I know a lot of money gurus will tell you that if you want to know a person’s priorities, take a look at their bank accounts and credit card statements. In some ways, that’s true but I think looking a how a person spends their time, perhaps in addition to their money, will give you a better idea of what is important to them.
When someone makes time in their daily lives to spend it with friends or to spend it in front of a tv, you know what is important to them. It doesn’t mean the tv watcher is a bad person or that the friend-oriented person is better: it simply means they have different values and priorities. In short, you put your time, effort and money towards what you value most.
I have a lot of friends who are fans of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. They spend a lot of time watching those and follow several shows. They usually roll their eyes at me when I remind them “I have cable.” I get more eye rolls when I tell them I don’t have a smart tv or a DVR either. I like tv and it’s usually on in the evenings and weekends, but I seriously only follow about a half dozen shows during the year, which averages out to about 4 nights a week that I’m really paying attention to what’s on tv. Even worse, if I miss one of those episodes, oh, well! If it’s not available OnDemand, I just have to wait for a rerun! Obviously, tv is not one of my priorities.
However, if you want to talk about my dogs and cat, then you’ll see that both of them have treats and toys on monthly subscription with Amazon. They have standing appointments at their groomer (the dogs anyway) and the house is deluged in toys. Also, my schedule tends to get worked around them: mornings and evenings are devoted to spending time with them, play dates are regularly scheduled and they made a special trip to Santa this year. In short, my pets take up a lot of my time and money. That’s because they are a priority with me! Sometimes, taking care of them is a really big headache but even if I do grumble about it, there is no way I’m giving them up. They are too important to me!
When it comes to our health and weight loss goals, the time, effort and money we put into them are the real indicators of how important they are to us. They don’t have to be THE most important things in our lives, but when they end up at the bottom of our list of Things to Do on a regular basis, they are obviously NOT important to us. So, if they keep ending up being the last things we spend time on, why are we surprised to find out we aren’t losing weight and our health isn’t improving?
We all know someone (maybe it’s us) who keeps complaining that they aren’t losing weight when they’re “working so hard!” Before we begin looking for explanations or excuses, we need to take a good look at how much time we are investing in our weight loss. While exercise and activity are important to our health, weight loss is primarily driven by our diet, so let’s start with the obvious: how often are we eating? What are we eating and how much of it? Grazing or snacking all day is a big indicator that we are spending time on our diet, but it’s the wrong kind of time with the wrong kind of activity!
How much time do we spend on meal planning, preparation and buying food? If the answer is “not a lot,” then there’s another clue. Preparing a meal doesn’t have to take hours in order to be healthy but it shouldn’t consist of throwing a frozen meal in the microwave or ordering takeout. Most of my meals at home take about a half hour or less but grocery shopping just for me normally takes an hour or so, maybe longer if something I want is at another store. The staples are generally salad greens and fresh fruits and veggies, fresh meat and chicken, milk, eggs, coffee, water, stevia, cheese and uncured bacon. Preparing them doesn’t take long, since most of the veggies are steamed and the salad greens just come out of the box and onto a plate. The time I invest in healthy food comes mainly from getting it at the store and planning out what I’m going to have that week. My Sunday afternoons are always set aside for grocery shopping: it’s just become part of my routine.
Another priority in my life is going to the gym. I do water aerobics normally three times a week, so there is time invested in packing the gym bag, rinsing out my swim suit and rearranging my schedule to make sure I can make it to the gym at the appointed time. Two of the workouts have regular classes, so my day is scheduled around what time do I have to be there, when do I need to leave and do I need to move an errand to another day that doesn’t conflict with my workout? The third workout day floats, so again, I need to clear my schedule to make sure the gym bag is packed and I get there on time. In fact, my friends tease me because if it’s Monday or Wednesday, “she’s on her way to the gym!” Incidentally, my dogs also know my schedule because if the class is cancelled due to a holiday and I come home early, I catch them napping instead of waiting at the door!
Financial gurus talk a lot about ROI: Return On Investment. We forget that our Return depends on what we invest. If weight loss and better health are what we are after and we aren’t getting the Return we want, then we need to look at how much we are actually investing and that doesn’t mean money. Most of us are familiar with buying the fresh veggies and letting them moulder in the fridge. We may have spent the money on them, but they aren’t actually “invested” unless we eat them! The same is true of that gym membership that costs you $25 a month: unless you are using it, you aren’t really investing in your health. For money experts, ROI is measured in dollars but when we’re investing in ourselves, the ROI is pounds lost, strength gained and other intangibles. When we are talking about the ROI for our health and weight loss, it’s not about the money: it’s about the time and the effort we invest in ourselves. If we aren’t at the top of our list of priorities, that might explain that low Return we’re getting!