What Are You Willing to Pay in Opportunity Costs?

Debbie Hatch | Family & F.I.T.


Catalina Island



On average, I travel 200 days a year for work. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to relax on Catalina Island for 24 hours between jobs. Some of my favorite things are the ocean, the beach, sunrise and sunset. When I can combine a few of those – life is amazing, so there was little (actually less than that) question as I walked from the ferry to my hotel, that I would be up for sunrise. It didn’t matter that I would only get a couple of hours sleep.


Some things are worth giving up sleep for: talking to a friend or a loved one, enjoying time with my kids, snuggling with my grandbabies, walking on the beach, and getting up to enjoy sunrise.


I could choose to sleep or enjoy sunrise but not both. In economics this would be called an “opportunity cost”. We have only 24 hours in each day. If we decide to spend 1 hour sleeping, we can’t do anything else with that hour.

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If we choose to spend two hours shopping, we can’t use that two hours anywhere else. If we choose to sit in front of the television for three hours, those hours are gone.  If you want to start exercising, you’re going to need to “make the time” by giving up something else. Here’s a challenge. What one healthy habit would you like to start? What one other thing could you give up in order to make space for your healthy habit?


Every single moment of every single day of your life has an opportunity cost. We just typically refer to it as “setting priorities”.


Sometimes we’re willing to pay the cost, sometimes we aren’t. When I first started competing, I gave up many other things. I hired a coach and joined a national team. My nutrition plan contained very few carbs: I gave up everything I enjoyed – down to and including fruit.


My workouts consisted of an hour of weight training and 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week (1 day was just weights,Panama City 1 day was just cardio, otherwise I had two workouts per day with 1 day for rest). As I got closer to competition, my carbs consistently decreased, I maintained the 5 days of lifting every week but cardio increased to 30-45 minutes 6 days a week, and on half of those days, I was doing cardio twice a day. The price I paid was giving up sight seeing, personal relationships and lots of sleep.


Don’t get me wrong, I love being on stage. I love the friends I’ve made at the competitions. As time went on, though,I started to think about the opportunity costs I was paying. I determined they were too high.


I wanted other things in my life. I started to refocus on moderation, balance, health and this one life that I have. I added every food group back into my diet. I had my first apple in 2 years.  I refuse to pay the price of guilt any more. When I feel like a treat, I have it. I savor it. I take my time enjoying the smell, the flavor, and consistency.


I am no longer willing to sacrifice everything else for the sake of creating a certain look. I lift 4 days a week, when I can, because I love it. If I’m tired, or have something else to do, though, I take a day off.  I do 20-30 minutes of cardio a couple times a week, because my body craves movement. And, yes, I still compete but not “at all cost”. It’s a hobby and I have a limit on what I’m willing to pay.


What are your current priorities?

What are you willing to pay in opportunity costs to keep those commitments to yourself?



  1. I’ve never thought about our choice in what to do with each hour. You’re quite right, of course. I spend far too much time writing a daily blog and promoting it on social sites. I wish I didn’t. I could use that time writing my memoir. Must consider that carefully.

    1. Right, Francene? I have started limiting myself in the amount of time for each blog. It used to take me hours and hours. I want it to be perfect, of course. Now I write from my heart. I check it once or twice but I set a timer on my phone for how ever much time I will spend on this piece and once that alarm goes off, I set for 30 minutes of edits. That’s it. Out. 🙂

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