5 Similarities Between Weight Loss & Debt Payoff

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One year after having Baby FAF, I decided to make a drastic change to my life by dropping 40 lbs over 7.5 months.

How I Lost 36 Lbs With A Cheaper Diet

How I Lost 4.2 Lbs In 2 Weeks

I went from 156 lbs to roughly 116 lbs (I’m 5’4″). That process took more than half a year and left me with five positive unintended results of the weight loss.

Although my body doesn’t look the same as it used to due to pregnancy and aging, I’m still happy with the outcome.

I feel healthier and don’t have to take well-intentioned yet sometimes hurtful comments from my family such as “You’re too heavy” or “You don’t look as good as before.”

It is normal for someone to comment on your weight and body any time they feel like it in Asia, especially when it comes to close family members.

They think they’re just trying to help you with their honest remarks.

The original motivation for my weight loss was me seeing a female colleague dressed in a form-fitting dress at work.

She reminded me of what I used to look like before I had Baby FAF.

40 lbs is not a big number, but it’s not small either.

After achieving the outcome that I long yearned for, I have been thinking about the five similarities between debt payoff and weight loss.

1. It takes time. 

The moment I decided to lose weight, I wanted to drop the pounds as fast as I could. And I’m sure many people feel the same way. What we are hesitant to do, however, is to change our diet and give up on the delicious food we enjoy every day.

However, after days of not seeing results, I realized my old diet would have to go out the window if I wanted to reach my goal.

I switched from not being able to function without meat to living on an almost vegetarian diet. It was extremely difficult during the first week since I felt like I was going to pass out any time. But I didn’t.

I felt hungry and dizzy from the moment I walked out of the house in the morning to when I went to bed. However, I got used to the new lifestyle after a month. I was happy just being able to eat something whether it was tofu, rice, or boiled eggs.

Once I had some food in my system, I no longer felt hungry and nauseated. My body realized that it could live on a small portion and had to make the most out of the energy it got. You may not realize it, but you can also stretch a dollar really far if you want to.

I obsessively weighed myself six times a day, hoping one day a magic would happen and rescue me from this long journey. But there was no magic. I continued to drop 1-2 lbs every couple of days. Sometimes I gained back the weight or didn’t lose any for days. It was a gradual process.

If you’re in a huge debt and decide to pay it off, your first instinct is to want to get rid of it fast. However, you might not be ready to part with your brand-name car and the nice restaurants you frequent.

Then you might get frustrated to see that not much has changed since the day you decided to pay off your debt. The truth is nothing will change dramatically unless you change yourself and your lifestyle first.

Many people can’t endure the thought of a totally changed diet and lifestyle and turn to surgery or pills to achieve their desired outcome. It’s the same as how some people want to consolidate their debt or win a lottery, which they think will eliminate all of their problems.

What they don’t realize is that those quick fixes usually do little to help them get out of their predicaments. In some cases, such methods can deal a blow to their health and finances.

People try every means to lose the weight fast but keep the same lifestyle, so they gain back the pounds after a while. Those who don’t change their spending habits see themselves creeping into debt again.

2. You will hear naysayers. 

Ironically, my family was the ones who told me to lose weight and then not to do it later on. They themselves were conflicted. I think they missed seeing the old skinny me but didn’t want me to starve myself and become ill.

I would hear them saying things such as “You don’t look as good as before” and “It’s ok because you’re a mother now. You don’t need to be so skinny anymore.” At the end of the day, I set a goal for myself and followed it until the end.

My colleagues also noticed the big difference in my appearance and told me I looked fine just the way I was. They told me I didn’t need to lose weight. Even Mr. FAF, who encouraged me to drop the pounds, kept commenting on how skinny I was.

I stopped trying to lose weight when I reached 114 lbs. I felt weak and hungry all the time. I listened to my body and tried to eat more. Now at 124 lbs, I won’t take any more unsolicited feedback on my weight. I am done with the weight loss process.

When you are paying off debt, you will hear all sorts of things from other people. Some will tell you that you’re being too stingy, and that you should enjoy life a little bit. Some will say you’re not being aggressive enough, and that you should be eating just beans and rice instead of pizza and chicken.

At the end of the day, you will need to assess the situation and decide for yourself how aggressive you want to be to pay off your debt. When you feel like the sacrifices you are making are harming your health and relationships, maybe it’s time to take a step back and re-consider the plan.

It should ultimately be about you and what you’re comfortable with, not what other people say you have to do.

Sunshine at the end of the journey

3. You will want to give up early.

At many points in the process, I wanted to give up. I was tired of eating the same food every day. I wanted French fries, fried chicken, mango mousse, and all the good stuff I was missing out on because of this silly weight loss plan.

And I did give up. Many times. However, every time after I indulged in a cookie or sushi, I started to feel guilty and wished I hadn’t done that. I was on the right track to achieve my goal and felt bad for getting the impulses get in the way. The overwhelming sense of guilt put me back in the right direction.

It is totally normal for us to feel frustrated with the slow progress of our debt payoff and want to get out of the grind. But what’s important is whether you can find your way back to the right path that has led you this far.

