Fitness & Finances | What They Have in Common


I’m on two different self-improvement journeys in 2016. I’m working on my finances and my fitness. I have talked a lot about my plan to get financially fit, but I’m also working really hard at losing weight (and getting stronger too – it’s not just about the number on the scale). I was on the treadmill at the gym last night and I couldn’t help but think of how getting out of debt is like getting in shape!

fitness and finances

There is no instant gratification

I’ll start with the biggest bummer. You won’t lose weight overnight. You won’t get washboard abs, or set a new personal weight lifting record overnight. You won’t increase your net worth, pay off all your debt, or double your income overnight either. It sucks.

My best advice here is to have a long term vision and look back often to see how far you’ve come.

You can do it solo but …

It’s better with friends! Have you ever had a workout buddy? Isn’t it so much more fun than sweating it out alone? I’m pretty introverted and am in my own world at the gym – alone on the treadmill or lifting weights, headphones in. But sometimes I break out of my shell and go to a group fitness class! Talking to other like minded people and working out with them is always refreshing and I leave class with a smile on my face.

Find a financial buddy if you can, or at the very least find someone you can share your goals with. If you don’t have many like minded people around when it comes to money – find some online! There are so many wonderful blogs and online communities to hang out in while you strive to be more frugal or to pay off debt. Search for what you need and it’s likely you’ll find it!

It’s easier to put on than take off.

If someone challenged me to gain 10 pounds I could easily accept! A few short weeks of lounging on the couch and indulging in all my guilty pleasures (looking at you pizza and chocolate cake!) and I’d hit my mark! Losing 10 pounds?! It is so. freaking. hard. Not nearly as fast, and not as fun!

Debt is the same. If you don’t pay attention to your financial fitness, you can easily slip on the debt weight by using credit cards, not paying attention to  your budget or paying only the minimums toward your bills. And the same as above, you can get out of financial shape by indulging in your guilty pleasures – whether they are eating out frequently, expensive hobbies, Starbucks runs, or a closet full of clothes and shoes!

You need a mirror

Have you ever been to a gym that had no mirrors? Probably not. They do serve a purpose beyond checking out how good you look! 😉 Mirrors are there so we can check our form. We can see the alignment of our bodies during exercises and prevent injuries. Pretty crucial if we want to continue on our journey to get fitter.

Those of us on a financial journey need mirrors too. Dave Ramsey mentions fairly often on his show that the biggest problem we face is not usually the size of our car payment or our student loan balance, but the person in the mirror. We need to see that reflection of ourselves and check our form when it comes to money too!

We don’t all get in shape the same way

And that’s okay. I love running, weight lifting, yoga, and zumba. Those might not work for you! Maybe you need a walking program, or to swim. Find what feels good. Find your bliss!

I might use the debt snowball and you might use the debt avalanche. You might be super frugal and gazelle intense, while I hang on to my cable TV and gym membership.

We are all on our own journey and need to make our own best choices. Let’s just support each other along the way!

Education is a must!

There is so much to be learned about both fitness and finances! If you can – get yourself to an expert! For your health, it might be a physical therapist, yoga instructor, personal trainer or your medical doctor. For your finances it might be a financially savvy friend, an accountant, or a financial advisor. There are tons of excellent podcasts for learning about both health and money, and tons of books, blogs, and even videos on the subjects as well. Find and use good resources!

Education serves two purposes in my opinion – informed choices (what’s best for me?) and good form (am I doing this right?). Both apply to the gym and your wallet!

People might make fun of you

Sadly, even people you love. 🙁 Your friends might not understand why you want to go to the gym or for a walk instead of hitting up happy hour. Or why you’re eating a packed lunch with healthy food instead of joining them for fast food.

Your friends and family might not understand the sacrifices you make to get out of debt. They might take some of your lifestyle changes (like declining invites to social events) personally. They might laugh when you act like a total weirdo at the grocery store in the name of saving a buck.

Stay strong. You’re doing the right thing for you, and that’s all that matters.

It takes dedication

I go to the gym when I don’t want to. I go late at night when I’m tired, or early in the morning before my kids wake up.

I work on my budget when I don’t want to. I talk to my spouse about money even though it’s hard.

I could very easily go blow money on pizza and chocolate cake every night of the week and ruin both of my goals at the same time!

There’s no sugar coating this. Getting out of debt is HARD. Getting back into shape after having two babies is HARD. You don’t wander your way casually out of a financial mess, and you don’t improve your health casually either. Do the work. It’s worth it!

You have to set goals!

Set goals and have a plan! Don’t just show up at the gym and wander from machine to machine or halfheartedly step on the treadmill. I am lucky that my gym offered a free personal training session and my awesome trainer listened to my goals and outlined a plan for me. I have a solid financial fitness plan as well.

Build some flexibility into your goals (you might get injured, or life might throw something unexpected your way), and make sure to review your goals regularly!

