The costs of losing weight
I can’t believe it’s already been 2.5 years since I left my university IT job to move into sales. Time seriously flies whether you’re having fun or not. But that move also marked the beginning of something big in my life: losing 30 pounds. During 2011, I went from about 225 down to 195, give or take on both the start and end weights, and for the next 1.5 years, I’ve stayed in the 190’s.
It’s no Biggest Loser number, but it’s a major accomplishment for me because:
- I haven’t been under 200 since high school (20 years?), and I can’t even recall what year. I was always “the fat kid” due to my height/weight ratio. As an adult, my proportions changed, even if my weight didn’t too much, so people would often guess I weighed much less than I did.
- Based on federal guidelines, I was in the Obese category. Now in the 190’s, I’m within the “Overweight” category. Sometimes, though, a heavy meal can put me back into the Obese range, but I know the numbers aren’t all that’s to your overall health (I AM married to a registered dietitian!).
- I feel better, and I think I look better. That’s probably the biggest benefit because it’s about my health and mental attitude about myself.
But I will say that to get out of the Overweight category, I need to drop another 40 or so pounds. I think I would look very odd at 150-160lbs, but I think my ideal weight would be 175lbs, with an active lifestyle. And before I go on, I will recognize that there are MANY of you out there who have expressed that you would literally LOVE to be in the Overweight category because you’re “Morbidly Obese”. I know it’s a hard road, and there are no quick (safe, painless) fixes, so my prayers are with you to both begin the long and arduous journey or continue the fight you’ve begun.
But there is one downside I have found to losing a good chunk of weight (other than the extra skin)…
The “Hidden” cost of losing weight
My wife, who is still less than half my weight, has the difficulty of fitting into her clothes if she gains 5lbs. For me, I can wake up 5lbs lighter easily (water weight). But when you’re on the larger side, losing 30lbs means dropping at least one or two clothes sizes. I know back in college, I was up to a 42 waist at one point. I had gotten down to a 38 a few years ago, then a 36 when I trained for a ran a marathon in 2006.
And if you’re committed to keeping the weight off, you know what that means…BUYING NEW CLOTHES. Not just dress pants for work, but shorts for summer, swimming trunks, dress shirts (I dropped 2 half-sizes), polo and t-shirts, and even underwear (yes, your bum and waist get smaller). And oddly enough, I think I need new shoes! My feet aren’t as wide and now my dress shoes (slip-ons) wiggle on my feet a bit, which is not good for your spine, etc. when walking a lot.
And the impact of all this? Well, of course the money spent buying new clothes, but also the time and effort in doing so. Not many men enjoy clothes shopping, even with a specific item that they need to buy. It took me months to finally go out and buy a new suit coat because I was swimming in the one I had since college (yes, I got away with one suit coat for over a decade). My wife forced me to get new jeans in the winter because she said I looked silly in my old ones, and that’s when I found out my waist is now a 34″ (without needing those elastic waist bands to cheat into the size). Now I need new dress pants because I saw photos of myself with my new black suit coat paired with my 36″ pants and, yep, I look silly.
In the end, this weight loss will cost me many hundreds of dollars, but I’m committed to it. That means I have a closet and dresser full of clothes to donate or sell (donating is much easier). That’s even more hundreds of dollars spent, and in some cases, never even worn (or worn once or twice). But psychologically, holding onto my “fat clothes” would mean I’m not fully committed to my new lifestyle of eating less and getting more exercise. So they gotta go.
The Cost is worth it!
But there are many, many people eager to spend hundreds or thousands (or risk their life) to lose weight. We’ll buy “magic pills or potions” only to find out it’s just sugar pills or worse. We’ll risk our lives with lap bands or other surgeries to try to stop us from overeating, only to either die or gain the weight back within a year or two. So spending some money to buy new clothes because I took the route that involved exercise and diet (not a fad diet, just eating less mostly) is well worth it to me.
And if you’re wondering, I never actually utilized my wife’s professional skills in my weight loss. Sure, she would buy healthier food options, but I’m the type that will just eat what’s put in front of him, whether it tastes good or not (unless it’s creamed corn or canned peas…BLECH!). My weight loss just started happening because I was no longer working somewhere with my friends, where we would go to a cafeteria or restaurant, order full entrees (and snacks or dessert) and make an event out of it. Instead, I worked in an office for 6 months with coworkers only popping in sporadically, then I moved to working from home for the last 2 years. The change from a big cafeteria lunch (by a restaurant-quality chef, not some cheap fare) to eating out maybe once a week, and the rest of the time eating sporadically through the day, was the biggest change.
