Viewing the 'fitness' Category
December 3rd, 2023 at 08:54 pm
So I accomplished one of my 2023 goals last weekend. I completed the town's Turkey Trot 5k! And I wasn't even last. There were about 550 runners, and I was 3rd from last. All 3 of the last in were women over 60 and I was 17/19 in that sub-group.
I'm taking my running back indoors for the winter but I'll probably aim to run 3 5ks next year.
Otherwise I spent a few hours of Thanksgiving Day with a friend's family. It's nice not having to think about where to go (I have a standing invitation to Thanksgiving at her house), but I also felt as though I would have been fine on my own for the day.
When I was in my 20s and on my own for Thanksgiving for the first time (I was in Michigan in grad school and my family was in Los Angeles and it didn't really make sense to go home just for the weekend, especially so near the end of the semester), finding a place to spend Thanksgiving was a big issue, and it was something that I worried about well into midlife. But these days, I actually feel as though so much of my free time is taken up by thinking about things relevant to work and that I'd rather have some truly free time to myself rather than fulfill a social obligation.
Other news: I still haven't made any additional progress in decluttering since my friend's visit in August--and, predictably, the dining room table is a mess again.
In particular, the "cat room" (storage room/someday guest bedroom/study/workout space) is a mess.
Meanwhile my best friend in town, who has been retired for over 15 years, has been feeding feral cats around her house. One of those moved indoors a couple of years ago. Another lives in a heated bed she keeps on her porch. Both are females. The indoor one is friendly and the outdoor one is not.
Then there is a young male who is very affectionate who has now moved into her cellar, who she refers to as "your (i.e., MY) next cat." He seems interested in meeting her indoor kitty, which is a good sign. Meanwhile it is my busy time of year and I don't have time to clear things out or organize! My schedule is light the last two weeks of the year--maybe then?
I'm also still paying off Buffy's final expenses, and I had intended to adopt two kitties together so they could keep each other company because I do spend lots of time at work--especialy this time of year. My heart is ready for more pets but the house isn't. Unsure what I'm going to do.
January 1st, 2023 at 11:18 pm
Time for a fresh start!
I've updated my goals in my sidebar for 2023.
Here are results for 2022 and thoughts for 2023:
Health: I lost weight during the first 3 quarters of the year but regained 8 pounds during the last quarter, so need to lose that again. I was pretty consistent with activity and came just shy of my goal of 4 miles on average per day (based on total step count), for an average of 3.89 miles daily and 1,422 miles for the year. I'm aiming for 1,500 miles in 2023, just a slight increase. However, one of 2022's gains was that I started jogging, so I'm focusing more on intensity rather than just distance. I want to continue the jogging and might try a 5k this fall. I also started working out twice a week with a personal trainer back in September and that has also helped improve my fitness. I'll continue the one on one sessions for at least another quarter and might try moving to a group class later in the year to save $. But for now, the fact that I'm working myself harder than I would EVER work out on my own WITHOUT injury is enough to keep me with the one on one sessions.
Wealth: Overall net worth is down about 18k due to the markets. Debt down about 4k for the year. I changed my retirement savings strategy slightly: instead of saving 22% of my salary, with all of the savings going to the regular 401(k), I reduced my savings to 20% of my salary, with 10% going to the traditional 401(k) and 10% going to the Roth option. Since I expect to be in the 25% tax bracket in retirement, the after-tax effect is a net increase to after-tax retirement savings. I will look at this again once we get our annual salary adjustments, which are announced in February and take effect in March.
Systems, Habits, & Routines I didn't make much progress here OTHER than in the regular exercise habit, so I'm stepping up the priority for 2023. I'm spending my break doing some decluttering, which I want to be a bigger focus for 2023. The goal is to spend 2 hours each weekend day tackling a task--that's over 100 hours during the year.
Over the holiday, I completely emptied out my freezer, refrigerator, top of the refrigerator, and microwave cart and steam cleaned the refrigerator and microwave before restocking the refrigertor and freezer. Then tonight I'll be cleaning out my 2021 annual files to make room for 2023. I bought an accordian file for any 2021 paperwork that I want to keep in archives, such as correspondence received (tax information is stored separately). (I use the Freedom Filer system (https://www.freedomfiler.com/pages/filing-system-demos) with a 24-month purging cycle.)
I'm starting by tackling the low-hanging fruit, but I'm also planning to allocate some money and time over the summer to hire help to make some more rapid progress. Each year, I have a friend who visits over the summer and I take a couple of days off and get the most-used rooms of my house presentable for my guest, but each year, the clutter resurfaces because I'm doing more moving things around rather than moving them OUT. I have two major storage areas in my house, the spare bedroom and the basement, and I end up just moving more stuff in there rather than moving it out of the house altogether. This year, I'd like to move stuff OUT of the spare bedroom to make it an actual usable room rather than a storage area. I have a friend who's living on disability and what she can make from selling things at flea markets when she feels well enough. In the spring, I will see if she can sell some stuff for me (and she can keep the proceeds for her trouble). For anything she doesn't think she can sell, it'll be worth it to me to hire one of those services like Dr. Clutter to move stuff out. For the moment, I'm piling stuff in the basement and then when the weather warms up, I'll actually move it out of the house.
October 23rd, 2022 at 09:50 pm
I haven't blogged here in about two months, so just some quick updates focused on changes since my last blog post.
