Monday, March 12, 2012

Treat your calories like money !!

Last Tuesday the battery in my car died.  (  I probably should have replaced it sooner, but that could be the theme of another post ) .  I generally try to live within a budget and like to save money, and hadn’t planned on spending $100 on a car battery that day.  So, since my budget for the week was already blown by 9 am on Tuesday,  what kind of financial decisions did I make for the rest of the week ?  If I said that I went and bought a new watch Tuesday night, then took the kids to the movies on Thursday, bought the wife flowers on Friday, and decided to get myself an iPad on Saturday, you’d think I was crazy, right ?  Just because I overspent on the battery, doesn’t mean I should over spend the rest of the week. Instead,  I should be extra diligent for the remainder of the week, and possibly try to cut back where I can. In fact,  If I could go $10 under budget each day, I would be right back on track by the end of next week.   Most people realize that if you spend more than you should, you’ll have to make it up in other areas.  Some unexpected expenses are necessary ( a dead car battery ) and some are optional, but worthwhile, ( a collection at work for the guy who’s kid has some untreatable illness ) but whatever the reason or rationale, the extra expense has to come from somewhere.  It either comes from not spending somewhere else, or it comes out of your savings.  This isn’t really a hard concept to grasp.    Keeping all this in mind….why do people decide after they blow their calorie budget to go on a “spending” spree like the calories don’t count for that day or week ??  I hear about this all the time and never understand it.   So you forgot to bring your Tofu and bean sprout salad to work and had to grab lunch at Fatburgers-R-Us, or someone in the office had a birthday and there was cake and ice cream in the lunch room, whatever the reason, you end up exceeding your calorie budget for the day.  Some people seem to take this as a reason to justify stuffing their face like they are carbo loading for multiple marathons !!   There are many reasons that you end up with unexpected calorie consumption.  You might just be hungry, you might be feeling dejected or lonely, you might find yourself face to face with  your caloric kryptonite ( mine is vanilla ice cream.  I have no defense against it ), you may be travelling and forced to eat on the run….there are good and bad reasons to over spend your calorie budget.  This post isn’t about how to stay on budget, it’s about what to do when you are off it.  Let’s face it, if we never went  off our calorie plan, we’d all be skinny, right ? I wouldn’t be here blogging, I’d be out showing off my six pack abs and flexing my pecs as I mowed the lawn bare-chested.  Whatever the reason, it happens.  You find yourself staring at the empty cellophane wrapper of a Hostess Cupcake and wondering how it happened again.  The really important thing to do, is not have another one.  Just because your calorie plan has just gone out the window, you have to realize that you are still accountable for the rest of the day and week.  You can’t take this as a license to consume.  If you do, not only will you have a lot more calories to work off between now and the body you want, but you’ll feel guilty, remorseful, and generally crappy about your food plan, and things will get harder.  That’s worth repeating.  Things will get harder.  That means that the plan you couldn’t follow anyway, will get harder even harder to follow.  This starts the cycle of negative feelings, over eating, weight gain, negative feelings….etc.    If you have single handedly raise  the stock price of Krispy Kreme donuts at 9:00  in the morning, what you do at 9:01 is HUGELY important to your over all well being.  Step 1, don’t eat the next donut.  Step 2:  don’t get to down on yourself for falling off plan.   Step 3:  Know that there will be steps backward and that everyone has them.  As long as you take more steps forward than backward, you’ll get somewhere.  Step 4:  Take responsibility for the rest of the day.  Strive to eat right from that time on.   There’s a financial guy I listen to on the radio who always says “ If you find yourself in a hole, STOP DIGGING”  In other words, don’t continue the behavior that is making things worse.    

I’d love to say that the key to weight loss is to pick a food plan and stick with it.  If that works for you, great.  You are in the minority.  Most people have a difficult time getting their weight under control.  You see people at work, socially, around town that look great and have lost weight and you think it’s so easy for them.  They had a hard time too, you just didn’t see their struggles and you are painfully aware of your own.   There’s no magic pill or device that is going to get you the body you want.  It’s a very difficult process that will have it’s ups and downs.   Minimizing the damage of a plan interruption will go a long way towards getting you where you want to be.  Giving up for only a few days set you back by a few weeks.  The sooner you exhibit the right behavior after a mis step, the closer you are to your goal.  You will fall off the wagon, and you will get back on it.  Just try to get back on it as quick as you can….and whatever you do….

Just don’t stop running.


  1. Great post! I love the way you look at consumption. I hate to admit it though....once I overspend, I do tend to go on a spree. I do the same with eating. Will be trying to think differently from now on.

  2. This is a fantastic analogy! I have to admit - I'm guilty of exactly what you describe. If I slip up, I tend to consider the rest of the day a write-off. It makes no sense, yet I still do it. Next time it happens, I'll keep this post in mind!