Category Archives: It’s My Life

Let’s talk about money

This year I have made a few deals with myself that I know will pay off in the long term and a few of them revolve around money.

I do find it quite weird how in general people do not talk about money openly. It is a subject we find emotive and personal. Everyone is in a different situation and has different priorities in the their life that mean different spending habits. It’s too easy to compare to external views of people’s lives though as we only see part of the story. I admit I am the same and very people know an detail about my incoming and outgoings. I also know I can be really judgmental about other peoples spending habits when I only know limited this information (this is family related, not friends). But for the most part I think it doesn’t matter what other people do as long as they are happy with their lives and how they are living. I want the same in return, as I can probably seem quite selfish when it comes to some of habits, for example I will budget socialising so I can save for a holiday and that works for me.

So the last few months I have been reading the blog The Financial Diet and have become obsessed in making my money work differently in ways that will be less stressful and more fulfilling. It has made me set a few goals for this year to get myself in a better position financially and set myself for a future I want to live.

Firstly I am paying off my credit card!

I’m not a big credit card spending, but when I bought my house and had a few years of lower salary than before I ended up with £2k on credit cards. Ever since I have been paying the minimum and moving it round for the 0% balance transfers. This is more annoying than anything else. I am frustrated at myself for keeping it hanging around for so long. So this year I am going to get rid of it! I’ve budgeted it out and any additional income I get will go towards getting this gone. I will then seriously consider how I take credit cards forward. I would like to earn air miles so I am tempted to get a card that will allow me to do that, but I need this gone first.

Secondly I am creating an emergency fund!

This is one I have specifically taken from The Financial Diet and it makes so much sense. Next year I will have been in my house 5 years and all my warranties will be ending and so having a fund that will cover anything going wrong will be a lot less stressful than relying on emergency credit cards.  I am going to start by building up to £1000 in a completely separate account to everything else by the end of the year. Then I will continue to build up a nice amount that could cover me for a period of time if the worst happens with a job or illness. It feels extremely important to me that I am set up to be self-sufficient. I’ve always had my parents as a safety net, but they are getting older and I want to be fully able to take care of my own life going forward without that net. I also don’t want to be like some family who continue to depend on others to supplement income. It makes me angry to see it and I don’t want to be that person. So this makes good sense, but is also a personal value/belief I hold.

Thirdly I’m focusing on travel!

Being able to go to Japan last year was amazing and reminded me how much fun and experience you get from visiting completely different parts of the world. I feel in a place financially where this will be possible as long as live within my means and spend my money efficiently and effectively. This means making short term sacrifices for long term gains. This has to be a big part of my life and as I want to go away for Christmas this year the timing works out well. I can get my credit card paid off and save up an emergency fund and plan a nice trip for the end of the year.

What does this mean for daily life?

In essence not much will change as I have just divided up how I was saving for Japan last year into different pots. I have a spread sheet with this all in and I am going make sure I open it everyday, just as a reminder, to keep myself accountable. I have reduced my monthly budget a bit to ensure I think my purchases through more than last year. I know this will mean saying no for money reasons more often, but I know the long term pay off will be worth it. This is also goes hand in hand with another aspect of my life I want to focus on, which is having people round my house a bit more instead of going out. I am also debating going to a cash based system for a while as it seems with contactless I have become a bit loose with my spending and I do not like it, I’ll let you know how that goes!

So I have set myself a few rules for the next year:

  • Books – no new books until I have read the ones I have (I have 30 unread!)
  • Eating out – reduce eating out and when I do it has to be with others
  • General spending- do not buy replacements until the previous one has run out

Money makes life easier, but it can also make things very difficult. I don’t want my life to be about things and so I will be getting rid of more stuff over the next year. I doubt I’ll ever be minimalist, but I would like to reduce the clutter and only keep the things that hold meaning or purpose. I want my life to be about the simple things that make me happy and feel peaceful – travel to new place, reading great book, fluffy cats, restful space, and knowing good people.

