One of the challenges I had to conquer early in my college teaching career was finding ways to stir up curiosity in my students. If my students weren’t curious, or at least slightly interested in what I was about to teach, they would quickly find other things to occupy their minds. So before I began my lectures, I asked thought provoking questions, like for example: “Who wants to be a millionaire?” or “Which do you think is easier, losing weight or saving money?” Sometimes my questions were designed for a simple “yes” or “no” answer, and sometimes very open ended, like this one: “Do you think that computers/robots will one day rule the world, and if so, why?”

So let me ask you one of the questions I asked my students: Which do you think is easier, losing weight or saving money? And why?

When I would ask my students this question, about half the class would respond with “losing weight” while the rest would say “saving money.” But as they thought about it for a few minutes, some from each side would defect and change their response to exactly the opposite. After providing ample time for my class to think and conclude one way or the other, I would then explain to my now attentive students why, to many people, losing weight and saving money are equally difficult. People who have struggled with their weight for years would no doubt say how hard it is to lose weight. And people who live payday-to-payday would say it’s practically impossible to save any money. But could they really be equally challenging? Even more interesting, could there be some kind of relationship between these two issues?

Turns out there actually is. According to the British journal Independent, “We’re obese for the same reason we’re in debt – we prefer to forget the future.” The article later states that “basically it boils down to this: human beings have always preferred to do things that are easy.”

Some people believe that debt causes obesity, because a lack of financial resources restricts buying healthier food. Some people believe that obesity causes debt, since obese people may have self-esteem issues, and use their expendable money as a means to fill voids of pleasure or lack of activity. Brian, a former financial consultant wrote the following, “I think that there is an apparent link between overweight people and the way they manage their money. My intention is not to be rude but when I was a financial consultant for some years, I would notice this almost every day. On average, individuals that were highly indebted seemed to be more overweight. Perhaps it’s attitude….who knows. I just know what I was seeing out there.”

It’s certainly true many people tend to take the easier path in life. Perhaps we’re just lazy. Perhaps we’re too interested in living in the NOW, and not wanting to think too much about the future. But easy isn’t always the best path; in fact the best path is often cluttered with obstacles, debris, heartache and issues. But the best path always pays off handsomely. 

Having two issues such as debt and being overweight can certainly be overwhelming. Either one can be a challenge, but both can be very disheartening. To resolve either (or both) requires time, focus and determination. But getting out of debt and/or losing weight are both fulfilling and rewarding. And both are very doable! So how about focusing on and resolving one, then working on the other? There are some fantastic resources for getting out of debt and learning how to handle your money from financial gurus Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, and John Commuta. I also recently came across another great website called Man vs Debt. This young couple (Adam and Courtney) have a desire to help people get out of debt and live a life or passion and purpose. Nice!

Resolving weight issues can be really tough, but thousands have done it. Check out Darya Rose’s blog Summer Tomato. She is a PhD in neuroscience and author of Foodist, and she teaches people how to get healthy and lose weight without dieting! Or see my past blog posts The Pie of Long Life, A Nail in the Coffin of Obesity, or Why Do We Get Fat?

The question to ask yourself isn’t really “Which is easier, losing weight or saving money?” That’s designed to stir up curiosity and get people to think. But since you’re already thinking, the question to ask yourself is “Where do I want to be five years from now? Or ten years, or twenty years. Not physically, but financially and health wise. Procrastinating isn’t a solution. The solution is write down a goal, and come up with a system to accomplish it. The system is the secret; it’s what you do every day as you move towards your goal! If you don’t know where to begin, go over to James Clear’s article list and read a few of his posts. I’ve been following James for years, and I highly recommend his material.

Whatever you decide, keep in mind the future is coming; in fact it’s right around the corner.

To Your Health and Mine,

Dr. Hank