Motivation is Meaningless Pt 1 - Calories Equal Cash

January 11, 2017

There have been many times I was inspired by a book I read, podcast I heard or video I watched and came away ready to start something new. Sometimes that new thing lasts a few weeks, many times it lasts only minutes before I think my way out of taking any action. 

This repeating cycle overwhelmed me with frustration. In fact, in some areas I still deal with this revolving behavior. Though I recently realized, Motivation is Meaningless, at least insofar as its ability to promote action for any real length of time. 

The purpose of this post is to equate managing money to managing nutrition.  Since, sadly, money habits may be more relatable than nutrition -- with many sacrificing health for work -- I figured it a good place to start.  

For me, the analogy was clear.  Though it wasn't the portions of restaurant food that was a problem, as much as my inclination to always want to eat out. 




In reading, we will think of the consumption of calories equivalent to the spending of cash, omitting food as saving, and burning calories as earning cash. 

To further this analogy: Is it easier to spend money or make money? Similarly, which is a better strategy, burning off the extra calories, or consuming less (maybe by skipping the extra helping of x)? 




There is a great amount of similarity in controlling a fiscal budget and a food budget. 
Knowing how much there is each week promotes better decisions for what can be spent. 

Start by keeping track.  The more data collected the more accurately realistic changes can be made.  It’s best to determine where you are at, before you determine where you are going, and how you intend to get there. 

I’ve noticed that people poorly self report. By food logging many may realize they eat better than they thought, in which case the approach moving forward will be different. 

Once typical habits are determined, it becomes much easier to budget.  If you are someone who has an inclination to eat sweets late at night, plan for that! Maybe skip the candy bowl at the office, and enjoy your bedtime snack guilt free. 

Cash analogy: Foregoing the daily $5 latte and making coffee at home for a month.  With the money saved you can purchase your own espresso machine. 

Often people fall off track by being too rigid. Stating, “I am going on a strict diet. No more cake!” But, how long can that last? Cake is delicious! And when the temptation takes over, it feels like failure.  Instead, having consistently good weeks (80), will leave room in the budget to order dessert once in awhile (20).



Have now, pay later has penetrated the psyche beyond our money spending habits. So often we do this with our health as well. Continuing to consume unhealthy food, neglecting our physical well-being, justifying it by making the false promise of starting tomorrow.

The problem with deferring payment -- interest! The longer it takes to pay, in this case pay attention to our health, the more costly it will be.  It is never too late to make a change, but the more time spent in an unwanted state, the harder it becomes to break from it.

The best time to start is now, in all circumstances.  




Budgeting ahead can ease much of the stress around in-the-moment decisions. Rather than letting hunger dictate food choice (or impulse purchases) plan what you can afford to eat ahead of time. 

Based on the aforementioned logic, easier to spend than make, it'd be preferable to decide what can be spent based on the current balance than it would be to work it off retroactively. 

So often we are reactive.  I believe the New Year’s Resolution phenomenon is a product of reacting to how poor our health and fitness choices were through the holiday’s.  To where we reach the point of “I gotta do something about this!”

We all know the old quote, “fail to plan, plan to fail.” Instead, plan ahead, and plan to be successful! 




It's not always easy to stay the course. And sometimes we fall off. However, I remind clients that every moment is a new opportunity to get back on the proverbial track.  Any habit can be broken, good or bad, and new ones can be created.  Some take more work to suspend, others require more to continue. 

In my next post I'll explain Accepting There is a Problem, the Importance of Having a Support System as well as the Significance of Connecting to a Higher Purpose. 

I'll dive into how these strategies have been effective in continuing to progress even when the motivation is low or absent. 


I hope you'll tune in next time! Thanks for reading! 

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