Why Cutting Fitness in Your Budget is a Mistake
Every year, as we approach the holidays, one by one, people begin to cut the “non-essential” fitness/health/gym membership items from their budget to allow for more flexible holiday spending. They sometimes use sacrificial giving for a reason, giving up something they enjoy, so they can give to others. They also justify cutting it because they can just do it on their own at home with their favorite free YouTube Fitness videos. I also often hear, “I have a friend or spouse who’s going to work out with me for free.”
While each of those reasons sound logical, and maybe even a fine example of good stewardship, I feel it is necessary to show you the potential other side of those choices so that you can take action on an alternative logical and good stewardship approach that may also lead you to improved health.
Let this soak in a minute, cutting fitness from your budget is quite possibly the very LAST thing you should be cutting.
You see, because we are humans, with a brain that is wired to avoid pain or discomfort, we think cutting the gym is way easier than cutting other more “important things” like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, Sling, makeup subscription boxes, botox, mani/pedi, eating out, high end clothes, and luxury home improvements, etc. I mean, let’s be real, the gym/workout is hard, and for some it can be quite intimidating and miserable if they aren’t really sure what or how to do it. It takes discipline, hard work, and sacrifice to show up and workout 3-5 times a week.
However, watching TV, going out to have a nice restaurant serve you your meal, or shopping for the next best thing to make you feel pretty, or stylish in your home, well cutting those things is MUCH harder. So, it’s an easy and pain free choice right? Cut the gym/ personal trainer.
Now, let’s take a moment and think of the top 5 most expensive things you have ever purchased/invested in. How much thought went into those purchases/investments? How important are they to you now when it comes to maintaining/caring for that purchase/investment? What would happen if you had it taken away or lost it? No matter who you are, or how much money you have, if it’s an expensive purchase or investment to you, if that purchase/investment “hurts” a little bit to pay for, you take it serious and you make sure you maintain your investment.
For example, I LOVE our family home, and I LOVE to share it with others like our neighborhood kids, our friends, and our church family. However, that monthly mortgage “hurts” a little bit every time it comes due. Is it worth it? Yes. Does it take hard work and sacrifice to have it or maintain it? Yes. Is it important to me? Yes. Would I be sad if I didn’t have it anymore? Most definitely. Now let’s be clear, our home is not my god, and I know where my true happiness comes from. I’m simply using this as an example of how a large purchase to me, creates a deeper level of commitment and sacrifice in order to maintain our investment.
Now, think of the inexpensive purchases you make. They really are no big deal, not much thought, and well, easily replaced with just about anything else. Am I right? Is this hitting home yet? It’s like buying expensive sunglasses compared to cheap sunglasses. For many, the expensive pair will be well kept, most likely in a case, and you keep track of where they are because well, they were expensive. Then you have the cheap grocery store sunglasses. You like them, they are kind of special at first, but in a couple weeks you realize you can’t find them, you never put them in a case, so they were covered in scratches, and oh well, no biggie, they were cheap anyway.
So take this same analogy and put it to work with your health/fitness. If you hire a trainer, health/nutrition coach, or expensive gym membership, it needs to challenge your budget. It NEEDS to hurt a little, or honestly, you won’t take your investment serious.
It’s the very principle that low cost big box gyms rely on, only they use it in reverse. They charge a minimal amount to get you feeling good about your new gym membership. You go a few times, then you slowly stop going because other more important things get in the way. I mean, it’s only $10-20 a month, that’s not much in most household budgets. But, you keep paying it, because it’s so cheap, and you don’t want to pay for the expensive gym/trainer/coach, and you keep telling yourself eventually you will get back on schedule.
With this model, the gym gets your money, and thousands of other people ’s money, they can realistically double or even triple their monthly memberships, yet very little service has to be provided because you’ll stop going because the cost isn’t painful enough for you to actually use it. It doesn’t hurt to waste that money. Matter of fact, for many people, it’s actually more painful to go through the effort to cancel the membership than it is to just let it auto draft every month.
So a year goes by, you’ve spent $240 on NOTHING, you’ve gained weight, you still aren’t working out, and as a matter of fact, your health isn’t so great so you’ve paid at least another $120 in Dr. copays over the year for sick appointments, then add in the labs and tests to try to determine what’s wrong and why you feel tired all the time. Then there’s the medication and treatment expenses. Do you see where this is headed? You could easily spend thousands a year, waste countless hours/days of valuable time just by avoiding the “expensive” trainer or fitness program.
According to Dept of Health and Human Services, data indicates that over 78 million U.S. adults and about 12.5 million (16.9%) children and adolescents are obese. Those who are obese have medical costs that are $1,429 more than those of normal weight on average (roughly 42% higher) The annual costs for being obese are: $4,879 for women and $2,646 for men.
You spend all that money on treating health problems, when if you would just invest the money on prevention and proactive habits, you could possibly spend less overall, plus your quality of life will be MUCH better, the ripple effect of discipline, accountability, and improved health then has a positive impact on your weight, health, mood, energy, sleep, and sex life (now isn’t that alone worth it?!) It also improves your habits and disciplines with work, family, and social circles.
So, if you go back to the beginning and look at some of the most common reasons I hear people give when cancelling services:
Sacrificial giving: How about giving up the Starbucks every morning and make your own at home? How about giving up the movie streaming services for a little bit to use that money to give to others? How about cooking meals at home, and eating out less to save money and give to others? How about spending less on a high ticket wardrobe or luxury home improvement project and use that money to give to others?
Free Online Service: How painful is that decision? Do you feel committed enough to choose your workout over other things because you are invested? How much effort does it take to maintain your investment into your free service? What would happen if you didn’t have it anymore? This free service may not hold you accountable enough to stick with it for the long haul.
Working out with a friend/spouse: This can be super effective, IF you are both dedicated and invested. However, often it’s the same as the other free services. If both of you don’t have skin in the game, you likely won’t stick with it for long. It starts with one person missing a workout or two, then the other has something come up, and before you know it, the slow fade into your old sedentary lifestyle has kicked in and you are back to where you started, looking for a way to get fit, but not spend any money.
What would it look like if you were your healthiest version of you, and you could spend more time doing what you really love instead of feeling sluggish, tired, and worn down all the time?
What would your personal life look like if you had the confidence to be active, to wear any outfit for any occasion, and not feel self-conscious about your body? How would it feel to be able to focus on other more meaningful relationships and adventures instead of being filled with worry and anxiety about your current insecurities?
Now, after answering those questions, doesn’t it seem worth it to truly invest in your health by committing to a quality program/trainer/coach to equip you with the tools and a plan, and hold you accountable to reach your goals? You can easily pay for this by cutting the life/health draining expenses like tv/movie subscriptions, fast food, impulse shopping, excessive cosmetics and procedures, subscriptions and apps, or luxury home improvements. There isn’t a certain dollar amount that means good/bad, it’s a pain threshold within your personal budget. Invest in yourself to a point where it truly matters if you waste it, it matters if you lost it, it matters if you don’t show up.
I hope this motivates you to choose to invest in yourself and cut the wasteful spending that works against you. I want so much for you to fully understand how great it feels to be healthy, how motivating it is to pursue healthy choices, how empowering it feels to be the best version of you! The only way I feel you will fully understand, is to fully commit to healthy habits and have accountability in place to keep you motivated when you feel weak.
Please leave questions or comments below, I’m glad to help and would love to hear your feedback.
7 great reasons why exercise matters. (2019, May 11). Retrieved October 11, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389
Secretary, H., & President’s Council on Sports, F. (2017, January 26). Facts & Statistics. Retrieved October 11, 2020, from https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/index.html