I started an adventure last April to get in shape. I noticed some similarities between the habits of getting healthy and the habits I developed when I first started budgeting four years ago.
The Start: Research, Research, Research
In both journeys I started by soaking up as much information as I possibly could. I read everything, especially in the battle ground of Google search:
- Keto vs low carb
- Cardio vs strength training
- Roth vs Traditional IRA
- Debt snowball vs debt avalanche
Putting Knowledge Into Action
After a sufficient knowledge binge, it was time to be like Nike and Just Do It™. As I started budgeting, I began tracking my spending. I even wrote “check YNAB” on my credit card (so I could try to find the money first before sneaking in a trip to McDonald’s).
My fitness journey was similar: I laced up my sneakers (they were Skechers, ironically) and started moving. I tried out new things like spin class (fun!) and budgeting my calories just like I budgeted my dollars.
I’m not going to lie, developing new habits is hard. The good news: new habits get easier as they become routine. Three weeks into healthy eating and exercise and recording every purchase, I started to wonder how I ever survived without a budget or my Saturday morning yoga class.
Motivation Comes In Many Forms
I also learned some things about myself in both of these journeys—like just how much of a motivation money really is for me. Seeing my True Expenses fill up was nearly as exciting as the prospect of being paid to lose weight. A game called Diet Bet—where you bet money on yourself to lose weight—was ultimately my biggest motivator in my fitness journey (that, and you know, getting healthy).
When you play a Diet Bet game, you “bet” on yourself to lose 4% of your body weight in four weeks—or 10% of your weight in six months. If you hit your goal, then you split the pot with everyone else that also won. I gotta tell you, it’s a lot easier to say no to temptation when money (YOUR money) is on the line.
In the last two-ish years, I’ve played eight Diet Bet games (including two six-month Transformer games). I’ve bet $425 on myself and won $790—giving me an ROI of 86%. I’ve lost 26.8 pounds—essentially getting paid $13.60 for each pound I’ve lost.
Inspiration can breed motivation, and I loved the little communities that formed in my Diet Bet groups. I also chose to hang around my health-minded friends more and we would go bike riding, running, swimming in lakes, and doing anything outdoors. My fit friends were always looking for the next active adventure—just like my financially savvy friends are always looking for a good deal. I also found that staying in touch with your weight with a weekly weigh-in keeps you on track, just like checking my budget daily does with my money.
It Doesn’t End Here
Just like with budgeting, I have to stay on top of it. I still have about 15 pounds I’d like to lose (not to mention the few I found again this holiday season). But I just roll with the punches and keep going without letting setbacks deter me. Starting your healthy habits again is no different from making a Fresh Start in your budget. You’re not going backwards—you’re taking new knowledge, a new perspective, and moving forward (sometimes quite literally).
Wishing you the best in your New Year’s Resolutions: keep going! Before long, they’ll be automatic routines propelling you right where you want to go.