The Cost of Being Overweight

You don’t have to do any amount of research to know that obesity is a problem in our society. You only have to look around you, perhaps even in the mirror. And the problem only seems to get worse. With at least 35% of the American population obese (and even more that are over-weight), it’s taking a big toll on us in many ways. Socially, emotionally, physically, relationally, financially, and economically. And they are all intertwined.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with my friend, Jon Evans. Jon has always been a big guy. He has a big personality. A big smile. A big heart. And like so many others, Jon struggled with his weight in a big way. In fact, at his peak, Jon topped the scales at 570 pounds. That was a big problem, but Jon took massive action, and has become somewhat of a local sensation. We talked about the many affects of obesity, and I want to share some of that conversation with you.

Stephen: When did you begin struggling with weight?

Jon: “I always struggled with being overweight, but it didn’t really become a problem until later in life.

Several factors can be responsible for weight gain, but like Jon, food seems to be the number one reason.

“I really loved it. It was a social thing. It was also an addiction.”

Stephen: “How did being obese affect your lifestyle?”

Jon: “When I got up to 570lbs, I was consuming around 10,000 calories per day, which really is full-time job if you think about it. That’s a lot of food. I would get up as late as possible but could still get to work on time. Then I would go and get 2 Chic-fil-a chicken biscuits and a 3-count chicken mini, and then I would drive to Sphinx and buy a half-gallon of orange juice. And that was breakfast. 10 o’clock would roll around and I would go to QT and get a bunch of carbs, whether it was donuts or whatever stuff they had there at the time. And I would also get like a large slushy and drink and eat that stuff. Lunch, I would go to Zaxby’s and get a large chicken finger plate, and an extra side of cheese curds and a large sweet tea. At 3 pm I was back at QT for the same stuff.  At 6pm dinner was always, or usually KFC, and I would get 2 chicken breasts and 2 side of mashed potatoes and gravy and a half-gallon of sweet tea, and a family sized red velvet cake. And I would just pound that. And on the nights that I didn’t do that, I would go to Little Caesars and pay $5 for a Hot-N-Ready, and I would pound that whole pizza, and then after dinner I would go to Rita’s Italian Ice and get a large gelato, and then I would go to a friend’s house usually and hang out for a couple hours, and on the way home, usually 10 or 11 at night, I would stop at QT again and get 3 of those giant muffins and a half-gallon of milk, pound that, and then go to bed. And I was miserable.”

As I mentioned earlier, obesity is taking a heavy toll not only on the national economy, but, more importantly, on individual finances. The costs of being overweight have such an impact of our finances, but we often don’t wrap our heads around it. When added up though, the sum can be staggering. Obese Americans pay $1,429 a year more in medical costs than someone who has a body mass index (BMI) below 25. Other costs include wage discrimination, reduced energy/lower productivity, life insurance is more expensive, and more. Jon told me that the last time he flew, he had to purchase 2 tickets (an extra expense) just so he could fit. On top of that, they had to move him because the pilot said he was throwing the plane off balance.

I was spending somewhere around $2000/month on food.

Stephen: “Looking back, how did obesity impact your finances?”

Jon: “I wore like a size 74 pants. I couldn’t even buy generic pants. I was too big for those stores, so I had to custom order stuff, so a regular pair of pants, like a pair of jeans cost me $150. That’s not even brand name.

People tell me it’s expensive to lose weight. No, it’s not. You think about your life, and how much that’s worth? … So, with all of that, I had to drive a Ford Excursion, and I could barely fit in it. I have a pair of jeans that were and 8X, and there’s a hole right where my stomach was, because the steering wheel was always rubbing there. And when you think about when I bought the excursion, and what gas prices were like, I went to go fill it up and it cost me $125 to fill it up. And then gas prices went down, which was great, but still I thought ‘Damn, that’s a lot of money’. And that adds up. I’m a salesman at heart, so I’m good at selling myself on things I shouldn’t be selling myself. I was spending somewhere around $2000/month on food. It was ridiculous. God was very gracious to me in that I did not have major medical problems. But, I’m sure I was not far from that. I lived inexpensively so that I could eat. I was making great money at the time, and I bought a recliner for big men, and it broke within a month because I was so big. Thing was though, that I couldn’t sleep in my bed because I was so big, so I had to sleep in that recliner.”

Stephen: “What was the trigger that prompted you to change?”

Jon: “I get that question a lot, and I don’t really know the answer. I’m afraid that if I figure it out, I may reverse engineer it. But I think it boils down to I was miserable. I was afraid I was going to die, and I had no hope for the future.” And that’s a miserable way to live.” 

“Then I had a trainer step in and offer to train me free. Within the first 90 days, I lost 105 pounds. And that’s a bit unnatural, and I know that a lot of people were praying for me – that’s a fact, so I believe that God did step in and help me do that. I don’t believe God had me get to 570 pounds, but I believe that now He is allowing me to redeem my story.”

Stephen: “What are some things you changed?”

Jon: “When I started my journey, my blood pressure was 194/118. I took my blood pressure again after one month in, and it was down to 120/75. Nutrition is where it’s at. I was feeding my body good nutrients, and so that was the result. So, nutrition was a big part of it. When I first started exercising, I couldn’t really do much. I could do maybe a couple laps around the parking lot.”

Like so many things in life, mindset is everything. I work with clients sometimes to change their mindset about money. Needs vs. wants. Right thinking leads to right actions.

‘dear God, that is a big man’

Stephen: “How does that ‘fat’ mindset differ from the ‘fit’ mindset?”

Jon: “I’m much more confident. I have much more mental clarity. I’m confident that I don’t look weird. I know that when I’m sitting across from someone selling something, the weight isn’t distracting. Because, when you are 570 pounds, the only thing the other person is thinking is ‘dear God, that is a big man’. It kinda gets in the way. I’ve also noticed that more opportunities have opened up to me. And some of it may be that I have a different mindset now too. It really is interesting how being overweight impacts every aspect of life.”

Jon is obviously an extreme example, but I wanted to share his story because I am so proud of his effort and the example he sets. But, how many reading this are merely overweight? Have you considered the costs? I help people everyday plan for how they will manage their money, and we have many satisfied clients. But what good is your wealth to you if you cant enjoy it? If you find yourself wrestling with these issues, take charge today and take control of your life – both finances and health. If you don’t have someone near you to help, give Jon a shout. I’m sure he’d be happy to talk.