You need a way to measure your progress

Set your goals and then track your progress! Track your income, your spending, the levels of your debt. Track your credit score, your net worth, your money earned in side hustles. If you’re improving your finances get to know your numbers! I like weekly budget meetings and reporting my totals monthly (like herehere, and here).

If you’re getting fit there is so much to be tracked. I like to look at a bigger picture. I might want to lose 30 pounds this year, but what about how I feel? Or how my clothes fit? I do track my weight and calories, but I also loving tracking the weights I’ve lifted, how many push-ups I can do, and how far I can run. Seeing my strength and endurance improve is so much more fun than the numbers on the scale.

We all make ‘mistakes’

If you screw up, try not to beat yourself up for too long. Don’t dwell. We all need a cheat day occasionally (I have already mentioned my love of pizza and chocolate cake multiple times). And I’ve screwed up financially plenty of times as well.

We are all human. We can’t be perfect every single day. Have grace with yourself.

One positive life change leads to another

It’s a positive domino effect! I started the year very much focused on money, and then slowly added in my fitness and health goals. Now I’m enjoying both journeys and wondering what to tackle next (like reading more perhaps!). How can you try to better your life? Try improving your fitness, try improving your finances – grow, learn, be a better you!

Don’t give up

With both finances and fitness, you might have a bad day, week or month. You might hit a plateau and stop seeing progress. You might gain a pound or have an unexpected expense.

If you stick to the plan and keep pushing forward you will improve. I promise. You can do this. Do not give up!

Are you working on your fitness or your finances? Let me know in the comments so I can cheer you on! 🙂

fitness and finances

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  1. So many great points here! I have noticed that saving money kind of helps with losing weight. I had gotten into a terrible fast food habit. Now that I’m not wasting money on it, I am losing weight. (Imagine that? haha) It’s all about piling up as many good choices as you can.

    • Yep! 🙂 We spend less money on pizza and ice cream (unfortunately, lol) and now I weigh less. Weird …. On the other side though – now I need to buy new clothes!

  2. I am trying hard to get out from under our home mortgage. Every little extra I make I put towards my payment.

    • That’s awesome Rebecca! Most people don’t try to pay ANY extra on their mortgage at all so you’re doing great!

  3. Great article. I am on a similar journey. In fact, I found this post in an online money group we are both in. Both items are a struggle for me, but I am doing MUCH better with my debt snowball than I am doing with my weight and my fitness. I’ve gone from nibbling away at my debt to taking huge BITES of it, but I hate exercise and that’s been a struggle for me. I like Zumba too, by the way and I’ve been trying to do some YouTube videos in the morning on my tablet, but it’s not been often enough or long enough to make much of a difference. Like you said, it’s a long, tough journey.

    • I have gone through phases where I am better at one than the other too Andrea. Don’t give up! Keep trying and I hope you can find a form of exercise you truly love. Even the smallest bit counts! <3

  4. I think both of these “f” words get people nervous. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topics.
    maria @closetohome recently posted…AMERICAN HERITAGE® Chocolate Strawberry Cake RecipeMy Profile

  5. A good comparison between accomplishing fitness and financial goals. I haven’t seen anyone compare getting fit financially to getting fit physically but it is so true. Both are hard but both are worth it.
    Krista recently posted…My Granddaughters Finger PolishMy Profile

  6. These are all excellent points and this post hits home for me. A year ago, I made a commitment to lose 50 pounds and to pay off $117k of student loan debt in three years. It’s hard, but it’s definitely worth it!
    Jen @ Frugal Millennial recently posted…How to Save Thousands of Dollars on Your Wedding VenueMy Profile

    • Wow Jen, those are amazing goals! I know you can do it! 🙂 I’m here if you ever need a virtual “workout buddy” 🙂

  7. Oh my goodness! This is so funny and sooooo true!!!I never thought about things like this, but you are right! I especially love “It’s easier to put on than take off.” 🙂 Yes, I’d love to have all that pasta and a new kitchen remodel, but I’d rather work it all off now.
    Samantha @ Momma Wants Java recently posted…Family Hooky DayMy Profile

  8. This post was amazing. You are so right, both are very similar. The way your compared the two made me really look at finances in a different way. I love the part about it not happening overnight and having a financial buddy.
    Healing Mama recently posted…Marriage Fitness : What To Do When Date Night Is ImpossibleMy Profile

    • Thanks! That means so much coming from you! Your blog actually inspired me to write more about fitness instead of just finances. And then – lightbulb – I saw the connection between the two! 🙂 I’m glad we share this interest!

