Part 2: Physical Makeover Parallels Financial Makeover

DH = Dear Husband

Laura’s physical makeover: health, confidence, beauty

Last week, I wrote about Laura’s physical transformation. She went from weighing 250 pounds . . .

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. . . to weighing 160. A loss of 90 pounds!

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In the comments that people wrote in response to last week’s post, words like “happy”, “healthy”, “disciplined”, and “amazing” were used to describe Laura. And they’re all true! Only Josh came close to saying what I’m going to add to that list – politically incorrect as it might seem. “I know we all try to say looks don’t matter . . .” he wrote. The fact is, Laura’s transformation has brought out her beauty. And it actually does matter. I was happy for Laura’s new confidence and her improved health, but I was also moved to discover that, “Oh my gosh! She’s so beautiful!”

Parallel #1: a few false starts

One parallel that I notice between Laura’s physical makeover and the financial makeover that DH and I are undergoing, is that there were a few false starts. ” I tried many programs, and I would always lose a few pounds, but then the novelty of the program was lost and I was back to making poor food choices.” Likewise, although DH and I were stressed by money for years, our efforts to improve our financial health came in short bursts that fizzled out quickly. We’d live frugally and pay something off . . . only to follow up by making a new purchase on credit.

Parallel #2: the rock bottom wake-up

Laura hit a low point before successfully losing weight. “I knew it was time to change when I wasn’t able to keep up with my kids in the park, or I couldn’t bend over to tie my shoes. I was wearing ‘stretchy’ pants all the time as I couldn’t fit into jeans or dress slacks. I found that I wasn’t happy in my life.” In a similar way, DH and I hit a low before taking on the transformation of our finances. Years of under/unemployment for DH after the high-tech bust left us maxed out and miserable. Every expense was a stress. Every charm in life was obliterated by the overwhelming task of treading water. Like Laura, “I wasn’t happy in my life.” When DH launched his home business successfully, the stage was set for us to make a change.

Parallel #3: not missing what we’ve “sacrificed”

I got a kick out of what Laura had to say about her eating habits. She started out by saying that they had “changed slightly”, but then she went on to explain that she:

  • stopped eating when she felt full
  • limited her carb and dairy intake
  • ate more protein than before
  • ate more raw veggies and fresh fruit
  • limited her sugar intake
  • considered the day’s caloric intake and work-out when making food choices

Her eating habits had actually altered drastically. I think she used “slightly” to describe the changes because she didn’t feel deprived in her eating as a result of them.

In the same way, DH and I don’t miss what we’ve “sacrificed” in the name of debt-reduction. We too could say that our spending has changed “slightly”. But the change has been more than slight. After our first year of focused debt-reduction, I did some digging and found that we had paid off 312% more debt than we had the year before – with the same income and similar expenses. So although we don’t miss what we’re not buying, there are clearly big differences in the way we’re spending.

Parallel #4: allowing “moderation” (& slip ups)

“I won’t deny myself or be hard on myself because I want fries or cake,” Laura said.  “It’s about moderation.” DH and I likewise apply moderation to spending through our debt-reduction. There are occasional meals out. We did some renovations last year and bought new furniture. “Moderation” can be a bit scary for those of us who have reason not to trust ourselves with it entirely. Laura sometimes has to make up for poor food choices just as we sometimes have to double down on our efforts after making poor spending choices. But when used correctly, moderation makes the journey more palatable – and keeps burn-out at bay.

Parallel #5: a concrete plan of action

“My weight loss was possible because I was able to look at the big picture and break it into smaller, easier pieces to focus on.” Laura started by tracking what she ate, and then progressed to more and more physical exercise. There was a plan, beginning with 3 30-minute walks per week. Now, she does Crossfit 6 times per week – and loves it!

The plan that DH and I are following is found in Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. We track money spent. We budget. We paid off our smaller debts first, and now, as we pay off our mortgage, we also save 15% of our gross income. It’s good to have “moderation”, but it’s also good to have a solid plan of action, tried and true.

Parallel #6: others’ negative response

Although the response most people have to Laura’s makeover is a very positive “Wow!” – a few are negative. “The only negative response I get when people learn I do  Crossfit is, ‘You’ll look like a man,’ or ‘Don’t bulk up,’ but I put that aside and don’t let them get to me . . .” DH and I also encounter the occasional bit of judgment as people bump up against our frugality when we, for instance, don’t meet up at a restaurant or choose to keep our old stuff instead of buying new. A bit of “Don’t worry so much!” or YOLO-type of advice is then offered. But like Laura, we put that aside and move forward in the path that actually diminishes worry and allows us to live more abundantly.

