No, I am not talking about a stock option strategy. I am talking about my quest to go from a 44 inch waist to a size 34 over the last fifteen months. I have shrunken my weight considerably and I owe my success to several people. No, I am not going to make an Academy Award acceptance speech. But I have to ask for a round of applause for my trainer, Jason and my nutritionist, Meg who have both set reasonable goals and expectation and actually taught me some very valuable lessons in the meanwhile. I also have to reach around and pat myself on the back too, because after all, I am the accomplishing student of such masterful teachers.
Why am I writing this on a financial article? I think the similarities between success in personal matters, such as weight loss, and making changes in your financial life are very striking indeed. The first step is, like any addict, is to admit you have a problem and frankly, no one can solve it for you. If you are living paycheck to paycheck and are one crisis away from true disaster you have to come to the place where you admit a problem. OK, that's not enough for you? How about phone calls from credit card companies, overdrawn bank accounts, excessive overdraft charges, that nervous sweaty feeling when you offer your credit card up at the grocery store-Does that shake you up a bit? How are you sleeping at night? Does the mailman bring anxiety along with the pounds of junk mail?
Yes, you have a problem and you don't have to resort to "Breaking Bad" solutions. But you got yourself into a situation that is, to say the least, uncomfortable. Depending on your resources, there are a variety of solutions, from non-profit credit counselors to Certified Financial Planners. You don't have to go it alone, in fact once you have come nose to nose with your inability to adequately address and improve your situation-not asking for help is just silly. Believe me, when you're in a bad way, there's no room for silly.
In my case, after a long delayed check up, I came nose to scale with a very real large number. It scared me and although my numbers (cholesterol etc) were decent, I was a ticking time bomb. It was time to get help. I enlisted the help of my trainer Jason and found a wonderful nutritionist to lay out a program that was sensible and devoted the time to learning more about nutrition (the cornerstone of her program) and what foods were guaranteed to pack on pounds regardless of their healthy properties. I mean, did you even KNOW that olive oil, walnuts and goji berries had all those calories? So Meg gave me my calorie limit and told me that I could eat even more if I kept exercising; adding back over 100 calories for every mile I trekked.
When Sam and Amy came to see me, they were bleeding money. Although they both worked and earned substantial salaries, their life style grew beyond their means. They figured that they would satisfy their debts with bonuses-which ceased to appear when the recession hit. Between child care, two luxury cars, lavish family vacations and a heavy mortgage payment. they were a job loss away from complete disaster. They realized that cutting premium channels from their cable bills wasn't going to solve their problem. They decided that the lifestyle they had built was no longer sustainable and decided to make structural changes, by selling their home and renting, using the equity to pay off debts, establish a cash emergency fund and contributed to college savings for their children, which was of major importance. The luxury cars were turned in at lease-end, replaced by previously owned economy models that brought their fuel, insurance and maintenance costs down. The changes they made were significant, but so was the peace of mind attained by their shift.
It's taken over a year to get here and as I near my ultimate goal (another ten pounds), I give credit to my support crew and to my family and myself...I can now give myself a hug. I feel that I have gained way more than I have sacrificed (I gained and lost in the same sentence) and learned so much about health, exercise and my own determination and will. Charities have gained from the bags of clothes and I have also helped stimulate the economy by replacing my wardrobe (of course I shop on discounted sites and get cash rebates too!).
Sam and Amy have gone two years since they made their shift. Their retirement plans are growing along with their children's college plans. They live a more modest life, but one that is ultimately more satisfying. They don't get those pestering phone calls about overdue payments and they don't sweat out the arrival of the daily mail. They focus on what is most important to them, their children, their happiness and their peace of mind. We spend our meetings talking about their cash flow surpluses and how to best position their growing wealth, rather than how to make it to the end of the month.
I look forward to continuing a healthy and balanced lifestyle without carrying all that excessive weight. My true success will be measured by the number of years I sustain my ideal weight. I suspect, the knowledge that I've gained will help support me along with those on my team: Jason, Meg and of course my family. Who knew losing could be such a gain? Ask Sam and Amy; their loss became their gain too!