Tuesday, March 3, 2015

To do list today.

This is the top of my real-life "To do" list today. 
But amazingly, it's not what I feel my focus for the year is to be. 
I am a New Year's Resolution-maker.  Yep, I admit it.  I don't make resolutions for the sake of making them, but it is a great time, each year, to evaluate what you are doing well, what you are lacking in, make goals, and live intentionally instead of letting life pass you by, and seeing important things undone. 
This year, I felt like God was telling me to "focus on (my) health."  I have had some underlying health issues and been overweight for too long, and have gone through 3 C-sections within the last 4 years (more posts to follow on this), so my main focus as far as goals go is to focus on getting healthy.  I truly hope this is the year for that.  However, does that mean I let the other areas of my life slack? 
Last year the overarching theme of the year was getting out of debt.  See past post for more on that.  We're getting close.  Within a year, pending any emergencies, we should be debt-free.  But after moving in November, getting dental work done, getting some much-needed new clothes that fit, renewing multiple licenses, etc. etc. let's just say we haven't made as quick of progress in 2015.     
Does anyone else hate working on finances?
I've learned, over time, that I like to see the numbers add up and I love the free-feeling I get when I pay off debt, and stay with-in our budget and have extra to spare.  But, most months, it doesn't happen and it's depressing.  But is avoiding it helping?  Nope, tried that.  For the last 3 months or so!  I didn't completely avoid it, and we paid our minimum payment on the one debt we have left, but it's time to keep better track again and work my butt off so I can see $0 in our family's budget owed to anyone.  My older brother announced that today he is 100% debt free. I'm proud of him.  Now it's my turn.  So, goodbye I go to figure out where we're at, and hopefully, find "extra" to pay off that last pending, but biggest loan we have, which was my hubby's college education 10 years ago.  :)

(disclaimer....the next item on my to-do list is memorizing one verse in the Bible, not the whole book.) 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Finances--On the Fast Track to Freedom

In late spring I was REALLY discouraged about money.  I began praying about what to do.  In our first 2 1/2 years of marriage my husband and I made some really dumb financial decisions.  We had no kids at the time and both worked, so we decided to treat my husband's income as our income and mine as the "extra income" because we wanted to set ourselves up to be in a position where I could stay home and take care of our kids some day when we had them.  Unfortunately, my husband's income was not enough for us to live on, so my income was necessary.  Because we treated my income as "extra" we were "forced" to put "emergencies" on a credit card, pay our school debt down slowly, and made a choice to take out a car loan for a reliable used, but clearly-out-of-our-price-range vehicle.  This set us up for a big debt problem.  I realize that our debt load was probably not much compared to others our age, but at 23 and 24, our debt was already a burden to us.  We committed in 2008 to no longer go into further debt, but here we are in 2014 and we're STILL in debt.

Dave Ramsey preaches that if you "live like no one else, then you can live like no one else."  I felt as though we were living in a place of tightness financially for quite some time with no pay offs.  Sure, we have paid things off over time: our vehicles last year were fully paid for, we've paid off medical bills and other things, smaller debts.  But we still have this looming burden over our heads that cause most months to be paycheck-to-paycheck months. It's frustrating.  And so here I was late spring praying and I felt like God was impressing on me/saying to me, we can cut back more.  Dave Ramsey encourages "gazelle intensity" in paying off debt which is based on Proverbs 6:1-5 in the Bible (*Take Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University for more info. on that.) and here we were cutting back, but snailing along in reducing our debt load.  All of our minimum payments were being made but as the years kept rolling along, it was frustrating to see the pay-off YEARS down the road at our current rates-of-pay. 

