Chris and I have always been naturally fairly frugal people. More accurately, I’d say we’re valuists, a term I first heard about on the ChooseFI podcast. We spend money on things we deem important, or that genuinely bring value to our lives. We don’t spend on things we don’t care about, or things we “should” because that’s what society tells us. Some of those things are inexpensive, and some of them are not.
My love-hate relationship with exercise
I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with working out. Actually, that’s not true. I have a love relationship with working out consistently, being in shape, and feeling good. I have a hate relationship with getting back into shape once I’m out of it.
News flash: It’s WAY easier to just keep working out on a regular basis and therefore stay in shape than it is to get back into shape after a fitness hiatus. I know I know, this is groundbreaking information here. You’re welcome.
I was a competitive athlete from about the age of 7 through college. The good news about that is I never had to think about my workout schedule much (or what I was eating for that matter). I went to practice, did what my coach told (or yelled) at me, worked my butt off, and went home to ice cream and bed. It was glorious.
The bad news about that is I never had to think about it… I never had to plan time to work out, nor did I have to plan the actual workout. When my days as a competitive athlete with organized practices ended, I was on my own. It was a culture shock I was not prepared for, nor anticipating.
Figuring out what works for me
I learned a long time ago that I do much better and workout much harder if someone else is telling me what to do. Whether it’s an organized sports practice, workout video in my basement, class at the gym, or even just a friend (or my husband) telling me what to do. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be someone else’s idea.
Even something as simple as signing up for (and paying for in advance) a race I know I can’t not train for (hello half-marathon) will help considerably in the “get off your butt and go do something” mental dance.
The best of intentions
Ohhhh intentions… good intentions are great.
They’re also useless if you don’t follow them up with any action.
I had great intentions of exercising regularly in some form or another while I was pregnant with Little Lyon Cub. I found a great prenatal yoga series on YouTube that I enjoyed. We have a good, very convienient, fitness center in our neighborhood that is included in our homeowners’ association dues.
Guess what. I worked out some. I was not consistent enough. I knew I wasn’t doing everything I should be doing.
Exercise while pregnant
General exercise guidance while pregnant is “if you were already working out on a regular basis, then you can keep doing what you were doing. Now is not the time to start a new intense workout program, but you should be exercising most days. Listen to your body and ease into it.” You definitely should be doing something. Exercise is an integral part of a healthy pregnancy, and to keeping some level of sanity and not feeling completely like a giant pile of poo.
A big part of my problem was that I didn’t have a good routine in the few months leading up to my pregnancy. I did things here and there, but I was not consistent. As a result, I needed to keep my exercise fairly low key. See the aforementioned rule about not starting a new intense workout routine while pregnant.
You’d think that would make it easier to convince me to do it, right? It didn’t even have to be that hard! Turns out I actually prefer the hard workouts to the easy ones. It makes me feel like it’s worth the time and effort and sweat I’m pouring into it. If it’s easy, then why even bother?
Another key piece of information surrounding my activity level while pregnant was that I was not at all prepared for was the level of sheer exhaustion I experienced during my first trimester. Sweet potato fries. It. Was. Rough.
I haven’t met a mom who hasn’t been very tired during that first trimester. My body was creating a brand new, surprisingly large, organ out of thin air, and growing a tiny baby all at the same time for crying out loud! No wonder I could barely get out of my chair! Still, even knowing all of this, I could not believe how tired I was all the time no matter what I did.
As a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy, I made my career operating on minimal sleep, pretty much all the time, for years. I thought I was well prepared for the sleepless nights that come with a newborn baby. Those first few months of being pregnant may have been more exhausting than after Little Lyon Cub was born. Well, a different kind of tired at least, for sure.
Does any of this sound like a situation that would promote good fitness practices???? Negatory.
I wasn’t completely sedentary, but I wasn’t as active as I should have been. Promises to myself were made. I vowed to get back in the saddle as soon as my body would allow.
I had big plans for after Little Lyon Cub was born and I had recovered. Surprise! They didn’t pan out so well.
Again with those good intentions
We knew having a baby would change pretty much everything about our daily lives. Foolishly, we didn’t really appreciate to what extent. While I lost a good chunk of the baby weight fairly quickly, I still felt sluggish and very blah and had a long way to go to get back to my “normal self”.
