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Is Financial Health Always Linked to Physical Health?

I read a ton of blogs regularly, most of which are financial, and I’ve noticed a trend. When a blogger gets his/her finances under control, it seems like the blog almost always shifts toward fitness or exercise. Maybe the blogger starts eating healthier or running regularly or going to the gym. Some of them even change their entire focus toward fitness blogging or start another blog entirely. I’m not saying that’s a terrible thing; it’s just something that happens a lot.

As someone who seriously hates exercise, I’ve always been kind of disappointed when those kinds of changes happen. Don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled when my friends meet a goal or accomplish something they’re proud of, whether it’s finance-related or not. (And goodness knows my blog has never been purely finance, even before I changed the name.) But I can’t help wondering why there’s such a natural progression from blogging about money to blogging about exercise or general health.

My Opinion: Why Finance Turns into Exercise

So much of our financial situations involve control. Even if you don’t have debt, it still takes effort to watch what you spend, track your net worth, or learn enough about investing to try it for yourself. For those who write about getting out of debt, though, I think the element of control is especially prominent. My spending problems absolutely screamed, I AM NOT IN CHARGE OF WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE. Partly because I didn’t take responsibility for what I was doing, but also because I let money control me instead of the other way around.

It’s hard to change habits, especially those that are related to poor money management. Believe me, I know. But when you finally do, you feel like throwing a party! (Except you don’t because then you’d have to tell people in real life how stupid you were. Plus it would cost money that you don’t need to spend.)

So the nonexistent party is over, you’ve made lasting changes to your finances…. Now what?

For many people, it’s natural to look at other parts of their lives that might be out of control. And for a lot of us (I’m including myself here), excess spending is also a sign of excess in other areas. Like eating at restaurants all the time. Or just eating all the time, period. Or eating the wrong things. Or living an all-around unhealthy lifestyle. And once you’ve paid off a significant chunk of debt or followed a budget consistently, it empowers you to take control of other things. You realize, “Hey, I can do this! I thought I couldn’t but I’ve proven that I can! What can I conquer next?”

What’s the Point?

Don’t worry; there’s no danger of me suddenly becoming a fitness buff. Just ask the jeans that I’ve been squeezing myself into for the past few months. But I have noticed myself taking more interest in the steps other bloggers are taking to live a healthier lifestyle. I’ve pondered what I can do to lose weight and feel better in general without actually exercising. (What I’ve realized so far: I’m probably going to have to exercise.)

Much like my past attempts to control my spending (before the one that actually worked), I feel like I’m just not ready to conquer my health just yet. But I have moved into the contemplation stage, where I’m at least willing to entertain the idea of maybe working on it in the not-so-distant future. When I was younger, I was one of those annoying size zero people who could eat all I wanted and never gain a pound. I never had to develop good habits because I was naturally thin and fairly active. Unfortunately those days are gone. The difference now, though, is that after defeating my financial problems, I know for a fact I can gain control over my weight and my health, but only if I want to do it badly enough.

I have a lot of the same worries about fitness that I used to have about money. I don’t know if I can make lasting changes. I might slip back into old habits. I’m not sure I’m willing to work as hard as I know I’ll have to. I don’t want to be disappointed in myself so it’s better to just leave things alone. And I find it very interesting that other bloggers seem to go through the same thing, then proceed to work through it just as they did with their finances.

My questions for all of you:

Have you noticed the connection between personal finance and fitness? If you are working on your weight/health after conquering your finances, what do you think led from one to the other? As a reader, does it bother you when the topics shift on a blog you like?

This post has been sponsored by Payday Loans Depot, a lender offering instant payday loans.


  1. queenlbee says

    I'm more consistent with my workouts since I started blogging-but I'm nowhere near where I need to be. Like you, I hate exercising. I also hate giving up cookies.

  2. I've noticed the same trend: PF blogs to fitness blogs.

    I'm not much of a fitness buff.. I guess I approach it the same as my finances. I work out but it's not regimented and I eat well only because I don't have a taste for fast food =p

  3. Yes, it bothers me when bloggers start talking more about nutrition and fitness than finances, especially because most financial bloggers do not do adequate research into weight loss methods and just start running and calorie-counting. I do both in an intensive way but try very hard to keep my blog about money only (today's post a small exception!). There is a connection because both endeavors employ great self-control, but I haven't found a causal one in my life. I've "always been good" with money but have been on and off about weight maintenance/losing.

