Live Below the Line: The Denouement

2014-05-03 11.22.56-2As I write this on the Saturday morning after the Live Below the Line challenge, I’m enjoying my first cup of coffee in six days. Let me tell you, coffee is delicious, and I’m kind of loving the caffeine rush. Woo!

Live Below the Line 2014 went way better than my test run in 2013. I never went to bed hungry, enjoyed way tastier food (mmm peanut butter), and overall felt okay. I didn’t even finish about 1/6 of the box of spaghetti I bought. Nonetheless, I learned a lot from the experience:

  • Living below the line is mentally exhausting. From choosing $7.50-worth of groceries to rationing my food to last throughout the week to refusing to cave to temptation, there was a ton more mental effort involved than the usual freedom I have. It’s hard to imagine living like that for more than five days, but that’s what 1.2 billion people do, and over time, that must takes a toll on their well-being.
  • Perspective. When I returned a cart at Aldi and got a quarter, that meant a whole ‘nother can of tomato sauce for my spaghetti! I never thought I’d be so elated over $.25, and that flavor definitely made a huge difference in my week. Compare that to a $5 macchiato or the $8.49 cheese my boyfriend got earlier in the week. Spending so much on luxury foods seems pretty insensitive when so many people are struggling to eat every day.
  • Give a change three days. On days 1-3 I had some headaches, weird stomach feelings and lightheadedness that were discouraging, but on days 4 and 5 I felt just fine. That reemphasized to me that you should give any major change to your routine – whether it’s quitting a bad habit, switching to a new diet, or starting an exercise routine – three days to stick. When you make it past the initial transition, you’re probably golden.
  • Aldi is awesome. Seriously. I’m going to switch to Aldi for all my grocery shopping. Spending more than I need to on food just seems frivolous now, and who doesn’t like saving money?
  • A renewed trust in my willpower. There were several temptations throughout the week, such as going out to restaurants with friends and attending a free food and drink event, but I never caved. It helped that I was fighting for a cause and didn’t want to let my donors or fellow participants down. But mostly, I wanted to end the week proud of myself, and I am, because I did it!

I’m about to get lunch at one of my favorite restaurants for some spinach mushroom etouffee, which I’m pretty excited about. But while I feel victorious, extreme poverty continues for people all over the world. As of this writing, I’m still $175 short of my fundraising goal. Please support my efforts and help fight hunger in the US by donating on my page here – Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

And you can definitely count me in for Live Below the Line 2015!

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