Checking In On My 2017 Fitness Goals

I’ve written a few times about how I have really tried to focus on better fitness this year.  I worried about our long camping trips and how that would affect me.  I’m happy to report that things are going well.  Here’s an update on my fitness goals.

Recap of My Goals And My Plan

I wanted to lose some weight and lose some body fat.  I’d spent most of 2016 gaining 0.5 to 1 pound per month, and there was no excuse for it.  I was just lazy and full of poor decisions.

I decided to commit 2017 to make better decisions.

My goals were two fold:

  1. I wanted to lose 13.5 pounds.
  2. I wanted reduce my body fat from 21% to 15%.

My plan was pretty simple:

  1. Work out more.
  2. Cut back on calories from alcohol.
  3. Eliminate all snacking at work.

Tracking Progress

Things have gone very well.  Just as I had a steady rise last year, things have moved in the right direction in a pretty steady fashion.

Here’s a quick summary on how things were at the end of each month:

  • January – Lost 4.1 pounds total.  Body fat: 19.6%
  • February – Lost 5.8 pounds total.  Body fat: 19.0%
  • March – Lost 7.8 pounds total.  Body fat: 17.4%
  • April – Lost 8.2 pounds total.  Body fat: 17.4%
  • May – Lost 9.6 pounds total.  Body fat: 17.3%
  • June – Lost 12.1 pounds total. Body fat: 16.9%
  • July (so far) – Lost 12.3 pounds total.  Body fat: 16.3%

What this represents:

  • I’ve lost 91% of the total weight I want to lose.
  • I have lost 81% of the total body fat I want to lose.
  • Finally, I’ve lost 28% of my total body fat.

Methodology: In order to smooth out the normal fluctuations, I take measurements every day, and then use a running 7-day average on both weight and body fat.

Slowing Down

Things have obviously started to slow down.  I’ve worked around this weight goal before, and I’ve always found that the last couple of pounds are the hardest.  In fact, the one time I hit it a few years ago I only got the last couple of pounds because I got food poisoning.  I’m hoping that I don’t have to rely on that this time.

I really want to get this last little bit.  Then, the real work starts.

Right now, it’s easy to keep staying motivated on my behaviors, but if I hit the goal, I have to make sure to stay motivated so that things don’t go in the wrong direction. Just like they have in the past!

This is similar to personal finance goals.  Many people work so hard for a goal (like getting out of debt) that once they hit it, they don’t have any idea what to do next.

The key is to look ahead.  I’m already looking ahead to how I can stay motivated over the next few months.  It’s not going to be easy.

Three Major Challenges Ahead

We have three things that I really have to watch out for:

  1. Our second week long camping trip – We do two trips per summer.  I got out of the last one relatively unscathed but will have to make sure I don’t fall apart on the next one.
  2. Our anniversary trip – We are going to Cancun for a few days to celebrate our ten year anniversary.  It’s at an all inclusive resort.  I’ve never been to one but I’ve heard that they’re like cruise ships, and it’s easy to indulge.
  3. Halloween – This is my Kryptonite.  Seriously.  After Halloween people bring loads of candy into the office.  And they bring the good stuff.  Hershey Bars.  Reeses Cups.  You name it.   I have never been able to resist the jar upon jar of chocolate goodness.  If I’m going to lose my work goal, this will be how it happens.  However, since by that point I’ll have 10 full months under my belt, I am confident I can make it.

So far, I’m happy with how things are going.  Now I just need to get those last steps and then make sure it doesn’t turn and go the wrong direction.

Readers, how are your goals going?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Why I Keep Bugging My Wife About My Fitness Goals

I’ve been driving my wife a little nutty, and she has no idea why. I’m not normally one for New Years resolutions, but I set one this year.  And it’s not really a resolution as it is a goal.  Here are my fitness goals and why I keep talking about them to my wife.

My 2016 Fitness Goals Fail

I’ve had a target weight for a number of years.  I’m about 5’8″ (or maybe a little smaller as my wife says I’m shrinking).  I’ve never been muscular and I’ve never been dramatically overweight.  I hover somewhere in the average range.  My ideal weight is 155 pounds, along with a 15% body fat percentage.  I’m normally closer to 160-165 pounds, and around 20% body fat.

To start last year, I was around 162 pounds and 21% body fat.  I wanted to run regularly for the full year, and figured that I could maybe get to my target weight goals.

It didn’t happen.

Instead, I went backward.  I actually checked in a few times throughout the year, and I basically went in a straight line upward.

I only put on about 6 pounds but every 3-4 months I’d be 1.5-2 pounds heavier.

It was annoying and as I got to the end of last year, I decided it was time to offer a little more than lip service to the idea.

