Personal Finance Advice Applied to Fitness and Health

With the New Year upon us and the resolutions starting to fly around, I’m planning my annual fitness goals. As I review my plans for 2011, I am also looking at my personal finance goals and I see some potential to apply personal finance principles to my fitness and health goals.

Here are six personal finance principles which can be used in your fitness and health goals.

Marking my progress using a progress bar.

I often use a “progress bar” to keep tabs on my progress towards various goals. As I save a certain amount, I fill in a bit of a progress bar; after I lose a pound, I fill in a bit of another bar. This tool really helps me to see how every little bit contributes to a bigger goal.

A progress sheet provides you a good opportunity to celebrate the little wins along the way to meet your fitness goal. In personal finance, this might be paying off a little debt or creating an emergency fund. For your fitness plan, a small goal might be a few pounds of weight loss or running a mile in under 8 minutes. Achieving and celebrating the little goals will help keep you motivated to reach the big goal.

Using visual reminders to stay on focus.

With personal finance, I often use images of specific goals to motivate me – for a long time, I used a picture of a house to keep on track. With dieting, my visual reminder is a photograph taken of me at my heaviest – every time I see it, I feel sad and it builds my resolve to stay on task with my dieting choices.

Visual reminders are a key part to any goal: something you can focus on to help you reach your goal. You can also use a picture of what you want to achieve through your fitness program to provide something to focus on after you reach your goals.

Making good choices.

When you’re focused on improving your personal finances, all of the little decisions you make each day contribute to good personal financial health. If you decide to skip that mocha at Starbucks and drink a bottle of water, you’re making a solid choice towards good financial health.

In fitness, you can apply this same principle. This usually means thinking about and researching the moves I make. I’ve started investigating the nutritional content of food much more carefully than before, entering into a new healthy relationship with food that didn’t really exist before. I’m also learning to cut down a bit on the excesses. Sounds like good financial planning, doesn’t it?

Using the ten second rule.

We use a ten second rule when making a purchase – think about the item for ten seconds before committing to a purchase. Do we really need this item? As with frivolous purchases, I’ve taken to pausing for ten seconds before I eat something to think about it carefully. This has really helped, as I’ve talked myself out of eating at least a few items that were simply terrible for me.

Allowing myself occasional luxuries.

My real weaknesses for food are twofold: big, monstrous, juicy hamburgers (using 75% lean burger on the grill, with the drippings hitting the flame below and sizzling up, the smoky flavor going right back into the meat) and Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream ice cream. I allow myself one or the other once a week now and avoid the temptation for the rest, knowing that I will either have a grilled burger on Saturday evening or some delicious ice cream on Sunday. This is very similar to how I plan and prepare for frivolous purchases like my recent Wii purchase – I plan ahead for them and am thus much more able to behave well knowing that I’m doing it the right way.

Exercise is like an investment.

Not only do you get the immediate benefit of dropped calories, but you get the “interest” of being in better condition when you need it (better oxygenation and better lung capacity). The investment in exercise doesn’t always pay off immediately, but if you’re thinking long term on your investment you will see the benefits return in weight loss, better sleep, and a more robust life.

These tips can help you translate personal finance success into principles you can use for fitness success. Find ways you can translate things you’re already doing to other areas of your life to improve your overall balance.