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?”

Over the River…

I spent this past Saturday at my Grandma Joyce’s house painting over what some would consider the most egregious abomination in home decor in human history.  “Katie,” you say, “aren’t you being a bit dramatic?”  Take a look at this.

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That’s a dark teal and mustard stencil over a green and cream faux finish.  My poor, sweet grandma has had to live with this IN HER BEDROOM for the last 11 years.  We were at her house in March for her birthday and I’d had enough with the faux finishing that permeates her house.  I asked her how she felt about her bedroom and she told me with no hesitation that she hated it.  I told her for Mother’s Day, we would paint her bedroom.

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The “artist” left no wall untouched by some form of this stencil. Why, Person, why?  We went around and sanded the edges of the stencil so they wouldn’t be visible after we painted over them.

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One more close up shot for good measure.

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I drafted my sister Becca and one of my younger brothers, Spencer.  Here he is stirring paint with his big, muscly arms. He is such a good boy.  The wall with the window got a darker shade of paint for an accent wall – Grandma’s idea.  :)

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Look at that accent wall!  What a difference even one wall made. Like humans with eyes live here.

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I thought it would be cute to paint a little secret message for Grandma with the first coat on the rest of the walls.

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My siblings did too.  Here is Becca’s contribution.

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And Spencer’s… He has been trained from birth to be a staunch Bears fan. He used the answer the phone with this little mantra beginning at just 3 years old.

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Here it is after 2 coats on every wall and all the furniture back in place. My grandma was so thrilled and she called her sister just to tell her about it.  She chose the colors from a deck and I think she did a great job.  They really complement the gorgeous quilt she has on her bed. The pictures don’t do this room any justice.

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The bedroom color pairs nicely with the bathroom paint (the only other space with paint that she likes).  Through the bathroom is the laundry room with a faux finish all its own.  Maybe someday soon we will tackle another space for Grandma Joyce. Until then, know that a little bit of ugly in the world was painted over.

Did you do any projects over the weekend?  Have you ever seen anything as ugly as that faux finish/stencil combination?

Staining Plywood Subfloors

You might recall that my sister and I recently ripped up the carpet on our first floor.   When my friends left that Thursday night (May 1st), we had torn up all the nails and crap.  We had very dirty plywood subflooring.  At that point, I was starting to get the, “Am I in over my head?” feeling.  The best thing to do when that happens to just keep pushing on and pretend you know what you are doing and hope it turns out ok.

Under the Carpet

So that’s what I did.  What you see above is what we discovered under the carpeting.  Globs of spackle and copious pet stains. Yay! I spent my Friday night and entire day Saturday sanding the floors with my handy dandy palm sander to smooth out and hopefully remove a lot of that.  Real quick, if you are planning on trying this, rent a floor sander. So much saved time.  We also hung some old sheets that Alex’s grandma left in the house to try to block the dust from spreading everywhere.  Guess what?  Painter’s tape doesn’t hold up sheets.  We ended up just covering the electronics with them and hoping for the best.  We are professionals!

Trying to Contain the Dust

 

One great tool in reducing the dust was this little buddy of mine.  Apparently there are little adapters that let you connect various dust making tools to your shop vac to reduce the layer of dust your life will inevitably be covered in. We didn’t have to buy one.  This is only a 5 gallon shop vac so it’s little hose fit right into my Ryobi sander. It was a huge help and I highly recommend it.

Shop Vac

Here are the floors post-sanding and I think they don’t look too bad.  In person, it was incredibly rustic still, so we decided to press on with the project as planned.

Sanded Subfloor Pug

Saturday night, at about 9:30, I broke out the wood filler and a plastic spoon because that’s what I had and started doing that.  For about 30 minutes.  After a full day on my hands and knees sanding, my patience was gone. 
Wood Filler

I got about this far before calling it a day.  The next morning, basically distraught, I woke up my sister and told her if I didn’t get out of the house for a little I would die.  I went to the grocery store. What a relief that was.

Dining Room Drying Wood Filler

I came home and she had finished doing the wood filler like an angel.  We hung out for about an hour to wait for the wood filler to dry.  It turned a whiter shade of the strange orange beige color it is when wet.

Wood Filler Sanded

After she had sanded the filler, I vacuumed the whole floor thoroughly with our shop vac.  We did not want anything getting in the way our our stain adhesion.

Shop Vac and Sanded Wood Filler

We also wiped the floor down with this Minwax Pre-Stain.  It’s supposed to make sure your stain ends up even and not blotchy.  Why not?  It was really fumey.  Like paint thinner kind of.  We had to open all the windows.  Also, the instructions said to put your stain down within 2 hours of the pre-stain for best results.  We did this for half the floor and I didn’t notice a big difference.  That also could be because we used such a dark stain.

Minwax Pre-stain

Her she is all pre-stained and ready to go.

Sanded with Pre-Stain

I rolled on the stain because ain’t nobody got time to brush it on.  We were actually on our way to my sister’s early birthday party and time was of the essence.  I started staining when we should have been in the car. Oops.  This is as far as I got that day.  The next night just before bed, Becca (my sister) finished up the rest of the floors so they would be dry when we woke up. The stain we used was Minwax PolyShades in Espresso.

Halfway Stained

 

Some good news:  Our house’s token pee smell is gone as far as we can tell.  Regular guests have hopefully been answering us honestly.  Violet, darling that she is, has reduced her accidents and I’m altogether very happy.  The dark color gives me a good idea of what our real flooring will look like one day when we can afford it. Here are our finished for now floors.

Finished Floors

Somehow our couch ended up way further back than it used to be.  Also, the tv is currently showing my sister’s most recent obsession – Korean culture.  왜?

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This shot shoes how the floors look in person.  I think we’ll end up doing another coat of stain + poly in a few weeks.

Finished Floors 3

 

So that is that.  I am so relieved the carpet is gone.  I can breathe a little easier and tread a lot louder.  Have you tried anything that people gave you the raised eyebrow for?