1. Changes to retirement plan contributions: I made a change to my retirement plan contributions. I had been contributing 20% to my 401(k) and 3% to my Roth 401(k). I changed the total contribution to just 20%, but now it is 10% to the traditional 401(k) and 10% to the Roth 401(k). That increases my Roth balance and gives me about $50 more cash to spend each month. I will reassess next year after we get our annual pay adjustments.
2. Personal trainer: After losing weight pretty steadily for a year (32 pounds), I came to a plateau. I know that one of the elements that has been missing in my health routine has been regular strength training. I had joined Planet Fitness to address this, but the trainer that I was working with there had some health problems of his own and missed appointments plus I got bored with it after about 6 weeks. I haven't yet canceled but what I did do was to find a personal trainer at a Cross-Fit gym near my house and I am working out with her twice a week. This isn't cheap but I'm learning more about form and I am being pushed beyond what I would do on my own. In addition to a Cross-Fit certification, my trainer also works as a Physical Therapy Assistant at the local hospital, so I feel reassured that she has good credentials and won't push me in a way that will lead to any injury. Plus, I just relate so much better to a woman trainer than to a man. I did lose another couple of pounds off my plateau after starting with her. At the moment, I've gained those back temporarily as we just had our company retreat this week, which threw my schedule and eating totally off, but 3 separate people who hadn't seen me since July noted that I *looked* thinner since they last saw me, so I'll take that.
Looking at my 2022 goal, I can see that I'm close on my step count to my goal of 9,500 steps a day on average--the current average since 1/1 is 9,471. I'm sure I can increase that by at least 29 steps by year end (maybe even by 529 steps).
3. Work--We had our annual company retreat, here in Pennsylvania. Usually the PA team travels to our company's main office in Richond VA, but this time, the VA crew came here, which I enjoyed. We spent part of our time at our company office but we also went to a lovely retreat center in the woods for half a day, which was inspiring.
The tax "extension" deadline is passed, thank goodness. I had a 396-page draft of a tax return dropped on my desk on Wednesday the 12th to review, then the 392-page revision arrived Thursday evening. I have a little bit of a break before the year-end planning gets heavy. And my calendar always gets filled up with meetings towards year-end. November will be a pretty busy month.
4. Wealth: Obviously with the markets down, it's not been a good year for my portfolio balances. Debt is a little higher than I would like, but in general moving in the right direction. I have been fortunate (knock on wood!!!) that I've been able to avoid big veterinary, car repair, or home repair bills this year. Also I haven't yet replaced the refrigerator or dryer, as I'd intended. So far they are each holding up.
July 6th, 2022 at 02:33 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 10:37 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.
April 2nd, 2022 at 04:51 pm
It's been a very hectic quarter work-wise. I had 28% more meetings this year compared with last, plus more tax projections to do, and I am BURNED OUT. I have another horrid week this coming week but I am taking Thursday and Friday off. While generally I like my job, the thing that I dislike is that I have very little control over my schedule. Meetings get scheduled for me and are based first (of course) on the client's needs and second on the lead advisor's needs, and my needs are not taken into account (we don't use the term, but I am essentially a "sub-advisor.") I work with 3 lead advisors who don't really bother to coordinate with each other (even though we all can see each other's schedules)--it's on me to say, "wait a minute, I already have 5 meetings that week, please don't schedule any more for me" and I might or might not end up making a difference.
But things should calm down a lot from the second half of this month until September, at least.
As far as my goals--I *have* lost 3 inches off my waist and a solid 10 #s in Q1, getting close to 25 pounds overall since I started focusing on my health back in August after finishing the CFP exam. I haven't done the intermittant fasting yet this year, but I will probably get back to it once the weather gets warmer. I've been doing it on and off since 2016, and I always end up falling off the plan once the weather cools just as my schedule ramps up in the fall, and then I usually get back to it in the summer, when it's warmer and less hectic at work.
I walked 879,345 steps in Q1 per my FitBit, which is 9,770 steps a day, which slightly exceeds my goal. Strength training, though, has been minimal--I do some light weights and some TRX exercises rather sporadically. I'll focus on that for Q2 once I can get back to a gym.
I'm hoping that *this* is my year for weight loss and that I can take off (and KEEP OFF) at least another 30 pounds this year.
Wealth: Thanks to the bonus we got last month, I am actually within a hair's breadth of reaching my orignal year-end goal of 70k total debt, and I should reach that goal within the next month, so I'll hope to get the year-end total closer to 60k debt. After several years where I'd pay down debt and then have emergencies and incur more debt, I'm hoping that this debt reduction is "real."
Of course, my kitty just turned 17 this week, and there is always the possibility of major expenses for her, but I am knocking on wood that she stays stable. I spent last weekend going over to a friend's house twice daily to help her administer subcutaneous fluids to her cat and talking with her while she made the decision to put the cat down, so this is very salient right now.
No progress yet on systems/habits/and routines goals other than getting into the habit of regular exercise and logging my food. Will need to wrap my head around getting the household more organized but not until after I've had a break and am not longer feeling so wiped out.
