Tag Archives: Minimalism

Why I Prefer E-Books Over Physical Books

It’s been years since I bought a hardback or paperback novel. Almost one hundred percent of the books I read are in e-book form for the following reasons. I thought this topic would make for an interesting post and possible jumping off point for a group discussion.

Allergies

Book covered in cobwebs and dustIt’s pretty difficult to keep physical books in pristine condition.

Wet pages can easily provide a nice home for mould or mildew to grow. Even a mildly damp environment can give books a musty smell after a while if no one notices and dries them out in time.

Being stored in a dusty place affects books, too, even if they’re eventually brushed off.

It’s hard to completely prevent these things from happening, especially in humid climates or in houses that are difficult to keep dry and clean for other reasons.

Since I’ve been an avid patron of public libraries since childhood, this is something that has cropped up for me even more often than it might have if I bought everything I read.  The idea of many people using the same book instead of everyone buying their own copy and maybe only reading it once appeals to me from both an environmental and minimalist perspective.

But there were multiple times when I reach the top of a huge waitlist for a title only to realize that the book the library sent to me was dusty, musty, beginning to mould, or otherwise was going to be an allergy issue for me.

E-books never have this problem. That’s a big part of the reason why I switched to borrowing them instead of physical books from the library.

Portability

Person facing away from the camera. There's an e-reader in one of their back jean pockets and they're attempting to put a novel into the other I’m not the sort of person who enjoys carrying around a purse, backpack, or bag. Most of the time, I try to leave home with only the items I can fit into my pockets.

There are very few books out there that will fit into a standard-sized pocket…especially since I’m a woman and nearly always buy my clothes in the women’s section of the store where designers have yet to realize that pockets can be practical instead of merely decorative. (But that is a rant for another day).

While I could technically carry around a few physical books, it’s so much nicer to have free hands and not have to keep track of anything extra when I’m out and about. This isn’t even to mention the fact that my cellphone can hold countless e-books without weighing any more than it would if I only had one or two of them downloaded onto it.

Convenience

Man holding a smartphone and looking down at itI find it much easier to keep track of a quote I want to save from a specific page when I read that story in electronic form.

When I was in college, I had a professor who spent a big chunk of our first day in class that semester talking about the importance of looking up unfamiliar terms instead of guessing their meanings.

Some of my previous teachers had encouraged us to infer the meaning based on context clues, so I’d slid into the habit of guessing what a word meant instead of being certain.

That professor changed this habit of mine for good. Even though I haven’t been her student for years, I still insist on looking up any word whose meaning I’m not 100% certain of.

My e-reader can do all of these things with a swipe of a finger. There is no pen or piece of paper required to take note of something I’ll want to remember for the future or look up a word I need a definition for.

When you add in the portability and lack of allergens factors, I can’t imagine reading books in any other way.

What format for books do you prefer? Why?

3 Things I Don’t Love About Fitness Culture

A few days ago blogged about the four things I love about fitness culture. Today I’m going to be talking about three things I wish I could change about it.

Since it can be difficult to read people’s tones on the Internet, know that I’m bringing up these concerns because I care about this topic quite a bit. Everything I’m about to say is coming from a genuine, sympathetic perspective.

The Pseudoscience

What is it about the topics of diet and exercise that attracts so much pseudoscience? I’m all for each fitness enthusiast figuring out what works for them as far as what they eat and what types of exercise they do, but I’m also alarmed by how many ads I’m seeing for products claiming to do things that are either scientifically impossible or could potentially be dangerous if tried without a doctor’s supervision.

For example, I keep seeing advertisements for products that are supposed to block your body from absorbing certain types of calories in the food you eat. I’ve seen other ads for products that claim to be able to get rid of belly fat without diet or exercise, along with many other strange declarations.

While these kinds of ads have been around for a long time, I’m surprised by the fact that people are still falling for them. It would be amazing if there really were a magical pill, powder, device, or spell that allowed everyone to eat and drink whatever they pleased with no side effects, but sadly that’s not how the human body works.

The Consumerism

Consumerism is one of the biggest reasons why I stopped following fitness blogs and social media accounts. As a minimalist, I have no interest in buying a whole wardrobe of fitness clothing in order to have matching outfits when I exercise. What other people wear is not my concern, but I personally don’t see the need to buy new stuff if what I already own still functions perfectly well.

My workout outfits tend to be old, stained, and/or already mostly worn out. I like the fact that I can do any exercise in them I want to without worrying about ruining them. They’re impossible to ruin! If I didn’t wear them while exercising, I’d probably turn them into dust rags or throw them away entirely.

I follow this same rule when deciding when or whether to buy new fitness equipment. A yoga mat and a few pairs of free weights in various sizes are all I need. This seems to run so counter to how many well-known fitness enthusiasts operate that I often find it hard to connect to them.

The Objectification of Women

There are many wonderful stock photos out there of people doing all sorts of exercises, but in order to find them to illustrate my posts on this topic I need to wade through far too many images whose compositions vary widely depending on whether a man or woman is being shown in them.

This is a typical photo of a model who is a man.

 

Look at how his body is covered by loose, comfortable clothing. The photograph is framed in such a way that the weightlifting itself is what’s most important. The model is lifting heavy weights, and he’s totally focused on doing it properly in that moment. Nobody cares if he’s perspiring, has messy hair, or makes a funny facial expression while he lifts.

I do my best to share pictures of as many different types of fitness models as possible. This includes gender, race/ethnicity, disability, and as many other visible markers of difference as I can possibly find because of how important inclusivity is.

However, this is a mild version of the sort of photos I find when I look for fitness models who are women.

 

As you’ve probably noticed, they are not exercising at all. They’re using cell phones, and yet this is being tagged as a “fitness” photo. This happens far too often.

I’d like to be perfectly clear here that I have no problem with pictures of women exercising in sports bras and yoga pants. That’s what I wear for some of my workouts, especially if it’s a warm, humid day and I’d prefer to perspire from the workout itself instead of from unnecessary layers of clothing.

The issue is that male models are at least pretending to do workouts while female models are often either posed in sexual/suggestible ways or aren’t shown working out at all.

I don’t know about all of you, but this isn’t a time when I worry about how I look in any way. My only focus is on getting a little stronger, faster, or more flexible than I was the last time I did that routine. It would be really helpful to see this reality reflected in fitness culture imagery.

How do you wish fitness culture would change?

Why You Should Take a Minimalist Approach to Replacing Workout Gear

Consumerism is one of the biggest reasons why I’m so selective about which health and fitness sites and social media accounts I follow online.

Many of these sites are filled with pictures of people exercising with colour-coordinated outfits and gear. These photos are pretty to look at, but that approach to fitness is also completely different from the way I do it.

This is how my reasoning on the topic goes. If it isn’t missing, broken beyond repair, or otherwise in genuine need of a replacement, why bother matching anything? That doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

Exercise isn’t about looking attractive while you’re working out.  It’s about taking care of yourself and hopefully reducing your risks of many common diseases in the years to come.

Therefore, I replace my gear as it wears out or as I find myself growing strong enough to need, say, a heavier set of hand weights.

It Saves Money and Time

The average store is designed to be as enticing as possible, an this is even more true for stores that are part of a chain or that are run by people who have a lot of experience in marketing . Everything from the background music to the lighting to how the products for sale are displayed is carefully calibrated to squeeze as much money out of the customer base as is possible.

Even people like me who deeply dislike shopping can be swayed by this kind of marketing. While not every impulse purchase is going to turn out to be something that you regret making, you can avoid spending more than you intended to in the first place by only shopping when you genuinely need something and by condensing your trips as much as possible.

Shopping also sucks up a lot of time because it was designed to work that way. There are many stores out there that routinely change where they keep specific items in order to get their customers to look around for a while before they find what they needed. Hopefully, their thinking goes, you’ll find something interesting that you weren’t planning to purchase and add it to your cart while you’re trying to find that one thing you were actually planning to buy.

The best way to win this game is to avoid playing it in the first place.

It Demonstrates Why Quality Is More Important Than Quality

One of the other biggest reasons why I don’t replace my exercise gear regularly is that I do my best to pick the highest quality items I can afford the first time I buy them.

For example, there is a store in my neighbourhood that often has sports bras on sale for $10 or $15. Will they work okay in the short term? Yes, they’d be fine as a short-term solution. With that being said, they’re made of incredibly flimsy material. If I bought one of them it would almost certainly wear out and need to be replaced in six months.

The sports bra I ended up buying three or four years ago cost about $60. It’s barely shown any wear since then, though, and I expect to get several more years of use out of it before I need to begin thinking about replacing it.

Let’s be generous and assume that all of those inexpensive sports bras lasted a full six months each. After ten years, I will have spent between $200 and $300 on them.That doesn’t include the time needed to repair them or to replace them when they finally fell apart.

In the same time frame, I would have spent $120 on the more durable bras. I would have only needed to gone shopping for one replacement in that decade, and I probably wouldn’t have had to spend any time repairing ripped seams or other issues in the meantime.

It’s Environmentally Friendly

Photo credit: Nadine3103.

Buying inexpensive gear doesn’t only hurt your bottom line over the longterm, it also hurts the environment. Reusing and recycling are important steps in the process, but reducing what you consume in the first place is even better.

Why throw away ten used sports bras over a decade if you can toss out one instead? This might not seem like a huge deal when you’re looking at the purchasing decisions of one single person, but it has a dramatic effect on how well our renewable and non-renewable resources are managed when you look at the decisions made by a large group of people.

Every little bit helps.

Incidentally, I am in no way intending to embarrass anyone who can’t afford to pay more upfront in order to save money and renewable resources in the future. Shopping at secondhand stores or swapping with a friend are both excellent ways to cut down on the expense of exercise gear and help the environment at the same time. Do what you can when you can, and don’t worry about the rest if your finances are tight.

It Encourages Problem Solving

Not every problem needs to be or should be solved with money.

When I get the urge to buy something that isn’t a basic necessity like food, I sit with that urge for a while and take note of how often I wish I had bought it.

For example, several years ago I found this plastic reusable water container that could be folded up and put into your pocket when it’s empty. It was nifty.

I came very close to buying it that day, but I decided to keep track of my thoughts about it as I was out and about over the next several months to see how regularly I might have used it.

How often did I wish I had a water bottle when there were no drinking fountains nearby? Well, it turned out that this mostly happened on hot, humid summer days. I can only think of a handful of situations when that device would have been handy to have because of how much I avoid spending a lot of time outdoors during a heat wave. Becoming more familiar with where all of the water fountains near my neighbourhood were located solved 80% of my problem, and always drinking a big glass of water before heading out on those days solved the other 20%.

If I were someone who spent a lot of time far away from public drinking fountains or other sources of free water in the summer, my answer to this question would have been completely different. Due to my current habits, this isn’t a worthwhile purchase for me for the time being. I am keeping that bottle tucked away in the back of my mind if this ever changes, though. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

I would have eventually figured this out if I bought it on a whim, but I’m glad that I didn’t have to learn that lesson that way.

Respond

How often do you replace your workout equipment and clothes? How much, if at all, does it matter to you that they all match? What’s your philosophy on this topic in general?

Minimalism and Valentine’s Day

After my last two posts, it might come as a surprise to some readers to be reminded that my spouse and I don’t actually celebrate Valentine’s Day. We’ve been married for over twelve years now, and we’ve never done anything out of the ordinary for this holiday other than possibly showing each other clever gifs and memes about it if we find some good ones.

No, this post isn’t going to be a rant against Valentine’s Day as a concept. I’m all for showing someone how you feel about them on February 14 as well as on every other day of the year. No one knows for sure how long they have left on this Earth, so I’d never discourage anyone from make their loved ones feel appreciated.  If celebrating Valentine’s Day in the traditional way with chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and a fancy dinner makes someone happy, good for them!

I believe in living a simple and minimalist lifestyle for myself, though. That belief sticks with me no matter what date is on the calendar or how much advertisers try to convince me to buy things I don’t need.

Minimizing Waste

 Buying something you have no use for is a waste of time, money, and emotional energy. Spending more than you would have spent if you waited a few more weeks to purchase the same exact product is equally wasteful.

Every year, I watch the price of romantic items like  flowers and chocolates rise sharply before Valentine’s Day only to fall back to their normal prices shortly after that holiday. For example, there is a fancy type of dairy-free chocolate I can eat that costs about $20 for a dozen pieces during most of the year. That same quantity of chocolate is sold in pretty boxes for about $25 during Valentine’s Day season.

These prices affect everyone who purchases these products, so it always surprises me to see people pay so little attention to them.

If you’re going to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a traditional way, why not buy silk flowers and pick out the card, wrapping paper, and other non-perishable stuff for next year when all of that paraphernalia goes on sale this year? Or, better yet, why not celebrate it at the end of February when everything is deeply discounted?

Given my over-active immune system, Valentine’s Day would also be a wasteful holiday for me for a few reasons that don’t apply to everyone. I’m mildly allergic to milk, so 99% of the Valentine’s Day chocolate out there isn’t something I can actually eat. I’m also mildly allergic to flowers, so any bouquet of live flowers is going to make me sneeze and cough uncontrollably until I throw it away.

Minimizing Clutter

Even though I live in a very small home and regularly try to donate or throw away things that are no longer useful to me, I still own more stuff than I need.

(My mother used to complain about this same phenonemon when I was a kid. I didn’t understand it then, but I sure do now!)

Other than the winning lottery number, of course, there are very few non-consumable things in this world that I would like but don’t currently own.

While I’d appreciate the sentiment if my spouse bought me something like a stuffed animal or jewelry for this holiday, I never want or expect anything like that. It’s not my style, and I’d much rather save the majority of that money and maybe splurge on $20 worth of fancy chocolates once the price for them finally drops again.

What I really want is to have an uncluttered home as much as is possible given our small living quarters and need to store the things that we do use often enough to keep.

If someone wants to give a Valentine’s Day gift, I know exactly what I’d recommend to them.

The Best Valentine’s Day Present of Them All

Love is the best Valentine’s Day present of them all. When I say love, I’m talking about every kind of it you can imagine:

The love that two or more people share when they’re in a romantic relationship. 

The love of a parent for their child.

The love of a family – whether chosen, biological, adoptive, or foster –  for everyone who is part of it.

The love shared between friends.

The love a person feels for their pet. 

The love a pet feels for their human. 

The love a stranger feels for another stranger.

The love we feel for ourselves.

Unlike chocolate, nobody ever suddenly runs out of love. Love doesn’t require batteries, lose pieces every time you move, or need to be protected from the elements. There is no manufacturer’s warranty for it, and you can’t find it in any store.

Love is free. Love is precious.

If I were going to celebrate this holiday, I’d do it by telling all of the people I care about how much they meant to me.

Thank you for reading this blog, followers. I deeply appreciate every single one of you, and I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.