90 seconds into my first plank of 2016
DH = Dear Husband
My new dress
Christmas morning, I opened up DH’s main gift to me – a beautiful dress.
My new dress
We have three daughters, and it’s always a fairly big deal around here when I get a new item of clothing. It’s not something that happens often. “Go try it on!” they urged me.
“Now?” I asked. “You’ll wait?”
There were still several presents under the tree, but gift-opening would be put on hold while I slipped into the downstairs bathroom to try on my new dress. It fit well, but there was no way I was going to model it. “Give me a second!” I yelled, dashing upstairs. The dress comes in at the waist snuggly – a little too snuggly. I have lamented for some time the stubborn presence of my baby-bump-without-a-baby, but this gift was just bringing it into far too sharp a focus. What to do? Four people were waiting for me.
My new dress with “shapewear” now required (ugh!)
I remember as a girl being fascinated by my mother’s girdles. They looked like pieces of medieval armor. I didn’t quite understand why anyone would want to wear them, and I wondered if I would when I was all grown up. “Girdles” of today are much more subtle and sleek than those of my mother’s era. “Shapewear” they’re called – to conjure up images of fitness I suspect – and they do look like something you might see at the gym. But the “shape” here has nothing to do with getting into shape. It has to do with literal shaping – moulding. Squeeze yourself into that thing, and any baby-bump-without-a-baby is obliterated.
When I came down the stairs, ready to model, it was all, “Oooh Mom!” “That looks great!” “Are you going to wear it tonight?” I did wear it Christmas night. And New Year’s Eve too. But I had also formed my resolution: For Christmas of 2016, I will not have to resort to “shapewear” to put on that dress.
My plank-a-day resolution
I have tried in the past to resolve upon regular workouts, but with only limited success. I actually enjoy physical exercise. The “regular” part stumps me. It’s no small deal, in the midst of a busy week, to carve out regular blocks of an hour or two to change, stretch, work-out, cool down, shower. Irregular is the best I can do. But “regular” is what brings results, and therein has been my dilemma.
So what about changing up that block of time? From 1-2 hours down to 2-5 minutes? There is never a day – barring extreme situations like injury or illness – when I can’t put aside a few minutes. It doesn’t matter how busy things get, how tired I am, how bad the weather is . . . It’s always possible to find a few minutes.
And I will. Every day, I will do a plank. Every day. I’m putting that stake in the ground. I’ll start at 2 minutes, but each month, my goal will be to increase by 15 seconds so that by the end of 2016, I’ll be holding a 5-minute daily plank. I’ll still skate, ski, run, cycle, and do cardio-kickboxing – hopefully often. But I’ll do a plank. Every. Day.
Benefits of core strength
While the motive behind my personal plank-a-day resolution is one of vanity, there are loftier reasons to pursue core strength. “Core exercises improve your balance and stability,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles.”
Core strength in personal finances
DH and I are in the fourth year of our journey out of debt, and we’ve made great progress. Following Dave Ramsey’s steps to a “total money makeover”, we have:
- paid off our consumer debts ($21,000)
- paid off our business debt ($81,000)
- made headway in saving an emergency fund to see us through 6 months of income loss (50% funded)
- made steady payments against our mortgage ($37,000 down)
We’ve paid a whopping $139,000 off of our original total debt of $257,000. We’ve got $118,000 to go. No problem. We’ve got this, right?
We’re switching gears now. Past the point of putting all of our focus upon debt-repayment, we now require more . . . balance. Short-term savings; emergency savings; investments; mortgage payments; and an increase in giving. I felt more directed and sure when it was all about paying off our consumer and business debts. Intensive focus. Big changes. It was satisfying. Now, our progress is spread out, slower, smaller, and to me at least, less satisfying.
I’ve come to recognize in this journey out of debt how impatient I am. Impatience played a big role in getting us into our debt-ridden state (“I want it NOW!”), and I don’t want it to sabotage the financial health we’ve been building – any more than I want my belly to sabotage my new dress. I need the core strength – the stability and balance – of patience in my approach to our shifted financial goals. Muscles in the human pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen ideally work in harmony. Efforts towards our savings, investments, mortgage payments, and giving can also progress towards an ideal of harmony. No rush. Slow, steady, progress. Balance. Stability. Just breathe . . . and hold a little longer . . . like a plank.
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? Do you find it difficult to maintain the balanced steadiness needed to develop core strength in personal finances? Do you wear “shapewear”? Your comments are welcome.
* Just a note on planks. 2 minutes is actually a fairly long plank. If you’re just starting to work on core strength, don’t be discouraged if you can only hold a plank for a matter of seconds. Start where your are : )