Saturday, August 12, 2006

Making My Life Better

You know, I have just got to stop thinking so much about sex. Not that there's anything wrong with thinking about sex. Its only natural, in the circumstances. And I'm certainly enjoying the music I have been playing. But if I keep dwelling on this one issue all the time, I am going to get depressed.

I am thinking about something I just said to Digger. I read a book once about how to cope with being with a man with a low libido, and while many of its suggestions for improving things weren't really suited to us, it did make the excellent point that there are plenty of ways to reduce your own level of distress about the problem. In particular, it had a number of statements you could make to yourself, including one I really related to, which was along the lines of "Its disappointing when X doesn't want to have sex with me, but its not a disaster. I'm just going to keep doing things that make my life better".

It has often worked for me. Probably because the statement is basically true. Its not one of those affirmations that are just too positive to be believed in!

But it does raise the question: What exactly have I been doing lately to make my life better?

The answer is: not much. I have allowed the inherent chaos of having a baby in the house, a sick partner, working etc to become an excuse for just drifting along.

Now, there are two things that are really bothering me about my life which, unlike my sex life, I actually have some real control over.

The first is my weight. I have made fitful attempts to do something about the pregnancy weight, but I seem to just keep losing and regaining the same 5kgs (about 10 pounds for American friends) over and over again. I have got to sort this out. Partially motivated, I will admit, by the moment of shock and pain I felt at reading this. The guy's entry about his wife's post-pregnancy body was so harsh that I was really shocked. I was angry with him when I read it. Actually, I am still angry at him, which is stupid. But I also recognise how much of my rage is about it hitting a little too close to home.

Now, the sorry fact is that diets don't work for me. I lose the weight all right, in fact I am quite a good dieter due to my generally compulsive nature, but it doesn't stay off. Whatever I've lost just comes back within a few months, usually with a little bit of extra. Because a diet, by definition, is something you go off.

The only thing that has worked long-term for me is just forgetting about the weight side of things and generally focusing on getting more exercise and eating plenty of healthy food that I have prepared myself. Not forgetting to eat for hours on end and then stuffing down some junk food or takeaway because its quick and I can have it now, followed by immediate remorse. I go to so much effort to feed my partner, and to feed my baby, and yet I just haven't been taking care of myself nearly as well. And I have fallen into the bad habit of having food-related "treats" when I am having a hard day.

So, Resolution #1 is: I will exercise three times per week, eat no junk food, and make sure I have something home-cooked that I actually enjoy eating ready for when I come home from work every night. Minimalist, huh? But I believe in setting small, achieveable goals. They are really the only kind I believe in.

The other issue is debt. I spent so long as a student with no money that I developed the bad habit of just spending everything that comes in and living from week to week. And when I was finally working, we still weren't saving anything because we were spending every cent on fertility treatment. So we have a lot of debt and we don't have a good savings habit. We are just living from pay day to pay day. For so many years, I haven't been in a position to save very much, but I must admit that now, although we are fairly poor at the moment with me working part-time, we could save something if we really tried.

So, Resolution #2 is: I will have $100 per fortnight automatically deducated into an account that I don't touch.

And if anyone around here is good at paying off debt and saving, I would be genuinely grateful for your advice.

And since my whole life can't just be about self-discipline, finally, Resolution #3 is: Every week, I will do something for myself that doesn't involve food. Something that feeds my heart, my mind, my spirit. I have a few ideas about this, but if anyone has some suggestions, please feel free to make them.

Now, I will be reporting on these things, so watch this space.


Blogger So Gone Over You said...

Hey girl! Your "small" changes with your diet and exercise will make a HUGE difference, I'm sure! Everyone needs to carve out a little "me" time so they stay sane!

5:41 PM  
Blogger Summer Rose said...

LOL!! I know how it is not getting the "me" time that you need. I also know what it's like to have gained weight. And working part time, being a mom.

Here's a few things you can do, and they are very costly. And they also depends on when you work, I would have emailed you.

1. Take a long quiet bath, just to unwind from the days stress.

2. while every one is asleep workout in the mornings that way your not rushing around in the evenings after work.

3. Find a good book to read after your little one goes to sleep sit down and have few moments of peace.

4. Go for a walk, they are the best in losing weight, your outside getting the fresh air that you need.

That's all that I can think of if you want more please feel free to ask me any thing. I also know what it's like being a first time mom. The best advice I can give you, is hug your son tell him you love him.