I’m not setting new year resolutions

It’s coming to that time of year again, the time to look back and look forward. There have been lots of comparison trends popping up on Twitter and Instagram and I cringe every time I see one. I think it because I’m working so hard on not comparing myself to to other people and also comparing to the ways things used to be, including my self. Looking back can help you grow and shape your future, but right now I that does not work for me I’m afraid. That just means I pass those posts by and continue on my own journey. However I do like this time of year for thinking about the things I want for the upcoming year. However I want to do it differently this year. I don’t want to set resolutions or goals, but rather make sure I am focused on the things that matter to me and each little bit adds up to a better whole.

Travel –  I would like to travel more in the future and need to plan for that. That means looking at my spending habits and looking at ways to book last minute or budget friendly deals. I also want to ask people to join me on trips and not assume I have to do it all on my own, although I will still go if no one else can make it. I get a lot from travel and always feel amazing experiencing new places that I want to make this a regular part of my life. It doesn’t have to be exotic, as being able to grab a hotel on a weekend to explore somewhere a bit further from home would be amazing!

Finances – I did really well this year saving up for Japan, but I did not tackle my credit card beyond the minimum required. I don’t like that I’m left with debt this year and I would like to get rid of it. I also want to create an emergency fund going forward as I am aware I am coming up to 4 years in my house and all my warranties run out at 5 years and therefore if anything goes wrong I need a fund to use, rather than emergency credit cards. I mainly want to be less stressed about money and know I am leaving fully within my means and have a buffer as well.

Health – my physical and mental health are also super important to me. I’ve been working hard on the mental side of things this year and know I have lost fitness and I would like to re-balance my efforts. I want working out to be fun and at the moment love going to the lake with that group of friends and also love circuits classes with a different friend. I would like to get walking more and heal my plantar fasciitis. I’m continuing with therapy and have made great progress on the ditching the diet mentality, but I still have deeper embedded issues to deal with. I’ve also been cooking more and would like to continue that with the weekly boxes and upping my Japanese repartee.

Work – I’ve had a fantastic year at work and have thrived in my new role. I am getting the freedom, responsibility and experience I have wanted for a while and am making the most of it. I know want to progress in the next couple of years so am going to keep working hard and seizing the opportunities as they come along. I need to make sure I keep a sustainable work/life balance and that is something I will keep thinking about. I want to be flexible and acknowledge I enjoy my work and so do not mind working long hours when required, but also I want to make sure I have enough energy to enjoy my down time.

Home – I love having my own space and am very protective about it. My cats are also super important to me and I want to spoil them. I’ve created a space that suits my needs, but I also fancy a change. I have thought about moving, but I am not sure about doing it just because I want a change, but would prefer to move for a job. It’s something I will keep thinking about. I think there are smaller things I could do to make my home feel refreshed. I might change up the curtains or add some colour to the walls or move furniture around. I’m quite excited to think about, but I do wonder if I’ll actually change things!

This feels like a nice way to approach 2017. I have things that are important to me, but none of which have to to reach a destination. I can’t really fail any of them and there is room to change things up if something becomes more or less important with time. I want to create a life that allows me to grow, learn and change over time. I don’t want to stay the same as I am today!

Challenging my rules

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I’ve been working through Intuitive Eating for the last 6 months or so and it is making a huge difference in how I think about myself and food. Therapy is also helping a great deal as I am actually talking about what I really think and not being distracted by other people’s opinions. I am finding I am beginning to listen to myself first. I am starting to ignore the media and supposedly well-intentioned people who just want to help. I am doing the research and listening to what my gut, heart and head are telling me. It’s hard work, but I feel so much freedom at the same time.

I have been working hard on noticing and trying to ditch the diet mentality. It still rears it’s ugly head with automatic thoughts, but I don’t let it control me. I’ve also been working on honouring my hunger, which again is a work in progress as I have used food as a coping mechanism for so long that it won’t change overnight, so each step is important. The next two principles about Making peace with Food and Challenging the Food Police is where I have been concentrating lately.

Through therapy I have begun to notice, understand and challenge the rules I live by that are not my own. They have been embedded within in throughout my life and no longer serve a purpose and actually cause me more harm then good. Many of my rules are from my parents and this isn’t about blaming them, it is about understanding that those were their rules, but they do not have to be mine. They grew up in a different time and are not going to change, but I don’t have to live by them anymore, I can find my own or throw them all out the window.

