"Love My Way, It's a New Road"

F#*king Weight

I was looking at my little weight loss notebook last week as I noted my weight and measurements (steady downward trend, thank you very much).  I flipped through the pages and then I jumped into MyFitness Pal which I have used intermittently since 2011.  I separated from my Ex in June 2013.  In August 2013, I weighed 194.4.  Today I am 202.

Between 2013 and today my weight has been as low as 162 to as high as 210.  Roughly a 100 pound swing.  Ugh.  Un-fucking-believable.

What happened?  Oh, I know what happened.

  1. Stress:  Ugh, all the work stress of trying to crank up my own company, trying to juggle my meager finances, being the primary breadwinner, realizing I was not making money and living beyond my means.  The stress of job hunting and figuring out my next career move.  Yeah, all that stress resulted in me feeding my emotions.  Nothing like sugar (and alcohol) to get a good solid dopamine hit when you are depressed.  Add in some cannabis to get the munchies cranked up and we’ve got a solid party going on….
  2. I stopped going to the gym.  Ugh, worse thing for me.  I got lazy and enjoyed snuggling with the Hunter.  Later the walks with him and the Kracken were nice, but not enough.  I need solo, dedicated workout time.  I need strength/resistance training to build my muscles and keep my metabolism chugging along at a decent clip. Yes, I know lots of weight loss experts say it is primarily diet, but I need the metabolism boost due to my sedentary work.
  3. The Hunter’s cooking.  Yes, I loved his cooking, however, he is a “meat & potatoes” guy.  Fries food, heavy carbs, red meat, processed meats.  I clearly remember very early in our relationship thinking “Oh dear, will I be OK with this?”  Clearly the answer is NO.

Now I don’t want anyone to think I am blaming the Hunter for my weight gain.  It is 110% my fault.  I put the food in my mouth and became a couch potato.  I needed to advocate more for myself in certain situations.  I let him reign in the kitchen because I enjoyed being taken care of, however, the result was not good for me.

These days I cook all of my food.  I mean all and from scratch.  I have very few processed foods if any.  I very rarely eat out because a) it’s expensive right now and b) I need to monitor and control what I am eating.  My sugar cravings are virtually gone.  I don’t want cookies or sweets.  I had a small container of ice cream in my freezer since November,  I barely touched it and finally chucked it out a couple of weeks ago.  I have 1-2 chocolate squares after dinner and that’s fine for dessert.  I don’t want more.  My veggie and fruit consumption has increased dramatically.  The past two weeks I reduced my carbs and saw immediate results.

I need to live alone for awhile.  Quite awhile.  I need the control of my environment.  I need to stick to my new steady habits.  This is working.

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Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

 

Hitting Home

I just finished “Evvie Drake Starts Over” by Linda Holmes.  Wow. Loved it.  Once I got started, I couldn’t put it down.  Chick Lit that hit home.  Evvie’s marriage was so much like mine that it hurt at times.

She was leaving her husband, literally, when she got the phone call he was in a car accident that ended up being fatal.  I am ashamed to confess that I dreamed many a night of my Ex dying in a DUI accident when he stayed out late drinking.

Her husband was charming to everyone, mine often was as well.  Everyone thought their marriage was perfect.  Mine also.  So many similarities.  His temper, his denial of basic facts. She was also a self-confessed “fixer” -someone intent on fixing others rather than working on herself.  Guilty.

She didn’t want to tell others her feelings because of her rocky relationship with her husband.  Same.  I still keep things pent up and don’t share much with the outside world.  I put much more inner truth on this blog than anywhere else and there are still a few things I am not blogging about these days.

People think I am an open book because I will chatter on about my life, day-to-day stuff, but rarely will I spout about my feelings.  Nope, not sharing.  Between my borderline personality mother, absentee father and emotionally abusive husband, I keep my inner feelings locked up tight where I occasionally take them out to look at and then usually stuff them back inside.  Not the healthiest thing to do and I need to do better.

The book left me thinking and spending today listening to the Avett Brothers.  I got out of the shitty marriage.  I am safe.  I am happy.  I am oh so blessed these days.  Time to unpack the emotions and let them have some room to show themselves.  It’s OK.

Get the book.  It is much lighter than perhaps I am describing it.  I need to put Maine on my bucket list for sure….

evvie

It’s Over

I am done with the Tax Man.  He is completely paid off and even returned a $500 over-payment which I promptly put towards my last credit card.  I will be debt free within 60 days if not sooner.  Wow.

I ran my budget numbers.  Until my stipend to my son is completed (mid-year 2021) and I pay off the final credit card, I am still on a strict budget.  However, the end is near.  I just transferred some money to my online savings account.  I am dropping money in it every month now to pay for some once-a-year payments (insurances mostly) along with slowly building up my emergency funds.  I feel safe.  What a feeling — I am not use to that.

How do you celebrate not owing Uncle Sam anymore?  Without spending – LOL.  I think a nice dinner at home with a lovely glass of wine will do nicely as I rent another Oscar-nominated movie.  Last night I watched “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.  I think “Parasite” is up next.

