Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another Reboot? Nah, Actually Things Are Looking Up.

OK, so I ended my last blog post with a question - who was in for an April 1st reboot of 2014, a kind of New Year's Day, after three months... And then before I even got to April 1st, I had a huge car accident on March 31st.  What in the heck did I ask for?  Long story short: I had the right-of-way, but some guy turned left into my pathway and I plowed into him.  He took off.  My car's totaled.  And that's that.  But now, just a little over two weeks later, I have a new car and my bruises are mostly healed.

So here's the good news - and there's actually a lot of it!  I got more money from the insurance company for my car than I expected, and I used part of that money as a down payment for the new car and part of it to pay off three more credit cards.  Woo hoo!  Yes, I have a brand new car loan instead of six months left on the old loan, but installment debt is way better than credit card debt.  And 2.5% interest on the car loan is a ton better than 20+ percent on some of the credit cards.  

And then, I followed a friend's advice that I just have to share with you all.  If you don't already have a Discover card, apply for one!  You can transfer balances for 0% interest for 14 months.  So, that's what I did with the rest of my credit card debt.  I don't think I'll be able to pay it all off in those 14 months, but I'm going to be able to make a seriously huge dent in it.

In other news, things are still going really great with my new guy.  He's a real sweetie and he makes me laugh.  He lives in Tucson, which complicates things a little bit, but he has driven the two hours to see me a bunch of times over the last month, and I've driven down to see him once.  We've gone to the Ostrich Festival, the Botanical Garden, the movies, bowling, watched two of the NCAA basketball playoff games together, gone hiking twice, baked cookies together, and generally have had a great time.  Next weekend, he's going to meet my best friend from high school and I'll meet one of his good friends while we watch the loser Diamondbacks play the loser Phillies!  And the weekend after that we're going to Vegas!

Now if I can just get back to my healthy eating and exercising... Since Sunday, I've been suffering a bit with yet another cold and so I haven't worked out since last Wednesday I think?  Maybe Tuesday.  Either way, I really need to get back to it.  But I'm not going to bother tonight.  Instead, I'm going to go to bed early and try to shake the rest of this crappy cold.  Hello NyQuil, my old friend.  Hopefully, I'll be back posting in another day or two with the happy news that I'm back on track with the gym. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Another Long Break in Blogging

I can't let March end without doing a little blog update.  The first three months of this year have not been going great in a lot of ways.  There has been cancer, death, surgeries, a house fire, and a lot of other smaller difficulties. For a lot of time, I have felt helpless and powerless but have tried to bring cheer where possible. These challenges definitely make you take a look at your life and help encourage a feeling of gratitude for the good things.  No matter how big or small.

But... there have been some wonderful things so far this year as well! First, there's a new guy in my life. We were set up by mutual friends. Isn't that just the way it goes? I had just signed up and paid for a whole year on, and then I meet this guy instead. It's going well and I'm having a lot of fun. He's easy to be with and makes me laugh. And, I think that's all I'll say for now because I don't want to jinx it.

I guess I should do a quick update on those other 3 Ds while I'm at it.

Drop... oh my... Well, I'm at pretty much the exact same weight I was at a few months ago and I've been less than consistent with my eating and working out.  And dating is not helping.  The last two dates we've gone on have been to sports bars to watch his U of A basketball team play.  Let me just say that it's hard to make good food choices at a sports bar, and I have been drinking a lot more than usual too.  I just keep working at it.  I got up to work out this morning even though I was exhausted from meeting my fella last night and staying out past midnight and having two really big mugs of Redd's apple cider.  And I'm meeting him tomorrow for a hike.

Dog... no progress.  But I did get a little animal loving in. Last week, I was vacationing in Flagstaff at my friend's house, while she and her family were off in Utah for spring break. I got a basically free vacation for the cost of gas, food, and cat-sitting. Finn is just a truly entertaining cat and I kind of miss him now even though I would never consider myself a cat person. He made me actually think about getting a cat of my own, but I don't think I could ever live with all that cat hair!

