A few years ago, August 2008 to be exact, The Husband and I looked like this.
Not exactly morbidly obese. Especially The Husband, who always managed to keep his girth well concealed. In fact, we regularly told ourselves we weren’t “that fat”. Although, we were hardly healthy and both of us were well on our way to unnecessary back and health problems.
For not being that fat, somehow we both managed to lose 40-50lbs.
One year later.
That was almost 3 years ago, we still look largely the same. We’ve both weighed within 5 to 10lbs of our ‘goal weight’ ever since. I’m pretty motivated to maintain my size. Why?
Because losing weight is a pain in the… keister. Literally, figuratively, in every sense of the word. Including the financial one.
I often cited finances as an excuse NOT to lose weight, which is kind of hilarious in retrospect. I didn’t want to spend the money on a gym, or weight loss program, or proper equipment. These are clearly excuses, yes. However, these things do cost money, especially initially. I’m sure you could lose weight a lot more frugally than I did. For me, investing money into the process kept me honest. Once the money was spent did I really want to waste it by falling off the wagon?
So, what did I spend money on?
Weight Watchers. Oh yes I did. Not the meetings and weigh-ins, but the on-line tracking tool, definitely. It’s currently $18.95/month. I think it was $16.95/month then. There always seems to be some deal to waive the sign-up fee. I did this for at least a year before canceling it, which is what I told myself I would do to begin with; track all the food and “points” for 1 year. Long after I’d lost the weight.
Yes, there are other free on-line tool to track calories (fitday.com). They are not as easy or intuitive to use. With Weight Watchers, you can eat whatever you want, just not all at once. (Side Note: Take that statement. Sub ‘spend’ for ‘eat’. Subtract ‘Weight Watchers’. Sound familiar?) My weight problem was all about portion control. We ate basically healthy foods, in vast quantities. Knowing what a reasonable portion of something was (1 to 2 cups for most things) and having to measure that out time after time, was an eye-opening experience.
We paid for one membership, but The Husband unofficially used it too. (Shhhhh.) He’d use the account to look up what he ate and keep his own running tally.
Personal trainer and gym membership. But, not from the same place. Most ‘personal trainers’ that work at the gym are worthless. They have a simple certification, and get clients because of where they work, not from referrals or repeat business. Find an independent, well reviewed trainer, who will push you. You will hate him/her. For me, it was worth every penny.
A trainer taught me how to work out. Not just do a bunch of cardio. How to use my muscles, how to interval train, how to get the most out of my time invested working out. I took a trainer led, ‘boot camp’ style class twice a week for 8 months. Each time, I thought I would die. The fact that I didn’t is still kind of amazing. For the privilege of almost puking, I paid $10 per class, $20/week. I also went for the occasional private sessions, once a week for $30/hour. At the most I was paying $50 a week for my personal trainer.
In between those sessions, I used what I was learning at the gym. We became faithful YMCA members. The YMCA is a little more expensive than your regular Big Box Fitness. I am completely ok with that. The YMCA supports my community. They host after school care and kid camps, family dinners and movie nights, senior day programs, and even financial literacy seminars. I’ll gladly hand over a little more cash to them, before giving it to a corporation who provides nothing other than sweaty weight machines and skeezy showers.
I pay $94 a month, (up from $89, which is up from $85 when I joined) to use the facilities at my YMCA. I am there 5 to 6 days a week.
Equipment. Did you know cotton is not very comfortable to work out in? Or that you need to replace your running shoes every 6 to 8 months? These are both facts I am well acquainted with, now. Then, learning to incorporate these things into my budget was a hard reality. Finding cheap, quality sources for such items was even worse. I made do for a long time with ill-fitting, sweat heavy clothes and did my best with the shoes I had. Frankly, this just made me like my workouts that much less. I started asking for specific gift cards for my Birthday. I kept my eyes out of sales. I started to anticipate when I was going to need new shoes. I learned what brands held up, and which ones piled and began to stink earlier than they should. I even got myself a few pieces of home equipment for those quick morning workouts; a used pull up bar, a couple free weights. The pushups are free.
Clothing When you lose weight, your wardrobe suffers. Its unavoidable. Buying new clothes is supposed to be a fringe benefit. When you are fiscally concerned? Not so much. If you aren’t familiar with thrift store shopping, now would be a good time to make yourself so. I put it off as long as possible, hoping to get to my ‘end size’ before making many of my purchases. The mark was missed a few times. I had to buy interim sized items, pants mostly, and a few items for work. Its difficult to quantify exactly, but my clothing spending increased dramatically, especially during the last few months of weight loss.
Conclusion. Money spent, we are each 50lbs lighter. I consider that a successful investment. There are still costs associated with our health and weight maintenance; YMCA membership and on-going equipment replacement. Initial costs have fallen by the wayside; Weight Watchers and the personal trainer. This all could have been for naught had I either a) not stuck with it or b) regained the weight. We still focus on not doing the latter.
The pursuit of that on-going goal, helps keep our expenses and our waistlines in check. How so, you ask? Coming soon to a post near you.