Minimize Yo Butt: Week 1


That's me, middle of the boat in black visor, back in 2003 at the World Champs.

I’m participating in Faith’s Minimize Yo Butt 6 week Fitness Challenge. I’ll be updating my weekly progress here and you can read about my goals here. If you’d like to join in head on over to Faith’s Facebook page and join in.

I’m never going to be in the best shape of my life again.

Sometimes that’s a bit depressing.

Other times it’s liberating.

I’ll never do 18 workouts in a week again. Now I have all those hours to go out and live.

In my post-athlete reality I’ve struggled to reconcile hours for fitness and hours for the rest of my life. Before having a baby I went through bouts of marathon training and spent four hours on a Saturday morning running and then three days recovering. Sometimes I enjoyed it. Other times it was a slog.

Now that I don’t have as much leisure time I’m less inclined to give away child-free hours for long workouts. Finding Crossfit and enjoying shorter more intense workouts has been an eye opener. I don’t have to spend 13 hours a week sweating to feel in shape.

It’s been a long road of trying different classes, sports and varying hours and intensity of workouts. What I recently realized: your fitness routine will always change.

It has to. You have to be adaptable to age, injury, life upheaval and whatever else crosses your path. Recognize when you’re bored of a workout, class or activity or when it’s not working with your schedule. And change. Find something new, workout at a different time or get a workout partner involved. A change can be as good as a rest.

Week 1

Monday was a banner day. No chocolate and Henry and I pulled off a 60 minute run in the afternoon. Well, I did the running and pushing of the jogging stroller. Henry had a nap. Tuesday I woke up and felt a bit strange. My balance was off and I felt unwell. I did a lot of walking that day and put in my 150 squats while watching Henry and two of his friends (started a sitting swap – it’s going great!). That night I had intense vertigo while lying down. The room kept spinning while I was trying to nod off. I awoke the next morning and it was even worse. I spent all of Wednesday in my pajamas. No run. No exercise. Not a lot of eating.

Sometimes you have to roll with the punches. It was frustrating to be excited and motivated and then get sick. I’m still not feeling great but managed to get a few workouts in later in the week.



  1. Monday: 6 x 9 minute run/1 minute walk
  2. Friday: 4 x 9 minute run/1 minute walk

Body Weight Workouts:

  1. Tuesday: 150 air squats
  2. Sunday: 100 jumping squats, 30 from toes full push-ups, 50 v-sit sit ups


Giving myself a B this week. No sweets during the week and I otherwise did okay on my nutrition. Still working on portion control and have been eating off a side plate instead of a huge dinner plate to help with that.

Yes, I indulged on the weekend. Chocolate! I also had a fantastic dessert when we were out with friends for dinner. Eaton mess with rhubarb. Really good.


Scale says: – 2 lbs

Feeling: no huge difference. Yet. Jeans still a bit snug at the waist. But, I haven’t drastically cut calories or started working out at huge volumes. I was expecting slow change over the 6 weeks so, no surprise, it’s slow.

Anyone joining in on the Fitness Challenge? How was week 1 for you?

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seven posts about living with less

Still get a great feeling thinking about my dress taking another run down the aisle.

Jenn from At Home in The World tagged me to complete My 7 Links from Tripbase. It’s kind of a chain letter where you go through your blog archive and find posts to fit the My 7 Links description.

My one year blog anniversary is coming up in September and, wow, I’ve written a lot of posts here in the last ten months. It was fun to look back on some of my favourites. Even the ones with the troll-y comments.

  1. Your most beautiful post. I still smile thinking about this day and the next life for my wedding dress.
  2. Your most popular post. In January I moved over to a self-hosted site off of WordPress so my reader numbers are incomplete. Since the move the most popular post is also probably one of the more helpful ones: a minimalist guide to baby essentials.
  3. Your most controversial post. A commenter posted that my efforts to lead a minimalist life were minimalizing my career and ability to earn a living. This was my response. The comments got quite heated.
  4. Your most helpful post. What to do when your spouse/partner/roomate isn’t a minimalist. I think everyone comes up against this at some point so I was happy to share my ideas for negotiating and working around your clutter junkies.
  5. A post whose success surprised you: Who knew hanging laundry to dry would bring so many awesome comments. I’m still using tips I was given on this post and my drying time has vastly improved. Thank you.
  6. A post you feel didn’t get the attention it deserved. I know, I know, you’re tired of hearing about me ditching the iPhone. But I’m not! Promise that was the last post on smart phones this year.
  7. The post that you are most proud of. This pretty much sums up why I’m so passionate about moderate minimalism and spreading the word through this blog. I was overwhelmed with the positive response in the comments section.

