A Money Coach in Canada

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I had a gentle thought today.

So often we try something, try again, and try yet again because we know we *should* do it, and it’s the right thing to do … but we just don’t pull it off. Or maybe we do for a brief, exhilarating time, but it doesn’t take. We fall back into our old ways and end up back where we started. Or worse.

In our financial lives, it might be going deeper into debt after nearly paying it all off. Or it might be another spending binge that leave us really, really strapped for cash after having been so.very.careful for months. Perhaps it’s overspending on someone (a lover? a child?) who we know, in our heart of hearts, won’t appreciate the sacrifice it meant.

When I had my financial turnaround all those years ago, I was lucky. My path was reasonably straight forward. I started tracking my spending, took control of my debt, learned how to invest and although I’ve had some lean and wobbly times, generally I’ve moved forward financially without too much tumult.

But my health – getting exercise, and managing my weight – is another story. I don’t look particularly overweight, but I can assure you I am not where I want to be nor where my doctor emphatically told me I should be. Since his blunt words 15 years ago, I have tried multiple times (Weight Watchers. Jenny Craig. Not eating after 7pm. Training for the Sun Run) to trim down, only to hit an all time weight high this past January. I was 20 pounds heavier than when he’d said I needed to lose at least 15 pounds.

I guess I felt how some of my money-coaching clients felt when they’d hit a debt threshold, or had a particularly bitter argument with their partner over money. I was discouraged and frustrated as hell.

For the umpteenth time I decided to TRY AGAIN. Since January I’ve been tracking my calories on a little app called LoseIt. And I made exercise a priority. A bit of Nia, Spin, Snow-shoeing and now the Couch25K. My goal was an easy 1 pound a week.
9 months later, I’m 9 pounds lighter. Merely 1 pound per freaking month after more hardcore exercise on a consistent basis than I’ve had in my LIFE, and often requiring miserable walks in extreme cold to the gym. And many’s the week when I’ve been meticulous with my food, except for one evening – one! – when I was invited out for beer and nachos, and then shot up by 2 pounds.

1 pound per freaking month after all that effort.

And yet.

I’m 9 pounds lighter.


And I can now run 5 K in 30 minutes straight and – no bullshit – I’m enjoying it.

And I’m starting to enjoy meal planning and trying new recipes.

And I do believe this is becoming a lifestyle change.

And it’s starting to seem probable that I will keep this up and wear size 10 dresses yet again.

If it takes another year before I get there, that’s cool. This isn’t about looking good in a bikini for a trip to Mexico. This is about me wanting to be as fully alive and energetic as possible both now and way into the future.

So, if you, like me, have tried or are trying or have had it with trying to change a habit, change a lifestyle (and of course I have a particular soft spot for those of you who grapple with your money habits) I fist bump you from Yellowknife and encourage you to continue on with me. It may be 1 pound a month instead of a week, or it may be saving $10 instead of $100. So be it. We’re getting there.

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Hey Nancy!

    Great post! Love it. I can’t believe how similar our lives are. My name is Nanci, I am a Money Coach, I struggle with my weight (more than you I think), I am Canadian, and I am using “lose it” on my iPhone.

    Small world.

    Congratulations on your success!
    .-= Nanci Murdock´s last blog ..Blogging Mistakes =-.


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    Hello, other Nanci! Nice to “meet”!


    Aug 17, 2010
  2. Great post Nancy.

    After I read the post I got to thinking of a couple of things. First, losing 9 pounds is better than gaining 9 pounds. Second, weight is something that needs to be defined. If you are “overweight” with a BMI of 30, then yes you need to work at it. If you are “overweight” with a BMI of 22 then there is nothing wrong. What is your bodyfat %. Maybe you have only last 9 pounds because you are working out and have replace lost fat with muscle. It is very easy to lose 15 or 20 pounds of fat with the exercise and have it replaced with muscle. One thing you might want to do is check and see what you body fat % is. Did the doctor check this? Once this is determined then it is easy to follow along and see if you are making progress. If you don’t already have one, a scale (Tanita sells good ones) that show you not only weight but also body fat %, water % and lean mass. This is helpful information when determining if you are being successful or not. Also I found that weighing once a week (same day every week), half an hour after getting up before you have anything to eat or drink will help you with getting accurate measures.

