August Goal Update!

Goal: Train for and run the following races: Dash for Donation, Emerald City quarter marathon, and the half at the Columbus Marathon.
Status: I did not get to run the Dash for Donation because of my work schedule and I believe the same will be true for Emerald City.  I did end up doing the 5k at the Giant Eagle MultiSport Festival, which was great and ended up in a PR.  Hoping to write a little more about that later.  I am still on track for the half marathon, though I am nervous about mileage not being enough by race time.

Goal: Strength train 3x a week.
Status: I would like to blame my failure on this in July on a lot of things, but ultimately, I just didn’t make time. I have scheduled myself to go at least once this week and hopefully start to build back up. My new job schedule has made for some adjustments and I haven’t caught up with that yet.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: Nope. Improvement needed.

Goal: Read at least one book a month.
Status: I breezed through Savages by Don Winslow after seeing the movie.  I think I might have preferred the movie to the book, which is a rarity. I started Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, but I haven’t stayed very well focused on it.  I am also picking my way through Kara Goucher’s Running for Women, which has some really great tips in it.

Goal: Budget! Budget! Budget!
Status:  My recent job changes have caused two things to happen: going a really long time without a full paycheck and also forcing medical things to become more expensive.  I am committed to keeping things under control, though, and excited to start saving money again once everything settles down.

Goal: Try something new once a month.
Status:  I didn’t really have a something new for July.  I may write up something a little late about starting a new job.  We’ll see if I can schedule that one in…  In the meantime, school starts this month!

Goal: Gratitude.
Status: I didn’t do this as much as I had hoped.  I find that I want to repeat myself a lot, so I am trying to open myself up to new things to be grateful for, even tough things.  Look for a best of #gratitudeproject coming sometime.

Goal: Actively work to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Status: As of late, there have been a number of negative things that have been going on in life. There are also a lot of good things.  I am trying actively to not let myself stew in the bad.  It can be hard, but trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel is an every day practice.

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July Goal Update!

Goal: Train for and run the following races: Jaeger Run for Pride, Dash for Donation, Emerald City quarter marathon, and the half at the Columbus Marathon.
Status: Successfully ran the Jaeger Run for Pride.  Race recap is here.  I actually don’t know if I’ll get to the Dash for Donation because of my new work schedule.  I already registered for it, unfortunately.  We’ll see if I can work something out. I am also considering the 5 or 10k at the Giant Eagle MultiSport Festival, but I haven’t decided yet.

Goal: Strength train 3x a week.
Status: I win this time! I win! I officially went back to the gym a week ago today. So I was in Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  That’s four days of strength training, including one day with my trainer.  I also did cardio all of those days, sometimes once at the gym and a short run later in the day. I cannot tell you how awesome it is to be lifting heavy things again.  I started out light, but I am already making progress.  I am also more actively using Fitocracy… find me here.  I am still a little frustrated that I can’t log everything I do because they don’t list all of my exercises.  All of that is besides the point: GOAL ACCOMPLISHED, at least for this past week.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: Ugh. At least I’ve been reading more…

Goal: Read at least one book a month.
Status: I finished  Storm of Swords in record time.  The last A Song of Ice and Fire book took me forever to read.  It was like slogging through a nightmare of awful things happening.  This third book still had awful things (give up all hope for anyone you ever liked), but it went a lot faster. Once finishing that, I started The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  I have seen part of the movie, but would like to read it before finishing the rest.  So far, so good.

Goal: Budget! Budget! Budget!
Status:  Because of my recent job changes, I have worked extra hard to stay on top of my budget. I didn’t do too badly in June, really.  I overdid it a little with the purchase of my new running shoes and some other miscellaneous clothing that I needed, but other than that, I have ended up in a pretty good spot.  If I made no income for July, I could still pay my bills and buy groceries, etc without dipping into my savings, so I think I’m not in bad shape at all.  Any income I make will be helpful and relieve stress, but at least I know I can do it regardless.