Who’s next? I’m tagging the following bloggers to complete the My 7 Links questionnaire/blog post. I’ve chosen bloggers not necessarily in the minimalist niche but ones that I really want to read their list of seven posts.


Michelle from The Urban Haus Frau *Michelle just took her site down. Sad! But she is onto interesting new things so very happy for her.

Alexis from Wave the Stick

Jenny from ExConsumer

Marilyn from A Lot of Loves

My twin! Katy

Like what you read here at The Minimalist Mom? Sign up by RSS or Email to get posts delivered to you. You can also find The Minimalist Mom on Facebook (I’ve deleted my personal account but have a page for this blog). Comments are always read, appreciated and responded to – even if we don’t agree on the subject at hand.


June Finances

These are exciting numbers for us.

To be close to 40% of take home pay in savings is beyond what we had expected. A few things have helped. The taxes here have been less than we estimated, we chose a smaller rental apartment with lower rent and we haven’t bought a car.

June wasn’t a great month for casual spending or eating out. With a touch more planning and frugality we’ll be saving even more. We also purchased our tickets to Dublin out of our general spending but from here on out all travel will come out of our separate travel savings account.

So far so good with the reverse budgeting. Where I see stumbling blocks is when we have bigger or unexpected expenses. But at the moment we would rather throw as much as we can into savings and then dip in when something arises. Here’s a breakdown of percentages of where our take home income went last month:

  • Savings: 37.3%
  • Accommodation: 28.6%
  • Food: 13.8%
  • Travel: 6%
  • Eating Out: 4%
  • Grooming: 4% *Bought a UK hair dryer and flat iron – normally this would be 2% at most.
  • Transportation: 4%
  • Casual Spending: 3%
  • Dry Cleaning/Clothing Repair: 1%
  • Child: 0.5%
  • Misc: less than 1%
  • Charity: less than 1%
  • Gifts: less than 1%

Savings: I’ve included the total percentage of savings but this is actually split into three categories/accounts. We have General Savings, Travel Savings and Education Savings. I’m officially saying we are saving now because we have enough in our accounts to pay off our final consumer debt.

Accommodation: this includes utilities and phone/internet.

What always surprises me is how much more we spend on groceries than I expect. We are spending 100-200 pounds more than I had initially estimated. I always forget that you need to stock up at least once a month on staples like toilet paper and dish washing soap. What category do you constantly underestimate?

Like what you read here at The Minimalist Mom? Sign up by RSS or Email to get posts delivered to you. You can also find The Minimalist Mom on Facebook (I’ve deleted my personal account but have a page for this blog). Comments are always read, appreciated and responded to – even if we don’t agree on the subject at hand.

Minimalist Travel: Living on the Road with 4 Children

This is another guest post from the Smeenks, a Canadian family of 6 traveling overseas indefinitely. You can read Jenn’s initial post about preparing to leave Canada and how they let go of their possessions here. It’s a great read. Particularly if you have a larger home or many children.

Today Jenn is going to give us more details about how they travel and what they travel with. Reading it has given me more to think about for our everyday living. Quality over quantity can’t be beat. And I love hearing about the impact travel and living a minimalist life has had on the children. Enjoy and thanks again, Jenn!

You can follow the Smeenks adventures on their blog At Home in the World.

in Venice

Living on the Road with 4 Children
This past year, our family of six spent seven months backpacking through the countries of Spain, Morocco, Italy, Turkey, and France. Carrying our belongings with us was an important factor to consider.
This second post describes in detail what our minimalist travel lifestyle has been so far during our travels.
What do we travel with?
We started our travels with one large backpack and two carry on day packs for us adults and our two older children (ages 9 and 8 at the time). Our two younger ones had a small day pack each. We also had a small carry-on rolling red suitcase filled with our homeschooling books. Over time and a couple countries, we still found we were carrying way too much. So during our third month in Turkey, we sent home two of our day packs and many of our homeschooling books, and gave away our extraneous clothes and toys to the locals there.
Each member of our family owned 5 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks, 1 fleece jacket, 1 bathing suit, a microfiber towel, a pair of sandals (the girls brought their black boots on top of their hikers and sandals), tuque, mitts, rain coats and rain pants, 1 set of pyjamas, 4-5 interchangeable outfits (1 sweater included, 1 dress for the girls and 1 button-up shirt and dress pants for the boys). I also brought my running clothes. As well, we ended up buying rain boots in Turkey.
We tried to bring as many light weight, quick drying clothing in dark colours. We brought SmartWool socks (keeps feet dry and warm, does not smell, and dries quickly) for the adults and black cotton sport socks for the kids. We regretted going cheap here and not buying the children SmartWool socks, and will certainly stock up before our next adventure.
We packed our electronics in our daypacks: A Garmin GPS (super handy with walking maps – we didn’t get lost in the chaotic mazes of Morocco’s medinas), Kindle e-Reader, 1 Canon digital SLR camera, 2 small point and shoot cameras, 1 digital video camera (we never used it and mailed it back), 3 Nintendo DSi’s, my Garmin running watch, 1 iPod shuffle, 2 laptops, and 2 netbooks (one for the girls and one for the boys for homeschool).
Important Miscellaneous:
4 international travel adapters, 1 red umbrella, toiletries, one pair of binoculars, first aid kit, medication kit, 4 head lamps for reading at night, 2 braided rubber laundry lines with carabiners, international rubber sink plug, a small bottle of liquid laundry soap, and sewing kit.


