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Lifelong Problem Solved for $2

This article was written by in Debt Reduction. 6 comments.

A lot of things seem to be coming into place for me lately. Not in the “I finally have enough money that I can stop worrying” kind of way, but more in the “I’m finally acting like a grown-up” kind of way. It’s about time, given that I’m almost 35, but I finally have the proper mindset to take care of things like dishes, laundry and vacuuming without feeling put upon.

I don’t stop on the way home for an ice cream treat anymore, and even when I go to Starbucks, I just get a regular coffee. This happens about once a week, when I can’t bring myself to drink the lousy, incredibly wasteful coffee at work. I realize how ridiculous it sounds for a 34-year-old to be proud of these changes. And there have been times in my life when I’ve had much better self-discipline than I’ve exhibited in the last few years.

Unfortunately, the one thing I could never get myself to do was exercise. Of course I’ve heard the same things you have about the runner’s high and the lovely endorphins and the “good burn”. I would try every now and again, and I never encountered those good feelings, just anger and discomfort… enough anger and discomfort to convince me to stop exercising.

Granted, it’s not good for anybody to live a sedentary lifestyle, but it’s particularly problematic for someone with ADD like myself. Exercise opens up the brain to more activity, and helps even regular people focus, which means that with enough exercise, I can learn to focus as much as a regular person. I spent some time a few years ago on ADD medication, which helped me learn to pay more attention to myself, even after I stopped taking it (long story).

And during my most recent bout of attempting to exercise, I paid more attention, and suspected that the origin of my “exercise anger” was the sweat that was running down my head. So after a few weeks of forgetting about it, I managed to pick up a sweatband. I think I got two for $2.00.

3661917843_ee842c8616_mYou might remember sweatbands from the 1980s. People of a certain age just hear the word “sweatband” and the image of Olivia Newton John in neon colors jumps out solidly in our minds and we start humming “Physical”. I admit that part of my hesitation to try a sweatband was the fear of what I would look like. This isn’t a picture of me, but it’s not far from reality, either.

A few weeks before I started writing for this site I bought a not-so-fancy elliptical machine, with every intention of getting into an exercise routine. Of course, the tickly, itchy, annoying sweat became a problem, and unfortunately, the machine has a terrible habit of making squeaking and crunching noises. Thankfully, I have another secret weapon in addition to the headband: noise-canceling headphones (which of course I paid too much for).

So now, I’m coming home, and after doing the dishes, taking out the garbage and the recycling, yadda yadda, I go change into a bright orange swimsuit, put on some cheap velcro sneakers, slip on my headband and my headphones and listen to a podcast or two on the elliptical machine. I look like a total idiot, and I’m not going to pretend I enjoy the workout, but at least I don’t end up frustrated and angry.

In addition to all of that, the credit card that I call “legacy debt” is below $1,000 for the first time since the 1990s (it was just below $2,000 the last time I mentioned it in November), and the newer card hasn’t gone up as a result. And over the weekend, I instituted the plan to spend only $100 a week. I took out $100 from the ATM and so far haven’t spent any of it.

Photo credit: trokairchardalus.

Published or updated February 1, 2010.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

So I’ve often thought about the headband thing, especially on my longer run days. The main thing keeping me from it is they would seem to have some insulating factor, which would be the opposite of why I’m sweating in the first place. It might be nice to keep my cadence consistent and avoid raising my shoulders as I wipe sweat from my brow, but do they still let you dissipate heat as easily?

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avatar 2 Smithee

As far as I can tell, it doesn’t prevent the heat escaping that needs to happen, it just collects sweat and keeps me from stopping.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

I would like to hear more details on your journey to “grow up” or more about why or how all the pieces have fallen together. That struck a cord with me.

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avatar 4 Smithee

Good to hear. I’m not sure it was one big obvious moment, more like a lot of little ones added up over the past year.

I can say that canceling the cable TV has had a big impact. There actually is more time in the day for things like flossing.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

You might be on to something there, Smithee. I’ll have to try that.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

I share your pain with exercise and ADD. I’ve tricked myself into liking to lift, but if I don’t workout for a week I’m a complete waste of space and don’t get anything done. The sweat drop problem I’ve encountered as well, which causes some anger, but I turn that anger into more motivation to run harder… that might be odd, not sure.

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