The problem is, in a roundabout way, the advice actually does work. Both for weight loss, and for personal finance. If you stop drinking that daily latte, you'll save $1000/year and up to 300 calories per day. The only problem with that advice is, if you skip the latte, then maybe you buy yourself a reward pastry, and then you've consumed more than 300 calories, and spent only slightly less money. At least in my case, I found small substitutions that work for me, and it actually did work.
I've been involved in this weight loss competition for over eight weeks now, and I actually have learned something. I've never really tried to lose weight before, and it's harder than I thought. I assumed that if I just let myself get a little bit hungry every now and then, the weight would fall off like it did when I was in High School. Apparently things change as you age. Even though I supposedly burn 700 calories per workout (pre-injury), I wasn't really losing any weight because my body had become too efficient at running. I needed a change up both in my workouts and in my eating.
Likewise, with personal finance, the times I've been most successful, is when I change up my routine--avoid old temptations, and sub in different things, Instead of shopping recreationally, and telling myself that all that walking around is great exercise, I just go for a walk, or go to a museum. Instead of checking modcloth.com daily, I try to find new blogs that I like to read, or drag myself away from my computer and read a book. Lately, I'm still blown away with how much money I'm saving by walking or biking to work--especially considering how expensive gas is these days. Sure, it's only a two mile drive, but four miles round trip certainly adds up. I haven't filled my gas tank since March 5th, and I still have 1/4 tank left that should take me through the end of the week.
With my eating, I've made a few other painless substitutions that have had significant impact on my weight loss progress.
- I've substituted cucumber slices for crackers/pita bread. I'm a late night snacker, and try as I might to purge this habit, it's just never stuck. Usually my go-to is hummus and toasted pita bread (or crackers, but I've tried to stop buying those because they're expensive/bad for me), which in the grand scheme of things, is not the worst late-night snack. Pita bread is rather high in calories though, and now that I'm tracking those calories, I realize I'd rather 'spend' them somewhere else. Enter sliced cucumber. Just as delicious as pita bread, but in a different way, and it basically has no calories. So, my late-night snack just went from ~300 calories to ~75. Also, cucumbers are cheaper than pita bread.
- Use less half and half in my morning coffee. I had gotten into this rather ridiculous habit of dumping in way more half and half than I needed. I think it's because I buy the 1/2 gallon sized container now. I've consciously cut back though, and I'm not sure it's really helped me lose weight, but somehow it makes me feel better and more frugal.
- Hummus instead of mayo. My typical work lunch is a tuna sandwich with mayo, something green (on the sandwich) and a yogurt. I use the olive oil mayo that's reduced calorie, but the other day I wondered if I could use hummus instead (there is a theme here, I really love hummus). Turns out, it's delicious! Double bonus, I can use twice as much hummus as I was using mayo, and it's half as many calories. Plus, my sandwich gets less soggy.
- Less beer. Sigh. This has been the hardest change by far. I love beer. I love it so much. Some people drink soda, I drink beer (but not in the morning, obv). Unfortunately, beer is high in calories, and it makes me want to snack. So, I've greatly reduced the amount of beer I drink, and for those occasions when it's been a rough day at work and I just want an alcoholic something, I've been selecting red wine, or just having one beer instead of two. Only problem with red wine, is then you have to finish a whole bottle, but you have a few days. This has saved me money and calories, and possibly made me more productive.
So that's where I am right now. I'm adjusting to my new income and my new weight loss plan. Both are going pretty well, and it's refreshing to know that I can change things without completely upending my life as I know it. Anyone else have any successful substitutions to share?