Then last January (2012), I started training for a marathon again. I had already lost the weight, but then I started running 3-4 days a week. I completed the marathon 30 minutes faster than in 2006, and I felt much better doing it because I wasn’t carrying 30 extra pounds on me. Winter kicked in and I haven’t been exercising much, but I’ve kept up my eating habits and still maintained my weight.
So after 2.5 years since starting my weight loss, I’m still maintaining and now looking to begin losing more. No fad diets, surgery or other trickery. Just change of diet and more exercise. And if I have to buy yet another new wardrobe, then I’ll be a happy man 🙂
Brought to you by Clever Dude
There is an initial cost for weight loss/gain in having to purchase new clothes. However, I’m sure there are also other costs elsewhere. For example, if you lose weight, you reduce your risk of several conditions (diabetes, heart disease, etc), so you would end up saving on the costs of managing those conditions. So, you would have a short term cost increase for new clothing (which could be minimized by going to thrift shops, etc) but a longer term cost savings elsewhere.
Also, it does cost more to eat healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables tend to be more expensive than just buying pre-processed food that’s laden with fat, calories and sodium.
So, it’s not just clothes where you’d spend extra money, your grocery bill will most likely go up as well to support a healthier lifestyle. This could also be mitigated by buying only what’s in season or even having your own garden.
Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says
If you’re cheap like me, the horror of the idea of buying clothes in a larger size keeps you from gaining much weight! 🙂 I was on the heavy side when I got pregnant, so post-baby, many of my “post-baby fat clothes” don’t fit. But I’m already down to just 11lbs that I need to lose to be back to my pre-pregnacy size. Then I just have the 10lbs to lose to be back to my preferred weight range (which I got out of because I injured myself last summer).
Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide says
Shawn is COMPLETELY wrong about food, though. You CANNOT eat pre-processed junk for as little as you can eat healthily. It is simply not possible. I feed my family of 5 on $55 a week, buying fresh foods and cooking them all from scratch. You CANNOT do this with processed foods. People who can’t cook make these claims all the time. Not only are they wrong, they don’t even make sense! Why would it be cheaper to pay for food PLUS processing rather than just the food? Guess what: It’s not.
Clever Dude says
@Shawn and Jenny, thanks for the feedback. And Jenny, congrats on getting down in weight.
I do know Shawn in person and can say he does know how to cook, but both of you are right that it CAN be more expensive to cook with fresh foods, but it depends on what you use, where you shop, HOW MANY you’re cooking for (just me and/or my wife for us, but 4 for Shawn’s family).
I can understand what you’re saying about paying for the processing, etc. for pre-packaged foods, but also consider the economies of scale manufacturers can attain as well as the lower quality of produce/fruits/meats they can use because it’s transformed. It doesn’t have to look pretty in the veggie cooler for consumers because it’s already been pre-cooked, mashed, etc.
I have another friend who started at around 400lbs this year and has gone to fresh smoothies and organic cooking. Their grocery bill has certainly ballooned, but it’s because of their wide variety of produce and choosing “organic”. They make their own almond flour with a $500 vitamix blender versus buying it in bulk at a local market. Again, it’s all in what you are making, how you procure it and how much you’re buying.
In the processed vs fresh debate – there’s also a difference between eating “food” and feeling full. When I have $1.00 for lunch, a small bag of chips at $0.99 will keep me full all afternoon. If I were to buy a dollar’s worth of salad at the salad bar (about 3 oz), I’d still be hungry. That’s where it’s cheaper to eat processed junk instead of healthy food. Of course the salad is healthier, but if I can’t afford it, I can’t afford it. I could drive to the supermarket (10 miles from the office) and get a banana for $0.79, but that won’t keep me full all afternoon either.
Christian L. says
Keep it up! The savings later down the road (that you won’t see) are those health care costs. Keep shedding that weight.
How do you feel about riding bikes? It’s a great way to lose weight and get outside.
-Christian L. @ Smart Military Money