Why KonMari and Dave Ramsey Failed Me, And How I Found What Works

This post is about how KonMari and Dave Ramsey didn’t quite work for me the way I had hoped, and what I learned from the experience. Before anyone gets all defensive about either of these methods, I’m gonna say that I learned things of value from both the individual methods as well my personal failures with them. In fact, I’m happy I tried both of them, failed, and learned what I did. 

If you have ever been on a diet/”cleanse”/”detox” (or many), you probably are intimately familiar with the emotional states that motivated you to overhaul your lifestyle. Specifically, the frustration and impatience. “Why is my life such a mess? Oh god, how did I let it get this bad? I need to change everything right now. That’s IT! I’m making a change.”

And instead of making one change, such as “eating more vegetables at dinnertime” or “going to bed 1 hour earlier,” you decide to make many changes. Maybe you do a Whole 30 or a 21-Day Fix or whathaveyou. You cut out several food groups, count every calorie at every meal, implement a new workout, completely change what you order in restaurants, completely change your meal schedule, try and shop for completely different foods, cook completely different foods, and more…..all at the same time.

Within 3 months, your habits are back to where you started, and the cycle begins all over again. Maybe you have a case of the “fuckits” (as in, “fuck it; I’ll do what I want!”) for a while until the frustration and impatience builds up again. “Why is my life such a mess? Oh god, how did I let it get this bad? I need to change everything right now. That’s IT! I’m making a change.”

And on and on it goes…..

I’m gonna propose that programs like the KonMari method and Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover have much in common with the quick “fixes” of the diet world. Let’s look at some of the similarities:

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Minimalist Lifting, Week 2 Training Log

I am about halfway through my second week on a more minimal lifting program.  Here are some thoughts and observations.

If you read about the Wendler 5/3/1 program online, you will see that each day has you do 3 sets of the main lift. There are different templates you can follow for assistance work. The templates have names like “Big But Boring,” and “The Triumvirate.” The template where you do just the main lift, with no assistance work, is called “I’m Not Doing Jack Shit.”

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The Porch Gym Moves Indoors

It’s raining today…..so instead of taking a walk, I moved all my weightlifting equipment across the room and moved furniture around!

I had been lifting on my porch all summer…and now the weather is starting to get really unpleasant. I bought a heavy duty gym floor mat to protect my hardwood flooring. But last week when I set it up in my living room, I was really conscious of how I was not enjoying myself in that space at all. Surrounded by clutter and toddler dirt. Weightlifting is a hobby I love and I like to respect the space.

This past Tuesday I noticed the same thing: I did not want to lift in the living room. Something had to change.

Soooo….I rearranged all the furniture and made space for my equipment (it had previously lived near the door because that was convenient for lifting on the porch. Now I feel like I have a designated corner of the room for lifting, instead of feeling like I am in the middle of furniture and clutter. I am going to try lifting later and see if it feels any better. I think it will!

It won’t win any interior design awards, but I think it will help functionally. I have been struggling with motivation lately, so I need all the help I can get, and that includes liking my environment.

I’m feeling proud of how my self awareness is improving. Listening to your body can mean more than just listening for hunger, satiety, and sleepiness cues.

I’m also feeling grateful of all the discarding we’ve done – because it allowed me the space to move my porch gym into the living room for the winter. Not everyone has a ton of spare room in their home, and I’m glad I found a way to work with the space I have.

Goal Attained! and Getting Ready to Move the Porch Gym Indoors

Just a quick weekend update. I haven’t been in the mood to write and share much lately.

BUT….I reached one of my goals last week and I’m super proud of it! I set a goal to complete 150 strength workouts this year, and I reached that goal on 10/29/2015! I’m very proud, because it showed patience and persistence.  It reminds me of a quote I saw (sorry, I don’t know the source): “a river cuts through rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.”

So, I’ll probably be at closer to 170 workouts by the end of the year. Right now, through trial and error, I’ve learned that 3 workouts per week seems to be the magic number for me. I can improve, but still recover well and still have energy for other activities, like work, motherhood, and all the trail walks we’ve been taking this fall. I experimented with 5 and 4 times per week, but I was often more tired than I needed to be. Lately, I’m realizing that minimalism can be just as enriching in fitness as it is in other areas of life.

