Friday, July 8, 2011

Bat Shit Crazy Busy - No Reprieve for the Broke College Professor

Between research, side hustling, extreme budgeting and P90X'ing, this picture embodies my feelings right now.

Diet and Exercise - My weight is virtually unchanged since I posted my progress pics a few weeks ago.  Blame the scattered exercise and "start a new diet on Monday but quit by Tuesday" mentality for this impasse.  Even the anticipation (and threat) of a vacation in Cancun with my slim and trim baby sister hasn't gotten me to "ack right".  What has seemed to work is my husband pushing me to finish P90X and working out with me when I'm losing gas and the anticipation of finally not going over my budget because of dining out/fast food for the first time in well...ever.  Thankfully, I'm teaching online this summer so I still have some time to hone some home-cooking/brown bagging skills.

Budgeting - I am currently reading "The Frugalista Files" by Natalie McNeal.  In the book, she provides diary entries about her journey to become debt-free starting with a vow of frugality in February 2008 where she saved $348 by not eating out, getting her hair and nails professionally done or shopping for new clothes.  It's been an eye-opener to some of my financially promiscuous ways.  I'm going to do a mini-version of McNeal's vow of frugality starting 7/8/2011 through 7/31/2011.  With my vacation looming, I need to make sure I don't overspend and have to dip into my August paychecks to cover vacation expenses.  I budgeted $1000 for this trip and so far, I've spent $585 on airfare.  My sister and I are splitting the hotel costs which means $416.  If you are keeping up, this means I'll be short $1.  Luckily our hotel is all-inclusive and with no-buying for the next 3 weeks or so (and 2 side hustle checks coming before our trip), I'm hoping to have another $200-$300 to spend on incidentals.  For the last few weeks, I've been scouring online clothing stores because I "need" a new bathing suit, dress, shorts, etc.  In reality, I have closets full of space bags with summery gear including a new pair of cage heels I bought in April.  Nope, I need to make do with what I have.  I'm giving myself $20 to get any necessary alterations instead of buying new stuff for a 5 day trip.

Side Hustlin' - I'm teaching 4 online courses right now.  Yes, I'm insane but if I want to pay off my revolving debt in a year, I'm going to need to suffer through carpal tunnel syndrome and my astigmatism just a bit longer.  Seriously, the online courses aren't bad apart from grading which I hate in my brick and mortar classes.  The academic standards are lower but I've learned how to protect the "A" grade while not getting too worked up about arbitrary rules from the online university that require me to coddle grown ass students.  I do my work and don't complain (well, not about the administration) because I'm fortunate to have this extra income.

Researchin' - I was given a 2 week extension to submit a draft of an article to an academic journal.  I haven't written a word.  I did meet with a colleague to brainstorm and organize the article but I just don't have any writing mojo.  The problem is, I have about 5 good days to crank the bad boy out.  Ay caramba!  If I don't get this done, my stress and anxiety about my 4th portfolio will increase by a 1000 so I need to get crackin' so I don't crack up. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Debt Reduction Resolution - In Progress


That was my total revolving debt on January 1, 2011. I made a New Year's resolution (yet again) to lose weight and pay off this debt. But this time, I said my financial resolution out loud and my husband heard me. Dang it! The man can be a machine when he puts his mind to something. Me? I'm more of a "que sera, sera" kinda gal. But after my husband challenged me to pay off this debt and he would in turn save aggresively for a downpayment on our dream vacation home, I knew I couldn't back away.

The problem is that I still have the horrible eating out habit. Seriously, I spend about $300-$400 per month eating out and we spend about $200 per month on groceries that go to waste about 20-30% of the time. To make this challenge work I had to buckle down. I have failed miserably when classes are in session but luckily, I am paying off my bills BEFORE I dine out. Go figure as to why I hadn't thought of this sooner. D'oh! Anyway, by dropping $$$ on my revolving debt as soon as it hits my hand, I have actually reduced my fast food and restaurant consumption by 25%. This means I am spening $75-100 less each month on food and paying my debt faster.