    Also, like you said…it is a lifestyle change. Keep up the great work and don’t worry about the weight. Proper eating and exercise goes along way to helping you.
    .-= Martin´s last blog ..iPad – Why and for What =-.


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    Thanks a lot for popping by, @Martin. When I first started this back in January you were definitely one of my inspirations. And good point re: BMI etc. I haven’t yet seen a physician up here but it’s probably time and I will most def ask about those ratios.
    @Megan You are another one of my inspirations! And I hadn’t thought of it in terms of 30,000 calories burned off but that’s true! WOW.
    @Michelle Good to know re: 2 years, and I believe it. Your site looks enticing – I’ll check it out further this evening. Thanks for commenting 🙂


    Aug 17, 2010
  3. hi Nanci, nice post. At least you are tracking in the right direction. It takes 2 years of doing something consistently (apparently) before you can cement a habit – sounds like a long time but it goes by quickly.


    Aug 18, 2010
  4. Nance, you can do it. I did. Here’s proof. It takes long stretches of effort, and a hundred tiny choices a day, and determination when you’re not seeing results, but YOU CAN DO IT.

    It’s all math. Nine pounds is over 30,000 calories. That’s significant. You can keep it up, for sure.
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..HAHAHAHAHAHA =-.


    Aug 18, 2010
  5. Air

    Great post. I did c25k last year and was so proud of myself. I stopped running this past winter, and also started to “praise cheesus” daily (especially on burgers) and am now back to my all time heavy weight. Your blog post has motivated me to get back to a healthier lifestyle. Thanks!!!
    .-= Air´s last blog ..‘Till death do us part… =-.


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    @air yaaayy! So glad it was helpful. And I share your appreciation for cheese. On burgers. On baguettes. On crackersn just plain slices….well, you get the idea. Fwiw, it’s still very much part of my eating. I figure my first 10 minutes of running take care of the calories. Ps. If you decide to use LoseIt I’m always looking for buddies. My e is moneycoach Canada at g etc .


    Aug 18, 2010
  6. Hi Nancy, great post. Much like getting your finances in order, losing weight can be more about a lifestyle change than a quick fix. Maybe 9 pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, just like saving $25 a paycheque doesn’t sound like a lot. But it’s a start, and if you have a goal in mind and are committed to achieving it, the results will show.

    By my count, you are over 25% of the way towards achieving your goal (9 lbs / 35 lbs). Keep up the great work!


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    Tx @echo. And I hadn’t thought of the 25% part. You’re right! Hooray!


    Aug 18, 2010
  7. Congratulations on your focus and dedication. Like anything, having a plan and knowing your objectives is the key to success. I have no doubt you will succeed!
    .-= Tiny Potato´s last blog ..Quick Canadian Equity ETF Roundup =-.


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    Tx, tiny potato!


    Aug 18, 2010
  8. Kat Eldridge

    Great Job Nancy! I am very proud of you.

    I think that we need to remember to celebrate the small things in our life and not get so overwhelmed by the large picture. We tend to be very hard on ourselves and not see what we have accomplished.


    Aug 23, 2010
  9. brad

    I’ll add my congratulations as well — great job! I’m a firm believer that slow and steady is the most sustainable path toward permanent weight loss; if you go to fast you’re at a higher risk for a life of yo-yo dieting. I’ve lost a little over 9 pounds since January myself.

    The sad calculus of “exercise more, eat less” dictates that eating less is more effective than exercising more, although of course exercising more is important for lots of reasons. We just completed a 9-day bicycle trip from Toronto to Montréal, riding 757 kilometers and burning more than 25,000 calories. But I only lost one pound and my girlfriend gained 1 pound. It’s not like we were eating pastries all the way — we ate slightly more than we would normally, and did occasionally treat ourselves to pizza, beer, and ice cream, but each day we burned between 2,600 and 4,000 calories and there’s no way we could eat enough to replace all the calories we expended. I think part of the answer is that we gained muscle, which weighs more than fat.

    There are so many good books and websites to help guide anyone who wants to lose weight, but I’ve learned a lot from reading Walter Willett and Mollie Katzen’s excellent science-based book “Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less,” and I used Livestrong.com for a month or two to help me track my calories in a public way that made me feel more accountable than if I were just recording my meals privately.


    Aug 24, 2010


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