Thursday, October 16, 2014

The cost of unhealthy living

Most people will tell you that the cost of unhealthy living includes increased risks of obesity which leads to increased risk of deadly diseases like diabetes,  cancer, hypertension and heart and cardiovascular complications. Most people will also be able to tell you that unhealthy living and bad habits like smoking and drinking will cost you some of your life. This is basic information and something we all know by now, especially in this day and age.

But most people will not be able to tell you how much it actually costs, financially, to live unhealthy. In my experience, when people are confronted with the question of why they can't live healthier lifestyles, one of the biggest excuses are that healthy food costs on average more than less healthy food. Many people argue that they just cannot afford to live healthier lifestyles.

Well this may be a fact, but what many don't realize is that in the long run, it actually costs us, financially, much much less to live healthier lifestyles than unhealthy lifestyles. Sure, when you look at it, a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast costs more than say, a loaf of bread, but when one takes a whole nutritional plan and view it in its totality, then it suddenly becomes apparent that living healthy is also good for your wallet. 

In this post we'll be looking at two people living in the same circumstances, one living a healthy lifestyle and the other an unhealthy one, and we'll be able to see how much the chosen lifestyle costs each person. Through the lives of these two fictional people I'll show you that, in fact, living healthy costs much, much less than what you think and believe.

Introducing Franco Flab and Lenny Lean. Both men are in their early thirties, married with two wonderful children. They work at the same company and perform more or less the same kind of job, with more or less the same kinds of activities required. These two men are so alike, that the only way in which their lives may be distinguished from one another is how healthy or unhealthy they live.


Let's take a look at each.


Franco Flab



Franco Flab is really not into health and fitness. He likes his fast foods, candies, drinks and likes to take things easy. He doesn't want to exert himself too much and prefers to sleep late, and lounge around during the day whenever he can. Franco lets things rest until the last minute. He usually snoozes for a couple more minutes longer, until he has to get up, or risk being late for work. Then he rushes to get things done, rushes out of the house and rushes to work, without even giving any thought to eating breakfast.

While at work, he does the bare minimum, enough so that the boss doesn't take notice him. He often takes 15 minute smoke breaks and loathes every minute while at work. All he can think of is when he's going home so that he can kick back and relax with a cold beer in hand.

After work Franco goes home, he picks up a six pack and two pizzas along the way and plops down on the couch where he remains until bedtime. Then he repeats the entire cycle again.

Franco smokes a couple of cigarettes per day and likes to have two to three nice cold beers after a long day at the office. He knows that he is on the path to destruction but figures he has enough time to put things right. He knows that his lifestyle is unhealthy and he also knows what to do to make it right again. At this moment thinking about eating healthy and exercising is just too much effort however, besides, his favorite show is just about to start on TV and he doesn't like to be bothered while he's sitting back with a cold one, about to watch.

Franco does not spend much time with his wife or children. No for him that's effort. He'd rather just sit back and have them do their thing somewhere else, as long as it does not bother him or require him to get up to do something. For him, playing with his children or helping his wife around the house are chores. He had already put in his hard day at work so he feels that he had done his duty.

Lenny Lean



Lenny on the other hand wakes up early every morning, eats a healthy hearty breakfast, and helps his wife to prepare to get their 2 children ready for school. He kisses them all goodbye in the mornings and then its off to work. Lenny puts in a hard day at the office, and the boss notices his dedication and effort. Lenny will soon be promoted to floor manager, but he doesn't know that yet.

When Lenny gets home he takes a ride with his wife and children on their bikes around the neighborhood. Sometimes Lenny will take his wife with him to their local fitness club. There they exercise together and play some sports. After these activities, the family all sit down to a scrumptious,  healthy dinner that the family lovingly prepared together. Lenny makes sure that his children eat their vegetables.

After dinner, Lenny spends some time with his wife before they put their children to bed to call it a night. Lenny and his wife still have enough energy left to spend some time in each other's arms before drifting off to a deep satisfying sleep.

Lenny lives his life trying to make every second count. In order to do that, Lenny knows that health and fitness must take priority in his life. He doesn't smoke nor does he drink excessively. He lives a healthy lifestyle, eats healthy foods and regularly engages in activities and exercise because he wants to be a good example for his wife and children and wants to live to a ripe old age, where he'll be able to hold and play with his grandchildren one day.



How much different do you think these two men's cost of lifestyles are? Well, because all other aspects of their lives are nearly identical, the only differentiating factor is their diet habits. We can therefore take a look at how much it costs them to live the lives they've chosen by analyzing what they spend on food.

Let's take Franco's lifestyle first. Because he prefers to sleep as late as he possibly can, he rushes to get ready for work and totally skips breakfast. Usually, he stops at a Starbucks on his way to work to grab a bite to eat. While driving to work, Franco usually also lights up a cigarette or two while waiting in traffic. Franco's morning habit is described in the table below:


Franco takes a smoke break between breakfast and lunch and in that time he drinks a cup of coffee, smokes a cigarette and on his way back to the office, buys a cola from a vending machine. The coffee is supplied by the company and does not cost Franco anything.


