Fat Shaming My Massive Debt for Financial Motivation

I was thinking about my debt situation recently, feeling the pain and enormity of the entire thing. I do this every so often, where I sit back and let it sink in, to sort of remind myself of the bad situation I’m in. I need to feel the pain in order to focus on it, which then leads me to obsess about it, and that then leads to action.

It’s a whole, crazy mental process that I go through. Well, maybe crazy to the outside observer…it’s perfectly rational to me.

So as I’m sitting there pondering my debt and stressing out, it hits me…this is exactly like trying to lose weight for me. At least, this is the exact process I go through for losing weight…fat shaming.

Fat Shaming

I am down 30 pounds from my heaviest weight, about 18 months ago. When I started my weight loss efforts then, I had a new process to try. I’ve tried many, many different diets, regimens, etc in efforts to lose weight, but this one proved to be the most successful.

I’ve been overweight in general ever since I left the Navy. I lost my constant motivation to keep in shape. Then we added kids, second jobs, a house payment, and general stress. My weight climbed up to “spare tire” level and hovered there.

One of the greatest motivators for me during my weight loss efforts has been to look at my body in the mirror, get mad, and take action. It’s called fat shaming, and it works for me.

I stand there with my shirt off and get pissed off at the reflection. It starts out with a disgust in my voice, the little voice in my head. That voice is initially grossed out by the image standing in front of him, and he briefly recalls how the situation got here…”You just HAD to eat at Taco Bell for lunch all those times, huh? And of course you just NEED a beer every night, right?”

Then the little voice changes. He channels my high school football coach and great military leaders like Patton, and he starts giving me the best damn motivational speech you’ve ever heard with that really cool gravely voice. One of those speeches that starts out slow and builds and builds. Oh, and it definitely includes some phrase about “our house” and “no one comes in here” type thing. And there is epic music playing over the speech, just like in the movies.

It sounds a lot this speech from the movie We Are Marshall…

Or like this one from motivational speaker Eric Thomas…

Right after this speech plays in my head, as I continue looking at my fatness in the mirror, I put a giant chip on my shoulder and make myself the underdog. I convince myself that I have a mission in front of me and it’s time to get to work. I manufacture the burning desire that is buried inside me somewhere, and I bring it up to the surface. I turn the desire into determination. I turn the determination into action. There is no time like the present, fatty.

Sometimes I drive home that fat shaming speech in my head by putting on some awesome music. I’ll crank up the high tempo rock or metal music and really get going.

That all pushes me to action. It renews my desire to lose weight, and more importantly, it renews my determination to take the steps required to lose weight. Usually this process precedes an awesome, intense workout. But sometimes it only serves as a reminder for why I’m on my diet and why I workout, to keep me motivated and determined to reach my goal.

Debt Shaming

The funny thing is…dealing with massive debt is just like dealing with excess weight. That’s the realization I came to recently. The same emotions are involved, along with the need for a plan, determination, motivation, and patience.

I’ve gotten financially fat…no wait…obese. My debt is equivalent to the obese guy driving around Walmart in one of those motorized scooters. It’s huge, it’s ugly, and it hurts to look at.

This blog has been my look in the mirror for my massive debt. I’ve been tracking my debt and finances, making improvements and changes along the way, and pushing with determination towards an ultimate goal. Just like with weight loss.

I have struggled in the short-term with how to pay off the debt, what process to use, and getting the family on board. Just like with weight loss.

I have listened to podcasts, read blog posts, read articles from experts, searched Google for answers to obscure questions, and learned about most of the gurus in the field. Just like with weight loss.

I have set a plan for cutting my debt…changed my plan as new information became available…changed my plan again as results proved ineffective…adjusted my short-term goals to match up with my long-term goals…experienced great wins and horrible losses. Just like with weight loss.

Bottom Line

The bottom line on debt is simple…create a plan to pay it down and stick to the plan. Don’t agonize over which plan, just get started. You can make adjustments as you go.

By applying the principles I learned from fat shaming and losing weight to my massive debt, I have learned to do the following:

• Set a long-term goal for debt reduction. Add a time element where possible.
• Build a debt pay down plan based on the goals.
• Perform daily financial tasks that keep the debt plan at the forefront.
• Stay focused, motivated, and determined. Remember that long-term success takes patience.

Those are the key principles I’ve learned from all of my weight loss efforts, and they have been applied directly to my debt reduction efforts.

How do you stay on track with your debt reduction efforts? Have you ever used fat shaming?

Join me on Twitter to see my latest ramblings, like this one about my kids…

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  • 25percentsolution

    Excellent article! More evidence supporting my theory that 90% of personal finance success originates between the ears, not in the bank account. Thanks, Brian!

    • It took a negative to get me motivated, but it comes from a desire to improve. The trick is to continue stoking the fire with frequent motivation. That keeps me on the long-term track towards success…which is all between the ears, as you said. Thanks for the comment!

    • It took a negative to get me motivated, but it comes from a desire to improve. The trick is to continue stoking the fire with frequent motivation. That keeps me on the long-term track towards success…which is all between the ears, as you said. Thanks for the comment!

  • having a problem you want to sholve is half the battle, most people struggle with taking the effort to do something about it! Keep up the great work!

    • I like that “half the battle” line…reminds me of watching GI Joe cartoons as a kid for some reason. I don’t know if they even used that line, but seems that they might have.

      I have to keep reminding myself that the action I’m taking is more than most people are doing, even if the results aren’t showing yet. I usually get down on myself for not improving enough, not working hard enough. I’ve come to accept it because it’s all part of my motivation and internal drive. I have high expectations for my performance, in any area. Thanks for the comment!

    • I like that “half the battle” line…reminds me of watching GI Joe cartoons as a kid for some reason. I don’t know if they even used that line, but seems that they might have.

      I have to keep reminding myself that the action I’m taking is more than most people are doing, even if the results aren’t showing yet. I usually get down on myself for not improving enough, not working hard enough. I’ve come to accept it because it’s all part of my motivation and internal drive. I have high expectations for my performance, in any area. Thanks for the comment!

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About Brian Stephens

Brian is on a journey from massive debt to real estate mogul. Join him as he stumbles and fails on his way towards long term success. Debt isn't pretty and turning it around won't be either. His primary goal here is to tell the story and network with like minded people who want financial independence through real estate investing.

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