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Archive of ‘Gwen’ category

Is a Month Without Coffee Possible? Gwen Take On the #NoCoffeeNovember Challenge

I needed a coffee intervention.

As the days started getting darker and colder, I relied more heavily on my BFF, a warm cuppa Joe… though this time I noticed the side effects a little bit more intensely.

I had been noticing (and promptly ignoring) that around 3pm everyday I start to feel a wave of anxiety go through me. Just outta the blue. Also, I’d feel really dehydrated every day and notice that sometimes when I’d smile at people I’d feel my face actually shaking a little bit. The jitters were real.

Though perhaps the ultimate reason why I wanted to take on #NoCoffeeNovember challenge was realizing how much I NEEDED IT and barely wanted to make eye contact with anyone before I had a cup of coffee in hand. That neediness reminded me that YES, coffee is a drug and a powerful one.

The Start of the No Coffee Adventure:

Week 1:

“Wiped out” would be the best way to describe this week. I decided to start the challenge on a Monday, a couple of days before November started to ease into it. On Day 1, I felt okay during the day… though when I got home I fell hard into #pillowlife. I literally got home, fell asleep and emerged from Zombie-mode 13 hours later. The second day, I slept for 12 hours. Both nights I had plans to go to martial arts class, though the ZZZs won. After the first two days I was able to ride out the week on chai, soda water, and Dandy Blend Lattes. (Dandy Blend is exactly what it sounds like… a drink made of dandelions and other wild herbs).

My real challenge came on the weekend. My weekends are usually super chill. I hang out with my boyfriend, run errands and relax. Coffee usually takes me from chill to HIGH ON LIFE. I found it really difficult to not have that ‘high’ on the weekend. One way I distracted myself was by going for a run, and I seriously considered almost buying a $7 ‘coffee-like’ drink from a fancy health restaurant (filled with things like mesquite, maca, dark cocoa, raw coconut oil, etc.). It would’ve been an okay splurge (it’s healthy right?) though I realized that it would be more fun to attempt to make something like this at home instead and was able to stave off the craving. I’m also on an airtight budget with little room for $7 drinks.

My other challenge was that I ate A TON of sugar this week. Normally, I don’t eat a lot of sugar, though this week it was more than my body could handle. I ate candy, opened a beautiful box of chocolates to eat myself (and then attempted to share), and decadent vegan marshmallow cookies. It was all so delicious… though my body didn’t find it that great. My skin immediately broke out like crazy. I hadn’t had a break out like that since last year! Dammit sugar.

Week 2:

Armed with new information that it takes THREE days to detox the body and then it’s a psychological battle, I was ready to roll up my sleeves and fight a new battle. I’ve found that my crutch for a ‘hit’ has become soda water. I’ve never drunk so many in my life. Dear God, I hope they’re not bad for me. I also curbed my sugar cravings this week with purely fighting it off and also drinking more smoothies. I also attempted to replicate a smoothie from one of my favourite restaurants (it takes like chocolate ice cream, and it’s healthy and satisfying)!

Week 3 and 4:

These weeks I was deeply missing coffee. It felt like a roller coaster of emotions. From one minute neeeeeeding it, to the next being okay. This stuff is truly powerful and addictive. And it was mostly the challenge of the weekends. Oh, the weekends. I craved it with a vengeance on Saturdays and Sundays. One particular weekend was spent watching the black belt test at my martial arts school and I really wanted a coffee. The experience of watching the test is super stressful, and I wanted to hold something warm and comforting. I settled for hot chocolate… and it was the worst. Turns out nothing can take the place of coffee.

So Did I Complete the Challenge Successfully?

I DID IT!!!!!!! Yo. This was a true challenge. Many many times I said to people, ‘Maybe I’ll just get a decaf. That’s okay right?’ Though technically it would have been breaking the challenge, and HELL YEAH I didn’t do it.

Was It Worth It?

Honestly, I’m on the fence about this. Yes, I felt relief to not need it everyday. I felt more hydrated. And I felt more peaceful. Though I picked up some habits around eating way more sugar and soda water to compensate which didn’t feel too great.

