The Resolution

Getting a second-hand iPod is not the best option for an mp3 player, but the option of free podcasts made it worth it.

In an episode of the podcast, “The Hidden Brain” about resolutions, the hosts discussed about why people find it difficult to stick with their resolutions despite thinking carefully the what and the how. They suggested that asking oneself “why” the resolution is being made in the first place gives it a higher chance to be followed since it reinforces one’s motivation to begin the act.

I’m not sure if my realization was directly affected by this idea, but immediately after, the conclusion to my previous’ posts questions became clear as day.

I went back to the very purpose of that message. Why did I send that? Because it was part of the series of challenges I wanted to do for 2015. I was able to pull the act of sending the message to him, but he unfortunately never got to read it. I settled with the idea that he might never be interested in what I gotta say, so I just shrugged off and moved on. Now that I have the option of him reading a message directly since we’re now contacts, why am I holding back? Why did I do that in the first place? Part of the challenge was for him to READ it. If he never got to read it for reasons that is beyond me, the challenge was never finished.

So the very purpose of that letter was to be READ and for my resolution to be realized. I asked the “why” of that resolution, so I got my motivation back.

Like a high schooler, after sending the message to him last night through chat, I immediately turned off my wifi and went to sleep. I wasn’t ready for his reply. If he seen-zones it, fine. If he replies, better. It doesn’t if I’m ready or not, the fact would remain that I’ll accept whatever comes out of this challenge. I brought this upon myself anyway.

In a few hours I’ll be back. I’m gonna check Facebook now to see if there’s a reply or whatever.

SHIT I’M NERVOUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSS!!!!

Living on Less: Day 3 (Final)

Final budget: 47.50 PHP (additional 1.50 PHP from yesterday’s budget)

With a slightly bigger budget and finding that gem of bakery for the budget-limited and hungry, I felt more at ease that I’ll finish this day with ease. Here’s BREAKFAST:

  • Kopiko instant coffee (6.00)
  • 1/2 of local bread (2.50)
  • Lucky Me pancit canton (9.00)

See how I splurged with the Lucky Me there? Cheeky, huh? As I’ve said before, I’m not a heavy breakfast eater, so usually a piece of bread and coffee is fine. I usually satisfy what’s missing in my stomach with the thoughts of a full, hearty meal over lunch.

However, of course, lunch has been different these past days. For today, I wasn’t able to eat half of my bread, so I included it in my LUNCH:

  • 1 1/2 of local bread (7.50)
  • boiled egg (5.00)

The overly sweet and generous size of the local bread was enough to fill my stomach for lunch. The boiled egg didn’t count that much, but as it still filled space, I think that was still considered over-eating. I had stomach ache the whole day while my medicine wasn’t effecting fast enough to help.

I realized through this challenge, that probably 80% of my eating habits is due to an impulse to eat, satisfy cravings, and giving in to the temptation of sweets and snacks that got me to this size. Rice hasn’t been on my diet since Wednesday, but not thinking about it helped in not craving for it. Not getting even a grain of it helped in suspending my impulse to eat a lot, too. That’s why, even though there were two kids who celebrated their birthdays and food was everywhere, I didn’t suffer. Some of my coworkers even urged me to postpone the challenge just to enjoy the feast.

To be honest, I’ve considered it, postponing. But what would be the point of my efforts so far? What’s the point of this whole experience? If I was really living below the poverty line, then I’d jump to the offer, but since I was doing it for experience, I should learn from it as much as I can without getting help that would elevate me from that line. I can always eat the food tomorrow when I’m allowed already, right?

And so with a slightly sensitive tummy, my day finished with a flourish and DINNER was served:

  • 1 pack of Fita crackers (6.00)
  • Lucky Me pancit canton (9.00)

At the end of the day, I have 2.50 PHP left in today’s budget. I’m not sure what’s worth that much nowadays except for candies and small packs of junk food you can buy in a sari-sari store. Anyway, I’ll keep it for another day.

So what did I learn from this experience? A lot. So much that I can’t even express how grateful I am that I went through this challenge. I feel like a changed person. I’ve opened myself to a part of life’s reality, and it has opened back it’s world wider to me.

