This is a guest post from Sheryl in Ontario, who is 41 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.
Why do we like to believe that we are somehow the exception to the rule? Almost everyone I know does this in some way.
From the first time I went into debt, I wanted out, and that was over 20 years ago. From the first time I gained extra weight, I wanted to be rid of it. The principles are the same for both. Spend less than you earn, or eat less (calories) than you burn. I listened to the media too much. Everyone promised a way out. Everyone had a way of making it easy, or so they claimed. Over the last 20 years, I think I have tried every budget trick, and weight loss diet in an attempt to change my life. That was the problem though, I changed things (temporarily) but I didn’t change me.
I started thinking more about this recently. I am now managing my money better than I ever have in my life, and for two months now, I have made a change to my eating habits and feel that I am securely on the road to achieving a healthy weight.
There are a few people in my life that have debt problems and are overweight. Over the years, we have tried doing several tricks to get us out of debt and thin. When I started saying no to spending, I was asked about what I was doing, I explained about the concepts or spending less than you earn, and being happier with what I buy. A few people started clipping coupons, but still showed up to work with a take out coffee that sat on their desks and eventually got thrown out. When I started to lose weight, I was asked, and I explained what I was doing. Counting Calories. All of them. Weighing and measuring my portions. Tracking calorie intake and exercise expenditure. I do it all online for free. The others joined me, lost a few pounds, but then what I interpret as their need for special treatment kicked in. “I can’t do this because I have lots of social eating things to go to”, or “This shouldn’t be working because it is too easy, I need to eat –xxx– and I can’t do that on this program”, or “I can’t not spend because I’m (insert life excuse here)”.
I get it. I used to be that way.
I used to believe that simple math wouldn’t work, that somehow, when Saturn aligns with Venus, while soaking in the light of a new moon, if I froze my credit cards in Cabbage Soup while only eating fruit before noon and boiled chicken breasts at night, the universe would implode for just long enough to create a magic bullet that would solve all my problems.
Reality is boring. Repeating the habit day after day can be mind numbing IF THAT IS ALL YOU THINK ABOUT. It took me a while to learn to just set up a system, and let the system work for me. On any given day or week, I can eat X # of calories, and spend Y dollars. That is all. It works, but it required a change in my belief system to make it happen. It is hard to describe what that change was. Maybe it was a shift to concentrate on what made me truly happy instead of the bandaid solutions that I used to employ. Maybe it was disconnecting myself enough from the circus of social expectations to realize who I am and what really matters to me. Maybe it was caring enough about myself and my future to fully comprehend that when I feel rebellious and try to cheat the system, I am truly cheating myself.