The Money Diet, week 8: Not even close to easy

The good news is that I haven't gained any weight this week. The bad news is that I haven't lost any either. And I admit, my first thought the last time I looked at the scale was about as self-defeating as it gets. If I'm not losing any weight by giving up junk food, why am I depriving myself of the opportunity to order a pizza?


I know that that's just the sort of thinking that's going to sabotage any diet. But I can see why people don't stick to their New Year's resolutions, or any weight-loss plan. for that matter. Even if you're losing weight every week, this is still a pretty slow process. But I knew that going in, so I'm nowhere near giving up on this.

If you're reading this and wondering why I'm talking about my diet, this is week eight of the Money Diet. As some regular readers of WalletPop know, this is the paragraph where I explain what the Money Diet is. If you've read this a million times, feel free to skip ahead. Honestly, my feelings won't be hurt. OK, for the rest of you, back on January 1, I started something I call the Money Diet. Let me tell you how it works.

Every time I'm tempted to buy some junk food or fast food and I don't, I mentally jot it down, then later put it on paper and, at the end of the week, add up what I didn't spend on high calorie, non-nutritious food. It's a gimmick, sure, but purely committing myself to losing weight never worked. Every year, I'd dutifully add the goal of losing 30 pounds to my New Year's Resolutions list, and instead of losing anything, I'd realize about halfway through the year that I had gained weight instead.

After years of failure, I figured I needed a plan, and preferably not one that involves me spending a lot of cash on diet food. That's how I came up with the Money Diet.

Counting pennies instead of calories has definitely helped. I haven't been perfect, but I am eating far less junk food than I used to. If memory serves me, I also haven't had a french fry at a fast food restaurant since sometime last year, and I think I've only had maybe four cans of non-diet soda. For me, that's a big deal.

I also am definitely eating healthier than I used to: nonfat yogurt, nonfat cottage cheese, grown-up cereal without sugar added, fiber bars. If I need a snack, that's the type of food I'm turning to. Still, maybe my body is getting too used to that. Maybe I need to go to something even more extreme. Maybe I should start snacking on tree bark.

I do need to go the gym, as I've been saying the past couple weeks. In January, I started off extremely well, going to the gym regularly for about two weeks. That's completely died down, though. Most of my exercise lately has come from goofy things that come up in life. Like, last week, I shared the story of having to chase after a school bus to get my daughter's backpack to her. I saw that as kind of victory, running what I'm guessing was about half a mile and speculating that maybe I wouldn't have done that successfully if it weren't for this diet. Well, yesterday, I had another crazy run-in with the school bus. If you like short anecdotes without much of a point, you'll probably enjoy this one.

I was working in my home office on a WalletPop post in the late afternoon when my parenting radar went off. I knew that my wife had a massive migraine, and I suddenly wondered if she might have fallen asleep and not picked up our daughters from the school bus. So I sprinted down the stairs, spotted my wife asleep on the sofa and then, panicked, charged outside, racing down a very long driveway and down a very long street to meet the bus, which, indeed, was sitting there waiting for me.

By the way, did I mention that there was snow on the ground? And I had run outside, wearing socks?

You'd think the weight gods would give me some bonus points for that unexpected jog and let me have lost a little weight this week. But no such luck.

OK, so here are my numbers.

My weight when I began:
My weight last week: 247
My weight this week: 247

As for what I probably saved this week, here we go:
  • Every week, I lead with this. I still haven't bought a bag of my favorite pretzels that I used to buy every week and sometimes twice a week. Nope, still haven't purchased them. I've always jotted down my "actual savings" as $3.29, but since I did used to sometimes purchase two bags, I'll put down the price for two this time: $6.48
  • I didn't buy any fast food for myself this week. This isn't scientific, of course, but I'll put down the estimated savings: $5
  • Still haven't filched anything from my wife's supply of soda. Estimated savings: $3.50
  • While we didn't go out for fast food, we did go to a restaurant, where I ordered some sort of chicken wrap. It had some Ranch dressing, which probably didn't help me, but it had a lot of grilled chicken, carrots and lettuce, which I'm sure did. Anyway, I had two victories during this meal. I avoided buying french fries and when my girls, 6 and 8, asked for dessert, I didn't. (Nor did my wife, if anyone's curious, but I'm only going to count the savings for myself.) In any case, boy, it was tough. My youngest had vanilla ice cream, but my oldest had this delectable-looking chocolate fudge brownie sundae smothered in whipped cream, and what's more, she didn't finish all of it. Half a bowl of melted fudge and still-chilled ice cream was right there, just begging me to...OK, I need to stop thinking about that and think of something not so tasty, like lima beans. There. I'm better. Estimated savings on the fries and dessert: $6.
That probably covers it. At any rate...

My total saved this week: $20.98
Total saved this year so far: $191.42

Not bad. Maybe if I had spent $191 on junk food and fast food this year, I wouldn't be 264, my weight on January 1, but -- I don't know -- 269 pounds? 271? So I'm going to forget about pizza and ice cream, think about nonfat cottage cheese and fiber bars, and hope that next week is better.

Read more:
The Money Diet

Geoff Williams is a frequent contributor to WalletPop. He is also the co-author of the new book Living Well with Bad Credit.
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