Lose The Extra Weight and You Are Likely To Increase Your Wealth

In my last post, I shared the bummer news that being in debt doubles your risk of being overweight. Since the poll I included with my last post shows that roughly 45% of the readers who responded are overweight, I thought I’d share the encouraging news I dug up today:

Overweight Americans who lose a lot of weight also tend to build more wealth as they drop the pounds, according to new research.

The study found that the link between weight loss and wealth gains was particularly strong among white women. Black women and white men also gained wealth as they lost weight, but not as much as did white women. The wealth of black men was basically unaffected by their weight.

There’s no way to tell from the data whether losing weight was the reason for the gain in wealth, but the linkage was definitely there, said Jay Zagorsky, author of the study and a research scientist at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research.

“The typical person who loses or gains a few pounds had almost no change in wealth, but those who lost or gained large amounts of weight had a more dramatic change,” Zagorsky said.

For example, white women who dropped their body mass index score (BMI) – a standard measure of obesity – by 10 points saw a wealth increase of $11,880. White men saw an increase of $12,720 for a similar drop, while black women increased wealth by $4,480.

Overall, the results showed that a one unit increase in a young person’s BMI was associated with a $1,300 or 8 percent reduction in wealth. But the changes varied dramatically by ethnicity and gender.

The study appears online in the “Articles in Press” section of the journal Economics and Human Biology. Read more here: Dieting Linked To Increased Wealth, Study Finds

The data doesn’t indicate whether a person’s wealth affects obesity or whether obesity affects wealth. However, an analysis of those in the study who received inheritances showed no dramatic changes in their BMI scores in the following years. This suggests that wealth does not have a strong influence on weight; it is more likely that weight influences wealth.

If weight does affect wealth, how does it do so? Perhaps overweight people are discriminated against in the workforce and therefore don’t earn as much as thin people. Women are often held to higher beauty standards — this could explain why women gained more wealth compared to men when they lost weight.

For those of you who are overweight, is learning that you could be $4,480 to $12,720 richer by losing weight an encouraging incentive?

Being in Debt Doubles Your Risk of Being Overweight

The likelihood of being overweight or obese doubled with increasing indebtedness, an association that could not be explained by other socioeconomic or medical factors, according to an article published online in the journal BMC Public Health.

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Adam Baker, mid-twenties, boldly exposes his dual battle with debt and weight by openly blogging all about it. I was first drawn to Baker’s blog because he and his family recently moved to New Zealand. (My husband and I spent about a month in New Zealand and considered moving there, too.) But now, I also read Baker’s blog because I want to understand what makes his generation tick, particularly when it comes to thoughts and choices made about money.

Today, Baker asked his readers, “would you rather be fat or in debt”?

I am puzzled by Baker’s question. Here’s the comment I left on his post:

I can’t pick one option over the other because I choose neither. I can’t comprehend why I’d want to pick one because “neither” is a realistic answer. I’m stumbling over WHY you feel you need to pick one to be more important over the other, Baker. I think it’s okay to want to be fit AND debt-free. Maybe I missed something between the lines of your post.

May I suggest that rather than waiting until after you lose weight to do the kick-ass things you want to do, do them now. Live your life as though you are thin, fit and healthy and your body will catch up. Don’t look at this as a weight-loss diet. Look at this as your forever lifestyle choice. Otherwise you will bounce back and forth between fat and not, fat and not. AND THE SAME GOES WITH YOUR DEBT ISSUES!

Sorry to shout that last sentence.

You are courageous, open and honest and this is a huge start to something great. Many sweep these issues under the rug… and they stay there, festering. Keep your eye on how you want to live your life and you will live it!

I am not being insensitive, just curious. I wonder why indebtedness increases one’s odds of being overweight. What is the common thread between the two?

My weight has always been within the ideal range for my height and frame size. I’ve been mulling this topic over today and I’ve realized that I maintain my healthy weight in much the same way that I maintain my finances.

  • I identify and visualize what I want. I think healthy and rich thoughts so I am more likely to behave accordingly. Thoughts affect actions, actions affect outcome.
  • I take inventory on a regular basis. I weigh my net worth, spending and eating choices, and body.
  • I am mindful of and replenish my limited daily supply of self-control.
  • I avoid temptation: I grocery shop after I’ve eaten with a list in hand, I don’t hang out at the mall, I don’t look through catalogs or surf ebay.
  • I am willing to trade short term instant gratification for long-lasting, kick-ass benefits.
  • I search for and enjoy substitutes: Think baked sweet potato wedges drizzled with olive oil, dusted with cinnamon, and broiled until edges are crispy– rather than greasy McDonald’s french fries. Or think world travel, month-long vacations, picnics and delicious organic foods instead of fancy new cars, expensive restaurants, and closets full of clothes I’ll never wear.

Why and how do you think weight and money management outcomes are correlated?

Self control. Willpower. I Need Me Some of That!

