5 ways that budget management and weight control are alike

I’m pretty proud of our financial success in the past few months. My husband and I have improved our financial health immensely since our wedding. Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for my physical health.

I’ve been avoiding the scale for the past month. I didn’t want to confirm what I already knew. Last night, I finally decided to face the inevitable. I’ve gained 8 pounds in the four months since my wedding. Yikes. I was 3 pounds below my regular weight on my wedding day, but I’m officially 5 pounds above my “happy weight” – the heaviest I’ve been in two years.

One of my first posts was about how I lost weight using basic budgeting skills. Now that the honeymoon’s over, and it’s time to get real and lose these pounds I’ve put on since the wedding, I wanted to revisit the topic. Only this time I’m talking about why constant monitoring and reassessment are crucial to staying physically and financially fit.

Here are some tips I’ve found helpful when managing my weight and my budget:

1. Be realistic.

Sometimes it’s necessary to go on a strict budget to pay down massive debt. You may have to cut all discretionary spending for a little while to overcome a major financial hurdle. However, if you try to maintain that level of restriction for too long, it’s harder to stay on track and meet your own high expectations.

Your best bet is to find a comfortable balance between necessary bills, discretionary spending, and saving. Maintaining a reasonable budget requires constant monitoring, but it shouldn’t be incredibly difficult or make you feel deprived.

The same is true for weight management. Find a comfortable weight within your healthy range that you’re able to maintain without going to extreme diet measures. Once you get there, maintaining that weight requires constant monitoring, but it shouldn’t be a terrible struggle as long as you’re eating well and exercising.

I’m able to stay at my healthy weight pretty easily just by avoiding overeating and staying active. When I try to venture below that weight, like I did for my wedding, every pound is an incredible struggle. My body just doesn’t want to be that thin. So I’m happy to compromise. I may not be thin enough to feel comfortable in a bikini, but at least I know I’m in a healthy weight range.

2. Frequently monitor your progress to catch yourself before you veer too far off track.

Once you find a comfortable budget, it’s crucial that you measure your progress regularly. Without careful planning and monitoring, you could easily throw your entire monthly budget off track with one weekend of bad decisions. Imagine how bad it could get if you just stopped monitoring your spending for months at a time.

Just as you check your budget frequently to make sure you’re not overspending, you must weigh yourself regularly. A slight increase in weight could alert you to a problem in your diet and activity before you veer off track to an unmanageable degree.

3. The longer you avoid the problem, the harder it is to resolve.

It’s much easier to pay off your credit card balance every month than it is to pay down several thousand dollars of debt that’s accrued over months or years. It’s also a lot harder to lose weight when the pounds have packed on over time. Overcoming a 1-pound weight gain usually just involves watching what you eat closely for a few days. I’ll have to work a lot harder to lose these 5 pounds. It would be even harder if I waited until I was 40 pounds overweight again to get back on track.

4. Constantly adjust according to your changing needs.

When it comes to budgeting, everybody knows that you can’t continue spending the same after a major pay cut. When your income decreases, your spending must decrease, too. Likewise, when you welcome a new baby, your discretionary spending is probably going to take a hit to accommodate for diapers and formula.

You must find the same balance between activity and calorie intake for weight management. I think part of the reason I’m struggling more to maintain my weight is because I changed my job. In retail, I was on my feet 8 hours a day running around the store, moving heavy objects, and constantly moving. I didn’t watch my diet as closely as I should have, but the constant activity made it easy to keep extra weight off. Now that I’m sitting at a desk all day instead of moving, I need to seek out more activity outside of my job and become mindful of what I eat to avoid weight gain.

5. Sticking to it and making the right choices are the hardest parts.

Everyone knows that the easiest way to stay ahead of the game financially is to spend less than you make. We also know that the best way to maintain a healthy weight is to burn more calories than you consume. It all sounds so easy when you break it down into those simple equations, doesn’t it? The truth it, it’s not that easy.

The part that’s left out of that equation is the constant struggle every day to make the right choices and stick to your commitment. After all, if it was as easy as it sounds, nobody would struggle with their weight or their finances.

The best thing that weight control and budget management have in common? They’re both totally worth the struggle.

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3 thoughts on “5 ways that budget management and weight control are alike

  1. Mary

    I’d been wondering how the strict diet was coming when I read the menus you were posting ; )

    I’m trying to lose the weight that I gained during my long surgery recovery, so maybe we should be diet buddies! It’s been way more challenging for me this time, since I haven’t been able to maintain a good workout yet without suffering the consequences with my back, so maybe we can keep tabs on each other’s progress.

    I know one of your posts was about being able to lose weight on a budget, but honestly, I do think it’s harder. There are some really good cost effective substitutions, but many more of them are costly (the quickest example to come to mind is hamburger – plain old ground beef is a good bit cheaper than the less than 4% fat ground round that is a staple around here) On top of that, I have found that the best way to keep myself on track is having things on hand that help keep me from temptation, the prepackaged snacks, ice cream treats, and even the occasional healthy choices meal. Bonus points to you for being able to stay on the wagon largely without them, but keep in mind too that everything is a balance, and if it takes a little more tacked on to the budget to make it more comfortable and easy for you to maintain a healthier you, it’s worth it.

  2. Pingback: September Budget Round up « Living Well on Less

  3. barb

    Trracking & monitoring is the key for sure. It’s amazing when you write it down….how in your face it becomes! If I don’t write my expenses down each day, I literally have no idea how much I spend each day. I know it works for food & diet too. Thanks for the insight and reminders in your blog! Barb

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