This is the Secret to Being Healthy, Frugal and Happy

It dawned on me recently that I had lost ten pounds and was keeping it off. My legs had never been so toned, my skin was glowing and I was BM-ing like a rock star.

And it wasn’t because I had gone on a crazy diet and had amazing willpower. It wasn’t because I was dragging myself to the gym. What was surprising about my transformation was not so much the transformation itself but how little sacrifice I had made.

So for those of you that don’t know – this is what I do to be healthy (but don’t focus on this, because the specifics aren’t the key).

Meal plan: I eat one meal a day, usually. I don’t have any restrictions on that meal. I can eat carbs, sugar, starches, dairy, whatever I fancy.

Exercise plan: I bike to work most days and go for a long run or bike ride on the weekends. This amounts to half an hour to an hour of cardio. Every now and then (but not usually) I lift weights.

So am I saying you should do these same things and will get the same results? NO!!! The secret to losing weight and getting toned aren’t what I do.

The secret is: I love this diet and exercise program.

I don’t eat this way or exercise this way in order to change the way I look. If these activities made me fatter, I would probably reduce them, but I would still try to find a way to keep doing what I’m doing. I look forward to them.

I mean, I generally have excellent self-control. But I have only ever been on 2 diets and I quit both early. Gained back the weight. And you know why? People aren’t great at making themselves miserable. People hate telling themselves they can’t have what they want. And you know what? That’s ok!

It’s ok if you want to be happy. The secret isn’t to learn how to deal with misery. The secret is to find a way to get to your goal that you frickin’ are addicted to.

So if you love binge eating, as I do, and hate restricting yourself from certain foods, maybe intermittent fasting is for you. Maybe it’s working out so much that you can eat as much as you like. Maybe it’s savoring your food. Maybe it’s going for a walk after you eat.

If there’s a healthy food you love, focus on incorporating more of those into your diet rather than what you “can’t” eat. So if you love apples, eat an apple before your biggest meal. If you love radishes, roast them, saute them, eat them raw with salt and pepper. Make the healthy thing you love the appetizer and it turns out, you’ll end up eating a delicious craveable healthy food and there will just be less room for the unhealthy.

Whatever it is, the secret to being happy and being healthy is to make it consistent. And to make it consistent, think about adding more pleasure instead of adding more pain.

The secret to being frugal is not to deny yourself everything. The secret is to concentrate your spending on the things that you love. Get rid of anything that’s only ok or that you just do on autopilot. Don’t concentrate on what you can’t do but focus on the wonderful things you want to do. Focus on travel and then it becomes easier to stop shopping. Focus on seeing loved ones and you start bringing your lunch to work. Focus on getting your company off the ground and you will gladly cut cable.

The problem is not with you. It’s not that you lack willpower. It’s that you don’t need it.

what craveable healthy or frugal habits can you incorporate into your life?

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Marveling At Our Dumb Luck

Sometimes I read stories on the internet about people failing on their spending bans or whining about how being in debt means they are in constant FOMO and it makes me really sad.

Sad that these people exist in the world. And that they’re typically from my generation.

When my parents came to this country, they had nothing. My mom ate rice and soy sauce as her meals and worked multiple jobs to get herself through school. My dad served in the Navy. I mean, there was a level of sacrifice that people in my generation do not have any concept of.

I’m not saying I in any way shared with the tough experiences they had. I had a much easier life because of their sacrifices. But I think it’s because I know what they went through, and because of how I was brought up, and knowing that money doesn’t grow on trees and we are so privileged to have anything at all that these little things we do to “save money” are not tough – they are ridiculously fun and wonderful.

I drove the same car for almost 18 years and I was ridiculously happy doing so. I spend on average $34/week on groceries and that’s luxurious.  Deciding NOT to buy clothes for A FEW DAYS is an AMAZING PRIVILEGE. Skipping lattes and spa services for the rest of your life – all of this stuff should be super easy to do.

I read this story recently on a Quora answer to What Motivates You. It’s got a lot of really great answers to I recommend you reading it. But this one was the one that showed up in my feed and honestly it’s something I think anyone who can’t figure out how to stop getting manicures needs to read on a daily basis.

After I read this story, I wanted to try to find it again. I remembered the man’s name was Idris and that he was a cleaner in Bangladesh, which turned up this result:

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It links to this article that discusses the worst job in the world – diving in liquid sewage to claw out blockages, without any protective gear and with only a stick for safety. I’m not sure this is the same Idris. But I can understand why Idris may have washed himself literally in public toilets to clean himself before going home.

