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Why my diet failed me

December 14th, 2007 at 11:30 am

So what is a budget? Such a stupid question, right? You list your expenses for the month subtract your income, tweak it until the resultant equals zero. Sound familiar?

Sounds like a diet I was one that failed. To lose weight, take the number of calories you burn in a day and eat less calories. 3,500 calories equal a pound. So if I want to lose 10 pounds I need to eat what I burn in a day Ė 35,000 calories. HmmmÖ.. Thatís huge!!! And everything I eat is like 1,500 calories. Now I have to eat celery sticks and drink water. No more doughnuts or cream in my coffee. Well may be if I didnít want to lose 10 pounds in 2 days I could have the occasional bad meal.

So I thought ok letís give it a try. Everything I ate, I wrote in a notebook. I used a website and looked up everything I was eating. When I ate my calories for the day, that was it. I was losing weight. Life was good.

Then I started to forget to write everything down and just guessed what I was eating and the calories. I stopped losing weight.

Then, the holidays came. Can you see where Iím going with this? Yes, I ate everything cookies, pie, turkey, ham, etc. Needless to say, I gained weight and declared the diet a failure and stopped.

So, what went wrong:

1) Unrealistic expectations Ė Iíll lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks and then Iíll go back to my old ways. WRONG!!! This is life style change not a temporary thing.
2) Lazy Ė I got lazy. I didnít plan what I was eating ahead of time. The stuff I was eating, I couldnít find what the calories were (a lot of eating out because I was a consultant)
3) Eliminating the things I enjoy Ė Up until the holidays, I hadnít had a cookie or cake and I love both. When the food came my way, I had a craving and went way overboard.

I think there are a lot of parallels between dieting and budgeting. We have tried each a couple of times and failed miserably. Budgeting is a lifestyle change and a commitment.

Budgeting is a process of tweaking and refining. For example, I guessed that heating my house in December would be equal to what I have been paying the months before. Well I got my December bill and it was 4 times higher. I forgot to budget a Christmas tree in December. The old me (fat, lazy, and undisciplined) would have declared the budget broken and tossed it out.

The newer me (still lazy and overweight, but a little more disciplined) decided to rework the budget.

Also I have items in the budgeted called entertainment, vacation, and money to blow on stupid stuff. Yes, stupid stuff like a Starbuckís $4 coffee twice a week. How can I put these items into a budget? A budget is suppose to be bare bones, only the essentials. Think of that money could be put towards bills and credit cards.

Yea, thatís true. But I just donít live that way. It would be too constricting right now and I would crave those few luxuries too much. Maybe even resent the stupid budget. I think I need to have some fun in my budget a few luxuries so I can keep doing a budget. Just thinking about that vacation fund grow, I might even like the budget.

Basically, budgeting is more of a tool, a management tool. It should be able to tell you what is budgeted, what is funded, what was spent, and the differences. With a process to tweak and revise it what worked and what didnít. After all, you are changing your lifestyle.

Like diet and exercise, itís all good for you.

I think my next posts will be how I put the budget together, how to fund the budget, how a lazy man tracks everything, and how my wife puts up with me.

2 Responses to “Why my diet failed me”

  1. tiki Says:

    I know your point is about money but I wanted to agree with you on the diet thing. The numbers don't work out somehow. I went to a fitness club, and they told me that a woman of my height burns something like 2000 calories a day. They told me to stay about 500 calories under that, and I should see some weight loss. It's been two weeks of 1500-calorie meals, and the needle isn't budging.

    Rabbit food, here I come!

  2. baselle Says:

    There is an extra dimension here. Both a diet and a budget are things that you have to be able to pursue over a long time. It might be different for you but I find that figuring out your routine then tweaking that routine works better. Neither crash dieting nor carsh budgeting works well for me.

    So for dieting - you would get into the habit of writing things down. You would eat and drink what you naturally eat and drink, but get into the habit of writing the (real) portions, brand and even times that you eat and drink. After two weeks you would review. Do you eat breakfast? Do you drink a lot of soda? Do you get home at night and just start to chow down? Do you emotionally eat? Your diet to come should try to avoid pitfalls. You maintain a routine with smaller portions and with a bit more exercise.

    For your budget - you write down how you spend, maintaining a routine. As you develop a routine, think of ways to drop the cost. Like your coffee drink? Can you get a much pleasure out of a smaller size, or perhaps ordering an actual coffee rather than a coffee drink? Note also that some spending should cancel out other spending - during the winter, you aren't spending on air conditioning; during the summer, you aren't spending on heat. You take one look at the Christmas electric spending and you make sure that your holiday lights are on for a couple of hours, not all night.

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