August 6th, 2021 at 11:41 pm
I took the day off work today and headed north into the Poconos about 90 minutes to meet up with fellow SA blogger Patient Saver. This is about the fifth or so F2F get-together we have had. We both started on SA around the same time in 2006, and met in person for the first time a decade ago when I was driving to New England for a cousin's wedding and realized that I would be driving by where PS lived. That first visit was a meet-up and walk as a break on my drive back to PA from New England, but since then I have visited and stayed over at PS's house, and once we booked rooms at the same B&B in the Poconos. In recent years as we both have older kitties with health problems, we opted to meet for day at a town near where PA, NJ, and NY converge.
The last time we did this was in 2019, and we took a hike to a nearby water fall, did a walking tour downtown and had lunch at a restaurant in town that had been originally opened by a chef from Delmonico's in NYC. This time, with PS having an injured knee, we rented bicycles and headed out to the trail that runs along the Delaware River. I will confess that I was VERY nervous about this, as I had not been on a bike in over a decade, and I'm even more out of shape than usual since I've spent so much time in recent months hunkered down studying for the CFP exam. We didn't get tremendously far (certainly not the 7 or so miles the guy at the bike store estimated we would be able to do before hitting a construction point where the trail is currently blocked), but we did a few miles and I survived and even re-mastered shifting on the bike (which was a 7-speed; my own bike is a 21-speed). I know that PS was up to go further, and I am grateful that she was gracious about my limitations. Maybe after getting back on my own bike and getting much more in shape than I am currently, I'll be able to manage the longer ride.
I'm ridiculously proud of myself for having done this even at the same time as I am embarrassed at my abysmal performance. If you don't push yourself outside your comfort zone, it will just continue to shrink. I know my comfort zone shrank during the pandemic when I spent over a year not driving further than 12 miles from home. So even a 90 minute drive is still more of a challenge than it used to be, when I wouldn't think twice about it. This time, I took my car to the shop and had my annual safety inspection done beforehand "just in case."
After the bike ride, we ate lunch at a nearby seafood restaurant, blissfully uncrowded and blissfully air-conditioned. We both treated ourselves to dessert after our exertions. Then we went and explored some antique stores, which reminded me a lot of my grandparents, both because many of the contents were from the era of the contents in my grandparents' home and because my grandfather owned a stall in an indoor antique-mart for about a decade as a retirement career, and I thus spent a lot of time roaming around antique stores as a child.
It was good to catch up with PS in person and I'm glad that she pushed me outside my comfort zone even if I whined and complained a lot!
July 18th, 2020 at 05:54 pm
The last time I blogged here, we had just been put on shut-down orders.
I've now been back at the office for a month, although I'm working around the person whose desk is nearest mine. That's still 10' away, so not too scary. Her son works at a grocery store, though, so I worry that she is the likeliest person in our office to have an asymptomatic exposure. Over the summer she is part-time, so she works at the office 1 day a week and I'm in the other 4. Once school starts in another 5 weeks, I'll have to work with her there. Hopefully the case numbers will be going down again by then.
We're just beginning to do client meetings in person, but so far I am able to participate in those by Zoom, and as a business centered around client meetings, I imagine that we will see some of our clients who prefer to meet that way all or most of the time going forward.
The stay-at-home orders did lead to a bit of weight gain after about 2 months, so I went back to intermittent fasting as of 5/28 and lost the weight I had gained and then some. I'm hoping to make IF a permanent lifestyle. We'll see how I feel about that in the fall when the weather cools. I first tried IF in 2016 and again in 2017 and in 2018, each time falling off the wagon in the winter. My appetite seems to roar back in the mornings in cold weather. So we'll see what happens this year. I really do want to make it long term and continue to lose weight. I turn 60 next month and have a certain goal weight I want to make it to by then. I've plateaued the past week, which is frustrating since I was making steady progress until then. Anyways, if I can keep this going as a permanent lifestyle change, I would get to my ideal weight next year and then just focus on keeping it there.
Speaking of weight, the pandemic has certainly led to a change in my eating habits. I've long gone out for meals 2-4 times a week, and out to the grocery store weekly. Now the last time I set foot in a restaurant was March 8th and into a grocery store March 19th. I've had a couple of months where I didn't do take-out; now I do it occasionally but not more than once a week. And instead of the grocery store, I'm mostly relying on one of the meal delivery services, Hungryroot, for my shopping. I like this service more than most meal deliveries because they are delivering to you *prepared ingredients* (pre-cooked meats, pre-chopped veggies, prepared sauces) that you then mix and heat for a meal. The "recipes" (if you can call them that) take about 5 minutes, and the cooked meats don't seem to have a lot of chemicals and the sauces often have a chickpea based since the company started out as vegetarian only. Then I supplement this with extra veggies from farmers I know who usually sell to NYC restaurants; they started an online store when the NYC restaurants shut down and so far have maintained it. There's also a home milk delivery service that I use about once a month to get cheese, yogurt, cream, and some additional meats. So I've avoided stepping inside anywhere except home and the office since 3/19. I haven't even driven more than a mile from my house since then!
One thing that's been hurt by the pandemic is my exercise routine. I had joined a gym that I really like with a one-year commitment for over $100 a month. The gym has been very good about providing online classes even after they were allowed to re-open. I, however, just am not at all good at participating in online classes. I need the weight of social expectations in order to complete a full workout The few times I've tried the online workouts, I get 15 or 20 minutes into it and quit--which is what I'd do at the gym, too, except for the eyes of others upon me. Still working this one out. Right now the thing that works best is finding audiobooks and reserving certain books to listen to only when I walk. I'm currently "reading" Mary Trump's book this way. So that helps with keeping generally active but doesn't build strength, endurance, or flexibility.
