Fat Financing

by Brad Pilon

Post image for Fat Financing

 “Triple your money in 7 days!”


I bet that headline caused alarm bells to go off in your head.

We intuitively seem to ‘get’ money. We understand how much we make at work. We understand that some people are rich, and some people are broke, and we understand that just because someone won the lottery this week, doesn’t mean next week is our turn.

Weight loss…not so much

The claim “Triple your money in 7 days!” will set off a skeptical alarm bell in most people, however the equally unlikely claim “Lose 15 pounds in 7 days!” doesn’t always set off the same skeptical alarm bell.

In fact, it does the opposite. It gets our hopes up, makes us curious and, more often than not, it makes us buy something (diet pills, diet books, diet drinks).

The trick is that both claims are stating something that it IS possible…but very unlikely. We’ve all seen someone lose 10-15 pounds in one week on the popular Television show “the biggest loser”…just like we all know someone, somewhere who tripled their money on some stock or business venture.

The difference is with money will almost intuitively understand that there are special circumstances that lead to a tripling of money in a week. We may have heard about it happening, but we know it’s very VERY rare, and we know enough not to expect our income to magically triple next week no matter what we do short of winning the lottery. However with weight loss, we tend to think we’re all special, and that we can win the proverbial weight loss lottery every time we read a new diet or fitness headline.

Just like a compulsive gambler whose inner voice is telling them “hey SOMEONE has to win the jackpot and it could be you if you just make one more bet” we tend to believe that a miracle mixture of sweet pepper sauce, pomegranate juice and green tea will make us lose all our ugly unwanted belly fat in just 3 days. It’s as if we can ‘win the jackpot’ if we just bet on the right mixture of supplements, food combination, diet pattern or workout.

The truth is weight loss is exactly like money management: The most successful practices are also the most practical ones.

As an analogy – The weight loss tips that really WORK are similar to the financial advice you will find in the bestselling book on financial advice called “The Wealthy Barber”. This book outlines simple, practical, highly effective strategies to manage your money and become what we would call ‘wealthy’ no matter how much money you make. The specific strategies outlined are so obvious it might seem surprising that someone even took the time to write a book about them.  However, despite how simple and obvious these concepts seem, very few people actually follow them. Instead, they opt to spend hours searching for more complex answers.

But the answers don’t have to be complex. They can be practical and sometimes even simple. And this goes for both finances and weight loss.

Spend less than you earn becomes Eat less than you burn

Invest in your future becomes Exercise to build and then maintain muscle mass

And here’s my view on how diet fits into all of this…

For many people “Daily dieting” is the equivalent of paying off only the interest on your debt. It’s a lot of time and effort spent simply keeping your head above water.  This is where Intermittent Fasting comes into play. Fasting is like paying off a chunk of the principle on your credit cards, mortgage, line of credit or other loans once or twice a week, then doing your best not to add to the debt on the other days.

Short-term sacrifice for long-term gain.

I like the Eat Stop Eat method the best (of course, I am highly biased) because it reminds me of the most effective financial advice for getting out of debt.

Do what you can to accelerate your payments against the principle, but DO NOT compromise too much of your lifestyle to do so.  In other words cut back where you can, but know the line that separates a balance between frugality and living so conservatively that you resent each and every passing day.

This is a lot like short periods of fasting – a way to cut back once or twice a week without sacrificing the enjoyment of life and constantly worrying about food every day.

Avoid being tempted or tainted by get rich quick schemes and get shredded quick schemes.

Recognize that life isn’t fair. Some people are born into wealth, just like some people are born into a life with six pack abs. It’s not fair, but dwelling on this will do very little to help you get out of debt or get into shape (it will just turn you into a jaded, angry person who spends more and more time on-line obsessing about health and nutrition).

Finally, realize that you are going to splurge. It happens. I’m writing this on an Ipad2 I just bought on impulse…weeks before they’re supposed to announce the release of a new Ipad!  And I’m OK with it…because splurging is much easier when you have control over you debt, when you know your plan of attack…and when you don’t do it too often.

The same thing happens with diet. You are going to splurge and eat a few more calories than you really need from time to time. I ate a cheesecake the other day. Not a piece of cheesecake… a cheesecake. It happens Occasionally.  And I’m fine with it because I have my ‘fat debt’ under control. I know my plan of attack. I know it works and I know I can pay it back because my body isn’t suffering from an insurmountable amount of fat-debt.

