A Tale of Two Diets

Over the last ten years I’ve lost about 100 pounds.

Okay, it’s actually the same ten pounds, gained and lost ten times.

Blame it on the holidays, I guess. Sweet people sending me sweets. My wife’s deadly—the good kind of deadly—pecan pie. Hey, I’m not complaining. I love all that delicious stuff.

But New Year’s Day always comes. I look at the scale (and into the mirror) and see those ten pounds of ugly fat have once again taken up residence on my mid-section.

Last year, I paid someone to help me “count macros.” I learned “macros” is short for “macro-nutrient.” (Don’t ask. I have no ideas what all that means.)

I only know that “counting macros” is diet-speak for figuring out how many of your calories come from protein, from carbohydrates, and from fat. 

It was all very precise. I was instructed to log each bite of food onto an app on my iPhone. The app did calculations for me, showing me a pie chart of how balanced my “macros” were. (Apparently having out-of-balance macros is the recipe for weight gain.) 

This plan was, in a word, miserable. I was constantly reminded of all the foods I couldn’t eat. Each meal became a complicated math problem. Before long, I wanted to throw my phone against the wall. I only lasted about 30 awful days. 

This year I’m trying a different approach. Rather than count every calorie (or macro) before it hits my mouth, I’m using a “balanced approximation” method called The Zone.

It lets you measure with your eyes. Now, for a healthy diet, I just fill about 1/3 of my plate with lean protein. The rest of the plate needs to consist of complex carbohydrates. Fat can come from things like olive oil, avocados, and almonds, all of which I love. 

Are there any “no no’s”? Only a few. I’m swearing off sweets, most breads, and most pasta. 

Still, it’s so much easier. Some broad rules and just a few things to stay away from. There’s nothing to count, and no heavy focus on what I can’t do.

I actually like this! I’m not mad at my iPhone anymore. In fact, my phone isn’t even involved. I’m not hungry all the time, I feel good, and those ten unwanted pounds have been put on notice. They’re in the process of being evicted, one at a time. 

I tell you this story about dieting, because in it I see a great parallel to our financial lives.

A few dear souls were born to count everything. They’re wired that way. They follow a “budget based” approach to financial planning. It works for them, and they love it.

But just because they love it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you if you don’t!

Most people—maybe even you—don’t have the patience or diligence to count every penny and account for every dollar. Does that mean your only alternative is the financial equivalent to overeating (i.e., over spending)? Not on your life.

Applying the “Zone” philosophy to your financial life is pretty simple.

Save 10%. Reduce debt with 20%. Spend the remaining 70%. 

Once your debt is all paid off, take the 20% that was going towards debt reduction and split it. Give yourself a 10% lifestyle raise and save the other 10%. 

Now you’re spending 80% and saving 20%!

The “sweats, breads and pastas” that you stay away from? Consumer debt. Ban that completely from your “financial diet.”

Obviously, this isn’t the only financial planning you’ll ever need to do. However, if you at least do these things in 2022, you’ll be well on your way to a healthy financial life.

And best of all, there’s no misery required.

And if you’d like a proven roadmap to true financial freedom, email me at bmoore@argendadvisors.com. I’ve got a free e-book called How To Put Financial Worries in Your Rear View Mirror. I’d love to send it to you.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.

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