  4. I am experiencing exactly what you have posted today …. a need to gain control over the areas of my life that have historically been out of control. I have begun to post my weigh-ins every Wednesday lol! Just as I was deceptive about my family's finances and my handling of them for years, I have been in denial regarding (a) just how much money we spend on food each week/month, (b) how much money we waste in restaurants, (c) our (food related) declining health, (d) all the other things we could be doing with the money that is being wasted on excess grocery shopping and calories, (e) how much better we feel when we take notice of what we are eating, (f) the very real benefits of exercise, even though we don't always want to take our daily allotment. In my own experience, my out of control spending and hoarding has translated into ongoing problems with excess weight. I don't want to live like this any longer, it's that simple. My weight is out of control because my spending at the grocery store has been out of control. Just as I was ready to fix my financial problems, now I want to fix my health problems before they spiral into something much more serious. I think that there can certainly be a direct correlation between personal finance and weight issues. My focus is on becoming sustainably financially solvent but there are areas that I need to work on, namely the food issue. I want to get my grocery bill under budget each week. I want to stay out of restaurants. I want to make positive changes in my life. I think it's OK if the PF blogs I read deviate from PF subject matter into other areas that are correlated with the writer's life. I don't have a problem with that at all. Often times, I can't talk to family or friends about what is going on with me so, I have the option of posting my struggles and thoughts on my blog. If people don't want to read about it, they don't have to. After all, the blog exists for MY benefit!!

  5. Don't think so. There are A LOT of rich and very unhealthy looking people!

    I think once you get your finances down, it just frees up time to get healthier. You're also less stressed.

    I NEVER thought I would get below 160lbs again (fighting weight in HS/College), but after 15 years, I did it. It felt great, and it helped my tennis after we won the City Championships two weekends ago. That feeling was priceless!

    Finally, nothing is more important that one's health right?

    • I totally agree, FS. From my experience it's a time issue. When there's not enough money, time is spent blogging, and in many cases, either looking for work or working part or full time, which leaves very little time for exercise.

      Once the finances start to come under control, people can breath a little easier, not feel so stressed, and have more time for other parts of their lives, like exercise.

  6. alottalettuce says

    I'm here to tell you, girlfriend: You do NOT have to exercise in order to lose weight. In fact, I would recommend that you DON'T exercise, at least for the first 8-10 weeks. As you probably recall from when I was blogging about my own fiscal and physical fitness journey, I lost about 45lbs from November 2010 through July 2011, and I kid you not when I say I didn't lift a finger the entire time. That loss was 100% attributable to diet – specifically weight watchers.

    Here's the thing: for most people, losing weight (just like saving money) requires a significant amount of change in their habits – day in and day out, over a prolonged period of time. Hitting the gym really hard or eating exceptionally well for one week isn't going to produce significant results, just like a one-week no spend challenge isn't going to produce significant results. If you really want to see results, you're going to have to think about it, plan for it and execute it on a daily basis. A minor hiccup in the form of a donut (or a new pair of shoes) once in a great while won't derail you, though it may set you back a bit.

    And just like getting one's finances in order is a PROCESS that requires a gradual progression of changes (tracking finances, making a budget, deciding what you can do without for the sake of saving, growing your career so you can earn more money, investing, etc…), so to does getting your physical health in order – especially if they're a complete mess from the outset. You know who fails at getting their finances in order? People who try to do ALL of the above at the exact same time, from the moment they start. It's TOO MUCH to sustain over the long-haul, so people get fed up, then they give up, and they go on a shopping spree. The same is true for people who are trying to get their physical health in order. They try to undertake enormous changes to both their diet AND their activity level, which – again – is TOO MUCH to sustain over the long-haul, so they get fed up, then they give up, and they eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's while watching the Real Housewives from their couch.

    The people who succeed at both of these endeavors are those who integrate increasingly ambitious goals into their daily routine over a period of time, mastering each (or coming close to it) before taking the next big step.

    And that brings me full-circle to my recommendation that you NOT exercise for the first 8-10 weeks of your efforts to lose weight. Instead, use that 8-10 weeks to focus ONLY on your eating habits. I can not recommend Weight Watchers enough. Of all the various approaches to losing weight that are available to people, I truly believe it is the best one, because it is the most flexible, the most sustainable and the one that does the best job of making people accountable. Yes, it costs money, but it's worth every single penny, and for most people (especially those who are mindful of their finances), it adds to their success because when you're paying for it, you're far more likely to use it.

