What’s More Difficult – Paying Off Debt or Losing Weight?
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It’s no secret we live in a society that champions overindulgence. You really don’t have to look far to see it; from crazy ads encouraging you to just charge it when doing your Christmas shopping to hot dog eating contests, overindulgence is everywhere.
The fact that nearly 35 percent of U.S adults are obese or that the average U.S. household has just shy of $16,000 in credit card debt bears that point even further. In fact, I think a correlation could be made between paying off debt and losing weight but that’s a different argument for a different day.
This is not meant to judge at all as I have more than made up for my fair share of overindulging. I racked up just shy of $45,000 in debt while in college and just lost 100 pounds on Nutrisystem. Both come with their own set of unique challenges, but are also similar in a variety of respects. Mrs. Frugal Rules and I have been discussing the relationship between the two a lot lately and I thought I’d make you part of the discussion as to which is more difficult – paying off debt or losing weight.
Paying Off Debt
Living in debt, if you’ve ever gone through it, is like having a piano on your chest. It can leave you overwhelmed, feeling like you’re caught in a never-ending cycle. Then, debt fatigue sets in and you just want to throw up your hands and say to hell with it!
Looking back at my own personal debt payoff journey it all hinged on one thing – my attitude. It didn’t matter how much I had, the attitude to attack debt was vital to establishing the motivation (and more importantly) discipline needed to kill my consumer debt once and for all. Once that attitude was established, there were some setbacks but by and large I was focused on one thing…becoming debt free.
I wanted the freedom that came with being debt free. I wanted the ability to make decisions because I had the freedom to do so and know they were in my best long-term interest as opposed to being enslaved to something. That required knowing what my triggers were and simply removing them to bring the momentum I lacked.
Admittedly, I’m glossing over the difficult aspect of paying off debt. If you’re in the situation now, you know how it feels. It was likely one of the most difficult and challenging things I’ve done in my life. It required me to completely shift my priorities. Looking back, that shift was where I began to form the views I hold on finances today.
While I can say now that while it was incredibly difficult, I’m thankful for having gone through it largely because of how it changed me.
If you’ve ever needed to lose weight you know how it feels. You want to do it, but you’ve likely never seen much success or you’ve lost some only to gain it all back. That can bring on a number of feelings, though dejection was the most common for me.
How losing weight differs from paying off debt, in my opinion, is that wanting the quick fix is one that’s most sought after. Take me for example. I didn’t put on the 100 pounds I’m aiming to lose overnight and thus it’s not going to happen with the snap of a finger.
I’m not going to find a miracle fat-melting drug that will make me wake up half less of myself one morning. Instead, it’s going to require me to put down the candy bar, eat healthy and move my butt. This is very similar to the lifestyle changes I mentioned with regards to paying off debt.
The problem is, there can be one other factor to consider when trying to lose weight – our bodies. We can do some things to change our metabolism but the genes we’re born with are the ones we get. Simply put, I look cross-eyed at a M&M and I gain five pounds.
My lovely wife, on the other hand, was blessed with better genes. 🙂 Then you also have to consider that the older you are, generally speaking, the more difficult it is to lose weight, or so I’m told at least.
Having tackled both challenges of shedding pounds and debt, I think it’s harder to lose weight than it is to pay off debt. I’m sure a lot of that is emotion based, though I don’t know how much that should discount it. When I was paying off my debt I know a big part of what motivated me and kept me disciplined was seeing that balance go down each time I made a payment, even if in small amounts.
I know the same thing is technically true in trying to lose weight, though you can be doing all the right things and still not lose a pound for weeks and thus feel defeated.
Over To You
Paying off debt and losing weight are things many of us deal with. Just know that if you’re facing either, or both of these challenges, you can overcome them! Speaking as one who has done the former and very close to finishing the second I know that if I can do it, anyone can.
So much of it comes down to knowing yourself and developing a mindset of attacking your debt (or weight). Then, just keep working every day to achieve your goal and refuse to give up.
Ok, it’s your turn. Which do you think is more difficult – losing weight or paying off debt? What did it take for you to see success with both or either? I’m not set in my opinion on it, so try and sway me. 🙂
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.