Change is hard. Really hard. Especially for me.
I am the type of person who goes all out. Extreme goals with extreme choices to go with them: diets that eliminate everything (including happiness, which for me includes wine, pizza and chocolate); extreme exercise (like a personal trainer named Spike, or something like that) and massive money saving goals, house cleaning goals, blah blah blah. All at once. And I am really great at it for like, 3 days.
So day 1 of Ms. PTM, change fiend looks like: Jump out of bed, make a healthy breakfast, head to Orange Theory for a workout, walk the dogs, make healthy lunch, prep meals, do laundry, clean, etc. Generally an incredibly productive day, and I feel great. Rinse and repeat.
On day 4 it looks a little more like: hit the snooze button 5-6 times. Grab a Starbucks breakfast sandwich and coffee. Have lunch out, order dinner in, Netflix and Chill. And instead of chalking that up to a bad day, picking myself up and getting back to business, I decide to rinse and repeat that new cycle. And I am really good at Netflix and Chill, so I usually stick with that for….ever. And it’s easy. But I feel awful. Physically and mentally.
So I guess the point is I like the idea of change. But I am not change committed. So I took a look at my major personal goals and asked myself: “What do you need to stick with the lifestyle you want?” And I broke it down into three major categories: Finance Goals, Wellness Goals, and Mindfulness goals. And where I am starting from isn’t pretty. Really isn’t pretty. But sometimes you have to look in the mirror at the monster, and address the whole being. And all of it: my health, my spending, my mindset; it’s all related.
I have amassed some debt over the last year. Some debt is really an understatement. I took on a mortgage, a car loan, and $14,000 in credit card debt. Here is a snapshot of where I sit today, 01/02/2016.
In order to tackle my debt, but still live a life I want to lead (meaning not total withdrawal from the things I love), I budgeted out my monthly salary as follows:
Take home monthly: $4,200
Loan Payments: $2,100 (Mortgage and Car)
Monthly Credit Card Payments: $550 (including minimum payments)
Emergency Savings: $460 (Until account hits $2500)
Bills & Utilities: $300
Discretionary income (which I will take out in cash): $140
Now, I realize that this is not an incredibly aggressive budget plan. In fact, Mr. PTM is much more hardcore than me, and I admire him and others who can put their mind to something and really kick butt. But, for me, change is hard, and I am learning that I am not good at the full-speed ahead method of change. So it is one bite of my plan at a time, and as I hit my stride, I will get more aggressive, and show my budget changes and progress.
There is $250 allocated in my budget for Wellness, which may seem silly since I that money would make a big dent towards my debt every month. However, in the interest of full disclosure, there are a few reasons why I have chosen to put that there.
In 2013, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after struggling with pain and fatigue (and dealing with dozens of doctors) since I was 17. In my case, it was a diagnosis that came from repeated misdiagnosis, as an umbrella term for what I was suffering that fit better than anything else.
For those unfamiliar with the condition, it is a fickle little bugger. Every day is different. Some days I feel great, and as a result feel like I can workout hard and knock out chores and whatever else has been sitting unfinished. And then I will be laid out in pain and with chronic fatigue for days. Sometimes, I feel pretty good for months, with mild pain, and am able to push myself harder with little repercussion. And sometimes I have what I call “flares”, which means pain and exhaustion, every day, without reprieve.
Because of the pain, I stopped exercising. Because I was tired, I stopped cooking. And now, I am out of shape, in pain, and unhealthy. So to resolve that, the $250 breaks out as follows:
Orange Theory Fitness: $150 for unlimited monthly memberships
Acupuncture: $100 (4 sessions per month)
Orange Theory is perfect for me: it is one hour, it is trainer led, but personal motivation and modification, and it is all over the country for when I travel for work. It combines strength and conditioning to maximize my time and my physical needs to combat the pain with muscle strength.
Acupuncture is a process for me to wean off the fibro medication I have been on (Cymbalta, which is a nasty thing), and take a natural route to self-healing and pain management. I found a community acupuncture clinic with a sliding payment scale to maximize affordability while also maximizing treatments at 1x per week.
Below are my body shots as of 01/02/2016, that are proof of my physical wellness change I hope to embark on, and a reminder for me to push on, to strengthen my body and self-esteem.
The mindfulness piece is what ties all of this together. For $200 a month, I hired a mindfulness coach for Mr. PTM and I. It was time for me to take a look at what I had been doing, where I had fallen off, and make a choice to have someone else help guide me to make better choices, and forgive myself and move forward when I didn’t do things perfectly. The mindfulness, resilience and coaching that come along with this journey will help Mr. PTM and I in our individual goals, as well as in our joint ones.
So with these pieces of my 2016 puzzle, I am off on a new adventure. It isn’t the travel or massive change I usually choose, but small everyday choices to make those big changes possible.