The Money Diet, week 10: this is apparently something of a trend

Every year, I used to make some statement full of bravado, like, "OK, by December 31, 2002, I will have lost 30 pounds."


"It's 2004, but by 2005, the world is going to see less of me."


"All right, 2007, get prepared. Once I hit the gym, you won't know what hit you." [Insert maniacal laughter here.]

But every year, usually by Jan. 2 or 3, my wife would walk into the living room and see her husband passed out on the sofa, remnants of a Lean Pocket on his face, surrounded by a couple of empty Pringles' cans.

And so on Jan. 1, 2010, as regular readers of this weekly column are very aware, I pledged to myself that I would start what I fondly called "The Money Diet." I figured I needed to do something drastic. In late December, I saw my weight reach an all-time high (264 pounds), so I resolved to do something different. And I thought I would try writing about my weight loss on WalletPop, reasoning, "Maybe if I hold myself accountable to more than just my family, I might finally lose that weight."

And it wouldn't be the first time I'd tried to lose weight with the whole world -- or at least a few loyal readers -- watching. I had tried a similar stunt back in the late 1990s when I was a part-time reporter at the now-defunct Cincinnati Post; readers followed my ongoing misadventures for several weeks as a trainer tried to help get me in shape. I also wrote about trying to lose weight for a column in the parenting magazine BabyTalk, although that never went anywhere. But I thought that maybe writing about weight-loss every week would lead to me really losing weight this time.

So I came up with "The Money Diet." I figured I'd count how much money I saved by avoiding junk food and fast food. It seemed like a great way to motivate myself and a clever, fairly original idea. But as it turns out, not so much.

One author, Emily Katherine Scardino, came out late last year with a book called "Lose Weight, Gain Money: How to Fatten Your Wallet While Trimming Your Waistline." And several months before that, in May, 2009, Babe Lincoln's paperback was released --"How to Make Money and Lose Weight: A simple guide for everyone." In 2007, Mercy Mammah Popoola wrote"Lose Weight and Save Money: The Smart Alphabet and Holistic Approach." And in 2004, the book "How to Lose Weight and Gain Money: A Program for Putting Your Life in Order" by Vivien Schapera and Drew Logan was published.

Clearly, there must be some connection to weight-loss and earning money -- and maybe romance? Victoria Moran, another author, titled her 2007 book,
"Fat, Broke & Lonely No More: Your Personal Solution to Overeating, Overspending and Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places."

So if anyone thinks they, too, should try to lose weight by counting the dollars they're saving by avoiding certain foods, well, your local bookstore probably has an entire bookshelf devoted to the subject.

Time for the update
So here's how my diet's going this week. I was severely tested a few nights ago. My daughters' school had an art fair, and my 8-year-old had some work displayed that we could buy (as a fundraiser for the school). Before we went, we stopped at McDonald's (not my idea), and after leaving the school, we stopped for ice cream (again, not my idea).

I wasn't perfect. I bought one of those Angus burgers, and I need to cut that out, but frankly, I'm getting weary of grilled chicken. Still, I had no fries -- my old self would have ordered some and polished off any my daughters left behind -- and I had a Diet Coke in place of the real stuff I once would have had.

But the ice cream place was tougher. They were selling two scoops for the price of one, and the regional convenience store-parlor type establishment we were at, United Dairy Farmers, has some delectable, delicious, delightful ice cream.

"Sir, would you stop drooling on the counter?"

OK, maybe I imagined the cashier saying that. But I managed to hold my ground and kept muttering, "The Money Diet, the Money Diet...think of what you're going to save by not buying ice cream."

Was I rewarded at the scale for this? No. But I have to think that at least I saved some money and didn't make my weight worse. That's something, right?

So as I do every week, here's what I think I saved this week.
  • I didn't buy my favorite bag of pretzels, once again. Actual savings: $3.29.
  • As you read, I skipped the fries and ice cream when I was out with my wife and kids. Estimated savings: $4.
  • Other than McDonald's, I stayed away from fast food restaurants altogether. My old self probably would have gone to at least one. Estimated savings: $5
  • We have two dogs, and one has been waking up in the middle of the night, wanting to do her business. That's gone on for a long time, but it happened a lot this week. The old me would grumble awake at 3 a.m. and think, "You know, I'm standing here in the kitchen while everyone else is sleeping, and our dogs are outside in our yard having a great time. I deserve a snack." And I would proceed to grab a cookie. Or two. Or five, if the dogs were outside a really long time. Or maybe I'd make a late night sandwich. I'm sure the money I'm saving by not snacking while the dogs are doing their thing adds up. Since this happened five times this week, at ungodly hours like 1:22 a.m. and 5:01 a.m. , and I only snacked once (on some non-fat cottage cheese), I'm going to assume I earned some money by not snacking. Estimated savings: $9.
I'm sure there's more, but those hit the highlights of what I think I've saved. And here's where I am, with my savings and weight.

My total saved this week: $21.29
Total saved this year so far: $236.82.

My weight when I began: 264
My weight last week: 247
My weight this week: 247

I hope everyone else out there trying this diet or other ones is having a little more success than I am.

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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