On Losing Weight, Spending Money & Saving Time

As we begin a New Year, 1000’s of people will be making a resolution to lose weight. They resolve, but most won’t succeed. I know, I was in that group for years. I did well for a day or two and then I’d blow it. I’d get back on the bandwagon several times before I finally gave up completely. Finally 3 years ago, after many lifestyle changes in my eating habits, I found a plan that worked for me. Unfortunately, that same plan doesn’t work for everyone.

I think the problem is we treat food like it’s some sort of God . . . or at least some foods. We ooo and aaah over decadent desserts and crave the sweets, the chocolates and the carbs, and then comes the philosophy that is becoming the downfall of America. We get “the entitlement” attitude about food.

As I’ve pondered that dilemma, it occured to me that Suze Orman was right. This financial expert visited the biggest loser a few seasons ago and predicted the winner based on the contestants’ credit scores. She estimated that the contestant with the best spending record had the highest odds of losing weight. I don’t remember if her forecast was correct, but the more I consider weight loss, the more I realize the research behind her philosophy rings true.

America, like most of the world, has developed a terrible entitlement attitude. Newlyweds no longer use hand-me-down furniture and college students don’t drive reliable “beaters.” We live in a throw away society where everyone is entitled to the biggest and the best. We don’t know what to buy for anyone for Christmas anymore because everyone just goes out and gets everything they want when they want it. We DESERVE nice things, no matter how much interest we pay. We are ENTITLED to have everything our neighbor has regardless of whether we need it or not. Credit cards and cash advances will take care of anything our budget can’t absorb, and we’ll worry about how to pay those off later.

Sad to say, we’ve developed the same attitude with food. I’ve been good all week, so I deserve to splurge on the weekends. Everyone else is having a piece of cake, so I’ll just have a small one too. We feel cheated if we can’t have the “good” stuff. Nevermind the stuff isn’t “good” for us, and the “credit” we use is our own ill health!

And while we’re at it, let’s look at our time. All three, weight loss, finances and our schedule, fit together in a nice little package. We say we don’t have time for this or that, when the truth is, we spend our time much like we spend our money and our calories. We play games on our modern conveniences that we pay more than $50/month to own (or do they own us). We watch television and take care of all those things our money has now made us slaves to. There’s no time to clean or have fun because we need two incomes per home (either a husband and a wife both working or a single person working two jobs) to help us maintain the lifestyle we “deserve.”

What if we viewed our time, food and money in the same light? How would our lives change if we developed a plan to scale down our lifestyle and give up the chains of slavery. Yes, you are a slave . . . if you are overweight, you are a slave to the food. If you are broke or don’t have time to enjoy life, you are a slave to the “things.” We are quick to point out those who are taken captive by alcohol and drugs, but why do we think those vices are worse than ours?

If you find yourself always broke and overweight, if you’re working hard with no time for yourself and nothing to show for it, then you need a budget. We call a calorie budget a diet, but I don’t think that’s a good word for it. Everything we eat is a ‘diet’. If you eat all McDonald’s burgers, then you are on a McDonald’s diet. It’s not necessarily good for you, but it’s still a ‘diet’.

You have only so much money, so many calories and so many hours in each day. You can get extra money and calories, but there’s a good chance that by giving yourself more of either of those, you’ll cut into your time budget. When we try to change one without counterbalancing the other two, we’ll find ourselves having problems every time.

From now on when you have extra cash, don’t go look for something you deserve. Instead, put the money in savings or give it away to someone who needs more. Yes, there will be times when you want to go get something nice for yourself, but most of the American population spends every extra penny, and then when there is an emergency, they’ve got nothing to fall back on. The other half of the population are hoarders (not the dirty, disgusting kind). They put every penny in the bank in case of emergency and don’t ever have any fun with it and certainly won’t give it away (after all, they worked hard for that money). Create a budget (with some wiggle room so you can have a little fun) and stick to it.

While you’re working on that budget, create a calorie budget. In the expense column of your calorie budget, write down the number of calories you need to expend every day in order to lose weight. If you need to lose weight, then you have a 3,500 calorie bill hanging over your head for every pound you need to lose. So, if you want to lose 5 pounds per month, then you’ll put 17,500 in your “expense” column for the month (or 583 calories a day). In your “income” column, you can put the rough amount you burn each day. I’m 5’2″ and lead a pretty sedentary life. I burn on average 1,450-1,700 calories each day if I don’t exercise. The number of calories you burn is the same as the amount of money you have to spend. For instance, if I don’t exercise and eat 1,500 calories a day, I can maintain my weight, but I have no extra to “put in savings” (or use to create a weight loss).

Your time works the same way, the only difference is, there’s no way to get more time. We can work extra hours to create more income. We can do some aerobics to create more calories, but we’re only given 24 hours every day. We don’t get extra for good behavior and we aren’t entitled to more than the next guy. You can either play or sleep your life away, you can work too hard and miss out on fun or you can create a time budget and have a nice balance or work, fun, family, friends and life.

Let’s face it, if you’ve got poor time management skills, there’s a good chance you can’t lose weight and have financial problems too. All three are linked, for good or bad. The one thing I’ve discovered in all three areas is this: when I give Christ my finances, my food and my time, everything gets done, I can lose weight and I have money to spare. I don’t know how He does it, but He does. I encourage you to trust Him with your life, especially these three areas. You’ll be amazed at how His budgeting skills make it all balance out!

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