Note from Melissa: I discovered Rachel and The Minimalist Mom blog in September, after she finished (and wrote about) her first Whole30 experience. Her article, Choosing Organic Over an Iphone, was brilliant in its content, and beautifully written. I explored more of her website and articles, and immediately subscribed to her blog.
Then, in a wonderful moment of fate, I checked out her e-book, The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year. Still in my first trimester and overwhelmed at all the stuff baby sites say you “need,” this book became my nesting bible—the best $5 I’ve spent so far on baby gear. I even purchased a few extra copies for pregnant friends.
Rachel was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule (including a newborn of her own) to share her thoughts on simplifying, specifically tailored to healthy eating and our readers. I encourage you to share your thoughts here, then head over to The Minimalist Mom and read more of Rachel’s perspective.
Rachel Jonat, The Minimalist Mom
My husband and I completed a Whole30 in September of 2012.
It was a huge milestone for both of us: for my husband because he had never stuck to a real food diet for that long and for me because we finished it in my 26th week of pregnancy. My husband had improved his eating habits in recent years but still had a love of Subway sandwiches and Cadbury chocolate. It was my second pregnancy and my first was littered with cookies the size of my hand as afternoon pick-me-ups and evenings snacking on Triscuits smothered in cream cheese.
Eating clean for 30 days, and all the benefits we saw from it, was a huge accomplishment for both of us.
Completing a Whole30 together was also something that we couldn’t have imagined doing just a few years previously. Back then we were too busy, overwhelmed, and burning through too much cash and time to dedicate 30 days to nutrition and wellness. We had our excuses as to why we couldn’t eat high quality food, get enough sleep or exercise regularly:
- · We had a new baby.
- · My husband worked a lot and traveled frequently.
- · We didn’t have the money and we didn’t have the time.
Our crutches were Diet Coke, take-out meals (because I was too tired to cook) and, for me, impulse spending on things we never ended up using. Our spacious urban condo felt cluttered. We owned a lot of things that were supposed to make our life easier – electronics, baby soothing gadgets, a DVR/Tivo – but really stole our time, money, and space. I said I valued health but couldn’t fathom, much less afford, buying organic or local produce and free range meats and eggs.
So how did we get to a place where we could focus our time and money on our health and complete a Whole30 together?
Choosing Simplicity for Better Health
Do you have a dream scenario? For us it was a vision of working less and spending more time on our health and each other. My husband wanted to travel less for work and have time for health and fitness. I wanted more hours in the week for our family to be together and for myself to pursue a new career. I wanted a cleaner home and a fitter mind and body.
For most of my life I assumed that my dream lifestyle was tied to earning more money. Or winning the lottery.
When I started to read about Minimalism I started to see that our dream lifestyle was closer than a random windfall of cash or a big promotion at work. There were some hard and easy ways we could improve our health and quality of life without an increase in annual income or an inheritance.
If we spent less we could work less.
Inspired by stories of people living out of backpacks or with just 100 things, I decided to purge our home of the unnecessary.
It wasn’t easy.
It was painful to donate things we had never used and things that we were still paying for.
As I let go of the things—the dress I bought because it was a great deal and not because it looked good on me, the Sleep Sheep I bought my son praying it would somehow make him sleep more than three hours at a time. I felt lighter. As I began to have fewer things in my home to look after and clean, I started to have more time. I spent less.
The list of excuses and reasons why we couldn’t eat well, exercise and get enough sleep dwindled.
If you can’t spend the time or money to eat real food, get a good night of sleep and exercise, what are you spending your time and money on?
Look at your bank statement. Save those credit card receipts. Look at where your money is going each month. Is your cell phone or cable plan worth it? Could driving a second hand car, instead of buying new, allow you to purchase better quality food for you and your family?
Most of us have a choice to simplify and live a bit smaller
Maybe what’s standing between you and real food is taking a job closer to home. Or moving into a smaller home. Or unsubscribing from those daily deal sites so you’re no longer tempted to buy salsa lessons you’ll never take.
Simplifying your life can give you more time and money than the next promotion you’re gunning.
Everything was on the table when my husband and I looked at ways to reduce our possessions and lower our cost of living. I sold my wedding dress, the torch I ran with in the 2010 Olympic torch relay, and our huge DVD collection. For a time we seriously considered selling our home.
Eventually we decided to sell our car. It not only simplified our life and improved our health, it saved us several hundred dollars a month.
As we let go of more and more things, things we had thought were essential in our lives, things like iPhones and cable TV, our budget and spending better reflected our values and the lifestyle we wanted.
Suddenly we had extra cash to start paying down our large consumer and student loan debt. As our finances improved so did my sleep.
If you want to improve your health and your diet, start by evaluating where you spend your time and money.
Those extra dollars for farm fresh eggs and the early bed time can be yours but you’ll have to make choices. You’ll probably have to give some things up.
It might mean stepping down from a committee that meets late at night, or choosing to vacation closer to home. It might mean selling all those things in your garage that you rarely use. It might mean making do and repairing instead of rushing out to buy the a new replacement.
It will likely mean owning less and even doing less, so you can dedicate more dollars to your nutrition and more time to sleep, rest and exercise.
How have you changed what you spend your time and money on since adopting a Whole9 life? If you’re struggling to find the time and money for your health, what things currently take up most of your time and money?
Rachel Jonat, The Minimalist Mom, is a mother, wife and writer from Vancouver, Canada, currently living in the Isle of Man with: 2 pairs of jeans, no car, no debt, more time, and less stress. You can read more about her here.