One of our big themes here at RichmondSavers.com is that things don’t have to be so complicated all the time. This extends throughout your financial life into every other aspect of your personal life. Keep it simple and you’ll reduce stress, make noticeable progress and come out way ahead in the end.
This post is our 80/20 rule version of ‘going on a diet.’ Diets don’t seem to work in the long-run because you always feel like you’re depriving yourself; eventually your mind is going to rebel and you’re just going to give up.
Make Small Changes
If you make a series of small changes over the course of months and years, those changes truly become part of your lifestyle and are thoroughly integrated into your life, instead of just being part of a “diet.” This line of reasoning is detailed in the excellent book The Power of Habit, which I highly recommend.
Five Easy Steps to Lose Weight and Get Healthier
Without further ado, here they are:
- Reduce your portion size ever so slightly at each meal. You’ll quickly realize you don’t need anywhere near the amount of food you’re currently eating in order to stay satisfied. Just take a smaller first portion than you normally would and nine times out of ten you won’t need any more food.
- Reduce the amount of sugar you consume. The big culprit is usually soda, which is just terrible for you, but sugar is in dozens of foods we eat each day and it’s really addicting and downright toxic. Just stop drinking the soda alone and you’ll almost certainly lose weight right there! Laura and I each drink about 3 cups of tea/coffee each day and we didn’t realize just how much sugar we were pouring in until we gradually started cutting back. We’re at the point now where we don’t put any actual sugar in and all of a sudden we haven’t refilled the sugar bowl in a few weeks instead of the every 2-3 days we previously were.
- Don’t drink your calories. Similar to the reducing your sugar intake point, we highly advise not consuming hundreds of calories each day in liquid form. Soda, milk, juice, beer, and alcohol all contain significant calories and make it quite difficult to lose weight. Your best bets are water, coffee and tea. We still usually each drink a glass of wine at dinner, so cutting out calorie-laden drinks completely isn’t reasonable, but just be sensible about it. Everything in moderation!
- Don’t eat at night. Cut down on the evening sweets and calorie-dense drinks as much as possible before bed. Your body has no chance to burn this off before you go to sleep, so it’s worse than eating a comparable amount of food at noon.
- Try to eat more protein, more fiber, more vegetables and fewer carbohydrates. These changes can take place over the course of months and years, but a diet that’s higher in protein, fiber and vegetables and low in carbs seems to be the prevailing wisdom of today’s cutting-edge scientific research. We were able to cut out our previously obligatory carb-laden side-dish with every dinner and replace it with either nothing or some type of additional vegetable and we don’t miss the piles of rice or potatoes at all!
Along with a little bit of additional walking/exercise, those five changes phased in over a period of time will get you well on your way towards a healthy weight and a healthy life. We’ve instituted these changes over the past two years and both Laura and I are nearly back to the weights of our high school sports playing days, which is hard to believe.
The best part is that since we did it so gradually we don’t feel like we’ve given up anything! It just became a better lifestyle and each additional change compounded on the prior changes.
Saving Money by Losing Weight
We all know health-care costs continue to spiral out of control in this country and it’s fast becoming a major pocketbook issue for not only the Federal government, but regular people like you and me.
My company recently joined dozens of major employers by instituting a higher-deductible health insurance plan. Many people saw not only their deductibles go up dramatically (and thus more out of pocket costs throughout the year), but their premiums increase as well.
Since Laura and I are both at a healthy weight and don’t smoke, we qualified for all the available discounts to the point where our insurance premiums did not go up at all. This is literally saving us thousands of dollars!
As I mentioned in my article about Term Life Insurance, if you’re at a healthy weight when you apply for life insurance, you’ll get the absolute best rates available. If you sign up for a 30-year term policy, this difference of a few hundred dollars a year will end up saving you easily $5,000 over the course of the policy.
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