Parallel #7: unexpected benefits

Laura’s makeover has brought her much more than improved physical health, and ours has brought us much more than improved financial health.  In both cases, we have also enjoyed these unexpected benefits:

  • better family life
  • higher overall confidence
  • better quality of sleep
  • stronger mental health
  • growing power over our own lives
  • more positive outlook on life
  • privilege of being sought out by others who want the same makeover in their lives

And as our financial stress evaporates, other things have the chance to surface and breathe. I’m a teacher, and this summer for the first time in years, I didn’t take a course or teach summer school. I was able to pour myself into some writing goals in way I’ve never been able to before in my life. And DH has discovered a surprising love of guitar playing. He bought his dream guitar just this past week, and he plays more than ever. Our open-concept house sometimes makes the easy travel of sound an irritant, but in this case, the notes of my husband’s acoustic guitar fill the whole house with a richness it’s never had before. I often drift off to sleep to the music at night as he stays up late to play. And he has more than once fallen asleep himself, his new guitar in his arms.

That’s something more than financial health, isn’t it. That, my friends, is beautiful.


Did I catch all of the parallels between Laura’s physical makeover and any financial makeover that you have witnessed or experienced? If you see more, let me know. Your comments are welcome.


Image courtesy of Pixabay

12 comments on “Part 2: Physical Makeover Parallels Financial Makeover

    1. I love the unexpected benefits too, Brian. I wouldn’t have thought debt reduction would help to surface DH’s guitar playing : )

  1. “found that we had paid off 312% more debt than we had the year before – with the same income and similar expenses.” WOOHOO!!!! Great work, Ruth and DH!!! I love every single thing about this post. We are finally at the point too where we’re so happy about dumping debt that we don’t miss any of our previous spending. Our entertainment costs have been little to none the last three months and we are ecstatic!! Awesome post, my friend. So very happy for you and for Laura. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Laurie. So much of what we used to spend money on was of such little value that we can’t even remember what it was – and we don’t miss it. I’m sure you’ve found lots of free entertainment with your “little to none” entertainment costs over the past 3 months. With Underwear Man in your life, how could you not?

  2. I can relate to all of these parallels, both from a financial and weight loss standpoint! The “false starts” parallel was true for our debt payoff – we would buy a car, pay it off a year later and proceed to go finance another one shortly after!? We did this several times before we really took hold of our finances.

    The “not missing what we’ve sacrificed” parallel is so true. In my life (with both debt and weight loss), “changed slightly” means changed gradually, yet significantly, over a few years. The change becomes a part of your lifestyle so much that you don’t recognize the huge changes. If you look back to the very beginning of the journey, many of the changes are often quite significant, though it may not seem that way.

    1. It’s true about changes becoming a normal part of your lifestyle. That’s the whole “build your frugality muscle” concept. We really do have a capacity for it that gets bigger the more we practice it. As for false starts with debt payoff, I squirmed at work when I heard a colleague say, “I want to pay off my truck so that I can borrow for a new car.” Why?!

    1. Financial stress is hard on a marriage – at least it was on ours. And having it evaporate is giving room for something better to take its place. Nice bit of insight there, Kay : ) Thanks.

  3. Great list of connections, Ruth. It also seems that some people are naturally conservative financially, just as some are naturally thin and enjoy healthy eating & exercise. That’s almost seen as a virtue, and maybe sometimes it is, but everyone has different natural tendencies and the person who works hard to maintain a healthy weight or financial state should be applauded at least as much as the natural. So congrats to Laura, and you, for the changes you’ve made.

    1. That is such an important point to make, Kalie (and it touches upon the subject of my next post). Not everyone understands the effort it takes for some people to get to what is considered a normal state of health – whether financial or physical. In Laura’s case, she’s exceeded normal. I hope I will too : )

  4. I would agree with the comments concerning stress. Being heavier causes stress on your joints and can affect your overall health. Financial stress can cause not just monetary problems, but can definitely affect your health as well. Stress, no matter what the cause, is not good for us no matter what circumstance.

    1. True, Mackenzie. There is going to be some stress in life no matter what, but we really sabotage our lives when we add unnecessary stress through things we have some control over – like physical and financial health. A weight is lifted with good health in both cases (pun sort of intended : )

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