It’s Happened

I turned 25.  I have to stop saying I’m in my early 20’s. I’m exactly mid-20’s.  10 years ago I would have said that being 25 means you are an adult. I can drive, vote, drink, and rent a car – all the things adults do! Now?  You aren’t an adult until 35.  It’s official. I just bought my own car. I just got a job with benefits. These things are old hat for real adults.

I have to remind myself that I’ve lived on my own (with roommates) for 3 years, that I’ve been paying for my phone and car insurance for forever, that I’ve been consistently working for 12 years. People trust me to take care of their ailing pets when they go on vacation, and with their fragile little children when they want a date. I have married friends. I have friends with kids. I’ve been in the same relationship for half a decade and we didn’t start dating while I was in high school.  FML, I’m a grown up.

Then I relax and realize that this time of my life is probably going to be the most liberating. I have to go to work, but I can party or chill or do whatever the f I want all weekend. I can go on week long vacations to places that aren’t filled with sad teens in cartoon costumes.  I can have dessert first, watch all the Netflix I want, wear weird trendy clothes, no curfew, no kids, no mortgage, it’s not weird for me to use SnapChat, but I can also afford to go out. This time of my life is all the fun of adulthood without all the stress. I’m going to fricken relish it.

SSC: Selfies and Body Image

It probably doesn’t surprise anyone when they hear that weight gain or obesity are often accompanied by self image and confidence issues.  For me it has always been a cycle of one causing the other causing the other.  The most contentious symptom of all of it is that I hate and often refuse to get my picture taken.  This issue is what the people in my life focus on the most.  I have maybe 3 pictures of my boyfriend and I together in 5 years. I hate family photos.

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In an effort to slow/stop the cycle of self-loathing leading to eating leading to more self-loathing, I have been trying to take more photos with me in them and sharing those pictures with friends and family.  This happens mostly in Snapchat because the pictures aren’t going to anyone I don’t want and they can only be viewed for a short period of time.  I’ve occasionally Instagrammed a photo of myself, but they make me nervous.

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I don’t think I’m going to become some Kim Kardashian level selfie taker, but so far I’ve gotten noticeably more comfortable with having my photo taken. I’m hoping that this little confidence boost will curb some of my emotional eating problems.  I know what I’m doing when I’m doing it.  It’s kind of like emotional turmoil that I’m indulging in, but simultaneously indulging in food.  Merica.

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This is my little attempt at healing some psychological issues, but I know the real work comes with lifestyle changes. It just seems like not a lot of people talk about working on yourself emotionally in addition to the physical stuff.  Obviously I still have a lot to change, but first let me take a #selfie.

SSC: Katie’s Attempts at Self-Control

My sister and I might pop in with a few updates here and there, but today I want to talk about self-control and how terrible I am at it.

When you are my size (20) there are lots of things that toss you onto the Struggle Bus. Self-control is my biggest problem.  Oh Lord, how I struggle with it. I have almost no self-control and it’s something that I try to work on all the time.  I am a dreamer and I dream big. When I start something, I go all in…and lose interest and steam.  Bearing that in mind, I wanted to start this challenge small and build up. I also wanted new habits to coincide with my new job.  I thought that the first thing I should do is start drinking an appropriate amount of water. I have probably spent the last 10 years super dehydrated, and since the first thing every article and “expert” says about weight loss is to drink water I decided to get to it. I bought this water bottle (mostly because I just liked it, not because I didn’t have any). I liked that I can twist off the top 1/3 of the bottle to add ice and it helps it fit into the dishwasher.  The bottom portion holds about 20 ounces so it’s easy for me to keep track of how much I get in.

 Water Bottle

Also, my office has this water fountain that I get nerdily giddy about everyday.  It isn’t just an ordinary water fountain that you fight with to fill up your water bottle because the stream is so short that you can never get it actually full.  No, my friends. This thing is made to fill up your personal beverage containers. It also tallies how many plastic water bottles your facility is saving on a little screen at the top. As of this posting, our office has saved over 3000 bottles in a about 2 months.

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I recently read that you should drink half your weight in ounces and +20 ounces if you are trying to lose weight.  I thought that was a bag of crock (ie. crock of shit, if you aren’t my sister).  Wasn’t it supposed to be 64 ounces?  Apparently no, it can be anything from 1/2 to 1 ounce of water per pound you weigh.  So I’m looking at a lot of water here.

The other tactic I’m using to curb my desires is to keep food at work.  My new job (oh yeah, I got a new job) has given me a work space with way more storage than I need.  I have 2 huge drawers basically just there to look like I keep files, but they only hold my purse and snacks.  I shoot for healthy snacks that will keep me full or at least bridge the gap between meals so I don’t overdo it when I finally get to eat.  Here is a shot of my drawer as of today.

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I keep the oatmeal to have for breakfasts.  I just cook it in my mug and rinse the mug when I’m done. That usually lasts me until lunch.   After lunch, I get bored and probably dehydrated so I want to snack on something.  I try to make this as convenient and perhaps fake-decadent as possible. So I have some Dark Mocha Almond Kashi bars and pineapple cups.  The apple is left over from my lunch at Panera. I want to make all of this as enjoyable as possible because I often find joy in eating and most of the time I’m enjoying food that is not that healthy. So if I make it so I don’t feel like I’m missing out, I might stick with this long enough to make it a habit.

I also keep cold medicine because receptionists get all the germs from all the visitors and only a select few callers enjoy speaking to Darth Vader.

One of the biggest quandaries I face when thinking about losing weight is making it click.  I have always wanted to ask people who have lost large amounts (or maybe any amount) how and when they decided to do it for real. What changed?  I’ve gone through phases where I commit myself and then lose steam and go back to my bad habits. I really don’t want to do that anymore.

So how about you?  What healthy habits have you picked up? What are you struggling with right now? I’m struggling with not getting Chipotle.  Futile, I know.

Sistren Slimdown Challenge

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I’ve mentioned before that I am generously sized. My sister is also not quite thrilled with her fitness level at this time. Although we usually have good intentions and generally try to be healthier, I’d say we are lacking the self-control department. Right now I weigh the most I’ve ever weighed and I don’t love it. She claims that she is approaching her previous heaviest weight (although I always think she looks beautiful ;) ).  We decided to take what is left of this year and have a little challenge between the two of us. Here are the facts.

Katie

Goal: 40 lbs.

Lbs lost: 0

Becca

Goal: 25 lbs.

Lbs lost: 0

 

If only one of us hits her goal, the loser has to pay for a manicure.  If both hit their goals, we go out for sister manicures.

Whoever loses the most (counted as percentage of goal) gets 2 tickets to the show of her choice (play/musical/comedy/concert).

Weigh ins are every Friday morning (from today until Christmas) before work in the hopes of keeping us motivated throughout the weekend.

 

Katie

In my youth, I was super active and played a ton of sports.  I played outside on the weekends and I generally didn’t give a lot of thought to what I ate.  I was active, and a little overweight.  Then I got to high school and did one season of softball and 2 semesters of gym (the graduation requirement) and that was it. I have been gaining ever since.  I’ve had brief affairs with Weight Watchers, Lose It, My Fitness Pal, juicing, Jillian Michaels, and I always end up losing interest instead of weight.  I still love Lose It and I also wear a FitBit Flex.  I never seem to hit the walking goals for the day though.  I don’t know why it took us this long to realize we should try competing against each other. It’s all we’ve done for the last 2 decades.