In other news, some successes: my Net Worth hit 600k this month, 3 years after first hitting 500k; my debt is down 10.8k from year-end; and, after 4.5 years, I finally completed the CFP coursework. I still have the exam to do. I'm probably waiting until next July to take it since otherwise I would have to get into study mode right away for the September exam (which is the July 2020 exam deferred for COVID--first they deferred it and then finally this week they allowed for remote proctoring rather than having to go into a Prometric Center. If they had had the Remote Proctoring option back at the end of June when I made this decision, I might have opted to dive right into studying for the September exam, but now I'd be behind the 8-ball. I'm going to take a practice exam this weekend and decide--if it's just a few pockets of things that I really need to work on (the investment calculations and the rules, costs, and benefits of all the various retirement plans being known areas of weakness), then I might decide to go for the September exam, but if I just need improvement all around, I'll wait until next year.
March 31st, 2019 at 11:56 pm
Debt down 8.3k since 12/31/18 (the biggest push of the year because of when I get my bonus). I am going to try to manage 1k down in debt per month for the rest of the year. Since I'm now at roughly 83k total, that would bring me to 74k at year end. (By the way, the January numbers that I post in my sidebar are the numbers AFTER getting and applying my annual bonus to the debt. Timing of our bonus payout will change next year to March.)
If you look at my side-bar, ALL of these numbers are the lowest I've posted since starting to blog here in 2006, so that feels good. If I make it to 600k net worth and 10% (60k) total debt (which would be mostly mortgage) by the time I am 60, that will be a good place to build on for my last decade of work (I am planning to retire at 70, but hope to spend the last five years working part rather than full-time and want to be financially prepared to be able to retire before then if necessary. The "need" could be either job loss (but as long as I'm healthy, I feel confident that I'll at least be able to add to my income by working tax season) or health (in which case I would expect my longevity and financial need to be lower, and I have multiple disability insurance policies and long-term care insurance in that case).
I finished one of the 3 classes I am trying to complete this year so am on track to complete 3 by 9/30, when my online course access expires. Just two more classes and then the big exam next March stand between me and the goal I set for myself way back in 2004 to become a certified financial planner. I have been *working* as a financial planner since the end of 2014,u but I'm an employee of a firm, in essence, a sub-advisor. Getting certified would give me the ability to go out on my own, not that I have any desire to do so, as I am approaching 60. If I'd made the career change at 40, that would have been a possibility, but at 58 1/2, I'm perfectly content to be an employee for my entire career!
Still, certifications and the "stamp of approval," as well as making sure that my knowledge base is reasonably complete for the job I do is important to me. I've certainly learned a lot in this coursework about things such as educational funding, insurance, estate planning, and the various types of retirement plans that are out there and which type of plan is suitable for which business concerns.
The last "substantive" course that I start tomorrow is Investments, and then Q3, I will take the Capstone course which reviews and applies all the previous course content to case studies. I took a couple of finance classes as electives back when I was studying accounting, but it's been more than a decade and all of those equations look a bit intimidating now! Hopefully, they will come back quickly.
So, after being a veritable slug this winter. I am making movement and exercise a priority this spring. In fact, ever since I started my current job, my exercise goals have taken a low priority, in part because of the Hashimoto's related fatigue. In 2017, I was so exhausted, all I did was work and sleep. I spent 6 months going to a functional medicine practitioner and I have been somewhat less fatigued since then by taking the supplements he recommended, but I still have 2-4 days a month where going home, feeding the cats, and crawling into bed at 6:30 or 7 pm is all I can do. Confounded with all of this is that I went through menopause during the same time frame.
Back the end of last year, I was diagnosed with a thyroid nodule (common for people with Hashi's) and a biopsy led to an indeterminate diagnosis, but the recommendation was to have half of my thyroid removed just because of the size of the nodule because of the risk of cancer. But only 5% of the thyroid nodules that are removed prove to be cancerous--this is one of those areas of overdiagnosis.
I opted back in January after consulting with the surgeon to take a "watch and wait" strategy instead and have myself re-assessed every six months. If it IS cancerous, it is most likely to be a slow-growing cancer, and I am not in a rush to remove an organ that affects every other cell in my body. The doctors blithely asset that you just take Synthroid and you'll be fine, and while that IS true of the majority, I did some digging in the research literature, and 18% who have a thyroidectomy or lobectomy never really feel the same again, and that is not a risk I am willing to take at the moment. If the nodule grows or I start feeling the effects of it (hoarseness or trouble swallowing), I would go ahead with the surgery, but I resolved back in January to have this risk serve as a motivator to take even better care of myself. With the busyness of tax season and the cold weather, that has been difficult, but I'm making it more of a priority for Q3, especially as I have my 6-month followup on June 24.
As a matter of synchronicity, a gym about a mile from home had a $1 joining fee special this weekend. I'd actually belonged to this gym before, but that was when their membership was $50 a month and included everything--towel service, classes, etc. Since I left, they've come up with a multi-tier membership model. All I really need is access to their equipment and the chance to be in an environment where "the thing to do" is to exercise. To join and just be able to use their equipment (and the sauna) will cost me just $15 a month, much more reasonable.
