Friday, August 22, 2014

28th Birthday and Goals for the Upcoming Year

Today is my 28th birthday (happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me :)), and as such, I thought it would be a perfect time to come up with some goals, see where I am on current goals. So here are my current numbers and where I am hoping to be:

110 POUNDS (Doubling my recent 55 pounds)
TRICEP: 20 POUNDS (Behind Head)
50-60 POUNDS
160-170 POUNDS (Or be able to do pull-ups without weight assist)
PUSUPS: 0 PROPER (I am working off the wall currently)
Running: 3 Laps around park (without stopping), which equals ~.60 miles
10 laps without stopping, which equals ~2.1 miles

So these are my goals for the end of the year. I also started thinking last week about goals for by my 29th birthday, but all I could come up with was “Run 10 miles (or more)”.  It “bothered” me for a bit that I couldn’t think of anything else, but as I thought on it more and more, I think, maybe that’s a good thing.  I could list high  numbers for goals for weightlifting, but as I am trying to get, and maintain, lean muscle (as opposed to “bulking up”), there would not be much point to that. Plus, it’s hard to predict where one will be in a year, so by not defining anything other than a running goal (that should be achievable), it gives me leeway to define goals as I see where I’m at. It also helps to not set me up for failure or disappointment—since there are few things more disheartening than to set a goal and fail to make it.

Those are my goals for fitness, but what about finances?  Well, those numbers haven’t changed much since my starting post where I said where I was, mostly because I haven’t done anything with it  (fixing my automation, setting up an IRA, etc.)  so that will definitely be a task to take care of right away. (I can’t become a millionaire if I am not working on it!) As for actual goals, since it is hard to define, I don’t have many.  I would, however, like to see our savings at $10,000 minimum (between all accounts), or at least on a path to be there by the end of NEXT year, and to see our 401(k)/IRA and other investment accounts growing.  I can’t control how those accounts grow (other than what I put into them), so I am not even going to try to quantify it with a number, but as long as they are growing, we’re headed in the right direction.

I think these are reasonable and attainable goals, and as long as I keep chipping away at them, I should be “sitting pretty” by this time next year. I may even be a completely different person! (I’m counting on it/hoping for it.) I am taking a loss this week, though, since it IS birthday week and I will be doing/eating things I wouldn’t normally. But that is part of life, and I will get right back it as soon as possible, then… take over the WORLD! Mwahaha.  Or not.  But I will get back on track and keep getting better and better.  I am looking forward to seeing the Erin a year from now!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ALS Icebucket Challenge

I was challenged by a friend to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Unless you've been living in a cave the last week or, you know what the challenge is: Dump ice on your head for ALS.

So here's my video:

I accepted the challenge, and in return challenge:
-Arnold Schwarzenegger
-My Husband
-My Roller Derby Hero, Scald Eagle, of Portland's very own Rose City Rollers

The Rules:
-You have  24 hours to either Dump ice on yourself AND donate $10 to ALS at OR you may forgo ice and donate $100. People have been failing to mention that is is Ice AND donate, or donate a larger amount, so some people have the impression that by dumping ice over themselves, they don't need to donate, which makes it seem as if people would "rather dump ice on themselves than donate" to a good cause. Don't do that, that's terrible.  Please remember to do, and mention, both.
-You now have the privilege/responsibility to challenge OTHER people to do this task and join in on the madness. 2-4 people seems to be the ideal number. Remember to tag the people you challenge so they know. :)

That's all there is to it! Now get out there cold for a few minutes for a good cause!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Change your mind, change your life. Or, some thoughts on a Positive frame of mind.

Sometime last year, around or before my 27th birthday, my husband told me that he had a dream about me being in really great shape with a firm/toned body, wearing a Wonder Woman tank top, and completely dominating at the gym. He said he saw me in the dream doing pull-ups without any weight assistance like it was nothing at all; that he saw me benching and squatting more weight than ever, and doing many other difficult feats like a pro. (He had a very detailed dream, obviously.)  I was very inspired and said to him "By the end of the year, I will be that woman. By my 28th birthday, I will make THAT woman look weak."

Well, my 28th birthday is in a few days, and I have not officially met either of those proclaimed goals/statements. However, I am making decent progress, and am on a path to get there. I have been more consistent this year than I had been previously-in both working out and eating better- and have been getting some results here and there. Results have been frustratingly stagnant over the last two or so months-I have stayed at the same weight range the whole time despite working very hard- but at least I know I am not going BACKWARDS (gaining weight), and that helps keep me mentally on track.

The fact that I can say that I have not reached a goal, but that it is OK because I am making progress, is by far, the greatest psychological win that could be asked for. My journey is no longer defined by a number on a scale, but rather the numbers that I know matter more: Can I run longer? Can I lift more weight? Can I do something that I previously couldn't? 

Last year, if I worked out a lot but didn't see any change in the scale, I would have breakdowns and "throw a fit", for lack of better words. Now, when I see the same frustrating number on the scale for several weeks in a row, I can accept it and move on because I know what work I put in and what I am capable of and know that eventually things will turn.  I am more confident in my abilities and celebrate smaller victories, such as gaining 2 seconds when running a lap around the park or running 10 feet farther than the last time. And my attitude in general has become more positive.

But these things didn't come from wishful thinking, nor did they happen overnight. They came from constant, willful working on mental habits. (And is STILL a constant work on it.)

