Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fat Guys Playing for Big Money

Fat Guys Playing for Big Money

Nothing you can't handle nothing you ain't got
Put the money on the table and drive it off the lot

-Boz Scaggs

A few years ago, I started Don’s Fat Guy’s Club. It was a group designed to help other big guys lose weight.

As we succeeded, we called it the “Don’s Get Fit Club.”

The group is going strong and everyone is slimmer than when they started. Our participants show up every Tuesday. We keep each other in line.

We throw a dollar on the table and the biggest, weight loser that week gathers in the pot.

We’ve been collecting small pots. Now we are playing for big money.

A church in Berea is sponsoring a “biggest loser contest.” About 120 people showed up for the initial kickoff. Including my foursome.

Each person in the contest paid $25 and paired up in team of fours. With big money and severe competition, there many slim people by October.

Although money would be nice, I really like the idea of organizing teams and having friendly rivalries. I’m intensely competitive by nature and so is my group. Winning a prize keeps us focused.

My group has have an advantage over many competitors. We know how to get the weight off quickly and have done it before.

Getting it off and keeping it off are too different stories. I get frustrated when I see people “fall off the wagon” with addictions or poor spending habits. Then I realize that I do the same thing with my weight. I’ve lost close to 1000 pounds in my life. I’ll probably lose 1000 more.

After realizing that good eating habits and good financial habits stem from similar sources, I’ve put my financial education to work against obesity. It works pretty well.

In dieting and finance, you need to have good habits, a plan and a goal.

People want to make it more complicated but it boils down to that.

I used to think some people were “naturally” thin or “naturally” lucky with money. When you study them close enough, you see that they are people with good habits.

A plan will help you develop good habits.

If you want to lose weight, make money, run a business or do almost anything in life, the first step toward improvement is writing down everything you do.

In business, there is a concept called Pearson’s law. It say that which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.

If you want to get ahead in life, write down what you are doing in the present and measure it against what you have done in the past.

Almost every major weight loss program (I have been in them all) focuses on record keeping. The same way that successful financial planning programs starts with budgeting.

I can tell when I get “off the wagon” on my weight or my spending. It’s when I stop writing things down.

I tell myself that it “doesn’t make any difference” but my waistline and wallet get out of whack when I don’t write things down and stay on track when I do.

Its easy to track finances these days. Almost every bank and financial institution offers online banking. You don’t need to write down your spending, a computer program does it for you.

I have not found a way for a computer to follow me around and track what I am eating. I need to make that effort on my own.

Accountability is the thing that goes along with record keeping. The biggest loser people are smart to put people in teams of four.

If I fall off the wagon, I’ll have to answer to my group. The sense of competitiveness and accountability has made the fat guys into fit guys.

Now, I hope it makes us into the biggest losers.

Don McNay is Chairman of the Board for McNay Settlement Group in Richmond, Ky. You can write to him at or read his award winning column at . Don is Treasurer of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

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