Smart SpendingSmart Spending

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.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 30, 2013 5:29PM

This post comes from Tom Sightings at partner site U.S. News & World Report.

USNews logoWe'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.

Overweight © Image Source, Getty ImagesA 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:

Jul 31, 2013 10:00AM
I have lost 15 pounds in the last two months.  I agree with all your points.  My problem was portion control. Then I remembered that I loved pinto beans as a child.  I eat beans( Many varieties but red and pinto beans are my favorite) twice a day and snack on fruit all day and my hunger has literally gone away.  Beans have been magical for me and I show no sign of getting bored.  I still look forward to every meal (two a day) with beans.  I generally add small amounts of meat or sausage plus 8 triscuits and 2 ounces cheese with each meal. I prepare my meals each morning to control the portion.
       I was planning to pig out at a pizza joint Sunday and drove up to find them out of business.  I guess GOD wants me to lose weight.  Buffets are poison for a dieter. Eating out anywhere is a no-no for me because I am unable to control myself so I just prepare food at home and keep copious quantities of fruit available at work and home.
Aug 5, 2013 2:04PM
What is it about MSN and writers obsessed with fat people? I am sure they know they have a problem? but this mindless constant "do not eat this and you are going to die from that cookie" is getting to the point of WTF? Here is a newsflash for those people, You will die eventually, maybe fat or maybe bone thin but you are going to take a dirt nap. I am not condoning gluttony or morbid obesity, both serious afflictions but to constantly beat the drum is to much. It is not a sin to enjoy life just use a little self control?
Aug 5, 2013 1:10PM
"Are you too fat to retire?"  Hell, just gain more weight, go on disability, and not work. 
Aug 5, 2013 2:09PM
nowaday, most middle age men look 9 month pregnant.
Aug 5, 2013 12:58PM
None of this is news anymore.  It's the same old tired crap they've been selling us for years, and quite frankly it just isn't working.  Try something new MSN, ok?
Aug 5, 2013 1:34PM
Don't know what kind of fish you are eating, but prices are very high in grocery stores!
Aug 5, 2013 1:01PM
Aug 5, 2013 3:36PM
I'm 5'8 and 205# and 61 yrs old. I believe that makes me fat and old.   Haven't spent $500 on healthcare for myself or wife together in the past 35 yrs.(other than insurance premiums)  Where do they get their numbers or are americans going to the doc way too often and for no real reason? 
Aug 5, 2013 2:49PM
I read John's post below..........walk a half hour every day.   He is right.  I started walking around my neighborhood at night...three long blocks...takes a half an hour.
In the past 2 months I have lost 12 pounds......just from walking the 3 block circuit.   I still can't believe how easy it was.  
Aug 5, 2013 2:11PM
All this is pure common sense and I  have been doing this for the last 4 years.  I lost a total of 40 lbs while I was never obese just overweight I now feel better than I ever did.  I will be 50 at the end of the year and I am trying to due my best not to fall apart in my old age.
Aug 5, 2013 3:06PM

So the solution is ...


Don't enjoy life.

Aug 5, 2013 1:15PM
You calling people FAT? ARE YOU F******** SERIOUS?
Aug 5, 2013 1:31PM
but what were the actual expenses on?
Aug 5, 2013 2:45PM

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.

Aug 5, 2013 3:42PM
This article is not news worthy.  When a person decides to not be fat, obese or anything else they will do something about it.  Not before and not based on this dribble you wrote.
Aug 5, 2013 3:49PM
What the hell is wrong with these people where do they get all this information.  Since when is being fat have anything to do with retiring.  I have been retired since I was 58, got lucky, and I don't go to the doctor no more than when I was working.  Had an excellent work recorded left with sick time pay of about 3 years out of 12 years from the company I worked for, only took off because I didn't want to go in.  I am now 65 and see the doctor once a year to renew my three meds that I take and don't go see him any other time because we fight about me taking more meds.  I have one bad knee that I will be getting taken care of in a few weeks but other wise I am good to go and I am on the plumb side.  Some of this stuff that is dished out is baloney.  Yes, we all can lose some weight, yes we all need to exercise more but come on since when does it effect your retirement.  I am sick and tired of every little article coming out and attacking heavy people and that they are going to fall over dead at any moment.  Not so.
Aug 5, 2013 2:17PM
Most people know this but doing it is another thing.  Do more articles on pets!
Aug 5, 2013 4:03PM
Honestly, all you need to do is eat less. Not nothing, just less. That is really all it takes. I lost 80 pounds in a little over a year and a half at about 5 lbs a month by just eating less. No running, no bicycling, no Gym. Nothing. You want to save money for retirement, try saving a couple hundred dollars a month on food. It adds up fast, but the big pay off is size medium clothes, comfortable airplane seats, and the everyday pleasure of moving around easily. Just by eating less. Same food, just less. Really, it works. Please try it. Please. 
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.