Even though I have a good deal of fitness equipment at home, I don't tend to use it very much. I work out at home more than I would without the equipment, but certainly not on a regular basis. One of my friends is a member at this gym and works out there, and another pair of acquaintances regularly use the gym at around 7:30 in the morning, so just the incentive of possibly seeing people I know and having a chance to chat should motivate me to go. And at least once I get out of the house and away from my book and coffee cup, it will be easier to work out.
I still think I'll spend about 6 weeks this spring or summer working out with a personal trainer to improve my form while doing exercises, but I'll figure that out in May. Right now my goal is just to build a base of regular movement and to work on mobility so that I don't end up in PT again. I have a DailyOm course that I bought to guide me with mobility exercises, and for right now, I'll focus on doing regular cardio and using the machines for strength. Later on, I'll ramp up the strength training with a personal trainer and eventually, once I'm moving regularly, I'll work on ramping up the intensity by adding some metabolic training. My mistake in the past, which has landed me in PT a couple of times, is to take metabolic training classes before my body has been ready for it.
I'm also kind of targeting walking a half marathon as a goal. I've walked two in the past, but that was back about 15 years ago. I'm lucky enough to live on the route for the Runner's World half-marathon, which is one of those I walked previously. These days they no longer allow walkers (and the registration fee is now $87!) but I have the route already mapped out for me. There's also a local women's only running group that has two 13-week sessions a year, each culminating with a 5-k race. The spring session just started and will culminate in a race on June 5. Then the summer/fall session starts on July 30 and culminates in a race on Oct 5, so my goal for the moment is to get myself into shape to START the "couch to 5k" type training the end of July, try to jog the 5k on October 5 and be able to walk the half marathon route on October 19th (the day before the actual race). Then it will be the busy season again and the CFP exam final preparation will be looming, but as long as I can build up some fitness now and at least do some basic maintenance from next October through next March (when I'll finally take the CFP exam), then when I get back to focusing on fitness again a year from now post-exam, hopefully I'll be starting off at a higher level then than I am now after two years of slug-dom!
January 1st, 2018 at 05:58 pm
So here are my 2018 Goals, along with some plans for achieving them, as well as some one-off projects that I hope to complete in 2018.
1. Job performance: Improve timeliness of advance preparation for client meetings. Complete the basic CFP coursework.
Plan: I'll start tracking the number of days in advance that I have the meeting prep drafted, something that I have not been doing. As management guru Peter Drucker said, "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it," so step one is measuring it, with a goal to improve it.
As for the CFP courses, which I gave short shrift to in 2017 (I completed just one of the basic courses), I plan to complete the remaining four basic courses this year--one per quarter). To do that, I'm going to get in to work 30-45 minutes early and use that time each day to study (habit).
2. Take care of myself. Eat healthily (this includes an emphasis on whole foods and preparing my meals in advance), exercise consistently, sleep enough, and make time to de-stress with a daily meditation session (or two).
Plans: Food: I'm doing a "Whole 30" in January to do a "re-set" on the less-healthy holiday eating.
As for Movement and Exercise (which I learned in 2017 are two *different* things), I had an injury last week and tore some of the fibers in my left Achilles tendon, so at the moment, I'm focused on doing my PT exercises and some routines focused on increasing my joint flexibility and decreasing myofascial stiffness. I had already been working with a DPT (doctor of physical therapy) before the injury to try to avoid injury since I have a history of getting over-enthusiastic and hurting myself when I get active in a program. The current injury just slows the plan down a bit. Last year I was quite sedentary because of the bout of adrenal fatigue I spent the year dealing with. This is the first time in 12 years where I currently do not have a gym membership (!!!)
My goal for Q1 is to get back to regular movement, starting with the flexibility and strengthening exercises. Once the injury is healed, I will focus on increasing my daily movement count to 30 minutes and 10,000 steps a day (per my Fitbit). My daily step average for 2017 was a measly 5874 steps per day (in actuality probably closer to 6000 since there were several days where I forgot to put my FitBit on), with only 38 days all year with at least 10,000 steps. I'll count this goal a success for 2018 if I get at least 292 days with 10K steps (that's 80%). That's approximately a two-mile daily increase in step count. Once the Achilles tendon is healed, I'll get back to using my Leslie Sansone "Walk Away the Pounds" tapes in the morning to build up the step count. Then in Q2, my plan is to hire and work with a personal trainer twice a week for the quarter to build up my strength and develop a routine that I can eventually do at home. In Q3, I'll cap off the experience with either some kind of an event, like walk/jogging a 5K, or experience, like going on an Appalachian Trail hike -the kind of activity I did frequently in my 30s and into my 40s, but which has not been part of my life since I made the big career change in 2009. Then in Q4 (the busiest time of year at work), I won't abandon exercise altogether but I'll focus on maintaining a daily movement practice and those 10K steps a day.
3. Create a peaceful and inviting home environment. This is the goal I abandoned in 2017...and 2016, 2015, etc, going back to 2010 when my mom was dying and I was flying back and forth across the country to help her. My plan in the past has always been waiting until I had a big chunk of time and then clearing out as much as I could. A friend comes down to visit each summer, so this has typically meant taking one day off of work and doing a big clean-up in July. This tackles the surface clutter but doesn't solve the underlying accumulation problem, since the excess goes into the "storage room," whose door remains shut during the visit, and I don't tackle the stuff hidden in closets and on shelves.
