Categories
Becoming Mindfulness

Six Tips and Tricks to get started on your fitness journey

The body that moves

I started this article to write a good workout tip for a friend and not a blog post, but as the words kept coming, and I continued writing, I decided to publish it on my blog.

The idea behind this blog post started with a single tweet I wrote on 31st, of December 2020 – A tweet, which, I deleted, sadly, with the bulk of my other Twitter posts on 1st of January 2021 with tweetdelete.net.

I had shared a photo with the caption: ‘Once upon a time, I was very thick.‘ I also shared similar photographs of me, and my Twitter friends were surprised because they didn’t know a bigger Ifunanya.

November 6th, 2019

One of my friends, Biodun, asked ‘why, Nanya. What happened?’, and why again when my answer was that I started working out.

June 28th, 2020.

Why did I start working out, or why was my goal to lose weight?

Now that I think of it, I started with the intention of losing weight because I felt out of control with my body. I explained a little here in A failing well series #1: Running.

I wanted to get my body to move and to bend without friction.   

Losing weight was the intention until I started noticing other changes – My body became taut, and my face cleared, and my skin started glowing, and I started dancing easy. 

What apps and tools did I use on my weight loss/ fitness journey?

The apps and tools I use and recommend are:

  1. 8fit: (Pro helps with customized workout sessions, coaches, and meal plans. I started with the free plan and tried out the pro for free until I unsubscribed, then they provided a discount)
  2. Noom: (Noom lets you log your weight and track the meals you eat in a day. It is more than just a food tracker as it also gives behavioural insight on diet and weight loss. The pro plan provides an educational approach that helps to understand why some food is recommended more than others with the labelling from green to yellow to red).
  3. Nike Training Club: (NTC is a free app for customized workout sessions, but it can be busy, and the workout plans can get pretty intensive, which is why I paid for 8fit.)
  4. Nike Running Club: (NRC is a running app)
  5. Lose it Nigerian meal plan
  6. Bathroom weight scale: (I check my weight every morning naked before I go to the bathroom to take a leak. I think it’s best to be consistent with the way you weigh yourself. Here’s what Healthline has to say about how to measure yourself.
  7. Kitchen scale: (I’m not consistent with this, but I use it to weigh the food I prepare).

How I lost 15kg Within Two Months

First, Have a Plan – Do you want to lose weight or get fit?

The first thing is to note what you plan this journey to be. Do you want to lose weight, and or do you want to get fit? Do you also want to practice mindfulness while you’re at it?

When I started, I began with the intention of losing weight, because that was the only thing I could see – my weight getting in the way, so I started with 8fit and Noom and Naija Foodie meal plan on loseItNigerian.

It’s best to start with a less intensive plan and then build towards the more intensive ones.

If your goal is to lose weight, it would be counterproductive to keep your old eating habits. What I mean is creating a calorie deficit meal plan is best when trying to lose weight, and you can do this by either eating fewer calories or increasing your physical activity.

I didn’t continue for long with LoseitNigerian, because I have an ulcer, and, I couldn’t take some of the stuff that they recommend, like more habanero pepper (which is healthy, of course, and contains lots of vitamins and capsaicin), lemons, lime, etc.

I also figured out that their method involved eating fewer calories by tricking the body by eating more leafy vegetables, oatmeal, reducing oily, fried, and processed foods.

One of the many things I love about LoseitNigerian is that they don’t tell you to starve your body. They also don’t ask you to eat liquid meals. They encourage our Nigerian meals by recommending you follow a routine of eating less starchy meals, filling it up with greens, and taking nutritious home-made juices.

For example, if you wanted to eat Jollof rice for lunch, preparing a healthy meal plan would start with your first thought of the meal. Understanding that every ingredient you cook with adds to the collective calories of the serving of the meal you eat. After cooking, Lose it Nigerian would recommend going for one serving of the Jollof rice, a protein, and more leafy vegetables to fill you up.

Another thing I did was to cut out sugar by drinking non-calorie beverages like water. I stopped drinking tea and eating ice cream at a point, even though I indulge sometimes. But what I think is finding a routine that works for you and sticking to it.

Also, in my journey, I realized that, while fruits are very healthy, they can also have high calories. Dried fruits like dates and raisins or dried strawberries are nutritious but high in calories and sugar. Removing water from the fruits concentrates all the sugar and calories in a much smaller form. A practical way to think about this is to look at 109 grams of sliced apple which contains 57 calories and 1 cup (86g) of Dried apple that contains 209 calories.

Eating one medium banana is great, and eating a full bunch of banana is equally good if you’ll fit it into your meal plan and make sure you don’t go above your intended calorie for the day. This understanding is why taking smoothies can be counterproductive as mixing more than two fruits can have over 1000 calories, which might be more than half of your daily goal if you intend to lose weight.

While eating fewer calories might seem like a great plan and help you lose fat, it can also lead to muscle loss, and wouldn’t be such a great plan when you look at it in the long run if you don’t add HIIT (High Intensive Workout) to it. Just sticking to long-term calorie restriction can significantly reduce your metabolism, but spicing it up with workout sessions can increase your metabolism and tighten those loose skin. (An aside and a joke: This is why Lose It Nigerian spice up their meal plans with Habanero pepper as it contains capsaicin which can boost metabolism).

Incorporating Mindfulness into your Fitness Routine

Mindful practices can help us understand how to have a healthy relationship with food and to appreciate our body and love it for all that it is. It also helps us see our body as a machine that can flex and move as much as we want it to go.

At my core, I practice yoga in the morning for 10 to 15 minutes, and then I end it with a 5-minute meditation. Just closing my eyes and sitting still can set my day for me. 

Mindfulness teaches you to pay attention to your breath and body, and sometimes as an observer to see how reality is in the moment. 

Incorporating mindfulness in your fitness routine allows you to just be. 

It helps you to pay attention to the food you eat and to your body. It also gives you purpose for how you want each workout routine to go. For example, I started my fitness journey wanting to lose weight, and then I lost weight, then, I told myself I wanted to stay healthy, and then, I started working towards staying fit.

Mindfulness also helps you slow down and remind yourself why you’ve chosen to go on your fitness journey. It also helps with remembering that the journey is yours alone and that sometimes, you might not perform as much as you want, and that’s also a good thing, and to remember to turn up and end each exercise on a good note.

Categories
Money Ramblings

Beware of the sunk cost fallacy

Question: Have you ever sat through a bad meal because you’d already paid for it and leaving would seem wasteful to you? 

Once, I had held onto a skirt that made me look bloated because I wanted to get my money’s worth. 

You may have heard the phrase, ‘cut your losses, ‘ it means to withdraw from a situation that is no longer serving you. Are you holding on to your job because you’re scared of the time and effort you’ve invested in it? Have you ever kept walking despite having the option to order an Uber because you’d covered a long distance and the oncoming vehicle might be your ride? 

Cut your losses if you’d paid a crazy sum for an item. Instead of crying over money spent, it’s more helpful to learn from your experience and make a note to watch out for next time.

If you’ve encountered something like this, then you have experienced a psychological phenomenon known as a ‘sunk cost bias.’

A sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered.

Wikipedia

Sunk cost fallacy explains the inclination to continue to invest time, effort, and money into an endeavour because of the costs we’d already incurred. 

My Experience at Dodo Pizza 😱

Last weekend, I hung out with my friend, B, at Dodo Pizza. The Pizza restaurant is known for providing Pizza by the slice and whole Pizza, in Ikeja City Mall, Lagos, which is one of the things I loved about them — the freedom to buy a pizza slice instead of having to purchase a full box. Their vast food menu is something to drool over. This restaurant provides not just Pizza, but other meal options like Sausage rolls, Chicken wings, Cinnamon rolls, different flavours of Ice Cream, and the bone of contention – Dodster. I had always wanted to have a taste of their Dodster — A dish that boasted of fine dining and chunky delights. It looked like a Sharwama, but one that went to Grad school. However, on this day, they messed up my order, switching my Classic Dodster with B’s Beef Suya Dodster. 

I did not have an idea of what the Classic Dodster tasted like, but as I bit into the hot baked wrap, I knew that this was a case of a sweet dream gone stale. Walking over to the counter, I asked if what I had gotten was the Classic Dodster, and they admitted they had mistakenly switched it up. I asked that they fix it, but they did not. The pizzaiolo who had prepared the Dodster came back to me with a message from the manager – he couldn’t care less. Their poor customer service oozed as they bade me farewell while I left their restaurant abandoning the hot baked wrap I’d purchased.

One thing about my Dodo experience is that I was able to call it quits when I could, although I felt sad that I didn’t get to eat the Classic Dodster, and peeved that the Dodo team didn’t consider me customer enough to treat me well. 

It’s okay to call it quits when you can

Here’s the deal. It’s okay to acknowledge that we’ve made a mistake and move on. Calling it quits is better than holding on to that career that you loathe. It’s better to leave a toxic relationship regardless of how much time you’ve invested. If you feel like ordering an Uber, do it right away as the bus you keep waiting for isn’t coming. It’s okay to lose $1000 instead of putting more money into that investment with the hopes that this time would yield a better result.

It’s okay to know when to abort mission, sailor.

Concluding my Dodo Pizza Story

The chef had asked how I was sure I’d have liked the Classic Dodster if they’d prepared it. In answering his question, I wouldn’t know if I’d have preferred the Suya Dodster, but it would have been nice if I’d gotten what I ordered. Taking a second look at the menu, I also might have hated the Dodster because I don’t eat ketchup. If I’d ordered a second time, it might have turned to a case of the Sharwama that went to Grad school but couldn’t finish because it flunked classes. Either way, I might not get to try out Dodo Pizza’s Dodster again. 

Lessons from Sunk Cost Bias

  1. Think of a sunk cost as money you’ve spent and cannot recover. This way, you do not depend on it to make decisions that will affect your future.
  2. Stop, once you realize that it’s time to move on to something else.
  3. Past mistakes are irrelevant. Accept what’s happened, understand that there’s nothing you can do about it, and move on.
  4. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. The point of no return only exists in our head.
  5. Invest in something new.
  6. Track your expenses and future opportunity costs.
Categories
Mindfulness Money Work

How to practice mindful spending with Google sheets

Until I started mindful spending, I didn’t understand what made me so apprehensive before salary day. Salary day was a day I always waited earnestly for because I’d spent everything from my previous salary, and a day I would later come to dread because I would spend all my monthly income trying to balance the past month’s debts. Later on, I’d try to improve on my spending, but it still didn’t matter because I wasn’t spending effectively.

Before I started mindful spending, I tried to remind myself of how much I needed to spend and how much I needed to save. The mind forgets, which is why we need reminders in our daily living. I drew up a plan that I visit every time to remind myself of the reason I started in the first place. A solid plan should be repeatable, organized, and agile.

What is Mindful Spending?

Mindful spending is being intentional about the way you spend your money and how your spending supports your goals. Satisfied Spending calls it lifestyle-based money management.

It is creating healthy spending habits that take you closer to your goals, instead of having your blood pressure rise when you think about what you’ve just purchased.

When you start spending mindfully, it becomes a part of who you are. You start asking yourself questions like these before moving money out of your account:

  1. Is this item in my shopping list?
  2. What is my reason for wanting to spend this money?
  3. What do I intend to achieve by saving this amount of money?
  4. Does making this purchase support my goals and needs? 
  5. How do I intend to achieve my spending goal?

I’ve come to understand that many people are not comfortable with engaging in money conversation. However, it’s okay to own up to the fact that our spending habit sucks. Every other thing follows from here.

I started mindful spending with Google Sheets. Google Sheets has a budget template that I customized to my preference. With the 50/30/20 rule, I created a planning sheet that helped me organize my spending into different categories. 

50/30/20 Rule of Spending/ Saving Mindfully - Winged Time Traveller
50/30/20 Rule of Spending/ Saving Mindfully

The 50/30/20 budget rule states that:

  • 50% of your net income should go to your Needs, e.g. Fixed expenses such as rent, work transportation, health, bills, and utilities.
  • 30% of your net income should go to your Wants, e.g. Lifestyle or flexible expenses such as food, travel, shopping, and even black tax, etc.
  • 20% of your income should go to your Financial Goals, which includes all kinds of savings and investments.

The 50/30/20 rule is ideal for me because it’s helped me with simplifying and organizing my finances. With the planning sheet, I was able to see how much I needed for what, and how much I should be saving.

I have prepared a monthly budget template for August that you may want to customize to your preference. Start with the Mindful Spending Worksheet before proceeding to the monthly budget template. On both documents, click on ‘file’ to make a copy.