    Once you've seen some results with diet alone and feel like you've really got a handle on healthy eating…THEN integrate exercise into your routine, which will ultimately take your physical fitness to the next level.

    Now, one final thing regarding this approach: While you CAN lose weight by focusing only on diet rather than diet and exercise together, It really doesn't work in the opposite direction. By this I mean if you try to lose weight by exercising without making changes to your diet, you almost certainly will not see results. You HAVE to start with diet.

    Good luck!

    • Your bang on with noticing this finance to fitness trend!.. I have to agree with what alottalettuce is saying.. i have lost 20lbs in 3months just from changing my diet.. it's cheaper to eat pizza's and other processed junk food than to eat healthier whole foods.. so for me while getting out of debt i was sacrificing what kind of food i could purchase.. money isn't everything.. and for me at least the point of getting finances in order is to be able to do the other things i want to do.. also there are so many benefits to be healthy fit and active that affect finances short and long term.. more energy.. less sickness etc.. etc..

  7. Great observation! I have a slightly different perspective of this same trend. My wife is a nurse practitioner and after one her patients followed my wife’s recommendations, the patient lost around 100 pounds. The patient also said, without prompting, that they had paid off all of her debt too. For me, I have lost 50 pounds while on my also focusing on personal finances. The link was in changing my habits from just letting things happen, both food & finances, to paying attention. Just being aware of what I was spending on food led me to also be aware of what I was eating – that caused me to change my habits. I also don’t mind if topics shift, slightly, on blogs I read as long as there is some link back to the overall focus of the blog.

  8. PKamp3 @ DQYDJ says

    I think it's a responsibility thing – once someone recognizes that he or she can start to fix something which has been a problem for a while they start to look for the next lowest hanging fruit – which, for a lot of Americans, is their health.

    As for "lose weight and feel better in general without actually exercising" – what diets have you tried? Dieting "alone" (I mean without extra physical activity) is easier for a male as they have a higher basal metabolic rate – a person eating 900 calories a day would lose weight faster as a male than a female, all else being equal. Maybe start with something low carb and see how it end up? YMMV, and you, of course, don't have to blog about it, haha.

  9. I think you hit the nail on the head. People conquer their finances and want to move forward towards a different goal. A lot of the time that equates to health and fitness. I don't mind if a blogger shifts from PF based posts to health/food/fitness. It's nice to hear about different things especially when I can learn more about them.

    I think the key to not hating working out is to find something you enjoy doing. I like to play sports and race motocross. When I am doing those things I don't even realize I'm getting a workout in.

  10. I do notice the same thing — for me, it happened in reverse. I got healthy, then started Frugal Portland, because the no-grain eating crowd was really too intense. Finance bloggers seemed much more normal.

  11. I think another important similarity is the quest to find a system that works for you. To get your finances in order, you have to find a method of control, whether that's tracking every cent spent in a personal spreadsheet or using mint, or automatic payments or whatever combination works for you. The same is true with exercise, you just need to keep trying things until you find something that works for you. I also used to think that I hated exercise, but reality was that I just hated the most typical ones (aka running. ick!) But by trying things I found that a combination of swimming, climbing and hiking were exercises that I enjoyed doing (at least enough to be consistent with them!) In both cases you'll hit road blocks, and suggestions there is no way you would consider, but if you keep on looking for and trying new solutions, you eventually find yourself in a better place.

  12. bogofdebt says

    I've always been kind of a fitness buff (okay ha ha as I'm extremely lazy and uncordinated–I literally just punched myself in the face as I was writing this trying to put a headset on) but I try to keep my blog mostly about my journey out of debt.

  13. I never had a personal finance problem, but I did not start exercise or have health concerns until I hit my 30s! My trigger was some weight gain thanks to stress eating. When I gained 20-25 lbs., I realized I needed to do something.

  14. I think most people want to save/make more money and be more healthy. Those seem to be two things that are easy to lose control of pretty quickly. I don't mind hearing about fitness, especially if it's funny, just not every day.

  15. I have noticed this too, but it doesn't bother me at all when people shift focus a bit – if I'm following your blog, it's because I like your writing style, personality, etc. That's not going to change if you mix up the topics!