How long do you typically stay in a city?
That varied tremendously because of our goals and activities in each country; but typically, we’d like to stay at least one week to get a feel for the place.
In Spain we spent 1 month in an apartment in the Costa del Sol, which was a five minute walk from the beach. We lived there and homeschooled. We took day trips to the surrounding areas such as Gibraltar, La Ronda, Sevilla, and Marbella.
In Morocco we spent 6 days in Marrakech then took a road trip loop around the country across the High Atlas Mountains, through the Dades and Todres Gorges, stayed a night in two different Saharan deserts, then spent our last three nights in Fes.
After Morocco, we stayed in Barcelona for a week to rest and catch our breath. We walked around the city to admire the Christmas lights and decorations. We spent our Christmas and New Year Holidays in Rome and Vatican City, as we were there for 20 days.
After New Years, we stayed 2 months in an apartment in Turkey to rest and catch up on homeschool. We then spent our third month backpacking around Turkey, ending our trip in Istanbul. From there, we spent 3 weeks in Italy – 1 week in Venice, 1 week in Cinque Terre and 1-3 days in other cities like Milan, Florence, Bologna.
We spent one month in France with a week stay in Cannes, 2 weeks in Montpellier, and 10 days in Paris.

in Turkey

How long do you see your family traveling for?
This is an ever changing topic. We plan to be overseas for 3-5 years, returning home to Canada for the summers to be with family. Seven months was a good dip in the water for our first long term travel experience. It has opened our eyes to the possibilities of our future! Nothing feels more exhilarating to us than opening the world map and asking each family member where we’d like to go in the next few years. We’re dreaming big together as a family!
We’ve also learned that living out of a backpack and constantly moving is exhausting. We didn’t realize how stressful it can be to find appropriate accommodations for a family of six along the way, when most places take a maximum of 5 people to a room. We need and desire to travel more slowly!
Depending on our finances and time, I think we are going to be changing our travelling style by staying in one place for 6-12 months to get a deeper sense of a country and its culture.
We’re spending our summer at home in Canada to prepare for another year away. This August we’re returning to France and plan to live in Southern France for at least 6 months to immerse ourselves in the French culture. We plan to enrol the kids in the local French school there so they can continue to work on their second language.

How have the children reacted to moving and traveling? Do they ever 
ask for/about things you had back home?
I think one of the best gifts we’ve received from this whole experience of selling our stuff and travelling the world is seeing our children in a different light. We have seen first-hand how incredibly capable they are. Actually, my heart bursts with pride, joy and astonishment for them because they have shown us how naturally adaptable and cooperative they can be.
They’re great at walking several kilometres at a time, and have learned how to cross the street safely in all sorts of traffic. They’ve slept in trains, cars, and overnight buses. I am so impressed by how well they travel! I love their openness to new things and their positive attitudes in exploring different countries. On the other hand, who wouldn’t have a good attitude when riding a camel through the desert in Morocco, paragliding on a spectacular beach in Turkey, or visiting world famous monuments and museums? The world is their classroom and their playground! More than anything, we wanted to open our children’s eyes to the possibilities around them, like studying art in world renowned schools, and working, living, and volunteering internationally.
Travelling with school age children is great! They’re small enough to fit into a double bed and young enough to be half price for most admissions and transportation fares. We’ve received a lot of complements by strangers at how well behaved and patient they are. As well, our kids have learned how to watch out for each other and have developed closer relationships. We hope their childhood travel memories will bond them for life. Several of our family and friends have noticed a big change in our children. They’ve remarked at how mature they’ve become this past year. They’re less demanding and are able to sit still to think, read, or visit.
The things that they did miss were their bikes and some of their toys (especially their Legos and Nerf guns). However, backpacking for 7 months has taught us to look at our stuff differently. It helped us distinguish between our needs and wants. We discovered that we rarely needed anything, but we wanted so much; and that having too much unnecessary stuff to carry was a burden. What a valuable lesson!