Download your monthly budget template now

Confronting Black Tax with Mindful Spending

In simple words, black tax is the tax every first child pays for being born.

As the first child of my family and the first grandchild on one side, I understand the responsibilities expected of me. Thinking about these responsibilities can be very overwhelming as you receive a text sometime in the middle of the month asking for money. You have a job, so nobody wants to hear you don’t have money. And heavens save you if they have an inkling of your monthly income. It’s okay to say you don’t have, but what about next month, and the upper month?

What I did was allocate some money for black tax under my ‘wants purchases.’ And in case the need is more than I budgeted, I wouldn’t do otherwise because I don’t have anywhere to unearth the money from, do I?

How do you measure what works with the monthly budget template?

As you spend and save, make every change in the sheet. At the end of the month, check back to see how much you’ve spent in the month. It’s okay if you spent more than you budgeted. The key is to take small mindful steps which in turn makes a big difference.

Make a copy of the sheet for next month with adjustment to your spendings. For example, if you budgeted N40,000 for food and you spent more than the amount you budgeted, adjust the expense for next month to the amount you spent this month and follow from there.

If you spent below the amount you budgeted, make the same changes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please fill out this 1 minute survey if you downloaded the monthly budget sheet. I’d love to follow up with you to make sure you find the budget template helpful. Don’t forget to follow my blog so that you don’t miss any blog posts from me. Also, remember to share with that friend who needs this most. Thank you.

Categories
Mindfulness

This is how Mindfulness is Helping Me Find Peace

“Small things — if not corrected — become big things, always.”

Benjamin Hardy

Some few months ago, I wrote in my notebook, ‘I want more understanding of what I want to do with my life.’ I had been battling with procrastination, a feeling of emptiness, and I wanted to be able to hold myself accountable for all of the things that were happening in my life.

I wanted clarity. I wanted to be more intentional with myself.

I started my first mindfulness journey in December 2019 by deciding to become more present with the way I was spending my money. 

I was not necessarily a reckless spender, but I didn’t understand what mindful spending was. I wasn’t paying attention to how I was spending my money or where my money was going, and this made me incredibly sad. I always looked forward to saving a good percentage of my money as I entered a new month, but when the new month came, after saving on Cowrywise and Piggyvest, I’d ask myself the question, ‘Where did all my money go?’

I started tracking my expenses. Google Sheets has an awesome budget template that I customized to my preference. When I found out that I could do this with Google Sheets, planning my money and expenses became easy. I didn’t need to enter my bank data on some app. It felt like I designed the app myself, and I could do the rest of my budgeting on the go while entering the expenses I’d just made at a Grocery store.

But that was not all. As this aspect of my life became better, I felt I could do anything I wanted. My budgeting wasn’t perfect, there were times I’d fail to enter a record, but then, I’d recover myself, sit at my desk, and go over the sheet until I’d added all entries. It’s not easy to break a habit, but it felt good to be able to stay on top of my finances.

The next part of my life I started looking forward to improving was my health. I am not obese, but I became conscious of the fact that I was gradually losing control of my body, and that I needed to do something fast. It was in March 2020, and I’d just checked my weight. I felt mortified to learn that I weighed 73kg. I didn’t even know I could go that far, and I take all the blame. I hadn’t been doing much activity, given that my job didn’t require me to leave the comfort of my home. I work remotely, and I could decide to stay indoors for a year, working on my computer without needing to go outside. I sought the help of online services to do my shopping for me, and I only went out when there was a need for it. 

As a result, I decided to start a morning workout routine. I downloaded Nike Run Club and some two weeks after I’d summoned up courage, I made my first run. Breathless, and not making it to 50 meters, I walked back home. My second run was two days later and better, on a Saturday morning with Coach Bennett, who made it more comfortable for I ran the first 22 minutes without stopping. 

And that, my friends, is how I started my mindfulness journey. I’m sticking to a daily routine while measuring my progress. This morning I checked how much I weighed, and I got 67.2 on the scale. 

If there’s one thing mindfulness has taught me, it is identifying my top three priorities and focusing on them one after the other.

Today, I thought about journaling the little steps that I’m taking to finding peace, and here we are. This is my second blog post, and these are bits and pieces about me.