It has been almost a month since I returned from Burning Man and I am still decompressing and re-evaluating bits of my life. Despite everything I do feel a sense of ease, like I’m on the right path and I can see my behaviors with more clarity than before. This is, no doubt, partly due to the Burn but a few other things have entered my life recently that deserve some credit.
First, I just finished reading “Finding Ultra” by Rick Roll. Prior to reading this I kind of knew who he was… and ultramarathon runner, vegan, and overall advocate for people living their lives and pursuing their dreams. What I didn’t realize was some of the struggles that he dealt with and how he didn’t really start taking his health seriously until he was 40 years old. As someone who is closer to 40 than 35 this really kicked me in the head. It is kind of rare to read one of these self-help books by someone who didn’t get started until after their 20’s or early 30’s.
Overall, I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t really the ultramarathon parts that stuck with me. I still want to run one because I’ve never done it, but the motivating parts were more, umm, spiritual. Roll is a big advocate of living a mindful life and really thinking about why you make decisions, a theme that is present in the second thing that deserves credit: The Noom app.
“Noom” is, on its surface, just another exercise and nutrition logging app. However, it actually works to provide support and tools in a way that I have not experienced. They ground all their work in psychology to help develop new habits. As cliche as it sounds, it is about lifestyle and not diet. Each person is also put into a group with a couple dozen other people that are on the same learning schedule to provide support and encouragement and a place vent. You also each get a personal guide to help formulate goals and such each week. Now, you need to actually pay for most of what this app has to offer, which I do. It is worth every dime. It is actually one of two apps I pay for, the next being YNAB.
“You Need a Budget” (YNAB) is a pretty cool budgeting app that links to your accounts. One of the key differences between this and how I was budgeting is that you can only budget money that you actually have. So, even if I am expecting a paycheck next week I can’t apply that money until it hits my account. I have actually found this incredibly useful and since I started using the app I have not used my credit cards, they aren’t even in my wallet anymore.
The book and the two apps and my Burning Man experience are really connected by this concept of feeling present.
- Am I eating because I’m hungry or because I’m mindlessly responding to a stimulus that has built neuropathways over years of turning to food for comfort?
- Is the money I’m spending really in line with my longterm goals or am I just doing it to get an endorphin rush, impress someone, or out of habit?
- Do I have those books on my shelves because I am truly going to read them someday or are they things that weigh me down?
This slow shift in my mindset has lead to some radical changes. I’ve gone through some of my books and really asked myself: Am I really going to read or reference this? Does this book create an aesthetic I want or is it contributing to clutter? Does this book serve as a way to signal my beliefs, desires, and interests in a way that is constructive to my social interactions?
Now, I have a stack of books and clothes that are going to be donated and my office feels much more open and free. My diet, exercise plan, coffee purchases, social events, relationships, and even drug use have undergone the same evaluation. Do these things serve me or am I just stuck in a pattern? I’m actually amazed at how many things do not serve me anymore and how I have completely over cluttered my life.
And, surprisingly, cutting free has been easier than I expected and I am more at ease now than I have been in a very long time. I’m excited for the things that are staying in my life and will receive more care like my marathon (and ultra) training, sexual curiosities, whole-food plant based nutrition, and writing. By saying “no” to other expenses and experiences I am saying “FUCK YES!” to the ones that serve me. Now, will they serve me next year? I don’t know, but if they don’t then I look forward to whatever new aspect of existence that I’ll get to explore.