I tried to go up to our neighborhood gym when Chris got home from work, but by the end of the day, I was exhausted. Plus he travels a fair amount for work so there were many days that wasn’t even an option.
I tried to find time in the morning to do a workout in our basement. For a myriad of reasons, some within my control and some not, that wasn’t working for me either.
I think step one in having a successful exercise plan, or any kind of plan or routine you want to stick to for that matter, is learning how your brain works. Then step two is figuring out how to trick it.
It’s all about the mind games, my friend.
I mentioned already I learned a long time ago that my workout is much better when someone else is telling me what to do.
My un-frugal, yet extremely valuable, workout plan
When Little Lyon Cub was about 7 months, I found my local Fit4Mom. I wasn’t even looking for it. As soon as I learned what it was about I realized this was exactly what I needed. I signed up on the spot.
Fit4Mom has franchises all over the country which offer a variety of “mom and me” workout classes. We meet in various locations in our area (parks, town center, mall), for a 60-minute workout class with an instructor. The kiddos stay in their stroller the whole time. The moms use resistance bands, body weight exercises, cardio bursts, etc. through a variety of stations for a full body workout. We sing songs and are a little silly to keep the kiddos happy. We enjoy and working our butts (and baby weight) off. Each mom can push herself to where she needs to be to get a good workout, regardless of her current fitness level.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the holy grail of mom-fitness, not to mention, sanity. The specifics vary from franchise to franchise, but here’s a quick rundown of my situation:
- I have several classes each day at different locations to choose from
- I have a monthly unlimited pass for as many classes as I want (I shoot for 5 days a week, and get pretty close)
- Since its unlimited, the more I go, the better bang for my buck I get- motivation #1 (personal finance nerd alert)
- It gets Little Lyon Cub and me out of the house at least once every day, even when it’s cold and gross outside, without having to spend any extra money anywhere- motivation #2
- I’ve made some great friends who I now see just about every day and it’s wonderful to have adult conversation and a local support network- motivation #3
- Little Lyon Cub gets to “make friends” and socialize with other babies (read: learn it’s not ok to fish hook other kids)- motivation #4
- After just a few months I’m in the best shape I’ve been in, not ever, but in an embarrassingly long time- motivation #5
- I don’t have to worry about childcare or any of the many problems that may arise from trying to go to the gym without the baby
The list goes on and on, but I think you get the idea.
The monthly cost is not what I would consider cheap. It’s not as much as some fancy gym memberships with less value, either. Since I have the monthly unlimited pass and I go almost every day, it works out to be just a few dollars per class. That, I do consider to be quite cheap.
Could I be working out in my basement or at our community gym for free? Yes. Would I actually do it every day? That answer has already proven to be no. Does my basement or community gym provide a community of support and friendship and sanity? Definitely not. Is my membership worth every single penny we spend on it? Absolutely yes.
Frugality does not equal deprivation
Being frugal or working towards financial freedom isn’t about deprivation or going without. It’s about being intentional with how you spend your money and ensuring that it aligns with what’s important to you.
My Fit4Mom membership is some of the best money we spend every month. It’s that important to me and is not something I’m willing to go without to get to financial independence faster.
The Mad Fientist wrote an article that talks about how he took their FI pursuit a little bit too far at one point and he and his wife were very unhappy. Once the dialed it back a bit, everything got much better. They still achieved financial independence and actually enjoyed the journey!
My point is if you’re miserable on the way to financial freedom, then is it worth it? Sure, you can buckle down for a few years and get to the finish line a little bit faster. But if the journey sucks it’ll be much harder to keep going. Finding the happy medium can allow you to still achieve your goal while enjoying the journey along the way.
Isn’t there some motivational poster that says something about the journey instead of the destination?
My Fit4Mom membership is definitely something I could live without. We could cut that expense out of our monthly budget, save and invest that money, and move us a little closer to financial freedom a little sooner.
We choose to spend that money each month because it has a profound, positive impact on my mental, physical, and emotional health and as a result, my relationships as well. Not to mention being great for Little Lyon Cub, too.
That makes it money very well spent, and I won’t be giving it up.
What do you spend money on that’s totally worth it to you? What could you probably give up with minimal impact on your life??