Sunday Thoughts: On Losing Weight And Saving Money

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Today marks the third full week I’ve been on Weight Watchers (woo!), and so far, I’ve lost a little over two pounds. I want to be the bOdY PoSiTiVe girl and say that eating better and moving more has nothing to do with weight loss, but that would be a lie. Part of my big push into getting serious about these things was realizing that I was at the very upper limit of my BMI range before becoming medically overweight. Now, I know that people can be both overweight and healthy/active, but if I was being honest with myself, that was not my case. I’ve always been very naturally slim, and for most of my life complained about not having ENOUGH curves. I went through a good portion of my life as The Stickbug, and as soon as I put in even a modicum of effort, I go into a much slimmer stasis.

But I got lazy over the past few years of desk jobs and work-from-homes, with the frigid New York winters doing nothing to motivate me to take my health more seriously. All I wanted was to wrap myself in blankets and eat potatoes covered with cheese. I found myself at the end of this period with half a wardrobe that didn’t really fit, a doughy midsection, and a general lack of energy that made even going for an afternoon stroll with my dog a chore. It was bad, and I wasn’t proud of myself.

So I went the only sane way I knew to keep myself accountable and effectively get in shape — I started counting calories. I find that Weight Watchers makes this easier (and no one at Weight Watchers paid me to say this, if that helps), but even just keeping track of calories in/calories out would do more or less the job. I find the point system to be a bit video game-like, though, and it keeps me on track the way few things have before. On week three I feel myself steadily slimming down by staying religious about my daily and weekly point limits, and making sure to get a shit ton of activity points in if I want to have more than one indulgent day/night per week. I haven’t been perfect about it, but it’s been working, and it keeps me from obsessing about things/feeling guilt because the points are impossible to argue with. If there’s one thing I fear more than letting my body slide into something I’m not happy with, it’s becoming someone obsessed with food, calories, and waistlines. To me, there is nothing more tedious.

The thing I have found in this little lifestyle change more than anything else is how much reducing calories comes hand-in-hand with reducing money spent. It’s not any kind of surprise that most of my spending went to going out on any given month, but it is a surprise just how easy it is to cut out if you have a good reason to do so. Realistically, if I want to stay on track with my diet, I shouldn’t be going out to a restaurant more than twice per week, and I should be drinking about once a week. (And to be honest, when you’re at home and deciding if you’d rather have a single glass of wine with your dinner or a big scoop of ice cream after, it’s never hard for me to forgo the liquid calories.)

But as soon as you start to resist going out to eat (and all of the delicious but oil-and-salt-laden food that goes with it), you wonder why you ever did it so much in the first place. I’ve started having cooking nights with girlfriends where we make low-ish cal (yet totally delicious) meals and just hang out. It’s a fraction of the price, and we can tailor whatever we’re making to everyone’s dietary needs. And though this past week — with family members in town who had to go out for basically every meal — was the toughest to stay on track for, it’s easy to adjust what you’re eating at home on days you’re going out if you really need to. And besides, saying to yourself “I’m going to drink water, order only one course, and get a little side salad to help fill me up” is one of the easiest ways to reduce a restaurant bill from 40 dollars to 20 without sacrificing the experience.

And “the experience” may be the biggest mindset I have to switch. At three weeks in, it’s getting easier to shift  my perceptions about the ~~dining experience~~, like that an evening out should just be a “fuck it” moment where I get wine, and split a dessert, and don’t even consider calories. Having water with most of my meals allows the one big night I have to involve a nice aperitif, wine, and a nightcap without worrying about it. And the experience doesn’t have to happen on a restaurant, or at a long home dinner on a Friday or Saturday. A few friends over to make a new recipe can be an awesome weekday event, and some nice iced tea with lemon allows it to end at a totally reasonable hour and not leave you feeling groggy for work the next day.

Between buying far more fresh produce and grains/beans than I do processed food, and greatly reducing the number of times I go out in a month, I’ve already seen a drastic change in my spending. And perhaps weight loss — and once again being on the middle-to-low end of the normal BMI range — is a petty reason to do it. But I’m already a thousand times happier with myself. I have more energy, my clothes fit better, my bank account is much healthier, and my relationship with food is becoming healthier every day. And that’s more than enough reason for me.

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