My current revolving debt is $8630. I am teaching summer classes so I anticipate paying off two cards in full by the end of August leaving me with approximately $3000 remainng. I don't know if I can get it all paid by the end of December but already this is a vast improvement. If only I could stop the Jack in the Box runs.....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Weight Regain(s) Story

I participate on a Black Hair Care Forum and in the Fitness Area, someone asked about our re-gain(s).  Basically the question is what causes us to regain weight (emotional, psychological, physical reasons), if we have the right type of support and how can we prevent a regain in the future.  I was the only person, thus far, who said I had multiple regains over the years which tells me that (1) I'm capable of losing a significant amount of weight (2) my past mentality toward maintenance has been "consequences be damned" which is counter-productive to an attempt at lasting weight-loss.

Here's the Good, Bad and Ugly

The Re-gain(s)

1. I lost 38 pounds in '95/'96 using Jenny Craig. Once you hit your half-way point, they put you on the 5/2 plan in which you make your own food twice a week. I really struggled with my own meals eating all the foods I missed (mostly fast food). I tried to blame the expense of the program for me quitting but in retrospect it was my unwillingness to change. I barely exercised when I did the program and once I got a full-time job and worked on my master's degree part-time, I gained it all back within a year.

2. After moving to Ohio to work on my Ph.D., I found out my blood pressure was sky high and my cholesterol was off the charts. So I joined WW and quickly lost 25 pounds. But I am a Cali girl and I wasn't accustomed to snow so I abandoned any form of exercise and hibernated like I was a big brown bear instead of a human female in need of movement.  This was in 1999.

3. Moved back home to California in 2002. Despite a crazy commute, being caregiver to my ill grandparents and still working on my dissertation, I did Weight Watchers again and lost 25 pounds again. I kept it off for two years. I ramped up my exercise and faithfully went to meetings.

4. Moved back to Ohio again to finish my degree and take a job that a friend set-up for me. Joined a gym and fell in love with weight training. My weight stabilized but could never lose because my eating habits never really improved. Got engaged and moved back to California in 2006.

5. My grandmother who basically raised me was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. I ate to deal with my emotions. Piggy All the while, I taught college full-time, planned a wedding and fought with my dissertation committee. Weight blew up to 225 pounds...Fit into my wedding dress like a fat sausage. My gram died 4 months later and I continued to eat.

6. For the last four years my weight has hovered around 200-210. The weight I have lost is due to my exercise routines: running, The FIRM, Jillian, P90X. I am considerably smaller in size but my eating habits continue to be a struggle and I discovered that when I procrastinate in paying bills or completing work tasks, I get anxious and stressed and I eat for comfort.Although diagnosed with Adult ADD a few years ago, I only made the connection to my weight about a year or so ago.

7. Family support isn't my issue.  Managing my ADD-inattention issues is the source of my emotional eating.  While I've made quite a bit of changes, I still have a ways to go. One thing that has kept me from blowing up to 250 and beyond is having my online journal and friends to support me. I'm realizing how much this emotional/psychological part plays in my success and instead of fighting my ADD, I just need to find the right tools to help me manage my environment.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weight Loss Update

...Only a few months late!

After the Win,Lose or Blog competition, I was in the "weight loss wilderness" doing a little bit of everything and nothing including running, Weight Watchers, Belly Fat Cure Diet, FIRM DVDs, Zumba for Wii...You get the point but nothing consistent in terms of exercise and diet.  My husband was on hiatus from P90X from an injury but once he was healed, he was planning to tackle it again. 

He asked me to join him and I hesitated and finally relented and said yes.  WTH was I thinking? The first week was beyond hard and I was so incredibly sore.  Plyo X made me feel like my lungs were going to cave in and hey, isn't yoga supposed to be gentle? Not with P90X.  Nonetheless, I've stuck with it because of my husband pushing and supporting me.  I didn't do it for him but I did it because of him.  I'm wrapping up week 10 today and ashamed as I should be by this pictures, I'm proudly displaying them because of my awesome results.  Keep in mind, I haven't followed the diet AT ALL.  In fact, I haven't followed a diet up until 2 weeks ago and I haven't lost much scale weight. (Ignore the ugly, ill-fitting bathing suit, please!)