No get rich quick schemes for me. Likewise no get ripped quick schemes for me either. Just a healthy balance of money in and money out, calories in and calories out, and not focusing on how much money or how ripped anyone else is.

Like the wealthy barber from the book, think of the healthy, lean and ripped barber. He/she doesn’t have any special tricks or gimmicks. What he/she does have is time-tested practical plan and a set of simple techniques for keeping things under control and building towards the future.




Dan February 12, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Awesome Brad! I love it. That sums it all up nicely!

karthik February 13, 2012 at 2:04 am

No nonsense, pratctical approach. Great article, Brad. Thanks.

Dr Steve Tucker February 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Great post as usual Brad. A nice way to conceptualize intermittent fasting. I imagine that in today’s instant gratification society it can be tough sometimes to communicate this message. Nice job.

Darlene February 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Yes…that was a nice read. Really helps to put things into perspective and stay focused with that last 5 lbs. Thanks Brad. 🙂

john February 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm

that’s why eat stop eat is so cool….you rock…j

Tina Roman February 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Awesome as always Brad!!! Simple, practical and doesn’t make me feel deprived.

Tracey February 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Good advice as always Brad! We need these little reminders …

Art February 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Nice juxtapositions. ESE has really helped me enjoy food without guilt. I pay it back, so to speak, once a week and feel great for it, both physically and mentally.

You’re going to love that iPad2. Don’t get addicted to Words With Friends…..

Maketak February 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I had been very good progress last year. But I had fallen off the wagon since Christmas and New Year. Can you give me some inspirations or thoughts as to how to pick myself up again.
(I blame one of the reason which stopping me is that I had such great and quick result from ESE).

Need help!

Scott February 13, 2012 at 11:20 pm

I really enjoy your philosophy and approach to solving the problem of chronic overeating and food obsession. Just because you overeat once in a while or maybe even more than that as you strive to develop better self mastery, doesn’t mean you cannot press the reset button and “do better next time” by immediately getting back on the fasting horse and not beating yourself up or engaging in self defeating self deprecation. Thanks.

Christina February 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I have had great success with ESE. Got down to the weight I was in college while running track. I just had by 4th baby and wanted to know what you think about 16 hour fast everyday (almost)– skip breakfast, or ESE 2 times a week?

Kelley February 14, 2012 at 12:11 am

Absolutely fantastic advice! It’s soooooo simple and so true. I really need to remember this. I’m printing out this post and pasting it to my forehead! lol

Leon February 14, 2012 at 1:52 am

Great post Brad!

Hugh February 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

Your advice reminds me of Ramit Sethi, the personal finance blogger. He rails against people who try to save pennies here & there on things like coffee in the morning or homemade laundry detergent when they should be focusing on big wins like negotiating for a raise or finding a better paying job. So instead of saving calories here & there on low-fat or low-calorie foods, get a big win one day a week with a short fast. Easy and effective.

Brad Pilon February 14, 2012 at 9:30 am

I think I will google Mr. Sethi


Sharon L. February 14, 2012 at 11:46 am

Great post Brad!! makes all the sense(cents) in the world!!!


James February 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Excellent analogy, right on point.
Also, let the author of The Wealthy Barber know that you’re pumping up his sales…..I just bought it online, you deserve a cut. LOL


Andrea February 14, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Cheesecake – hah! Sounds like you are channeling your inner Martin Berkham.

Jeremy February 19, 2012 at 11:01 pm

My favorite part of the post is that you mention you ate an entire cheesecake. It shows you’re human, just like the rest of us. I’m at maintenance and I’m finally coming to a point where I don’t “beat myself up” if I have a surplus eating event every once and awhile.


Gavin Allinson March 28, 2012 at 9:04 am

Hi Brad,

Consistency over the longer term is the key.
often we stoop and change too often.

Enjoyed this article.


Darren March 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Great post Brad. This is so true. It makes losing weight sound so easy. I’m focusing on a weekly debt now so if I have one of those days like you had with the cheesecake I can make it up later in the week or before it happens if I am expecting it.

Previous post:

Next post: