Low Impact Life

have less, do more, be more

Category: I Shape Me (Page 1 of 10)

How I became a frugal weirdo

Reading a post on the Frugalwoods blog about being a frugal weirdo and loving it made me reflect on my own path and how I ended up where I am today: a frugal weirdo and proud! (spoiler: it’s very linked with being an environmentalist)

Let’s start off with the statement I’ve never been one of the “cool” girls in school. As a child I spent most my weekends on a boat in the archipelago exploring islands, playing games with my family, reading books and writing my own stories (still a dream of mine to actually finish one). I am pretty nerdy when it comes to books (don’t get me started on Harry Potter!) and have always had a strong passion for nature and animals. Being outside wether it was sailing, hiking, swimming, canoeing, skiing, skating or just playing outdoors was a natural part of my childhood. When I was little I first wanted to be a wildlife photographer and then a vet (until I realized that I have a problem dealing with blood and injured animals…). When the vet dream died I got into environmental science and the huge challenges that we as humans face today (read more here). I wrote my 9th grade project about the problem with too much nitrogen in the Baltic sea that is disturbing the ecological balance.

one cool sailor right there 😉

From there on my passion for the environment grew although I made few changes to my life at this stage (I was 16 and trying to fit in and going shopping after school was a common activity with friends). After high school I worked at a kindergarten for 6 months to save money to study one semester abroad in California. This period was marked by me being extremely frugal and having the mindset that “either I buy this now or I do something cool in California” which made me put down whatever I was going to buy. Worth mentioning is that although I have been quite a shopaholic I have always had the frugal bug. I think it has to do with me not having an extra job when studying until I was 22 which lead to me having to save and make my monthly allowance stretch very far (I must add that I had the privilege of help from my parents although I never took it for granted that I would get money from them).

Hiking in Yosemite National Park

When I was living in California I studied environmental science among other courses, all natural science focused, so my interest continued and I spent a lot of time hiking, skiing and being outdoors (the California climate makes that a bit easier than in Sweden). I watched the documentary Food, Inc and after that I became a vegetarian mostly beacuse of the horrendous situation of the industrialized production of meat.

Having to explain again and again why you don’t eat meat and bring your own food to dinners with people having to deal with depressing discussions with me about the future of the earth was definately the start to me inhabiting the weirdo box. Before this stage I had kept a lot to myself but getting more and more worried about the state of the earth I couldn’t just keep going on like it wasn’t happening.

I studied environmental science at Lund University and though my class all understood the no eating meat (I think half the class were vegetarians) and the environmental problems were old news to them everyone else I hung out with definately though that me and my friends from my class were slightly weird. I kept being frugal during my university years (most people are!) and worked with babysitting children and walking dogs for some extra money. I didn’t take out the full loan that is offered to Swedish students through the government but I have some debt to pay back. I am glad that I did take my loan so I didn’t have to work like crazy while studying (studying in Sweden is quite different compared to other countries – tuition is free, we get money every month from the government, the student loans have really low interest rates).

Graduation from Lund University

When I moved back to Stockholm at 24 I lived with my mum for a year first to write my thesis and then because I didn’t have a permanent contract at my job I couldn’t rent an apartment. This was also a frugal period since I didn’t know if I would have a job the month after and I lived at home. Although I didn’t actively track my money so a fair amount was still went to different purchases like food out, things, travel and so on.

When I started the blog about 1,5 years ago I started properly owning and loving being a weirdo. Before that I had kind of been trying to hide my weirdness (and failing) and trying to fit in somewhat. I wasn’t being true to myself and the knowledge that I was carrying about how we are treating the planet that we live on and especially how I was contributing to it. Because of that I was feeling quite a bit of despair, guilt and sorrow. Now that I am alined with my values of a Low Impact Life and a frugal lifestyle which have lead to a lot of changes in my life I feel lighter and more at peace with myself. What is even more awesome is that Mr LIL and I share the same values. He is also a frugal person that is worried about the planet. With the support of each other we are taking frugality/LIL to the next step in 2018.