I will say also about budgeting that I think I have made a small breakthrough thanks to YNAB (who, by the way, came out with a new version that is AWESOME). I took another one of their free classes and it really got my brain on the right track, as in: look at the budget first. Thanks, YNAB!

Goal: Try something new once a month.
Status:  So for June, I quit my job.  I am coming up on the end of my two weeks of summer FUNemployment, which is a sad thing.  I am onto bigger and better things though, so I am super excited about that.

Goal: Gratitude.
Status: Did a little bit better. If you’ve been following my Twitter at all, you may have seen some #gratitudeproject tweets pop up.  I was especially grateful for my family and friends and all their support.  It has been really awesome.  I am going to continue with this goal since I think it’s been helping my outlook on life.

Goal: Actively work to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Status: This links directly into gratitude, I think.  Since I’m starting a new job and starting school next month, I think that it’s time to get myself mentally prepared for the coming inevitable ups and downs.  I was so long in a bad situation that I need to make sure that I’m going into the new ones with a good attitude.

Here’s to July!

June Goal Update!

Goal: Train for and run the following races: Jaeger Run for Pride, Dash for Donation, Emerald City quarter marathon, and the half at the Columbus Marathon.
Status: My overall training has been put on hold due to first my ankle (which thankfully seems pretty well healed) and now my hip/IT band. I’m pretty sure that I can do the first two since they are just 5ks, but I need to get myself out more. I have only run a handful of times in the past couple of weeks.

Goal: Strength train 3x a week.
Status: I keep telling myself that I’m going to go back to the gym.  My physical therapist tells me that I can go back.  I’m just nervous.  Next week, I will get in there even if it’s only once. By the end of June, I want to be back in regularly.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: I keep telling myself this is going to change. Focus required.  Yesterday, I tested the WordPress app to see what it was like posting from it.  I am hoping this will at least increase some blog activity.  I have just been feeling a little bummed in general (lack of running??) and so less than inspired.

Goal: Read at least one book a month.
Status: Finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It almost, almost made me want to consider doing something like the Pacific Crest Trail myself. But then I realized that I have no experience in the outdoors, I can’t take months off of work, and I am also not crazy. I am just not made of the stuff that thrives in the wild.  So…  After I finished that, I picked up Storm of Swords since the latest Game of Thrones season is almost over and I can read ahead now.

Goal: Save money/budget reboot!
Status: I think I need to get a little more specific with this one as my current methods just aren’t working.  So for June, my goal is to use x amount of dollars a week in non-required spending (in other words, not bills). No more. For instance, I have about $30 in my wallet right now and it will have to last me until next Friday.  This game only works if you actually budget out and buy the necessities like gas and groceries and then work on the rest from there, I think.  At least, that’s what I’m currently doing.

Goal: Try something new once a month.
Status:  For May, I went to see a dietician.  I’m not sure yet what June will hold, but I’m sure that I will come up with something.

Goal: Gratitude.
Status: Well this sunk like a stone. I really feel like this could benefit my overall outlook on life, so I’m going to try this one again. Let’s see how it goes.

Something New: April – Recap

So April’s something new started with this post about trying to live off of my income three years ago.  I posted another blog entry about halfway through the month. I was already struggling with it at that point.

I had the most problems with bills, doctor visits, and surprise expenses.  Because I have more bills, my rent is higher, etc, more money went to those things.  So when Thor had to go to the vet, it would have been impossible for me to pay for it if I kept within my 2009 budget. By the end of the month, I was really just trying to spend as a little as possible in an attempt to get in under the wire on my goal.  I didn’t make it.

I did, however, learn some things to stay better on track.

