I've been having trouble sleeping lately. I keep waking up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. Instead I lie awake for hours writing a mental 'to do' list. It's driving me mad but I can't help it, there are so many things I'm trying to achieve at the moment that everything is just preying on my mind. Most of them are savings oriented. The main one is our upcoming trip to Australia. We're coming over in September for two and a half weeks to celebrate the launch of the book. Yippee! We can't wait! There's just one teensy problem. We can't really afford it. Seriously! We've been concentrating more on paying off debts this year than putting any spare money into savings and like many people, things have been a lot quieter on the work front for Noel. But it's booked and we're coming so the pressure's really on now! Fortunately I'm a person who thrives on deadlines and at least it's making me get off my bum and start listing all my Sad Sally stuff on Trade Me. Yes, I'm determined my Trade Me money is going to pay for our trip! Well, maybe not our accommodation but at least our food and spending money. I have exactly two months to achieve my goal!
The good thing about saving money is that it's so darn easy when you really put your mind to it. You just don't spend! Admittedly some things aren't very helpful, such as when the dishwasher is finally pronounced dead or when you need to fork out for two pairs of glasses at once (don't ask!). We've been doing dishes for months and I have to admit what started out as a novelty has us all heartily sick of it now. However I refuse to give in and buy a new one, it's not worth it at the moment, it would put us too far back financially. Putting it on credit is not an option! But even when big expenses crop up at least its reassuring to know you can still save on the little things. My $21 Challenge is going well. I still haven't bought anything! Keeping your food bill low is SO easy when you cook with basic food. I mean, take last night's dinner - Greek Crockpot Lamb with Greek Potatoes. All I needed for the whole meal was the meat, potatoes, olive oil, garlic, lemon, oregano, nutmeg, salt and pepper, plus broccoli and carrots to go with it. Nothing flash, nothing pre-processed, just the most basic of ingredients and the result? A restaurant quality meal which smells divine and just melts in the mouth. I'm really finding this $21 Challenge a joy, which is just as well as I'm sure there'll be a few more in the coming weeks to add to our Australia fund!
I also still have Liam and Noel's birthdays coming up over the next few weeks. I'm trying to be as organised as I can so I can buy sensibly and avoid last minute blowouts. At least Noel is easy to buy for these days, all he wants is cycling gear. Get this - he's been smoke free for almost a year now! That's not his only achievement either. At the same time he took up exercise. It began as his way of taking his mind off smoking and coping with the nicotine cravings. Now he's hooked on exercise! Funnily enough he gives me credit for inspiring him. He saw how good I was looking and feeling when I took up running and decided to do the same. Unfortunately he developed problems with his achilles tendons and had to stop. In frustration he jumped on my $50 Trade Me bike and found cycling was his thing! In turn he has gone on to inspire his best mate. For years Ross' knee was so bad he was hobbling about like someone twice his age. He saw Noel out and about on his bike and decided to do the same. Now they go cycling together and Ross' knee is as good as new! They cycle for miles and a group of them are even talking about doing the 160km Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge in November. Isn't it amazing how things snowball! All it took was little old me to get the others going too. Mind you, I think Noel is a bit TOO hooked - these days he's the one who kicks me out the door to go for a run!
Although I'm grateful to him for nagging me really. I'm a person who needs goals, particularly when it comes to exercise. Noel doesn't, he just keeps going, but not me. Many people lose weight and then find it hard to keep off. I did Taupo Iron Man back in December and felt fantastic. Then I stopped and never did quite get going again. Without something to aim for, all of a sudden it didn't matter as much any more. I had beaten my Half Iron Man challenge, lost 15kg and got down to my goal weight and beyond. I thought it would be easy to keep off and it was for a few months - but it catches up with you in the end. You can't do all that exercise and then do nothing and expect to stay stick thin! The key is, a little and often. The thing is, many people, particularly women, feel selfish for taking the time out to exercise. I know I do. It's my uninterrupted time and I relish it. But for many of us It's hard to put yourself first. The days are so full, you soon start coming up with reasons why you can't exercise. The dishes need doing. The washing won't get hung out. It never ends. The reality is, it's only 30 minutes out of a whole 24 hour day - is that really so bad? And when you think about it, it's not really selfish, it benefits my whole family. When I exercise, I'm happier. I look and feel better about myself and I'm nicer to be around. I find I come up with all sorts of wonderful ideas and solutions while I'm exercising too - it's good problem solving time and I don't need to lie awake half the night thinking about things instead! When I've finished exercise I feel more focussed and ready to carry out the more mundane tasks. Best of all, I have more energy to keep up with my family. We love playing cricket outside together, or bouncing a squash ball around. And think about the long run. If taking 30 minutes out of each day to stay fit and healthy gives me years more with my family, isn't that worth it?
I honestly think anyone who says they hate exercise just hasn't found the right one. I never thought I would see Noel setting off on a 90km bike ride just because he feels like it! And If anyone said years ago I was going to be a long distance runner I would have collapsed on the floor laughing. But I love it. It makes me feel strong. I love watching the world go by while I'm running and best of all it doesn't cost me a cent. I do have a gym membership but I haven't used it in months. It seems too hard to get in the car, drive there to exercise and drive home again when all I have to do is step out the door. A friend also runs and she and I have started a bit of a game. She lives in Australia and I'm in NZ but that doesn't matter! Whenever we go for a run, we take our mobile phones and take potshots of some of the things we see. Then we email them to each other when we get home! It's so much fun and really makes the time fly. Instead of lumbering up the next hill I'm thinking 'ooh, there's a cow, I must take a photo of it for Naomi! If anyone else would like to join us you're welcome, just email me, the more running buddies the better!
I haven't told her yet but she's going to be receiving a LOT of photos in the coming months. I told you I needed a goal and I decided to set a big one. I've entered the Auckland Marathon on November 1st! Not the half one, the full one - 42.2km. It's one of those 'things I want to do before I'm 40' things. Of course, you don't have to run a marathon to be fit! I remember the first time I ran 5km, I was over the moon - and it still is a really good achievement, I don't know anyone else who goes out there and does it. I can run 5km in 24 minutes, which really isn't very long is it? That's all the time you need, and it's often all the time I have. A teacher at Liam's school has run 3km every day for years, as long as he can remember. He refuses to run a centimetre more than that and he's one of the fittest, leanest people I know. I'm not saying everyone should start running! I just think it's such an awesome form of free exercise - just like walking!
I suppose I'm doing the marathon because I want to see what I can REALLY do. The human body is an amazing thing and you won't believe what you can do until you try. Just like saving money. I'm guilty of getting complacent at times - I know how to save money when I want to (and don't get me wrong, I do, many times every day!) but sometimes you get stuck in the usual rut and need to step up. I realised this when I read the Savings Story 'Our WOW moment' in the May newsletter. I was so inspired! In fact I'm going to stick it on my fridge, where all the most important things go in our house! It's a fantastic example of what you can do when you try and made me want to do my absolute best. So I'm confident that I will reach my goals, both my financial ones and my physical ones. I will keep my 'WOW' story in sight to help me save the pennies and as for a reminder to go and exercise, all I have to do is watch this video of myself on YouTube. Eek, talk about a memory trigger - think I'll go for a run right now!