I cannot promise that I would be joining volunteer associations actively now or would be raising my fist and voice to fight for the poor from now on, but I’d be taking small steps to help in my own small ways. I hope that I can also lend my skills as a teacher in the future, especially to those who needs it most.

More than the limited resources in food and things, what I feel sad for the most with poverty is it takes the chance of education to be part of a person’s life. Time and time again, it has been proven that people who are illiterate that are easiest to be manipulated by others who want to take advantage.

With education, we are taught to practice thinking and reflecting on our actions and opinions, as well as how it affect others and how others affect us. With education, people are more confident to stand up for themselves and what they know is right or wrong. I’m sure some would disagree as there are people who are educated, but do not feel confident of their skills. Well, I tell you, that’s just an issue of self-esteem. For some, they can’t be confident of something they don’t know about. It’s not even a matter of choice, but of consequence.

“I’m doing this every year,” I declared to my co-teacher over lunch like the act was as usual as going to the beach in summer.

Willing to suffer and sacrifice again for the sake of awareness and help? OH YEAH.

Living on Less: Day 2

Budget today: 44.75 PHP

Since the Lucky Me instant noodles was surprisingly expensive for instant food targeting mass consumption, I was left with a debt of 1.25 from yesterday. Of course, since in my current state of food poverty, I had to lessen it to the next day budget; thus, the 44.75.

This day was actually better than expected. I didn’t have cravings nor was I actually hungry. For the most part, I just missed the act of eating.

On my previous diet, Day 2 was difficult since I started feeling really hungry, and the thought of quitting was very appealing. I mean, the first day of a challenge, you would still be very driven about the goal and the last day is you’d feel the need to hold on since you wouldn’t want to waste your effort so far. That’s why on the second day, that’s when you can think that nothing much have been wasted yet, so better stop the agony now. On the other hand, no such thoughts entered my mind. I just wanted to focus on the goal and how to keep myself satisfied within the budget.

Despite the smaller amount intended for today, I even had 1.50 PHP left of it when I tweaked the items on the meal plan.

BREAKFAST

  • Payless instant noodles (6.25)
  • Kopiko instant coffee (6.00)
  • 1 slice of local bread (5.00)

LUNCH

  • 1 piece sweet bread (5.00)
  • Presto peanut butter cookies (6.00)
  • small boiled egg (5.00)

DINNER

  • Payless instant noodles (6.25)
  • Fita crackers (6.00) 1 slice of local bread (5.00)

________________________________

43.25 php

When I realized I forgot my Fita crackers at school which I had to eat for dinner, I was already at home. Annoyed, I had to go out again to buy it outside. Luckily, another bakery in my neighborhood had more options of the sweet cheap bread that night. Their honey bread was also bigger than the bread I bought from the other bakery, but theirs are too sweet. Nonetheless, if keeping me full is the goal, then the sweeter, bigger bread would do.

On the contrary, while I’m able to keep my tummy satisfied within the budget, my choice or option for food is definitely not good for my body. Although some instant noodles claim to have vitamins whatsoever, the wax in their noodles are going to stay dormant for the next three weeks in my stomach. Except for flour and sugar, what else does my body get from bread, biscuits and cookies? I’m only enduring this diet for three days, but others who could be living off these kinds of food everyday would probably be lacking in nutrition.

Of course, when we don’t get good nutrition, how can our mind stay alert and our immune system strong? :/

 

Living on Less: DAY 1

My Living on Less challenge started today.

Since I woke up late and still craving for sleep, I wasn’t able to prepare my assigned breakfast. Good thing that I don’t eat much for breakfast. Coffee and a slice of bread with peanut butter or a slice of cheese (or both, my favorite!) is usually enough to start-up my appetite and wake up my senses.

When I got to work and I had plenty of free time, that’s when I started working on the 3-day budget. I figured that planning ahead would save me the time and energy for the next three days. Based on past dieting experience, my mood worsens on the third day, so better to plan while my head and mood are still intact.