In my work I have found a couple of things that have really had an impact on my binge eating behaviour and my lack of trust in myself around food – the idea of waste and the rule of not having it in the house. Both of these enable binge eating behaviour and eat into my self-esteem by encouraging negative thinking about food and myself, both diet and behaviours. I have completely lost the ability to trust myself around food as I have lived by rules that have reinforced that I cannot be trusted around food. At the same time I have been living by rules that mean I cannot waste food and so I have been eating it all in order not to waste it or have it in the house. So confusing!

 

So I have been challenging these rules, but buying things in large amount and keeping them in the house. This has been my list so far:

  • Chocolate
  • Ice cream
  • Fresh bread
  • Full fat yogurt and milk
  • Biscuits
  • Alcohol

I have binged, but the majority of time I forget they are there until I fancy something. I have given myself permission to break those rules and prove to myself I can trust myself. I taken them off the banned list and therefore reduced their appeal. It’s been liberating!

Ignoring people is the harder part for me and in the past comments about food or weight have knocked my self-esteem out the park. But now I am trying to give less of shit about other people. I listen to myself and make my own choices, then bat other people’s opinions away. I’m keeping it simple and having a few prepared lines to respond to people with such as ‘and I’m really looking forward to eating it’ in a sweetly innocent tone or being a bit stronger and challenging them by asking ‘why does it matter to you what I eat?’. It’s an interesting process at the moment and does depend on how I feel about myself at the time. Sometimes though I am just choosing not to acknowledge the matter at all – such as my rant on twitter about the random old man in the supermarket who tried to encourage me to ignore the chocolate aisle – and for me that is re-enforcing within myself that I do not have to conform or agree with societal standard or stereotypes, and instead I can say fuck off!

It’s a long journey, but I feel in a really good place with it all. It will take time and I am so glad I have taken the focus off weight loss and just focusing on being the best me I can be and loving myself exactly as I am so much so that I threw the scales out! I’ve also been buying clothes that fit and throwing out the ones that don’t. I want to feel good and that is what I am going to do and anyone who doesn’t want me to feel good can go on their way and stay out of my life. Simple.

Making My Space

I’ve been very thoughtful lately about making the most of my life and that has developed into what I keep in my life in terms of personal space and possessions. I’ve been working my way through my house and sorting through everything. I’ve gotten rid of books, DVDs, trinkets, paperwork and other stuff I have hoarded for no reason.

I’ve created key spaces in my living room, bed room and spare room, that all feel personal to me. They all have their own feel as I hoped they would. For example my living room is all about the things that make me happy and the focus piece is still my bookshelf and armchair. Each piece of art, each book, each trinket has a story or a memory that goes with it that reminds me of adventures I’ve been on.

The newest space is my reading/office in my spare room where I bought a small bed earlier in the year to make into a day bed and then last week bought a small desk to go next to it. It’s a lovely bright space, but cosy and calm at the same time. I have some postcards I want to put up in the space above it to make me happy and inspire productivity for when I am working at home or working on personal projects.

I have realised over the last few years, probably ever since I moved into my own place, that stuff is not the key to happiness and actually experiences are way more important. I’ve shifted my focus and questioned why I have things in my house. The hard part for me was taking down my medals, I realised they no longer made me happy, but actually made me judge everything I was doing as they don’t motivate me anymore. It’s funny how we all go through stages in our lives and grow as people all the time. I finally feel that my 30’s are going to be what I make them and that is exciting.

My space is an extension of my personality and I want to come home to it and all it contains and be content or what ever mood I want to be in and be completely comfortable there. It doesn’t mean it won’t change, but rather it will grow and evolve with me.

As you can see Merry and Pippin love the space as well!

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Hitting diet bottom

I hit diet rock bottom a while ago. It came on gradually. Each new attempt to diet started with one last supper, which got bigger each time. The cycle of diet and binge escalated to a point I was not happy with at all. I found myself slipping into a new depressive low and hated every minute of it. I found  excuse after excuse – busy at work, not feeling well, not training for anything – basically anything where I could blame my own willpower.

However I have since realised it was not my willpower that wasn’t working, but rather the diets themselves. Each diet was harming my body, biology and self-worth. So I needed to find something different and though a number of blogs found Intuitive Eating.