So what’s next?

This challenge taught me a lot about myself. And from what I know about myself, I would still love to have coffee be a part of my life, though I’d like for it to be a weekend treat instead of a daily necessity. So that’s how I’ll approach it going forward: the weekends (or holidays) are for coffee 🙂

My December Challenge:

Alrighty, new month, new challenge time! My December challenge will be: pay in cash for all holiday purchases. I am a devotee of the monthly budget and realize the holidays are the perfect time to let all hell break loose. WELL, NOT THIS YEAR! I’m going to use the envelope method and actually budget how much I will be spending on different people (and food) over the month!

With fewer than 30 days left of 2017, what challenge could you take on to help you make mo’ money and mo’ progress?

Gwen’s #SoberOctober Challenge

“When you quit drinking you stop waiting.”

Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story

My October challenge was to take on #SoberOctober. My goal was to cease and desist drinking alcohol for the entire month.

So did I do it?

1

HECK YEAH I DID!! WOOHOO!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

I’ve actually been sober for 1 month and 11 days at this point. I’ve been using the I Am Sober app to track my progress. It also shares that I’ve saved about $164. This is based on guessing that I’d spend $4/day on alcohol (this would equal a bottle of wine/beers during the week).

As you can see I’ve been sober for longer than one month. I kickstarted this challenge mid-September and decided to join the #soberoctober bandwagon to keep it going.

The Backstory:

I’ve taken on alcohol-free living before. In fact, in 2016 I went alcohol-free for nine months. I started drinking again when I went on a trip to Italy and REALLY wanted to drink wine. This past September, I got the itch to quit again. I made a half-hearted attempt to pause drinking in July after having a TERRIBLY CHALLENGING green belt test in the martial art I practice called Krav Maga.

Despite working out consistently, I felt miserably out of shape during the test. I knew if I wanted to have better tests, I’d have to take my training more seriously, which involves eating better and drinking less alcohol. Despite good intentions, I only made a half-hearted attempt in the summer and I didn’t actually quit drinking. I’d drink a beer here and there, and wine or champagne on Fridays at work (yes, I work at a really awesome place ;).

The Moment of Truth:

The catalyst to deciding to get back into sobriety was free samples. I was gifted a bunch of free samples of Malibu from a party I volunteered at. I found myself drinking these little bottles here and there in a very ‘numb out’ way. The ultimate moment I found was when I decided to drink one in the bathtub after a particularly hard martial arts class to try to ease my physical pain. I don’t think it’s a problem to drink in the bathtub to unwind, my problem was that I wanted to hide the fact that I was drinking it and that made me uncomfortable.

Time for Progress:

When taking on the sobriety challenge again, I knew I wanted to be able to see my progress. So I Googled and found the I Am Sober app and was thrilled to see how easy it was to track. And it’s a major bonus to find out that I can track how much money I’m saving too!

The Benefits:

The reason we take on monthly challenges here at Mo’ Money, Mo’ Progress is because we are looking to ultimately feel better (by making more progress and more money!)

So I’d love to share some of the benefits I’ve noticed in the last six weeks:

  • I’m becoming an early bird! For some reason over the last week I’ve been interested in waking up and getting up at the crack of dawn.
  • Not hungover. Ever. Full stop.
  • No split energy wondering if I should have a drink when it’s offered.
  • Better focus at work.
  • I know when a party sucks and when to leave.
  • “Mask off, f*cking mask off…” – Future. Really though, when you stop drinking a mask comes off.
  • Losing weight! For the first time in my life abs may become a thing!
  • A more intentional focus on paying off debt!
  • I don’t skip out on Krav Maga classes because I had been drinking. This happened a couple of times.

So to get right down to it, it’s challenging to make a lifestyle change, though Perrier and ‘mock’ beer is not that bad. In fact, it’s actually quite enjoyable!