Plans This year, instead, I'm going to try for a 10 minute daily HABIT of clearing a small space--one shelf, or in some cases, maybe even a quarter of a shelf, a day, then taking the donate-able excess to Goodwill once a month and recycling or trashing the rest. Then in Q2, I will hire a personal organizer to help me deal with the storage room and make that useable again. My plan is to make it a dedicated exercise space so that after I have worked with a personal trainer at the gym in Q2, I'll be able to have a place to work out at home in Q3 and beyond.
4. Increase my Net Worth by 15%. Obviously, attaining this goal to some extent depends on how the markets do in 2018, but I'll control it to the extent I can with increased savings (I increased my retirement contribution so it is now a total of 14% going into my 401(k). I have another 7% going into my HSA account. Although I do spend from the HSA for my larger medical expenses, I did save a net 3% in 2017.
A big change for 2018 will be getting back to tracking expenses, which I did religiously at the time I started on SA, but gave up during my mom's illness. I'm currently trying to figure out if I'm going back to YNAB or just tracking on Mint or Personal Capital.
5. Maintain and expand my social life. This is a secondary goal, but still important.
Last year at this time, I quoted James Clear about the "four burners" theory and how you could really only focus on a couple of "burners" (domains of life goals) at a time, while the others stayed on simmer.
This year, I'm instead going to cite former Coca-Cola CEO Bryan Dyson's "juggling" speech:
"[…] Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them work, family, health, friends, and spirit. And you’re keeping all of these in the air.
You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends, and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life."
The social domain is obviously one of the "glass balls" that I can't let drop even while my focus is for the most part on work, fitness, and improving my home environment.
I'll continue to (as I have been doing) go out with at least one friend locally per month as well as making sure I have at least one phone call or email exchange with some of my good friends who live at a distance.
This year, in addition, I think I'm going to add an activity, namely, starting to play with a local community orchestra. Playing in an orchestra was a big part of my life in my youth and something that I would like to get back to, which will also introduce me to a new group of people.
6. Take more and/or more frequent time off/vacations. I wasn't very good at this in 2017, especially the first six months, and I paid the price in adrenal fatigue. So I'm going to take more long weekends and try not to let more than five weeks pass without having at least a 3 day weekend.
Plans As far as vacations, I'm not sure. if my high school has a 40th reunion for my class, I may go out to that. If I don't make it out there, then maybe I'll visit the two cousins I have in Phoenix, or else visit Seattle and Vancouver. Plus I'd like to take one long weekend down south (I have friends in Atlanta and near Charleston SC and in Chapel Hill NC whom I'd like to visit sometime in the next few years--each of these would be a separate short trip, one a year). If I don't go out west, I'd like to take a week and visit my friends in New England--I lived in Vermont for 3 years and have friends there and in Boston and cousins in Western MA (plus I could stop and see Patient Saver in CT on the drive up or back). Plus I'd like to do a long weekend in Lancaster PA Amish country since I've been reading so many Amish romances (my latest guilty pleasure), and another B&B weekend locally along the DE for a low-stress getaway.
That's 3 short trips (Lancaster, local B&B, long weekend in the south) and one longer trip (either west or north) for the year.
I didn't travel much in the hard job-transition years after my mom died and 2017 was my first year getting back to it, and I'd like to continue the more frequent travel each year as long as the kitties' health holds. I need to get the travel bug out of my system before I get another Basset Hound, since I know myself and I know that once I have a hound, I will be hard-pressed to leave him for more than a day or two--one reason I am taking a 10-15 year break from hound ownership.
Projects Finally, here are some one-off projects that I would like to accomplish in 2018. All of these were on the 2017 list and none got done: Find a new Primary Care Physician. Get a passport (deadline 10/10/2018, as after that date my PA driver's license will no longer get me on an airplane). Find a lawyer and draft estate documents. Hire a house-call vet to check out Bridget since she is too skittish to take out to the vet, and have Buffy's dental work done. Write at least 3 blog posts for work, and master the last three (most difficult) spreadsheets at work where I still need to have my work reviewed since I haven't entirely grasped them.
September 19th, 2016 at 12:29 am
It's been about a month since I last updated, so I'll check in here. Still unemployed, still in shock over it. My activity has been up and down. I did a presentation for my group of unemployed professionals about informational interviewing, so that spurred me to go out and do some. It seemed like that led to one possible job interview, but the person said to call him back after he returned from vacation, and I haven't heard from him yet. I'll have to check in again; he went to Australia and that's a 12 hour time difference so he's probably still adjusting (he got back to the states on Wednesday). I also went to an interview with the Accountemps agency. Some weeks I seem to do a lot and others just minimal. I need to ramp it up: according to one recruiter, the best months for getting hired are September (nearly gone), December, and January.
The area where I have felt productive and competent is in health: I've lot 15 pounds since being laid off and am back to walking 10,000 steps many days during a week. I've also been doing a lot of cooking. The walking and the cooking are basically the things that make me feel good right now.
On Friday, I checked my credit card statement and found a $163 charge that I didn't recognize, so I had the card cancelled. This was the card that I use to autopay several expenses, so I have been going through and cutting many of those.