What are the biggest challenges with having fewer things?

We discovered that things wear out quickly. Our limited supply of socks and clothes sprouted holes from the constant wearing and washing. The kids, especially the boys, sprouted holes on the knees of their pants. Yet overall, we never felt like we had fewer things. It actually felt more the opposite – because we carried our things, we always felt we had too much.

What are the rewards of having fewer things?
Less to worry about! Having fewer things brings simplicity in our lives, a detachment from things, and a freedom from the preoccupation of keeping up with the Joneses.
Doing the laundry is no longer overwhelming because I deal with only one pile of clothes at a time instead of a mountain heap. I’ve actually enjoyed hanging them on the line to dry. The clothes we own are good quality and ones we love to wear. We’ve learned not to be careless with our clothing. For example, the kids have learned to be careful with not getting their clothes dirty so that they could wear it for another day. Back home, typically they would wear a shirt once and then throw it in the laundry, even though it was still clean. They’ve since learned that they could still wear clothes at least a couple of times (especially jeans) before throwing it in the wash.
Living with less has taken away our preoccupation to acquire things, clearing our minds to focus on what is really important – our personal growth, relationships, future, hopes and dreams.
Our travelling minimalist life is a choice, and we are incredibly surprised at how deeply rewarding it is. We love our travel lifestyle!

If you were to travel long term with your children, what would you bring and how would you carry it? How has your Minimalist lifestyle affected your children?

Like what you read here at The Minimalist Mom? Sign up by RSS or Email to get posts delivered to you. You can also find The Minimalist Mom on Facebook (I’ve deleted my personal account but have a page for this blog). Comments are always read, appreciated and responded to – even if we don’t agree on the subject at hand.

Minimize Yo Butt: 6 week fitness challenge

I finally stepped on the scale over here and wasn’t surprised to see that I am up 5 pounds since first getting word about our move overseas in March. My workout volume dropped and my chocolate consumption escalated as we got closer to the big day.

No more!

Faith had an idea to run a Fitness Challenge to get herself motivated and I couldn’t wait to join her. For the next 6 weeks I’ll be documenting my progress here on Thursdays. My goals:

  • run 3 times a week: since Faith told me about this a few weeks ago I’ve been steadily upping my runs and am back to running an hour 3 times a week. For me running is all about not getting injured as I have a habit of upping my mileage too quickly. Instead of running continuously I take short walks breaks. Right now I am running 9 minutes and walking 1 minute. This program has worked well for me and I’ve successfully trained and run two full and two half marathons with this way. By the end of the 6 weeks I would like to be back to running 10k in around an hour. Right now I am running about 8.5 kms in an hour with Henry in the jogging stroller. Not sure how much he slows me down but we’ll see when I do a 10k at the end of August without him.
  • 2-3 body weight workouts a week: I’m really missing my Crossfit gym (not the membership fee though!). So I’ve been doing some Crossfit type workouts in my living room. Squats, push ups, lunges, planks and burpies mostly. Sometimes I even throw Henry in our Ergo carrier and wear him on my back for squats. Extra weight and it calms him down if he’s cranky.
  • no bad snacks during the week: I eat pretty well at meals. Lots of whole foods, fruit and veggies, eggs and lean meats. But my snacking habits are the pits. They’ve been especially bad with all the interesting UK chocolate bars I’ve deemed necessary to try. So no more chocolate or sweets during the week. If I want something I can write it down and have it on the weekend.

As for losing weight or inches, I’m going to keep track here each week of any weight loss and also my waist measurement at the beginning and end of the six weeks. I’m not looking for anything hugely dramatic but my jeans are just a bit tight in the waist right now and losing some weight will make running easier. There’s also a chance I might run a half marathon in October that Jo from SimplyBeingMum is already training for. So I at least want to be ready by the end of August to start doing the longer runs needed to finish a half marathon.

Anyone else need a little fitness motivation? The 6 Week Fitness Challenge starts July 18th and Faith will be posting tips and updates on her Facebook page. There will also be prizes! So head over there and put your hat in the ring. It doesn’t have to be something big. Commit to walking three times a week or taking a bike ride each weekend. I find small changes are easier to stick to and breed motivation to take things to the next level.

Like what you read here at The Minimalist Mom? Sign up by RSS or Email to get posts delivered to you. You can also find The Minimalist Mom on Facebook (I’ve deleted my personal account but have a page for this blog). Comments are always read, appreciated and responded to – even if we don’t agree on the subject at hand.


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