  16. americandebtproject says

    I think it all starts to fall under the self development category and you just want to improve everything once one thing starts going well! I've been trying to change what I eat, which I never thought I would do. But I am at that point where I am seeing the change in my metabolism and I think I could easily start gaining weight if I keep up my ways. So I've cut out a ton of carbs and if I have carbs, it's only at lunch. I don't read any fitness blogs but I wouldn't mind if one of my blogging buddies suddenly became a P90X/Insanity freak and started writing about the "benefits of whey vs soy protein" and "10 supplements you need to be taking right now". I'd totally read it!

  17. I'm also not a fitness person AT ALL but the fitness blogging thing doesn't bother me nearly as much as when a PF blog turns into a wedding blog. I have quit reading a number of PF blogs because all the author does is talk about her wedding. I know there's a financial component to weddings, but come on – you're not really blogging about finances at that point because all you really want to talk about is your wedding.

    This is why I want to elope. All that stuff bores me to tears.

  18. I'm in great shape physically and financially right now. I write about finances and health because I want to keep healthy in both areas. I do think the two are closely linked!

  19. Truth: Sometimes I feel like the only person vaguely in the PF world who isn't trying to lose weight and work out. Those posts bore me. I am interested in eating better and running (which I do on my own, albeit nowhere near enough) but I don't care to write or read about either of those things. A lot of the personal blogs I read are written by runners or vegans, so just like with PF blogs, I often skip over certain posts that bore me.

  20. My finances and health/fitness are both things I want to work on, but it's so so difficult, for me anyway, to improve both at once. The less I have to stress about money, though, the more time and effort I can devote to working out more and eating better. I definitely put my health on the back burner when I started getting my debt under control. But it annoys me when PF blogs turn into fitness blogs.

  21. I was actually the other way around. My final year of university I got into running in a serious way, and completely my first 5k. That really got me thinking that if I could do that, I could deal with my money. I definitely agree there's a trend though. I think it's because once someone gets into a "I'm getting this shit under control" mentality, and the money part is sorted out, usually the next thing on the chopping block is lifestyle.

    I intentially didn't make my blog solely about personal finance because I knew there would be months when I wanted to focus more on fitness, or food, or pets, and I wanted to feel ok with that and not like I'm screwing with my readers.

  22. seedebtrun says

    I know we briefly talked about this, but did I tell you that weight loss is 80% about diet, and only 20% about exercise? I learned this in school, so it's legit! 😉

    Jeff and I have always been active and healthy, but after my daughter was born, neither of us got back into it. We hadn't signed up for our usual sand volleyball league, or worked out during our boys' swim practices like we always had. It was just a struggle, but I honestly missed the feeling of my muscles burning and knowing that I was doing something good for me, not just my kids or the house or something.

    We're now trying to work out twice a week at the gym, and at least one night a week at home with a video or a run. I don't think it has anything to do with our debt diet, but it's just the way things happened in our lives. We had a third child and basically let everything else in the world fall apart. We are now just really working on improving ourselves all around, so maybe they are more connected than I think.

  23. makinthebacon1 says

    I have noticed a connection between the two in regards to blog topics. I think because those two things play such a huge part in our lives its only natural for them to be connected. They do both take a lot of control and discipline to stay on the right track. To me, health is wealth and vice versa.

    I don't mind it when PF blogs talk about other things other than finances. Sometimes talking about pure finances can get real dry and it just sounds like the teacher from Charlie Brown.

  24. Becoming wealthy (or getting out of debt) and losing weight are both the same issues. Both require a huge committment, both require that you change your lifestyle, and both require that you do things differently from what most people do, because most people do what is easy. You need to be weird to lose weight. You need to be weird to save and become a millionaire. People are looking for a magical way to do both, but accomplishing either involves getting a plan and sticking to it. Everyone wants to spend all they want and put forth very little effort and become rish. Everyone wants to eat all the great tasting food they can and lose weight. In both cases there are always con artists there to convince you that there is an easy way and take your money.

    And in both cases, there are all kinds of people who may seem supportive, but who will be happy to see you fail because it makes them feel better about themselves.

  25. I don't mind the nutrition/fitness posts from PF bloggers (like this one) as long as they intermingle it with PF, I like seeing different perspectives.

