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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.


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?

Saturday Seven: Books with Green Covers

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I was originally planning to make this post about Irish books that I’ve read and loved, but it turned out that I couldn’t think of enough of them to fill out a Saturday Seven list on this topic. My goal for next year is to change that, so do speak up if you know of any good reads from that country.

In the meantime, let’s talk about books that all happen to have green covers. If I ever become wealthy enough to buy a big house and fill one room of it with nothing but books, I’m going to be terribly tempted to sort those books out by colour. Don’t you think it would be magical to walk into a room that looked like a rainbow?

I also think that arranging stories like this would be an interesting way to stumble across something you might have never otherwise picked up.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, some of my aunts and uncles were still kids when I was born. It was a little like growing up with older siblings except that we never lived in the same house and therefore didn’t have to share toys or bedrooms with each other. I remember my youngest aunt reading this story to me when I was very young. At the time, I loved it. Now I wish I could talk to Mr. Silverstein and find out whether he thought it was a virtuous thing for the tree to sacrifice every single part of itself for the boy or whether he was warning his young fans about the dangers of giving so much of yourself that you have nothing left for your own needs.

The Magicians Nephew by C.S. Lewis

This is my favourite story in the Chronicles of Narnia series in large part because of how C.S. Lewis came up with the idea of writing about a young boy whose mother was dying from a disease that had no cure. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but knowing the context of those scenes made them even more poignant.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

As much as I liked them, the last few Harry Potter books were so dark that I don’t reread them as often as I do the earlier ones.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire struck a nice balance between the sillier themes of the first few books and the very serious themes of the last ones. I also appreciated the way Ms. Rowling fleshed out wizard society. The audience was able to see just how well wizards and witches could live their entire lives cocooned away from muggle society without feeling like they were missing out on anything at all.

Also, the Triwizard Tournament was a thrill. I remember feeling afraid for Harry when he dove into the lake and began searching for the merpeople. Even magical humans can only survive for a few minutes without oxygen, and I wasn’t sure that his solution to breathing underwater was going to work.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

As fun as the movie adaptations are, the original Oz series was a million times more creative and sometimes even downright bizarre than anything that made it onto the big screen. I have no idea where the author came up with half of his stuff, but they sure did make for an attention-grabbing plot.  Don’t read this to young kids, but do go read it.

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor.

I adore O’Connor’s writing style, although I will admit to not understanding a lot of her stories when I first started reading them. It took some rereads and a few more years of maturing before I began to see what she was saying about ethics and morality. She’s yet another author I wish I could take out for a cup of coffee and have a long conversation with.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare.

When I was a teenager, my mom took me to see a production of this play that had been put on by a local college. I loved every single bawdy minute of it, and I’ve been a fan of it ever since.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

I had no idea what to expect what one of my college professors assigned a few of these tales to us. “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” was my favourite one because of how much it revealed about what it was like to be a woman in England during this time period. For example, women were defined by their relationship to men back then. They could be a maiden, a wife, or a widow. Their options outside of these roles were all but nonexistent. If only Chaucer had been able to finish this series.

What books that have green covers have you read recently? Do you sort out your books this way in general, or am I part of a small minority of readers on this issue?

Suggestion Saturday: March 17, 2018

Here is this week’s list of comic strips and other links from my favourite corners of the web. All but one of these links is related to St. Patrick’s Day in some way. That exception suits this time of year for other reasons which will soon be clear to you.

Five Minutes in Spring. This is both funny and true.

Irish Soda Bread via TRH_Cook. This sounds delicious.

St. Patrick’s Day! I really like the idea of using candy to make art like this. I’ll be sharing more links from this site in the future.

St. Patrick’s Day “green”-ery. It’s going to be nice when the world is green and lush again.

Irish Slang via ‪irishslang‬. This whole site is worth checking out. I especially liked finding out what the greeting “Hows Yer Onions Sur” and the food reference “Afters” meant.

Growing Up with Leprechauns! via SusieLindau‬. What a fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

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Rest in Peace, Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking in 2006. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

I’m assuming all of my readers heard this news yesterday, but the famous physicist Stephen Hawking is dead.

The world is a dimmer and sadder place without him. I doubt any of his friends and loved ones will read this, but I’d like to extend my sincere condolences to them if they do.

A Brief History of Time was one of my all-time favourite pop-science reads. The only science classes I took in high school were Biology and Chemistry, so he was my first introduction to Cosmology and Physics.

He explained everything so clearly and concisely in the things he wrote for a general audience. By far the best part of A Brief History of Time in particular was the section on black holes. Mr. Hawking’s theories about how they worked and why it’s actually possible for some material to escape a black hole blew my mind.

It sounded like something from a science fiction novel, yet it was happening in our universe and it could be explained in purely scientific terms. There’s something special about touching the far reaches of current human knowledge like that.

Not every physicist is capable of explaining his or her work so well to people who have little to no understanding of what physics is about or how physicists are slowing figuring out more and more details about how the universe works and how it began.

In 2014, Stephen Hawking asked science fiction writers to incorporate his ideas about imaginary time into their stories.  To the best of my knowledge, no one has taken him up on that challenge yet.

(If any of my readers know of any plausible hard science fiction books, movies, or TV shows that are based on Stephen Hawking’s work, do mention them in the comment section below! Everything I could find online about this topic involved soft science fiction like Futurama or Doctor Who.

Mr. Hawking, thank you for everything you did for the scientific community. Thank you for inspiring generations of science fiction authors, too. May you rest in peace.

I’ll end this post with a quote from Mr. Hawking himself:

It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. It’s a crazy world out there. Be curious.