I’ve decided to go on a diet, a diet not unlike the South Beach, Atkins, or cabbage soup diet. I will follow a strict plan. I will be regimented and plan ahead. My willpower will be put to the test; my days will be spent detoxing, and fine tuning my choices, and the excess I don’t need will just melt away. Now what I am about to embark upon isn’t a weight loss diet; it’s a shopping diet.
The guidelines are quite simple, I am not to buy anything unnecessary for a whole month.
That’s right, a whole month; no clothes, no makeup, no one-off hand painted silk scarves from the Sunday market, even though I’ll never see anything like it again! (This is going to be hard.) I will become more aware as I shop and conscious of the purchases I make. This means if my face wash runs out then I’m allowed to replace it. However my underwear is starting to fall apart and unravelling at the seams, I’m sick and tired of all my nail polish colours, my winter boots are just so last season and my sunglasses are bent. None of these things count; they do not qualify as essential purchases; I will make do with what I have, and be happy with that.
Now food is a vital daily requirement; this doesn’t mean that I can get my shopping fix by buying decadent amounts of gourmet deli treats, imported chocolates and bottles of organic wine. Even though these goodies would soothe me as I withdraw from my chronic credit card compulsion, these luxuries too are not included. Eating out once a week is okay, having to cook every night is never any fun and a recipe for depression, or just feeling like I live in ‘The Depression’. Lunches will be made at home and taken to work, and you never, know I might even lose some weight along the way too.
A month is actually quite a long time to restrict my shopping calories. I buy stuff every week, just little things – a junky costume jewellery ring here, a necklace there, a pair of stockings, some new cheap moisturiser – all just because I can or they’re on sale, and this makes it okay! But it is these little things that are adding to the clutter I am slowly collecting. I seem to have bought the same grey top three times over. My boyfriend accused me of chipping away at money like someone whittling away at a stick – these $20 and $30 dollar purchases chip, chip chipping away at the money I earn.
I’ll always stop and consider an $80 to $100 purchase but throw myself straight in if it’s under $30 and I’ll do that three times a week, I would be better off purchasing a quality $100 indulgence than frittering away money on less than fabulous things.
My frivolous choices are clogging the arteries of my wardrobe. Clothes still complete with tags hang unworn for months as I deliberate what could possibly go with what. Like all those ab-swings you see, covered in cobwebs discarded on the nature strip, I will no longer buy things that seem like a good idea at the time.
This cleanse will refine my taste buds, my addiction to that sweet, cheap fix, will be broken. They say you will feel more satisfied if you enjoy a fine piece of expensive chocolate, than gorging on a whole block from the supermarket. The mental shopping list that I carry around with me, objects I desire to complete my wardrobe, never ends. We are bombarded every day by images of beautiful clothes, furniture and cosmetics it is impossible not to want, but when the wanting never ends it is far from a health mindset.
The first few days are a breeze. Every time I catch myself about to open my purse for something insignificant that catches my eye I resist. I leave the shop feeling triumphant, in control, and more equipped to refuse the next temptation.
The test comes on one of those long days, just like when that 4 o’clock energy slump hits and that blueberry muffin calls your name, I start to crave something new – oh to wear an outfit this weekend that I have never worn before! Here is when I would usually chase a heady retail hit.
So this week several times I turn and walk away from the shops. The feeling passes just like any other craving and I’m happy again, elated! I think I’m starting to get a ‘no shopping high’.
By week two I am starting to reinvent outfits I haven’t worn for so long. I become more creative with what I wear, putting things together I had never co-ordinated before. I begin to see all my possessions with a new sense of gratitude and appreciation. I have so much, and own so many beautiful things, I don’t need anything more.
I worry that when I get a taste again I will binge like a deprived dieter, gorging like never before, undoing all my good work. This is not the case, as now, after my four weeks of discipline, just like when we change our eating habits, I’m not attracted to junk any more. I’m more interested in enjoying a wholesome window shop, or spending my time in a more fulfilling environment, than Sunday mass at the shopping mall. I don’t think I’ve completely renounced the modern-day religion of material pleasure; my devotion to the god of shoes is far too powerful to forsake. However, just for now, I am enjoying a fuller purse, a deeply satisfied appetite and a leaner wastage line. You too should try it. You truly have nothing to lose.
Sarah George is a young mother who loves to write. She is also a part-time actress, presenter, hypno child birth coach and exotic dance instructor.
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