What a day! Had a wonderful holiday full of family, friends, good food, wine, and lots of DIY gifts and crafts... Spiced nuts, peppermint vanilla bath salts, homemade bath bombs, and all sorts of goodies made with my Young Living essential oils. This is the first year I've made gifts like this and it was a blast! Already looking forward to next year.
Oh stories. We all love a good story, don't we? I'm not talking about the kind you get to hear before bed to help you drift off to sleep; I'm talking about the stories we tell ourselves. It's something I've been thinking about a lot these past few weeks, and last night a conversation at a Thai yoga practice group brought it around full circle.
We ALL love to tell ourselves stories about EVERYTHING, and we do it so often we don't even realize it. These stories are about anything and everything: diet, exercise, injuries, money, relationships, weightloss, carreer.... You name it and we have a story about it. See, the problem with stories is that 99.9999% of the time the story is a negative one, and it completely stops us dead in our tracks from moving forward in our lives.
An example from my clients: I don't have time to cook or prepare healthy meals.
What's the problem with this statement? It ends the game. It shuts down the conversation. The person says "I really want to get healthy and I would love to lose weight, but I just don't have time to prepare healthy meals." Done. So that's it, and they're never going to be able to change because they just don't have time. Too bad, so sad. The thing is, I can guarentee they have some little pocket of time somewhere that they can throw someveggies in a baggie to take to lunch with them. But when you tell yoursef you don't have any time, you automatically find ways to support this statement rather than disprove it. You never even look for that 15 minute pocket hidden in your schedule.
I see it all the time with my yoga students. "I can't do that posture because my knee does this and my hip does that and I can't blah blah blah." (Heck, I have been that student before... Multiple times!) See, they've already created this story around the posture and decided ahead of time that it's impossible for them, so they won't even try to play around with it and see what they can do. "Well, ok" I say. "Let's just break it down and start with one little step." When I break it down with them and approach it one step at a time I can more often than not get them into the posture, and if not then at least something close or similar that still has the same benefits. (That is, of course, if they're willing to go with it and not cling onto their story for dear life... Which happens a lot too!)
Sometimes stories are just about getting caught up in our own drama. This was my latest story. I had a rough week a few weeks back. Just lots of little things that added up: broke my phone and lost all my info, fence blew over and had to buy a new one, rear-ended on the highway (luckily everyone was ok), had wasps in the house... Every time something else negative happened I added it to the list. I kept replaying this list in my head, over and over, about how crappy and stressful and ridiculous it all was. The more I repeated it the more I got caught up in it, and the more powerful the stress and drama became.
Well Wednesday morning I had my first session with my coach scheduled. I kept thinking about my drama story before it started, and was all ready to tell her everything and how stressful it was. Problem was, when I called her she immediately jumped into a bigger more exciting topic and we were off. I didn't even have time to tell her my story! Here I had been dwelling on it for weeks and all I wanted was to tell her all about how stressful everything was, and how I just can't win lately, and blah blah blah and I didn't even get a chance! Geez.
But you know what? After the call was over and I thought about it, I realized that my story didn't matter anymore. If you don't say the words your story has no power. The fact is that the story never really mattered in the first place. It was just a delicious piece of drama I let myself get so wrapped up in that I couldn't see past it. And if you can't see past your story into the future, you will never get there.
I've had all kinds of stories. I love stories about not having enough time. I also love stories about not having enough money or not being good at something or not knowing what to do next. Then there's pity party stories about nothing going my way or not having the energy to exercise or being too tired to blah blah blah.... Yeah. I've had stories for everything! It definitely takes practice to realize you're feeding yourself these lines, and I wonder if it's something you can ever completely stop doing. I'm guessing it's not. Maybe that's what separates us from the animals... The ability to tell ourselves stories!
What are your stories?
You might not realize it, but I promise you have some stories of your own. We all do! It's ok! It's only human. How do you figure out what your stories are? Like I said, 99.9999% of stories are negative so look for the things you tell yourself you can't do. Stories might start with something like:
I don't have time to....
I can't afford to....
I'm too old to....
I'll never be able to....
I'm terrible at....
If you find you are telling yourself things starting with these or similar statements, a red flag should go up. Is this true, or is it just a story? If this story wasn't true, what could I accomplish? Where could I do? How could I move forward?