Also, one final tip is that if you do want to go off the sauce, I recommend following people who are thriving whilst being off the sauce and learn from them. I discovered and followed @thesoberglow who has been an incredibly inspiring person to learn from.

So as of right now, I am still very interested to continue living sans alcohol. This challenge is becoming a new way of life.

My November Challenge?

So what shall I do to make my life more joyful in November? Oh, I don’t know… HOW ABOUT GIVE UP THE ELIXIR OF LIFE AKA COFFEE? That’s right, I’m going to do

#NoCoffeeNovember.

Why? I’d like to say goodbye to waaaves of anxiety. The upper lip jitters when I smile at people. The feeling of my brain leaving my body and coming back two hours later. The migraines. The 24/7 dehydration. The experience of feeling strung out when I get home.

This is a challenge I’m willing and excited to take on at this point in my life. Note that I will still be consuming caffeine (from tea/matcha) though I’m on the hunt for other coffee alternatives.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to join me in #NoCoffeeNovember if you dare!

<3 Gwen

Gwen’s September Challenge: Put Down the iPhone

In this sometimes (very) scary and hyper-connected world, it can feel easier to numb out and crawl under the covers (physically and mentally) than engage.

I’m all for taking a mini vacay from life every once in awhile, but when it starts to become a go-to habit, it’s valuable to take a closer look at why.

The answer is always fear. This manifests for me in feeling behind, not good enough, not successful enough, blah… blah… blah.

The feeling of ‘not enough’ sucks. So I find I do whatever I can to avoid it. Over the years I’ve had different numb-out tools. From binge eating (mostly sugary things) to drankin’, apathy to isolation – I’ve had my fair share of unhealthy habits.

Though this year I’ve experienced a shift that’s helped me be committed to live my most aligned life (the full story will come out when it’s ready).

I am now a sober (13 days and counting) vegan, minimalist-type gal who has finally embraced using my emotions as a compass. My numb-out tools are slowly being kicked to the curb.

So when thinking of what my September challenge should be, it was very clear to me that I have been developing a technology addiction that I’d like to let go of.

The Problem(s):

  • I mindlessly scroll through Instagram and Facebook and watch YouTube videos daily. It always starts out fun, but I soon find myself falling down rabbit holes and wonder how I got there.
  • I stare at a screen 70% of the day at work, so staring at it while I’m at home doesn’t feel good.
  • I don’t like that when I’m with friends, family or my boyfriend, when they leave the room or there’s a lull in a conversation, I’m tempted to pick up my phone to ‘kill time’ or kill the awkward moment.  
  • I feel like being addicted to technology is stealing my time! I want to be reading books, go for walks, build my side hustle!
  • This steals my presence and after coming out of a content binge I feel almost disoriented and not as connected to people.

My September challenge was to take a break from tech by putting my phone on airplane mode from 9 p.m. onwards. For me, nothing productive happens on the internet after 9 p.m. right now.

My Experience:

For the first two weeks I was on point. I was putting my phone on airplane mode like a gahdamn boss. I was thrilled to replace my nightly Instagram habit with a newfound routine of reading ‘10% Happier’ – a book by Dan Harris. It’s such a fun read. My sister also gave me one of Mindy Kaling’s books to read and I loved it! It felt so relaxing to curl up with a book and fall asleep without a video or podcast playing in the background (I’d tell myself this is okay because it was ‘inspirational’).

Then I started to slip up. It started slow with not setting my phone to airplane mode, due to having a text chat with my bf or sisters. Then it spiraled to not doing it at all.

There are two reasons why:

#1) I was gearing up for a belt test in Krav Maga and started to get stressed. The stress actually kicked up my desire to drink a beer here and there, and I found that when I drink beer, I give no effs and do whatever I want to do.

#2) I was moving. I was getting really stressed out about moving to a new place and found that watching dumb videos helped me feel a bit better. In reflection on the month, I can see that while I benefited from that behaviour at the time, I am not interested in living like that going forward.

In Conclusion,

This was a SUPER rewarding 30 day experiment.