If I'd catch myself falling into negativity, or if my husband caught me, I would work to find something positive to say or focus on in efforts to change my attitude.  At first, this was HARD and I'd really have to think of something positive to say-which goes to show the depth of my lack of esteem or positivity, I think. As time went on, and the habit became more developed, it became easier  to find things, and more importantly, to believe them (instead of just talking the talk). I also find that being more positive helps me work harder,  and working harder helps me be more positive-it's a circle of good. 

I believe that the mental aspect is as important as everything else when making changes (to anything-not just finances or weight), if not the most important thing. There is a quote attributed to Henry Ford (whether that's true or not, I have no idea) that kind of goes along with this idea: "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." I think that hits the nail on the head. People who believe they can do something, push through to do it-even if it takes a while or has to be worked up to/done in steps. People who believe they can't do something quit or procrastinate or make excuses to not do it, etc. I want to be in the first group, believing that I can do what I need to, and moving forward with mental fortitude to weather the storms.

So what can you do to make some positive changes and defeat the negative self-talk? While no list is going to be definitive or apply to everyone, here are some things that have helped me:

-Replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and be specific. Example: When I would  say or think something about being fat, I would then say out loud something that is better. "I did x better today"/"My arms are shaping up", etc.  This may be hard at first, and you may feel insincere, but that is all the more reason to keep doing it. It will become more natural as you keep doing it, and easier to find things. This doesn't just apply to one thing. ANY negative thought you have can, and should, be reframed with a more positive one.

-Count Your Blessings.  I know this sounds like a cliché thing to say, but I mean it in the most literal sense. Last year, I spent several months stating things I was grateful for,  just one (or two) a day. I started in the end of September, and by the end of the year, I had over 50 "blessings" counted, before I lost track of the number. Again, sometimes this is easier than others (I started with "1. I am Alive" if you need some inspiration), but with some thought, I am sure you will find numerous things to be grateful for or that make you happy. And it is really difficult to not start to be more positive when you are spending conscious brain power on exuding gratefulness.

-Have someone hold you accountable/hold someone else accountable.  Such a simple, yet powerful, concept. If you notice a friend/loved one saying something negative, (gently) call them out and ask them to say something positive. Ask a trusted friend/loved one to hold you to the same standards and let them know you are trying to do better.

-Question the negativity. Sometimes the best/fastest way to start to turn the negativity around and embrace a more positive outlook is to question it within yourself. Ask yourself WHY you feel that way, or where it may have come from.  This seems obvious, but many people do not do it, instead just accepting it as "the way things are". But, as the saying goes, the first step to resolving a problem, is to identify it. You may sometimes surprise yourself if you dig a little deeper in yourself and find that what you think about something, or where it came from, couldn't be further from the truth. Once you start to identify things, it helps you decide how you want to proceed and if something needs to be changed, and how. 

If you are battling your own negative self-talk, I hope these ideas help you start to find some positivity. Do you have some ideas that worked for you, or a story about how you accomplished something once you changed your attitude? Please share your thoughts in the comments below! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Books On Investing

For the last (several) weeks I had been reading The Warren Buffet Way (Robert Hagstrom). I should say, trying and failing. I even tried changing from the first edition (from 1995) to the third edition (from 2013) in case an updated version would be more helpful. But it wasn't, and I finally gave up the ghost.

I don't honestly know why I stuck with for as long as I did. It is definitely not in my style.  I am sure there may be some people who may get some valuable, usable information from this book. I, however, am not one of them. This book talks primarily about Buffet's methods of choosing stocks, which while that may someday be useful knowledge, I am not there yet.

It is also written in story style, where it gives a lot of information in long paragraphs and you kind of have to figure out what it means, which I find harder to retain. (And if you can't retain it, you won’t ever act on it.) I learn in easily digestible information (like bullet points) that gives me the basic groundwork and I can research further on my own to expand upon.

So I requested The Complete Idiot's Guide to Investing (Edward T. Koch and Debra Jonson) from my local library and just picked it up yesterday and browsed through it. I haven't read much yet, but so far it seems as though it will be right up my alley. Some of the information I may already know from my own instincts or research, but there is still a lot to be gleaned from it, which is why I love For Dummies and Complete Idiot's Guide type books.

But of course, before I do any actual investing, some things I need to take care of are automating my finances/fixing my automation, and setting up my IRA, all of which I will be doing ASAP. Ramit Sethi's book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, which I mentioned in this post has a 6 week guideline to get finances in order, which if you need help with that, you should definitely check out his book. It has taken me WELL OVER 6 weeks to get things taken care of, but that is more due to forgetfulness than anything else. But I need to get it taken care of because every day it's not done is one less day my money can compound and work for me. So, I will get it taken care of right away! In the meantime, I will still continue to read and absorb as much as possible. And then, on to investing!

Where are you currently at? How are you doing with your financial goals? Have you read or learned anything interesting lately? Please comment below!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Current Pictures

I said in an earlier post that I would get more current pictures this week.  Looking at them, I don't see a huge difference, which is weird because I know my clothes are fitting better and that I am looking thinner.

So I guess I will have to trust the process and trust that even though the scale AND picture are seemingly not changing, that I really am.  Which becomes really frustrating and demotivating, but all I can do is keep trying. And there are SOME small differences, if you look closely, so at least there's that.

Here are the older pictures and the ones from today, for comparison: