“Shopaholic”, I hear you cry, “have you gone on a diet?”. Well, my friends, in a way. It occurred to me earlier that this cut-back exercise is quite like a diet in some respects; a self imposed restriction on things I like.
Given the similarities, are there lessons I can learn from yo-yo dieters, without making the mistakes myself?
The yo-yo cycle often occurs because dieters are so strict with themselves at the start. The effort is so extreme that is is completely impossible to sustain.
Likewise, I found my sudden halt in spending pretty tough, and have a longing for some former favourites. I miss flicking through a magazine, buying into the latest trend, enjoying a large glass of Chilean Merlot on a Friday night. It’s oh-so-tempting to slip back into old habits.
Initially, dieters feel great; they’re looking forward to the weight loss, and they’re proud of themselves for shunning the sugar. As time crawls along, though, it seems harder to sustain. Tired and fed up, they reach for a pick-me-up: food.
Again, I relate to the experience; I felt very self-satisfied with my initial budget-slashing, and looked forward to watching the debt diminish and the savings stack up. When I passed the first thirty day marker, still in debt and still running a deficit, my motivation wavered. I felt like reaching for my equivalent of the dieter’s chocolate bar: the shops.
So, having failed, and feeling upset, the dieter eats more and more until they regain the weight they lost (and usually a bit more).
And here’s the lesson. Now that the initial excitement has passed, and I am in the humdrum period of living with less, how do I ensure I do not slip backwards?
Already I’ve clocked myself casually buying tea at Pret-a-Manger and “forgetting” my packed lunch. It’s so easy to forget how quickly all those “little extras” used to kill off my cash.
Perhaps the trick is to treat myself with non-monetary rewards. Here are a few of my practically free treats:
1) Time spent relaxing is pretty cheap; a candle-lit bubble bath, chilling out in front of the TV, doing the crossword and listening to the radio are all pretty much free, and are all amongst my favourite things to do!
2) Living in one of the most hectic cities in the world is fantastic, but escaping to the country is a retreat, and another cheap thrill. Just looking at the sky and the stars, listening to the birds sing or breathing in the heady fresh air all make such a difference; I know it sounds clichéd and trite, but it’s true.
3) Unfortunately for the real yo-yo dieter, food is a great pleasure, and as I’ve learned, doesn’t have to be expensive to taste delicious and be nutritionally balanced.
“Joy” comes in all kinds of guises, and what qualifies for my list won’t necessarily be on yours. One thing’s for sure, though. Having a few reliable freebies on the list, whatever they may be, certainly helps the shopaholic to cut back!
Thanks for reading,