In last week’s post, I featured Kayt. Two years ago, Kayt:
- started her journey to debt-freedom
- switched to a plant-based diet (and started to take up running)
- adopted a lifestyle of sobriety
So many of us struggle to make changes in our lives. I wanted to know Kayt’s secret.
Many people say they want to change, but they have a hard time making change happen – even for one area of life. What do you think it was that enabled you and your husband to make changes in 3 areas of life at the same time?
What was the catalyst to these changes?
I can only speak for myself in this. I had been half-way on the plant-based train for a while. I had been struggling with money my entire life, with one foot on the no-debt path for years. I wanted to be a ‘runner’, but struggled so much for the first year to create a habit around that desire.
And, as far as going sober, I realized that I was allowing intoxication to validate letting my emotions dictate how I communicated, and with quite a bit of depression and bitterness that had set in after I moved from Texas, that wasn’t exactly a charming attitude. Drinking didn’t make me the person I wanted to be, it detracted from it. Drinking too much the night before meant I definitely wasn’t up for running. I would say things that I regretted – and it just wasn’t worth it while trying to build a relationship, preparing for this brand new marriage, to have such a shaky foundation.
I read a quote recently that I think is so profound, “Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters” by Nathaniel Emmons. I think primarily the catalyst for us to make these huge changes was that we finally stepped up, and said, “We aren’t going to make excuses anymore. We know the problem-points in our relationship, our health, our diets. We need to change.” And then we did. And we did it by making new habits, by supporting each other, and by finding ways to make these new lifestyles really fun.
You said, “sometimes my husband and I feel so alone because we are social outliers, avoiding meat, dairy, and debt” and drink. How do you deal with this social alienation?
Have you thought of or tried different ways to connect?
I think professionally my choices not to eat meat, not to drink and not to go out to lunch/spend money frivolously have made me feel particularly outcast. I work in a boys’ club of sorts, in the architecture community. They like to ‘tease’ but it’s difficult to be mocked for things you take pretty seriously.
The first year in Atlanta was hard, but as we’ve met more people here it’s gotten better. We each connect in different ways, but we have found support in the various communities of each passion. The AA community was really supportive when we were each sorting out why alcohol had such a hold on us, and how to start rebuilding ourselves as well as our relationship.
We plugged into different vegan communities on social media, like one page called “Vegan Atlanta”, which has been really helpful in meal ideas and finding good deals, and bonding with other people over the reasons we’ve gone vegan.
And, as far as debt, we took FPU (Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University) and got a ton of support there, so much so that we have started coordinating and finished our first class as coordinators in March. We also still listen regularly to Dave Ramey’s podcast, and that helps keep us on the debt-freedom track too. We’ve also plugged into a small church community, and have actually really bonded with a few other young married couples that also are working on their debt, or who are also plant-based.
Everybody still thinks we are a little crazy from one angle or another, but we know that the decisions we make every day continue to help us become the people we want to be. The challenge now is in surrounding ourselves with people who are also trying to be their best selves.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your new lifestyle?
I think the most rewarding aspects are the progress we’ve seen, and the goals we’ve achieved. And also that we’ve gotten so much closer because we have tackled these changes together.
What goals do you and your husband have for the years ahead?
Bryan really wants to run an ultra-marathon, and I’d really like to keep getting personal records in my half marathon times. He now has four full marathons under his belt, and I’ve got one, as well as three half marathons.
Of course, finishing our debt snowball at the end of this year is a huge goal, and after that we will build our fully-funded emergency fund and hopefully be onto Baby Steps 4, (5?) and 6 by the time he takes the Bar exam in July 2019.
I’m planning to also go back to school to get my Master’s after he finishes, and cash-flow it! We plan to continue with living plant-based and sober, although those aren’t as much goals as just lifestyle choices. I’m looking forward to a plant-based pregnancy hopefully in the next three years too!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
First, surround yourself with positive thinkers and people you admire. Rich Roll has one of our favorite podcasts, along with Dave Ramsey. Continuing to consume positive content is necessary for health and finance. And stop making excuses! I’ve worked 50+hrs/wk for the past eighteen months, spending 2-3hrs on the road in my daily commute. I spend more time in nutrition planning, finance management and fitness than most of the people I know.
I think, if there’s anything I can say that could encourage people to make a change, it’s to have a real ‘why?’ To have more than ‘I want to be skinnier’, ‘I want to be wealthy’, etc. You are making decisions to live a healthier life (physically or financially) so that you can do things you never thought you could before like running a marathon or having a college fund for your kids or paying off your house… I mean these are amazing feats!
Even the littlest goal feels amazing after you do it. I felt like I was dying during my first 10K (that’s just over 6 miles), wheezing from asthma, walking up the hills and hating myself, and my legs were sore for days. But I crossed the finish line, for the first time in my entire life, and it didn’t matter that I walked or that I was slower than everyone I knew – all that mattered at that moment was that I had done something I’d never done before.
I got the same feeling when we paid off each debt in our snowball, especially the first of two consolidated student loans, $35,000 (of my $72,000) that I’ve been carrying for almost 10 years. That victory is completely indescribable. Every weekend spent poring over the budget and every sacrifice to scrape every extra penny feels an awful lot like waking up at 4:45 to get a morning run in or passing on the free cupcakes at work. Sure, it sucks for few minutes, but the long-term benefit is completely invaluable. And those natural endorphins far outshine the satisfaction of eating junk food, sleeping in, or taking shots. Because I’m becoming the person I want to be, and my husband is too. We are figuring out how to be good to each other, good to the planet, good to our future selves’ financial health, and good to our bodies.
Are you able to identify the “Why?” of the lifestyle changes you make? Your comments are welcome.
*Image courtesy of Pixabay.