Because he had to rush to get to work, he did not grab any lunch and decides to head out to the nearest McDonalds for a meal. He smokes another cigarette or two during lunch time.


Just before knocking off for the day, Franco's stomach starts rumbling again and he heads to the vending machine for a cola and a chocolate bar. While there, he smokes another cigarette.


On his way back home Franco stops at the local supermarket and buys a six pack of beers. He also orders two family sized pizzas from the nearby pizza joint. With booze and pizza in hand he heads home.


In total, Franco's lifestyle cost him $ 48.55 on this particular day. Let's for this discussion assume that this is the amount that Franco spends every day to fuel his unhealthy lifestyle. We can easily calculate that in one month, it could potentially cost Franco $ 1 456.50 to live like he does. In a year, that's $ 17 720.75 potentially.


Lenny on the other hand, gets up early in the mornings, helps his kids to prepare for school and eats a healthy breakfast of almonds, grapefruit juice, an apple and whey protein shake and a cup of coffee prepared at home.


For a mid morning snack, Lenny selects a packet of jerky from the vending machine and eats half of it. He saves the other half for later. Together with the jerky, he drinks a cup of green tea (which he brought from home) and has a glass of water.


For lunch, Lenny eats a tuna sandwich which his wife lovingly prepared for him this morning. He also drinks a cup of coffee, which is supplied by the company and has a glass of water.


Just before going home, he can feel his stomach rumble. He takes an apple out of his lunchbox, which he also brought with him from home exactly for this occasion. He also eats a couple of almonds and drinks more water.


At dinner time, Lenny and his family sit down to a meal of chicken, rice and broccoli. The whole family helped to prepare the meal. Lenny and his wife was it down with a glass of red wine each.


In total, Lenny's lifestyle cost him $ 14.72 on this particular day. Let's for this discussion assume that this is the amount that Lenny spends every day to fuel his healthy lifestyle. We can easily calculate that in one month, it could potentially cost Lenny $ 441.72 to live like he does. But let's factor in Lenny's monthly membership fee to his fitness club, which runs at $ 39.47 per month, as well. Lenny's cost of healthy living per month is therefore $ 481.19 and in a year, that's $ 5 774.25 potentially.

Now, its plainly clear to see that living a healthier lifestyle costs much, much less than an unhealthy one. Lenny spends $ 5 774.25 and Franco $ 17 720.75 a year for their lifestyles respectively. That means that:

Lenny spends $ 11 946.50 less on his lifestyle than Franco!!!!

This is the amount of money that Lenny saves every year, just by living healthy. Astounding, isn't it!? Even with Lenny's fitness club membership included, he spends less money on his lifestyle per week than the average person does! Compare this, Lenny's weekly bill potentially amounts to $ 112.28, while the average amount spent by an average person per week is $ 151.00! Can you believe it!

Apart from the financial cost, Franco's lifestyle is also costing his family dearly. His wife and children are desperate for his attention. A distance is slowly but surely developing between them which will have dire ramifications later in life if Franco does not do something soon. The junk food he brings home is also damaging the health and fitness of his family. They don't know of any better and accepts what he provides for them. Apart from that, his two young kids learn that it's OK to drink and smoke, because Dad is doing it. Franco makes no attempts to teach his children about healthy food, exercise and healthy living. He is in effect raising two people to be just like him one day and for them too, the cost of their lifestyles will be extremely high.

Lenny saves a lot of the money that he doesn't use on junk and unhealthy food. At the end of the year, he'll be able to take his family on a nice long vacation to explore the wonders of Europe. In a couple of years Lenny will be debt free because he will have used the money he saved to pay off both his car and his house. Besides, because Lenny is such a productive guy, he will have had two more promotions and pay raises, and will have the means to live very comfortably for the rest of his life.

Lenny teaches his children about the merits of a healthy lifestyle and they too will incorporate this into their lives and teach to their children one day.

I hope that all can see that there is no such thing that healthier food costs more and that people cannot afford it. If you're reading this, I have bad news for you. You can no longer use this excuse anymore. The only thing that's left to do, is to go out there and to start living healthier. Go and start saving more money, man! The proof is right here.

Are you a Franco Flab or a Lenny Lean? How much is your lifestyle costing you? Can you cut out more and more unhealthy food and junk to spend less and save more? What can you do right now? I appreciate your comments.

Until next time friends, STAY TRUE AND TRAIN HARD!

(All the prices mentioned in this post have been obtained from online stores on the 16th of October 2014. The costs have been calculated as per serving. If a 2.2 kg bag of apples costs $ 1.00 then one 150 gram apple will cost 7 cents. It has been calculated thus: 100 cents / 2200 gram = 0.045 cents/gram then 150 grams x 0.045 cents/gram = 7 cents. All prices have been calculated thus to indicate the individuals lifestyle costs.)



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