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The Similarities Between Finances and Obesity

As of the date of this publication, my weight is 320 pounds.  I am a 5-foot 11-inch male in my forties.  Although I am not where I want to be, weight-wise, I am making progress.  You see, just a few months ago, my weight was teetering between 325 and 337 pounds.  I have set goals to get back to a comfortable weight of about 205, but it has been a challenge.
 
This article is not intended to shame anyone… neither financially or as it pertains to one’s appearance.  But, the honest truth is that I am writing this article for people who have struggled both financially or with their weight.  Believe it or not, socioeconomic statuses and appearance are two areas where people are judged the most in society.  We see it in the media all of the time where the obese person is the comic relief and the slim, pretty person has the love story.  Or, we see people with limited finances are often marginalized.  Obese people and poor people are sometimes villified for being in the situation they are in.  Just recently, September 6, 2019, Bill Maher waited until Killer Mike, or any other overweight person for that matter, was not on his panel to launch into a “New Rules” tirade against “fat” people.
 
But I know what it’s like to struggle with weight issues as I am currently working to regain a proper body mass index (BMI) .  And, at one point in my life, I struggled with financial and debt issues that didn’t have me in poverty, but definitely flirted with it.  And, I have come to the realization that being financially challenged and being overweight have some very basic similarities.
 
1. Both Can be an Inherited Trait
 
As beings, we inherit our genes from our parents.  So, our metabolisms, leptin, estrogen and testosterone levels are a direct genetic “gift” handed down to us from our parents.  Thus, some people are blessed with being able to eat whatever they want and maintain a smaller frame.  That is not to say they are healthy; it is just saying they are able to avoid obesity due to their inherited genes.
 
Similarly, a lot of people are born into poverty or indebtedness; whereas, others are born into wealth or inherit it.  Some of us, me included, have to work to build our wealth.  And others are fortunate to be born into wealth to the extent that they, and the children they may beget, have secure financial futures.
  
2. Both Are Learned Behavior

The effects of obesity usually start in your childhood years.  During this time, you develop habits taught to you by your parents or guardians.  For example, I can remember being told to clean my plate and not waste food. I was always given a large plate and a food portion that was bigger than what it should have been.  Additionally, the food groups on my plate were not always healthy.  Sometimes they were; then the majority of times the meals were heavily based on starches, carbohydrates, or meats and they were not balanced out with an appropriate portion of vegetables.  And the desserts were not natural fruits, but heavily processed desserts that contained refined sugar such as cakes, pies and cookies.  Also, you develop the habit of having to eat something sweet or heavily processed during the holidays, or when you are watching a movie, your favorite sporting event, or television show.  Here in the States, we have access to food on a 24/7 basis.  The refrigerator was accessible to me as a child whenever I wanted to snack on something and I was never monitored as to when or what I could grab.  Through years of repetition, this type of eating becomes a learned behavior or habit that will be hard to break once you reach the age of emancipation and set off into the world on your own. 
 
Financial wellness starts during your childhood years as well.  Fortunately for me, I was born into a family that practiced outstanding financial habits, but I know of, and have observed, many people that were born into families that did not have the financial acumen or resources that I enjoyed and they wound up making the same financial mistakes as their parents.  Their parents always bought fancy cars, so they bought fancy cars when they got older.  Their parents weren’t big savers, so they grew up to consume as their parents did and not save.  The financial habits that they observed as a child were imbued into their psyche and they grew up and carried out the same financial behavior.  I have known some rich friends that have poor financial habits, but due to their financial lineage, they would request assistance from their parents to get bailed out of their financial predicament.  And I have known middle class and lower income friends that inherited poor financial habits, but they didn’t have access to the financial lifeline that my rich friends did.
 
The development of bad financial habits and obesity are usually a failure of parents in understanding or adopting the trinary factor of success, which is the formula to success in any endeavor.  I will be talking about the trinary factor of success later on in this publication.
 
3. They Occur Via Scope Creep
 
Financial stress and obesity rarely occur overnight.  Oftentimes, the actions that lead to financial stress or obesity is an accumulation of years of bad habits, poor execution, and ignorance regarding the subject matter.
 
