A Full Breakdown Of How Much I Spent To Lose 40 Pounds

girl-in-forest

Last July, I bit the bullet and did something I had been considering for two years: I signed up for Weight Watchers.

My weight had been creeping up steadily since I graduated college in 2010, which was a byproduct of a sedentary desk job, a pretty serious brunch habit, and a strong commitment to avoiding physical activity. It was the perfect storm, and when a college best friend asked me to serve as a bridesmaid in her wedding, it tipped the scale, so to speak, and was the motivation I needed to take action.

Although Weight Watchers came with a significant monthly cost, I viewed it as an investment in my health and incorporated the monthly membership fee into my budget. What I failed to account for, however, were all of the affiliated costs that came alongside weight loss: fitness classes, workout gear, new clothes, and supplements. The following is an exact breakdown (the good, the bad, and the ugly) of every dollar I spent in pursuit of, or as a result of, my goal to lose 40 pounds.

JULY

Prorated Weight Watchers membership, starting July 12th: $19.95

August Weight Watchers membership: $44.95

July Total: $64.90

AUGUST

Polar heart rate monitor to track my calorie burn during workouts: $59.89

Bags of green tea to keep at my desk for ~detox~ & afternoon caffeine: $8.18

September Weight Watchers membership: $44.95

August Total: $113.02

SEPTEMBER

Gymbook, an iPhone app to keep track of my new weight lifting goals: $3.99

Supplements the guy at GNC talked me into buying, including a multi-vitamin, fish oil, and protein powder: $85.98

Workout tanks and two pairs of size-12 skinny jeans: $54.48

October Weight Watchers membership: $44.95

September Total: $189.40

OCTOBER

Shopping spree at Nordstrom for new work clothes that fit: $223.80

More supplements from GNC because I didn’t learn my lesson the first time: $41.99

Fancy workout clothes from Athleta to support my newfound fitness habit: $279.99

November Weight Watchers membership: $44.95

October Total: $590.73

NOVEMBER

New bra from Nordstrom because my boobs had volunteered as tribute to be the first weight I lost: $68

New bra from Amazon because they sell the same style for a fraction of the cost: $23.55

Cost of shipping a giant box of my old clothes to a friend across the country who wears the size I used to: $44.15

New jacket and vest from the Columbia outlet to stay warm in the Portland autumn: $80.86

Pack of six pairs of athletic socks: $12.49

Green juice from Whole Foods because I forgot that I’d rather chew my vegetables: $4.95

Leggings, pajamas, and two pairs of size-10 skinny jeans: $94.00

Monthly yoga membership, new client special: $38.00

December Weight Watchers membership: $44.95

November Total: $410.95

DECEMBER

Winter coat from Columbia, two sizes smaller than my old one: $169.99

Three workout tanks from Target when their clearance racks were an extra 20% off: $14.51

Sports bra from Nordstrom because, even after losing weight, I still needed some serious support: $68.00

December Total: $252.50

JANUARY

Road ID bracelet to assuage my parents’ fears that my new running habit was going to result in a medical emergency: $25.96

Monthly yoga membership, five classes/month: $50

Money back from Adidas after a comedy of errors while exchanging the running shoes I was gifted for Christmas: +$6.99

Long-sleeve running shirts from Athleta because running outside in the winter is cold: $70.77

Two sweaters and some lounge pants from LOFT because my work wardrobe consisted of six tops and two cardigans on rotation: $48.00

Fleece pullover and two pairs of size-8 skinny jeans: $51.00

January Weight Watchers membership: $44.95

January Total: $283.69

In the last six months, I’ve spent a total of $1,905.19 in pursuit of my weight and fitness goals. That number is higher than I would have guessed, and my budget did its job well in absorbing all those costs without taking on any debt. As I look through this list, I realize there are a lot of ways I could have saved money. I didn’t need all those supplements, fancy Athleta clothes were unnecessary when sale items worked just as well, and that green juice (along with the smug feeling that accompanied it) was gone in three minutes.

I did manage to save costs in a few places, though. In lieu of a gym membership, I used the gym in my old apartment building, the treadmill at my office, and the great outdoors to get my cardio in. I have a pile of clothes waiting to be sold or consigned in an effort to recoup some of the costs of rebuilding my wardrobe. My Starbucks habit abated significantly since having to account for the nutritional value of my beloved lattes.

The most notable change, however, has been in my food costs. Not just in how much I spent, but also in where I was using my money. Between January 2015 and June 2015, the six months prior to starting this adventure, my monthly food costs averaged $532.15. Restaurants accounted for $305.27, or 57% of that total, while trips to the grocery store accounted for the remaining $226.88.

Looking at the six months I spent on the program between July 2015 — December 2015, my monthly food costs decreased by 14.58% to an average of $454.59 per month. Of that total, restaurant spending decreased by 49.56% to $153.98 per month. My grocery spending increased by 32.5% to an average of $300.61 per month.

