Friday, June 24, 2011

Getting in Shape: Finances to Fitness

I'm in the best shape that I've been in many years. I'm not the thinnest, but I'm certainly have the most lean muscle and have more stamina than I have in a long time. It's been a couple of months of exercising every day and watching what I eat. During this time, I've seen how the same principles that I've applied to my finances also apply to fitness.

The first step for me is always forming the habit. It's hard to break old habits, but sometimes it's even harder to start new, good ones. I'm more of a sedentary, quiet individual. I'm not a rough and tumble sports playing kind of girl. The hardest part for me was establishing a daily exercise routine. It's taken me about two months to get to where I feel strange if I haven't exercised in a day. The momentum of my daily habit is carrying me now. I don't have to push myself to exercise. I don't dread it. It's just part of my life like brushing my teeth and taking a shower. It was the same way when I was trying to get our finances turned around. It was hard to stop spending money. It was even harder to start putting money in savings and leave it alone. The good financial habits just like good fitness habits are hard to start, but they have a life of their own once you get them in place.

The second step for me is accepting the slow and steady progress that it takes to get your body in shape or your money in order. It's taken us years--years to get our financial house in order. This isn't to say that we are in a perfect financial situation, but we know how to live within our means and we are continuing to pay off the debts of our past. In the same way, it's taking a long time to lose weight. I had a weight loss goal in mind when I started to focus on getting in shape two months ago. I haven't reached that magic number yet. This is partly due to the lean muscle that I'm building. I've lost inches, but I'm only down about nine or ten pounds. I know that weight will come off eventually, but it's hard to watch the scale inch down ever so slowly.

The third part is to take the setbacks in stride and keep on going. We all have setbacks. It doesn't take much to knock me off my horse. A sick child, a major unexpected expense, or a long family visit to disrupt my good financial and fitness habits. It's just part of life. There are bumps along the way. It isn't important to focus on what didn't get done or the money that didn't get saved or those eight oreo cookies that I ate yesterday driving home from my parent's house (yes, it's true). It's important to get up the next day and look forward, focus on that goal, and get yourself back on track.

So maybe I haven't reached my fitness or my financial goals yet. I still have about five more pounds to lose and ten thousand more in credit card debt to pay off. But I'm wearing a bikini this summer, and I'm going to rock it.

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