  • I can still use the budget I might have used back in 2009 for things that vary like groceries, care items, etc.  It can save a lot of money to put a tight cap on how much you’re going to use for those things.
  • Pay in cash.  I kept a card around in case I absolutely had to use it, but if you only take enough cash out to get you through x number of days or through specific errands, you really have to stay with what you have.  I guess that’s only if you have the willpower to do so.
  • Take your limits seriously.  If you are always telling yourself in the back of your mind that you have a safety net, you might never get serious about staying within a budget.  At least, that’s one of my problems. Doing this helped me to really stay focused on the goal even if I didn’t meet it.

So it wasn’t an entirely lost cause.  I got more comfortable with budgeting and YNAB in general.  I also learned that I can mostly live on a smaller income than I have currently, but it would take some real discipline. I am hoping to get better at that discipline.  More discipline = more money saved!

May Update!

Goal: Train for and run the quarter marathon at Cap City and the half-marathon at Nationwide.
Status: Cap City COMPLETE! Full race recap to come! I have already chosen at least two other races for the next couple of months as well.  I’ve got race fever!  I am still hoping to do the half in October, but I’d like to know that I can actually do it before I register.  Walking part of 6.55 is one thing, but 13.1 is another.

Goal: Strength train 3x a week.
Status: As of last week, I was told by my physical therapist I could slowly get back into some “gentle gym time.” I’m hoping to go either tomorrow or Wednesday.

Goal: Regularly donate to charity and start volunteering.
Status: Did my first volunteering activity at Planned Parenthood!

Goal: Write every day.
Status: Completely neglected except for what you see here. Ugh.

Goal: Read at least one book a month.
Status: Slowed down on the reading trend.  Happened across Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. So far, it is really good.  Now I just need to take more time to read it.

Goal: Save money/budget reboot!
Status: This tied into the April edition of Something New. I will be giving a follow-up on that shortly.

Goal: Try something new once a month.
Status:  For April, I tried to live like I did three years ago. This did not go as planned. It’s strange to think about how different things are in such a short period of time. May’s something new takes place on Thursday. You’ll have to check back for it. 🙂

Goal: Gratitude.
Status: This is my new goal for May. I am going to post at least twice a week in some form (Twitter, Facebook, or on the blog) something that I am grateful for. I have been thinking about this a lot lately.  Some days recently haven’t felt very inspiring (so to speak), so I think this will help put some things into perspective.

Happy May!

Something New: April – The Halfway Point

We’re officially about halfway through the month, so why not a little update? If you missed my initial post on this goal, please go here. The nutshell: live off of what I was making three years ago.

So how is it going? Not well. Since this is a public site, I don’t want to go too in detail about money and income. It takes away some of the impact, but it makes me feel a little more at ease. I haven’t talked to many people about this plan, but my boyfriend didn’t think it was going to work. He was right, as he so often is.

The problem so far? Things that are not 2009-friendly: Gas was cheaper, I didn’t have prescriptions to buy or specialists/physical therapists to see, etc. I didn’t even include some of my now-normal expenses into this budget.  I also have to admit that I got pretty discouraged part of the way through and probably didn’t include everything in my spending that I should have. This is where I need to get better at tracking things.

The next couple of weeks will be the real test. As rent is the biggest bill and that will have been paid, the second two weeks of the month will have slightly more money. If I was living this budget month to month, this extra cash could be used in the first two weeks of the next month to balance out spending. I’m going to see if I can spend less to make up for the more already spent, if that makes sense.  So maybe overall for the month, I can come down to even.  Let’s hope!

I’m hoping I have also figured out a way to simplify things. I was actually working off of two separate budgets in YNAB, but I have since transferred it all to one budget and just adjusted things around so that my 2009 allowances are factored into the appropriate categories. I know, I know. I really made it way more difficult than I needed it to be.  And, of course, I am kind of geeking out about my budget since I just took one of the YNAB classes and found it really helpful.  I have actually completely revamped how I was doing things and feel like I’m on a better path overall.

Next two weeks, here I come!

April Update!

I think of all the months so far, March was probably one of my most productive. Despite my herniated disc acting up again, I got a lot of things accomplished. I would say about half of my goals were attended to in a satisfactory (or approaching it) manner.