And Debt... Much progress! The two credit cards I had paid off last month still have zero balances.  I wish I could say that I put my whole tax refund into savings as I had planned, but I didn't. On the up-side, I haven't used any of my credit cards at all for months.  So, no new debt!  And I've been using the budgeting tools on I have a confession. I have serious book-buying and eating-out problems. I think the latter is also contributing to my stalled weight loss efforts. Major goal for April! Limit eating out to one or two meals per week. Oh but crud I'm traveling a little next month for some seminars that I'm speaking at. How the heck do you eat right on the road? Ah well, perfection has never been the goal. :-)

So there's my update! How are you all doing this year? Are you ready for an April 1st reboot?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mid-February Update

Hello there!  Well... what to say... OK, yes, I'm procrastinating as usual.  I came to the office on this nice beautiful President's Day to get some stuff done without the distraction of coworkers, but instead I'm dallying here with my blog instead.

I'm wondering whether blogging is still for me.  I feel like I don't keep anything to myself anymore.  Nothing is private.  I post on Facebook, I tweet, I use a bunch of fitness apps (pactapp, runkeeper, fitbit, and just started with myfitnesspal).  All of those apps occasionally post updates on Facebook and Twitter too.  But is all this sharing healthy for me?  Am I becoming a me, me, me person?  Or are these apps truly helping?  I admit I enjoy the encouragement I get when someone likes one of those activity posts or favorites my tweets, but am I starting to crave that interaction?  What happened to just doing these healthy things for the health of them?

Or... is this just part of the fact that I'm lonely and crave some interaction?  Isn't that why I rejoined match?  I am truly blessed with some wonderful friends, but when the workday is over, I go home alone every night.  I no longer really feel like I have a friend that I can just call up and chat with because texts have taken over.  And many of my friends are happily married with kids and other obligations and responsibilities, so I feel like if I called on a weeknight or weekend, I'd be intruding.  Does anyone else feel that way?  I really think that all of these technological wonders (cell phones, laptops, etc.) have hurt basic human interactions.  I know I'm not alone in feeling that.

And there's multi-tasking.  Even right now, I'm doing three things at once.  I'm typing out this blog, listening to music, and chugging some iced tea.  And I'm thinking about the stuff I need to do and mentally planning the rest of my day.  I can't seem to watch tv anymore without doing something else at the same time.  I think I spend far too much time looking at various screens.  Is it any wonder that I can't ever get anything done when I never focus on one thing at a time?

Well, I'm not going to find a solution to this right now, but I do think I'm going to stop my apps from tweeting and posting on facebook for a little while. And maybe I'll take a little break from facebook too, or at least only check it once a day?  :-)

So, while I'm still blogging and sharing details of my life, here's a quick update...

Drop:  I'm kind of low-carbing it again.  I am not going to "win" the dietbet thing I joined 3 weeks ago because I still have 8 more pounds to lose in 7 days.  The trip to Kansas and other work-related stuff just got in my way and I didn't stick to my exercise plans or stick to eating right.  But for the last 4 days, I've been back on track and have had 4 awesome workouts in a row.  And my gym bag is packed and ready for me to head to the gym after I get stuff done here at the office.

Debt:  I'm excited to say that I paid of two credit cards.  I have 7 more to go, but I'm making progress.

Dude:  I rejoined match.  Nothing so far, but I'm going to a match-hosted happy hour thing on Thursday that both scares the bejeebus out of me and has me feeling kind of hopeful.

Dog:  Not yet.  Not changing anytime soon.  And I am totally ok with that!

OK, it's 9:32 now.  I'm going to be productive and get shit done and get out of here by no later than noon!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome 2014, I'm Ready for You!

Or maybe it's more accurate to say that I'm really over 2013!  Although it really has been a pretty great year.  No regrets!

First let me recap the end of December.  I ran into a little hiccup with my exercise streak when I caught yet another cold and spend almost all of last Saturday and Sunday in bed.  I still have a stuffed nose and a nagging cough, but I'm not letting it stop me from exercising any longer.

This is a screencap from my Streaks app on my phone.  Not bad, huh?  I was a little disappointed to end the streak at 27, but I really couldn't get out of bed.  And exercising on 29 out of 31 days for the month is still pretty damn good!

I'm now in week 5 of the sit-ups, push-ups, and squats apps too.  Last night, I did 58 sit-ups, 38 push-ups, and 60 squats.  As opposed to week 1, day 1, when I did 15, 18, and 18, respectively.  I actually did one set of 20 squats last night and thought to myself that it's pretty amazing how much progress I've made so quickly.  I can squat deeper with no knee pain and I don't feel stiff the next day at all! This is making a difference!

One more thing to reflect on last year.  As you know, I hiked to Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon back in October and am still so proud of that accomplishment.  When we were staying in the village, I noted to Virginia (one of my hiking buddies) that a poster of Havasu Falls looked a lot like a jigsaw puzzle I had put together and hung in my bedroom.  And then I forgot about it.  Well, last Friday, I was cleaning my apartment and noticed the framed puzzle again, and wouldn't you know it, I was right! There is a title on the puzzle saying "Havasu Falls!" Here's a picture:

And compare with one of my pics from my trip:

It's a different view, but how cool is that? I wonder if I have other stuff that is kind of a premonition of where I'll go someday.  Maybe I should do some more jigsaw puzzles!

On to 2014!  I did a bunch of thinking over the past week and tried to come up with some real fixed and attainable goals and commitments for the coming year.  I'm still going to focus on Debt and Drop, but don't have much to add to the Debt part except a commitment to following the debt snowball and paying down my debt.  I'm committed to paying $600 per month to paying down my debt, and will look for ways to increase that amount.

Now for my health-related goals and commitments:

1. I commit to completing the Couch to 5K training program and running in at least one 5K this year.  I have signed up for the Esprit de She 5K in October.  

2. I commit to keeping my gympact every week.  I'm not letting them have a dime of my money.  Right now I have a pact of 4 days per week and that's working pretty well.  

3. I commit to exercising 80% of the days of every month.  I restarted my streak on Monday and am back up to 3 days in a row, but I know that perfection is not realistic. 

4. My goal is to lose 70 pounds.  I have a new workout log that is set up for six months of training and it really helps you quantify your goals.  My goal for the next six months is 35 pounds, which is a little more than 1 pound per week.  I'm really looking forward to filling this book in with a whole bunch of workouts and successes!

I'm not going to follow any restrictive or fad diets.  I'm just going back to basics.  I'm going to keep track of what I eat and stay within a particular calorie range.  I'm going to focus on eating real whole foods as much as possible, cook more, eat out rarely, and enjoy food again.

Last, I'm really going to make an effort at finding some kind of volunteer program that I like working with.  I do the Theta advisory board thing, and that's a kind of volunteering.  And then I do two things through the state bar: we the people (a high school debate program on the constitution) and the high school mock trial competition.  But... none of those things really feed my soul.  

So that's the plan!  I'm really excited to make this year my best one yet!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Did I Jinx Myself?

Not even 24 hours after my last post, I have $430 of new debt thanks to my car's need for a new alternator and my total lack of available funds.  Happy Holidays to Brakes Plus!  Thankfully, the repair is completed and my car is all happy again.  Only I can't figure out how to change the clock - even with the help of the owner's manual!  What a day... 

But -- silver lining time -- I did not do any stress eating!  And I'm going to do a quick workout now and then call it a night. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Quick Check-In

This entry is probably not going to be very long, but I did want to pop in and give a little update since my last blog.  I had 4 mini-goals in my last entry, and I'm doing pretty well.

1. Exercise 10 min.+ every day.  So far so good! I'm on a 22-day streak and I'm so proud of that.  Some days have been difficult, but I don't want to end my streak.  On the days that have been particularly hard, I've forced myself to do the push-ups, squats, and sit-ups, and that takes me about 20 minutes altogether even though I don't break a sweat.  And the squats and push-ups are definitely getting easier.  

One of the other things that's helping is my old faithful Gympact app on my phone.  I saw a tweet from another Gympact user who earned $80 this past year working out, and withdrew it as part of her Christmas shopping fund.  What a great idea!  For the past two weeks, I've committed to 4 workouts a day, which means 4 30-minute minimum workouts.  And that gives me 3 days a week to be a little less ambitious.  I have kept my pacts for both of these last two weeks and am going to keep on going.  Right now (without this week's earnings), I have $10.22 in my Gympact balance.  I look forward to watching that balance grow and commit to not emptying it for any reason before Black Friday 2014.

2. Keep the debt snowball as a top priority.  All I can say about this one is that I haven't created any new debt, but with holiday shopping and last minute forgotten items, I haven't actually used any money from my latest paycheck to do anything more than pay the minimums on the bills that were due.  But I'm going to keep plugging away.  No new debt is an awesome step and I'm proud of that.

3. Make my bed everyday.  OK, this one only lasted 7 days, but it's just not that important to me.

4. Wash off makeup every night.  I have done this more than making my bed, but I've still skipped it some nights too.  I'll keep working on it.

There's something else I discovered in the last month that I think has made a real difference in my attitude.  There's an app (I know I know, I'm addicted to my iphone) called My W Days, and it's basically just a journal.  But you can set a reminder for a certain time everyday for it to send you a notification, a reminder to write something.  And perhaps the cutest thing is that you can rate your mood each day with a smiley face or a frowny face or something in between.  I've been writing almost every day in this little thing since mid-November, and have only missed two days.  I don't write much, but it's enough to just touch base with myself and figure out if I've had a good day or a bad day.  The best part, since I've started using this app, I've had 3 frowny faces and 30 smiley faces.  For the most part, life is good.

OK, that's it for now.  I'll be back sometime on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day with my commitments and goals for the new year.  Not resolutions.  'Til then, Merry Christmas to anyone out there that reads this!  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Goals for Next Year and for the Next Month

I did not sleep well at all last night.  I've had one cup of coffee and a huge iced black tea, so I would think I've had enough caffeine to get me through the day, but no such luck.  Whine, whine, whine.  Anyhoo, I thought instead of being cliche and doing resolutions, I'd take the time now to set some goals for the next year.  You see I've been sick with the worst cold of my life for almost an entire month (Nov. 4th was my first day of ick), and now that I'm coming out of it, I feel a little like I've been given a new life!  A real new starting over, line in the sand, turning over the leaf, bright line, whatever.  For almost the entire month, I had no energy to exercise, little energy to grocery shop and cook, and very little desire to do anything other than sleep.  

But somehow, this past weekend, my energy level came back.  I even walked last night and didn't feel like dying afterwards, unlike a walk I tried the previous Sunday.  Unfortunately, I thought I walked 3 miles last night, but MapMyRun shows that I only did 2.37 miles:

Oh well, that's 2.37 miles more than I did the previous day!  I also tried two apps I've had on my phone forever:  200 sit ups and 100 push ups.  Basically, they're kind of like the Couch to 5K plan, and you work your way up to doing 200 sit ups or 100 push ups.  Week one, day one consists of 18 counter-top push ups and 15 sit ups, split up into sets of 5.  Hee hee!  Can I just tell you that I don't think I've done a real sit up since the President's Fitness Challenge sometime in 6th grade maybe?  Since then, it's been the occasional crunch, but not a whole sit up where you go from lying on the floor to fully sitting up.  And I felt like a total wimp, because YO those are hard!  And I just did it on my apartment floor stupidly, so the small of my back totally hurt when I was done.  When I do them again, I'm definitely taking the time to lay out my hardly-ever-used yoga mat!  The counter push ups were a joke, but I felt proud of myself for doing them nonetheless.

Yesterday, I also set up a spreadsheet to track my debt snowball.  I only put my credit card debt on there, not my student loans or car loan.  So... long story short, on my whole 4 Ds plan, I'm focusing on Debt and Drop for the foreseeable future.  Dude and Dog can wait.  I'm also going to focus on the small do-able chunks that will eventually result in progress.  So, for the month of December (including yesterday), I'm going to do the following:

1. Make my bed every day - You might laugh, but this is a vestige from my rebellion against my mother and her housekeeping requirements.  But I need to get over myself and that stupid rebellion too.  There's something nice about having my room (and my whole apartment in general) tidy and making the bed is part of that.  And really is it such a big freaking deal?  You just straighten the sheets, pull up the comforter, and throw the pillows on top. 

2. Remove my makeup every night - It's kind of the same thing, just a general laziness.  But I'm not getting any younger, and how many magazine articles do I need to read about skin tone and adult acne?  I stand at the sink to take out my contacts every night, so it's really not a big deal to remove my eye makeup and slather on a little night cream too.

3. Exercise for 10+ minutes every day - It's so much easier for me to keep up with exercising if I just make it non-optional.  If I get a streak going of 4 or 5 days, I'm not going to want to take a day off.  Conversely, once I've stopped exercising it's SO much harder to get going again.  I'm not going to say go to the gym every day though, because that's just not really practical.  Really though it took me more than 10 minutes to do my 15 sit ups and 18 push ups last night, so even when I can't/don't make it to the gym for a longer workout, I have no excuse for not doing at least 10 minutes.  

4. Keep the debt snowball as a top priority - I am done with Christmas shopping and I'm not sending Christmas cards this year (sorry).  With my next paycheck (Dec. 12th), I'll pay off two of my store credit cards (Macy's and Kohl's).  I also took all of my credit cards out of my wallet and actually froze them.  Literally.  I put them all in a snack size zip-lock bag, and then put them in a sandwich size zip-lock full of water and threw that in the freezer.  That won't stop me from online shopping, but since I'll be back to working out and will need to try on any clothes I'd want to buy, I'll need to actually thaw them out before I can go shopping.  Last year, I tried to commit to that savings plan, but I think paying off the credit cards is much more important.  By this time next year, I'll have one of my Mastercards paid off, so I can consider that a savings account of sorts if I need to dip into savings for some reason.  

And that's really it.  I'm not talking about a meal plan or diet right now.  But as a natural result of being money-conscious, I'm going to cook more and not eat out hardly at all.  Right now, I'm concentrating on finding ways to use the food that I already have in my pantry and fridge, and will work on portion control.  But no foods are currently off limits in my world.  

I'm really feeling hopeful and motivated!  I don't have a huge goal in sight like the Grand Canyon trip or anything else.  Oh, but I did make a list of smaller weight-loss goals and corresponding rewards.  Sadly because of my last month of inactivity and eating whatever sounded good, I'm back up to 259 as of this morning, but I should be back down to the low 250s pretty quick after just being more active again and cooking more.  Anyway, here are my little goals and rewards (and the reward is "earned" when the scale says anything less than the number listed, i.e. 250 reward is earned at 249.8):

250 -- Pitch Perfect  (I love this movie!)

240 -- hair cut and color with Dawn (it's been ages!)

230 -- mani/pedi at an actual salon, not just one I do myself

220 -- massage

210 -- WiFi for my apartment 

200 -- flatscreen TV (yes, I still have an old cathode-ray TV that is PATHETIC)

190 -- shopping spree (I will probably need clothes before this, but I will definitely need more by this point)

180 -- new Fossil watch (I love the rose gold ones and think this one is my favorite)

After that, I'll have to reassess and figure out what my goal weight should be.  I think I graduated high school at 186 or something like that so I've never really been an adult at a healthy weight.  I have no idea what 180 would look like on me.  Weight Watchers says the ideal weight range for my height is 135 to 145, but that seems like I'd be really really frail.  I don't know.  Plus, I might be full of wrinkles once I lose all the fat in my face!  

So that's it for now!  Happy Holidays!