This challenge helped me realize that I really do want to get this habit on track, so right now I’m looking for ways to keep it going (perhaps finding an app to monitor my time on each app). It helped me realize that this is something I really care about and want to get better at doing. And, in a weird way, it also helped me get clear on how alcohol has been playing a role in my life and how I’m ready to let it go (again).

So my October challenge is: #SoberOctober (aka no alcohol for the month). I started the challenge a little bit earlier than October 1st, and I’m tracking my progress on an app. I’m excited to see how taking out alcohol will contribute to my life this month!

Thank you for reading and I am now accepting all positive vibes.
-Gwen

Gwen’s August Challenge: The Envelope Method for Spending

Welcome back!

My August mo’ money, mo’ progress challenge was to use ‘the envelope method’ for spending. That meant my challenge was to pay only in cash, and to budget all the money I was going to use in envelopes for the month.

Why was I doing this? There were two main reasons:

  1. It’s more painful to part with cash than to swipe a card. I’m in savage mode to pay off my debts, and I’d heard this is a great tactic to use.
  2. Curiousity. Could I actually use this simple method of spending?

As a card-carrying swiper (for all the things) I thought it would be interesting to see what it would be like to actually take out a wad of cash, put it in envelopes according to my budget and stick to it. So at the start of the month, I headed to the bank, took out the money, and sorted the dollas the best I could into envelopes.

THE RESULTS:

It worked… for about half the month.

I had about 10 envelopes and was really vigilant at the beginning with carrying almost all of the envelopes I’d need (groceries, coffee, restaurant, miscellaneous) wherever I went. I’m a very ‘go with the flow’ kinda gal, so I never knew what envelopes I’d need for the day.

I will be honest, it’s a little unnerving to carry around a couple hundred bucks wherever you go. It kind of made me want to spend it, so I wouldn’t lose it.

I also found that once I couldn’t keep up with the change (or it fell out of envelopes and all over the place), I started to resent this system.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Overall, I’m happy I took on this challenge. It is a very eye-opening exercise to actually decide how much money you’re going to spend for the month… and see it. I actually do love the idea of paying in cash for a few things, so I’m going to extend the envelope method for September for my coffee and groceries budgets! I highly recommend trying this if you’re curious.

MY SEPTEMBER CHALLENGE:

I noticed in August that I started to become addicted to technology. It was quite a busy month at work, and I’m going to be moving again soon (and was dealing with that stress), so I found that at the end of the day all I wanted to do was curl up under the covers and watch YouTube videos. There’s nothing wrong with that, though I found I also went to sleep listening to podcasts, and overall had too much technology swirling around my head before grabbing some zzz’s. So my September challenge is going to be airplane mode and laptop free at 9 p.m. This is my effort to disconnect from technology before going to sleep and get some time back to read, meditate, and reconnect with a better sense of well-being.

Thank you for reading!! <3
Gwen

 

Gwen’s July Challenge: Save 50% of What I Earn (And Attack Debt with It)

What an epic month!

This past July has been one of the best months of my life. Here are a few reasons why:

  • I’ve officially been living on a plant-based diet for 60 days. I feel more healthy and vibrant than ever.
  • I said ‘I love you’ for the first time.
  • I lived within a budget I created for the first time in my life.
  • Overall, I’m appreciative of where I’m at and excited for my upcoming goals.

In July, I also discovered my new money ‘guru.’ I discovered Dave Ramsey’s teachings. Dave is a financial expert who went bankrupt in his 20s, which prompted him to dedicate the next 25 years of his life learning finances and teaching others to thrive by living within their means and paying off debt. To quote Gabrielle (the youngest Sisterpack member), “He is a (financial) savage!” Essentially his teachings make you want to eliminate your debt with ‘gazelle-like intensity’ and he’s absolutely no-nonsense when it comes to making your budget.

This leads me to my July challenge: spend 50% of my income on my debt. I’m happy to say I achieved my challenge and spent 57% of my income on debt (this even includes interest on debt as well).

