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Turning Long-Term Goals Into Short-Term Goals (and Not Getting Fat Along The Way)

Longtime readers may remember a few things about me:

  • At various times, I've studied to be a priest, a doctor, a teacher, and a financial advisor (though I was only two of those).
  • My posts can get so technical (okay, boring) that J.D. has to enliven them with cat pictures.
  • I've tried to lose weight over the past couple of years, and have concluded that reducing heft is very similar to building wealth.

Regarding the latter, I reported in January that I was down about 25 pounds in 18 months. Not bad - at least good enough to get me on public radio's Marketplace (in case you're dying to hear my nasally voice). Managing your cash and managing your flesh both start with giving up short-term pleasure for long-term gain.

This occurred to me again as I met earlier this summer with Ben Sterling, my office's resident Wellness Fool. His scale told us that I had gained back almost seven of the pounds I had lost. I had still been exercising, but not as much and not as intensely, and I didn't pay any attention to what I ate. Ben, in his wisdom, knew he had to give me more motivation - and given my financial background, he knew that motivator was money (though for me it's the preservation of it, not the making gobs of it). So we made a bet: I would lose six percentage points of body fat by mid-September or I'd pay him $200 (which would go toward buying exercise equipment for the Fool office).

It got me motivated, but not quite enough - especially when it came to food. After all, it's summer, a time of cookouts, gatherings, and vacations (and hot dogs, chips, ice cream, and fast food during road trips). Plus, I had three months; why rush things?

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