Are you too fat to retire?
We fret over portfolio balances, but the numbers on the scale can also have a big impact on our investment expenses. Here's what one man did about it.
This post comes from Tom Sightings at partner site U.S. News & World Report.
We're all concerned about how to afford retirement. We check the balances on our individual retirement accounts and obsess about how to get the most out of Social Security. But we forget that there's another way to help achieve a financially secure retirement: lose some weight.
A 2010 study from George Washington University estimated that being overweight costs the average male over $400 a year and the average female over $500 a year in extra medical bills, disability and personal costs. The price of outright obesity (a BMI over 30) widens to almost $3,000 for a man and $5,000 for a woman each year.
If this isn't enough to motivate you to shed some pounds, think of the other cost. Being slightly overweight has no measurable effect on your life expectancy. But moderate obesity will shorten your life by an average of one year. And extreme obesity will cut close to five years off your life expectancy.
There are many ways to lose weight and save money in the process, and not one of them is easy. But if, according to one estimate, 46 million Americans have been able to give up smoking, then baby boomers can surely get their arms around their expanding waistlines.
Four years ago, when I was tipping over from merely overweight to outright obesity, I decided to make the effort. I lost 15 pounds in four months. Since then I've managed to stay in the just slightly overweight category. I'd like to get down to normal. That's probably not going to happen. But at least I have no sign of diabetes. And now that the load on my aging knees has been lightened, I don't have to go back to the orthopedist for a cortisone shot or pay for physical therapy.
I don't know how other people have lost weight, but here are the five things I did:
1. Drink water, not soda. I used to drink two or three diet sodas a day. Somehow, those diet sodas set me up for padding on the pounds. So I turned to bottled water. My wife says tap water is just as good and wishes I would drink that. But there's something special about cracking open a cold bottle of spring water, and it's still cheaper than soft drinks.
2. Have a piece of fruit. In the afternoons, instead of reaching for chips, I now have an apple or a banana. Summer is a great time to start your love affair with fruit since all the good stuff is in season: blueberries, cantaloupe, peaches and watermelon.
3. Go easy on the meat. I used to love hamburgers. Well, actually, cheeseburgers. But they are full of fat, and who knows what else they grind up in there. So I decided to push back from the carvery. I do have an occasional hamburger, but at home we mostly grill chicken or fish, along with sliced vegetables. I still like steak. But that's an expensive treat, so I'm not going to get fat on the amount of steak we eat.
4. Keep busy. Exercise is good, no doubt about it. But I've found that simply staying active at work or play takes your mind off food, and -- this is critical -- keeps your head out of the refrigerator.
5. When dinner is over, stop eating. This seems pretty basic, but honestly, I used to go back to the kitchen after dinner and make myself a cup of tea, usually with a cookie or two. And sometimes it didn't stop there. But now at dinner my wife and I finish with our cup of tea. Then we clean up, turn out the lights and go do something else. Kitchen closed, until morning.
More from U.S. News & World Report:
- Why Gen X lost big in the Great Recession
- 7 ways to turn $250,000 into retirement income
- 2 simple steps to make your retirement savings leap
It's possible to fill a bottle of water and place it in the refrigerator, or haven't you ever thought of that.
I was one who just didn't believe that people would buy bottled water, boy was I wrong. I live in a town that gets their water from a well, it's better than you can buy any where and there are people here who buy bottled water, it's really hard to explain people.
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