Home > Archive: July, 2022
Archive for July, 2022
July 23rd, 2022 at 09:19 pm
Sometimes things at work calm down for both July and August, but this year, August is getting pretty booked, so it looks as though July is basically my summer "down" time, and I'm really only realizing this as it is drawing to a close.
I do have several more PTO days I can take this year; just need to figure out a reasonable way to schedule them. Generally taking a 3-day weekend (or expanding a 3-day weekend into 4 days) works best for R&R. *Nothing* really seems to work for decluttering, other than my friend coming to visit once a year. Tomorrow and next weekend will thus be busy preparing to make my home less cluttered before her visit the first weekend of August. I DO intend to make decluttering a major focus for next year. I don't seem to be able to take on more than one major non-work goal at a time at the moment given limitations both of my work schedule and my energy levels, which are impacted by Hashimoto's even though my TSH levels are normal (even improved, all while the thyroid antibodies have worsened).
So "summer" means actually making more of an effort to see and do things with friends, seeing people maybe once a week rather than maybe once every six weeks. Now and the holidays are the only times most of my friends hear from me. I did call one of my friends today whom I haven't spoken to in a year or so; she told me that she turns 75 this fall and her husband turns 80, which is sort of startling since when we met, she was in her 40s and he was in his early 50s. Makes you realize how time flies.
As a single person and one of the few people in my local friend group who is not already retired, it means that I have to make an effort to reach out and arrange things--and these days, I generally don't have the energy that I did in my 40s and early 50s. Since most of my friends are retired, they usually get together for lunch or to see a matinee when I'm working. I'll have to make efforts to expand my friend group, but one thing at a time. Last year, CFP exam; this year, focus on health, next year, decluttering so I have a place I feel good about inviting people over to, and THEN a focus on the social.
I've had a few dinners with friends, including last night and tomorrow night. One of my friends owns my favorite local restaurant, so tomorrow night, I am going over to her restaurant (which is closed on Sundays) for a private dinner with her and her husband, and then we are going to see Where the Crawdads Sing at a nearby movie theatre--my first visit to a movie theatre since COVID began.
I also uses the summer time to catch up on doctor's visits. I still need to get glasses following my eye doctor visit back in May. And I had my annual primary care visit last week, generally all good news except mildly elevated LDL cholestorol, and then those TPO antibody numbers (which were based on a test that *I* ordered; he just ordered TSH and free T4). A couple of friends had suggested that I might try going on Levothyroxine at a low level to see if it would reduce the fatigue and brain fog, but my primary care doctor didn't want to do that since my TSH numbers are normal and even improved. I DID decide to change endocrinologists and will be seeing the Head of Endocrinology at the local hospital, who a friend recommended, but I'll have to wait until Oct. 25 to see him.
In the meantime, I realized that my increase in thyroid antibodies directly tracks with an increase in dairy consumption. I've decreased my carbs and increased protein to lose weight, and a lot of the increased protein has been one or two servings of Greek yogurt each day. So I decided to eliminate dairy and retest my antibodies in another 6 weeks.
Another summer experiment is that I just purchased a "Slack Block," a device for balance training. This is a purchase I have been toying with for a couple of years, and, after hearing my friend today talk about the balance problems that both she and her husband have, and having had 3 of my colleagues who still have living parents had a parent hospitalized this year after a fall, I've decided that it is better to start being proactive about this before I develop any problems. (I don't have any balance problems, but neither do I currently have the strength to stand up from the floor without using any hands whatsoever....at best, I can stand without putting a hand on the floor but I do need to brace a hand on my knee to stand up--and I can only do this on one side.)
July 6th, 2022 at 01:33 pm
I'm on my last day of a 5-day "weekend." The two major accomplishments are making some progress towards my continuing professional education requirements for the year (I need to average 40 hours a year, and had only completed 4 as of 6/30; 4 more added and another 6 in progress), and taking a concrete step on my health and fitness journey by deciding to join Planet Fitness.
I had been looking at two more expensive options (and I haven't ruled either out yet for a short period later), but I decided that Planet Fitness is an affordable place to start, and if I want additional help, I can add that on later.
There are two PF locations within 3 miles of me; I visited both on Sunday. One had slightly higher ratings on Yelp and I was initially leaning towards joining that location, but after visiting both, I ended up joining the other. It's only half a mile closer but the commute time each way is 5 minutes less and the parking lot is far, far nicer at the location I joined. It's a funny criterion, but parking in a "real" parking lot near the entry feels far nicer than parking in a vacant lot where you have to walk past a vacant store front to get to the gym entrance. I joined on Monday, worked out on the cardio machines, and then went back on Tuesday for the "formal" new member orientation and to meet with the club's trainer to set up a program.