With a limited budget of 46PHP (Philippine Peso) a day (that’s dollar for you), my options were limited. Very limited. There’s probably a lot of options for budget breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but my average budget for a meal is 15PHP which isn’t even enough for transportation. I initially wanted to include transportation in the budget, but given my daily load of work, I could easily snap in hunger. I work with children, so patience definitely should be a virtue. So despite my willingness to sacrifice, I can’t really sacrifice my work that easily, especially children are also on the line (my weak spot).

Anyway, here’s a sample of the budget I made for today:

BREAKFAST

  • 2 pcs of local bread (4.00)
  • Kopiko 3-in-1 coffee (6.00)
  • 1 banana (5.00)

LUNCH

  • Lucky Me instant pansit canton (7.00) (9.00)
  • Fita crackers (7.00) Family Mart
  • 1 pc. banana (5.00)

DINNER

  • Payless instant Mami (6.25)
  • small boiled egg (5.00)

————————————————————–

47.25 PHP (over 1.25 php)

When I made the first draft for this budget, I had to take out one item from my breakfast because the total was 49.00 PHP. That surely made my jaw drop. I mean, I’m not a heavy breakfast eater, but I wanted to prepare for the small meals of the day, but yeah, 46 PHP is just too limiting.

Moreover, I had to redo my entire 3-day budget which I finished in the morning because I found out the instant noodles I ate for lunch was 2 PHP higher than the price I indicated. Even when I checked the local groceries later on, that brand’s cheapest now is probably around 8 PHP.Good thing I found a cheaper instant noodles which is only 6.25 PHP, so I decided to replace all the Lucky Me in my budget plan with this, and I though the soup could also help me feel fuller since it’s liquid.

I fortunately also chanced upon a small store that sells Fita biscuits (9 pcs/pack) for 6 PHP instead of 7 PHP which is the price in Family Mart. Actually, 7-11 sells it for 8 PHP, so I’ve found a gem of a stone in my neighborhood! There are small bakeries around my house which sells large-sized sweet bread for 5 PHP only, so that’s of course included in my plan.

I considered including half an order of rice that can be bought from small eateries, but that’s about 6/7 PHP. Also, as I normally eat more rice than a dish, eating a small amount of rice would just awaken my cravings, so better to stay away from it.

While going home from my mini-grocery for the next two days of the challenge, the majestic smell of crispy brown, deep fried chicken being sold on an intersection of our street was alluring. If this was a normal day, I would’ve asked my mom to cook me fried chicken the next day, or I could’ve pulled out my wallet to munch on one. But I was a poor worker today, right? I could only be invited and tortured by my favorite food in the world, but I cannot possess it.

I swear, I had the bitterest smile while walking away from that stall.

Then I realized something.

It’s only day one, but this challenge is already providing me with so much of what I need to learn about reality.

I did a diet early this year which also lasted for three days. There’s a program and I just had to follow it. The food in quantity was much smaller than what I usually consumed. It’s a diet program, but I didn’t do it to lose weight. It was more of the challenge to prove to myself that I am in control of my mind and my urges. If I lose weight, then that’s a big bonus.

The diet was a bit difficult the second and third day and I could’ve quit midway. I don’t think anybody was expecting me to finish it, given my renowned appetite, but I finished it anyway. Part of that motivation was that I wanted to prove them wrong, though I didn’t have to.

In this Living On Less challenge, the people whom I’m trying to understand with their struggle on food have no choice whatsoever. EVERY DAY IS A CHALLENGEIf you’re a person trying to live with this very limited budget until payday, everyday in your life, there’s no “I quit this challenge” button. You will walk away from that fried chicken every time, defeated.

If you go over-budget, you have to get some from your money the next day or borrow from others. And of course borrowed money is still not your money. You still have to give it back, then you’re still left with nothing in the end.

It was a depressing realization. It is depressing. To think that there are people everyday living in this condition, it is a cruel life.

On the other hand, with the right mindset, attitude towards one’s given condition, and wise shopping, this budget is manageable and bearable. Though with the “luxury” I’ve apparently been blessed with in my entire middle-class status, I just wish our poor brothers and sisters can have a chance at them too. :\

Living On Less

I’m not an active advocate of volunteerism and altruism, but I do what I can–when I can–to help.