SO--God impressed on me that we can save MUCH more than we were, by cutting back to the bare bones short-term so that we can become debt-free MUCH sooner.  And so that is what we have been doing since May.  Bare bones budgeting.  I did the math and as long as there are no more emergencies that arise between now and then, becoming 100% debt free should be a reality in about August of 2015.  By bare bones, I do mean bare bones, as in: no budget for hair cuts, gifts, parties, dates, gym memberships, cable, clothes, etc.  Bare bones means our budget consists of our regular bills, rent, insurance, gas, groceries, and diapers, saving a little each month for oil changes and doctoring throughout the year, and the one splurge of the internet, but it means in bigger fashion paying down debt and that is pretty much it.  I will make another post about an exciting bill I just paid for in cash, and also will post our progress, but this is where we're at:  on the fast track to freedom.  :)

A year from where I started I begin again

Here I am.  I'm back.  In a way a totally different person at a different place in life than last year.  In a way, I'm the same girl.  One of the major life changes I've had this last year was turning 30.  For some reason, 30 has been the one age where I actually "feel different."  I'm no longer "young."  Okay, I know that 30 isn't old and no longer do I even think of 65 as being old, but think about it:  when you were in high school what age did you consider old?  30.  My baby sister turned 18 this year and even she said, "You're gonna be 30?! You're old!"  I'm no longer in my twenties, and I literally feel that several months ago when people learned I was "only" 29, they saw me as younger.  Only a few months later I am 30, and suddenly not a YOUNG adult anymore.  Now I'm full-blown adult status.  I don't mind.  I've never been one to wish myself to be older or younger.  I want to savor each age and stage and year.  Life goes fast.  It truly is a breath or a vapor, if I remember the Bible's description right.   

To sum up my life from last September until this one in two words:  Baby and busy.  Baby, because I just had my 4th baby in just under five years and let me tell you, that pretty much sums up my life these days.  My #1 job, role, and identity label is stay-at-home mommy these days.  And busy because my little ones are all super busy and that keeps me on my toes all. of. the. time.  But, I'm back and I think I'm at a better place to share life with you.  Enjoy my blog.  I certainly hope to.  :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Weight Watchers--Day 51

58.4 lbs. left to lose until my ultimate goal weight!  Yep, only one pound difference from what I started blogging at 50 days ago.  I don't blame Weight Watchers.  I will "own my weight," as Chris Powell says on Extreme Makeover: Weightloss Edition (love that show, by the way...but don't have half my body weight to lose...sigh to being overweight but not enough for the cool shows).  Anyway,...I'm the one who got myself to this weight and I'm the one who keeps myself at this weight. In losing weight my goal is not just to do a quick fix losing of weight and go on with my life.  I've lived long enough to know that it must be a lifestyle change if it's going to last.  So, to be quite honest, I have not embraced the Weight Watchers program yet.  I was doing well for a little while.  And then that time of the month came and I let it go.  I felt fat, so I started eating bad again, then the state fair happened, then my anniversary, and my daughter's birthday, and my birthday, etc. etc.   Oh sure, I can list the excuses, but what is the point?  The bottom line is I know what I should be doing and I haven't been doing it.  But I'm choosing to not give up...which is one big reason I chose to do another month of Weight Watchers.  I felt like the Holy Spirit was leading me to join for one more month and, one reason why, I think, is because my self-control with how I was eating went totally out the window again.  I MADE IT TO MY PRE-PREGNANCY WEIGHT.  Woo Hoo!  But, then I chose to fall backwards and I regained weight again.  My next weigh-in for Weight Watchers is in 4 days.  It would be AWESOME to be back at pre-pregnancy weight again.  I don't know if that is do-able or not.  But, I feel like to really give this lifestyle a fair shot, I actually need to embrace it.  I have basically 12 more days until my monthly pass runs out.  I have cancelled it so it won't renew for another month, in part because my budget won't allow that (I wish they gave out scholarships...another sigh).  So I have 12 more days for the at-meeting support of Weight Watchers local staff until I either do this lifestyle on my own or I choose something else to try and embrace as a healthier lifestyle.  Here's to 12 more days and for me, not giving up, but pressing on and facing the fact that I failed, but not forever.  :)     


Friday, August 2, 2013

My Journey from Thin to Fat and back--Part 1

I thought about titling this blog "My journey from thin to fat and back" because that's what the weight loss stuff is for me.  But the blog idea became more than weight loss.  I have so many other areas that are important to me too that I couldn't just limit this blog to one thing.  But this is my weight history to date and why I am still on this journey:

