “Financial Peace” changed our lives! We now have no debt, including no mortgage and we’re financially independent.

  5. Romeo says


    This sounds like a blog that belongs in my experimental Sunday blogs deemed, “Satirical Sunday.” Would you mind?

    To answer your question, though, why on earth would someone get fat ( you were too policitically correct ) just to experience the satisfaction of getting smaller? They get fat because of lack of control and like you alluded to the satisfaction of good eats.

    BTW. What’s your “beef” with fat people? –smile–

    • says

      Sure, include away!

      No beef at all, as I’ve always thought about my weight since I was a kid. I look on the postivie side of thigs often. The benefit to gain weight is the great pleasure of great food. Food is so wonderful!

  6. says

    I think people gain weight because they eat three meals a day like you just did, but they skip the 90 minutes of tennis. (By the way, your life is sounding kinda cushy… :) )

    I don’t know what makes people hit rock bottom with either their weight or their finances. Maybe they lose their home, or maybe the doctor tells the person they are a walking timebomb. I just wish people bottomed out sooner so our nation would be so broke and overweight.

      • says

        It’s ones natural instincts that kick in. Few eat so much that they become immobile b/c people like to move and breathe. You stop going into more debt b/c your finances can’t handle it, or have some life change. But, all the while eating a lot and getting into debt is glorious fun!

        My life ain’t that cushy… but sometimes I do get free meals which is nice :)

  7. says

    LOL Good post Sam. As for the fat thing, I don’t think people gain weight to lose weight. After I graduated from college I gained a bunch of weight and it was so not on purpose. It was due to no planning and poor habits. I then got on a fitness kick five years ago and have been consistently working out ever since. There was elation is losing weight but none in gaining it. It might be some fun to gaining weight if you planned to gorge out on delicious meals. I do think that some people go into debt to get out of debt.

    • says

      I think people gain weight b/c they LOVE the food so much and don’t really care about gaining weight, otherwise they wouldn’t.

      Your example, you enjoyed NOT having to plan, and your habits which were easier than planning and working out. That is your reward.

  8. says

    I think people gain weight (especially me) because they have a desk job where they don’t move much, poor diet, and lack of exercise.

    A much less talked about reason that people gain weight is because of physical injuries. If you got a bum leg, even riding a bike is a hard task.

    • says

      What about doing toe-pushups or something?

      Yeah, injuries do limit a lot, I hear ya. So frustrating when I sprained my ankle bad and couldn’t play tennis for two weeks. Had to rely on situps and pushups and yoga.

  9. BG says

    I’ve lost 21 pounds (9%) in the past 4 weeks — easy to do on Atkins. I’d completely trounce anybody else who wants to make bets on weight loss.

    And for anyone considering Atkins: READ THE BOOK!

    The diet is not just meat, and most people do it wrong and in a very unhealthy way. Hint: you are supposed to have a healthy salad for lunch every day.

  10. ctreit says

    It may be easier to lose 23 pounds if you weigh 230 pounds than it is to lose 18 if you weight 180, but I don’t think the same applies to getting rid of debt. The more debt you have the more debt service will eat into your budget and the more difficult it is to make a dent in your debt at all.

  11. says

    I guess being obese is kind a bad situation. Financially speaking means a person is drowning in debt and needs someone to save him. Actually, enjoying food and money is not bad at all it is a just a matter of how we control ourselves in handling and managing our finances. If you eat, more than your digestive system can take you’ll get fat and gain weight, if you spend too much more than your income you’ll lose money and debt comes in.

  12. Neal says

    Naw….I don’t think us fatties stuff ourselves because we want to lose weight.

    We think we’ll start “tomorrow”. That’s the issue and it’s the same disease that keeps people in debt.

    We don’t want to do the work today. The problem is we focus on WEIGHT instead of FOOD. In other words, if I want to lose weight, I just have to watch what I eat and let the weight worry about itself.

    I am going home now to kill my scale.

    • says

      Lol. I stuff my face bc I love the taste of food! I love the taste of food more than the disappointment of gaining weight, otherwise I wouldn’t gain weight.

      Drop ur scale from ur roof and record it!

  13. Aloysa says

    People gain weight because they do not move as much as they should. Or they eat crappy processed food. Majority of people if given a choice to be fat or not, no doubt would choose not to be overweight. But not everyone will work hard to lose weight.

    People go into debt because they don’t have savings, they think it is a lifestyle trend, they think they can pay it back later. again, given a choice, all of us would choose to be debt free. But not all of us would work hard to get ourselves out of it.

    • says

      That’s the thing. Most people are happy to be overweight, b/c it is MORE enjoyable than eating less, more healthy, and working out.

