I must say that one of the motivations for me to not buy new clothes is that I would really just like to fit into the ones I already have. The last 2 years, since we moved from semi-disclosed European country on the continent to the U.K. has grown me in ways that aren’t ideal for my health. Part of it is age, I think, as I approach peri-menopause. I’m starting to grow a belly, which was not a place that I ever struggled with weight before. Another part of it is an increasing desire to be alone, which I think also comes with age, and which means that a lot of my time is spent in the house, in the garden, and not going out or walking around (nor biking), like I used to do in my previous life. So I eat more and I move less and I am getting older.
So rather than buy a new dress or dresses to deal with the growing me, I recently subscribed to an online dieting programme. This is not something that my previous self would have done. The hope is that if I can lose 10 kilos (or even 5), I will surely make up the cost of the diet programme as a consequence of not having to buy new clothes. And given the attention to real food, as I’m not going to be able to spend money on booze or chocolate or ice cream or all the other purchases that we make in our food budget after 7pm that bloat us, in more ways than one, maybe the grocery bill will come down a little too.
And of course, the link between financial freedom and dieting is really about figuring out how much is enough and practising self-care. Despite this, a lot of what I read seems to focus instead on developing a regiment.
I think the ethos of self-care is different from the ethos of participating in an optimal regiment. Self-care is about nurturing the self whereas an optimal regiment is about striving. I recently read a post about minimalism and dieting and forgive me for being critical, but I think the tone of this article is wrong. I’m of the opinion that we are better off, all of us, if we think about the things that we are trying to do: taking care of ourselves and our future selves financially, consuming less, eating less, shopping less, as a practice of self-care for ourselves and for our planet rather than enacting a regiment of savings, investment, and control over our choices. Because what happens when we rebel against the rules? If we are practicing self-care, there is no desire to break the rules or cheat because we’ve decided that its in our interest to follow the practice rather than to stick to the rules.
Instead of obeying by the rules try listening to yourself
That means that instead of thinking I cannot have this extra piece of cake just because it’s there and it looks delicious, we need to somehow transform that I cannot (should not) into curiosity about how the piece of cake will make me feel (do I really want it?). Similarly, one can think less judgementally about “bad” choices too. For example, you can ask yourself: Am I eating this convenience food because I haven’t built in enough downtime for myself to take care of myself and prepare what I actually need for when I am hungry and that this leaves me in a situation when I am driven by starvation to consume what is immediately available? This seems more productive than I am bad.wrong.breaking.the.rules if I eat this.
What about instead of 8 min exercises we first try to do a body scan meditation in order to evaluate how we feel in the first place?
I recently tried this with my student, who was suffering from a medical condition that was making him physically uncomfortable. The nice thing about body meditation is that it allows you to check in with yourself rather than just responding to a regiment. You can ask your body for example: Have I moved enough? Where am I experiencing tightness? What needs to be strengthen and or loosened? In short, have I treated myself well enough, lovingly enough so that my body is supported rather than overwhelmed by my choices?
Somehow I want to develop a food and exercise routine that has the same ethos as my desires for minimalism and that is not based in striving. Can I help myself to make choices that are simple and reduce my stresses, weight, debt, and inflammation? It is all related, I think to the question: How can I be more whole? Will this practice (rather than regiment) help me be more conscious of what I buy, what I consume (in this case the food I eat), and minimise the amount of my actions that are disposable and/or wasteful and/or leave me feeling sick or less than satisfied? Clearly, everyone is different but I do think that frugality as a practice is an alternative (and better) way to think of the path to financial independence just as it is a way to think about a lighter me.