This is a guest post by Forest Parks, author of the frugal living and personal finance blog Frugal Zeitgeist.
I am no where near where I aim to be when it comes to fitness but I do consider myself fit and I keep pushing towards my goals. My financial situation shares a kind of parallel with this in the fact that I am doing ok with my finances but still have long way to go to reach my goals.
Asides from the well known metaphors between fitness and finance I think there is a lot more to be said about using fitness in your life to further your ability to budget, save and pay off debt. I am singling out Yoga in this post because Yoga is an amazing exercise that improved my discipline in life greatly.
The story starts about 1.5 years ago when I was living in Montreal, Canada. A bad habit of eating out and drinking randomly through the week was starting to take my physical shape down a slippery path. I did go to the gym but it was sporadic and when I did get a chance to go I would randomly wander around only using the machines I decided I liked on that particular day…. I used to say to myself “at least I am doing some exercise, keeping myself in reasonable shape, right?”…. I was wrong, yes I had some fitness, I could run a few miles but my body, like my finances and general life schedule at the time, was all over the place.
I don’t remember the exact day but I remember feeling like I had been walking around with a “kick me” sign on my back and people had been obliging, I felt like cr*p! I was out of shape and stiff…Some may call this ‘feeling old’ but I was only in my late 20s!
For years I had been wanting to at least try Yoga but like most people it just looked like silly stretching for old granola eating folks and strange people who lived on Mountain tops. For the hell of it I made the decision to take a Yoga class at the local YMCA.
So I checked the schedule and saw that various levels of Yoga classes ran throughout the week. The next class was the following day, was suitable for beginners and around lunchtime (shortly after I planned to wake up!). I arrived at the class a little weary and my fears felt like they were immediately realized…It was full of wrinkly old women and was fronted by an overly friendly, overly made up, skeleton of a woman, the kind of woman who you fear as a child because they might want to give you a big sloppy kiss!
These wrinkly old ladies whopped my ass when it came to holding strange poses, the hour of Yoga ended with them jovially chatting and me bent over gasping like I had just run a marathon…How could simply stretching do such things to me? And it was a beginners class!
I hurt for a week, I hurt like hell had just spat me back out, and I felt like I could see my daily life with a new clarity. Some may call this enlightenment. It was like an Ebenezer Scrooge moment…The ghost of fitness future had shown me what my future held if I did not get my physical self back into good shape. In the future even a simple walk down the road may leave me feeling like this…So my love of Yoga began!
I changed classes to better fit my joke of a schedule (wake up late, work, eat, work, eat, drink blah blah blah) and started on the Monday night Astanga Yoga class for all levels. I thought the wrinkly old ladies class hurt…this class was like being nakedly dragged along the highway by a Ferrari at top speed, but everyone else there seemed ok…I was determined to join the ‘Feeling OK’ crowd and prove to the cool and calm instructor that I was not one of those “Stiff People” that he seemed to hold such disdain for! I wanted to finish at the end of the 1.5 hour session and say “oh that was tiring, I noticed my downward dog is getting a little more sturdy”…not “oh my god, I am going to die, please, please kill me now so I don’t have to endure this pain any longer.”
As the weeks went by, I got stronger, better, more flexible and further away from being a stiff person. I started swimming 3 times a week as well, building up to 1 mile each time. Most importantly of all, I became disciplined. My week revolved around how well I was going to do in my Yoga class and how fast I would swim a mile, this silly little stretching class was giving me something to look forward too. You know what? I noticed something else extremely important, this discipline had covertly wormed it’s way into all other parts of my life too. I didn’t randomly drink and eat anymore, such things were organized social events, I often said no, or went out and left early to get a good nights rest. Self restrain had become easy. Financially things started to get better too. I was up to my eyeballs in debt for a million reasons, not all my fault, but I accepted this and started acting accordingly.
Yoga gave me the discipline to control all aspects of my life. I forged an aim for my fitness and my finances and started working towards them at a steady pace.
Fast forward 1.5 years to now. I don’t do Yoga weekly due to living in Egypt and not finding an affordable local place to go. My local Yoga place charges about $20 per session! However I exercise 6 days a week at home. I am currently doing the Beachbody Insanity program which brings in some small elements of Yoga. My finances are under control with my debts responsibly in a UK Government advised debt management plan and I am on my way to establishing emergency funds and savings…Like I said, I have a long way to go but I am doing all the right things.
I believe the routine of Yoga and the discipline it brings to one’s life will almost always benefit in all areas, especially when it comes to sticking to budgets, paying down debts and focusing in the right areas.
I hope you enjoyed my little story. You can follow my financial, fitness and frugal journey on FrugalZeitgeist.com. Please do come one over and say hi!