Every day, usually when I’m in the shower, my brain whirls with blog topics. I dry off, get dressed, dash towards my computer to type the post that burns to get out of my mind and onto paper.

Tweeeet! Oh, a Mention on TweetDeck? Check it out. “Thanks for the RT”, I quickly type back. Hmm, wait, what’s this tweet, the one that says click here for the very best article on the science of happiness? Maybe it’ll be a perfect reference for the post I’m writing today. I devour the article, knowing that I’m headed down the wrong path.

Two minutes later, I return to stare at my blank page. I enter the title and post category.

“Mom, I need you!” my daughter whines.

“Where’s your dad? I’m working right now, honey.” Ouch, momma guilt pangs. I remind myself, it’s okay, Dad has it covered. He can play “just pretend I’m the momma and you are the baby” games with Juniorette just as good as I can.

I return to my page. Crap. What was that brilliant idea? The one I just had to share with the world? Oh yeah, something about how creating automatic money systems helps….

Ring, ring, ring.

I peek at the caller ID. It’s my sister. I’m not answering. I can call her back when I’m done.

“Jen, your sis is on the phone,” my husband announces as he brings the secondary phone unit to me in my in-home office. He’s already connected the call.

“Hey sis, what’s up? Can it wait for about an hour? I’m writing.”

I take three deep breaths, mutter to myself, and return my rolling eyeballs back to the page. Where was I? I’ve forgotten. While mulling over what I forgot, I do a quick check of my email. Ten minutes later, I return to stare at my blank page. I peck out a couple of awkward paragraphs. This doesn’t sound nearly as brilliant as it did in my head, when I was lather-rinse-repeating in the shower. I can’t post this crap!

I call it a morning. Tomorrow, I’ll have another idea. Tomorrow, I’ll try to sneak out of the shower and into my office unnoticed. In the meantime, I try to forget my lack of self-control by distracting myself. I spend the next hour mindlessly surfing the web.

What happened to my willpower? I was incredibly motivated to write when I started, but I couldn’t power through the task. Why couldn’t I stick to it? I think I found my answer:

Studies indicate that self-control comes in limited quantities that must be replenished.

There are three main theories about how self-control operates, according to Baumeister. One theory suggests that self-control depends on an energy or strength like “willpower,” while a second theory considers self-control as a skill to be learned. Yet another theory views self-control as a thought process, where individuals process their different behavioral options and choose a course of action after analyzing their situation.

To test these theories, Baumeister and colleagues designed a series of studies to determine whether self-control could be depleted, which would indicate that it was more like willpower than a skill or thought process.

For one experiment, individuals were asked to stifle or exaggerate their emotions while watching a disturbing video. Afterward, their physical stamina was tested with a handgrip device. In another study, hungry participants were tempted with chocolate and freshly baked cookies before working on difficult geometric puzzles. In all cases, participants who exercised self-control were less able to complete the second task.

“Resisting temptation consumed an important resource, which was then less available to help the person persist in the face of failure,” Baumeister explains.

He suggests that sleep may be one way that individuals can replenish self-control.

“Most forms of self-regulation failure escalate over the course of the day, becoming more likely and more frequent the longer the person has been deprived of sleep,” according to Baumeister, who notes that positive emotional experience may also help replace expended self-control energy.

Roy Baumeister, Ph.D.

It’s 4:30PM as I write this post. The phones are unplugged. My web browser is closed. The house is completely still. Daddy and Juniorette are playing at the park together.

And I just woke from a blessed nap.

755 words so far and I’m having a blast! The words are flowing and I haven’t used the delete key or checked on my email. I am focused, powering through this post.

What do I hope you take away from my experience?

That success comes easier when you eliminate temptations and reduce the need for willpower!

Do you want to stop buying things you don’t need? Then stay out of the mall.

Do you want to build your savings or retirement account? Then keep the money out of your hands. Schedule an automatic monthly transfer from your checking account to your savings account every payday.

Do you want to eat a healthier diet or lose weight? Then bag up your processed food and drop it off at your local food bank. When you grocery shop, avoid the boxed-food aisles. Don’t carry junk food through your door and put it into your pantry.

Do you have an important task to complete? Then tackle it first thing in the morning when you are rested and before you’ve used up your limited daily supply of self-control. Or take a nap like I did and start afresh.

I hear my family at the door and I am done. I will now celebrate this small victory! And I hit the Publish button…

Podcast: Unconventional Path to Becoming a Millionaire

Recently, I responded to several questions posed by Flexo and Tom from Consumerism Commentary. They created a 21 minute podcast of our conversation. Here is a sampling of the content:

  • how I used apprenticeship programs as an alternative to formal schooling, to land a job, and then to hire my own employees
  • my motivation for becoming financially independent
  • how we purchased our first home
  • my decision to delay parenting
  • the somewhat “unconventional” financial steps I took that lead my husband and I across the millionaire threshold
  • why after 17 years of homeownership, we decided to become renters
  • a few of the ways I am raising our daughter using important life lessons I’ve learned

I think Flexo and Tom do a great job with their podcasts — so much so that I am considering hiring Tom to edit and polish some podcast material for my blog. As part of my book’s research, I am interviewing other first generation, self-made millionaires who are under the age of 55. I am recording these conversations. My intention is to include a variety of these financial success case studies and profiles to illustrate various principles in my book. Before I commit to the expense of creating podcasts, I want to know: Do you listen to and enjoy podcasts or do you prefer that I share these stories in written blog post format?