It's important to note that you have created this story for some good reason in the first place. Stories are usually there protecting you from some fear or past trauma. Maybe you had some injury or troublesome ordeal. Maybe you are using it to shield yourself from experiencing some feeling or emotion, facing some truth, etc. Could be anything, really, but it's there for a reason. It's trying to protect you. I think it's important to acknowledge this, because you first have to know where you are coming from before you can move forward. So be gentle with yourself. Say "Thank you story, for trying to protect me, but I got this!" and just start asking some questions about the origins of your story. You might not get an answer at first, but just the fact that you are asking makes all the difference in the world.
Once you acknowledged your story and accepted the place you are coming from, then turn your sights to the future.
Since these stories are just words anyway, you can use words to change your story to a new and improved positive one. Three options are:
1. Choose the opposite story.
Instead of "I'm always late because I am so frazzled all of the time" you could say "I arrive on time because I am at ease."
2. Change then ending of your story.
This one came from my friend and fellow yogi who said to just tack on a new ending. (Love it!) Change "I had knee surgery so I can't bend my knee" to "I had knee surgey so I can't bend my knee yet, but I am getting better every day."
3. Create a completely new story.
Instead of "I am a terrible cook" you might say "I am learning how to better feed myself and my family."
See how powerful a simple change of phrasing is? It can change a story from a dead end to a new beginning full of endless possibilities. Of course, you might not believe your new story at first. In fact, you might think it's a load of crap. That's ok. Been there! The more you repeat your new story the more powerful it will become. Over time, you might even find that you're just gullible enough to believe it yourself....
So what are some of your stories? I would love to hear from you! Please share in the comments below.
Let's finish up this little series by getting down to more of the nitty gritty. I'm talking determinining your budget, getting clear on what you want, and setting your priorities.
So let's start with the basics.... You have to know where you're coming from, right?
1. See how much you're really spending.
If you are not already someone who closely tracks your spending, I challenge you to take one week (though a month would be even better) and track every dollar you spend. Yes, I said every dollar. You just might be surprised at how much falls to the wayside without you even noticing. Do you regularly spend $4 at Starbucks buying drinks? Do you always end up buying magazines at the checkout line? All of this adds up big time in the end. You don't need to change anything just yet, and this exercise isn't for you to start judging yourself and feel bad about your spending habits. This is just for you to step back and observe. At the end of the week (or month), you can see truthfully how much you spent on eating out, groceries, things you don't need and didn't even realize you were buying all the time, etc. From here, you have a starting point to determine your grocery budget.
2. Get clear on what you want.
Do you spend way more than you want to eating out? Or on anything else for that matter? Once you know what you're spending where, you can determine your budget. If you have decided that you are committed to cooking and eating in more, take some money from your eating out budget and add it to your grocery budget. Just start to play around with the numbers you've collected and see if you have any leeway to spend more on better food. I'm not here to tell you what you can and can't spend money on, I just want you to take a moment and really think about what you want and what your goals are. Just bringing awareness to this will begin to shift your perspective.
3. Set your own priorities at the grocery store.
Once you've determined your budget, you might still find that you can't afford all the wonderful organic, pastured stuff at the grocery store that you want. I hear ya! So decide what is most important to you at this time. My #1 most important priority is grassfed meat. Being a vegetarian didn't work for my body, so I choose to eat meat. But animal welfare is very, very important to me. So we buy local pastured meat first, and then I use what's left over for the rest of the groceries. This means I don't buy 100% organic produce all the time. I use the Dirty Dozen list to determine what I should proritize there. I shop in season and I also choose to buy frozen veggies to save some money. Your top grocery priority might be different, and that's ok! The point is you can focus on what is most important to you and then give yourself some wiggle room on the rest.
4. Set your budget and stick to it.
This is the hard one for me! Haha. Once you have determined your grocery budget you have to stick with it. Write a list, and stick to it! Just like I talked about in Part 1, sometimes I start to get excited and see all of these fabulous "healthy" things that I really want to buy, and it can be hard to resist. But I try to treat sticking to my budget like a game and see how much I can get for my money. Also, if I have $10 left over I don't save it... I buy myself a treat! Seriously. Have fun with it.
