Monday, December 14, 2009

Opportunity Cost

In the early years of our marriage, my husband and I accumulated a pretty significant amount of debt.  Certainly not as much as many people, but enough that, after time, it began to cause us hardships.  I was unable to quit work when my oldest was born, though I'd always wanted to, because we couldn't make ends meet without my income.  Somehow, we did manage to learn how to survive on one income when my second child was born four years later.

It wasn't until several years after that that we got tired of feeling that we could never do anything because we were always trying to pay this credit card bill or that credit card bill.  All the things that we'd like to be doing were pushed aside by all the things we'd already done.  The fun and freedom we'd felt buying whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, because we were married adults and we could had become a bondage of debt.

After several years, we were able to pay down all of our debt except our house and car payments.  These days, I drive a paid-for van and we don't care any credit card debt longer than a few months -- and we don't like to do that.  There are often things that we'd like to do, but can't without charging we usually don't.  And, we don't feel deprived when we make that choice because we've learned that sometimes doing without brings much greater freedom than indulging.

That's a lot like weight loss. 

I've been thinking a lot lately about how and why I allowed myself to get 95 lbs. overweight.  I'm not happy being obese.  I'm not proud of the way I look.  I don't like the way I feel, so why did I allow this to happen?

It is, of course, not the only reason, but I think at least some of it has to do with that same mentality that got us into debt -- entitlement.  I'm an adult; I can eat whatever I want.  I don't like to exercise and I should be able to do whatever I want, so I won't.  I'm enjoying overeating, eating high fat, high calorie foods and being sedentary, so that's what I'm going to do.

That thinking, however, has landed me in the bondage of obesity.  Not setting any limits on or any expectations of myself has taken away any freedom that I could currently be enjoying.  It's taken away the energy to play with my kids.  It's made me ashamed of the way I look.  It's made me tired of the way I feel.

So, now it's time to set limits and raise some expectations.  Do I feel deprived when I choose not to eat something that is bad for my body or when I choose to exercise instead of sitting around on the computer or sleeping in?  No, I feel empowered.  These are choices that I'm making not to take away any freedoms from myself, but to give myself more freedom in the long run.

The choices I'm making reflect the opportunity cost of the choices available to me.  I'm not depriving myself when I choose to forgo a Coke and a candy bar; it's just that the value of making choices that move me closer to my goal weight is higher than the value of the temporary satisfaction of indulging in sweets.  The value of no longer being ashamed of my body is higher than that of chips and dip.  The value of fitting into smaller jeans is higher than doing something other than sweating on the treadmill.

I'm not depriving myself of anything when I make better choices for my fitness and nutrition; I'm simply choosing something some with a higher value.  What's your opportunity cost?


  1. I love to read how you are viewing your weight loss journey. Keep it up and you will be sucessful!

  2. I totally get what you are saying. I think this can also be (for some people) a result of a childhood where you are not allowed to make your own choices.

    Thanks for sharing your journey.

  3. Kris, you are SO right. It's all about the choices we make (or the opportunities we take) and then dealing with the consequences later on. I too am not a fan of exercise, spend a lot of time on the computer, and love to eat unhealthy foods. And I'm tired of it all. I'm right with you here! Keep it up!


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