When I started Frugal Beautiful two years ago, I mainly focused on frugality and finance in my writing. I would spend hours pouring over my own finances, working long hours and trying to side hustle for income- expending every last bit of energy to getting my money in order. Health was always an afterthought- I would wait until I was starving to plan a meal, often reaching for something high in calories and being too tired to exercise.
When I finally had the realization that fitness was important- I battled with ways to incorporate fitness into a blog about frugality and personal finance- but eventually, while out on a run, I had the epiphany that the two are interrelated. Often, the behavior that causes us to live unhealthy lives- whether overeating, lack of exercise, avoiding the doctor or unhealthy indulgences with our health, are the same that destroy our wealth: overspending, lack of planning, avoiding our debt and ahem, unhealthy indulgences with our money!
If you want to be financially or physically healthy, it’s easy to draw wisdom from either in order to make yourself wholly healthy. We all know that often being unhealthy costs us money, and conversely, when we’re financially unhealthy the stress spills over into our personal lives, making us feel stressed, tired, susceptible to unhealthy weight loss or gain- but beyond that, how are health and wealth connected?
1. Diets Don’t Work. Changing Behavior Does.
Many people feel they can turn around years of overspending or overeating by radically changing their behavior with a fad tactic- or a diet. Tuning out all of your carbs or telling yourself you “won’t buy anything” for 30 days can be useful in the short term, but if you don’t address the behavior behind your bad habits, you’ll rebound back twice as hard.
I sometimes do participate in a “30 day no spend challenge” and have failed several times. It was only after I discovered my emotional triggers for shopping that I was able to go 30 days without any impulse shopping. I realized that if I subscribed to marketing emails from my favorite brands, I’d be emotionally compelled to “take advantage of a good sale” whether or not I really needed an item- I was spending more by trying to “shop the sales,” and it was counterintuitive.
Conversely, how many times have you gone on a diet with your finances or your food and only bounced back twice as hard- packing on the pounds or spending hours in the shopping mall after depriving yourself of any indulgences whatsoever. Fad diets are enticing because they offer a quick fix. You have to make long term changes if you want long term results!
2. Whether You’re In Debt or Overweight, To Get Healthy You Have To Get Specific.
I failed at making fitness a habit several times. I told myself I just wanted to “lose weight,” and fell off the wagon very quickly with such a vague goal. Additionally, when I attempted to save up for an “vacation,” without really knowing what it would be for, I lost interest and would dip into my savings fund for other things like shoes and clothes.
In 2012- I committed to run the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World in Florida and I knew that it would take two things: a lot of hard work to train my body, and plenty of hard work to train my habit to save! All of a sudden, when I had a soul stirring, heart wrenching goal that was “too big to fail,” I knew exactly what work it would take to get there. Additionally, I set up a specific savings account with ImpulseSave (see my post about the saving for Princess Half) that would give me visual representations of my progress each week. I knew I would have to save at least $20 a week and put aside any extra gift money I got for the holidays to pay for my goal. I was realistic about my goal and knew the path I’d have to take to get there.
After 7 months of training, I ran over 300 miles to prepare for the Princess Half Marathon. I also saved $20 each week to pay for the trip to avoid going into debt to do this half marathon. Any goal you have, whether physical or financial needs to inspire you and you also need a definitive plan, with an end date, to put it in motion, otherwise you’ll be battling against yourself the whole way to make those big changes!
3. Recognize You Are On A Journey & Don’t Go It Alone
If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done, but often, we take the journey to health on our own because we’re ashamed of people seeing how vulnerable we are, or see the truth about our situation when we’re scared to even see it ourselves. While both debt or diet can leave us feeling horrible about ourselves, if you want to make big changes, don’t hide behind your fear.
Sometimes getting your body and your finances in check requires a support team of professionals, family, friends and peers that get where you’re coming from. If you’ve been struggling for years and your finances are in the red or you are feeling totally out of shape- don’t attempt to overhaul this by yourself. No one is judging you the way you think they are! The journey to get healthy will be long- it doesn’t matter if you’re paying down debts or saving up for a house, if you’re trying to lose weight or build up to your first half marathon, it takes a village.
Chances are, if you’ve experienced failure in the past, it was because you tried to go it alone. I often would cheat myself out of success by trying to “DIY” everything- from my running to managing my finances. When I finally invested in a women’s gym that had a running program and hired a family friend to help me set up my ROTH, it was like a burden had been lifted. The stuff I hated doing (and usually prevented me from making smart choices) was delegated to a professional, and when I had questions about my goals or had to overcome obstacles, I had a support network to do so.
Invest in yourself- everything worth having takes money, it takes time, and mostly- it takes work. If you want to get healthy, it takes an investment!
Have you ever committed a huge health or financial goal?
How did you do it?
Disclosure: I have been a loyal ImpulseSave user for the past year and used their site to save for my trip to attend the Princess Half Marathon. I recently had the opportunity to partner with ImpulseSave as a sponsor but opinions and the information provided is entirely my own.