This book has been an eye opener so far and I’m not all the way through. I have found something that resonates with me on a deep level. Everything the diet industry is telling us is designed to impact our self-worth and self-esteem. We keep being told that failing a diet is our fault, not the diets. Even my doctor has told me this. I no longer believe it. I believe that the diets I have tried have all been about deprivation and that does not suit me. Now I am not suggesting I am going about to eat everything and gain as much weight as possible, but rather I need a lifestyle diet where my relationship with food is not based on what is considered good or bad. I don’t want this any more and I refuse to adhere to the societal norm that is:

“Good behaviour, in our society, means starting a new diet, or having good intentions to diet”

This has led to a no-win situation in my life where I no longer feel in control or trust myself around food and this is no way to live:

“Every diet violation, every eating situation that feels out of control lays the foundation for the diet mentality”

So I am breaking up with diets…

I am going on a journey with this book and I’m not going to say it’s easy. It’s bloody hard to change from an ingrained sense of self and rules that come from family and society. But I am going to keep working on this. I am taking the shift off losing weight and focusing on how my body and mind connect. Already I feel less stressed about food and am becoming more self-aware that I ever thought would be possible.

First up I’ve been Ditching the Diet Mentality“dieting has been a way to cope with life” – I’ve been doing this through widening my reading to be aware of the damage diets cause to the body and mind. This has been fascinating and scary, but worthwhile. I’ve also been starting the journey of self-awareness by tuning into my thinking habits and behaviours traits that support the diet mentality. This has been interesting to observe, but not easy to change as these have been ingrained into my way of life over years they have become automatic. I’ve also gotten rid of all the diet tools in my home. I’ve cleared out my twitter, instagram and blog feeds of weight loss inspiration and instead focused on positive people who share things that really matter or that are fun and inspire me to enjoy life.

Secondly I’ve been trying to Honour My Hunger. This has simply been about listening to my body, thoughts and feelings when I’m around food. I’ve been trying to eat when I feel hungry, rather than give into the to the rules I’ve made around timing of meals or snacks. I am asking myself two simple questions – “am I hungry? and what do I fancy to eat?” – these have been easy (ish) to implement and are really about checking in myself and noticing the times when I want to eat when I am not hungry, but I am still working on why that is. One step at a time.

The third aspect I’ve been introducing is all about Making Peace with Food “the forbidden object is elevated to an overvalued level of specialness” – This is an area that is very important for me as I have so many rules around specific food and so much guilt and shame associated with meals and people who make food very negative. The main aspect of this is to give yourself permission to eat and that is exactly what I am trying to do. I’ve bought chocolate and snacks that I used to think of as bad and keep as much as possible in the fridge so that I do not run out. I’ve challenged food I think of as bad and added them into my meals to see if I really like them. I’ve found I don’t need as much of things as I know I can have more of them if I want. This is something that I never thought would happen. I still over eat on chocolate, but it’s definitely emotional eating.

“When you know the food will be there and allowed, day after day, it doesn’t become so important to have. Food loses its power.”

“This is not about knowledge of food, but rather rebuilding experiences with eating”

I feel these three principles are really important building blocks to create the relationship with food that I want. It takes time and I am going to allow myself all the time I need to work through these aspects of the book. Building trust takes times and care. I am not only rebuilding my relationship with food but also my relationship with myself.

I’ve just moving onto the fourth area which is all about Challenging the Food Police. This is all about continuing to build self-awareness. It suggest an intuitive eating journal. I struggle with this concept as it feels too close to tracking that diets ask for. However this is very similar to what I am trying to do with therapy so I am going to focus on emotions and noticing them and combine this with my therapy work using an emotion wheel and emotion wave that I plan to use to help understand and articulate what I feel.

Taking the pressure off needing to lose weight has been hard, but pivotal to this approach. So ingrained are these habits that I always automatically jump to needing to lose weight so go on a diet every day for some random reason – clothes, food, fitness, chairs, lifts, – pretty much anything can make me jump to this. However I am stopped reacting and just begun noticing. I haven’t quite gotten to the no judgement part, but I am working on it. This feels the right approach for me and combined with therapy it is the journey I need to go on. There are still a few more principles in the book I need to work through and I will keep re-reading the ones I am working on above as I need them to become normal for me in my new world.

It feels good right now!

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