Tag Archives: 2012

Getting fit for free: the battle between fitness and finanaces

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I have a confession to make – I’m a gym slut!

And by that, I mean I will go to whatever gym is giving me free drop-in passes. There are sweet deals to be had out there, people!

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This time of year, everyone is forking out hundreds upon hundreds of dollars for exclusive memberships, signing their lives away on contracts, trundling off to Sport Chek to spend megabucks on the hottest new fitness duds…. NOT ME!!

Well, not this time anyways. I would be a huge hypocrite here if I did not ‘fess up that I indeed, in the past, have been on that very bandwagon. But this year, I am determined to have my fitness and financial goals in harmony with one another. And to that end, I am busy milking every gym in the city for free passes.

A quick Yellow Pages search of St. John’s came up with over thirty different fitness clubs and gyms. Almost every one has some kind of promo ‘freebie’ offer – ranging from a free daypass, to three days, or three classes, or a week, or a steal of a deal on the first week (Shakti Yoga – $20 unlimited drop-in trial for a week, etc). Right now, I am busy getting the most out of my Goodlife “Three for Free” pass. I’ve already been to two savage spin classes, and will hit up two more before it expires on the 12th. (Soooo….. really I will get Four For Free! And, if it was a drop in class, I would probably pay up to $10 for it, so that is like $40 I saved right there!).

I already got a sweet Groupon (I actually bought a secondhand Groupon — paid $30 for it, the girl I bought it from paid $50 for it, which was an epic deal to begin with, for two months of drop-in Muay Thai Kickboxing… two a week, eight a month, 16 in total, so if I go to every one, which I have so far, the cost to me is less than two bucks a class) So I have that to do this month as well. Once that is finished, I’m thinking – Hot Yoga! (Saw an ad for a free week there, too!).

 

I alloted $100 in my monthly budget for “Health and Fitness” but heck, I’d rather spend it on wine or clothes or shoes — and if I succeed in my Fit for Free mission, that is exactly what I’m going to do!

If anyone knows of any other great promo offers – let me know!

Just in case you want to be a gym slut, too, check out these deals:

  • Goodlife Fitness: (Canada-wide) Three-visit pass:

http://goodlifefitness.com/Memberships/FreeVisitPass.aspx

  • The Works (St. John’s only) Free 7-Day Prime Time Deluxe Membership:

http://www.theworksonline.ca/survey.php

  • Ches Penney YMCA (St. John’s) Free Day Pass:

http://www.ynortheastavalon.com/files/free_pass.pdf

 

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Change your headlights, save some money, glue your dreams

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I can’t decide what to write about right now! I have three topics arguing inside my head about who is more relevant and interesting. Let me introduce you to them:

  • #1: The fact that I changed my own car headlight today, on my own
  • #2: My new financial forays into the incredibly exciting world of Mint.com
  • #3: The completion of my new vision board for 2012, what’s on it and why, and some tips for making your own

The conversation in my head is going something like this:

Headlight: “C’mon, I was easily the highlight of your day – no pun intended! I know you, and nothing makes you happier than conquering some new task. And, you saved $50 that it would have cost to get the mechanic to do it! That is goshdarned exciting.”

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Mint.com: “Fifty measly bucks! Hahahaha! [High roller chuckle] Think of all the money you’re going to save once you get dialed into my state-of-the art budgeting and finance world! Two words: …..Pie Charts!”

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Vision Board:Ahem, lets just be calm here, maybe a deep breath, no? I don’t mean to be arrogant here, but what is more exciting or interesting than a visual manifestation of your dreams for the upcoming year? And wouldn’t it be awesome, if you convinced even ONE other person to try it? Annnnnd…. just sayin’…. I’m alot prettier than a dirty ole headlight or some stupid pie charts!”

And the winnah is….

Vision Board

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This is a really, really, really fun thing to do. Especially if you’re a nerd like me, and love collages. It took me maybe a full hour altogether, so nothing too crazy, and now I have something that is really fun to look at, and will keep me on track to accomplish my goals for this year. If you’ve never tried it before, I highly recommend it! It requires zero artistic ability, and very little cashola. Basically, you grab a pile of old magazines. Flip through them and rip out everything that catches your eye, in any way — the key here is to not be too choosy, if it caught your eye, there’s something there that resonated with you, so rip it out. Pictures, sayings, drawings, words, maps, whatever! If it’s something you want – in the material sense or spiritual or travel or experience sense – put it in the pile. Take a large piece of poster board. Old science fair projects will do just fine. The bigger the better. Start gluing. Have fun with it, overlap it, mix up the words, it is YOUR creation to make in any way you want. When it’s all done, you can trim the edges to make it look pretty, and then step back and take a look, because this is what you are welcoming into your life in the coming year.

I was planning on elaborating a little bit on what is on mine, and why, but upon having another look at it, I think it is so straightforward it requires no explanation. The only thing I kinda feel like I need to elaborate on a bit is the kid — no, I do not want a kid this particular year; that is just to remind me that pretty soon I WILL want a kid, and there are things I should be doing, like saving money, getting my $#!% together, getting my Masters’, which will put me in a better position when that day DOES roll around. Eventually.

I really believe this kind of stuff has power. Is it as instant and simple as laid out in “The Secret” and other similar books? No, I don’t think it is. Just because I want someone to bring me a coffee right now, does not mean it is going to happen. However – in the action of choosing, the action of cutting, gluing, arranging – you are creating a physical manifestation of some desire that is inside of you. This physical manifestation might be a flimsy piece of paper – but even that is a big leap from being an intangible thought, no? Just the act of bringing it into your awareness, will make you more aware the next time it blips on your radar, which might make you stop and look at it in a store. Which might make you research it online. Which might make you think of ways you could save money or strive to get that thing/experience/achievement. Which, sooner or later, will end up with you having it.

For example, I had no idea I had such a strong desire for a nice kitchen, that this was, in fact, not only a peripheral desire but a central desire in my life. It came up in technicolour yesterday, in that ‘5-year visualization’ exercise, and then again today, I found myself, zombie-like, cutting out picture after picture after picture of gorgeous kitchens! I couldn’t fit them all on! Who knew?

Limits are learned behaviours. You can be and do absolutely whatever you want, so beware of that sneaky, sabotaging thought that pops in when you see a castle or a Ferrari, that thought that says, ‘oh yeah, that is nice, but that is NEVER going to happen…’ Because there is real power to your thoughts and words, folks!

Have fun!

Where will YOU be in five years?

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One of my big goals for 2012 is to get my @#$% together financially. Not that I am doing terribly, but I would say I am blundering blindly, with good intentions, paying off my credit card monthly, etc, but still being totally oblivious to how much I am really earning, and more importantly, how much I am really SPENDING every month. So, with my new Kobo e-reader, I picked out the Smart Cookies Guide to Making more Dough and Getting out of Debt. This is a gem of a book. I am only halfway through it, but it is packed with sturdy advice without being preachy or jargon-y. It is kind of an informal workbook format, and prompts you with several questions along the way. One of the first exercises is to picture your perfect day, five or so years down the road. Where you are, what you are doing, what your workplace looks like, what you look like, what makes you happy, etc. Detail was emphasized.

I have a rather vivid imagination, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I whipped out a pen (yes, an old-fashioned pen) and the words just started gushing out of me. Seven scrapbook pages later, I stopped scribbling and was really amazed at what I had just spewed forth. I am going to transcribe it here, not because I think it is deserving of accolades or because I think anyone will even be interested in it (or even read it for that matter)– just because, in five years I will likely have lost this notebook but will still remember my WordPress.com password, so I can see how close I got to my vision. Pardon the extreme arrogance of it all — but the idea here is to picture an IDEAL day. And in my ideal day, I will not be fat or driving an old Firefly or working somewhere boring as a cog in a machine. So here it is:

I wake up around 6:30. It’s summer, and sunshine is streaming in through the huge windows looking out on the ocean. I feel great – energetic and excited about the day ahead. I do a few quick yoga moves while the coffee is percolating, the smell intoxicatingly perfect, and I breathe it in relishing the early morning peace.

I am at home, and it is a truly magnificent space – every square inch carefully chosen and selected. Heated slate floors graze my bare feet, a giant soapstone fireplace reaches for the solid wooden rafters on 20′ ceilings. Beautifully hidden lighting creatively illuminates a space that is the perfect blend of quirky nostalgia and modern elegance. Colours, fabrics, wood, stone…everything natural and harmonious. Enormous picture windows look out over a spectacular ocean vista, and a stone patio is freckled by the early morning sun, the patio chairs beckoning me with my morning cup of coffee.

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I grab my favourite cashmere sweater, soft and bulky, and wrap it around me, going out onto the patio on this perfect morning. The smell of happy plants and trees coming alive, covered in mist from the early morning automatic sprinklers, fills my senses. Everything is shimmering with dew, the ocean like glass except the ever present surging of the waves, gently, on the rocks.

Suddenly my daughter comes running out, messy-haired and still in pyjamas. Good morning my beautiful princess, I say, enfolding her lithe, warm, flannel covered body in my arms and hoisting her up, spinning around and laughing with silly exhilaration. It is our own little world, quiet, magic, and perfect. But we are not alone – I suddenly look toward the patio door and smile, seeing my sleepy husband gazing out at us with a happy smile on his face – that of a man who could not possibly ask for more. Our little girl runs to him, leaping into his arms, and I follow, savouring the moment, the patio stones cold and refreshing on my bare feet. Good morning, my love, I say, kissing him deeply.

As I am getting dressed in the morning, I peruse my wardrobe and pluck out my favourite outfit – a gorgeously custom tailored charcoal grey suit that fits me superbly. I toss on a lime green silk blouse underneath to spice it up a bit, and add some killer animal-print heels. I pause, looking in the full-length mirror. I look terrific. A woman in her prime.

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I get to work at eight – my parking space is waiting for me and my saucy black Mercedes. I feel great climbing out of it, like a genuine rock star.

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As I walk through the front doors of the modern, beautiful, light-filled harbourfront building, people smile as they shake my hand and congratulate me on my recent success. People are bustling with excitement here, it is a big day today, a lot of hard work and planning has gone into it, and everyone has really risen to the occasion. Phones are already ringing with media inquiries, and my boss comes up to me and says, Thank you for all your hard work, we couldn’t have done this without your dedication and talent. I smile and acknowledge the compliment gracefully, then proceed to my office, with a terrific floor-to-ceiling view of the harbour. There is a pile of paper on my desk, all reports awaiting my discernment and approval. My inbox is already humming with people wanting my opinion and expertise, or thanking and congratulating me.

Work is done early. I am done when I say I’m done, and I grab the keys to go pick up my little girl, and meet my husband at the park. We play and run in the afternoon sunlight, walk by a beautiful lake, rolling down hills, playing on swings, laughing and savouring every moment. We run into other close friends, and laugh and talk and catch up, while watching our kids play and get dirty. Everyone is radiant with the beauty of the day, the perfect temperature. The light reflecting off the lake gives everything an extra luminous glow.

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It’s evening now, and while my husband and daughter are playing a game close by, I go to the kitchen and start preparing ingredients for our dinner. I open the fridge and it is overflowing with colourful, healthy, organic ingredients – the sky’s the limit! I have tons of space on my beautiful maple counters, and I start merrily chopping and dicing and creating. I am in my element. Great music is playing on the surround sound system, and I dance and sing along while cooking. Blackened salmon, fresh asparagus, a salad overflowing with beautiful, exotic greens and toppings. We take it out on the patio, along with a bottle of Prosecco, and dive in, while watching the sunset – the automatic garden and patio lights gradually coming on as it gets darker, creating a beautiful Midsummer Night’s Dream fantasy. After our girl is in bed, we stay outside, talking and drinking and enjoying the cool evening air, stars, and the sound of the crickets. One of our favourite songs comes on, and we get up and dance, swaying gently in the moonlight.

 

As I crawl into bed, I am exhausted but happy. I feel wonderful knowing how loved, respected, needed, and fulfilled my life is. My little family is a source of unending joy. My work is satisfying, challenging, and interesting. My relationships are harmonious, and I have a support network of family, friends, and coworkers. I am incredibly grateful for everything in my life. The easy wealth and abundance. The wonderful people who colour my life. The gorgeous place that I live. The delicious things that I eat. My healthy, thin, active happy body. My long beautiful hair, my red-hot sex life. My beautiful, perfect house. As I drift off to sleep, I am nothing but excited to see what the next day will bring.

Whew! 1300 words. Where the hell did all that come from? I’ve never even thought about such things. I can definitely see the point of the whole exercise though – looking at the things you really do want in your life, sure makes it seem frivolous to spend another $120 on a pair of boots, or another $80 on a new perfume, when that could go toward some much bigger, much more worthwhile dreams.

So, will I have a black Mercedes and custom tailored suits and my own oceanfront house AND office, and a BABY — all in five year? We’ll see. As they say, “Thoughts are real forces.” I sure hope so, because that all sounded pretty damn good.