Posted in 30 Challenges, 30 Days, Challenge Recap, Minimalism

Modest Minimalism- 6 Lessons I Learned from 30 Days of Decluttering

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I recently completed my 30 Day Minimalism Challenge.  The challenge primarily followed the recommendations from Marie Kondo specifically highlighted in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up but also took inspiration from some of the other leaders in the minimalism movement.

In particular, I recommend:

After 30 Days I will confess that I have NOT become a ‘Minimalist.’  My house still is in varying states of clutter.  I have not learned the art of packing all of my possessions into a single carry-on bag or taking beautiful Instagram photos of a single flower on an otherwise empty white counter.  But, I have experienced a true change in how I view my possessions, and more importantly what and where I place value.  I recommend this experience to anyone willing to go outside their comfort zone and truly examine their stuff.

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Here are the 6 lessons I learned from my 30 days of going minimal:

  1. Don’t Fight the Process.  I tend to approach a lot of ‘movements’ sarcastically and am inherently skeptical to practices that are deemed ‘life changing.’  In my first cursory scan of ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ it was easy to question the process and I rolled my eyes at the notion of holding each of my personal items and asking if they ‘spark joy’…BUT once I really committed to the process, my mindset changed. When I stopped fighting the process, it no longer felt cumbersome, and it actually became exciting to see how easy it was to shed the ‘stuff’.
  2. Focus on Now. As I combed through my closets, drawers, kitchen, office, bookshelf, and every knickknack in my house I found myself at times talking myself out of getting rid of certain items for various reasons.  Sometimes these items were kept for sentimental reasons, but other times they were saved from the donation pile because they were things ‘I might use sometime in the future’.  But when I did a mental inventory of some of the items in question, I realized that the bulky sweater that I haven’t worn once but have moved 6 times in the last 10 years because ‘I might need it when it is cold out’ or the salad Tupperware that spills whenever I put it in my lunch box didn’t have a future in my life.  It is easy to hold on to things for future use, and sometimes there is a necessity to hold on to certain items. But by focusing on what fits now, your style now, what you need now it prioritizes what you have.
  3. Be Respectful to Other People’s Possessions.  I set this rule for myself before I began my minimalism journey.  Living with my boyfriend, means living with his stuff…And he has a lot of stuff.  As I started creating piles of my stuff to get rid of, it became VERY tempting to just add some of his stuff to the ‘donate/throw away’ piles. But this was not his journey and I knew it wasn’t fair for me to take ownership of his stuff because of my new found motivation. Our compromise became an agreement that anything I found that I deemed ‘questionable’ or ‘undesirable’ would get placed in a pile on the kitchen table. He was encouraged to sift through the pile and reclaim anything he was not ready to get rid of.  This felt like a comfortable arrangement for us. It let me declutter without throwing him into stress.  Not everyone is going to be on a minimalism journey. Not everyone wants to get rid of their stuff.
  4. Save the Memories, Not the Stuff. I am a pack rat, holding on to mementos, trinkets, knickknacks, photos.  One of the things I was most nervous about going through the sentimental stuff I have kept over the years. How do you get rid of the blurry photos from your junior high field trip or your old college notebooks with illegible scribbles or training manuals from old jobs? Well, it turns out it is pretty easy. Memories aren’t intrinsically tied to these items.
  5. Make it Personal. On the other hand, (and for the same reason I did not make decisions about my boyfriend’s stuff) only you can know whether something truly holds a value to you.  Sometimes this isn’t based on logic but love.  Sometimes you hold onto things because they just are an intangible part of you.  There are some things I will never give away. They have no monetary value but I love them… my torn and faded ‘Second City Improv’ shirt from Chicagomy old sketchbooks... my t-shirt quilt.
  6. Love People, Use Stuff… Because the other way around doesn’t work. This is a simple lesson that sometimes we just need to remember. Stuff shouldn’t trump people.

Overall Challenge Enjoyment: 10/10!  This really was a life changing experience. It was enjoyable and eye opening.

Success in Completing Challenge: A-, I may not be a ‘Minimalist’ but I fully embrace the practice minimalists follow.

Likelihood of Continuing Challenge (beyond 30 days): EXTREMELY! It’s calming to go through my house and declutter. Like Lin Manuel-Miranda says a la Hamilton “this is not a moment, it’s a movement’.