Let’s check in…

Goal: Train for and run the quarter marathon at Cap City and the half-marathon at Nationwide.
Status: About halfway through March, I actually bailed on my 10k training program and started a half-marathon training program. The pace seemed overall better for me and I would end up running the required distance to complete the quarter marathon before May.  Unfortunately, with my back being in the state it’s in, we are looking at maybe only getting to walk at Cap City. Fingers crossed that my doctor’s appointment this week brings good news for my running efforts.

Goal: Strength train 3x a week.
Status:  In March, I said I wanted to do some sort of physical activity every day of the week except for one rest day.  I didn’t quite keep up with that, but I got pretty close.  I held pretty steady to approximately 3 days a week at the gym.  I even started to really track my strength training, which I have been horrible at doing previously.  We’ll wait to revise this goal until after my doctor’s appointment since I am not supposed to be lifting things as of right now.

Goal: Regularly donate to charity and start volunteering.
Status: I am not “regularly” donating, but I am trying to keep up with giving donations as birthday gifts for people.  We’ll revisit this one at another time.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: Getting sooooo much closer! I definitely picked up the blogging pace and I even started looking at the story I’ve been working on a little bit more.  Still need more consistency.

Goal: Read at least one book a month.
Status: Big win on this one.  I finished four books: A Clash of Kings, the three books in the The Hunger Games trilogy
(barely counts as it was my third time through), and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I have anxiously started another book already: The Portable Door by Tom Holt. I will be happy to keep this reading trend up in April.

Goal: Save money/budget reboot!
Status: Sort of sluggish for March overall on the money front. For April, this goal and the next goal are both tied in together. I think it will be a really good way of getting myself on track with budgeting in general.

Goal: Try something new once a month.
Status:  March’s something new meant going to a running clinic.  For April, please see my “In the Works” post. I am really excited about this one!

Goal: Catch up on intended blog entries.
Status: COMPLETE! Yay!

Something New: In the Works – April

So I’ve decided already what April’s something new is and I’m so excited about it that I have to share it now.

I have struggled with money for a lot of my adult life.  I have found myself in a lot of problematic scenarios and in a lot of financial holes.  I’ve never been very good at budgeting and I can’t say I’m awesome at conservative spending.  I have only just recently landed in an income position that has allowed me to live life in a generally comfortable sort of way and I am very thankful for that.  My comfortable and your comfortable might be different. My comfortable is still having a little money in the bank and being able to put some aside in savings every paycheck.  I don’t buy extravagant things very often, but I do have the problem of buying a lot of little things.

A couple of things have added to my problem:

  • Taking up running and working out in general has really put a damper on my cash since I had nothing for those activities when I started. Now I pay a gym membership and worry about appropriate clothing, etc.  Over the winter I was purchasing a base of winter gear and now I am trying to have appropriate hot weather gear.  Seems silly, really, when it’s an activity that you could do barefoot in any clothing.  Now I have compression sleeves and hydration belts. What?
  • I stopped buying cheap food. Seems like a silly thing also, but once my income started increasing, so did the amount I was spending on food.  I think it probably has something to do with age also: I don’t buy pizza rolls or hot pockets like I used to. I switched to buying more organic and overall better for you kinds of things.  While I do try to stay on the cheaper side, I can’t say I am not a sucker when I go to the grocery on an empty stomach.
  • The acquiring of an iPhone and iPad has meant buying more iThings. I have tapered off a lot, but it’s still just far too easy to pull up iTunes and buy an album or think “I need an app for that” and then purchase one that’s “only $1!” That stuff adds up.  I also buy more books now since that’s one of the main reasons for owning the iPad, not a bad thing really, but not nice on the wallet either.

There are other factors, of course.  I have a student loan payment that I didn’t used to have.  I’ve spent money on a personal trainer on and off over the year.  I’ve had a lot of medical bills in the past year from MRIs, physical therapy, surgery, etc. I am really thankful that I’ve been able to keep up on all of this and not fall into my old spending holes.