The 14.58% decrease in food spending during the second half of the year equates to a savings of $465.37 when compared to the first half of the year. If I apply that savings to the $1,905.19 I outlined above, I end up with a net expenditure of $1,439.82 to lose 40 pounds over the course of six months.

As I write this piece and come to terms with how much money I’ve spent pursuing this goal, I’m daydreaming of other ways I could have spent that money. In the midst of this gray Portland winter, a week at a resort in Mexico sounds fantastic. While I already make contributions to my emergency fund and Roth IRA, adding an additional $1,500 would have been a responsible choice. I definitely could have used it to help pay for the costs of attending three weddings this year. But then I think about how strong I feel, how proud I am of myself for finally committing to this, and how confident I will be when I walk down the aisle at my friend’s wedding in April, and I don’t regret spending on this journey, even though I know, looking back, that there are few things I shouldn’t have spent on. (I still regret that stupid green juice.)

If, like me, you love data and numbers, you can view the spreadsheet I used to calculate this information here. The data itself was pulled directly from my YNAB budget and corroborated by my bank records.

Jenn is a marketing professional living with her boyfriend and cat in Portland, Oregon. You can find her gallery of excessive cat photos on Instagram and Twitter.

Image via Pixabay

 

  • meep

    this was a really great read, and one of the better “breakdowns” i’ve seen here– seeing specific financials is really interesting. congrats on getting to your goal! even if it’s an expensive investment, as long as it’s something that makes you feel good and you’re proud of, it’s worth it in the end 🙂

    • I had way too much fun doing all the math 🙂 And thank you — it was definitely an investment that is worth it to me even if I had no idea just how much of an investment it would be when I started.

  • Ali

    I can completely relate to this! 2 years out and an extra 30 lbs out of college and I’ve spent so much on gyms, healthy foods, supplements, etc. I haven’t totaled the costs like this, but it’s interesting to see what is most likely a similar end number. I went from a size 12 to a size 4 which left me for a constant ‘need’ for new professional clothes that actually fit. However, I’ve made fitness a habit and this lifestyle has been worth it to me now that I know how to maintain it on a budget.

    • Congratulations on your success & making fitness a habit and lifestyle! The struggle for clothes that fit is real, and my work wardrobe is suuuuper boring at the moment. Now that I’ve reached my goal I can slowly start adding things to my closet but it’s hard to justify when you’re still in the middle of it!

  • Michelle

    I’m more impressed on your dedication and weight loss than your spending breakdown 🙂

    • Thank you! It only took two years of thinking about it to finally *do* it 🙂

  • Probably could do without so many clothes 😉 but investing in your health pays dividends for the rest of your life. If new workout clothes help someone stick to their gym routine, it’s 100% money well-spent IMO

    • It’s funny, because clothing accounts for a big chunk of the money I spent, but my wardrobe is still really small! I would buy a few new things to get by, then lose more weight, and they wouldn’t fit anymore. I bought the same two pairs of black & denim skinny jeans three times, in all different sizes! Now my workout clothes obsession is a whole other story 🙂 (Though I did just have to buy new running tights because the ones I bought back in the fall are now too big… Sigh.)

      • Allison

        Please tell me what jeans…. 2 pairs for under $50? What’s your secret? Thanks!

        • Ha, my secret is Old Navy — I knew I’d be going through them so fast that I was just not willing to cough up the money for more ethically-produced jeans, & I didn’t need them to last me years (or even months, sometimes). Specifically, I bought the Mid-Rise Super Skinny style in the dark wash (Rinse) & in black. I just checked & they’re on sale for $19 right now, plus 20% off.

    • Bridget

      *waves to fellow Bridget Casey*

  • Congrats! Check out the Athleta selling group on FB. Looks like the resale community is a little smaller than Lululemon’s (I’m a Lulu girl) but I’ve sold hundreds of dollars worth of Lulu to girls on FB. It’s great because I can then buy MORE new Lulu. Especially good for you since you’re losing weight. Sort of a way to recoup costs.

    • Oh I will look into that! I don’t have FB but could possibly create one or borrow a friend’s account 🙂 My Athleta tops still fit but my leggings are too big for running! Thanks for the tip!

  • Amy Estes

    This was fascinating, and super honest. I’m so proud of and inspired by you!

    • Thanks friend — your support means so much <3

  • Sindhoo

    This is so good. And honestly….I think it’s totally worth it. I agree with your entire assessment of what could have been cut out, but you should seriously be proud of yourself. And I think being smart about this can be ultimately very fruitful. In reassessing my spending this year I realized that I was going to prioritize just a few things (my health being the number one thing) and cut down on everything else frivolous, and it’s actually helped me spend a lot less money overall.

    • Thank you, I appreciate that! I’m definitely proud of myself, and as my dad pointed out: the startup cost was high but now it’s just maintenance/part of my lifestyle so it won’t always be so expensive.

      Congrats on prioritizing your health, and I really like your perspective about focusing on just a few things & letting the frivolous stuff fall to the side. It’s easier said than done, and I’m so impressed it’s working for you!

      • Sindhoo

        Hah well……it’s been a month. So we’ll see how February goes!

