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Sold on no-shopping diets

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MY latest diet involves cutting my spending, not my calories.

I'd read articles about shopping diets and it started to sound like a great idea. After all, my finances are still pretty thin after the holidays -- the season of overspending.

The idea is simple: stop shopping for anything but the bare necessities of life such as food, underwear and basic footwear.

The Great American Apparel Diet asks people to stop shopping for clothing for a year. Now that's hardcore. I brought up the idea to a friend, who openly giggled at me. I settled on a shopping diet for the month of February, which also happens to be the shortest month of the year.

In a way it's like getting back to my roots.

Some of my Ojibway and Cree ancestors were great hunters who lived off the buffalo but never took more than they needed. When they killed, it was with purpose -- not because it was on sale.

Today, we've got consumerism, which is an obsession with buying new stuff when you really don't need it.

Those hunters had it right. Take only what you need and make good use of it. Store a bit away for hard times and you'll be OK. But there's no use carrying a bunch of dead weight around. That's just foolish.

Besides, no shopping for a month wouldn't be too tough. I've been a single parent while going to school, and often went months without buying something for myself. One month of not buying anything should be a piece of cake, a great way to pare down and simplify my life.

First off, my no-shopping diet meant a good old closet cleaning. That way I could find some "new clothes" I hadn't worn in a long time. Then I put together a pile of stuff I'm not wearing and some household items to donate.

Some stuff goes to friends and family, the rest goes to the Salvation Army and a nearby women's centre. That was the easy part.

The next step was getting rid of all of those pesky sale emails from retailers I've known and loved that keep popping up in my inbox. It took the better part of an afternoon, but losing the temptation to online shop was easier without all those lovely reminders.

The first week was going well -- but then I hit a rough patch at Superstore. They had a bunch of Joe clothes on sale.

A few things were appealing, but I persevered. I asked myself, do I need it? Sadly, I didn't need new shirts that felt soft as cashmere and cost less than a jug of milk. I have plenty of sweaters already.

The other day was the toughest, when I saw some shoes for sale online.

Shoes are allowed on some no-shopping diets, but not on mine. Especially when they are black-, clear- and gold-coloured wedges.

Those shoes are not essential basics no matter how hard I try to spin it. I could never hunt in those babies.

I broke a sweat, emailed the seller for more details and then went to bed.

No-shopping rule No. 1: When in doubt take 24 hours to think about a purchase. By morning those shoes were out of my system, but it was a close call.

Now I'm in the homestretch and it feels good to look at my bank balance.

Maybe I can save my money for something important, such as a new camera, or renovations to my house. The necessities of life are things I need, not want.

Maybe I'll do this diet for longer than 28 days. Well, maybe...

 

------

 

In case you are wondering about my "real diet" here's a progress report.

The Dukan diet is going well. Carbohydrates are something I can only dream about but the pounds are coming off. After six weeks I'm halfway to my goal weight and feel better than ever.

It's amazing what healthy eating and daily exercise can do to lighten your outlook.

 

Colleen Simard is a Winnipeg writer.

 

colleen.simard@gmail.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 25, 2012 J6

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