November Updates – Debt Repayment, Fitness/Running, and Wedding

Hi everyone – holy canoli, only 30 more days until we ring in the new year!  I’m starting to formulate some 2014 goals, so I think for December my goals are to “finish strong” financially and mostly fine tune some of those 2014 details (and realistically throw out some lofty or out-of-my-control ones).  Here’s what went down in November with things that I usually update about:

1) Debt repayment – I cannot tell a lie, I didn’t complete Michelle’s Black Friday Challenge and pay off my credit card debt, though she managed to pay off *two* so be sure to go over and congratulate her!  I did manage to pay off $300 which brings my total to $3789.  I’ll for sure pay off credit card by 2013, and thinking about just taking the remaining balance from my EF/savings and have all debts ($3789) completely paid off.  I figured why not start 2014 anew, I’d rather pay back myself than those darn companies, and the remaining is a balance that I feel somewhat comfortable parting with.  I always worry about poo hitting the fan, but know that if it came to that, B’s got my back.  Should I just do it?

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Why hello there, seasonal BFF!

2) Fitness – I’ve been somewhat following Jamie Eason’s workouts, and starting to see results strength-wise with frequenting heavier dumbbells more, as well as making gains in squats (though this is attributed to B, since I join him during “Leg Day” and he definitely pushes me past my comfort zone despite him being the most awful testosterone-driven meanie who tells me to suck it up when I whine about how heavy something is).  Physically, I’ve only lost a couple of pounds, but my clothes fit better at least.

3) Half-marathon training – I’m getting in 3-4 runs a week and my longest has been a 7 miler.  It’s been nice, but so chilly con carne outside!

4) Nutrition – this area could for sure use more work, especially with Trader Joe’s bringing back my seasonal BFF, dark chocolate covered shortbread cookies.  Nom to the nom!  Besides, isn’t it good for carb-loading for my runs?

And now, onto my favorite updates – the wedding!

1) DJ picked!  She’s given awesome ideas, such as introducing us to the Vitamin String Quartet of which I am *loving* their rendition of Viva La Vida.  We’re toying with the idea of playing them throughout the dinner and making it a game where our guests will guess which songs they are (like Bohemian Rhapsody, Thrift Shop, Don’t Stop Believin’).  It’s kinda cheesy, but also kinda us. 🙂

2) Florist picked!  Flowers aren’t really high on my priority list so I was having a mild heart attack at the cost of really simple flowers, but we found a really cool guy at practically half the price.  Not only that, but he took the time to leaf through pages and examples with me, explaining different flowers, and has beautiful ideas for my bouquet (a round and neat mix of anemones and lisianthus in deep purple, with specks of mini red roses).

3) Honeymoon taking shape.  I told B I really want to go to one area of South America, he agreed it would be awesome and wants to add on another area, and he’s starting to work on this aspect thanks to some oh-so-very-subtle hints I’ve given like “um, so you got this, right?” 😉  But in all seriousness, we both started working on this during the long weekend (him prior), so it’s been exciting.

IMG_20130927_164556_3304) Wedding dress fitting – I went for my first fitting and I absolutely can’t wait to wear it, and campaigning for Wedding Dress Fridays in lieu of Casual Fridays at work, so hopefully it’ll pan out. 😉 I heard that tailoring costs a pretty penny and this is accurate, but I was at least prepared for it.  I’m wondering how the the re-sell prospect will work out with how it’s being tailored since I’m tailoring the hem, as well as the hips/tush part so it’s less A-line and more form-fitting.  I think I’d have to sell locally so people can try it on to see if it works out for them.  I’ve also decided on these shoes, though will probably drop down to flats once we start dancing.

