- About 38 percent of Americans have at least $1000 dollars in savings
- About 37 percent of Americans are at a healthy weight.
- About 40 percent of Americans have an Associate’s degree or above.
Is it merely a coincidence that those numbers are so close? I would like to hypothesize that the answer is no.
Why not? Well…because at the end of the day, they all require a similar set of skills and habits. And the path that moves a person from “surviving” to “thriving” looks remarkably similar in each case. So if you want to be healthy, wealthy and wise…you’ll start treating YOURSELF like an investment.
- When managing your finances, one of the first things you want to look at is your debt. How much money do you owe others? What is the interest rate on that? If the interest rate is low, then perhaps it would be better to look at putting whatever surplus cash you have into investments that will yield a higher interest rate than that which you are paying each month to your debtors.
- In the same way, treat your weight like a debt. To what extent is your weight harming you? Exercise is phenomenal for your health. Is your weight keeping you from being able to exercise? Are you finding that you are unable to connect with your children or grandchildren the way you want to, because keeping up with them is absolutely exhausting? Is it hindering your ability to sleep? If that is the case, then you probably want to be pretty aggressive about getting some of the weight off. Not because your weight is in and of itself a problem. But because your weight is hindering you from engaging in the very kinds of activities known to help you sustain a healthy body in general. Are you still able to do what you love, hike and bike as you please, and keep up with your loved ones? Are your biometrics perfectly fine (even if your BMI is a bit high?) Maybe you don’t need to focus on being so aggressive with weight loss. Perhaps it would be better for you to invest the time and energy into the very things already sustaining you.
- Let’s say you have looked at your “debt” and have decided (for whatever reasons make sense to you) that you want to bunker down and “pay it down.” How do you do that? Well…in the realm of finances, you take whatever cash you can spare and you throw it at your debt as frantically as one might toss a hot potato. As soon as you get money…you toss it. It might not be balanced…but it is focused. You’re zeroing in on one specific goal and channeling all your financial reserves toward eliminating that debt. Once you’re done, you know you’ll be able to take that same cash and start applying it to saving you money.
- In the realm of weight management – it’s similar. The first step to managing your weight is to “pay down the debt.” Just as you would have to say no to trinkets at the shopping mall to have money left over to pay your loans, you’ll have to say no to desserts and high calorie foods in order to create a deficit that helps your body lose weight. In the beginning, it really is just about calories in and calories out. Eat less. Move more. Create a calorie deficit. Pay that debt off.
- Once you have established a routine whereby you have gotten used to eating less, the next step is to look at the quality of the foods you are consuming. It’s much the same way with your finances. At first, you aren’t being especially mindful. You’re just trying to cut wherever possible. Maybe you removed your gym membership. Maybe you stopped going to Starbucks as often. But at a certain point, this simply isn’t enough. Now you’re ready to REALLY look at your finances and be more deliberate about where your money is going. What do you really need? What are your wants? What are things you simply like but don’t necessarily need or passionately want? Maybe you would be better served taking the money you are currently spending on dining out, and instead applying it to a small savings account just so that you can get in the habit of saving even while you pay down debt. Or maybe you would rather forego getting that new sweater, and instead apply it to a weekend get-away that will give you a sense of reward for all your hard work.
- In the same way, you’ll need to start doing this with your food. Yes…technically you can lose weight eating a calorie deficit even if those calories are composed of junk. But that isn’t sustainable. At a certain point, you want to be deliberate about the quality of foods you consume. You want to start getting the maximum benefit out of every bite. Just as you would want to get the maximum benefit for every dollar. This is the time to look at your macronutrients. Are you balancing your blood sugar? Are you eating mostly whole foods? If you are, then the calories you are eating are not only less in terms of calories (which helps you sustain a healthy weight) but also more nutrient dense. You’re getting more bang for your buck, so to speak.
- Okay…you made it. You have paid off your debt! That last check you sent was the last check you will ever need to spend on your student loans or your mortgage or your…whatever. Now what? Now it’s time to start moving toward financial freedom. You don’t just want to be at a net-zero. You want to accumulate passive income. You want to start investing for retirement. You want to dabble in some real estate investment. Good for you!
- Well….it’s exactly the same way with your health. Now that you’ve lost some weight, you’re noticing that you are lighter on your feet. You have a bit more energy. You aren’t in as much pain. But you don’t just want to be “not in pain” – you want to be fully ALIVE. It’s at this point that you’re in the place where you want to start challenging yourself to dabble in some serious self-growth. Try an experiment and take a cross-fit class. Go into a Bikram Yoga studio and see if you can hang in 100 degree heat. Take up meditation. Look up vegan cookbooks and see if you’re interested in trying any of them out. Or maybe paleo? Or a green smoothie? You’ve paid off your debt. Now it’s time to REALLY maximize your health. Think about this. Once you’ve paid off your debt in finances, you’re in a place to start making your money work for you rather than constantly feeling like you’re working for money. In the same way, if you start to really be deliberate about how you treat your body, you’ll find that the extra time at the gym has increased your muscle mass – thus allowing you to eat a few more calories. And because you’re being deliberate about the quality of those calories, you’re fueling yourself energetically to continue exercising. Doing both of these things improves your stress levels and helps you get more sleep….and on and on it goes. In other words, you’ve built habits that put your body in a place where it basically runs well on auto-pilot. Your body is working with you and for you rather than holding you back from all the experiences you want to have.
Conclusion: It’s time to stop looking at your life as being something to survive or distract yourself from. Stop wasting your money on trinkets you will only throw away. Stop eating food that will drain you of energy. Learn to be deliberate about the way you live your life, treat yourself like you’re worth investing in…and you really will be healthy, wealthy and wise