So how did I do this? Here is my six step plan:

1) Face my financial reality head on.

I put all of the money I owed as well as my monthly expenses and income on an Excel doc to see where I was really at. Let’s be real: it can be scary af to be honest with yourself, realizing how much you owe and how long it will realistically take to pay off. It was definitely a wake-up call to see, though it was also inspiring to finally have concrete numbers.

2) Create a goal.

Since my goal was to spend 50% of my income on debt, it was a very black and white goal. I knew what I wanted. Surprisingly, I hadn’t done something like this in the past, which is probably why I haven’t felt like I’ve made much progress lately.

3) Do the math.

After facing my financial reality and setting the goal, my next step was to do some simple addition to figure out if I could consciously pay 50% with the lifestyle I was living. After doing the math, it turned out that 68% of my income was spoken for if I lived the same way that I did in June. So I decided to hack away at expenses. I lowered my grocery budget, restaurant and ‘miscellaneous’ budget and that got me into the right range.

4) Create a budget and use a system to track your spending.

I started the month using Mint.com to track all of my spending and make a budget. Though after discovering Dave Ramsey, I decided to start using his free EveryDollar.com site and app to track spending. I absolutely love it and am obsessed right now. I checked in almost daily to try to live within my means.

5) Tell those you trust.

It’s challenging to scale back your life and live on a budget. So I’m at a place right now that I am very open that I am attacking debt and will not be going out and spending a lot. Luckily, I have created a group of friends and my family get it and have been supportive of my goals.

6) Watch motivational and educational content whenever possible.

I mainlined Dave Ramsey’s YouTube videos. I watched examples of the joy that people felt when they paid off their loans. I learned from people’s mistakes and remembered to have compassion for myself for where I’m at. This all helped me achieve my goal.

I am SUPER proud to say that I accomplished my July challenge and am more committed than ever to pay off all debt.

My August challenge will be interesting. I’ve decided to use the ‘envelope method’ and actually carry cash and pay in cash. I will put my budgeted money in specific envelopes and only use that to pay! I haven’t used cash in a very long time, so I’m very interested to see how this will go!

Thank you so much for reading!

-Gwen

Gwen’s June Challenge: Radical Financial Transparency

I am in debt and I want out.

I’m carrying some student loan debt as well as credit card debts from investments I made in my business and travel expenses (okay… and a few impulse purchases).

The day I am debt free will be a glorious one, and I can’t wait to get there. The challenge is that I don’t have a solid plan on how to do that yet. I know it’s possible (as I’ve read so many stories and watched so many YouTube videos from people who have shed the debt), so I am really approaching this journey back into the black with curiosity and a sense of adventure.

I’ll level with ya… it hasn’t always been this way. I used to be desperately ashamed of debt. I wouldn’t talk about it and definitely wouldn’t share how much I owed.

So in an attempt to take out the shame and literally just own it, my June challenge was to be completely transparent with my financials with my sisters. I decided to give them access to my Mint account which currently links up all of my finances.

This includes how much money I make to how much interest I accumulate each month.

It felt incredibly liberating to share this. Not all of my sisters took a look, however, I’m going to keep it available to them to check out at any time. My youngest sister decided to take a look right before my eyes. I felt a bit nervous when she said, ‘Let me check it out now’ however, she approached it with a compassion and understanding and ‘It’s not that bad.’

My intention of financial transparency, also lead me to share with my boyfriend my desire to get out of debt. As he is insanely good at being thrifty (and he’s debt free), he is fully supportive of me going for it. In fact, it’ll probably make him feel better that we don’t spend as much eating out and cook more at home 🙂 I haven’t yet shared with him exactly how much I owe, though perhaps that’s a challenge for another month.

My July challenge is going to be an ambitious one. I want to save half of what I make and put it towards debt. With my rent taking up a significant chunk of cash, this is going to be a challenge worth taking on.

Thank you for reading and I wish you an awesome month!

-Gwen

 

Gwen’s May Challenge: Create a Positive Relationship with Money

My May challenge was to start creating a healthy, positive relationship with money.

