Read an Excerpt
Lean Body Fat Wallet
discover the powerful connection to help you lose weight, dump debt, and save money
By Ellie Kay, Danna Demetre
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2013 Ellie Kay and Company, LLC, and Women of Purpose
All rights reserved.
Habits for Health and Wealth
Discover a new way to approach your financial and physical challenges!
The twenty-year-old nursing student fumbled for the key to her apartment as she juggled several heavy textbooks and a grocery sack stuffed with her recent purchases from the local minimart. Once in the door, she dropped the books on the kitchen table, kicked off her shoes, and rummaged through the sack until she found the bag of cookies she was looking for. She knew her roommate would not be home for at least two hours, so she flopped down on the couch, turned on the television, and began to decompress from her long day of classes. With a glass of milk and the bag of cookies in front of her on the coffee table, she surrendered to the inevitable battle she lost every day at this time—the battle of food calling her name and compelling her to binge.
One cookie led to two, then three. She knew she couldn't stop, so she didn't. Since she was sure of the final outcome, she gave in to eating every cookie in the bag. Then she purged to destroy the evidence before her roommate got home. She felt guilty about her overeating. Some days she binged and purged four or five times. The only reason she was not morbidly obese was because she was a master of eating only when she had the freedom to purge immediately. She was also skilled at camouflaging the excess twenty-five pounds she wore as a constant reminder of her ugly secret.
That young woman was me, Danna. For sixteen years, I struggled with emotional eating and, for many of those years, with bouts of bulimia. It seemed the only way I could gain control was to take diet pills. When the shame of my eating disorder became unbearable or I gained weight despite the purging, I'd take amphetamines for weeks or even months and barely eat at all. In the privacy of my mind, I believed the lie that I could not stop overeating. The lie led me down a path of self-loathing that could have completely destroyed my health. As a result of my unhealthy thinking and lifestyle, I also struggled with unrelenting panic attacks for almost five years. Fear perpetuated fear, and I began to believe I was losing my mind. Some days my symptoms were so severe I actually believed I was dying.
At the time, I did not realize I was telling myself lies. I certainly had no understanding that these lies were the root of many of my problems. My constant focus on the misconception that I could not control my unhealthy eating or take charge over my anxiety created damaging thought patterns that dug deeper and more destructive mental ruts in my mind. I constantly told myself, I can't stop bingeing. I'll never change. I can't lose weight. I'm losing my mind. I might be dying. The result was a spiral of increasingly harmful emotions and behavior.
In order to get through nursing classes, I took heavy doses of Valium to minimize my accelerating fear of being out in public. I aced my psych nursing semester as I desperately tried to diagnose my precarious mental state. Poring over the pages of my psychology textbook, I read each description of various mental disorders to see if they described my problems. Schizophrenic? No, I don't think so. Bipolar? Yeah, maybe—when I'm taking amphetamines. Psychotic? Maybe. Neurotic? Absolutely!
In this dark and troubling valley of life, I began to seek truth. Through the loving guidance of some wise people, I discovered the power of renewing my mind in a life-changing way. By replacing the lies I believed with truth over and over and over again, I began to notice that the panic attacks came less frequently. And when they did come, they were much less severe. Within one year, they were completely gone. No medicine. No therapy. Just truth overriding lies. Over time, I gained victory over my eating issues as well. I've maintained a lean, healthy body for more than thirty years. But I will never forget how it felt to be in bondage to unhealthy thinking.
The principles Ellie and I share in this chapter are the ones both of us have used to change our habits from the inside out. While your challenges may not be as dramatic as ours, the strategies to discover lasting success over the habits of your mind are the same. Whether you are overeating, overspending, or simply lacking the good habits necessary to effect positive change, this chapter and the ones that follow will empower you to take action that can change your life!
When I searched for my knight in shining armor, I never expected him to ride in on a jet. My knight turned out to be a pilot named Bob Kay. Time also flew around this guy. When we were dating, we'd linger over pie and coffee at our favorite restaurant. We'd get so caught up in conversation that we were often shocked to discover we'd been talking for hours. I should have clued in to the fact that time was flying when a new shift of waitresses appeared to refill our coffee cups.
When we met, I was an insurance broker making a good salary. I saved, invested, and spent money wisely. Maybe it was my confidence about finances—or maybe just true love—that caused me to overlook Bob's occasional references to "loads of debt" from his prior marriage. He was a man of solid character, which mattered a lot more to me than his finances. Plus, I was marrying into an added bonus of two beautiful stepdaughters as part of the three-for-one deal. Besides, he was a full-time engineer and a part-time pilot, making a good-enough salary, or so I thought.