5) Hairstyle picked – I’m going for this hairstyle and I’m going with my usual hairstylist whom I love and trust.  I need to figure out make-up still.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week – so crazy that there’s only a few weeks left in 2013!  Make it some great ones. 🙂

I’m Over Budget in My Pants – Fall Slim Down Challenge

Not gonna lie, kinda the wake up call for this challenge

Not gonna lie, kinda the wake up call when my cousin posted this on FB

Over the summer, I got a bit too accustomed to wearing looser tops and dresses, which I loved in terms of comfort but now am feeling some of the repercussions of it.  Now that it’s Fall (minus the leaves turning gorgeous colors… but still, it’s closed toe shoes time in SoCal) and I’m now wearing more form-fitting sweaters and jeans, it’s feeling too snuggly-wuggly for my taste.  In some jeans, there’s muffin top action going on, so apparently, I’ve been slipping up with my eating.  And, if I’m honest with myself, with my workouts, too, as I’ve shortened my workouts in order to get into work earlier.

Though I know it could possibly change as various stages of life go on, where I’m at now, I’m still in the school of thought that the answer is to not buy the next size up, but rather work with what I have in terms of clothes and trim down.  It’s kind of like working with a, oh hey – budget! 😉  So that’s exactly what I plan to do – challenge myself to slim down and trim up during Fall.  Nothing crazy, probably 10 or so pounds, though I’m more focused on getting leaner than numbers.

Since it’s still way too dark for my comfort level even at 6:30 a.m., I’m going to do most of my workouts at the gym.  Also, since my wedding dress is pretty arm and shoulder baring, I’d also like to focus on more upper body strength training since I’d like the event to be part-wedding, part-gun-show. 😉  So in order to accomplish this, I’m going to follow Jamie Eason’s program.  If you don’t know who she is, Jamie Eason is a super knowledgeable and motivating fitness model, who is so incredibly inspiring (she beat cancer) and likable, that it’s hard to not have respect for her.  I’m going to go ahead and skip to Phase 2, though, since Phase 1 has no cardio so I suppose I loosely followed this last month.  I like the workouts in Phase 2, as it has a hybrid of cardio and strength training, plus it’s with the frequency I usually do workouts, anyway – I just now have a set plan each day rather than winging it (and half-assing it).

More importantly, I’m following the diet plan, since workouts are important, but it’s more so what you put in your mouth the other 22-23 hours outside of working out!  I’m not worried about giving up booze or going out to eat (if I do, there’s a lot of healthy options these days), though sweets will be a challenge.  It’s also interesting to know that my friends who are pregnant but have gestational diabetes (it sounds like it will go away once they give birth, though) follow a program similar to this, so I suppose I have a nutritional support network there of sorts!

I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be posting updates on this, but I will at least post again after Phase 2.  I’ve previously had struggles with getting too obsessive with this kind of stuff in the past that I won’t bother rehashing, so this is the main reason why I don’t want to think/post about it too frequently (plus, it gets kind of boring).  Still, though I know I’m not obese, I do know what it’s like to not be at my level of feeling really confident, so I’m going to give this a shot.  B, who is pretty muscular and stocky but apparently blames my cooking for him putting some pounds on, also wants to look smokin’ for our wedding, so he’s all for this challenge (though he does more advanced workouts).  He’s actually already slimmed down like 5 pounds within days, which makes me want to stab him (lovingly, of course ;)).

Anyway, if anyone else wants to do this or some variance of a Fall Slim Down Challenge, I’d love to know.  It’s always nice when someone out there has the same goals as you.

Frugal Fitness Ideas While Traveling

Often times, I’ve heard friends or colleagues say how they fell off the fitness wagon due to a business trip or vacation they just came from.  Though I certainly understand that business trips can make for long days and that it’s way more fun to relax on the beach, I still think squeezing in a workout in is possible despite not being in your normal schedule or surroundings.  Here are some ideas for fitting in fitness while traveling… read the rest of article (and other bloggers’ great ideas)!