One day, one of my good friends messaged us about donating for a good cause and in turn she would sacrifice eating meals for a day with a daily budget of 3 Singaporean Dollars (a good meal in Singapore could cost 3SGD and above, but this budget is for a whole day). Mind you, there’s no poverty in Singapore, but the rest of the world has. Exhibit A: Philippines. The point of this challenge is to experience living beyond the poverty line of impoverished countries.

According to the group that launched this “living for less” act, there’s a study about how pain and suffering increases sympathy. Therefore, if the challenger can experience how it is for a poor person to experience a day on a very frugal budget, his or her sympathy and empathy to the poor increases; increasing the chance of that person to help more in the future. Helping could turn into saving, thus, everybody happy!

It took me a day to think through whether I should take the challenge or not. I love to eat, so this would be a challenge, indeed. After I donated to my friend’s cause, I was very pleased to know that I could help a whole classroom of children with a mere 20SGD to be rid of parasites that cause their body and education to suffer.

After a day, I’ve decided. I’ll try to raise money on my own and take on the challenge. I’m an impulsive spender, but I can be extremely tight with my money when I’m motivated to save up for something, to the point that I’m willing to starve myself if needed. Challenge accepted!

For anyone still willing to lend a small help, please visit this website: LIVING ON LESS. Thank you very much!

–Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

On a diet

“I’m on a diet.” these are the words I never intended to ever use in my life. Not that I never needed to. In fact, I do need to go on a diet as soon as possible as my weight is bordering obese, but I was never that conscious of my body, or how people look at me, so there’s never the pressure to be fit. Of course I know the consequences for my health, but I’m so mentally strong against what others tell me that I know I’m the only one who can convince myself to change my lifestyle. Until now, however, I’ve never won over myself. Strange, right?

It’s been two days since I started this “diet”. To be honest, I think I have the whole idea of this diet backwards, since I’m only doing it to prove something to myself; to prove that I can control myself of my impulses if I really put my mind into it. I know I have it, but laziness, procrastination and an overdose of self-confidence steer me away from achieving things. So if I lose weight after three days, then that’s a bonus.

Anyway, I’m on my second day of this 3-day “military diet” thing. Actually, it’s not so bad. I was expecting hunger pangs and cravings for rice and dishes that I love so much like pasta, pizza and adobo will be overwhelming that I’d drop the challenge on the first day, but there’s none. Fortunately, I’m almost at the finish line and I feel I’m not close to any breakdowns yet. On the other hand, this diet is probably calculated to supply the body just enough energy and needed nutrients at its minimum. So I never feel that full, but I don’t get hungry that much, too.

I guess the side effect of this sudden diet is that I don’t have much energy since the food I’m having are not rich in carbohydrates.

The first day felt fine, and I guess I survived that day with determination. Most of my co-teachers were teasing me and I feel they do not believe I can finish this task (they know how much I love eating), so my determination to win the challenge was greater.

Yesterday, the second day, was a bit different. I still didn’t feel hungry between meals, and there was never the craving to grab a snack, but I definitely feel my energy deflation. Somehow, I also developed a slight cold, so my nose is a bit stuffed now, giving me a headache. I’m not sure if the diet has something to do with weakening my immune system, or I’ve just been ignoring the bed sheets too much at night, but one of my co-teachers said that it must be my body adjusting to the sudden change in diet.

Today, the third day, is also not that bad, but there is a slight light-headedness? Somehow, I’m not that alert and my memory is faltering more often than usual. The diet has also removed coffee from the second day, so that left me feeling sleepier and stranger in the morning than usual. I have to substitute the coffee with either light tea or water. I’m drinking more water than usual to combat the sudden onset of hunger. The problem is, I have to go to the restroom more often in the day.

Well, as of this writing, I’m finished with lunch of the third day of the diet, so I have dinner left which is only a cup of tuna, half a banana, and vanilla ice cream. Good lord!

Almost at the finish line and I’m already feeling very very giddy over my impending success. I’m already proud of myself for sticking to this challenge this far. I can actually experience and learn more if only I’ll give myself a more chances to challenge myself.