      Going into a debt is awesome for many b/c of all the things they get to buy with a new lifestyle.

      You can’t have a chocolate cake everyday AND expect to be thin if one never works out. And thats just fine, b/c the choco cake is so much more pleasurable than the annoyance of being overweight!

  14. says

    It’s a life that’s out of control, though. I think that yo-yo way of life is not for me although I have done those things in the past. For me, what leads to happiness is more stability in my finances and how I choose to eat. Living and eating healthy is insurance for your future and binging on junk and then losing the weight later or overspending and then working it off just sounds exhausting and meaningless.

  15. says

    What an interesting thought! I think people gain weight due to a combination of factors which other comm enters have mentioned. My Midwestern family still cooks/eats like we’re farming but no one has farmed for three generations! We don’t want to give up that tasty, hearty food because we all sit in front of computers all day!

    Going into debt is another story. Personally, I wasn’t taught money management at a young age and debt wasn’t bad; it was normal.

  16. says

    People don’t chose to be overweight and assuming that overweight people don’t work hard to lose weight is not right. If you visit a fast food place, you don’t find only overweight people but people of all shapes and sizes. Eating fast food or fatty food doesn’t make one fat, the quantity of food and lifestyle makes on overweight. I know many overweight people who don’t eat any type of fast foods but as the eat a lot in general and have a sedentary life the weight slowly adds on.
    Also, people don’t into debt just because they are living beyond their means. Many people go into debt because of major financial bills, home repairs, children education and other such expenses when living on a limited income. Not everyone can take care of all the financial responsibilities with their income and savings, sometimes they need dip into credit.
    We tend to generalize situations and bracket everyone into it.

    • says

      I’m not sure about that. You are saying people don’t have free will, and I think that’s wrong. A lot of people gain weight because they choose too, and vice versa. Just look at the show The Biggest Loser. How did they lose weight, ALL OF THEM? B/c they wanted too. Don’t count out the human spirit.

  17. says

    Ahhh, if we had known then what we know now…

    I certainly would NOT have gotten in debt had I known the consequences. I would pay for everything, including a house in cash.

    Luckily I have never had health problems, and now that I know what I know, will never have health problems related to lifestyle choice.

    I do see a lot of people go through the emotional seesaw though. And I think if you have a problem as the one above, you need to look at how you can handle your emotions first.


      • says

        the biggest headache in my life right now is my house. i certainly never would have taken on the debt had I known ANY of the consequences. I was almost completely naive and gung ho about it. (i.e. great investment when house prices were soaring, very bad if you didn’t sell before 2008.)

        Its the opportunity cost, this house of mine has stolen away many other opportunities I could have had. Graduate school debt ranks 2nd but isnt as bad and is yet to pay off as I havent changed my job or gotten a related increase in salary because I have my Masters.

        In both cases I would have told my past self not to do it and been happier for it. If I didnt have those two things I would be much closer to an “early retirement” and could pursue everything I want. Again, those opportunity costs…

  18. livetochew says

    You might have something there, Sam. I don’t know if it’s just the media or what, but I’ve definitely heard more stories about overweight people becoming really lean/fit or people who are seriously in debt finally pulled their act together and not only become debt free but also very financially secured. Seldom do you see a not quite overweight person gather enough motivation to actually try to be fit, because technically, they are not overweight yet… and same is true for the ones that never got into debt, so they never feel the need to try something drastic to improve their financial situation… Come to think of it… I may be in that boat… weight wise and financial wise.

  19. says

    I wouldn’t say it goes like that. I don’t gain weight to lose it; I need to lose it definitely, but I don’t want to gain more just to say I lost more (I hope that makes sense). Same with debt; people don’t get into debt just to get out of it. No one WANTS to be in debt, especially knowing how difficult it is to get out of it, and same with weight loss. In both situations, it’s all about discipline. You have to drill in your mind that if you don’t enjoy having a difficult life, don’t buy things you truly can’t afford. If you don’t want to be a slave to the gym and you want to fit all of your clothes, you have to work hard. Wow, I ended up preaching to the choir.

    • says

      IF no one wants to be in debt, why do they get into debt? It’s because they love the things debt buys more than the pain of being in debt. And then it feels great to get out of debt!

      Nobody is so stupid as to do something they don’t want to do.

  20. Wil Possible says

    Weight Loss is often misguided. A healthy person can be “overweight” but as long as his or her energy level is high, there isn’t really any problems. Some people are naturally on the heavy side while others skinny. The bottom line is, how do you feel about yourself?