February Vitality

Since I have been sick quite a lot lately, most of December and again now in January I am quite tired of feeling unwell! I haven’t been able to exercise or have the energy to do much for a long time. Now I am hoping that it will be better from here. One thing being sick does is create appreciation for being healthy. So I am going to harness this the coming month and really appreciate my body and health.

My focus for February is getting back on track with my vitality resolutions. Especially exercise, being outdoors and also sticking to my diet. My nightly routine is pretty much set, it just needs small adjustments.

I want to start exercising slowly with the exception of skiing (I’m going skiing in Norway Thursday-Sunday this week). I want to start taking 15 min walks at lunch time and will start doing my weight lifting routine with easy weights and slowly working myself up to my old weights. I think the mental challenge of not going to quickly will be the hardest (I like seeing progress quickly).

As for diet I will stick strictly to my eating for a healthy life plan and reduce the amount of gluten free carbs slightly because I am eating a bit too high percentage at the moment which makes me really hungry in the afternoon.

So those points are my aim for February!

Summary frugal January

January was fairly frugal. I did have two larger expenses that I knew were coming: a spa day with my mum that we gave each other for Christmas/birthday present and paying for our skitrip that’s coming up in March. These I have taken from my fluid savings account that I use for trips, activities and also as a buffer for expenses like dentist and so on. I also invited my girlfriends to a brunch to celebrate my birthday which was a out of the ordinary but other than that spending was low this month. I haven’t done anything special on the frugality front but been focusing on my new job which in turn has lead to not spending much money.

On the front of public transport and lunch connected to my new job I bought a public transport card but have been able to eat lunchboxes every day which I will continue to do! The lunches are the important one since a lunch in town costs a lot of money. The calcualtions: lunch costs around 100kr times 20 which is 2000kr a month. Minus of course around 30kr per homemade lunch box which is 600kr so that equals 1400kr a month saved!

Buying a public transport card cost me 860kr for a month and if I don’t have one I buy tickets that usually land on about 400kr a month so the card cost me an extra 460kr. I still have to fix my bike and it has been really cold and a lot of snow so it has been worth taking the underground so far. I’ll probably buy a card for next month too and then I’ll start biking in March.

Summary December leisure time

My December didn’t quite work out as I had thought. I was sick first and since then I’ve had a really bad cough. This equals low quality sleep and no exercise. When I got back on my feet LIL wolfs stomach got really bad so we were at the vets and have switched her food twice. We’ve also been worried of course and gotten woken up at nights when she needs to go out. So all in all not very relaxing.

So my first 4 weeks of freedom haven’t been exactly as planned. I am proud of myself however that I have accepted it for what it was and am glad that I didn’t have to go to work at the same time as everything else was going on. Despite all of this I have managed to work on my resolutions (some more than others):

Mr LIL

Me and Mr LIL have been spending quite a lot of time together at home (being sick and having a sick dog will do that). We have been together for three years now and during December we have talked about what we want for our future. We have started planning the broad brush strokes that are our dream life with a bit more detail which is really exciting.

LIL wolf

I have been home alot with the LIL wolf during December and we’ve taken wonderful long walks and chilling at home. Because she’s been sick a lot of time has gone towards trying to make her better. We haven’t been doing as much training as I planned because of lack of energy from the both of us.

Family

It being Christmas I have spent a lot of time with family without really having to do that much extra planning. It has been really nice and good since I wouldn’t have had the energy to plan lots of things. I also got many experience/activity based presents which means that I have lots of things to look forward to doing with family (both mine and Mr LILs) this spring that are already booked.

Friends

I had hoped that I would be able to meet lots of friends during December since I was off but because of the circumstances I have barely been able to meet any friends. That is okay though and what I have done is invited everyone to a party brunch at mine on the 6th of January to celebrate my birthday. I have said that I don’t want any presents just that everyone brings a bottle of bubbly that we can put in the pot. It’s going to be so much fun! Since I am starting a new job and a lot of energy is going to be directed to that I know that I probably wont be able to meet that many friends at first. So I’m giving myself permission to not focus that much of my energy on meeting friends until March when this theme is back again. Although I will try to get better at keeping in contact through texts and phone calls.