The challenge was inspired by reading Jen Sincero’s #1 New York Times best-selling book: How to Be a Badass at Making Money. In the book she suggests that you write a letter to money as if it were a real person.

The idea is to get a sense of how you view money. At first, Jen had a ‘bat-shit crazy’ relationship with money! One minute she was in love, the next she felt there was not enough. It caused stress one moment, and pure joy the next. And her finances reflected the emotional ups and downs. Ultimately, this exercise helped her get clear on how she was giving money mixed signals which ultimately resulted in financial instability. In her 40’s she lived in a converted garage, dreaming of making more money. Today, she’s a millionaire who teaches millions of people how to be a badass at life and making mo’ money. Soooo I was definitely interested in taking on this challenge!

I started the challenge off strong at the beginning of May. I bought a journal specifically for the challenge and was an avid journaler for the first two weeks. I started with the initial letter to money and found my relationship was similar to Jen’s. Not a consistent feeling and a bit all over the place. I thought a good way to build the relationship would be journal daily to thank money for being there for me when I needed it and also check into my bank accounts daily. I was very consistent and excited to do this at first, though I soon found the familiar resistance popping up that lead me to completely stop the daily check in practice. I had fallen back into an old, defeating pattern.

Although I didn’t complete the challenge the way I thought I would, today (in June) I feel a renewed sense of excitement to building a positive relationship with money. I recently had the realization that I need to plan for the long-term when thinking about money, and stop looking for quick fixes. I have been subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) dreaming that a chunk of cash will fall from heaven and cure my financial debt. Since this has not happened, I think the realization has finally hit me to create a longterm plan and make it as easy as possible to follow.

This realization came as I’ve started to make real progress on another (and totally different) source of shame, stress, and insecurity I’ve experienced over the last ten years: dealing with acne. I have always been supremely self-conscious about acne. It made me feel like hiding and totally defeated on countless occasions. I have been on a quest to figure out how to cure it, and I believe I’ve finally figured it out by being persistent and not not giving up after failing multiple times on ‘diets’ and pills and creams. The key is to find a path that can be a longterm lifestyle. This new path that I’m on for my skin is taking out meat and dairy. It has been a game-changer and my skin has never looked better. It’s a gahdamn revelation.

So in the same way that I am healing acne, I am also healing debt with a long-term strategy. This leads me to my June challenge: RADICAL TRANSPARENCY. In the month of June, I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I am opening up all of my finances to the Sisterpack. Through the mint.com platform I’ve added all debts, cash and credit to the platform and will be giving my sisters the password to login so they can see my money goal as well as everything I’m buying. They have access to it all. Why the hell would I do this? Well, living in secrecy and pretending everything is okay hasn’t worked. So I’m thinking the opposite may work. I want to keep it SO real and allow my sisters (whom I love and trust) to see where I’m at. I’m in a place right now where I don’t feel any shame about it, as all the money I’ve spent has lead me to where I am today… and truth be told I’m happier than ever! And I can only imagine I’ll be feeling even better, the more progress I make.

Wish me luck! 😀

-Gwen

Gwen’s April Challenge: Kickstart an Unconventional Side Hustle

At the end of last year, I felt defeated. I went from entrepreneur to employee and it was a very challenging transition. You can read all about it here. I had zero desire to ‘side hustle’ or even actually hustle at all!!

Though recently, my desire to work hard and earn dem bucks has shifted. I’m now over two months into my new job at Shopify. It is glorious and I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with smart, dedicated people every day.

One unexpected element of being an employee, is my entrepreneurial spark has been reignited. I found that once I started to feel stable again (in work and mindset) my interest to create returned.

While at Shopify, we have been challenged to start our own Shopify store. I thought it was a fun idea that I would do eventually, but didn’t have a fire lit under me to create one. However, when our growth team was encouraged to create a drop shipping store, I saw it as an exciting opportunity to perhaps kickstart a new side hustle.

