OG2: In the previous posts, The Why of FI Old Guys and My 16 Year Old Won’t Say I Love You, I articulated financial motivators for my FI path. I highlighted changes we’ve made and refer to the boring ‘machine’ that’s now in place that governs our financial future.
Despite all of these small and big wins, I’ve failed one major area. My health. While I’ve optimized my finances, I’ve degraded my health to an alarming degree over the past year and a half. My weight is such that I now need to lop off a small person. Thus, this post will kick off a series of monthly posts on my journey to lose 100lbs.
My weight has always fluctuated like our finances. I was 230 when I got married, then dropped into the 180s for almost 5 years. When my wife was pregnant with Peyton, I put all of that back on. We prepared meals and ate out the same as we did prior to her pregnancy, but the difference was that the further along she got in the pregnancy, the less she ate. Me? I have no issue with leftovers, so I simply consumed all of the leftovers. We also had no clue how to take care of a child, so we poured ourselves into books and classes (no YouTube back then). Thus, no exercise for me.
After Peyton was born, I latched onto the idea of running a marathon. Because surely running a marathon would guarantee that I would be fit. Plus, how many people actually do that? After 9 months of training, I was down to 190 and ran a 5 hour marathon. I ran another at Disney World 12 weeks later and my last marathon of my “career” 9 months after that with the New York City marathon.
The NYC marathon had its own amusements, like realizing I just wasn’t feeling it that day at mile 8. Geez, only 18 miles left of misery to trudge out. Then there was the finish. The way they funneled you into Central Park, I ended up walking another 3 miles to get back to the hotel, which was right at the finish line. Then there was the post bath tub discovery. As I laid there in the water, wondering if any part of my body didn’t hurt, I noticed this strange film over the toes of my shoes. Turns out it was wax. That’s how many of the 40k people had gone through the water stations before me, and that I had shuffled through hundreds of wax water cups.
After that I participated in a few short triathlons and running events. I managed to keep my weight stable through the birth of our second son and was actually 30% of the way in training for an Ironman triathlon. Then when our youngest was 4 months old, Peyton got really sick and was in the hospital for a month. The weight came back and I’ve been yo-yoing between 240 and 215 ever since. I’ve actually run 3 half marathons during the last thirteen years. I remember Jonathan from ChooseFI referencing marathons on one of his podcasts, saying that you didn’t have to be truly ‘fit’ to finish. I can attest to that. As long as you can compartmentalize the pain and mentally realize that it will only last a few hours, anyone can do it.”
Then Came FI
As much as a boon as finding the concept of financial independence has been to our wallets, I ignored my health. First it was frugal mindedness of eating all the food in the house before grocery shopping again (mostly unhealthy). It took nearly two months to get through our frozen stockpile. Then it was not turning down free food (which was everywhere).
As part of FI and for health, I quit dipping. A nasty habit I picked up in college. It was a daily thing. I wasn’t the dip everywhere you go kind of guy, but I did it every night. It was part of my bedtime routine. Boys would be in bed by 8-830, we would go up to the bedroom at 9. I would dip, brush my teeth and hit the sack by 10pm. It’s been 15 months since I quit. That was a $300-$400 annual habit that was dropped, let alone the cancer risk I was taking.
One Crutch for Another
Here’s where I went very very wrong. I substituted alcohol for the dipping. I FI’d it and got the cheapest stuff possible. However, looking back, I actually 2 or 3x’d my cost by doing this. The health effect is 10x worse than the financial costs. And it isn’t just the calories of the booze itself. When you drink alcohol, your body processes alcohol sugar first. Meanwhile, anything food wise sits there… being stored as fat.
Rinse, Repeat, Get Fat & the Excuse Matrix
That poor behavior compounded itself. Each night I was tired from the day, I would eat whatever I wanted and have a few drinks. Each day, week and month, I just got heavier, more lazy, more tired, just plain more and none of it for the better. Add to that a knee surgery that followed snapping my plantar facia in one foot. Buy me a water and I’ll tell you that story in person.
Where I Sit Now
I’m somewhere north of 260. That’s what I saw the last time I climbed on to that digital devil before FinCon. I don’t want to get on the scale. It really doesn’t matter. My clothes don’t fit. It’s a pain to tie my shoes. My knees and feet hurt a lot. I get winded over the most mundane tasks. I sweat simply swatting at a gnat. My youngest plays golf and he openly asks why my swing looks so short. I can’t swing all the way around like I should. I can’t even sit in a chair and be truly comfortable. All of this from a guy who lives to be outside.
I look like a blubbery tub o’lard.
The Good News
The plus in my path forward is that I know exactly what I need to do. I know how to eat properly and I’ve never been averse to exercise. The big difference? I’m no longer in my 20’s or 30’s. Everything is harder, including getting healthy. I saw A Purple Life’s post on not drinking for 100 days. The first time I lost weight after getting married, I went without alcohol for nearly 6 months. Since then, I’ve probably only managed a few weeks here and there. This time I’m going for an entire year. One difficulty is that I’ve grown to really appreciate quality craft beer, fine wine and even how to distil spirits myself. Aside from the buzz, I really enjoy the chemistry and finesse of the process. The other is obvious, the social, celebratory and holiday aspect of alcohol. Football on tv? Beer. Get a promotion? Shots all around. Family driving you to the insane asylum during Thanksgiving? Red Solo cup free pours with a plastic straw!
What the FI@$ ?
How does this apply to the blog and financial independence? First off, where my wife and I have done so well with the levers and pillars of FI, we have had huge swings of frugality and waste over the past year with food costs. We’re all in on Aldi, but then run astray spending $100+ on dinner out. Dieting will help curb the cost. I’ll be following a simple low carb diet. It’s worked for me in the past. One thing I won’t be doing is weighing myself everyday. The logic is that if I’m doing what I’m supposed to, the weight will follow. I’ve never actually worried about the number, it’s always been how I feel and fit into clothes. Based on the past, I know I’ll start feeling a lot better at 215. Right now, I plan on looking at the scale the first of every month and will report out my progress. November will be an estimate, assuming I started at 260. Honestly, I don’t want to know where I started. I haven’t been below 170 since college and my ultimate goal of 160.
What will be different is the accountability of tracking through the blog. Not only weight progress, but periodic summaries of what I’m eating and the associated costs. And there’s the FI tie in. 1) What it costs to make/buy the food I’m eating, 2) Not going on spending binges eating out.
It’s similar to the same statement I make to folks who are in debt or way behind in their retirement savings when they say ‘What? Am I not supposed to have any more fun?’. My retort is always, ‘You’ve been doing that all along. Now it’s time to do what you should have done years ago’.
So, I’ve been having ‘fun’ and now it’s time to pay the piper.
This is what I’ll have for breakfast every morning. I don’t normally eat breakfast, so this is more about the healthy factor.
Overnight No Oat, Oatmeal
12oz canning jar
2 teaspoons Chia seeds
2 teaspoons Flax seeds
No sugar sweetener to taste
~10oz of Almond milk
Stir, let it sit for a couple of minutes, stir again, cap and let it rest in the fridge overnight. It’s actually quite tasty. I do 7 at a time to cover the upcoming week.
Total cost is approximately $0.75 per jar. (jar not included)