New connections

My plan was to find new contacts through the facebook communities that I am a part of (finding new girl friends, dog groups and hiking groups) and also to become more active in different blogging communities. I didn’t work on this resolution as much as I had hoped. Other than getting in contact with and going on a playdate with a couple that had a cavalier king charles spaniel puppy I haven’t really done anything else this month. Because of the same reason as above this area will also be on hold until March (except for new connections at work).

Blog

I have been working on the blog quite a bit, both with my pages and writing posts. I think that the first week of January (my last week before starting my new job) will be dedicated to setting up a blog strategy for this year and writing more posts that I can space out during the coming month.

My own interest

This is where most my my time in December has gone to. I have been reading books, laying puzzles, watching series, started to grow our own salad and herbs, decluttered our apartment some more, researching different areas of interest and reading lots of blogs. It has been so good to be able to take this time and both relax and spend some uninterrupted time researching and planning for our future.

This is a start to the theme and hopefully I am able to delve into these resolutions more in March.

Frugality update: It has been a very frugal month since I haven’t been doing much and we’ve eaten quite many dinners away (connected to Christmas and my birthday). The LIL wolfs vet bill was not very cheap although it came from our emergency fund that we have for precise this reason so hasn’t affected our normal monthly budget. It has also been very frugal to recieve gifts in the form of experiences since I will now get to do lots of fun things and not have to pay for them myself.

Update leisure time

Since I was sick the first week into my five weeks of freedom (still coughing a bit) at the same time as LIL wolf has not been well the leisure category has been off to a slow start. Not feeling well and having a dog that we need to stay home for is not the recipe for success when it comes to social interaction. Therefore the focus has been on LIL wolf, my own interests and the blog so far. I have read two books and lots of blog posts, taken many long walks, started my latest puzzle and my newest project: growing herbs and lettuce indoors (more on that in a seperate post). I have also been writing blog posts and worked on my pages (check out About and Frugality to see what I’ve been up to).

The seedlings are coming along really well 🙂

On a frugal/minimalist side note me and Mr LIL have gone through our things and given away three bags of clothes and things to a second hand store and two bags to the textile recycling. I have also put up a pair of hiking pants that are too big, a sideboard and my old pair of skiis on Blocket (a Swedish second hand website) and I hope I willl be able to sell them this weekend.

Frugal exercise

First Monday of my five weeks of freedom! There is a completely different tempo to life when you don’t feel like you have to squash everything you want to do in the hours after work when you are tired. I went to the gym and didn’t have to rush back to work which was great!

Since I have exercised at the company gym for free for the last three years I have a plan to do a tour of the gyms in the area until I start my new job and will be able to get a gym membership through them. Most gyms have a “try our gym” week so I will see if I can manage to find four-five gyms in the area to try during this period. This means that I wont have to pause going to the gym now that I have finally started getting back into it and I can save some money. I will also have figured out which gym I want to join when I start my new job.

Leisure time resolutions

During December my focus will be on what I do with my free time as part of my happiness project.  This month I want to actively decide what to do with my precious free time and not just let it waste away without me knowing where it went. Many people feel like they don’t have any or way to little free time. So first of all I want to figure out how much time for leisure do I theoretically have during a normal week?

A week has 168 hours:

  • work around 45 hours – 123 h left
  • travel to and from work ca 3 hours – 120 h left
  • sleep around 7 hours per night – 71 h left
  • cook and eat food 90 min/day – 61 h left
  • wash, clean and food shopping 4 hours – 57 h left
  • hygiene and getting ready for work/bed – 54 h left
  • exercise 1 hour – 53 h left
  • walk LIL wolf (exluding weekend walks) 2 hours – 51 h left

What is left is more than two full days of time, it is 10h more than the standard work week to just spend on things that I choose and want to do every week. When you write it out like that it is actually quite a lot of time. So where does all this time go? The next step is to try to track and analyze how much time I spend on different areas and then figure out what I actually want to spend my time on. Then I can start adjusting my time to make sure I fit in all the activities I want to do most. Since I have 5 weeks off before I start my new job I know that this won’t be a typical month but that I instead have the luxury of really focusing on this area without having work getting in the way. This will hopefully mean that I have managed to find the key activities that I want to spend my limited time on when I start working again.