Drop shipping is a retail method in which you don’t keep your own product in stock. Instead you partner with a wholesale supplier that stocks its own inventory. You choose a product (i.e. pins, stickers, floaties, shoes, etc.), choose your price and market it to the right people and apparently… cha ching!

You can watch a short video to learn more here:

The biggest benefit is you don’t have to worry about holding inventory, and you simply ship a product when a customer orders from you. You set the price, and it’s your marketing genius that sets you up for success.

Needless to say, I was very curious and excited to start. I had an idea to sell a product, and went to work creating a Shopify store. Though I realized I soon started to overthink what I was selling and question if drop shipping was ethical, and came up with a ton of roadblocks for trying it. It was all excuses, excuses, excuses.

My April challenge was to make my first sale with drop shipping. I did not reach this goal. Although I’ve picked a product and tinkered with my site, it is currently not live.

I still have a strong desire to see if I can make my first sale, so I’m going to continue to work on this challenge, though take a different approach. Going forward, I’m going to dedicate 30 minutes per day on working on getting my first sale (instead of putting pressure on myself to do it in a day). I’ve added 30 minutes to my calendar to work on the project every day of the week. There’s also a chance I will be partnering up with a colleague to create a store, so we can work on it together.

For May, I’m choosing to take on a different official challenge though and that is: create a loving relationship with money. Okay, so this may sound a bit weird, though let me explain. I’m currently reading Jen Sincero’s book: You are a Badass at Making Money. One of the exercises in there is to write a relationship to money as if it were a person. It was a really eye-opening exercise, and really made me see how I can become obsessed with money one minute, then stand-offish the next. If I want to create a healthy relationship with money, I realize I need to approach it with the same attitude as I do a romantic relationship or exercising. There is no ‘silver bullet.’ It’s about consistent check-ins and acknowledgement! I will be documenting the relationship in a journal.

Please feel free to join me in my May challenge!

-Gwen

 

Gwen’s March Challenge: A Meatless Month of March?

I’m dating a vegan.

He is quite wonderful, and often shares with me about his lifestyle and the benefits of not consuming meat products. He truly cares about what he puts in his body, and has an incredibly high level of compassion for animals.

His commitment to his lifestyle is truly inspiring. As I watched him, I thought, could I do this? Would I even want to be vegan?

The truth is… yes. In the past I have dabbled in altering my diet to be less animal-heavy. When I used to live in California a few years ago, my landlord was a hardcore vegetarian and didn’t allow meat in the house. I saw this as an opportunity and decided to go vegetarian (vegan wasn’t even on my radar back then). At the time, I had limited nutritional information. I soon realized I was eating my weight in bread, cheese (and donuts) to combat the feeling of missing something. Needless to say it was unsustainable and I ended up petering out and going back to meat. (The first thing I ate was a meat pie. OMG).

Flash forward to now… I have actively taken an interest in nutrition. I know of things like quinoa and lentils and tempeh and tofu… sources of protein that can replace meat.

So when I heard of the ‘Meatless March’ challenge on Instagram, I thought I’d try it out! Not only was I hoping to feel mo’ progress health-wise, I was also interested in saving a few bucks (as meat typically costs more than vegetarian options).

WEEK 1 & 2:

OVERALL: I gahdamn crushed it. No cravings for meat. No interest in meat. I was flying high on success.

FEELING: I realize I started a ‘diet’ at the same time I started a new job. At the end of each day, I felt quite drained, though chocked it up to the fast pace of my new lifestyle and learning so much each day that my brain needed a break. I also realized towards the end of week two, that although I wasn’t craving meat, I was eating waaaaay too many grains and my stomach kinda hurt most of the time.

WEEK 3:

OVERALL: I missed meat. I was proud of myself for giving it up, but at work (where we have catered lunches #yesiknowimlucky) I was sad to pass by the chicken and fish.

FEELING: I felt like I was missing out. I also realized I would feel hungry almost right after I ate lunch. This was a bizarre feeling. I realize I started eating more sugar, and reaching for things I never ate before like Pop Tarts and Diet Coke to fill a gap of cravings.