I also have been looking at health insurance. I am covered through the 30th on my employer's plan; my options after that are continuing the employer plan through mini-COBRA for 102% of the premium, which is about $750/month, or switching to private insurance (either on the marketplace or off). I'm just looking on the marketplace. I won't qualify for a premium subsidy this year, but perhaps next (I pray NOT). I'm on an HDHP plan with an HSA, and to maintain the tax benefits of that I have already reaped through the HSA, I need to keep an HSA in force through end of the year. Fortunately there are now individual HSAs on the marketplace; I don't think there were in 2014 when I last had marketplace insurance. With the HSA, a chunk of my annual long-term care insurance premium becomes deductible even though my medical expenses aren't above the 10% of AGI threshold, and, now that I am unemployed, I can deduct those premiums as well as long as I am either receiving unemployment benefits or paying COBRA. I'll do that for the remaineder of this year, then reconsider for next year (information about the 2017 plans will be available on November 1).
This week is another busy week: I have three professional education seminars and networking opportunities plus two other meetings for my unemployed professionals group plus lunch with a former co-worker. I need to fit time for applying for jobs in there!
August 22nd, 2016 at 04:21 pm
So it is just over a month since I was laid off. I have basically spent the past month trying to absorb the shock and personal sense of devastation while focusing on the non-work domain, which I really let go in order to focus on the new job and career. I have also "gone through the motions" with regard to some basic steps in preparing for a job hunt, without my heart really into it yet. That needs to change.
I've spent a lot of time over the past month with the friend whose dog was diagnosed with cancer the same day I lost my job. The good news is that whatever is wrong with the dog is NOT cancer after all and he has improved but there is still something wrong that remains undiagnosed. But at least the threat of 4-6 months remaining lifespan has been removed. And we've watched the Democratic convention, the Olympics, and several DVD movies. It's been very good to have someone there for me, living alone as I do.
My biggest focus has been on my health, which I felt suffered during the time I was at my job. Not only did I gain back the weight I had lost during the year previous to starting at the job, but my exercise plan, which I started investing in last summer, got derailed by a foot injury the beginning of March. I had started a course of physical therapy, so I finished that out during July and then went back to the gym, which I have been continuing to go to twice a week (I have a one-year contract which will get me through October and then I can no longer afford this gym), plus this past week I started walking and even doing a bit of jogging again now that the injured foot is 99% healed.
I also started to follow an Intermittent Fasting (IF) eating plan. A friend of mine has been doing this for a year and has lost some weight. After talking with her I read a book on the topic by Dr. Bert Herring and then started in on the plan, while continuing to do some research on my own both on the plan and on myself. There are several versions of IF eating; the one that I am following is the idea of time-restriced feeding, in which you start by limiting the timing of your meals, so that each day is divided into an eating window and a fasting window. Dr. Herring recommonds a 5-hour eating window and 19 hours of fasting, while another popular protocol (LeanGains) suggests 8 hours of eating for men and 10 for women, with corresponding 16 to 14 hours of fasting. While my daily eating window has varied between 2 and 8 hours since I started this on August 1, my average has been about 6, usually from 2 pm to 8 pm. And I am down 4-6 pounds since starting (the scale is bobbling a bit this week), plus I lost some weight just from the shock of the job loss decreasing my appetite, so I am down about 10 pounds altogether. Another six will get me to where I was when I started the job, and I hope to continue on to see if I can finally take off the excess weight which has gradually crept on over the years.
So far I find doing this very sustainable. Surprisingly, eliminating breakfast has meant basically eliminating mid-morning hunger, and it's usually pretty easy to delay lunch until 2. I drink lots of water with lemon before breaking my fast plus one or two cups of black coffee as well. Then during the eating window I usually have two meals, with the largest one being the earlier of the two. Not only do I end up eating less but there is both a time savings from not having to prepare breakfast and will eventually be some money savings as well as I eat less.
Exercise is what Charles Duhigg, in his book "The Power of Habit," terms a keystone habit--one which, when adopted, tends to lead to one making other positive and beneficial changes in one's life. Hopefully that proves true.
In addition to work on the health front, I also have done some work on the home front--a bit of organizing inside the house and redoing the front garden patch with the extensive help of a retired neighbor.
I've also been attending the weekly meetings of the local networking group for unemployed professionals as well as joining their training committee, plus I went to a networking meeting of a group of business women that has led to some useful connections that I am still in the process of following up on, including the possibility of an interview. I also reconnected with a fairly new acquaintance in the business who was unemployed herself last year and who has connected me with another person in a similar position. Ironically, the possible job interview is for her old job. We will be getting together later this week. So--good progress in networking but I really need to work on updating my resume further and developing different versions of it for different jobs, as well as getting together my "exit story" and documenting the job stories I can use in answering behavioral interview questions. I'm not feeling ready for an interview yet.
Plus I need to start investing more in studying for the online CFP course I am enrolled in. So far I have attended virtually all of the live webinar classes but I have not invested much in going through the printed materials online.
I also have a lot more decluttering to do. I've got my living spaces livable, but that doesn't mean that my kitchen is optimized. Too many things I don't use and should get rid of. Plus, as always, too many books, too much clothing, and then there is the whole second bedroom, which has become a "storage room" rather than a guest room or study over the years.
Lots to do, and lots more people to contact.
I just need to get over myself and the feeling of shame and humiliation and keep on keeping on.