Paying off debt can get tiring and tedious. But it doesn’t have to be like that all the time. It’s ok to treat yourself with a small reward every once in a while. After you receive such rewards, however, don’t forget why you got them in the first place.

4. You will win big financially.

I have heard of so many people spending a huge amount of money on nuts, organic food, and protein powder to lose weight. For me, my food expenses dropped substantially after I went on an almost vegetarian diet. I spent $87.52 in March and $80.39 in April this year.

I didn’t see a nutritionist about my new diet. I just made sure I had protein, carbs, veggies, fruit, and dairy products every day. Those are the main food groups for a normal healthy adult. I was able to save a lot of money and also got five unexpected results from the weight loss.

When you cut costs and have a plan to pay off debt, you will realize how much money you can save in the process. You can choose to work with a financial advisor who might charge hundreds an hour or purchase expensive financial tools to keep you on track.

Or you can look up free resources online and design a plan that best meets your needs. In order to pay off debt, you can choose to do it expensively or frugally.

5. You will be happy for years to come. 

After losing 40 lbs, I have been happy with how I look and feel inside. This is the biggest reward for my effort, and I was the one who made it happen. If I maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, I won’t have to worry about being overweight or having illnesses associated with it (i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure) in the future.

When your debt is finally paid off, you will realize just how much you can do with your money and your life. You can look ahead into the future with a smile, knowing that there is nothing holding you back.

Whether you choose to invest in your retirement or your kids’ education, you know you have done it with your own efforts. You deserve the outcome that you have long worked extremely hard for.


Whether you’re trying to lose weight or pay off debt, I hope this post has offered you some useful insights into my own weight loss journey. Nothing great in life comes easily. That’s the lesson I’ve drawn after living for 30 years in this world.

I hope it’s not always true, and that people, including myself, can find success fast. But before that happens, you can start to implement your plan and try to be patient with your slow progress. The big win is in the horizon.


How I Lost 36 Lbs With A Cheaper Diet

How I Lost 4.2 Lbs In 2 Weeks

5 Unintended Results of My 40.2 Lb Weight Loss

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21 thoughts on “5 Similarities Between Weight Loss & Debt Payoff”

  • There are a lot of similarities to losing weight and paying off debt. This year I’ve lost around 40 lbs, and a few years ago we paid off about $60,000 in debt. I still have a ways to go on the weight loss, and I still think about money a lot, even though we are now growing our net worth quickly.

    Your body and wallet get used to inflates eating/spending. So it’s the same habits to break. Once you adjust it gets a lot easier, but perfection is still illusive!

    • Congrats on the amazing weight loss and debt payoff. I think about money a lot too. I think it’s especially true for us PF bloggers hehe.

  • Well I know if I’m gaining weight from eating out too much, my wallet also totally dies ;( my favorite point is the last one, brighter days on the horizon 🙂

    Wait..Ms FAF, how tall are you??? 40lbs is like 39% of me. You lost 39% of me?!?? Yeah I’m super not tall like a lot of Asian girls… >_<

    • I’m 5’4″ hehe. 40 lbs is now also 1/3 of my body weight. Can’t lose that much anymore lol. That’s what having a baby can do to your body: A huge weight gain out of the blue @_@

  • 40 lbs is a huge amount on your frame. Great job.
    I want to lose about 5-10 lbs, but I haven’t had much success. My weight has been stable for years now. The key is to change the diet completely. That’s really tough, though. Oh well, I will keep trying…

    • Thank you, Joe! Yes, I totally agree that changing the diet is the hardest part. It took me a while to switch to an almost vegetarian diet. It was a bit easier for me since the diet was also easier on my stomach (I have IBS and sometimes react badly to meat products). Best of luck with your weight loss! ^.^

  • Totally agree on all of these. We’ve together lost about 40lbs this year prior to the wedding and have kept it off for the most part since then. Most of it’s about eating right. Missing the mark (having a cheat meal or spending on something frivolous) definitely happens; but it’s about long-term making the right decisions. If in the big picture you have one bad meal in an entire week, is that REALLY that big of a deal? Same with spending IMO. So long as it’s not a repeated event that impacts your progress significantly, it’s probably okay 🙂 I’m not that much of a stickler.

    I will add one more on here from my experience: It’s all about the systems and routine. Getting in the routine of meal prepping helped us watch our food intake for lunches. Setting up auto-transfers into our savings account helps us automatically get in the routine of saving. We’ve found that without the routines and without the systems, it’s much, much easier to stray from the goals.

    This is an interesting topic and one I started a guest post on over the weekend! 🙂

    • Yes! Systems and routine are so important! I just ate pretty much the same thing every day, and it helped a great deal both with my weight loss and my budget hehe. Congrats on the weight loss! 😀

  • Here’s another similarity. With weight loss, keeping it off is the hardest part. Well, for people in credit card debt, staying out of debt after paying off the cards is the hardest part. If they don’t figure out why they’ve been spending and change their mindset, the CC debt will creep right back up.

    Congrats on the weight loss. In my book 40 pounds is a huge amount for someone your size. I lost almost 10 pounds this year, I’m 5’5″ and almost twice your age, but I’m down to below my high school weight!