5. Use meal planning to your advantage.
Meal planning is a whole epic topic on it's own, but it is such a great tool when it comes to sticking to your grocery budget. Deciding what you're cooking ahead of time will help you create an accurate grocery list that prevents waste and spoiled veggies. Nothing is sadder to me than my money rotting away in the crisper drawer in the fridge. If you're new to meal planning, this will take some time to master, so just I would just say to dive right in and start today - you will learn as you go.
This brings us to my last very important tip....
6. Practice, practice, practice.
This will take some time before you get it down. That's ok! Keep practicing, and remember you can make adjustments as you need. Learn from your mistakes and your victories. The good news is that it gets easier and easier over time. Be patient with yourself!
Start where you are, use what you have, and decide for yourself what is most important to you.
I think that the most important thing is to just start where you are. Maybe you don't have the grocery budget you would like at this time. That's ok! this isn't an all or nothing game. Just use what you have available and decide where your priorities lie. Or maybe you just can't bring yourself to give up something for good food just yet. That's ok too; just know that this might change over time. Often people find that as they start eating better and feeling better, their priorities begin to shift. This is what happened to me, and it may or may not happen to you.
But no matter what, just remember to be careful with your body.... You only get one!
Thanks for coming along with me on this little journey! Has any topic in this series resonated with you? What do you prioritize when it comes to food or health? Are there any places you would like your budget to begin to shift? Please share in the comments below!
In this series I'm sharing my favorite money saving tips for eating high quality foods on a budget. Follow these links to read Part 1 and Part 2.
Pastured meat can be expensive and there's no getting around it. There are still some ways you can optimize your spending and get the most for your money. In my view, animals roaming free on the pasture are not only healthier and happier themselves, but make the planet healthier and happier and make me healthier and happier because they are highly nutritious. So let's see what we can do in this department:
1. Buy from the farmer
It seems to me that the cheapest way to go is always to buy straight from the farmers themselves. A quick search online should show you options near by, or you can visit eatwild.com for a complete listing. Some farms have pick up locations in town, some show up at the farmer's market, some will deliver to your door. So get online and see what's available near you!
2. Buy bone-in cuts
Grassfed steaks and pork chops are crazy expensive. Start to look for bone-in, less glamorous cuts to save some dough. Think shanks, shoulders, chicken quarters, etc. In my mind these are the tastiest cuts anyway, so it works out perfectly. Sometimes you can save even more by buying large pieces and cutting it yourself. For example, pork shoulder is already less expensive, but on top of that I can save a dollar a pound buying a 10lb pork shoulder. When I get it home I cut it into smaller chunks and freeze what I don't need for later.
3. Buy in bulk
Sometimes you can save a lot buy buying half or a quarter of a cow, pig, lamb, etc. Some online stores like US Wellness Meats offer discounts for the more you spend. Sometimes there are offers like 10% off if you buy in increments of 10. Sometimes things just go on sale! You get the idea: The more you buy at once the more you save. If you have room for it, a chest freezer is a fabulous investment. They are actually quite inexpensive and you will make up for the cost when buying in bulk. Another great option is to find a friend (or friends) to go in with you to buy the meat so that you can all save without each having to store a ton at home.
4. Use the whole animal
In the US we throw out so much of the good stuff from the animal. Be respectful and use as much as you can! Save the bones and make stock. Experiment with organ meats. Render some lard to cook with. What most people think of as throw away bits are some of the most nutritious and highly valued parts cultures around the world. The good news is you can buy them here for next to nothing! If your farmer doesn't have these things listed for purchse, just ask if you can buy them. You'll be surprised how far your money will go when you start to eat nose to tail.
5. Eat less meat!
I love meat. It makes me healthy and keeps my blood sugar stable like no bean could ever do! But a little protein at a meal goes a long way. Instead of making the meat the star of the plate, pile it high with veggies and a little starch and then add a small serving of meat. Your wallet will thank you, your body will thank you, and the planet will thank you too.
Up next, the more nebulous aspects of eating high quality foods for less: meal planning, defining your budget, and getting clear with your health goals.
What are your favorite ways to save on high quality meat?
In this series I am dispelling the myth that eating healthy is too expensive.
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