The Skinny on Losing Weight While Fattening Your Wallet

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Image Not Available

While the thought of squeezing into a bikini or taking your shirt off at the pool might be enough to prompt some review of the extra pounds you’re carrying around, the impact that being overweight has on your pocketbook is an even better reason.

Obese and overweight people have higher living expenses. To compound the problem, heavier women tend to earn less than slimmer counterparts. Also, being overweight can contribute to higher health care and insurance costs.

Losing pounds could easily save you hundreds — even thousands — of dollars. That should halt any rationalizing that you’re too broke to get fit.

Most of us know what it takes to lose weight: Train, say your prayers, take your vitamins — wait, those are Hulk Hogan’s words. Exercise and proper nutrition are a good start, though.

I’m not fat — I’m big-boned

Odds are you’re overweight. That’s not an insult — just a fact. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 69 percent of Americans are overweight or obese.

Even more startling: If the current trajectory continues, 50 percent of us will be obese by 2030.

If there’s any question if you’re normal, overweight or obese, enter your weight and height here.

  • Underweight — BMI is less than 18.5.
  • Normal weight — BMI is 18.5 to 24.9.
  • Overweight — BMI is 25 to 29.9.
  • Obese — BMI is 30 or more.

Now that you have your body mass index number, let’s do a little math regarding tonight’s dinner.

I can’t afford to eat healthy

Going through a McDonald’s drive-through for a Big Mac meal will cost you an average of $6.64.

Say you have a family of four and everyone is craving two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – on a sesame seed bun. Four meals will run you $26.56. Curious about the nutritional value? Here you go.

For nearly half the price, that family of four could have this recipe for oven-baked salmon. Less than $15 will get you four herb-crusted fillets, zesty sauce, garlic, fresh dill, onions — on a fresh veggie bed.

Doesn’t a healthy meal and cash in your pocket sound better than a burger and a tighter waistband?

Some tips for getting fresh ingredients on the cheap are to visit farmers markets, warehouse stores and even some dollar stores. Even better, grow your own fruits, vegetables and herbs if you can.

Planning meals is another good way to avoid the drive-through.

I don’t have money for a gym or personal trainer

Does a gym membership cost $4,879 a year? That’s the increase in annual living expenses for obese women, according to “A Heavy Burden: The Individual Costs of Being Overweight and Obese in the United States.” The analysis, conducted by George Washington University, says obese men’s yearly costs are raised by $2,646. Men who are merely overweight pay an extra $432, while overweight women shell out another $524.

An average gym membership costs $55 a month, according to Statistic Brain. That’s $660 a year.

If working out in a gym (or paying to do so) isn’t your style, there are many free options for getting a good workout. Check out this video from Money Talks founder Stacy Johnson.

More ideas:

  • Go for a walk. You can pick up a cheap pedometer for about $5. Give yourself new goals each day, each week. The most common suggested daily tally is 10,000 steps, which is roughly 5 miles depending on your stride. “A reasonable goal for most people is to increase average daily steps each week by 500 per day until you can easily average 10,000 per day,” says The Walking Site.
  • Get your sweat on at home. You saw some ideas in the video above, but workout videos can be another good way to stay motivated by making it more entertaining. Exercise options include dancing, yoga and even stripping! Instructional videos also are available free on YouTube. Frugal Fitness is one recommended by Shape Magazine, which lists the 10 best sites here.
  • Check into cheap or free classes. Call your local community center or public library: Services vary by location, but many offer open gym time free or for a small drop-in fee in addition to fitness classes like Zumba, kickboxing and weightlifting. Keep in mind the YMCA also offers facilities with dues based on your income: See our story 8 Ways to Get Fit for Less.

About 79 percent of adults don’t meet the recommended minimum amount of exercise, according to the CDC. The suggested time is at least 2 1/2 hours per week of moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking or 1 1/4 hours of vigorous activity such as jogging. Added to that should be muscle-strengthening like push-ups or sit-ups.

Where do you stand with these stats? If you do meet them, what keeps you motivated? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.