    • Thank you so much, Mrs. Groovy! And congrats on your weight loss too! ^.^ You’re absolutely right. Keeping the weight off is difficult since we have the tendency to revert back to our old diet and lifestyle. I’m trying to not let that happen >_< 😀

  • For me, I would probably achieve success with saving $10,000 without breaking a sweat. To lose ten pounds, it’s like a shopaholic trying to not go shopping for ten years.

    My issue is my discipline. I do have some, but maintaining over a long period of time and watch what I eat on a consistent basis is a torture. I really need to get my act together and just do it.

    40 lbs. I have only one word to describe this accomplishment. Awesome. Now, I need to steal some of this discipline to help me lose my 40 lbs.

  • Wow, that is an impressive weight loss, Ms. FAF! Post-baby weight loss was long and hard for me as well… definitely not an instant “snap back”!

    I like how you compare weight loss to finances. I find that many of the habits I employ in my physical health and wellness are the same habits I need to employ in my financial health (and vice versa).

  • This is so inspirational. Today i needed to read this. I need to lose close to 50 lbs and i have been losing and gaining the same 10 lbs over and over in the past few years. Today is yet another one of my “fresh starts” and i feel so motivated after reading this. I paid off a debt of close to 50,000$ a few years back and after reading this, i totally see the similarities. I feel like if I could do that, i can do this too. I am going to do it this time. Thank you for yet another awesome post, mrs.faf. Every word resonates with me, especially the ones about family members making hurtful comments.

  • Weight loss and dieting are very similar and the same impulses that keep us in debt can also keep us overweight. You can’t go for the quick fixes because they never work out anyway. It’s best to just make small changes to your lifestyle and take it from there. Slow and steady wins the race.

  • The similarities between weight loss and financial independence also apply to blogging (which I need to remind myself when I feel like throwing in the towel). I am actually a vegetarian (my husband and his family are not), so now I’m curious to see if I can figure out the cost differences. Kudos to you for sticking through and feeling healthier and happier!

  • It sounds like a lot to do with willpower. Paying off debt and losing weight are similar, even if they’re different angles of the same thing. It’s that thing that you have to decide for yourself – no one can force you into it. If you don’t want to lose weight, it doesn’t matter how much people try to help you. Same goes for debt. It’s a lifestyle adjustment, not a quick-fix, and that’s the part that people tend to skim over.

    I weighed about 130-135 (I’m 5’5″), and last summer I lost 10-15 pounds. It was because of my diet, and because I wrecked my foot and wasn’t moving around as much as I was used to and therefore didn’t need as much energy. I’m at about 120 now, but the weight goes up a bit when I’m at home because my diet’s different. The thing is – the difference between my empty stomach and my full stomach is so prominent that if it was an appearance thing, I’d have to starve myself to maintain it. And everyone keeps asking how I lost so much weight and that I look great, etc. – I’d much rather have not spent a year being unable to walk and rehabbing than lost the weight 😛 But I am happy with my lifestyle currently, eating healthy and staying active.

    This is a great post and I think it’s going to inspire a lot of people 🙂

  • Great post ! I like the comparison between weight loss and debt reduction, it does take a lot of discipline for both:)
    And 40 lbs? Wow, that is not a small number. congratulations.

  • Haha, I’ve never thought about debt like weight loss but it totally makes sense! They’re both this thing that keeps collecting and unnoticeably until one day you look in the mirror (or at your bank account?) and think WTF?! Congrats on the weight loss too! 40 lbs is amazing!! The most I’ve ever been able to lose is 5 lbs, when I was completely obsessed with eating this salad. It was like a laziness diet more than a real weight loss diet LOL

  • I could probably save more money if I cut back on my sweet tooth and wine habit. After having my daughter I only had a little over 5-10lbs to lose after gaining 40lbs, things were just a little soft instead of toned. But after having her, I didn’t have time for exercise and picked up bad eating habits. Between work, commuting and breastfeeding things just snowballed. My weight slowly crept up another 5 lbs last year and has since stayed on since I quit work in 2016. Weighing 125 is the heaviest I’ve been, it would probably be more if I didn’t work out, it’s a lot for my 5 foot frame. I hope to lose at least 10lbs just to feel healthy again. I do work out with walking, hiking, and weights in the last year, but it’s my diet that is not allowing me to lose weight. I know I have to focus on a plant base diet with some protein and cut carbs like grains from my diet. I just have a bad reaction if I eat too much rice, noodles or bread. I get bloated and lethargic. You’ve now motivated me to cut back on overeating and unnecessary foods so I can feel better and hopefully, it’ll reduce our food cost by hundreds of dollar.

  • I am not much of a poster, but I love this and it is so true. I have told my friends many times – calories and dollars are alike to me. I don’t mind spending them if it means something to me, but why waste them on something that doesn’t. Sadly, i fight the calories more than the saving but that is what reboots are for – work on being better next time. Luckily it is usually easier to recover from a high calorie day than high dollar day =D

  • Its already 5.5months postpartum and I still have 27pounds of baby weight on me. Your story tells me weight loss through diet is possible and motivates me. Hope I could achieve same desirable result as you did.

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