It’s time to do something. I married my lovely bride just over 2 years ago. She and I were both in fantastic shape.
She still is.
Me…not so much.
Now, no one who knows me is going to tell me that I need to lose weight because, frankly, I’m a bit of a stick. You wouldn’t look at me and say, “boy he needs to lay off the ho-hos” because my wrists are the size of a 10 year old girl’s, and chickens actually get jealous when they catch a glance of my legs. But, I’ve put on more than 15 pounds smack-dab in the middle since that magical day back in 2010, and there’s not an ounce of muscle in there. My gut is getting wider and more gelatinous every day. Sorry for the gratuitous nature of these descriptions.
So, I’d like to lose some weight. I’d like to lose at least 10 pounds to be more precise. More importantly, I’d like to get back in shape and feel as though my body is more than just a chair weight.
The Weight Loss Industry
I’m not alone in my quest for weight loss. That’s why the weight loss industry is GIGANTIC. We can’t help ourselves. If someone appears on our television and promises to make us look like a professional athlete or a swimsuit model, we’re going to pay attention. They consistently tell us that losing weight and getting in shape is easy and fast if you simply use their gadget or drink their shake.
That’s why Bowflex is one of the top selling TV products of all time.
It’s why P90X has made over $300 million in the last few years.
According to MarketResearch.com, Americans spend nearly $6 billion per year in energy and nutrition bars alone.
But that’s only a very small piece of the $60.9 billion in revenue that the weight loss industry produced in 2010!
So, it’s clear that we all want to lose weight and we’re willing to try just about anything to do it. There are fitness gadgets galore to get ourselves into shape (and “finally get those rock-hard abs we’ve always dreamed of!”). There are diet pills, protein shakes, and meal replacement bars to consume, along with reduced calorie this and low-fat that. And, if all else fails, Jenny Craig would be happy to help us out.
Do you remember those ab shocking belts? Have you ever used one? I have. I’ll admit it. One of my roommates in college bought one to test it out. The idea behind it was that you were supposed to place the belt on your stomach along with a generous amount of gel to keep the electrical stimulation from giving you a serious jolt. The device would apparently shock your muscles into shape, making them contract in the same way that a bunch of crunches would. All you had to do was sit on the couch and get a six pack.
I never got a six pack. But I got a shock that made me want to pee my pants a few times.
Obviously, we have lots of help if we want it, but I’d like to go in the opposite direction. I’d like to try to lose my weight for free…or at least as cheaply as I possibly can. I’m sure Jenny Craig would work great, and I know for a fact that P90X will kick my rear, but I’d like to see what I can do without them.
I’d also like to show that someone can eat reasonably healthy (well enough to lose weight, get in shape, and receive all the nutrition they need to thrive), and not double their grocery bill. In fact, I’d like to continue to eat for only $2 a day while I lose weight. My goal is to make sure my grocery bill doesn’t increase a single penny over and above our normal (already well below average) budget.
I’ve been told many times that you can’t eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats on only $2 a day. I know that’s not true because I’ve done it before and I’m planning on doing it again.
Experiments in Frugality #2 – Super Frugal Weight Loss
The Purpose of the Experiment
Lose 10 pounds in the next 2 months and get back in shape without spending any extra money. I currently weigh just over 171 pounds, so my goal will be to reach 161 pounds by October 15th.
The Rules of the Experiment
1. I can’t spend more than my normal $2 per day on food
Obviously, the “free” portion of this experiment can’t be held too tightly because I’ll need to spend some money on groceries. Anorexia is not a valid solution. However, I will not be allowed to spend any more than I normally would on food. My wife and I each spend $2 per day or less on food ($120/month total).
No protein shakes, Healthy Choice meals, or Slimfast this time around…unless they fit in a $2 a day budget. And I can assure you they don’t.
2. I can’t spend any new money on weight loss gadgets
I can’t run out and buy a bowflex, thigh master, or set of P90x DVDs to help me with my weight loss.
Other items I don’t own and can’t use:
Dumbbells, barbells, and weights
Medicine balls and kettle bells
Ab gliders/rockers/shapers/and other …ers
A treadmill or other similar cardio machine
3. I can’t even use any weight loss gadgets that I currently own, but aren’t commonplace or free
I have a pull-up tower in the garage and workout DVDs (Insanity) on a bookshelf, but I will not be allowed to use them. The Insanity DVDs are what Trisha and I used to get in shape for our wedding a couple years ago, so I know how much they would beat my body into oblivion, but they aren’t frugal or common enough for this experiment. Same goes for the pull up tower.
Exceptions to this rule:
Common sporting goods equipment like basketballs and footballs will be allowed. Technically, they get my rear in gear, so they may help me lose weight, but they are not designed specifically for that purpose. Plus, just about everyone already owns some sporting goods and I think it’s unreasonable to exclude sports from my life for 2 months.
Running shoes will be allowed. I don’t know how often I’ll run since I don’t exactly love it, but that’s a pretty basic accessory as well.
4. I can’t use a gym (due to the membership fees)
Technically, my gym membership is free because my employer owns the gym and offers free memberships to its employees, but most people don’t have that luxury. So, I will stay out of the gym for the full two months. (Not that I had been there recently anyway – why do you think I gained 15 pounds?)
I think that’s enough rules for now.
I will update you here and there, letting you know how the experiment is going, what kind of food I’m eating and what kind of exercise I’m getting. I’ll let you see behind the scenes to better understand my routine. And at the end of two months we’ll see what happens.
Will I be 10 pounds lighter or not? Will I be in better shape or still resemble a tall, lanky dough boy? I guess we shall see. That’s why it’s called an experiment.
Wish me luck.
P.S. This experiment is not meant to villify those who use shakes, gyms, or gadgets. I’ve used many over my years that have worked great and helped me get on track. This experiment is for those who can’t afford those things, or can afford them but would rather find another way. In that case, I hope my journey helps a little.