In hindsight, my massive weight gain was a combination of eating late at night, eating the wrong foods, overindulgence, and leading a sedentary lifestyle.  It was a gradual creep that went unchecked until others started to make note of my physical change.
 
Financial predicaments are the same.  It starts with small purchases on a credit card that don’t get paid off the next month.  Then, the interest starts to pile up on the initial purchase.  Then, you purchase another item.  Then another.  And another.  All the while the interest keeps compounding.  You switch to another card just so you can see a lower debt obligation for an item that you probably you won’t even remember, or continue to own, in the next 3 years.  Your spending habits, consumption desires, and lack of education on debt-to-income ratios or other finance issues continually mount.  Suddenly, that one purchase seven years ago has grown into a financial debt mountain that you must climb.
 
4. Dignity Deficiency Syndrome
 
Obesity and financial stress can cause individuals to lose self-respect and self worth.  Sometimes, for myself, I find myself embarrassed to eat around others because I feel as though I am being judged.  I also find myself having to acknowledge my obesity on certain occasions and announcing to others that I’m “working on” my weight situation because I feel as though I am going to be judged when I leave the room.
 
I have friends and acquaintances that do similar things regarding wealth.  They feel the need to acknowledge, without external encouragement, deficiencies in their possessions such as their homes or bank accounts, or proactively point out deficiencies in their neighborhood - the crime rate, the shopping choices, and so forth.
 
One day a friend and I were talking about another one of our friends that started avoiding us.  They were going through some hard financial times, had to foreclose on their house and was working in a job where their pay put them in a different tax bracket as us.  My friend kept wondering why our friend was avoiding them and not returning his calls.  I had to remind him of our friend’s circumstances; my supposition is that our friend started avoiding us because they were ashamed of the financial hardships they were going through and our financial status would just be a reminder to them of the contrast between our lives.
 
5. Situational Avoidance
 
Situational avoidance is when you selectively see what you want to see while purposefully avoiding those things that bring down your spirit.
 
To this day, I rarely weigh myself.  The only time I get my weight results is when I go to the doctors; then, I must have a weight check.  The other time that I’ll weigh myself is when I’ve effectively dieted for a long period of time - I consider one month to be a long time - or when I have gotten in 8,000 steps for 3 weeks straight, or when I’ve consistently gone to the gym.  It is during these times when I am feeling that I know I’ve accomplished some weight loss success that I will weigh myself.  Other than that, I avoid scales at all cost.
 
When my debt on my credit card was continually mounting, I could not bring myself to log into my credit card account to look at the balance.  I just put the payments on auto-pay, which was just paying the minimum due, and I never looked at the debt.  I was barely making a dent in my personal accounts payable, but not looking at it gave me comfort.  It wasn’t until I came into a lump sum of cash to pay off my debt that I was able to finally look at it before wiping it out with one single payment.
 
6. Both Have Direct Correlation to “Debt”
 
In the context of this discussion, there are two types of debt - physical debt and financial debt.
 
With obesity, the more you weigh, the more likely it is that you are going to suffer from ailments and debilitating diseases.  Using myself as an example, my obesity has given me continuous back issues, foot issues (Plantar Fasciitis), sleep apnea, prehypertension (blood pressure), and pre-diabetes.  The continuous back issues caused me to miss several days of work, which I had to use some paid time off leave (sick) to cover.  The sleep apnea ate into my personal and professional time because I had to make several visits to a specialist, and even sleep overnight in a sleep study facility, to get diagnosed.  Additionally, I had to purchase a BiPAP (similar to a CPAP) machine to correct my breathing at night.  Also, every 3 months I have to purchase replacement parts for my BiPAP machine and have to spend money on a monthly basis for my blood pressure medication.  And, the Plantar Fasciitis made my weight loss journey more challenging because I could not do cardio on a level to where I’d burn maximum calories.  Although people who are not obese can suffer from the same ailments listed above, the likelihood that they do is lower.  Thus, persons that are obese have a higher physical debt than those that are not obese because your health is not compromised nor is your finances due to your health issues.
 
With financial debt, those that have financial hardships are more likely to have poorer credit scores, live in neighborhoods that have a higher crime rate, and be denied access to investments opportunities.  As a result, poor credit scores lead to paying higher interest rates on credit cards, houses, and loans than a person with a good credit rating - that is, if you can even secure a loan at all.  Also, due to the challenges of the neighborhood that you live in, and due to your credit score as well, your automobile, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies may be higher, and you may have to spend more money on resources to secure your personal belongings (security for your car or home).  And, finally, should those that are financially challenged find money to invest, their high risk standing may prevent them being able to take advantage of investment opportunities that can increase their fortunes.
 
7. The Laws of Attraction Work Against Them
 
People gravitate towards people, things, and ideas that they desire or are fond of.  Certain people, things, and ideas elicit positive, indifferent, and negative vibrations, or energy, within individuals.
 
If you look around you, you can see the laws of attractions continuously at work.  In cafeterias all across the world, people gravitate and sit with those whose energy compliment theirs - whether it be by race, gender, social status, and so forth.  In workforces, managers usually hang with other managers, or those on track to become a future leader within their organization.  The difficult employees tend to gravitate towards one another as well.  One’s physical appearance has been known to open doors for them within various social realms as well.  For instance, on social media sites, the “influencers” and those gathering a lot of “followers” tend to be those individuals that fit the standard of beauty - slim, well-built, and with striking features.  Do you recall Jeremy Meeks - the guy whose mugshot went viral because women thought he was very handsome?  He went from being an inmate to being a fashion model almost instantaneously.  Similarly, there are a lot of women who gather followers on various social networking sites simply because of their looks.  The lead actresses in love stories tend to be “attractive” females while obese women tend to get the supporting role and are often the comic relief within the movie.  In society, you often hear people say “she’s pretty for a big girl” as if being big and being beautiful is an exception and not the rule.  When you are “physique-challenged”, you tend to get overlooked in society, or picked on because your look doesn’t attract, or elicit, positive emotions and vibrations from others - especially those that are not obese.
 
Similarly, when you are financially challenged, you go through a similar law of attraction.  If your peer group goes on a different financial trajectory than you, you may find that you will get lectured more from those that deem themselves in a better financial position than you are in.  You will find that they will start giving you unsolicited financial “coaching”, or you will start to grow apart from one another.  This is because they view you as being financially inferior to them and their energy is no longer attracted to yours.  The lectures they give to you are an attempt to keep you in their circle by bringing you up to their financial level.  It is an attempt to re-align your financial energy with theirs. 
 
When you have financial success, other people will want to hang around you to either associate themselves with someone that is well-off, or in hopes of improving their financial situations as well.  They desire your financial energy and are attracted to it.  I can recall when I first got into real estate, first as a Realtor and then as an investor, I found people wanting to converse with me to learn what I knew.  They didn’t want to be my friend, but they were attracted to the success that I had, and since they aspired to attain the level of success that I had achieved - and they knew of no one else operating within this capacity - they gravitated towards me.  You can also see it with celebrities all of the time; their success breeds sycophants that hang around until the fame, money, or both, are gone.  But, financially, people tend to hang within their socioeconomic bracket because those people have the same commonalities.  A financially challenged person can rarely relate to the lifestyle of a person that is well-off.  A financially challenged person’s conversation is going to revolve around debt, a lack of opportunities, or an avoidance of financial conversations altogether; whereas, a person that is financially prospering is going to be talking about current opportunities, projected opportunities, and projected financial growth.  You are operating on different vibrations, therefore, you probably will only interact on a sporadic, superficial level - at best.
 
8. Submission
 
During my battle with obesity, I have continually teetered between 337 and 320 pounds.  I remember in the fall of 2018, when I was diagnosed as being pre-diabetic with a blood glucose level around 5.8, I went on a 4 month exercise and diet regime.  I walked 2.5 miles every day, I hit the gym and lifted weights 3 times a week, and I ate a good diet and avoided sugary drinks except for diet teas and some diet sodas.  I went back to my doctors after 4 months of hardcore training and dieting and had new blood tests done.  During my doctor’s visit, I learned that I had lost about 15 pounds and my blood glucose level had dropped into the 3s.  I was happy with the blood glucose number, but was dejected about my weight loss.  After spending hours online reading about people dropping 15 and 20 pounds in 1 month just by changing their diet, I was totally disappointed that it took me 4 months to lose the same amount of weight while doing both diet and exercise.  So, I immediately left the doctor’s office and went to a fast food restaurant and ordered my favorite meal, a big order of fries, and added a sundae for good measure.  I thought to myself, I might as well indulge; I just can’t seem to lose weight. 
 
Again, my desperation to lose weight led me to grasp onto the concept of instant gratification as opposed to being more rational about the weight loss process.  I wasn’t happy with a 15 pound weight loss; I was expecting a 50 pound weight loss.  As a result, I succumbed to the thought that being obese was my fate; thus, I might as well indulge and enjoy the ride.
 
A relative of mine was deeply in debt.  They said they had tried to pay down their credit card debt, but the interest was preventing them from making a “considerable” dent in the debt balance.  My cousin went out and bought a used Corvette; thus, adding to their debt.  “Man, you only live once, cuz.” he said to me as he showed off his new purchase.  “You have to live life while you are here.  That debt ain’t going anywhere.  And, when I’m gone, it’s not gonna be my problem.”
At some point during one’s battle with financial hardship or obesity, if they have not shifted their mindset and adopted the trinary factor of success, they ultimately submit to the problem.  They give up.  They accept their current circumstances as being permanent because their dignity deficiency syndrome, desperation, and mis-placed anger prohibit them from effectively addressing the real issue - the obesity or the financial roadblock.
 
9. Moving Towards Positive Change
 
Moving towards positive change sounds easier than it appears.  Ask most people the secret to becoming a movie star and they’ll say “work hard, practice, give it 100%, and make a great movie.”  Almost everyone can give you a macro-level blueprint to success, but the true macro-level response to achieving goals is the trinary factor of success.
 
The trinary factor of success involves knowledge, discipline, and execution to achieve the end results that one desires to attain.  A lack of any of the factors within the trinary will result in failure.  For example, most people are knowledgeable of how to lose weight: eat right and exercise.  However, most people - people who haven’t “inherited” the genes to maintain a slim physique - that become obese, or fail to reverse their obesity, will lack either the discipline or execution of what they know about weight loss.  I suffered from this.  I knew what I needed to do to lose weight.  I knew what I needed to eat, I knew how active I needed to be in a day, and I knew what foods I needed to avoid in order to achieve weight loss.  However, I became undisciplined in my weight loss journey.  I had more cheat days than what I should have been allowed to have.  And, during those cheat days, I over-indulged.  Then, during times when I was both knowledgeable and disciplined, I wasn’t executing properly.  My exercise routines were wrong.  I wasn’t lifting right or I was over-lifting; thus, muscle strains and tears occurred.
 
It’s similar with finances.  Most people know how to obtain financial wellness.  Unfortunately, they become undisciplined or do not execute properly.  As a result, they remain in a cycle of financial stress and ultimately give up on trying to break the cycle. 
 
In order to achieve the trinary factor of success, you have to have the knowledge, discipline, and execution to achieve your goals.  You have to be able to visualize your end goal, you have to use your knowledge of the scope of your problems and the steps necessary to achieve your goals to devise a plan for success.  You have to be disciplined when working your plan and not succumb to any temptation to veer from the path.  You have to mentally train yourself to trust in the plan you have created and abandon your old habits.  Finally, you have to execute properly.  Without effective actions, your knowledge and discipline are useless.
 
And, an equally important point to remember is that most people fail because they adopt a “go it alone” approach.  They don’t seek out, and commit to, a financial or personal trainer or coach to assist them in reaching their goals.  Seek out a specialist that has the expertise to improve your knowledge and help you to execute.  They may not be able to help you with being disciplined, but they can definitely help you to increase your knowledge about your financial situation and help you to carry out actions that align with your financial end goal.
 
So, as I get back to working on overcoming my obesity, I want you to work on your financial wellness.  Understand that it is a journey that may take some time to complete.  Don’t give up or get down on yourself.  Don’t accept your financial predicament as being permanent.  Strive to be as financially fit as you can envision, but set realistic goals.  Definitely seek out sound financial advice from experts or people whom you know have the knowledge, skills, and capabilities to coach you along your journey.  Let’s challenge each other to become physically and financially healthier in the future.




 
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