However, I think there are problems with what I’ve been doing and I want to fix them.  Sometimes I’m really good about my budget and sometimes I just let a little too loose.  I don’t find myself in trouble necessarily, but I don’t like what I’m doing either.  I really enjoy using YNAB for money purposes, but I am not using their method very well (and it’s a good one, so I really should!). So, my something new for April is going to be spending on the income I had three years ago. If I was good at math, I’d tell you the percentages, but I’m not. Let’s just say that if I was living on the same income now as I did three years ago and with the same bills, I would have less than half of what I do now in “disposable” income.

What am I including in disposable income? For the purposes of this exercise, it’s anything that isn’t a set bill.  For bills, I am not including my gym membership or savings, but I am including my student loan, car insurance, phone, electric, etc. So disposable is going to have to cover groceries, gas, eating out, care products, and miscellaneous. There are going to be some exceptions to this because of some of the things happening in April, like my boyfriend’s birthday and my trip to Kansas City to see my stepbrother. Those things are going to come out of my usual income, not the income I’m using for April’s Live Like It’s 2009 Budget.  I will take “emergencies” as they come (and hopefully there won’t be any). Seems fair enough, really.

I am actually really excited about this despite the fact that it’s going to be a little tough. Between now and the 1st, I’m going to spend some time in YNAB trying to create something that will work for my new limits.  I also think that if I can successfully do this, I will probably reward myself somehow.  Almost all the “excess” money is going to go into savings, which will be it’s own reward.  But maybe I’ll use some of it to donate to a charity, or maybe I’ll put some away in an IRA. I’ll see what happens. A reward that will keep rewarding is a nice idea.

So come on, April 1st!

Side note: While we’re speaking of money, have I mentioned how much I love Get Rich Slowly?  The post from today was pretty awesome: This I Believe: 43 Lessons from 43 years. Nice little motivator.

Motivation v1.0

A friend recently asked me about motivation. It’s hard to say one single thing that got me into all of this running and gym time. The gym came partially because of the encouragement from my boyfriend. He has been full of support and knowledge about a lot of things that I had no idea about. For instance, he was the one that finally convinced me that girls don’t bulk out from lifting weights and educated me on why lifting was so important.

I started looking at resources for women’s lifting and came across videos of girls doing 300lb deadlifts. I was so impressed that that became my goal. I wanted to be as awesome and impressive as these girls. The girls were often young, not bulky, but strong. Oh, to be so strong! So I started lifting. I started with basic lifts with the barbell: squat, deadlift, row. I was pretty weak to begin with, so the 45lb bar was enough for me at first. I slowly worked my way up. Three months in, I hit 100lbs and kept adding weight. That was unfortunately when I think I started to get less careful and ended up with my herniated disc.

I had been seriously into my lifting goal. I was working with my trainer once a week and working out besides. I don’t know when I ended up back at the gym after my back injury. It was actually before I was diagnosed with the disc problem. I stopped the gym entirely when I started physical therapy three days a week. I have slowly integrated the gym back in and am regularly back in it, but I will probably never lift heavy like that again.

So my goal of 300lbs was dashed. What next? Somehow running came about. I wish I could remember exactly how it started. I hated cardio. Why do cardio when you can lift things? Lifting was my favorite and the deadlift especially. But then came running. It may have been that I could do much less of the other things at the gym that I just ended up on the treadmill more and more. Someone at my gym suggested the elliptical since it was lower impact all around, but I really hate the elliptical.

I looked up beginning running programs and found Couch-to-5k. The goals associated with that really helped get me going. Every time I got on the treadmill, it was a new challenge and I had a real attainable goal. There are other beginning programs, obviously, and I didn’t stick with c25k the whole time. I really recommend finding something to guide and challenge you like that. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to do a race, so there was another goal!