Below I have listed the important categories in my life that I want to spend my time on. To spend time on and develop each these areas so that I make the most of them will be my resolutions for December:

  • Mr LIL
  • LIL wolf
  • Family
  • Friends
  • New connections
  • Blog
  • Own interest

It is of course important to develop these areas in line with my other resolutions of frugality and vitality. This month I will therefore spend time finding new ways to connect with people and work on my interests that combine all of the areas.

Summary November Vitality

This month’s resolutions have been centered around vitality (read more what I mean with vitality here). I have quite many resolutions for this theme: be outside, healthy diet, exercise, nightly routine, breathing and cold, thinking positive and practising gratitude and hydration. Since I know I’m going to revisit it during the year this first month is a chance to see what worked and what I need to put more effort in for the next time. In my mid month update you can read more specifically about each resolution.

The victories

I have managed to get myself to the gym twice a week now and already feeling that I’m getting stronger and that I really enjoy it. I’m so glad I pushed myself the first few times. Of course now that I have my last day of work on Thursday and starting my new job in January I have to be a little more creative. I have some phamplets to try exercising at different gyms in the area from when we moved in. I’m hoping that I can use those in December and keep up my twice a week routine until I start my new job and can get a membership through work.

I also have eaten gluten only two times this month after London (2 tiny spring rolls and one piece of a lussebulle, a kind of saffron bun) which is really good! I am more strict with gluten than lactose so I have eaten lactose a couple of times (milk chocolate, dipp for chips and some sauce). But all in all I would call it a success!

I never thought I, the person who is always cold, would say this but I actually enjoy the cold showers. Each time I have showered this month I have turned the water to cold for 1-2 min at the end while practising the breathing. It really boosts energy levels and you feel so alert and alive. This will definitely stick as part of my shower routine.

I also have been drinking a huge glass of water mixed with lemon juice and some salt each morning. Since I’m so thirsty this resolution is practically automatic so I will probably remove it for next time since I do it anyways.

The moderate successes

Like I mentioned in the update it is really hard to work on being outside more. Since I bike to and from work and take long walks with Lilly on the weekends I feel that I am getting a fair amount of outside time at least for this time of year (read dark, cold and wet). It will also increase next month when I am off from work and will take the LIL wolf for more walks. This is an area to revisit in coming Vitality months during different seasons.

The results for my nightly routine resolution vary a fair amount. Some nights I manage to take the LIL wolf out, wash my face, brush my teeth and get into bed at 9.30 to read but most nights I just manage the lights out at 10 part. Since the lights out at 10 is the most important part I am fairly happy with the results.

Practising positive thinking and gratitude is a tricky resolution because although I have been working with positive thinking and gratitude it is hard to remember to do it since I don’t have a routine or mental pathways yet. This will come with time and practise but I think I have to figure out some kind of routine for this area.

The areas to improve

What I started but unfortunately haven’t keept up is the breathing tecnique. It takes about 20 min to go through the three cycles and although I have tried to get up a bit earlier I haven’t managed to fit it into my morning routine yet. Again since I’m not working in December I’m going to try starting the habit then and see if it sticks.

All in all I think it has been a interesting month where I have had to really work with exercising my mental willpower and discipline which I think is very important. One of my favourite quotes from Jocko Willink:

Discipline equals freedom

Getting to feel both my body on lots of gluten, lactose and sugar (London) and then now with very little it is so clear that there really is a huge difference. Moodiness, my stomach acting up, cravings, lower energy and head aches are just some side effects I got from just a long weekend of eating like I used to eat all the time before. It was good to experience because it made me remember how I bad felt every single day before and that eating unhealthy food really isn’t worth that price. It gave me renewed energy to keep working hard towards vitality.

Rapunzel let down your hair

Well maybe I’m not really at rapunzel length yet but my hair is actually growing quite fast! I’ve noticed a big difference since I started. It’s always hard to show on pictures but here is the before and after photos so far.