Bob had graduated from the Air Force Academy and dreamed of one day flying fighter jets. He had flown full time in the active-duty air force but chose to get out of the military after his divorce to be near his daughters. Now he was living the dream, but only part time, as he flew for the National Guard. As we pursued marriage, I told Bob he should pursue his dream of flying jets. Soon after our wedding, Bob went back into the military full time and we were living in active-duty military housing on a captain's salary, which was 15 percent lower than Bob's previous income as an engineer.
Then the credit card bills began to roll in, one by one.
I fully understood what Bob meant by "loads of debt." I'd inherited the financial aftermath of his divorce, which included forty thousand dollars of consumer debt and no assets. In those early years, we had trouble making ends meet and even struggled with the ability to buy groceries. In an attempt at humor, I hung a plaque on the wall that said, "Blessed are the poor, for they be us."
Here is what our portfolio of bills looked like:
One-third of Bob's income went to income taxes.
One-third went to child support and medical insurance for Bob's daughters.
We gave 10 percent of our income to our church and charities.
We lived on the remaining 23 percent and also serviced our forty thousand dollars of debt.
The situation became even more complicated when Bob and I began to have more babies—a total of five children of our own in seven years. As a blended family, we now had seven children to support. Bob's military career included eleven moves in the first thirteen years of our marriage. It became clear that it would be impractical for me to go back to being a broker, so I stayed home. Besides, I really wanted to be with my children full time.
I also realized that Bob and I had diametrically opposed financial philosophies. He enjoyed living well in his previous life (with the use of credit) and was accustomed to that kind of lifestyle. He considered consumer debt par for the course of any American family. I preferred to live below our means and only buy what we could afford.
He loved to eat out. I winced at every restaurant check. He enjoyed spending money, and I enjoyed saving money. Appraising our dining set (still perfectly good, though I'd bought it at a discount store) one day, he announced he'd like to replace it with something from Ethan Allen.
"We can't afford that!" I exclaimed.
One day I wrote a check for car insurance and a few other bills, and I realized we were down to pennies in our checking account. Bob's next payday wasn't for another week. This is scary, I thought. We had some cereal in the pantry and some canned food, but no milk, fruit, or vegetables. Our credit cards were charged to the max. Bob came home in time for us to make the 160-mile round-trip drive from the air force base to suburban Los Angeles to pick up his girls at their grandmother's house. I told him the checkbook news. It was a tense drive to LA.
Arriving at his former mother-in-law's, we found her remodeling her kitchen. The refrigerator was unplugged, and she'd crowded the counter with fruit, vegetables, and canned goods. "You guys wouldn't happen to want any of these, would you?" she asked. "I'm not going to get this fridge going anytime soon." I don't think she knew about our predicament, but there she was, providing for our needs. Bob, wearing his best game face, bagged everything and loaded it into the car. Charity, I thought, fighting my emotions. We said nothing on the way home in front of the girls. That night, however, before we went to sleep, it was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears.
"I'm so sorry," Bob whispered, sensing my emotions. "I just couldn't bring myself to admit how the financial baggage from my old life would affect our new family."
He seemed to think that because he had so much debt, he would always be in debt. In fact, a lawyer advised Bob to file for bankruptcy, but he refused. We needed to shift our mind-set from "We will always be in debt" to "We can become debt-free if we develop a plan." We needed to let go of the belief that we had to spend money to have fun. Instead, we began to say, "Fun doesn't have to be centered on spending. We can create our own entertainment without going further into debt."
I suggested that we develop a new strategy for our finances. We agreed on a plan for financial recovery. We would rein in spending, donate 10 percent of our earnings, set aside enough for taxes and child support, and with the roughly 20 percent of Bob's income left over, pay debt and bills.
At first, Bob looked stricken as he contemplated this meager existence, but he wanted to make the kind of changes that would free us from debt. I drew inspiration from my great-grandmother, who'd survived the Great Depression with a simple motto popular at that time: "Use it up, wear it out, make do, do without."
By implementing money-smart strategies, we began to recover. Before long, our cupboards were filled to overflowing, and I had so many groceries that I was able to give them away to food pantries and homeless shelters. We stuck to our budget, never letting down our guard even as the last of Bob's old credit cards were paid off. Two and one half years later, we were completely debt-free and have remained free of consumer debt ever since.
How Do You Change a Habit?