  21. Daniel says

    In my experience, the day when I lost 60 pounds was the day I realize I was expending less in food. Therefore, I was saving some good money. So your analogy can be applied in many aspects of life. The problem with us, humans is that we are never satisfied with ourselves. Why we gain weight? Because we eat as if were no tomorrow. Why we have endless debts? Because we spend money as if were no tomorrow. We do not really take what we need for living, but we want more and more and more. Hence, we will always be fat and have debts. Just my thoughts.

  22. says

    The logic of gaining to lose or going into debt to get out of it escapes me! A long time ago (30+ years), I lost a lot (35 lbs.) of weight and it was not fun! Sure that feeling of accomplishment is a high, but it is not worth the pain. I believe people get fat because they lose control of themselves. They eat for a variety of reasons such as stress, depression, anger etc. There is a parallel with people who go into debt. They are also out of control and spend for a variety of reasons such as stress, depression, anger etc. What is equally interesting is many people who lose weight regain the weight similar to out of control spending getting back into debt. Therefore in both situations there is a need to get to the source of the problem that caused debt and becoming overweight to resolve the cause. There has to be a better reason to remain fit or out of debt than the cause that caused the situation. In my case, I look and feel better. Being in control of my finances provides choices versus deep in debt.

    • says

      You sure it wasn’t fun to lose 35lbs? Don’t you feel really proud of yourself? And when you gained that 35lbs originally, wasn’t it a whole lot of fun eating to your heart’s content? It makes a lot of sense!

      Pleasure going both ways it what makes things so volatile.

  23. says

    Hi Sam,
    Interesting as usual. For one, that 5’11” dude isn’t overweight, well not really. That’s a BMI of 25.1 and the threshold for overweight is 25.0. So, if he has any muscle at all, he probably has a pretty good build. BMI doesn’t take muscle tone into account and assumes most people don’t life weights. That aside, binging early in life or taking on debt early in life – both have mal effects later in life even if you attone for your problems later in life. For instance, an overweight individual that loses some weight at 45 will still probably be plagued with anything from high cholesterol to high blood pressure to an early heart attack. Same with the debt. Even if someone cut out all their debt at say, 45, think of all the hundreds of thousands in missed investments/retirement savings they spent on crap instead. They’re that much more in the hole. So, the responsible/healthy eaters and savers make out better in the end if they were consistent for life!

    • says

      180lbs at 5’11 is slightly overweight for the average person, and 25.1 BMI is therefore pushing it. Of course it’s average if the guy is quite muscular or what not, but for the most part, you’re at that limit. NBA balller Allen Iverson is 5’11-6feet and he’s around 160lbs for example.

  24. says

    You make me wonder sometimes Sam. You’re citing Alan Iverson as an example? OK, then I’m citing a professional bodybuilder with 5% bodyfat but benches 650 pounds. His BMI is over 25. Anyway, it’s nitpicking and not totally on point with your article. But I still stand by my primary premise which is – fat…or debt… early on in life does has implications down the road, even if you shape up later in life. Best bet is to be financially or lifestyle “healthy” for life!

  25. says

    I can see your line of logic, but I’m really hoping you’re being sarcastic here. Otherwise, you’re ignoring the fact that being significantly in debt, as well as finding yourself significantly overweight, can be a really stressful thing for many people. I know one guy who had a heart attack at 25 because he and his new wife were sooooo in debt.

  26. says

    Hey Sam, I think you’ve got a really good point… I think people don’t necessarily do these things on purpose, but after they’ve reached their goal for say, getting to their ideal weight, they don’t have that constant pressure, and since maintaining is probably boring, they let themselves slide a bit. I know I’ve done this before with weight lifting. I’ll hit a goal, then slide, then re-hit the goal, not really on purpose though.

    I think it’s probably a good argument against goal setting and more so achieving a lifestyle that’s consistent and that eventually hits goals as a byproduct.

    To follow up with your question… I’m doing well, how about yourself?

  27. says

    It’s definitely easy to dive into an unhealthy meal thinking, “I might as well go ahead and eat this and will just work out an extra day” and then forget to do it or blow off the extra work out. It takes a lot of discipline to pass up carbs and sweets!

  28. says

    It would be crazy if people gained weight to lose weight. If this were true, most people wouldn’t lose enough weight to get back to the original weight they were in the first place!

    But I do believe people get into debt to get out debt. I say this because they are ways to get into good debt, and having other people pay it for you. For example, starting a business most likely will require to get into a massive amount of debt. If the business is successful, other people would be paying the debt off for you. Also, real estate is another good example of obtaining good debt.

    Just my two cents. This is was an interesting read and I enjoyed it!

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