I started on my minimalist journey one year ago. Many of us have images in our head of what it means to be minimalist. Joshua Becker, author of “The More of Less” says to describe it quickest: “I am intentionally trying to live with only the things I really need.”
I think that’s a great way of explaining it quickly.
It did not start out for me as a life-changing experience, a moral compass or a new way of life. It simply started out of necessity.
It had to take my whole life into account. When we go through trauma we often make changes in our life. Sometimes subconscious, sometimes conscious. We are searching for answers, safety or just simplicity. When our plates are too full, we don’t make the time to deal with things in a timely manner (bills, phone calls, car repairs? etc) and things very quickly pile up. Pile up leads to stress. Stress makes our scattered brain even more haywire. I love simplicity. In fact I’m obsessed with it. Keeping my 'plate clean' is one of my huge focuses and keys to happiness and I want to share that happiness and simplicity with my clients. Because when you remove the stress of all the STUFF in your life that sits on your plate, you look around for what else in your life you can simplify. Removing the “what, when, where, how and how much” to eat from your life frees up so much space in your mind. So when I started to experience anxiety (read [5 Self-Care Rituals You Need in Your Life]) I started to think deeply about what exactly were the things creating stress in my life. And I started a process the opposite of what most might do, not a gathering of “ more”, but a total un-doing, clearing and stripping away of the things I thought I needed for fulfillment.
Keep Your Plate Clean
When I say 'keep your plate clean’ to clients I am not talking about their dinner plates. Read [5 Ways to Keep Your Life Plate Clean] to learn more how to simplify. I realized I absolutely loved that feeling you have when you 'cleanse' your home and fill garbage bags with 'stuff' you no longer need and take it down to donate to the thrift shop? Things are more open, fresher, a new slate. That clean, open feeling was something I wanted every single day. I realized that my constant house cleaning was actually my need to do a real, deep cleanse like I had never done before.
I embraced minimalism as a way of life to discover how I could be happier with less STUFF. We intuitively understand that we won’t find happiness through owning more stuff, through “accumulation” but it’s so normal we often do it without thinking. But the cold hard truth is that without personal growth and a deliberate consistent effort to help others we are simply slaves to cultural, corporate expectations for our time in this world. I don’t want to spend my life chasing and being constantly seduced with the need for more, more money, power, status, and perceived success. I wanted a life filled with passion, adventure and freedom to grow as an individual and contribute beyond myself. Growth and contribution: that’s happiness. Not stuff. Not things. So I got rid of the majority of my things. I read this book about it that helped me a lot.
Here’s how I took back control of my life so I could focus on what’s important— life’s deeper meaning.
How to be more minimalist in your life + nutrition:
1. Decide what you need and what you don’t. Purge. Stick with it.
Have you got spots in your home, car, garage, pantry or fridge that are over-run with STUFF? Book a half day. Garbage - recycle - thrift. Bag it. Get the stuff gone. It clears your mind and makes more space for those peaceful, easy feelings that you’ll need for success in improving your nutrition. Even though I consider myself an avid tidier and cleaner, I used these techniques to make the process fast, easy + painless. I worried I might ‘need’ those things in the future or think about them and feel guilty or sad I didn’t have them anymore. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Always on different diets? Purge that mentality, read [Cleanse Your Doors of Perception] because you know it’s not sustainable. Purge mentally, purge physically. I’ve been super-purged mentally, free of the diet mentality (from my whole foods nutrition training) for 8 years, and I have never looked back. Once I was ‘stuff’ super-purged, I didn’t look back.
2. Follow the get-give rule relentlessly.
Anytime I get something I ask myself to now give something away. I get a lot of gifts as I move through my life (and not always edible ones! Hug your farmer) so this practice keeps me from gathering more and more things and needing to do big purges again. If I get something that I do not “need” then I will re-gift to a family member or the thrift store, or hold onto it until someone in my life mentions they need it and they’ll get to use it. I also use the ‘beg or borrow’ rule relentlessly, because I’d rather borrow something I need for a short time and return it than to have to buy a brand new one. The planet has too much stuff on it! Thrift or borrow first. The get-give rule has kept my ‘stuff’ intake to a absolutely manageable level.
2. Pay attention and get curious & conscious about hording or purchasing habits.
I never thought much about how much I wanted things until a light bulb went off this past summer and I realized I could probably live my life happily and run my business well with just my vehicle, a few kitchen necessities, one small makeup bag, two sets of clothing and my laptop and phone. Ultimate minimalist. So now when I go into stores, if I notice when my mind wandering to “wow, I like that, I want it…” and I stop, and I think “Really?” and I realize that, in the end I actually don’t want the item. Because I don’t need it. It’s just shiny and new. The consumerist training has crept in that owning that item will find me happier. And as I trained my mind to do this pause, I remove so much distraction from my mind. The constant need to have more things. The flipping through flyers. The commercials. The online shopping. It’s all gone. The only reason you think you ‘need’ a new item for your home or wardrobe is because advertising tells you that you do.
3. Fill the gaps and make the decision to fill that time with something nourishing instead.
Now that I have all this free time in my head I can do more healthy practices. If you weren’t stressed about ‘things’ or lamenting about not having what you want, what would you do with that time instead? How about those things that you don’t do anymore that make you happy and relaxed? Like your hobby, getting some exercise, turn on some great music to relax to. Or a healthy life habit like drinking some clean water or make a healthy tea. Go float. What about taking in a yoga class? How about preparing healthy food with that time instead? Slowing down will get you there. Being more mindful. Being in your body. These down times are key to sustainable weight loss and real happiness. Read [A Surprising Weight Loss Strategy]
4. Believing that you can do it.
Minimalism isn’t necessarily something to glorify (nothing ever is), but it also isn’t something to believe you can’t attain. You can. It’s stepping stones and it’s being ruthless about keeping only those things you really truly care about and then keeping the practice up so your life stays clean and simpler. Keep cutting. Keep clearing the gunk. The less ‘stuff’ in your life the better - trust me. The more gunk is cleared in your home, the more gunk is cleared in your mind. The more gunk is cleared from your mind, the more spaciousness you have in your mind and spirit. You don’t have to be a special person or a certain type or have any specific values other than “intentionally trying to live with only the things I really need” which is why you’re reading this post! I’ve always said to clients about their nutrition goals/choices and it applies for this ‘cleansing’ as well - if you believe you can’t, I believe you can!
5. Minimalism in nutrition is a beautiful thing.
Imagine not having to hop on every diet trend. Every band wagon. Every mention of a supplement or program or quick fix that you believe might solve your problem. Every ‘thing’ your friends are trying. Imagine being able to take your power back and take control of your food and life based on YOUR bodies’ needs, and not what the marketers tell you. Imagine never needing another diet book, program or health coach ever again. Imagine being able to choose your foods based on your bodies’ needs (and being able to easily interpret your own cravings) and being at parties and social situations and having no stress about food. Just being able to be in the moment and enjoy. Not worrying about the next quick fix keeps you present, and focused to make healthy, balanced nutrition decisions to nourish your body, instead of worrying. That’s what minimalism in nutrition means. And it’s attainable for you. Hint, hint, I can coach you to this. Read any of the following for more guidance on how to get there: [Why You Don’t Need Willpower] [Ignoring Food Trends & Diets Saves You Time & Energy] [You Don’t Need More Nutrition Knowledge] [Consciousness Over Calories] [Sympathy for the Devil: Overcoming Cravings] Because it is possible to turn on, tune in and drop out when it comes to food :)
6. Minimalism is counter-culture.
We live in a world that idolizes celebrities, success and fame. People we are meant to “look up to” are photographed for magazines, interviewed on the radio, and recorded for the internet and television as their lives are held up as the golden standard and are envied by many. People who identify as minimalist are not at all influenced by the media in the same way. They don‘t fit into the consumerist culture that is promoted by corporations and politicians. Imagine the freedom! (It can be yours.) While most people are chasing after success and glamour, minimalism calls out to us with a smaller, quieter, calmer voice. It invites us to slow down, consume less and enjoy more. And when we find that time when we meet someone living a super simplified life, we might recognize that we have been chasing after the wrong things all along.
7. You can’t take it with you when you go.
You know the saying. Everyone does. The more conscious you become about your impending ending (sorry, but true) the easier it is to come to terms with parting with things that don’t mean everything to you. Because at the end of the day, you can’t take them with you when you go. So why keep them around? They only pretend to make us feel happy. But anyone who’s been on their death bed or had near-death experiences knows deeply that happiness doesn’t come from cars, money, fame, houses or shoes. Happiness comes in those beauty little moments with family and loved ones; the moments your soul cares about, not your ego. Imagine you’re on a once in a lifetime European vacation. If you had to choose between souvenir shopping or a beautiful spread from an amazing chef on your last day… Would you rather remember your last delectable meal, or hoard the trinkets you bought while on the vacation? What is the real value of each of these, and are memories more important than material objects?
Getting Minimalist with Your Food
Finding the root cause of your issues so we can balance them and clear your worry about the rest is what I do best. I can pinpoint what you need to zero in on and what we don’t need to think about anymore. If you book to work with me you get a unique hand-crafted plan tailored just for you! After receiving your personalized nutrition package via e-mail (foods, supplements & lifestyle adjustments to add to your life to move forward from where you are now) you are set to get going on the recommendations and start making real headway. Need more in-depth coaching? Joining Change Makers gets you bi-weekly education & content, monthly one-to-one coaching and a private Facebook group with incredible support. It promises to give you the tools, motivation and excitement to eat the way you know you need to. By the end of it you'll be able to move forward with zero stress about nutrition….. forever. It won't cause you worry, it won't make you count, track or worry about it. You can stop searching for the next fad diet or cure. Yes. Forever. Check it out.
Here’s to clearing, cleaning and a beautiful, simplified life.
… all photo creds go to DaMo’s Photography