May Goals Update and New Prospective Venue

Hey beautiful, do you believe in love at first sight or do I have to walk past you again?  Everyone feeling awkward yet? 🙂

So it’s the end of May, and I paid down $528 of my debt.  Not as amazeballs as previous months, but given some splurges and car repairs, it is what it is.  I thought I’d also share how I did on my May goals:

1) Run 80 miles, with 2 “speed” sessions (speed to me, at least) – Pass, contingent upon me completing my 5 and 3 miler tomorrow and Friday.  I’m loving how it’s already light out by 5 a.m., which helps me sneak in both running and lifting before I have to go to work.

2) More weights sessions, 2 upper body (arms, chest, back, abs) and 2 lower body (legs, booty, lower back, abs) per week – PASS!  I’ll probably focus more on this in June, since I love me some tank tops.

3)  2 sweets a week – PASS!  Even with the evil temptresses at work who give me their leftover candy.

4) Stick to or go under $600 in expenses (groceries, going out, gas, gifts, miscellaneous), and meet a 25% want metric – FAIL, with total at $633.25.  I’m kinda close, but no cigar.  I also spent over $400 on my splurges, but honestly, I loved it – my toiletries are fully stocked, I got my hair did, and I have contacts for the rest of the year.  I reassessed my retainers and think it can last a few more months (especially after seeing my friend’s busted looking retainers, which I happily clowned them on), so I didn’t buy any.

5) Study Spanish for at least 1 hour, 3 times a week – Passed on my hours, Failed on three times a week.  In the beginning of the month, my friend was getting married who was a major bridezilla enthusiastically detail-oriented, so I helped out which took up a lot of my free time.  I still managed to study, though, especially since we’re leaning towards South America for our honeymoon.

6) Veggies in every meal, including breakfast, at least 4 days a week – PASS!  This was easy, though, since egg quiches are easy to make.  I’ve been in the habit of having a cooking marathon on a weekend day so it’s less work during the week.

For June, I think I might take a break from any set goals, though I do still plan on running and lifting, as well as keeping on track with a budget and learning Spanish.  As for wedding plans, we found a new place that, where the previous one we mutually agreed upon, this place we’re mutually excited about.  The reception venue is slightly offbeat, kinda geeky, and fairly casual – ya know, 100% us!  I’ll update once it’s confirmed.

I hope everyone has a great rest of the week!

April Midpoint Check-In

I’ve been glued to the latest news of the Boston explosions recently – as much as it sickens me that some malicious asshole(s) did this, I am glad to see and read about the tales of heroism and kindness during the aftermath.  These stories have moved me to tears, and restores any doubt in my faith in humanity.  Rather than try to say anything about it, I’ll just defer to Patton Oswalt who stated it best.

Anyway, I am a couple of days late for my midpoint check in of my April goals, but here’s my progress so far (probably click for better view):

April_midpoint

1) Run 75 miles, with 2 hill repeats sessions on Torrey Pines – on track with 58% miles completed and 1 hill session!  My achilles have been hurting lately, though, so I might lower mileage next month and add spin classes or “Stairway to Hell” (aka revolving staircase) sessions.

2) Meet all the calisthenic metrics (burpees, side planks with push-ups, walking lunges, push-ups), and 4 each of back/bi, chest/tri, delts/legs sessions – aside from push-ups, I think I’m fairly on target.  Knowing that I have to report it has motivated me to get up earlier so I can complete my running and lifting sessions, so that’s pretty cool.

3) 12 sweets this month – ruh-oh, Shaggy, I’m 2/3 into my Scooby snack “rations” for the month.  The beginning of the month was stressful work-wise, which probably explains my stress eating during that time period.  Not sweating this part, yet.

4) Stick to or go under $600 in expenses (groceries, going out, gas, gifts, miscellaneous), and meet a 25% want metric – man, apparently I’ve been a little crazy with spending.  If I stayed home for the rest of the month, I would be okay, but this weekend I’m going to OC to help some family members move (part of my family drama from before), and I have a feeling I’ll be footing any meal bills (plus I need to pay for gas to get up there).  I can control most of the grocery bills at home, though, so maybe it’ll balance out in the end, or at least not have it be so high.

5) Study Spanish for at least 10 hours – even though I use this spreadsheet on a daily basis, I spaced on this goal.  Unless watching “Amorres Perros” for the 156th time counts?  Didn’t think so.  How about listening to Spanish music on my runs?  No?  Man, you’re a tough judge… I’ll make it up.

6) 4 new healthy recipes – yes, kind of, since some of these recipes aren’t full on healthy or too easy to make, so I’ll try out more this month.  A friend and I brought brunch to a couple who recently had a baby, so I made egg mini frittatas (from leftover Easter ham) and gluten-free waffles with blueberries for them (holy crap, gf flour is expensive!).  I also tried this chicken and quinoa dish (super yums), as well as this mini-pizza muffin recipe, again with leftover Easter ham.  For dessert, I’m trying to find lower-fat stuff since B and I both have a sweet tooth, and tried this pudding and graham cracker recipe out (minus the cool whip and using nonfat milk).  It was pretty tasty and letting it sit overnight gave the graham cracker a cake-y texture.  I’m going to try it with vanilla pudding and strawberries next.

How are your April goals going so far?  Any suggestions for May goals?

Losing Weight and Paying Off Debt

I was thinking lately about how a lot of the tactics I put into losing weight are fairly similar to how I’m handling my debt payoff.  There’s been a few bloggers who have written about the correlation between keeping both physically and financially fit, and most recently Cash Rebel wrote about the positive feedback cycle from keeping track of both, so I thought I’d put in my two cents on the topic:

1) Treating food, and money, as fuel – I tend to have an addictive personality, and much like I emotionally ate, I also emotionally spent in excess.  However, when that “light bulb” moment came when I decided to lose weight, I started letting go of my emotional attachments to food, and started to view it as fuel.  And although I still obtain enjoyment from it since I have the Biggest Sweet Tooth This Side of the Mississippi(tm), I predominantly still view food to help me improve my physical being and health.  The same can be said with money – after I stopped my emotional codependence to shopping, I started to view it as fuel to help me obtain necessities in life.  Sure, I’ll still like some nice things once in awhile, but overall I am (starting) to view it as a mere commodity to help me sustain or improve my quality of life (and not inflate it).

2) Making food, and money, work for you – Mr. 1500 recently wrote a post about making money work for you.  Hopefully I don’t botch up his premise, but he’s essentially stating that with one dollar, you can either spend it on something fleeting, or you can invest it and give it a chance to grow and work for you.  I agree with this notion, and slowly implementing it in my daily actions, and feel it’s the same way with food/calories.  You can either eat something with empty calories and have it do nothing for you (or perhaps even be a disservice), or you can eat healthful foods that work for you so that you build muscle, improve your circulation or skin, and keep you lean.

3) Drinking “free calories” and finding free stuff to do – a popular weight-loss notion is that if you’re considering eating something, to drink some water first because you might just be thirsty.  Since learning this, I drink a lot of water and more often than not it fills me up just fine.  The best part is that it’s free, and it helps with my skin tone and activities since I’m well hydrated.  I kind of feel it’s the same with finding free activities – there’s a lot of simple pleasures out there that are free, whether it be a nice hike or reading a book, and it’s a good feeling to know that you didn’t pay for said simple pleasures, and that you still feel overall satisfied.

4) Eat Less/Move More, Spend Less/Make More – pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re trying to lose weight, there really is no magical formula other than eat less (and below your “maintenance” range) and move more.  Well, if you’re trying to pay off debt, it’s the same thing – spend below your means and try to think of extra ways to make money.  With the former, I suppose you have to strike a balance since you don’t want to go to any extreme, but for the most part that principle rings true in both cases.

5) Getting a realistic view of what you really need in life, both in calories and money – when I got serious about losing weight, I signed up to join Weight Watchers, and it gave me an idea of what portion sizes are/looked like and educated me on calorically dense foods, but didn’t frown upon the occasional taco so long as I kept at the calorie range (or “points”) for the day.  It was during those few months when I realized – you really don’t need to eat a lot, and restaurants these days have made portion sizes so out of control that “true” sizes look miniscule in comparison.  After unlearning disproportionate portions, and re-learning what true sizes actually are, I was able to lose weight a lot quicker since it clicked that I’m still eating full meals, just not gigantic ones where I’m overeating.  I think it’s the same with money – before, I always seemed to feel that I never had “enough” money which is why I was always in debt.  But now, since I’ve unlearned that I don’t need to do all this out of control spending to keep up with the Joneses, I can get a better grasp of what I actually need versus what I think I did.  The result is that I’m learning to live within or below my means since I’ve actualized what the portion size of my expenses really are, and paying off my debt quicker by doing so.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m human and still enjoy gluttonous splurges.  A strategy that’s really helped me out is the 80%/20% rule, in that I eat clean and keep fit 80% of the time, but allow a 20% “free pass” to eat sweets/savories or take some down time.  Well, I think the same can be said for personal finance once I’m relieved of my debt – to live below my means and invest 80% of the time, but allow for splurges that are important to me, like travel and clothes, for 20% of the time (Hrm, maybe 90%/10%, since I can’t wait to throw more money into investing).

Are there other times when you think they’re similar?

Observations at the Gym (or, Unsent Memos to My Fellow Gym Patrons)

someecards.com - If you're on the treadmill next to me, the answer is yes, we are racing.

To the guy who does 50 crunches and then goes to the mirror, lifts up his shirt, and checks out his abs – the body does not transform that quickly after a set.  Take a human physiology class.

To the girl wearing Gucci shades on the stepmill – it is not night time, why are you wearing your stunna glasses?  Especially when you did not wear them in the locker room.

To the gal reading a book and going 1.5 mph on the treadmill – if you do not have a drop of sweat on you after 30 minutes of that, it might be helpful to go a bit faster.

To the guy(s) grunting and groaning when lifting weights – if I can hear you over my music that is at 90%, I feel like your grunting volume is just really gratuitous at that point.

To the overly enthusiastic spin instructor – perhaps one Monster before class is sufficient?

To the girl who is eating peanut M&M’s on the stepmill – am I seeing what I think I’m seeing?  Is this real life??

To the guy going lightning fast while skipping rope – wow, you are impressively fast!  And you are so graceful, not messing  up once!  Was that a double flick of the wrist??  You are on fire… oh but wait, you forgot the rope.

To the guy who lifts up his shirt to wipe the sweat off his face – yes, your abs are delicious, but it’s okay to use a towel.  It’s that cloth hanging from your shorts.

To the gal doing 50 reps on the assisted pull-ups – when you’re 110 and the weights are at 100, you might not be challenging yourself enough.

To the guy who put away the 30 pound dumbbells – so when the place you put them on reads “10,” that is not where you should put them.

To the guy working out next to me – I put my towel there to signify that I’m  both using that area to work out in and I like personal space.  Or, you can just step on my towel, that’s cool.

And just in case everyone thinks I am greater than thou – rest assured I do not think that!  Here’s what I think their unsent memos might be:

To the girl who always wears a black tank and Nike shorts – please tell me that you have more than one set of those clothes.  (Yes, I do!  I just don’t want to think about matching thankyouverymuch)

To the girl running on the treadmill – why do you prance when you run?  Are you a show pony or trying to win Best in Show? (B’s actual observation of me, grrr)

To the girl who sweats standing still let alone becomes a drenched rat after a cardio session – um, can you go in the corner so you lessen the “splash zone” around you, please? (Main reason why I run outdoors!)

Obviously, this is a product of trying to find free hobbies during my spending abstinence…