Growing up I was always skinny.  I never had a problem with appearance and what I thought was "fat" back then, really wasn't. It was just normal insecurity I think.  One year it was a freckle that I was insecure about, the next year it was my thighs. I looked good in a bikini, but never wore one because I was raised to be fairly modest and while that wasn't prohibited in my house when I looked in the dressing room mirror, I felt like I was looking at myself wearing a bra and underwear and I just couldn't do that in public.  Nor did I want that kind of attention.  In high school I was fairly well liked.  I was never popular or anything and didn't have a string of boyfriends (I only had two before I met my husband), but let's just say I didn't really lack attention from guys either.  But I also didn't let men disrespect me.  I was a strong girl with a good head on my shoulders, in hindsight.  However, I wasn't insecure about my weight because I had no reason to be.  I was thin, but I think back then I took that for granted.  I didn't starve myself or worry about it much.  I didn't understand when friends who were bigger than me would feel insecure, because I looked at their inner beauty.  I remember looking at those with "muffin tops" from a distance saying, "I will never have those." (Not to their faces of course, because that is rude.)  I remember thinking jiggly bodies were gross and feeling sad for those people. 

Fast forward 10 years and I have become that jiggly body with muffin tops.  And it's kind of sad to think that teenagers are probably naively looking at me the same way I once looked at others. 

The downward spiral I think began before I even realized it.  I used to have a very weak stomach in high school and I did some things right that I never even realized like if I overate one day,  then sometimes I'd just not eat as much the next.  Not starve myself or anything, just not eat as much junk or snacks, etc.  I remember my tummy feeling sick when I ate greasy foods because while I guess I did eat out more when I had a job, it wasn't something my family did much, thus I wasn't used to eat those kinds of foods all of the time.  Well, long story short, part of my weak stomach was due to nerves.  I would get nervous and literally puke.  I had puked at some point in most of my friend's homes just because I would get nervous.  Well, I had a very radical transformation with Jesus Christ when I was 16 (I asked Him into my life and believed in Him, believing He died on the cross and rose again to forgive me for my sins and have a relationship with Him and that He was Lord of my life.)  So anyway, this transformation in my life meant that within about a week's time God actually lifted my depression from me that I was struggling with at the time and calmed my fears and my ability to deal with fear, I would say.  So that same week that I asked Him into my life and told Him I never want to turn back, I gained 14 pounds.  I weighed a meager 105 at age 16 (a lot due to my healthy activity level paired with what and how much I ate, etc.).  That was fine.  It put me in the 120's I suppose.  And some people told me "It's nice to see you looking healthier."  My thought was "Thanks for calling me fat."   But, the problem was then when I would get nervous instead of getting sick or not being able to eat during those moments, I would overeat.  I gradually gained and gained and gained.  10 pounds a year I gained. 

One reason I gained was because growing up I had 10 siblings.  Anytime anything unhealthy, thus "tasty" was around, it was gone within the day...sometimes within hours.  Whenever my mom would make say Rice Krispie bars or something, you had better be home when they were made or you might not get any.  So when I entered college, I could eat anything I wanted.  The things that tasted good, were readily available.  I was on a college meal plan, as I lived on campus, and the college's food was pretty terrible (as in gross) at that time.  I would say most of the student body would talk about that fact (thankfully for college go-ers I know the food service has changed since I went there).  But what tasted good every single day?  The desserts.  Yep.  Not kidding you, so I indulged A LOT.  What else was nice?  Unlimited soda pop.  (Being originally from MN we call it "pop.")  Dr. Pepper is my absolute weakness, and I would drink it all the time.  So, yep...I continued to gain weight.  10 pounds a year. 