    When it comes to finances and weight, I yo-yo!
    I'm working on being consistent and just having a good habits.

    I started working full-time in 2009 and between then and present time heaviest was 132 lbs. and lightest was 111 lbs. and everywhere in between. Debt wise I've had $16k upwards to $27k.

    Presently I'm $2400 away from being debt free and weight wise I'm at 123 lbs. I'm hoping that I'll be debt free and hit my goal weight of 118 lbs. in the next few months and keep it that way!

  26. Budget & the Beach says

    For me it hasn't mattered. I was always a health and fitness type of person. In fact I probably spent MORE money when I was even more healthy and more fit, because I had a gym membership and paid for private and group lessons for beach volleyball. But I do get how the two are related, because they both are a discipline and a habit.

  27. I don't care if there's some shift as long as it's still good writing, it still has some of the old stuff, and it's still a good story. (I may have just eliminated my own blog from the running ….haven't I?)

    Once I broke through the whole debt hole to positive wealth thing, I just figured I'd move on to controlling other people, forget a small aspect of my own life. Aim high! No, no, just kidding!

    1. I never shifted from PF to the other PF because I realistically don't need to, I don't have fun working out anymore and it's not something I like *talking* about even when I do enjoy doing it. I just like doing it, if I am working out.
    2. I also never felt a shift away from Finance. I'm still on a finance journey. A different leg of it, but finances in marriage/partnership is a really weird thing. And I haven't even figured it out enough to talk about it yet. But if I did ever stop loving money money money, see above.

    One of these days, I will have to stop being a permathrow pillow. But that's not going to become a mega control issue, it has to be fun or I simply won't do it.

  28. My own journey went the other way, from fitness to finance. Although I have to say I regressed terribly on the fitness front.

    But I think for most people, once they get the finance part of their lives under control, they get a real sense of "Hey! I CAN do that!". Then they start looking at "What's next to make life better?". Health and fitness becomes a logical follow up. Having things under control on the financial front probably also means more money to allocate to this area. The interest might have already been there previously but the resources are only available now.

    I also think that the issue of health care costs in the US has resulted in more priority given to this aspect of life for Americans too. Health and wealth become more intensely correlated.

  29. I did post on the same subject earlier and there I mentioned how physical health is related to your pocket. A naked fact, even though people might take offence, is fat people consume more. They even have more illnesses.

    • I don't know about this one. There are thin people who eat a lot, and overweight people who eat normal amounts of calories. You heredity, which helps set your internal furnace, does matter. Also, if you start to consume less, your body will start to require less to maintain the same weight. This is why a lot of people lose weight but then bounce right back.

  30. Fat people are physically less useful to society just as debtors are financially less useful. When you live in a country that offers you the option to be in shape physically as well as financially why the hell would you say "nah, thats not for me"? I post $0 Workouts on a weekly basis for this exact reason.

    • Wow, I'm not sure how to interpret this comment. Comes off as incredibly pompous and troll-like in my opinion. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul. Well, maybe half a point for the shameless self-promotion you worked in.

    • I think you need to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, Dave.

  31. I'm not here to start a flame war so I'll just share some real life experiences and be done with this.
    Regarding being in debt, not because of school loans but simple due to bad spending decisions, the Army will take away or deny you a security clearance if your debt level is high enough to be considered a risk. For an officer that is a career-ender. Understand? I live in a world where excessive debt doesn't give you a reason to write a blog: instead it gets you fired. Makes things a little more black and white.

    As far as physical fitness, again, I live in a world where this matters. The Soldier who can't make it up the mountain in the Kunar River Valley is the guy who is going to get his buddies injured or killed. This is not me being overly dramatic, it actually happened to a unit in my brigade during my tour. Fitness is more useful than fatness. This is not a matter of being nice or personal feelings, it is an empirical fact.

    Its also cheaper to be in shape. Shouldn't that be the bottom line if you are trying to save money?

    • I understand your point of view a little better now; thanks for the clarification. But I still don't understand how it contributes to the discussion to come here and essentially call me useless. That's how I interpreted it since I have debt (a car loan and student loans if you're curious) and could stand to lose a few pounds. I think it's insulting to write people off for those reasons, especially if they're working on improving their situations.

  32. I think it makes complete sense that once a person learns to control one part of his life and resist the bad impulses, it makes sense to apply similar approaches to other parts of life.

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