Risking his life diving into raw sewage as his livelihood and this guy is still happy! How could I not be?

A (small) life hack for a better world

In Tools for Titans, Tim Ferriss interviews the comedienne Whitney Cummings, who mentions that she has a tattoo in white on her arm that reads “I love you” and it reminds her to speak to everyone with that thought in her mind.

In light of, well everything going on in the world really, but particularly Charlottesville, which I consider to be my second home, I hope that we can all try this out in our interactions with others, particularly including those with whom we differ.

I’m a type-A nut job so I am basically mad at everyone all the time. I tried it on my barista when she had forgotten about my order. I was getting peeved and I thought, I love you. And I thought about how much she must have going on, the irate customers she must face everyday, how low-paying the job is, how she was probably trying to do a great job but sometimes people just screw up. And I’ve definitely screwed up before, so who am I to judge?

Try it.

What I’ve Learned from Eating One Meal a Day

I’ve tried Gen. McChrystal’s one-meal-a-day diet for two weeks. For me, it hasn’t been that difficult a transition. I had already started an intermittent fasting regimen a month or so earlier. I have learned a lot about my eating habits from this little experiment – that, spoiler alert- I think I will continue.
1. I am not in tune with my hunger or my body.
So many diets come up with newfangled ways to keep you from being hungry. This diet also kept me from being hungry – by not giving me any food.

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A Controversial Way To Save Money on Groceries

Back in the heyday of my student loan paying off blitz, I would sometimes, as people do, forget my lunch at home. Or forget to make one. Now, this situation happens often and $10 one time is not a big deal when you’re paying off tens of thousands, right? Right. Logical. But the hunger and the deprivation was making me illogical. I skipped lunch anyway. I was cutting back on everything, I wouldn’t let mistakes derail me.
Since that time, I had reversed course into thinking, yeah a $10 lunch here or there is going to delay your loan payoff by a literal minute, if that. Health is more important.
Now I still believe health is more important than money but I may be revisiting the idea that skipping meals is a bad thing.
What I had found when skipping lunch was that it was unbearable for about an hour but after the pangs stopped, I was basically cured. I felt no ill effects. I didn’t eat a giant dinner to compensate. I wasn’t consistently hungry for hours. I wasn’t irritable. But I still felt guilty for skipping a meal and treating my health so flippantly.
After reading about it in a few publications, I decided to take the plunge.  I’m starting a diet whereby I only eat one meal a day, typically dinner. 

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Note to Grads: Your Choices Now Determine Who You Will Be

Though my family grew up in New Jersey, my sister was a bandwagon Chicago Bulls fan. Can’t really blame her. Who didn’t like Mike? He was so much better than everyone else (including my beloved Knicks). What I didn’t learn until much later was that, once upon a time, he wasn’t the most amazing basketball player of all time.

As a sophomore in high school, he didn’t make the varsity team. Big whup, right? Well, it was a huge deal to him. Jordan would get into school well before the teachers to shoot baskets at his gym every day of the year. He made the team his junior year and became a star player, which led to college recruitment and the NBA.

Can you imagine if you had rebounded from a failure so seriously as a sophomore in high school that you worked every day for hours to get better? Where would you be now?

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My New Year’s Resolution: Stop Doing Stuff I Hate

I think I’m actually quite good at ignoring other people’s opinions – about certain things. I’ve always had my own sense of style, grating personality, and my weird hipster tendencies. But I also have a high threshold for pain and misery. I mean I’ve worked as an attorney in a law firm for almost 5 years, and I lived with appendicitis for a few years.

stop

So recently I was invited to a baby shower. And I know this makes me a terrible person, but I hate baby showers. Or at least I hate it when only women are invited to these things – as if raising children is just a woman’s job. And then you play these stupid gross games like eating baby food. And you don’t even know each other that well, unlike at bridal showers, where you might be all really good friends. And then you just talk about baby stuff and there’s often no booze!

So I went shopping for something off the registry, and I was figuring out my train ride back from a little vacation I was having so that I could make it back for the baby shower. And then it occurred to me, I don’t have to go. I could give the gift ahead of time and spend the time I would have spent at the baby shower, doing anything I wanted to do.

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