Last year, I lost about 30 pounds. Most of you probably know that (or maybe you don’t, I’m never sure how much I talk about certain things). But what you might not know — because I haven’t talked about it yet almost certainly, because I hadn’t really considered it yet — were the specific things I used to find myself wasting money on when I was much less happy with my body. And it’s important for me to make the distinction clear that 30 pounds just happens to be the unit of measurement for the change I have experienced in my body. I don’t feel better because I’m thinner, or because I happened to lose those 30 pounds. I’m happier because of what that weight loss entailed: eating better, getting control over my appetite and habits, being more balanced in my general lifestyle. I feel better because I treat my body with more respect, which means I have more energy, am more active, and am generally in a better mood. Weight loss is a byproduct of that, not the ultimate goal, and I’m well aware that there are people who have that 30 pounds more than I do on their frame and are much healthier than I am.
All that said, I am, personally, much happier with my body now, and weight loss has been a part of that. And what’s more, there have been some distinct changes in the way I’ve been living my life and the habits I’ve accumulated. As with most things, these changes extend to my wallet, and I’m happy to say that a big part of my life changes have been positive changes in how I’ve been spending (and the things I’ve been spending on). There have even been a few things that I’ve been able to cut out of my budget entirely because I have become more healthy about the way I treat my body, and I’m happy that they no longer feel like necessities.
So, without further ado, the 7 things I’ve stopped spending on since I became happier with my body.
1. “Diet” foods. Whether it was the bars (which were essentially just candy bars with a little extra protein), the gross shakes, the pointless supplements, or the fake “diet” versions of the real food I wanted, I used to be really into buying foods that were specifically targeted to weight loss. Of course, inevitably, these products left me unsatisfied, hungry, and not feeling any healthier or lighter than I was before. And instead of just eating a smaller portion of the stuff I really want (like I do now), I would eat a ton of the “diet” stuff and think “Hey, I was ‘good’ today,” then binge on the things I was depriving myself of. And on top of all of this idiocy in terms of routine and eating habits, diet products are outrageously expensive (for essentially nothing). There is never a case now where I eat anything of that nature, unless I’m super pressed for time and literally have nothing else available.
2. Gym memberships. A big part of my cycle of being unhappy with my body was “feel grossed out by how out of shape I was, sign up for a super-expensive gym that I think will motivate me with its chic decor and unlimited classes, lose interest, cancel membership two months later in shame.” Now I know to meet myself in the middle, and set the moderate goal of a certain (relatively high) number of steps walked per week, with at least one long-ish walk every day, and lots of stretches in the mornings or evenings. It’s not the cover of a fitness magazine, but it’s sustainable, it works for me, and it’s free. And it never leaves me feeling suddenly disgusted with myself because of how utterly inactive I am.
3. “Body” magazines and books. I used to be a real sucker for diet books promising to radically change the way you think about food (they didn’t), or magazines with bikini-clad models on the front that promised the one at-home workout that would finally motivate you (they didn’t). Now, I know better, and I walk right past that stuff, even if it’s bee a particularly lethargic and indulgent week, and I’m looking for a quick fix to make myself feel like I’m making a “good body choice.” Now, my M.O. when I’m feeling gross is to go for a walk, make myself a mug of tea, and go to bed super early. It works a lot better, in the short- and- long-terms.
4. Fast fashion. Another big part of the cycle of feeling uncomfortable in my own skin was constantly having to add items to my wardrobe because I thought they would make me look/feel better. A very frequent phenomenon was “liking something in the store, seeing myself in a picture of it, hating the way I looked, getting rid of it.” This meant — because I was and am still by no means rich enough to have a constantly-updating wardrobe — a lot of fast fashion. I would cycle through different cuts and styles and fabrics, hoping to find the magic item(s) that would make me love the way I looked, whether standing in front of a mirror or in a candid, side-view photo. Obviously, that magical item never came, and the only way I got to like the way I felt in my clothes was when I liked the way I felt in my body.
5. “Emergency” outfit changes. The upgraded version of my “I need new clothes to make me feel good in my body” panics were my “I hate my outfit so much because I caught myself in a bad angle in a shop mirror or I drank a huge thing of soda with lunch that I need to go get something new right now.” On more occasions than I liked to admit, I went to go pick up a new look at lunch because I felt so pinched and bloated in my current ensemble. And yes, sometimes that meant pretending I spilled on my original outfit to justify the insanity.
6. Breakfast. I used to force myself to eat (and buy) breakfast every day, particularly when I worked in an office, because I thought it was something I needed to do to “hit the ground running” in the morning. Despite the fact that I’ve never liked breakfast (and therefore needed to buy super-tempting things in order to get myself to choke it down), I felt it was almost a moral imperative to have my ~three square meals~. But my daily latte and bagel with fruit cup set me back about $12, and left me feeling like a carby, salty balloon for the whole morning. Now, thanks to practicing Intermittent Fasting and listening to my internal appetite-clock, I only have coffee/tea and water until about 2 PM. For you, the meal or snack you’ve been having “just because” may not be breakfast, but chances are there is something excessive you’re eating (and paying for) that you could cut out of your daily routine, and feel lighter for it.
7. Excessive makeup and hair products. When I didn’t feel good about my body, I went overboard in trying to make my makeup and hair be something I felt good about (even though that never really helped, because it was only “adding on,” rather than “improving the foundations.” But this meant that I gave myself a blowout essentially every morning, draining time and money in hair products, and I was constantly going through different drug store (or upscale) makeup trends to find something that would make me feel the right combination of “putting in effort” and “not trying too hard.” Now, I’ve gotten hair and makeup down to a much more manageable (and minimal) routine for day-to-day activities, and I feel better overall, because I know I’m actually taking care of the canvas underneath.
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