To that end, here are some blog posts by other bloggers who seem to agree on this:

Another thing I did over the past couple weeks was order a good floor mat and flat bench so I can train indoors more in the winter.  I decided that instead of finding a winter alternative to the porch gym, I would simply move the porch gym into the living room for the winter. Rather than olympic weightlifting only, I will do a mix of powerlifting and weightlifting, just so I’m not dropping heavy stuff on my floor ALL the time.

I have mixed feelings about this decision. I chose it for practical reasons. Last winter I trained at a local gym with good childcare….but it was such an….OUTING to get there. I had to pack up my kid’s lunch, bundle him up, either clean off my car or walk in the cold, find parking downtown….when all was said and done, going to the gym with a 2 year old took ALL MORNING.  Now that kiddo plays by himself really well, I’m thinking that training at home will require less logistical “stuff” and kiddo can play or watch TV or whatever. And it will be fun to do more powerlifting again. Less technical, more oxen-like strength. Just heavy barbells. What’s not to like?

So why the mixed feelings? What if I never get used to the feeling of lifting a giant barbell in my living room? (um……) Or what if THIS is the winter I wish I could swim? (Doubtful – I access to a pool last winter and never pursued it because that would have entailed dragging even MORE stuff to the gym – swimsuit, towel, shower gear….). What if my kid gets bored? (This will theoretically free up more time in our day for non-gym outings). What if I don’t get enough walking in? (Nothing says I have to stop walking to run errands downtown just because I won’t be going to the gym there). So, basically, there is no strong downside. Only minor concerns. We’ll live with that!

Well, that’s it! I guess I did have things to write about after all. Seems like there is something to be said for “just getting started.”

Tired Week Musings on Rest, Minimalism, and Contentment

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve posted. I had some arm pain last week so I needed to minimize typing. And once it felt better, I just felt….tired. So posting fell low on the list of priorities.

As for the low energy, there were a few different factors at play. It was time for a deload week with the barbell, so it was natural that I needed some time to recuperate. I’ve also been fighting a cough for the past month. However, last weekend when I looked at my habit tracking spreadsheet, I noticed that I hadn’t been checking off the “in bed by 10pm column” as often. Well, that was a good reminder of why I chose that habit. For the past few days I’ve been making a conscious effort to go to bed instead of watching TV at night. And boy do I need it – even with the extra sleep, I still feel tired. I have some catching up to do, clearly.

Lately I’ve been enjoying the benefits of minimalism in my life. I’ve been working towards a decluttering goal this year and my husband and I have gotten rid of more than double the amount of things I aimed to get rid of…..and we are still going! I’m starting to appreciate the benefits at this point. Such as – I actually enjoy spending time at home now, whereas I used to feel overwhelmed and stressed out and needed to get out a lot. Which left things undone at home. Which left me more stressed out. Which meant my rest time wasn’t as restful as it could have been.

But today, I am grateful that I have been working towards a restful space, and I have achieved that (even though there is more I can do, I am happy with the progress we have made!). When I woke up this morning, I could feel that I needed a restful day. Thankfully, today is one of my days off from work. So I slowly got ready to go out on the porch and lift.  I read the weather on my phone, got dressed slowly, ate breakfast and took care of my kid’s shit (literally and figuratively). After breakfast (almost 2 hours later!) we headed out to the porch gym, which, today, was also a pet shop. Or a ticket counter. Or maybe both. I’m not sure.  Since it was a bit rainy and I was needing extra rest, I did not schedule any trail walking into my day.

Later, a friend I hadn’t spoken with in a long time sent me a message asking how I was doing. I caught myself about to answer “we are having a lazy day.” And I realized that sounded so negative, when in fact, I was doing a positive thing by honoring my need for rest. So instead, I said “we are having a restful day.” That felt great, and not at all self-deprecating. I think I will try substituting “restful” for “lazy” in my language, when applicable (which is probably almost always)”.

In addition to “tired,” I have also been experiencing a sense of contentment lately. I like this quote by Joshua Becker:

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.

Recently (definitely within the past year), I have found myself thinking self-pitying thoughts, especially about finances and lifestyle things that we can’t afford right now, such as a home with a bigger yard, and traveling to visit friends and family more. But my daily “name something for which I feel grateful” habit seems to be changing my mindset, and this morning I was feeling grateful for simplicity. Sure, I could work more, and I would have more money. I am a person who really needs a lot of downtime and time alone with my own thoughts though. And today, I am grateful that my lifestyle (and my husband!) is allowing me some of that time, several times per week. Especially since I have a child. I’m feeling happy with the way things are, right now.

Thanks for reading!