At the beginning of every year, I tell myself that I’m going to eat better and exercise more. Yet, every December, I look and weigh exactly the same and get frustrated until the New Year, when the cycle starts anew. My theory on weight is simply that we all have a weight range we fluctuate in, and every 5 years that band increases towards the heavier side! That was my excuse for my lack of improvement.
I used to also think that our weight was 70% hereditary and 30% diet and exercise until I saw the show “The Biggest Loser!” Now I think the ratios are the complete opposite. If you really want to get motivated and cry at the same time, you’ve got to watch the show. The show’s concept is simple. After 3 months of boot camp, whoever loses the most weight wins gobs of money! The results are astonishing. Season 7’s winner, Helen lost an amazing 140lbs from her original 255lbs start weight. Go Helen!
The Biggest Loser show demonstrates that with enough motivation and discipline we can lose a lot of undesired weight. In fact, for 7 seasons in a row each of the winners have lost over 100lbs!
FOOD EXPENSE & GOALS
On average, I spend about $20 a weekday for food and $100 per weekend for a total weekly cost of $200 and a total monthly cost of around $800! I had no idea how much I was spending until I decided to write everything down for two weeks and annualize accordingly. $800 was clearly overkill, especially since it accounts for over 65% of my then, discretionary spending.
When the downturn hit, I decided to do an experiment partly to bring down my food expenses by 30%, and partly because I was inspired by The Biggest Loser, to shed 15lbs and get down to my college fighting weight of 160. At 160 lbs, my
Body Mass Index would be 23 (18.5-24.9 is normal weight) from slightly overweight at 25.5. If Helen can lose 140 pounds, why can’t I lose a lousy 15?!
EXPERIMENT #1: WORK OUT MORE. DURATION: 90 DAYS – SAMURAI STYLE
The first experiment was to exercise 3X a week from my normal 1X a week for three months. Each work out would consist of weights and cardio for 1 to 1.5 hours. My diet would stay exactly the same for the past 8 years, essentially eating anything until I was full. I admit I was sloth-like during last year’s pummeling, and part of my once a week work out was playing golf! Furthermore, half the time, I’d ride a cart :) Come on, Tiger Woods doesn’t have to lug a 40 pound bag around for 3.6 miles, why should I? Besides, I’m horrible at golf, and finding my balls would result in double the mileage.
After three months of boring free weights and tedious treadmills I lost an AMAZING………. drum roll please…. ONE POUND! The scale said 174lbs and as soon as I had a bottle of Gatorade, I was back to 175! GOSH DARNIT! After locking myself in a cave for 35 hours, I made absolutely nada progress. Zilch, zipo, zero! I was incredibly annoyed.
EXPERIMENT #2: EAT LESS, EAT HEALTHIER. DURATION: 90 DAYS – SAMURAI STYLE
At this point in time, I’m exasperated and cursing the waste of time. The only saving grace is that I actually began utilizing the $150/month club membership. I decided to banish working out completely. Who has time, especially when the sky was falling as financial firms around the world disappeared? Instead, I decided to eat healthy. Breakfast burritos were replaced with an apple and a banana, Indian curry lunches were replaced with a salad with minimal dressing and some chicken, and at dinner I just ate slower and 65% of normal. Did you know that it takes 10-20 minutes for your body to register you’re fullness? No more pizzas, juicy ribeyes, sugar drinks, sodas and juices. I focused on raw foods and eating leftovers every day for three months.
A couple things happened. By eating better, including incorporating Subway’s foot long sandwiches for $5 bucks and only eating half for lunch, I did indeed reduce my average monthly food expense from $800 to ~$500. Second, I lost 14 lbs! I didn’t work out at all. All I did was eat healthy and eat less than normal. HALLELUJAH! Subway, shoot me an e-mail and we’ll talk.
Most of us are too busy with our lives to bother working out AND eat healthy at the same time. I know I am. As a result, many do neither. Yet, if we could choose one or the other, my absolute recommendation is to just eat less and eat healthier. Not having to work out at all should be incentive enough to keep yourself eating right. Not only will you lose more weight, you’ll save money and your vital cartilage by not working out. Once you get the eating right part down, you can gradually ease your way towards physical activity! If it’s no fun, you’ll never do it, so I recommend picking up a sport. I can play play basketball for 2 hours nonstop, but I can only jog for 1.5 miles before I’m out of breathe!
Studies show that 1/3rd of Americans are obese, costing the country $100-140 billion in annual medical bills. Studies also show that 65% of Americans are overweight, defined as 10-30 pounds over healthy weight. Can this be true? I don’t really notice, only when I’m on a 10 hour flight to Europe in a middle economy class seat, and someone sits next to me and takes my armrest! :) Even smoking only costs $74 billion in medical bills per a government funded study! If 90 million Americans are obese, given the current US population of 320 million, the annual cost comes out to $1,100-1,400 per person. Hence, if I continued on my 10 pound creep every 5 years, I may be spending literally $3,000+/year more than necessary given the medical costs and necessary gym membership!
A year later, I’m doing ok, hovering around 162-165 lbs as I’ve incorporated healthier eating into my lifestyle, and my self imposed “Going Broke Budget” doesn’t allow me to eat dry-aged ribeye steak with a twice baked potato and creamed spinach once a week anymore! Furthermore, I’ve rediscovered my love for basketball and tennis which is a bonus, based on my study above. I keep telling myself that if Helen can do it, so can I. We generally always look better than what we think, so don’t sweat it. How many times have you looked at pictures of your younger self and said, “Wow, I look pretty good!” And how many times did you tell yourself when you were younger, “Gosh, i need to get in better shape.” The mind constantly plays tricks on us, and we should cherish our youth before it’s gone.
SIMPLE TIPS FOR SAVING MONEY ON FOOD & LOSING WEIGHT
* Order for one and share between two. With portion sizes so big nowadays, why not just order one salad and a steak and split it? If you’re still hungry, you can always order more. If not, just eat a lot of bread and water. Yum!
* Eat slower. It takes the brain around 10-20 minutes to register whether you have food in your tummy and are full. If you give your brain some time to think and satiate, you’ll eat less.
* Don’t buy in bulk, just buy what you need. I really think the trick is to eat variably. If there’s a big jar of cookies in front of you, you’re going to eat them, and probably more than just one. If there’s only one individually wrapped cookie, like the Japanese do it, you’ll eat it, but then there’s nothing left. During that gap, you can’t eat anything until you’re forced to go to the store again. Since we’re naturally lazy, our laziness is saving ourselves from overeating!
* Go to your weekend farmers market after a morning jog and eat all the free fruit, cheese, and sauce samples for lunch! One free meal a week saves you $520 a year if you average a $10 lunch!
Readers, any simple tips or epiphanies you have for saving money on food and staying in shape? Please feel free to send the post around and discuss!
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