Five steps to losing weight and debt in the New Year

Every New Year, shedding weight and debt is at the top of the list for millions of people resolving to change for the better. According to a recent Time magazine news report, these two are also among the most often broken resolutions.

While experts have offered numerous techniques and strategies for losing weight and paying down debt, the basic fundamental lifestyle change required to be successful at both is the same: Consume less. Financial stability begins with spending less than you make, followed by paying more on what you owe. Losing weight begins with consuming fewer calories, and becoming more active.

If you are among the millions vowing to finally achieve a healthy waistline and a healthy bottom line, consider the following five steps:

  1. Make the commitment. When considering any major lifestyle adjustment, the first step is to decide – are you ready to make the commitment to do what it takes to improve your health and financial wellbeing? Are you ready to accept responsibility for changing your situation? Do you believe that you can and will change the way you make decisions about food and money? It isn’t until you can truthfully answer yes to these questions that you will be ready to face the challenges of creating a healthier physical and fiscal lifestyle.
  2. Create a plan. Creating a budget and a meal plan starts with tracking – tracking expenses and tracking calories. Consider carrying a pocket notebook for noting every penny spent and calorie consumed. Review your results and look for areas where you should and can make cut backs.
  3. Develop SMART goals. One of the most vital aspects to success in these areas is to set clear goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, trackable and rewarding. Remember to create short-term, or milestone, goals as well as a target accomplishment. If your ultimate goal is to become debt free, celebrate when you pay off 25 percent. The same goes with weight lost. If you aspire to lose 50 lbs., acknowledge ever five to 10-lb. loss as a huge accomplishment. Treat yourself to an occasional outing for a treat when you reached a short-term goal weight.
  4. Eliminate temptations. Once you have a clear calorie and spending budget outlined, remove any obstacles that may hinder your success. Don’t carry your credit cards in your wallet and don’t keep high-calorie sweets in the house. Leave your cards at home in a safe place and only take them out when you have a planned purchase and a pay-off strategy. The same is true for food temptations. If you know you’re going to be in an environment where you’ll be tempted to indulge, prepare yourself by carrying a granola bar with you, or eat a light snack before you leave the house.
  5. Stay flexible. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see the pounds or debt melting away as quickly as you had hoped. Change doesn’t happen overnight; and there are no quick fixes. This is why it’s important to remain committed and flexible. If you aren’t meeting your goals, revisit and adjust your plans as often as necessary.

Remember, you’re only human and set-backs are inevitable. But if you’re truly committed to your goals, you can overcome anything.

Tanisha (Warner) Smith is a former communications manager at MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.