Where I believe my weight got really out of hand though was in 2007.  My husband and I had been married over a year, and wanted to start a family.  We found out the first week in January that we were expecting our first baby, only to wake up 2 days later having a miscarriage.  I never wish a miscarriage on anyone.  The loss of a baby is DEVASTATING.  And as a first-time mom with no other kids it's not only the loss of a baby but the loss of hope.  Questions roll through your mind like "why me?"  and "will I ever be able to have a baby?" and lots of other things like that.  But, after I lost David Zechariah, I truly believe that's when I went off into the deep end and didn't emerge for a LONG time.  And that's when I started actually emotionally eating, which became a BAD habit for the next five years.  Before that it was more about what tasted good or felt good when I was hungry.  But in 2007 food began to feed my emotional instability over the grief and devastation of losing my, I believe, baby boy. 

.....to be continued.....read part 2 (which I will probably write tomorrow)   

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I want to do the minimum!

I want to do the minimum!  Do you ever feel that way?  You want to do as little as possible to see results?  I feel that way sometimes.  I just want to survive to face another day.  Because when I look around I see in the mirror someone who is obese and it's overwhelming.  I look around my living room at something that is complete chaos.  Mess everywhere.  I look at my finances and sometimes it feels there is no possible way of getting out of debt in this decade.  It takes every ounce of energy to convince myself to do SOMEthing.  But, I must do something.  And more than the minimum.  Because if I only do the minimum, I will only see minimal results.  I will never rise above these ashes and soar if I only do the minimum.  I will never get ahead.  I need to muster up the motivation to do as much as I possibly can, within good reason, to do well and do my best, not my minimum.  This passage came to mind from the Bible:

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV)

28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

30 Days of Weight Watchers--Day 1

Well, I did it.  I bit the bullet and joined Weight Watchers.  As mentioned, one of the things I am trying to lose is weight.  Maybe I'll make a "history of" type of explanation of how I got where I am, but I am, as of the Weight Watchers meeting on Wednesday 53.4 lbs. overweight for my height still.  So, longterm, I actually want to lose 59.4 lbs. to be in the middle weight-range for my height.  Yay!  It's finally less than 60 lbs. that I have to lose!  Truthfully, I had joined Weight Watchers last month and lost 3.2 lbs. last month, but for blogging purposes and to give it a real good shot, I am doing another 30 days.  The thing about weight-loss is that it needs to become a lifestyle.  Almost any "diet" will tell you that these days.  But how many of those could you actually follow for life.  I've tried a couple of different things over the last several years.  All of them worked in the short term, but I decided to try Weight Watchers again (I had joined two years ago too, after my second child was born, but didn't last very long), because I could see it becoming a lifestyle for me.  I know people who have lost weight doing it, and kept it off because they continually live the lifestyle.  And Weight Watchers changed their program a bit since I was last in it.  So, here I am at the beginning.  I've also looked into other lifestyles like clean eating, and becoming vegan, and while I'm interested in trying those, Weight Watchers really didn't take any prep. time before starting, so I thought this is where I will start for 30 days.  I was able to join because of a gift from someone (you'll see more about my finances in other posts), and just bought the monthly pass.  Look it up at weightwatchers.com if you want to do this.  Their site will help you find a meeting local to your area and you can pay either on-line or at the meeting.  So--my first day I way over-ate.  I tracked my food and 5k training (see post on that), but bottom line is that even when they say that being a nursing mom means lots more points, it's still not a lot to someone who is used to living a lifestyle of overeating.  Good thing they give you a weekly allowance too, which I dipped into for the day.  My goal this week is to follow the plan as much to a T as I can, because I really want to reach my first short-term goal within the next two weeks if possible.  I broke down my weight-loss goals into mini-goals.  My first mini-goal is to lose 2.4 more pounds which will bring me down to pre-pregnancy weight with my third baby!  I have NEVER made it to pre-pregnancy weight before.  Each pregnancy I started out heavier and heavier, so this would be a major accomplishment for me.  Here's to my somewhere in weight loss.  I have 30 days from today to see if Weight Watchers is a realistic lifestyle for me.  And, after those 30 days, sadly, I will probably have to do it on my own or do something different, because I won't be able to afford it next month unless something changes.