  • lazuliz

    Love the honesty in this piece! In the future, thrift stores are so much cheaper for exercise and office clothes! Of course, used sports bras and undergarments are super gross, but I have purchased super cute clothes for all occasions at my local goodwill for a fraction of their original cost, plus there are the sweat shop and environment arguments for thrift shopping. Also, have you tried My Fitness Pal? It could work for you as a *free* alternative to Weight Watchers. Keep up the good work!

    • Thrift & resale shops are definitely a good idea. If I had known how this was going to end when I started the process, they definitely would have been part of my shopping routine! There are a few good places near me though, so I’ll be checking them out as I rebuild my wardrobe in my new size. As for MyFitnessPal, I sometimes cross post my food there to take a look at my macros & I think I’ll use it a bit more now that I’m almost at my goal. I chose WW initially because it simplified things a bit (something about tracking 30 points/day versus 1500 calories/day was easier on my brain) and I also wanted the accountability of going to a WW meeting every week & weighing in. Luckily I’ll get to stop paying the monthly fee soon since “lifetime” members get the tools for free.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Jenn, congrats on your weight loss, and thanks for writing such an honest article! Could you talk a bit about how you lost the weight, beyond weight watchers, I mean? Just rough estimates of what sort of workouts you were doing and how you balanced that with tracking your food intake. Based on details from your articles, I think we’re at about the same starting size, and I too have been thinking about getting serious and loosing about 30 pounds for a while now. Hearing other people’s strategies is really helpful! Thanks!

    • Thank you! And I’m happy to talk about it. It was a gradual process, and I started off just by altering my diet based on the WW program. I was also working from home at the time, so I took a lot of afternoon walks. Nothing cardio intensive, just “getting my steps in” as opposed to sitting still in my apartment like I had been doing. I slowly worked up to the elliptical at the gym in my apartment, and told myself that I was going to go even if I only did 10-20 minutes. Once I bought the polar heart rate monitor and could see the calories I was burning & how hard my heart was working, it sparked a competitive streak in me and I pushed myself a lot harder/longer. I also experimented with lifting weights, following the exercises in the Gym Book app I purchased for my iPhone since I had no idea what I was doing.

      A few months into all of this, I was getting kind of bored by the elliptical (and tired of my feet going numb on it!) so I started following the C25K running program (also an iPhone app) to spice things up a bit. It’s a really easy run/walk program to follow, and it never took longer than 30 minutes to complete. The focus is on slowly increasing your run intervals, and they never focus on speed so it’s perfect for slow runners like me.

      As I got more confident in my fitness, and progressed further into the C25K program, I started running outside and *sort of* enjoyed it. There’s definitely a feeling of badass-ness that comes with running outside when it’s raining 🙂 Then a friend invited me to a hot yoga class with her, and I super fell in love with that. I had done yoga regularly in the past, but had fallen off the wagon for a couple years. Getting back on my mat was glorious. Now my fitness routine includes a weekly yoga class, sometimes two, and going for runs on the weekend mornings (I’ll probably run during the week when it’s daylight after work again). I don’t go far, or fast; my goal is to be able to run a couple miles a couple times a week, comfortably. I’m not training for anything, and I have no speed goals.

      I’m going to experiment this month with a couple fitness classes like spin, barre, and circuit training, but my guess is those will likely be an “every once in a while” kind of thing since they’re expensive.

      Overall, the fitness aspect definitely helped, but I attribute at least 75% of the weight loss to the changes in my diet. The two biggest factors for me were portion size (I was eating way too much per meal) and snacking (crackers, pretzels, etc. were my weakness) — getting those two things under control really helped me a lot. There are a lot of tools out there other than WW to help with diet but I definitely enjoyed the accountability and the weekly meetings I got with WW.

      Let me know if you have other questions. There’s also a really active WW community on Instagram, believe it or not. You can find me on there @ww.jenn if you’re curious about what I eat every day!

  • April

    Thank YOU Jenn for sharing this journey! Congratulations on all you achieved and for tracking your expenses, even when you weren’t at your best. I hope Primark comes to a city near you soon; awesome workout gear as cheap as it comes

    • Thanks so much, April! I keep hearing such lovely things about Primark. Think it’s cost-effective to fly to London just for a shopping trip? 😉

      • April

        Actually, they’re in Boston and Philly now 😀

  • Love this! Even though your weight/fitness goal seemed to cost a lot when you tally it all up, there’s other things to account for. You’re eating better and more importantly, feeling better. The $1,500 that could have been spent on a Mexican vacation, but now spent on your health, clothes, and better food, will end up saving you way more money (issues down the road) in the long run.

    • I couldn’t agree more — it’s definitely an investment in my future. And though the start up costs were high, now it’s just a way of life. Once I fill out my wardrobe a little bit more, I’ll just be in “maintenance” mode & not actively spending money on losing weight. It’ll just be my lifestyle.

  • Kevin Baker

    If you avoid even one fairly minor medical procedure, that would more than cover the money you spent. I suspect, even on a strictly financial level, you came out well ahead.