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Please take a second to respond to the poll above, then head on over to Consumerism Commentary to listen to the podcast. I’d appreciate your feedback about this podcast — and your experience with podcasts in general — in the comments section. (Note: Email subscribers and RSS feed readers, you will need to click through to my blog to do so.) Thanks!

3 Essential Components to Financial Success

In my last post, I suggested that financial success takes more than learning the how to of creating wealth. I challenged that our mindset often gets in the way of reaching our financial goals. I asked you to weigh in with your personal experiences. Thank you for your comments and emails – they will help me as I design the structure and content of my book.

As promised, I am following up by sharing several very specific factors that I attribute to my own personal finance success. In my opinion, there are three basic components that I think helped me to achieve my financial goals:

  1. Being
  2. Believing
  3. Doing


Honest Take inventory of your finances. List your assets and all of your debts. Track your spending. Quit sweeping what you don’t want to acknowledge under the rug because until you face it head on, your finances are unlikely to change.

Compassionate Be as kind to yourself as you are to those you love most dearly. Stop the blame games and guilt trips. Your net worth will grow faster when you stop wasting time with negative energy.

Courageous Change takes courage. Despite what we’re often told, we learn more from our successes than we do our failures. (I will share some very interesting research on this soon!) Break down your big financial goals into small steps. Build upon each small success — momentum is everything!

Committed Are you committed to getting out of debt? Reaching financial independence? Do a gut check. You have to want it bad enough to do everything it takes to make it happen. There is no “try” in commitment. Do or don’t do — which will it be?

Focused Keep your eye on the prize while you enjoy life’s little pleasures along the way. Keep a journal or organize a support group to help you keep on track.

Consistent Practice makes perfect so consistently practice!

Resourceful Think outside of your box. Learn to let all judgements go when you brainstorm and solutions will expose themselves.

Likable Emotional intelligence and social skills lead to better outcomes. Likable people are more likely to be promoted, to sell more to their customers, to better manage and lead groups. Be likable and you’ll find others are more willing to help you reach your goals

Patient Unless you inherit a fortune or win the lottery, you won’t get rich overnight. Be okay with this. If you keep doing what you need to be doing, your money life will get better and better. Eventually it will take astounding leaps and bounds. This is the magic of compound growth.

Healthy If you don’t take care of your body, someday it won’t take care of you. Don’t be rich and dead. ‘Nuff said!


Believe that your financial independence and security is more important than the house you live in, the car you drive, or the clothing you wear. Live life your way. Don’t go the way of the Joneses’.

Believe in, appreciate, and honor your interests and abilities. Do so and you will be driven by a passionate energy. This passion makes the journey as rewarding as the destination.

Believe that you deserve success and happiness. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.  Visualize the success you seek.

Believe in your ability to learn. Use both sides of your brain and exercise your creativity. Allow your curiosity to lead you as a lifelong learner.

Believe in yourself. Believe in you, even when others don’t.

Believe in solutions, not excuses. If you want it bad enough, you can find a way to make it happen. Focus on the things you can do, not on the things you can’t. Seek solutions to your problems and you will find them.


Create and implement a financial plan, compare your progress to this plan, and modify your plan as needed. There will be obstacles. Go around them. Keep your eye on the map, but remain flexible so you can take detours when needed.

Control your income by being the boss of you. Choosing your occupation is important. The majority of millionaires are entrepreneurs for a reason. Working for oneself means no limits on income.

Live below your means. Duh, right? But you need to DO it. Swap short-term, short-lived gratification for long-term benefits and a financial security.

Harness the power of compounding. Save a portion of income and allow ample time for compounding to perform it’s magic. Time is one of our most valuable assets so start right now. Yes, I mean today!

Take financial risks given the right return. Make well-considered investments and allocate your money in ways that are conducive to building sustainable wealth.

Push yourself past your comfort zone. Do you want a better job? Better pay? Your family to cooperate with the family budget? Have you asked for what you want? If not, what are you waiting for? Get in the habit of stretching your comfort zone. Start by asking for what you want.

Ask questions and keep an open mind so you can continue to grow. Read, find a mentor, arrange for an unpaid apprenticeship, seek advice from those who you see as successful. There is much to learn from the experience of others.

Don’t give up. We all fall off the wagon now and again. The key is to get right back on track. @FrugalDad tweeted this morning: “I love the first day of the month. It’s like having a giant Etch-A-Sketch. Shake your budget around & wipe the slate clean!”

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