Challenges, finance, Health, Living, sober

Changes Add Up Surprisingly Quickly

Today I was struck by how different my daily life looks compared to less than two months ago. Then, I would be driving home from work, picking up a bottle or can of something from the liquor store, have no energy to cook something healthy, maybe drag my ass to the gym without much enthusiasm, and dutifully check my finances and pat myself on the back for putting in the bare minimum to my RRSP and TFSA. My pants were tight, I wasn’t happy looking in the mirror, and I was grateful it was winter so that I could cover myself in baggy sweaters.

This was in late December. It is now midway through February and it wouldn’t be dramatic to say that my life has completely turned around. Not that it was bad before – I was relatively happy overall, I have a satisfying and fulfilling marriage, family who has stayed healthy and active during the current global shitshow, and steady employment. I had hit the luck lottery, and I know it. It was just that from a personal level I felt out of control. So I’m going to look at three things that have taken about nine weeks to completely change how I feel about myself: mental health, physical health, and financial health.

Mental Health. Last year I was able to find contentment in the situation because I was lucky enough to be in a secure position and pay for everything I needed. I was reading a lot and trying to push myself through different mental gymnastics exercises, though I would inevitably stop and passively consume internet and tv content for hours every day. By far the biggest determinant of change for me has been the complete abstention from alcohol. My foggy-headedness is gone, and I wake up with a clear and happy mind. There is no question that my mornings are happy now, as I type away or write in my journal and drink coffee. My decision-making throughout the day is far better, and I am able to take care of my body with more confidence because I know I won’t be poisoning it with alcohol. I write in my journal every morning, pouring out any and every thought that comes to mind, and I’ve noticed a subtle shift in optimism over the past weeks; I’m confident in myself and feel very in control, something that has eluded me for a very long time.

Physical Health. I started 2021 with a 30-day challenge of eating really clean Paleo-esque. I felt so much better with that that I have continued it, and my pants are getting loose at the waist. More impressively, I’ve gone from a 200lb deadlift to a 235lb, a 130lb squat to a 160lb, and a 75lb bench press to a 85lb. This is over a few short weeks, and I know it’s because I am fuelling my body with everything it needs to shine for me. I have never felt more proud of myself than when I grunted that 235lb barbell off of the floor, and I saw a couple of people watching as I did it. When I look in the mirror now I still see flaws, but I also see a body that is capable of doing some seriously impressive shit.

Financial Health. I have been able to add an additional two thousand dollars towards my FIRE goal in a few weeks because I have stopped drinking, stopped eating out at restaurants, and stopped buying shit I really, really don’t need. Now, this sounds like I’m a super boring person, but in truth I feel more fulfilled. I am in control of every aspect that I can possibly be in control of, and it feels amazing. I’m looking at my finances and seeing all of these places where I have accidentally cut spending and realizing that I don’t miss any of it. My credit card balance for this cycle, which only has another day on it before it generates the bill, is $433. That includes an expensive birthday present for my husband. It’s now at the point where it is, dare I say, fun to see how much I don’t spend.

The whole point of this is I think a lot of people are put off by the idea that something will take an extremely long time to change. In some cases it absolutely will. But in others it is surprising how quickly some changes add up. I’m nowhere near the physical and financial goals that I have set for myself, but I’m so much closer and building up some habits that will push me forward, and it only took a couple of months to do that. I suggest trying something for a minimum of 30 days (enough to see maybe see some changes, short enough to be very doable) and you’ll see some neat new habits that will stick.

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