This is the photo after my last hair cut:

And this is the photo when I started 2,5 months ago (left) and last week (right):

So here comes a recap of what I have been doing so far:

  • Not cutting it at all
  • Use a boar bristle brush
  • Massaging my scalp
  • Washing my hair only two times a week
  • Almond oil and coconut oil hair mask once a week
  • Almond oil in my hair tips after showering
  • Eating lots of cabbage which has alot of sulfur which is apparently good for your hair
  • Rinse with cold water (which I have just started)
  • Let my hair air dry

An update on vitality

Here comes an update on November the month of vitality and my resolutions so far:

Being outside

There is nothing quite like being outside in nature. There is an inner calm that sweeps over you. Mostly we try to filter out the white noise from traffic, people talking, barking dogs, screaming kids, ads on TV and radio and so on but in nature you are present in a whole different way. You really hear and see the environment around you. While we have taken long walks in nature on the weekends I’m still struggling to fit it into my week. I do get some air during my bike ride to and from work which is at least something (even if it’s only 15 min each way).

Diet

Since London (so the past week) not a grain of gluten has slipped by my lips (eventhough I have been offered my weakness cinnamon buns THREE seperate times!). I have also had minimal amounts of sugar and barely any lactose (except for 1 piece of white chocolate and a tiny bit of cheese on Friday). Now that my sugar cravings have passed thankfully it is not such a mental effort any more. Apart from that I’m still going strong with fasting and my Bulletproof coffee in the mornings which works really well for me. I’m not eating a super low carb diet rather a medium carb diet with rice, sweet potato, lentil/bean pasta, rice noodles and seaweed noodles to some of my meals.

Exercise

Not one of my best areas at the moment… There are three aspects: engage in physical activity, lifting heavy weights and sprinting now and then. I didn’t manage to get my butt to the gym last week although I started this week strong by going to the gym on Monday. I’ve blocked off time in my calendar twice a week from now and I’m determined to make those times! When I actually get to the gym I have two free weight routines: A and B that I alternate between which cover the big five (bench press, squats, rows, deadlift and overhead press) plus chins and core muscle work out. Sprints nothing so far, I’ll have to figure out to motivate myself here. Physical activity I have touched on in the being outside section but need to figure out this area too (at least it’s more than before we got a dog).

Nightly routine

I manage to have the lights off at the latest 22.15 but I don’t have a structured routine yet for the time before that. Ideally I want to have taken LIL wolf out, washed my face, brushed my teeth and gotten into bed by 21.30 so that I can read for half an hour before lights off at 22. So this is an area I’m still working on.

Breathing and cold

I have gotten into the Wim Hof Method which is a pattern of breathing and exposing your body to cold. This method has been created by a guy from the Netherlands who is nicknamed the Iceman. He has accomplished countless crazy feats, such as climbing Mount Everest past the “death zone”,  wearing nothing but shorts and shoes and completing a full marathon in temperatures close to −20 °C without a shirt on. What he is doing now is developing control over autonomous systems in the body and teaching others to do the same.

So what have I been doing? I’ve practised his breathing tecniques from his app most days. The point is to oxygenize your body much more than your normal subconscious breath and then after 30-40 repetitions of his breath pattern you exhale and hold your breath until you feel like you need to breathe again. My max so far is 2 min 30 seconds and it isn’t even hard!! I have also been taking cold showers for 1-2 min each morning while practicing the breathing pattern and what’s amazing is that it’s actually quite nice and it invigorates you! I’m going to keep up with both these exercises during the rest of November.

Thinking positive and practising gratitude

I haven’t worked actively on this resolution yet but have made sure to try to turn negative thoughts around and also thinking of different things that I am greatful of every day. I will give this area more thought during the remaining weeks.

Hydration

This resolution I have kept up with so each morning I drink at least one large glass of water with lemon and some Himalaya salt. I also make sure to drink lots of water during the day.

Although some resolutions are already made habits that I am just keeping up like diet, drinking water and walks outside on the weekends the others are quite a lot of work. I think I’m doing fairly well so far considering the amount of resolutions. It’s a good thing that I will have three more months to work on this area!

 

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