Since I have more discretionary time during the next two months than I will during the rest of the year, I opted to start at the "black card" (higher cost membership) that allows you access to the "spa" area with hydromassagers, tanning boths, and a red light/vibration plate booth, as well as the ability to bring a friend. The plan is to keep this level for three months and then downgrade to the $10/month level for the rest of the year. I do have one friend who I haven't seen much the past few years who I think would go along with me to the gym and would help with reconnection. Our previous connections have mostly been on various fitness ventures, but she is far fitter than I, and a year ago, I injured myself trying to keep up with her, and since then, we haven't connected much. Plus the massagers are pleasant. I stopped having "real" massages after having a reaction to the oil used at the last massage I had, so this is a reasonable alternative.
I was surprised to find out that PF has *free* personal training. Every other gym I have belonged to, (and this is the 8th gym I have joined in this area during the past 30 years, and the 10th in my lifetime) you joined the gym and then the trainer tried to upsell you on personal coaching. But I met with the trainer yesterday and he told me that his services are free with your membership. So I am starting on a 3 times a week schedule meeting with him, focusing on strength training and learning proper form. I suspect I will only keep this up over the summer months, but hopefully it will give me momentum and confidence to keep going on my own afterwards.
And of course, hopefully I won't catch COVID by increasing my exposure this way. I will definitely have to start keeping greater track of case counts again now that I will have increased exposure risk.
First real training session tonight!
Also, today FitBit rolled out a new feature, Sleep Profiles, which analyze your long-term sleep patterns over the course of a month. They have ten different metrics, which they then group into "sleep animals" to give you a sense of the overall pattern. I learned that I am a "hedgehog," which refers to a cycle where you fall asleep later and wake up earlier, leading to shorter sleep duration, and typically lower REM and deep sleep cycles. The more alarming part is seeing your comparison to the typical range and to the ideal. I'm in the ideal range on only 2 of 10 variables, bedtime (before 11:30) and time to fall asleep (20 minutes), and out of the typical range on the variability of my sleep schedule and my sleep duration (5 hours & 24 minutes). I like this because it gives me a concrete target to focus on in improving my sleep--getting to bed earlier more consistently. It will be interesting to see if I can make a dent in my long-term patterns in this area.
July 2nd, 2022 at 09:37 pm
We're over the hump and on the downswing for the year! Always a good time to stop and re-assess.
Financially, of course, my retirement plan balances have seen a decrease, counterbalanced somewhat by increases in the "comp" value of my home. We did get a bonus, which I used to pay down debt. As of 6/30, my assets are down 4.9% for the year (all due to retirement plan assets being down), my debts were down 10.6%, and overall, my net worth was down 6%.
But the key is really in the ratios. On 12/31, my debt to equity ratio was 10.71%, and now it is 9.8%. And my asset to liability ratio was 10.33, and now it is 11.3. Having gotten to a point where my debts (liabilities) are a much smaller portion of my net worth makes me feel like I have reached a tipping point, even if the absolute dollar value of my net worth is down a bit. [For reference, a decade ago, my debts were 23.4% of my net worth and my assets were 5.3 times my liabilities.]
Now we'll see what the second half of the year holds. The average bear market is nine months, and it's unlikely that we'll see the very sharp recovery that we saw after March 2020, so it's possible that the entire year will end up down compared to 12/31/2021--but I expect to meet and possibly even exceed my debt reduction goal, assuming (knock on wood!) no major veterinary expenses for Miss Buffy or big home/car repairs. So even if my retirement plan balance doesn't fully recover, I expect my debt to equity and asset to liability ratios to improve. I've got a 5 to 8 year period until I retire (and even after retirement, it is likely that I will work part of the year doing tax prep for at least a few years), and I expect all my current debt to be paid off by retirement, so I'm not too worried.
I walked (and jogged!) 1,757,874 steps during the first half of the year, exceeding my goal of walking at least 9,500 steps a day. I have not yet consistently added in strength and mobility training, so that is a goal for Q3. My weight is 13.8 pounds lower than at the beginning of the year (and 32 pounds lower than it was about a year ago, around the time I took the CFP exam). Increasing sleep remains elusive.
No progress on my estate plan yet; I will work on organizing things during July and August, which are my lightest months of the year at work.
Only slight progress on decluttering; that is another July/August project. As long as the old dryer and refrigerator are still working, I will hold off on replacing them.
I have off through Wednesday, so I'll have some time to work on some of these "personal" projects, but mostly I hope to get some rest.