 

 

Posted in 30 Challenges, Getting Started, Healthy Eating, Paleo

Journey to the Paleolithic

Yesterday began my journey into the Paleolithic, and I didn’t even need a time machine. I am referring of course, to the infamous Paleo Diet. If you have somehow never heard of the Paleo Diet, or any of its other nicknames: Paleolithic diet, ancestral diet, or caveman diet allow me to give a very brief introduction. The Paleo Diet is a movement where essentially us modern day humans are to channel our ancestors and their dietary proclivities.  Using ones local grocery store as the grounds for their newly adopted hunter-gatherer lifestyle, they are to shun processed foods of all kinds like packaged sweets, cookies, chips along with bread, pasta, and rice.

Why in the world would anyone do this?  Well, by focusing on only what our ancestral caveman relatives could hunt and gather it emphasizes healthy, unprocessed foods.

In my effort to learn a little more about this, I discovered that there are a lot of inherent benefits.  Weight loss, muscle gain, improved digestion, better sleep are just a few of the health benefits people tout after ‘going paleo’.

The General Practices of the Paleo Diet:

  • Lean protein and meats- good
  • Vegetables- very good
  • Fruits- good
  • Seeds and Nuts- good
  • Sugar- BAD!
  • Legumes- BAD!
  • Grains (pastas, breads, rice)- BAD!
  • Dairy (cheese, butter, milk)- BAD!

I have had some hangups about trying the Paleo Diet, both in terms of I can do it (no bread???) and if it was all really worth it. So in my quest for self-improvement challenges, and my interest to get conditioned for my Swim Around Lido Key (only 6 weeks away!) this seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to test run Paleo.

GETTING STARTED…

To make matters difficult, on a recent trip to Seattle, I rediscovered my love for BREAD. This particular bread experience took place over a plate of linguini and clams in a small restaurant in Ballard, north of downtown Seattle. The bread was a crusty loaf with a delicate sprinkling of sea salt over the top and the homemade butter was something I could have eaten on its own (it was truly that good). I am not going to lie, this was a wonderful, but very poorly timed food experience.  So, I had to overcome  (or at least stave off) my deeply devoted love of bread…

I also discovered, after an initial trip to the grocery store that buying fresh produce and quality protein does not come cheap. I will likely need to pick up some clever recipes to make this a little more friendly on my wallet.

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Before I could start my challenge, I also needed to figure out what was going to work for me.  While the basics of Paleo are all the same, there is some room for interpretation, and I had to ultimately decide what would work for me.

So here are the details of my Paleo Challenge:

  • 21 days of Paleo
  • Focus my diet around proteins, vegetables, fruits and some seeds/nuts
  • No bread, rice, pasta or processed food

Here are my non-Paleo compromises (to keep me sane):

  • Corn– specifically pop corn. It is my one go-to snack. I have to have it. And technically, while most paleo-purists will say that corn is not approved, I will argue that it is still vegetable-ish
  • Salt– again, in true Paleo terms, you aren’t supposed to have sugar OR salt but I have to be able to season my food and I use salt as one of my main kitchen staples
  • Cheese/Breadcrumbs– I am going to allow myself the occasional allowance of cheese to sprinkle onto particularly boring dishes or breadcrumbs to liven up and bind together protein. But again, this will be a periodic exception and by no means a habitual practice.
  • Coffee and Creamer– I am not a regular coffee drinker, but my Sunday mornings are sacred to me. I sleep in, have breakfast with the boyfriend and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee with creamer. I have decided I am keeping this as a once-a-week treat.
Posted in Challenge Recap, Fitness, Healthy Eating

Challenge Recap- Getting Fit

30 Days has come and gone, which means so has another challenge.  At the beginning of February, I set off on a 30 day challenge to Get Fit.  This included eating well (specifically avoiding junk food) and working out every day.

I definitely had some pitfalls and speed bumps, but overall I feel very pleased with the challenge.  More than anything, I felt a sense of accountability for my actions.  Not eating junk food meant paying a lot more attention to what I was eating.  In the end I wouldn’t even say I really missed the junk food I was avoiding (although I did purchase a box of Raspberry Pop Tarts immediately after the challenge ended).

Overall Challenge Enjoyment: 8/10 Working out and eating well was a lovely change of pace.

Success in Completing Challenge: C+

Likelihood of Continuing Challenge: VERY!