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Want to Lose Weight? Become Poor


By hagrin - Posted on 06 November 2006

Over the last year or so, I have managed to lose 50 pounds and become one of the more active people I know. When people who see me now, who haven't seen me in a long time, they always ask "How did you do it?". Books, professions, websites and diets have all tried to answer this question in hopes that they would be able to solve one of life's great social problems. My solution, however, didn't come from any book or training manual, but from a lifestyle change. What was that lifestyle change?

I lived "poorly".

The above declaration is intentionally misleading (in a lame attempt to capture my audience's attention). However, the statement does hold some truth when put in the context of my spending habits and my ability to "rough it". First, let's flashback to October 2005. I had just come off my second broken foot in less than a year and had not been able to do much physical activity. My weight at that time was 235 (although many say I never looked that heavy) and I had taken a "I don't care" approach to my body thinking I still looked OK. However, inadvertently, I heard someone close to me discuss my appearance with their boss and found out that they found me "unattractive and fat". Yikes, the F word - a word that still stings even to this day. After hearing the assessment on my body, I looked in my full-length mirror and didn't like what I saw.

That night, I ran 8 miles at the gym.

I couldn't walk up or down stairs for the next couple of days, but continued to crank out about 30 minutes of running a night at the gym. The pain persisted, but the pain drove me to continue my running quest and I started lifting light weights at high repititions. These were humble beginnings, but they were the foundation of who I am today.

The problem with this recollection as an advice story for others is that the anger of being called fat only lasts for so long and doesn't produce the lifestyle change that is needed to break bad habits and institute newer, better routines. So exactly what clicked inside of me that made this change a permanent one that still drives me over a year later?

Live like you're poor.

So, how does living poor exactly translate to losing weight? Here's a few tips I used -

  1. Leave your wallet at home when you go to the gym. You may leave the gym starving, but if you bring your wallet with you, you will be more apt to make poor impulse food buying decisions. Plus, you'll save money by not being able to spend any.
  2. Bring your lunch to work. Eating out (umm ...) is expensive so bringing your lunch will help you save. In addition, if you constantly eat out, you will be presented with more unhealthy food options than you would if you brought a planned lunch.
  3. Walk or ride everywhere. When I decided to ride my bike and take the train to work instead of driving, I was able to lose weight while saving money on gas and car maintenance (my commute is 50+ miles each way). Cars are very expensive to maintain no less purchase or lease.
  4. Forget the "not-so" convienant stores. Convienant stores are typically more expensive than supermarkets and definitely stock more unhealthy food than a supermarket would. Limit your shopping to supermarkets - try going before work when there aren't that many other customers.
  5. Plan cheap dates. Yikes, well maybe you shouldn't take dating advice from a single 28 year old. However, instead of going out to each rich foods for a dinner date, take that romantic walk in the park, walk the boardwalk at the beach and stay active. Trust me, you'll want to be with someone who likes being active.

Good luck with your weight loss activities! I'd love to hear some more tips or words of advice.