My 2017 Fitness Goals

My goals were simple: The same as I’ve set in the past.  155 pounds and 15% body fat.  I realize that as I get older, these are probably harder and harder to reach.  Your body just seems to add a little here and there along the way.  But, I figure at 42 I have a shot, right?

My Plan To Reach My Goals

So what am I doing to hit my goals?  Nothing drastic.  I’m not going on any big diets or embarking on any big fitness changes.  It’s a series of small things that I hope will add up for me.

Admitting I Failed

I actually spent some time looking and thinking about what went wrong.  I not only missed my goals, but I went completely in the opposite direction.  Seeing that I missed the mark throughout the whole year was evidence that I didn’t just miss my goals.  I’d failed.

Revamping My Exercise Plan

I have really enjoyed running since my wife introduced me to it a few years ago.  I do this activity primarily on the treadmill at the nearby Planet Fitness.  My problem is that I set a goal last year to run as many times as I did the year before.  So all I did was run.  I ignored all advice, both from professionals as well as my wife, urging me to do different exercises.  I never lifted weights.  I never did other cardio.  I just ran.  This year, I stopped tracking running and started tracking walking, running, weight lifting, and other activities.

Getting Serious About Cutting Back Snacking

I love to snack.  Practically every day at work, I’d reach into my drawer and pull out a Nutri Grain bar or some crackers or something else.  I’d get home from work and have something to get me through dinner.  Then, after dinner and before bed, I’d be good for something else.   Three snacks, each probably 200-350 calories.  This was a couple of thousand empty calories per week.  While I haven’t and probably won’t cut snacking altogether, the plan is to cut back my snacking intake about 80%.  So far, I’ve made the adjustment and kept up.

Reducing Calories From Drinking Alcohol

My drink of choice for the past few years has been whiskey and coke.  I’m going to try to reduce my alcohol intake but am also going to shift to what a few others around me have taken on as their drink of choice.  This is vodka mixed with La Croix.  Just changing mixers will cut at least 100 calories each time I pour a drink.  Add that together with trying to reduce my intake, and it should again cut some significant calories.

Having An Accountability Partner

As I mentioned to start the article, I’ve been keeping my wife in tune with how things are going.  When I get back from the gym, I’ll tell her about what I did that day.  If I get back from work, I’ll mention if I had any snacks or that I haven’t snacked (so far it’s only not having snacked).  I’ll make a point of saying that a drink has 100 calories less than one I would have had last year.  When the scale tells me I’ve lost half a pound, I’ll let her know.   I know this amuses her, but I do it so that I can stay accountable.

I learned last year that trying to be accountable only to myself didn’t really do a lot.  But by telling her of how things are going or what I’m doing, it keeps me accountable and keeps me more on track.  I don’t need her to do anything more than listen, but just having someone that I know is keeping track other than me (even if she doesn’t mean to), is a difference maker.

Staying Focused Is Key

So far I’ve seen some positive results.  I’m down 3.5 pounds to 165 pounds and down to 19.5% body fat (starting off at 21%).  With the fact that I’m just making small changes, I know that hitting my targets aren’t anything in the immediate future.  But, I’m hopeful at this point that I can make slow progress to at least get closer.  More importantly, I’m hoping that this year my trend doesn’t go up.  Even if, at a certain point during the year, my progress flattens, that will be a turnaround in itself versus what happened last year!

Readers, do you have any fitness goals for 2017?  Do you have a plan?  Does one of them include any type of accountability partner, whether that be a family member, significant other, or even something like a blog?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Health Updates To Finish Out 2016

It seems like the end of the year always brings health to the forefront.  Maybe because we have to sign up for insurance for next year.  It could be because we want to get ourselves ready for a healthier version to start off next year.  Perhaps it’s because we know that we have put off stuff we need to do.   Or, in our case, a combination of pretty much all of those.  Here are a few health updates in our household.

Health Update 1: Flu Shots

We all got our flu shots within a couple of days.  My employer gives them to us for free right on site (I work for a hospital system), so it just took about 15 minutes of waiting in line and I was done.  My wife got hers at Target, and took our kids after school, and all were covered 100% by our health insurance.  Hopefully we stay flu free for the season!

Health Update 2: Physical Therapy

Our son, who is seven years old, just started physical therapy.  He is a toe walker, so he goes once per week to see a therapist.  He’s done it since he started walking.  The doctor told us that many kids grow out of it, but our son never did.  They recommended therapy to try to correct his walking habits, as well as stretch out his muscles.  Since we have a high deductible plan, we’re paying this cost out of our fund balance.

Health Update 3: Ear Ache

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Putting off health items is easy but often can be costly later.