A little bit of fun first. My birthday is later this week and today, three friends are taking me to lunch and then we are hanging out at the swimming pool that one of those friends has.
September 6th, 2015 at 10:22 pm
Certain classes of "Expenses" are also "Investments," not in the traditional sense, but in oneself.
There are a few key categories of these self investments: one's "human capital" or job skills/performance; one's relationships; and one's health. And one invests in these not just with money but with time.
Looking at my sidebar goals, there are two that have been lagging the others--taking better care of myself and getting my house in order.
I want to make progress on both of these by year-end.
I'm starting with health. Or, I should say, I started with it back the end of June. I joined a gym and also an online nutritional coaching program.
That gym I really liked, even though it was more expensive than my previous Gold's Gym membership ($75/month vs $19/month). It was worth it, though, for the first two months. The classes I were taking were the "Lite Intense" classes, which tended to be smaller than the regular classes at the gym (maximum class size in any case is 10). And all the trainers are certified, and the gym uses a heart-rate monitoring system to motivate students and make sure they are working out appropriately--every student wears a heart rate monitor and one's heart rate is displayed on a tv screen.
Then in mid-August the trainer that I was working with went back to college, and the gym decided that, since the "Lite Intense" classes were less popular, that they would stop offering them (at least at the times of day I could go...they still have one such class each weekday at 10 a.m.). They still had classes, but "Intense" ones, and the class sizes were longer, and the exercises were harder. And although the instructors were VERY good at modifying the exercises for me and my fitness level, I still found myself doing a lot of social comparison and negative self-talk and coming out of class depressed at my performance--even though my heart rate showed I was working harder. I have a degree in psychology; I understand this; but I still do this. And it was seriously undermining my enthusiasm for going to the gym.
So I began to look for another gym, and I found one--but at another step up in price. But, not only do they have the advantages of the other gym that made it so appealing--certified instructors, heart rate monitoring on a tv screen, but the membership that I am going to go for involves "Semi-Private" classes, maximum class size four, which is just right. Private training is too expensive and when you DO private training, the trainer ends up standing around a lot while you put in the reps; with semi-private, you get personal attention and the trainer stands around a lot less as they go from person to person. When there are only four people and sometimes they are doing different routines, there's much less opportunity for the social comparison/negative self-talk trap that I fall into. And they also have a larger group class called "Foundations," which is for people who are just starting out, to get you READY for the intense classes, which they also offer. I went to this class on Saturday and it is a good fit--I am NOT the heavest, slowest, and oldest person in the class :^). They also have body fat/lean body mass percentage testing with an impedence monitor every six weeks so you can see if you are getting results. They also have a monthly social gathering outside the gym and encourage the gym members to be a community. I already know more names of members there after one week than I did after two months at the first gym.
I know myself, I know that I have spent hundreds on exercise equipment and DVDs, and I know that what works for me are classes where I can get personal attention. If I cancel the online nutritional coaching (which is good, but I find that I am not making the time to participate), my net health expense outlay for each month will be the same. Also the gym is having a weight loss challenge starting the beginning of October leading up to Thanksgiving, so that should motivate me to start putting some of the good nutritional habits and principles I've learned more in to practice. My weight has crept up a bit in the new job as I am sitting at my computer so much....it will be 15 pounds down to where I was last year (not that that is all I would like to lose, but that is my target for by the end of the year).
March 29th, 2008 at 09:08 pm
Well, March was a spendy month; I spent about double what I spent in February (gulp). Much of the addtional spending was justified but still I hate to see so much variability--and I *really* hate it when my spending for the month surpasses my income for the month, even with the tax refund.
Extra spending was as follows:
$600 another expensive vet trip for Henry and his allergies
$165 getting a broken tooth fixed at the dentist
$500 buying the beginnings of a new professional wardrobe as I prepare to transition from academia into the corporate world
$200 in professional expenses (books, software)
$100 stocking up on wine, beer, sodas and extra food for a party
another $200 in extra food expenses--not that the food was wasted, but that it was eaten out or bought prepared, thus unnecessarily expensive
$82 to buy 200 "forever" stamps before the price increases on May 12
$132 prepaying an extra month early on my home gas bill--they changed the date the bill was due and refused to change it back, and I really like to pay my bill immediately after my monthly paycheck arrives and not a week before it arrives, so I decided to get a month ahead to avoid any late fees.
$90 extra prepayment on the mortgage to get it down to 89K.
As so often happens, financial and weight control go together--I slacked off a lot on exercise during March, and gained back 2 pounds. Still down about 7 from the end of last year, but I can feel those two pounds.
So the goal for April is another personal "challenge" month to see how close I can keep my monthly total spending to about $2000. No "extras" this month (unless I get a job interview, in which case I still need a professional pair of shoes), and I need to start back shopping more at Aldi's and Giant, much as I hate them, rather than at my beloved Wegmans. And I pulled out the pricebook I put together two years ago--time to update it since the last time I used it was in 2006. Should be interesting to see how food prices have changed in that time.
And it's a challenge month for health, too--I've joined an online "April Boot Camp" challenge on Leslie Sansone's walk club board, the goal of which is to lose 8 pounds during April. So I'll tighten up and refocus on fitness, too. I just started another round of "First Strides," the local women's walking/running program (that was another $40 out the door); those two workouts a week with other people (in addition to the two mornings a week I walk with my friend Anne) should help keep me from slacking off).