Thank you, dear Karma, for leading me to this new chapter.  I am truly grateful.

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Photo by Anastasiia Rozumna on Unsplash

I Found My Rhythm

Life is settling into a pleasant routine these days. I hit the gym in the morning and my running program hasn’t killed me yet. I rarely eat out, so my food choices are always planned and under control for the most part. Work got busy with an unexpected project that has an impossible deadline. I am not stressed or worried – I am enjoying the challenge.

MeetUp in this area is actually pretty good. One last week was a fiasco, but another was lovely. I have several more coming up, so I feel like my social life is kicking off nicely. I am bumping into people who are very familiar with my company, which is a reminder that I am living in a small town, so my words matter.

Life is good. I wish I was losing weight faster because I was in the bottom third of the weight loss challenge. But then I remind myself that it doesn’t really matter because I am losing weight each week. I just need to be patient. Plus I am getting stronger and I really feel that progress. I had a physical and bloodwork done. My cholesterol is a bit high (some of it, the good ones are fine). I think it is related to my weight because I am not eating processed foods. Glucose is fine, sodium fine, etc., so I just need to once again be patient and allow my body to heal.

The Hunter has been really busy with work, so I haven’t seen much of him. It’s been OK because I have enjoyed having time to myself lately. I have been slowly working on going through all the damn photos. Right now I am sorting with some tossing. Good grief, there is a lot. Plus I found a shoebox of videos. I bought a used VCR for $9 at Goodwill so I can see if any are worth converting to digital. I need an adapter, so I can’t watch them yet.

What has been interesting about the photos is the flood of memories as I sort them. I intentionally avoided this project for years for just that reason – I simply didn’t have the emotional capacity to process all of it. Now I do, but in stages. It has been enjoyable for the most part, but it’s a messy project with lots of shoeboxes filled with loose photos. Ugh.

Life is good and I am grateful.

My Bucket List

I started my travel bucket list and wanted to blog about it, so I don’t forget 🙂  Here we go in no particular order:

  1. Alaska:  A small ship cruise combined with a train.  I want to see it all.  I have wanted to see Alaska for many, many years.
  2. Napa Valley:  Good food, good wine and add in something along the Pacific Coast Highway.  A trip filled with beauty, relaxation, maybe some spa time?
  3. Italy:  Ah, Italy.  You have been on my bucket list for longer than Alaska.  Venice is a must.  The Amalfi coast, Puglia, Milan, Florence, Rome, Tuscany.  This may need to be two trips.  Walking through Tuscany, exploring Amalfi and Puglia.  I am enthralled with a long, leisurely exploration of that country.
  4. Greek Isles:  another small boat cruise through that beautiful area of the Mediterranean.
  5. France:  Provenance, Versailles.  I have explored Paris, but to wander its streets again would be lovely.
  6. Costa Rica:  the country fascinates me.
  7. Hawaii:  Not the touristy stuff, the cool nature stuff.
  8. Vancouver Island:  Butchart Gardens and just exploring that area of the Pacific Northwest.  I have been to Seattle and Vancouver, but I want to explore more.
  9. Take the train across Canada.  That has always fascinated me.
  10. Take the train across the US Rockies.
  11. Go to a cool, picturesque mountain/winter town for a snow holiday.  European, Canadian — something that looks right out of a postcard.
  12. Thailand – maybe, the beauty is amazing.
  13. Iguazu Falls in Brazil – I have been to Brazil three times and never made it to the falls.  I have really wanted to see them.
  14. Maine in the summer or a Fall cruise (I enjoy small cruises).

Now that I sit down to write this, my list isn’t impossible.  I started sputtering out after #10.  Maybe I will add to this.  Places like England and Ireland interest me, but the list above gets me headed in the right direction.

My idea is that my first big trip for this reset of my life would either be Italy or Alaska.  Budget:  $10,000.  Yes, I can probably do the trip for less, but I think a travel savings account of $10,000 would give me the comfort level to take off.

Not only is the money missing, but I need to build up my vacation time (PLA) at work.  I am usually a “use it up” type, but I would like to carry a little over (10-15 hours) for “just in case”.

I have plotted out some blocks of PLA time for this year, but I am going to keep my activities simple and frugal.  I want to keep my life simple in general so I can continue my good, frugal habits.  Travel is the exception of that rule.

Part of my fun with travel is the planning.  I will enjoy that, but first, let me finish my adulting.

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Photo by WanderLabs on Unsplash

Adulting

I was thinking about a Bucket List of places to see before I can no longer get up and go.  Before I jump into that fun list of places, I need to focus on saving for retirement.

I have a decent low 6-figure 401k balance, but I need to double it (or more) to feel secure.  I don’t want to rely on my kids.  This plays into my bucket list travel plans.  It falls down to three questions:

  1. Will I be able (or want) to stay at this job for roughly a decade?
  2. How much do I need to sock away to hit my retirement savings goal?
  3. Will that leave me enough to live nicely today and still save for some big trips?