You've heard the saying "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!" That's a good motto for making lasting changes in your habits as well—not by taking one bite at a time, but taking one step at a time. We both faced disastrous lifestyle consequences that were the result of longstanding bad habits. If we had simply looked at the mountain of goals looming before us, we could have easily become discouraged. Instead, we slowly began to take small daily steps toward healthier habits. The strategies in this book are simple, yet they take consistent practice to make a lasting impact.
Learning to implement healthy, lasting habits and still enjoy life is the core objective of this book. What's the point of gaining a healthy body and financial security if you are miserable? We believe that the tools we have used for many years will help you design a personalized lifestyle that works best for you.
The Four Lean Body, Fat Wallet Habits
Our lives are driven by a variety of good and bad habits that influence our emotions and behaviors as if we are running on automatic pilot. Webster's Dictionary defines habit as "an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary."
A habit is something you can do without thinking—which is why most of us have so many of them.
—Frank A. Clark
Our good habits allow us to reap positive rewards, and our bad habits can produce the negative consequences of excessive debt and overweight bodies. When you scan the endless number of books written about these subjects and research the sad statistics related to finding permanent solutions, it becomes obvious that people are still looking for answers. It's not for lack of trying that individuals fail. But trying is not enough. We must train our minds to respond differently to the challenges we face day after day.
Since our habits have such power in our lives, it makes sense that discovering our bad habits and replacing them with productive ones would be a wise use of our time and energy. With that in mind, we have identified four Lean Body, Fat Wallet Habits that can dramatically transform your body and wallet when implemented consistently.
1. The You Are What You Think Habit
2. The 3D Habit
3. The In and Out Habit
4. The Sustainable Lifestyle Habit
In part one, we will define each so you can understand their significance in your life. We will also discuss each one in a health-and-wealth context. Danna will share how you can add them into your life in simple and effective ways to guide you toward a leaner and healthier body. Ellie will define the four habits from a financial viewpoint and explore ways you can develop a realistic financial strategy for success. In part two, we will discuss these four habits as they apply in various situations to help you build them into all the areas of physical and fiscal wellness.
Before we delve into the first habit in the next chapter, let's explore the top ten reasons we believe people fail to meet their health and wealth goals. We call them "failure factors." It is important to understand what you've been doing wrong so you can make strategic corrections that will move you in a positive direction in the future.
Top Ten Failure Factors
1. You set unrealistic goals.
2. You are driven by the wrong motives.
3. You believe failure is inevitable.
4. You fulfill the need for immediate gratification too often.
5. You are influenced unduly by other people.
6. You practice an all-or-nothing mentality.
7. You rationalize and make excuses rather than taking responsibility.
8. You displace emotional issues through overspending and overeating.
9. You procrastinate rather than taking action.
10. You lack the tools to make compounding incremental change.
Reread the list above and circle any of the failure factors you believe may be significant influences in your life. Later, we will address these factors more specifically in relation to the new habits we are encouraging you to build. We'll show you how you can counteract these success robbers in your life. Failure needs to be seen as a profound learning opportunity.
It's time to stop trying so hard and start training yourself toward a new way of addressing your health and wealth challenges. Past failures do not need to be repeated. In this book, we will be your coaches to encourage and mentor you toward attainable and sustainable goals.
If Gail Can Change ... So Can You!
Gail Hayes is a beautiful, vibrant, energetic, and enthusiastic executive leader, life coach, speaker, and educator. In her free time she is a publisher and product development expert. She has been called "an igniter of purpose" because of her passion for life. But a few years ago, Gail was hiding some unhealthy habits that were slowly destroying her physical and financial life. She feared that if others knew, it would discredit her professionally.
In a nutshell, Gail was abusing her body in various ways. Over time, she had become dependent upon large amounts of caffeine to battle lethargy. She did not eat or exercise sufficiently and had increasing aches and pains that further diminished her activity. She counteracted the high of caffeine and other ailments by popping Benadryl (antihistamine) tablets like candy. At first, this over-the-counter medication helped her relax and sleep, but in the long run she found herself in a vicious downward spiral where her body felt constantly itchy and toxic. Additionally, she gorged on sugary, fattening foods and had no idea until she stepped on the scale that she was carrying sixty-five extra pounds on her petite frame. This fact depressed her even more, and some days she didn't have enough energy to get out of bed to walk—which was not practical for a busy, working mother of two active children.
Excerpted from Lean Body Fat Wallet by Ellie Kay, Danna Demetre. Copyright © 2013 Ellie Kay and Company, LLC, and Women of Purpose. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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