As if the flu shot and the therapy haven’t given my son enough time at the doctor office, last weekend he complained of an ear ache.  We took him in and he had an ear infection.  He’s been on antibiotics.  These costs are also going to be out of pocket, but well worth it for a healthy child.

Health Update 4: Insurance for 2017

Today starts open enrollment at our company.  Our plan is available with no coverage changes, which I’m pretty excited about.   Our employer kicks in the first $1,000 to our health savings account, which is nice.  Last year, the premiums didn’t go up, but this year we’re going to pay about 5% more, which I can’t complain about too much compared to those under Obamacare who have double digit increases coming their way.

Health Update 5: Time For Check Ups

I haven’t had a physical since 2014.  My main reason is that when we switched to the health plan we’re on now, the doctor I was used to seeing was no longer on our plan, and the idea of starting over is just tedious.  Still, I know I’m at the age where I need to be serious about getting these done, and once I start, I can push my wife to start getting annual checkups from a family doctor in addition to her OB/GYN check-ups (which she does).

Because one side of my family has a history of heart issues, I’m also going to look into getting some tests done on my heart.  It amazes me that with the amount of heart disease that blockages and problems are most often diagnosed after a cardiac event.

Health Update 6: Other To-Do Items

All of us need our second dental cleaning for the year.  It’s also been a couple of years since I have gotten my eyes checked, and I know I probably need a new set of lenses.  There’s always something to do!

Readers, what do you have left to do for health related items before the end of the year?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

6 Ways to Eat More Healthily for Less Money

Eating healthy is all the rage.  As fads go, it is an especially beneficial one. From college kids to busy moms, people everywhere are thinking about health.  It seems pretty straightforward in theory, yet obesity and diet issues are on the rise. So, what’s the problem?
 
Well, there is a widespread belief that it is too expensive to make healthy eating a lifestyle. Chain health food stores and boutique markets are partially to blame for this belief.  Those heavily marketed, expensive diet programs are part of the problem. Whatever the source of the rumor is, it has got to stop. You can eat well just by using what is available in your regular supermarket. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Keep it Simple 

You do not have to live off chia seeds and specialty grains to have a nutritious diet. Keeping your meals simple is a good way to get started. At each meal, about half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables.  One quarter should consist of protein, and a quarter should consist of grains. Within these guidelines are endless delicious combinations of ingredients. 

Make a Plan 

Meal planning before you go grocery shopping is always a good idea.  It is especially helpful if you are attempting a shift in your dietary priorities. If you have not previously spent a lot of time in the produce aisle, it is easy to become overwhelmed by what you are doing.  You’ll end up buying too much of certain things, and curse your wastefulness when throwing away rotted food.
Instead, plan exactly how much of each type of food you will need, either by numbers or by pounds. This will make it easier to stick to your list.  This will in turn help your budget. Planning ahead also allows you to take note of which fruits and veggies are in season and incorporate them into your meals. This will make your produce purchases even smarter.

Incorporate Coupons

While you are planning your meals each week, remember to hunt down coupons for any special items you want to buy. You can check your weekly circular ad, search the Internet, or even make use of coupons that are attached to other food items. It doesn’t take long to become a savvy coupon shopper.

Become a Member

If you are not yet a member at the grocery store that you frequent, becoming one is a great way to save money and eat well. Most grocery stores offer sales exclusively to their members.  This can enable you to enjoy more variety in your menu. Some stores even use your shopping data to create personalized coupons.  You might be able to enjoy discounts on your favorite items simply because you purchase them often.

Rethink Meat

In a typical American meal, a large portion of meat is the centerpiece, accompanied by smaller sides of bread and vegetables or fruit. However, buying enough meat to give each family member a large portion at each meal can greatly increase your grocery bill. Furthermore, it is better for you to eat more fruits and veggies in proportion to meats. With this in mind, try using meat as a supporting player rather than the all-star in at least some of your meals. For example, you could make a stir-fry using two parts vegetables for one part meat.

Community Supported Agriculture

Participating in a community supported agriculture program is a great way to get access to fresh produce at a good price. For either a seasonal flat fee or a weekly payment, CSA members can get a portion of whatever produce is yielded by their local farms. For example, you might get a bushel of produce once a week for a twenty-week season, for an average of $30 a week. At that reasonable price, you can support your local farming community while enjoying optimal flavors and being introduced to foods you might not normally try.

Healthy Budget, Healthy Body

As you can see, eating healthily is not nearly as big of an expense as it is often made out to be. You may need to tweak some of your habits or perspectives in order to make it happen, but it is completely doable. All it takes is a little planning to have a balanced diet that works with your budget.
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Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.