At least 25 years ago, I suggested there was a correlation between one’s financial health and one’s physical/emotional health. Since then, I have taken a special interest in the subject and, after learning a great deal from a nutritionist co-worker and trainers and doing a lot of research, I believe more than ever in the link between bad health and bad finances. I believe our ultimate goal should be to empower ourselves to live the life we desire without having to worry about our health or money.
I sincerely doubt that I made history back then with my uneducated theory and there is evidence that other better qualified folks have made the case since then. In fact, in 2009, well-known financial expert Suze Orman appeared on the NBC TV show Biggest Loser in a segment about assessing each player’s finances. She advanced the notion that the players who had the best credit scores would be the ones most likely to win the contest by losing the most weight. As it turned out, the player who she deemed had the best grip on his finances did actually win the title. Danny got his financial house in order before going on the show suggesting that when you improve your financial situation, health benefits will follow.
Exercise is often overlooked, and even avoided, when someone is trying to get back on his or her financial feet. Have you ever known anyone who thinks, “Once I’m bringing money in again, then I’ll have time to exercise. Exercise doesn’t pay the bills, you know”? Despite one’s best intentions, it’s hard to adopt a workout regimen when you are 3 months behind on the mortgage or your roof is leaking, right? You become obsessed with keeping yourself afloat and, quite often, your health suffers as you do nothing but work… or look for it.
When folks are stressed, they often react by doing things that feel good to them. Unfortunately, many of these things are not healthy or beneficial. One such activity is overeating. Emotional overeating can be triggered by many factors but one of the most common is stress over money problems. According to weight loss experts and nutritionists, people under stress will gravitate toward processed and sugary foods as a way to cope with their anxiety. If the stress is caused my money problems, people will more likely buy cheaper, processed foods, as well. Such foods are now considered to be the most detrimental to good health and, as argued on a recent Dr. Oz episode, they can be as addictive as cocaine due to their effects on brain chemistry. As people gain weight, they begin to also stress about their health which simply continues the cycle.
So how does one get both his physical and financial health in order to stop the cycle? How does one finally empower himself to succeed? The answer, it seems, lies with the individual. For some people, improving their health, looking and feeling better, gives them the confidence to apply for a better job or seek out financial advice and take action. They take better care of their money because they suspect they will be around longer to appreciate it. For others, a better income opportunity relieves anxiety and encourages them to make the most of their comfortable lifestyle by getting healthy. If one puts off health improvements until she has more money, she runs the risk of never realizing her dreams. On the other hand, if one has enough money but is in poor health, the same outcome may occur.
Can improvements be made in both areas simultaneously? Human nature suggests that most folks have a hard time with that. They tend to focus on one task at a time. If you are disciplined, however, an optimal exercise/eating plan can co-exist with a job hunt or financial improvement endeavor.