I have a confession to make. I love to eat good food.
My biggest weakness is sweets. I can line up a row of cream-filled Krispy Kreme donuts and mow them down with the ruthlessness of a tin-pot dictator.
I’ve ferociously scarfed down entire tomahawk steaks by myself.
I’ve weathered the withering judgment of waiters asking if someone else will be joining me as I’ve gone ahead and ordered two entrees and two desserts.
And yes… I’ve even been guilty of stashing hidden caches of chocolates, cakes, and cookies the way some alcoholics hide booze around the house.
Food has been my friend, my comfort, and (I thought) my salvation.
After one particularly fierce eating session that covered four pints of ice cream… a quart of heavy cream… 48 cookies… and 20 candy bars, I hit rock bottom… or so I thought.
I resolved to change, and I did.
I lost weight and got in shape. But months later – after a hard day of work – I overindulged. And in short order, I was back to hiding pints of ice cream behind the frozen veggies… hoping my kids wouldn’t find them.
This cycle repeated itself for decades.
Eventually, I just became resigned to the fact I would always be “Big T.” I accepted my fate and ballooned to as high as 305 pounds.
I pondered bariatric surgery… but I knew if I didn’t change my eating habits, I’d be overweight again.
I wanted to change. But after so many failures, I was too beaten down to even try. I had done something I had never done before. I gave up.
A Life Full of Booms and Busts
I came to realize this poor food decision-making had infiltrated just about every area of my life… From my wealth-building to my business life, to my marriage and my relationship with my children.
It’s sobering when you take a good, hard look in the mirror like that.
For the sake of brevity, I’ll outline to you how I tackled the deficiencies in my financial life. Just like my boom-and-bust adventures with food… it was either feast or famine with my wealth.
I was either rolling in millions or bumping along the bottom of the barrel… scraping up just enough money to pay my annual taxes.
“This is crazy,” I thought.
“I’ve made millions of dollars, and here I am again struggling to make ends meet.”
And that’s when I realized all I had learned up to that point was not going to be enough to get me where I wanted to go.
In that moment, I understood I needed a new model for creating, growing, and safeguarding my wealth against the worst tendencies of my nature.
And so, I started studying the habits of the wealthy.
I learned that people who keep and grow their wealth focus on building multiple streams of safe income. They build their wealth on a base of conservative income-producing investments.
A Different Life Requires Different Actions
This flew in the face of how I had made all of my money in the past.
But I remembered where my past had taken me. I knew I had to do something different if I wanted different results.
And so, I switched my focus from making as much money as possible from my investments… to building as much safe income as I could from my investments.
I made safety my first focus.
I moved the bulk of my money into real estate, index funds, and closed-end income funds. And I started using options-based income strategies.
At the same time, I eliminated all of my consumer debt. My mentors taught me to never use debt to acquire a depreciating asset. They said it creates negative amortization – in which you get poorer with each debt payment instead of richer.
They told me to fund investments… not cars, boats, and vacation homes.
Along with shunning consumer debt, they were adamant I must never, ever speculate with my principal capital.
I was to only ever speculate with a portion of my investment income. This way, even if all my speculations went to zero… my lifestyle and wealth would be unaffected.
Whatever I lost on my speculations, I could replenish in just a year, when I received the dividend and interest income from my safe investments.
It sounds so simple as I write these words… But for me, it was a multidecade journey that required the embarrassment of bankruptcy and bounced checks before I was humble enough to listen to common sense.
Big T Is No Longer With Us
Today, I’m a wealthy man.
And my wealth grows steadily with each passing year. The change came when life humbled me enough to listen to others who were already living the life I wanted.
And my weight?
After a lifetime of riding the weight rollercoaster, I started using the same formula I used to build my wealth.
Instead of swinging for the fences… I focused on building a “portfolio” of simple, good habits.
I stopped eating sugar. I let myself eat whatever else I wanted, but I capped my calories at 2,000.
I only ate when I was hungry. I downloaded a free step-counter app and made sure I got in 10,000 steps a day. (Even if that meant striding around airport terminals to make my step-count goal while waiting for flights.)
I used an app to record everything I ate and the calories I was burning from walking.
Just like I grew my wealth from a flow of income streams… I knew I had to keep a steady flow of calorie deficits to start winning the battle against my eating.
I turned it into a game… and before I knew it, the weight flew off. Most importantly, by taking different actions, I became a different man.
I discovered the healthy person within me, who didn’t need to stuff his face with food to deal with his day.
I found the adult within me by embracing the actions of an adult.
My life changed when I realized I couldn’t think myself into the life I wanted. I had to change my actions if I wanted to change my life.
Not rocket science… I know. And it’s certainly not easy. But what were my other options?
Life keeps ticking away, whether we take action to change our lives or not. The time will pass regardless.
It’s better to attempt to get the life you want… than to passively let death take you in 60 or 70 years, without even putting up a fight for what you wanted.
Let the Game Come to You!
Editor, Palm Beach Daily