You may be catching onto something here: goals. I would say that’s the real answer to the motivation question. Lots of people have the goal of losing weight or “toning up,” but those types of goals might not motivate you. While those things are bonuses to what I’m doing (and let me tell you, I totally geek out over how my arms look lifting dumbbells now), I think finding a really attainable goal that you can have measured incremental success at will probably get you on the right track if the general goals don’t work. Lifting weights was something I could see improvement at every time I went in. I could add a little weight or know that I was working toward it. With running, I add new distances and I’m in a competition with myself for other things like speed. Races are a great goal to have since you have something solid to work toward by a deadline. You also have to pay entrance fees and that can motivate you all on its own. No one wants to give away their money.

My other motivation for keeping up with the gym and running is how I feel. Regardless of the extraordinary feeling of doing something you didn’t think you ever would, it feels good. I am 100% more aware of my body and how it works. Something as silly as going up stairs is a strange new experience because now I’m paying attention to the way my knees bend or appreciating how my body can do simple things like that. You might think that after over year in the gym, I’d be seeing crazy results. I’m not. I have maintained almost exactly the same weight since I started working out. I have been told that’s impressive in and of itself. I can tell some differences in my body(arms!) or the way it operates (those stairs!), but it’s not like my motivations are coming from a drastically shrinking waistline.

My advice when you’re searching for motivation: find goals.  Find things you enjoy.  If you don’t like working out or can’t find something you like to do right off, you might have to tough it out like I did with cardio until something just catches right (though you may not all of a sudden love running like I do).  Ultimately, you have to find your own good reasons for doing it and make sure that those reasons will drive you.

March Update!

Well, February was full of a little bit of progress for some things, a goal achieved, and other goals not. Let’s review..

Goal: Run a 5k! And then run in at least the Cap City and Nationwide races as well.
Status: 5k COMPLETE!! If you missed my celebratory post, go read it here.  As of Saturday, I officially registered for the quarter marathon at Cap City.  What’s the difference between a quarter marathon and a 10k? About .35 miles.  The 10k is 6.2 and the quarter is 6.55.  I am looking at a few 5ks between now and Cap City, but I’m not sure yet whether I will sign up for those as well.

Goal: Strength train 3x a week.
Status:  I have been in twice a week at least most weeks with my trainer.  My commitment for March is to do something every day except for Sunday.  So for instance, today I had a sesson with my trainer and then in a little while, I’m going to go out and run.  Tomorrow, I will probably end up in the gym and/or doing a short run.  I am planning to alternate running and gym days except for my days off from work where I plan to do both because I can space out the two.

Goal: Regularly donate to charity and start volunteering.
Status: I had my volunteer orientation for Planned Parenthood in February.  I have yet to actually do any volunteering, but there are a few opportunities coming up.

Goal: Write every day.
Status: I have started work again on a story that I was messing around with, though it requires some research that I have yet to do.  Still working toward this goal.

Goal: Read at least one book a month.
Status: I am almost done with A Clash of Kings (finally). I started to re-read The Hunger Games in anticipation of the movie at the end of the month and that book really flies by, so no worries on that.  If I’m lucky, I’ll finish three books in March to make it even for the year so far. Ha!

Goal: Save money/budget reboot!
Status: Getting things on track here! It would be helpful if one of the cats hadn’t required 3 trips to the vet in 3 weeks.  He seems to be doing better now, so I will forgive him putting a cramp in my plans here… 😉

Goal: Try something new once a month.
Status:  Well… I am sort of having a hard time coming up with ideas for this.  We are going to cheat for February and say my 5k was the big thing.  It was a big thing, so I guess it isn’t cheating, but still… Any ideas on things to try?  I am considering anti-social media days where I don’t go on Twitter or Facebook for the whole day. I don’t feel like it’s such a hard thing to give up, so maybe it would be more like doing it for a week.  Still playing with that one.

Goal: Catch up on intended blog entries.
Status: I have drafts, oh believe me, I have drafts. Ha! My new March goal is this one.