Monday, October 24, 2011

I can't afford to start losing weight

I hear (or read) these all the time; "It's too expensive to eat right," and "the gym costs too much."

Valid objections, excuses, or merely misconceptions? I see don't people making excuses, but they are falling prey to popular misconceptions about diet and exercise. As a result, they never start.

Two objections, but three tips to follow. It's a trifecta, meaning that they all come together to work together.

1. "It's too expensive to eat right."

Is it also too expensive to eat less food?

Yes, I would prefer that you eat right, but fewer Oreos can only help. You can start eating less cereal. At lunch, a McDouble and a side salad costs less than a Big Mac combination. By the way, do you know that when McDonald's opened, a single burger and a little bag of what we think of as "kid's fries" was customers ate? What if you ate that instead of your usual? How much less does that cost?

Is there a better way? Eating healthier can make losing weight easier, quicker, and more painless, but in the meantime, you know what do.

I can also save you some money in the long run. Getting sick can be expensive. If you work for yourself, missing work can be very expensive.

What about clothes? Buying new clothes because you outgrew the last ones can be expensive. Bigger clothes, themselves, are expensive, too. Have you noticed that clothes at Target and Walmart go up a few bucks once you get into XXL? We're not talking a big clothes style or section, but the very same polo shirt costs more for the bigguns.

2. "The gym costs too much."

Maybe. But, why do you have to workout in the gym? What do most of the people in gyms do? Cardio and resistance training, neither of which actually requires a gym! And, by the way, losing weight requires neither.

Let's start with cardio. The misconception is that cardio burns fat, but the reality is that living life burns fat just as well if you don't eat too much food. Cardio does burn more calories than just sitting around, so it can help, but, if you're eating too much or finishing your cardio with Gatorade, forget it. Zero. Fat. Burned.

Resistance training, whether it's weights or those fancy machines with all the pads and cables, doesn't really burn fat directly, but it does tell your body what to do with your fat and your muscles when it's time. A good resistance training plan tells your body to preferentially burn fat when you're dieting and when you do have a meal, it tells your body to put on some muscle and retain that bone density. All good stuff.

My wife and I wrote a program that almost anyone can use to get going with their training – The Beginner's Kickstart Training Program. Check it out for a good workout that won't require a gym membership.

Of course, even that "Kickstart" may be too much for some, especially in the beginning. Don't let that stop you. Drop me a line or post in the comments and we'll chat. The bottom line is that gym costs should not hold you back from getting healthier and losing weight. There are many good ways...

3. "You have no journal."

This is my objection, not yours. I don't care what you call it; a log, a journal, a workout diary, or a food and exercise tracker, just have one. Keeping track of food and activity lets you go back and make adjustments later. 

Studies show that people who keep a journal of their diet and exercise habits are far more likely to succeed. A log or journal can be simple or complex, paper or electronic, but have one, and greatly improve your chances of success.

Starting right now, write all this stuff down at the top of page one:
  • today's date
  • your weight
  • any measurements
  • your current clothing sizes
  • any health notes
  • any goals
Then, underneath that, start writing stuff down.

  • Date -- Every day you start fresh. Every day is a new opportunity to make it happen.
  • Food – Write down everything you eat. Everything. You don't need calories or grams of fat, but just the list of foods, the times you ate them, and how much you ate. 
  • Activity– When you exercise or move around, write that down, too. All of it.

Journal every day.

You might be surprised to note that many people begin to lose weight merely by using a food and activity journal. When you write it down, there's no more mindless eating, you tend to make better choices. You also might move around a bit more. These things are often enough to get you going in the right direction, and don't cost a thing.


  1. Roland, thanks for the comments on the journal! I keep trying to make some fancy Excel sheet or find the perfect app to track... when all I need is a composition book :)


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