The Tortoise Life

About a month ago, I started a new job.  I went from being a receptionist for a small division (approx 600 people) of a large company (10s of thousands of people) to being a receptionist for a small association of under 100 people.  I realized two things very quickly:

  1. I was being disturbingly underpaid.
  2. The culture at my old job was toxic.

I should have been making almost double what I was being paid for the work I was doing.  When I first started there, I had very little to do and my wage reflected that.  Over the course of the next 2 years, my work load blossomed.  I was doing a variety of tasks, all requiring strong time management and attention to detail and industry knowledge.  You would not believe the things they trusted me with (but I’m grateful for the experience!).  By the end, my wage hadn’t changed at all and my work was…almost hard to quantify…5 times more than when I started? There wasn’t much my department could do, however, because of the climate of the company. Which brings me to…

I’m not saying that all “corporate” jobs have toxic cultures, just that my division at my company needed a lot of help.  It was highly competitive.  I don’t mean Our Company vs Another Company.  I mean department against department, all vying for more resources and trying to look like they were achieving every goal.   I didn’t feel as though the company valued their employees or contractors.  I was a contractor there for 2 years.  My supervisors worked very hard to bring me on, and credited me with my accomplishments loudly and to anyone who would listen.  BUT here I am at another company.  I loved my group, and I loved my management.  The people in my division (for the most part) were great and I was really sad to go.

But sometimes, you gotta do you.

So I did. Now I make 30% more doing much less stressful work.  The culture here is very INCLUSIONARY.  Birthday and anniversary celebrations. The receptionist (me) gets to go to all employee meetings.  People stop by to get to know me, and I get to know them.  After less than one month on the job, guess who is getting a semi-promotion? This girl.

At my new job, I’m reliving a lot of new job emotions that I felt 2 years ago.  Namely, whoa I have a ton of money, now what?  I’m not saying I’m rich, but after spending 6 years in retail I kind of feel rich.  A few things happened all at once to make me feel this way:

  • I got a 30% raise.
  • One of my larger bills is no more!
  • I’m on the precipice of paying off my last 2 debts.
  • I went from being paid weekly to bi-weekly.

Because of all this, I decided to sit down and reevaluate my monthly budget.  If you have a lot of money problems and don’t know where to start I would recommend checking out what Dave Ramsey has to say.  I am not a fan of his religiously charged, infomercial writing style, but the bones of his books are really helpful.  I kind of took what he had going and put my own spin on it to make it work for me.  I also really love Money Under 30 for a variety of financial info aimed at people my age.

This is my formula (assuming you make more than what your bills cost):

Income – Bills – 10% savings – allotted spending money = Money to put back into debts and savings.

Income

What I consider my income is what I make after taxes and retirement savings.  I pretend whatever is taken out is just never there. Right now I am making more than I ever have before, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not high.  I am a receptionist without a degree, but I definitely make enough to get by.

Bills

These include rent, phone, school debt, personal debt, credit cards, etc.  I recently got to stop paying for my car insurance.  I don’t even drive, but I had to pay for special insurance because of my driving record (which is a whole other post).  I finally finished the terms and now thats $80 a month I’m not paying.

Savings

I wrote 10% savings in formula because that’s the minimum I put in after every paycheck.  It’s one of the first things I do.  I actually just added it to my direct deposit, so now I don’t even have to worry about it.  This is definitely something that is personal. I hope to increase this number very soon.

Allotted Spending Money

Most articles that I’ve read say to decrease this number as much as possible.  I could go either way.  I don’t think we all need to live like nuns just to get by, but I don’t need a new Fendi bag every month.  I give myself $100 a week for incidentals.  Clothes, eating out, craft supplies, or whatever I think is fun to do that week.  This does mean I need to plan ahead when I want a mani/pedi or that I can’t go buckwild at the book store, but for the most part it works for me.

Money Left Over

I use all the money left over after bills, savings and spending budget to put back into my debts.  I will have what little school debt I have paid off by the end of 2014, as well as my credit card completely paid off. It has never been completely paid off!  This is kind of like my version of Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball. I don’t have many debts, just a few large ones.

I plan all of this ahead of time so when that paycheck hits my account, I can distribute the money right away.  I feel secure knowing that not only have I paid my bills and debts, but I get to have fun and save for the future too.

Getting my finances under control has been a long, slow road. Hence the tortoise title.  In the same sense, though, I feel like I’m winning the race. I have financial security for one of the first times in my life and it feels wonderful. There are lots of things I want right this second, but getting my sh*t together first and saving is the responsible thing to do.

 

Do you have a system to manage your money?  Any financial gurus you particularly like? How do you “Do You?”