TWO YEARS AGO, I was 100 pounds overweight and constantly hungry. I had been overweight most of my life. But as a father of young kids, I was newly motivated to try to improve my life expectancy. I fortuitously discovered intermittent fasting and the low-carbohydrate way of eating, and instantly had success. Right away, I set an ambitious goal of losing the entire 100 pounds in one year. With a lot of hard work and dedication, I reached my goal—but it took two years.
Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about health and about myself. While my primary motivation for losing weight was to improve my longevity, health and happiness, losing weight also saved me money, both in the short term and—I strongly suspect—over the long haul. To begin with, by fasting, I avoided many costly restaurant meals. While fasting, I also couldn’t drink alcohol on an empty stomach, further adding to the savings.
After losing about 75 pounds, I figured it was time to check in with my term-life insurance broker to see if I could save on premiums. It turned out that, at my new weight, I could save $300 per year—about one third of the premium. Over the life of my 20-year term policy, that’ll be quite a chunk of change.
The savings on forgone copays and medication seem obvious, but the biggest savings will likely be the future medical costs I won’t incur. I don’t have a precise figure on how much I’ll likely save by not being obese, but it appears to be substantial. Given my family history of diabetes, I would likely have required insulin injections, which can run into the thousands of dollars per month.
Overweight people can expect a whole host of costly medical problems, including joint pains and stress, high blood pressure and heart issues. A book I recently read indicated that obesity is highly correlated with all forms of cancer—an expensive disease to treat and one you’re lucky to survive. While I don’t mind spending money on medical care when it’s necessary, I’d rather fund my ounce of prevention over the costly pounds of cure. And, as the years go by, the money I don’t spend on health care can continue to grow tax-deferred in my health savings account (HSA). Any money remaining in the account can be withdrawn penalty-free after age 65, effectively turning my HSA into another traditional IRA.
One thing I didn’t save money on: clothing. When you lose 100 pounds over two years, you don’t just replace your whole wardrobe—you need to do it twice. But the fun of buying new clothes that fit well and look great on my new form has been well worth the money. I’m now my haberdasher’s favorite customer.
While HumbleDollar is primarily dedicated to personal finance, there are often articles written about happiness and health. After all, what’s the use of money if you’re unhappy or you don’t live long enough to enjoy it? The truth is, two years ago, I was miserable and tired of being overweight. As I looked around, I noticed there weren’t many other fathers my age who were as big as I was. There were even fewer 70-year-olds my size. I wanted to have as many good, healthy years as possible with my wife, kids and—God willing—one day grandkids. I wanted that more than I wanted anything, and I was able to leverage that willpower to achieve my goals. I’m pleased to say that, at age 41, I’ve never been healthier in my life.
A few times, I’ve heard Dave Ramsey say on his radio show, “If I can control the guy in my mirror, I can be skinny and rich.” While I don’t think obesity is entirely a function of willpower, if you find a program that works for you, you’ll certainly need discipline and self-control to stick with it and avoid all of the detours that life will throw at you. The same, of course, is true for investing. If you have the discipline to save regularly and adequately, and avoid all the temptations along the way, you can be rich—and, if you’re determined, skinny too.
Licensed in both Ohio and Kentucky, Ben Rodriguez practices real estate law in Cincinnati, where he lives with his wife and daughters. Since 2009, Ben’s made a hobby out of personal finance by reading books and articles on the subject, and also listening to podcasts. His previous article was On the House.