Hugging is the best thing you can do, it will bring you closer to your son. I don't start my day without them. My mom did the same thing with me and my two siblings she hugged us all the time. Even when we were hurting she was right there to pick us up.

Keep a child's milestone book near by write down even the silliest things he does. When he gets older you both can look back and say that was cool mom.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Tajalude said...

Emily, there is a "money man" here in the states named Dave Ramsey, and my husband & I have used his plan to be debt free since we got married. It's from a Christian perspective but it can apply to anyone. Here are the basics:

1. Save $1,000 in an emergency fund.

2. Pay off your debts, from smallest to largest, regardless of things like interest rates. It works like a snowball, and you'll have more money to put towards the next debt. (The only debt you should have is your home.)

3. You should save for an emergency fund with 3-6 months worth of expensese.

4. Fully fund any retirement accounts that are available to you, especially those where your employer might match any sort of contributions. (I'm not sure if things are different in Australia, but here, some employers will match up to a certain percentage for personally funded retirement accounts.)

5. Start saving for your child's college fund.

6. Try to pay off your house early, if you haven't paid it off yet.

7. Build your wealth using real estate, mutual funds, etc. Enjoy your money... build it, and give it away.

There's more to it than that, but that's a good start. My husband & I have been debt free since we got married, and it's the only way we will ever do things. We only buy used cars, we have a monthly budget, and we have clearly defined common goals.

If you'd like to know any specific information about how we do our monthly budget, just ask, I'd be more than happy to tell you what our plan is. We're currently saving up for our first house, which we plan to purchase in the late winter/early spring. Having a definite goal is a big inspiration!!

And good luck on the rest of your goals. They all sound reasonable and attainable. I know sometimes it's easier said than done with these types of things, and that sometimes you lose sight of your goal. The exercise thing is one that I'm going to be starting (again, for the 34829374832x's time!) again very very soon, so I will try to be a good "partner" and keep up with how you're doing! : )

5:41 PM  
Blogger aphron said...

I'm not use what a fortnight is, but what tajalude said is common sense. Don't spend the money to take the course. One big thing: DON'T use credit cards. They are evil. Otherwise, it's patience and hardwork.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Resolution #3 suggestion - make it a goal to visit a library or an art museum (or some other non-expensive) place on at least a monthly basis to feed your mind with knowledge - anything at all that interests you: art, history, geography, psychology, self-improvement, crafts, whatever challenges your mind. In other words, strive to make yourself a more interesting educated person than you feel that you are at the moment. That is a cheap worthwhile goal in my opinion.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

All great suggestions, and I have just posted a report on having made a start.

So Gone - I really appreciate the encouragement.

Summer Rose - You are such a guru mummy! And I totally agree about the hugging. Plus, you know, I can never resist hugging my son, even when he doesn't want me to!

Tajalude - I am particularly intrigued by this system, especially paying off debts from smallest to biggest. Presumably because its more motivating?

We got a $3,000 payment from the government when our baby was born. Its called the baby bonus and aimed at helping you with those early expenses. Now, I intended to use that cheque to pay off credit card debt, and that amount would have more than covered the entire balance of the smaller card debt and enabled us to get rid of the card, which would have been very motivating.

But, of course, I thought we should pay off the bigger card first, because of the interest. And the result? That money went on the bigger card, but of course it wasn't enough for us to get rid of that card, and ultimately we slowly took that money out again and just frittered it all away. Not on stupid things, just on groceries and rent and bills etc, but seeing as how we'd managed without it before, I can really see how stupid that was!

Aphron - I really agree about the evilness of credit cards (see above, grrrrrr...). A fortnight is two weeks.

Rob - Great idea. And, you know, I love art and used to go to the gallery regularly. And there is so much of that kind of thing in Canberra, with all the national institutions here, and so cheap it is practically free!

I have been told sometimes that having done a PhD means that I am already over-educated, but I don't believe that's possible. A person can always learn something more, especially if that something is out of their usual field. Did you ever watch the movie Camelot? Merlin makes the point that the best cure for sadness, heartbreak, etc is to learn something. I believe that.

5:10 PM  

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