Living with ADHD

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Adult ADHD (inattention variety).  My inability to focus at home, procrastinate with work projects, keep my house and office tidy and being late for appointments was causing strain in my marriage and accounts for years of stress eating and inconsistent exercise.  It was important for me to get to the bottom of it and come up with a plan.

My therapist found me to be a unique case because I had off the charts Inattention symptoms but I thrived academically.  Normally people with ADHD, including adults, don't do well with academic work. But I had a doctorate by the time I was diagnosed so my therapist probed further to find out what was my coping strategies.  When I explained how I went about doing my research, he concluded that I was adept at "hyper-focusing" where I could shut out distractions and get my work done when I knew I was accountable to someone else (i.e. a professor).  This realization meant that I could possibly tackle my symptoms without medication (which could have potentially altered my personality, energy levels, etc) by developing strategies that created order in my life.

At home, I created places were I would always place my keys, an area to stack the monthly bills, designated a day to do laundry and a day to clean the house.  My home life and relationship with my husband improved greatly.  My husband also purchased a dry-erase calendar for me so I could write out important dates and appointments.  I still misplace things but not nearly as much as I used to.

The greater challenge has been at work.  I'm a college professor and my routine changes every 16 weeks. Usually the first 2 weeks of the semester are chaotic with new courses, students, and changing obligations. The last week of the semester is nutty as well as I'm usually trying to get my grading done and tie up any loose ends.  Add to this my research, obligations and you'll see how having ADHD is no picnic for a college professor.  In fact, I'd say that I need alot of work on developing a routine for my work environment. 

I don't want ADHD to be a crutch.  Sometimes, I'm just lazy and I need to own that.  Hence the reason, I opted for cognitive therapy as opposed to medication.  Some days are harder than others but I firmly believe that if I keep at it, I'll eventually develop a solid routine that will help me get my work done and alleviate a good majority of stress in my life. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Another Year Older and Wiser???

I turned 38 on Friday....I ain't shame to admit it because I look damn good for my age (thanks to good Black and Asian genes).  I don't feel physically older but I do admit that I'm tired.  I love my husband, our home, what I do for a living but I'm a bit sick of my current work environment and my finances need a lot of work.

I am working on the finances via my side hustle and an interest-free loan from the hubster.  I've cut back pretty dramatically on my spending (doing my own hair, only buy clothes when I drop a size and can't wear parachute looking pants anymore).  Eating out continues to be a big expense but I'm trying to crawl before I can walk so I'm trying to reduce my fast food restaurant trips to twice a week M-F and once on the weekends.  Some weeks have been better than others but I'll get there eventually.

As for the work environment, I've decided the only way to improve it....apart from totally checking out mentally is to secure a book contract and leverage that to get more release time.  As a professor one of my primary duties is to conduct research and though I have 2 (and a possible) publications already under my belt (need 2 and high teaching ratings for tenure), I figure with a book contract, I can justifiably ask for a reduced teaching load so I can concentrate on my research. This will give me the ability to work from home more and hence, reduce my stress level.  My goal is to have my book proposal out to potential publishers by the first of June so I have my work cut out for me.

As I'm getting older, I'm learning how to say "no" without feeling any guilt.  Just last week, I was invited to speak on a panel about a topic I am an expert in but have mixed feeling about.  A few years ago, I would have said yes just to put another line on my C.V. but now I'd rather use my energy on things that not only advance my career but also speak positively to my soul.   Hmmm....maybe I am getting wiser.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Final Win, Lose or Blog Stats

The Win, Lose or Blog competition ended this week and I came in 5th out of 8th.  I lost 6lbs which translates to 2.8% weight loss.  I also lost 1.5" off my chest, 1" from my waist, 1.5" from my lower pooch, 1" from my hips and 0.5" from my thighs.  Considering how sick I got with tonsillitis and busy with teaching at 2 universities and organizing a conference, I feel really good about these numbers.  Actually, I'm most proud of the fact that now Old Navy XXL blouses are way too big for me.  Wahoo!

So I press on...I have 27 more pounds to lose so I will keep plugging away with diet and exercise.  Yesterday, I had a bout with sour stomach brought on from indulging in too much fast food.  So I'll take that as a sign and try to steer clear of that stuff.