Your Financial Therapist Goes to Boot Camp

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Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t jump. I don’t like anything to do with jumping. My excuse has always been that I have big breasts and this makes me want to stay low to the ground.

Well – about a year ago, I lost a pregnancy. It was the last time I would be trying to have a child and it was quite a harrowing experience to say the least. My best friend and the doctors tell me that I almost died during my three-day hospital stay. After that, I found I sort of checked out of my body. Being a writer and a therapist, this was easy to do. I lived in my head and ate Doritos. Then I saw a picture of myself with my son at Disneyland. Ouch. And I realized that my clothes were most definitely not fitting the way they had. I just didn’t feel or look like me anymore.  So I decided to take my own advice and take a baby step toward health. I decided to join a fitness boot camp. 

Now anyone who knows anything about anything will tell you that joining a fitness boot camp is not a baby step – to be honest, I hadn’t truly thought it all the way through before joining. The pictures looked good, the trainer seemed inspiring – why the hell not, right?

Well, on my first day of boot camp they made me jump. A lot. Not just a few jumps here and there – but jumping jacks, squat jumps, jumping rope and this crazy cheerleader-like move called a star jump. To add insult to injury, he played the David Lee Roth Song, Might as Well Jump, while we were excitedly encouraged to bounce up and down. I was floored. I sort of wanted to kill the trainer. I limped out of there. The next day, I found myself to be sorer than I’d been in a decade. I dragged myself to a massage therapist and asked if it would get better. She said maybe. 

So why do I tell you this story?

Because I realized that at one point or another we are all the flabby girl in the Disneyland picture – especially when it comes to finances. I see it when I work with someone who has just tallied all of their debts, or come to terms with a harsh financial situation or is realizing that they are a general mess with their finances.

It’s scary to realize that you are far away from who you want to be. Some of us find ourselves out of control and lost – and we don’t even know how we got there exactly. The courage it took to go back the next day to the boot camp – well, it was a damn lot of courage. Everything in me said, whoa – you don’t need to put yourself through this. But I knew, deep inside, that though I didn’t want to enter those doors, I absolutely needed to.

How did I keep returning day after day? I slowly adopted the attitude that I have found to be the one that works best for me in all endeavors. I call it, “Be the tortoise.”

I am, you see, the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare story. I’ve found that tenaciously moving in a slow and steady manner toward any goal has worked over any other attitude or plan.

Now take this lesson and think about your own financial life – are you flabby with your finances? Could you use a plan? Some discipline? A community of support? Some tools or guidance? Think about what you need – then go out there and get it. Meet with a financial planner or a debt counselor, download a budget or decide to use cash only for a month. Do something today to take action. Know that first day will stink. It will feel uncomfortable and icky, awkward and annoying. But something deeper within you will be cheering you on (and I will be too – you can do this!). 

And now when I walk into boot camp, I still give the trainer the stink eye from time to time – today, in fact, he had us jump rope between every other exercise. I wanted to run for the hills. But, instead, I sighed, smiled to myself – might as well Jump.

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