A diet tip that really works!

man on scale(123265)Credit: courtesy of stockphotos/freedigitalphotos.net

As a certified financial planner (CFP®) I spend my day giving financial advice. But after dieting for one month and losing 12 pounds, I feel qualified to give dieting advice.

I approached my diet the same way I approach finances. I set a reasonable expectation, paced myself, and kept my eye on the target. You can follow the same simple technique I did:

Set goals

As a financial planner, I focus client conversations on goal setting. Similarly, when I started my diet, I set the goal of losing 15 pounds in eight weeks.

Manage risk

Though some people engage in extreme diets, I took another lesson from the world of finance: Don’t try to make buckets of money too quickly because if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you invest in high risk products, there is a big chance you can lose your money.  A better way to build wealth is to accumulate savings every month by saving 15% to 20% of your net earnings. Likewise, instead of an extreme diet, aim to lose a reasonable amount, anywhere from half a pound to 1 pound each week.

Monitor your progress…but not too carefully

Finally, I took the same advice I tell my clients: don’t check your stocks’ prices every day, since it’s normal to have fluctuations. Check periodically to make sure the trend is going where you want. With dieting, the same is true: don’t jump on the scale twice a day (just like you shouldn’t watch the stock market all the time). Instead, check your progress every week to ten days.

The most important diet advice from a CFP® professional is very simple:

Download the free app MyFitnessPal. Or you can just go to their website. Take the 90 seconds required to enter basic information to set up an account, including your goal for how much weight you want to lose in how many weeks.

After you set up your account, MyFitnessPal tells you how many calories a day you can eat and gives you a simple interface to write down all the food you eat during the day. Simply by keeping track of the food you eat and its calories, you can adjust your diet to lower your calorie intake. If you enter the exercise you do, it rewards you by allowing you additional calories on that day.

My limit was 1200 calories per day. And guess what… it wasn’t hard. I switched to low-cal bread, cut out most of the oil and dressings, and upped my fruit and vegetable intake. Monitoring your calories this way lets you eat the occasional treat, as long as you balance it against other things you eat.

That’s it. Not too hard and not expensive.

Heck… considering that a good diet can help both your figure and your budget, there’s no excuse not to begin one today!