Answer to all of the above questions:  I don’t know.  That’s the short answer  However, nobody knows much of anything.  The retirement calculators are a pile of crap for the most part.  Actually, let’s have a bitch session about retirement calculators.  Here’s what happened:

Step 1:  I wanted to see what would be my Social Security benefit.  I went up on Fidelity’s Social Security calculator and than the actual Social Security website.  Both were within a 10% range of each other.  OK, cool.

Step 2:  I went to Fidelity’s and then my 401k provider’s retirement calculators.  Both sites estimated my Social Security benefit being HALF of what the previous calculators provided.  HALF.

The cynical side of me says that the investment companies do this on purpose.  Think about it:  the more you invest with them, the bigger their fees.  Thus, why not use fear and extremely conservative estimates of Social Security to get more money out of people.  I know many people will debate the viability of Social Security, but let’s not digress.

I then wanted just a straight investment calculator, so I hit Dave Ramsey’s investment calculator.  Bingo.  I put in a conservative 8% and 10% return.  OK, conservative for me because I am a gambler/high risk investor.  This calculator shows that I will hit my target in 11 years.

To offset my high risk nature, I have my retirement fund in an S&P Index Fund (70% or so) and then the balance is in an Index US Bond fund.  I will keep that going for another five to seven years.  I am not too worried about the stock index fund because one thing I rely on is time.  Time still remains on my side.

When investment/retirement advisers recommend reining back the risk as you approach retirement, I ask, “Why?”  My retirement will be approximately 20 years or so.  Am I really going to plod along in the slow lane for 20 years?  I am not saying to jump into the most aggressive fund available, but I think a growth strategy works until maybe Age 75 or so.

This all digressed from my original thought of Bucket Lists, but don’t worry.  I’ll do that in another post.  This retirement savings question has to come first because it plays into my travel plans.  In my retirement, what happens to my healthcare costs?  What about assisted living?  Dementia runs rampant on my mom’s side of the family.  I need to be ready for that.

But shit, if I have high odds of ending up drooling in a memory unit, let me go make some damn good memories to forget!

I came up with some rules for financing my Bucket List:

  1. Trip must be paid in full with cash that has been saved specifically for this.  No credit cards, no robbing emergency funds or savings for other things.
  2. That travel cash has to be sitting in the bank before the first reservation is made.

How am I going to get there? First I have to get my financial house back on a firm foundation by completing the following:

  1.  Pay off the balance of my debt.  I have a little remaining with the IRS and my last credit card.  That should be paid off by May at the latest.
  2. Fund my emergency savings.  I want to get it to $15,000.  Currently it has $5,000.  This savings is specifically for my “Oh shit, I lost my job” situations.  Depending upon Maggie & Co proceeds, I think this will be funded by the end of the year.
  3. Have another $5,000 emergency “Shit Happens” savings for things like unexpected car repairs, broken phones, medical expenses not covered by my HSA or insurance.  Just a modest savings to cushion me from Murphy’s Law.  This would give me a total savings of $20,000 before tapping into anything else like my whole life insurance or retirement funds.  I think this also can be funded by the end of 2020.
  4. Complete my obligation to my son to pay him a modest monthly stipend while he is in grad school.  This should end in about 18 months.
  5. Boost my 401k contribution by 2% by mid-year.

Am I delaying my gratification too much?  I don’t think so.  I need to do some serious adulting.  Once again, it is very clear that 2020 is my catch-up year.  A year full of small steps and changes.  Nothing radical, just a steady habit of conservative, frugal choices to set my ship on a clear course to calm waters.

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Kicking Butt

I have started 2020 with some big physical reaches/challenges.  First is signing up for my company’s corporate 5K run in April.  I have never participated in a 5k much less run that long a distance.  I am training using None2Run which is going really well.  I just completed Week 2 (LOL) with out swearing, so that is already a win.

My next physical challenge is a company weight loss challenge.  I had tried one last August, but there was so much other stuff going on with planning my move, long commute, etc., that I floundered.  Not this time!

I have been doing well with staying on a schedule, planning my food, exercising every day and I am already seeing positive results.

To kick up the weight loss, I toyed with the idea of doing another Whole 30.  A Whole 30 isn’t a huge switch from my current diet habits, but I need to think about it another day or so.

The weight loss challenge is based on the percentage lost, not total pounds so the playing field is leveled.  I inadvertently helped myself the night before the first weigh-in by making cornbread in my cast iron skillet.  DO NOT DO THIS if you live alone.  I ate way too much.  I stashed the rest in the freezer to save myself.  Ugh.

I enjoy giving myself some goals and activities a bit outside my comfort zone.  I have a quote on my bulletin board at work:

“Great things never come from comfort zones”

So true, so true.  I have hung outside my comfort zone before, so the unease is not unfamiliar.  Time to push myself again.  Happily this push is in the areas of my health and not work or money.  I feel safe and secure in those two areas.

Now let me make plans to crush my weight-loss competitors……

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Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash

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