WEEK 4:

OVERALL: I caved this week. There was one day where I felt like complete poop. I felt sooo drained of life force energy. I tried everything. Water. Coffee. Fruit. Meditation. Walks. Nothing I could think of was helping to alleviate the drained feeling. I figured I was missing some serious nutrients (probably Vitamin B). So late in the afternoon that day, I went on a mission to get some meat. I got chicken shawarma and ate it alone, while trying to bring my body back to life.

FEELING: A little defeated, but proud of myself for doing whatever it took to feel a bit better. I don’t know if it was subconscious or what, but as soon as I ate that shawarma I started to feel life coming back into me.

WEEK 5:

OVERALL: I hadn’t succeeded in the challenge, so I ate meat once or twice this week.

FEELING: This week I suffered from a major burnout at work. On Week 4, I started to feel some serious pressure at work (all self-imposed of course) and it led to burning out this week. It kinda felt like adrenal fatigue. I couldn’t drink coffee without wanting to yack. I felt truly exhausted on every level. This doesn’t have to do with meat, I don’t think… I just believe it has to do with so many changes happening in life and me ignoring the small signs to take better care of myself.

To sum up, I was unable to successfully complete my meatless March challenge, though I’m incredibly proud of myself for living almost entirely vegan for 20 days. My hat is definitely OFF to people to live life this way. It’s definitely an adjustment and take quite a bit of self-compassion when you give into the cravings.

If this challenge interests you, I recommend starting with Meatless Monday or taking meat out of one meal a day before going alllll in!

Thank you for reading and happy eating!

-Gwen

Gwen’s February Challenge: Getting Prepared for Taxes…Take 2!

Happy March! I am so so so excited for spring. New beginnings, warmer weather and overall a feeling of relief that a new season is upon us. I’m officially ready to shake off the heaviness I’ve been feeling here and there and embrace the light, joyful energy of spring.

My February challenge was to get all of my documents in order, whip out the ol’ Google Spreadsheet and get my 2016 taxes ready to be filed at a meeting I scheduled with my financial planner. I made progress on this goal, but did not complete it this month.

Why? Well… I’m about to bring out the excuse parade, but I think it’s interesting to reflect on my reasoning, especially when in reality there was no reason other than feeling that fierce resistance to sitting down and number crunching. When I do the number crunching, the truth is in black and white. There’s no denying the wins and failures of the year before. And frankly, I’m a bit hard on myself and kinda always wish I did a bit better with organizing my expenses and earnings – so the whole process would be easier. I’m definitely working on self-compassion 😉

I will say, I made tremendous progress on organizing all of my receipts. They are now organized into one accordion folder (instead of two that also housed random things like post-it notes and some haphazard papers). My meeting with my financial planner got changed to mid-March about a week before the meeting, so I found that I also used that as an excuse in my mind to cut myself some slack and wait.

I will be meeting with her the second week of March, and know I will get it done (ideally having some fun along the way!) My plan is to book off a couple hours in the afternoon this week, grab an almond misto and take it slow – doing the number crunching for each month, possibly taking a dance break in between each month to celebrate!

For my March challenge, I’m going meatless! For the month of March, I’m taking meat out of my diet (including fish) and focusing on living off of a mostly vegan diet. Why? Well, it seems I’ve attracted a ton of vegans and vegetarians friends into my life lately, and when we talk about food, I always find myself agreeing with many of their reasons for not eating meat. I’m definitely always up for a food challenge (I’ve given up sugar, bread, and dairy in the past), and am interested to see how I feel whilst being off meat this month. A few years ago I did go vegetarian (as my landlord in Santa Monica, CA didn’t allow meat into his home), though at the time I wasn’t educated on what to eat. Instead of eating quinoa, lentils, tofu, nuts, and tempeh I lived off of bread and cheese (and all the donuts). So, I’m excited to take on this challenge to make progress in my health and perhaps save a few bucks by buying less meat at the grocery store!

<3 Gwen

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