  9. So true! I never thought about it but these “F” word journeys are so similar. So true also that they are better with friends and supporters of your journey.
    Julie S recently posted…Toys always end up in landfills. Celebrate Earth Day and rent them instead!My Profile

  10. That is quite the interesting comparison, and I can see the similarities. Either way…both can be difficult for sure.
    Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy recently posted…Chocolate Almond OatmealMy Profile

  11. What a great post! Saving money would definitely help us lose weight. We eat out more then we should. Since we’ve got back from our trip we are trying to change things, we have started excersising. Me on my treadmill and hubby on the bicycle, will be adding weights as well (once my hand gets better from me falling). The way that you compare finances to weight loss really gets me to thinking. Thanks for sharing your insights to both.
    Linda at Mixed Kreations recently posted…Easy Relax Block SignMy Profile

    • Thanks Linda! I know part of the weight that I had gained was due to eating out for sure! 🙂 We really only eat out once or twice a month now, if that, and really savor it! 🙂 I’m so jealous you have a treadmill at home – that’s wonderful!

  12. These are some great points. Now that you mention it I see the connection.

  13. I wish it were as easy to take weight off as it was to put it on. This is a great post. I can relate to so many of the things you you said.
    Cynthia L recently posted…Cutting the Cable Cord – How I saved $100 a monthMy Profile

  14. I worked for four solid years to get out of financial debt. It was soooooo hard, but with commitment, it happened.

  15. This is so, so true. It’s a lot of the same characteristics such as motivation, perseverance and dedication that will help us in all areas of our lives. I’m definitely doing better on these things with finance than fitness right now, but we all have things we need to work on :). Great post!

  16. Wow, I honestly never thought of the similarities! Also – so funny – The F-words! lol

    • LOL, yep I didn’t think about them both being dirty “F words” when I was first writing it, hehe 🙂

  17. You are completely right in comparing finance with fitness. I think education is the most important of all. In order to lose weight or build wealth you must first understand the fundamentals of what leads to success and what does success look like.

    • Absolutely Ronald!!! Education is so important, and I am glad I have learned to consult experts in both areas so I can grow and improve! 🙂

  18. I hadn’t really thought about it, but there are a lot of similarities between finance and fitness! Good luck achieving your goals!
    Tori recently posted…Everyday Heroes Who Help Moms Avoid The Epic Public MeltdownMy Profile

  19. So true! Having a measurable goal, and keeping track, are the keys to progress for me. Both financially and with losing weight. #WAYWOW

  20. This is great information! It’s interesting how much these two goals compare in the amount of commitment and effort it will take to make a difference. Your tips are encouraging!

    • Thanks Shelley! They are both a ton of effort and I have only found success through being really consistent. There are definitely days I don’t feel like it though! 🙂

  21. HA! This was AWESOME!

    My favourite point was: It’s easier to put on than take off. Isn’t that the truth?!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely evening.
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…The Super, Fantastic, Ultimate Bucket List for Moms!My Profile

    • Thanks Jennifer! I’m glad you enjoyed it and man is “it’s easier to put on than take off” so the truth!!! 🙂

  22. Great thoughts as always Erin! I’m SO proud of you for tackling such hard stuff and sharing your progress to encourage others… I was just thinking when you were talking about mirrors, having a blog is kind of like a mirror, isn’t it? At least I feel like its kind of the same experience of being aware of myself in a different way, and when I make resolutions I feel more accountable to keep them because of being “seen” in a different way… not sure if that makes sense or not?

    Thanks for sharing at #FridayFrivolity — pinning and tweeting!
    Sarah Eliza @ devastateboredom recently posted…Capsule Wardrobe Inspiration – Steal My Closet! Casual, comfy, “indie” style mix-and-match minimalist wardrobe ideas!My Profile

    • You’re so right about a blog being a mirror! I have really found it helpful, and I probably wouldn’t be working as hard as I am on some of my goals without this “mirror.” Definitely a perk of blogging 🙂

  23. I really love the way that you think about things. These are 2 biggies to tackle! I’ve found though that not having the finances to purchase better food can derail the fitness. Getting my finances in order so we can buy fruit, veggies and lean meats will help so much. Trying to tackle those crazy finances now, and then we’ll move into garden season, that should help with both. You are correct, neither happen overnight! We’re getting there!
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton recently posted…Social Media Blast-Let’s Stumble!My Profile

    • It’s really an ebb and flow isn’t it Nikki? They both impact each other, and of course are affected by our life circumstances. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and working to get better every day! <3

  24. Hi Erin,

    I really like how you put everything so well together in one post. I am still working on my finances and how to get more knowledgeable. When it comes to fitness, I love doing yoga at home and eating healthy. You are right about friends and family, they are not obliged to understand what you are going through but if they care they will.

    In these moments, I learned who truly cares about my well being. The worst part is when you are eating healthy and someone in your family orders fast food. It is disrespectful but it is the moment you just let those people go.

    Thank you for this great post!

    Psychic Nest recently posted…Reincarnation and the AfterlifeMy Profile

    • Thanks for such a thoughtful comment Zaria. It is hard when others around you make bad choices when you’re making good ones – but I just remind myself that we are all on our own journeys! 🙂 <3

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