Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Renewed Weight Loss Motivation: Biggest Loser Challenge

What's this all about: I'm apart of an online community where we regularly have 3-Month Biggest Loser Challenges.  For the 3rd Challenge, I came in second place and won $50.  I organized the 4th Challenge but was sidelined with injury, illness and the death of my grandfather.  Everyone entering must pay $5 and take before and after photos.  Members vote on the person they thought made the biggest visible improvement/changes.

Now that I'm getting my financial house back in order, it's time to work on my weight issues.  I've fluctuated from 195-225 pounds since 2003.  That's pretty sad considering I'm only 5'6".  My only saving grace is that I'm fairly muscular so I've never looked like I weigh over 200lbs.  I started running last year and fell off a bit around Christmas time.  I also did Weight Watchers and used a variety of fitness videos although my absolute favorites are The FIRM.

The Plan: The challenge began on April 19 and so far, so good.  My goal for the next 12 weeks is to lose 15lbs and hopefully two inches off my chest/fatback area and waist, respectively.  My eating plan is basically to stick to my calorie range of no more than 1630 calories per day and eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables and drink 8 cups of water.  Nothing is off-limits but of course I need to exercise portion control.  My exercise regimen will be running and FIRM workouts.  On April 26th, I will begin the FIRM Better Body Rotation which focuses on volume, intensity and recovery with different types of resistance.

Motivation:   Well, I will be attending my sorority's bi-annual Boule (Greek for meeting or conference) in Palm Springs in mid-July.  I haven't seen alot of my sorors (Greek for sisters) in a while because I stopped being active in my chapter due to financial reasons.  So I want to WOW them and feel good when I meet scores of other sorors from across the country.  I am a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated and we have a membership of over 90K.  I know I'm going to have a blast and it will be so cool to attend the conference 15lbs lighter.  Plus this will move me that much closer to my end of the year goal of losing 30lbs.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Being Honest with Myself About Frugal Living

I am really struggling with embracing frugality as a lifestyle.  As much as I need to pay down my debt and save money for a rainy day, I am really finding it difficult to stay motivated and consistent.  I've already cut out all non-essentials out of my budget including trips to the beauty salon, manicurist and clothing (not really a clothes shopper to tell you the truth).  I gave up being active in my sorority for a year so I could adjust to my shrinking budget and I've recently cut fast food (and the expense of it) out of my diet.  Likewise, I've taken on a side job teaching history online.  So on top of cutting things to the bare bones, I'm busy as hell and tired.

I never learned how to be frugal, pay bills on time, diligent pay down debt or save money at home.  In fact, I've been teetering on the edge of financial ruin up until the day I got my first paycheck from my side hustle this past March.  My motivation to change was brought on by furloughs and wanting to do things that brought me happiness and joy like being actively involved with my sorority and traveling.  But the road to freedom is full of twists, turns and potholes. 

I keep looking at frugal blogs and websites and reading peoples' extreme frugal living adventures and I think to myself, "Although I need to save money, I'm not ready to rinse out Ziploc bags or make homemade household cleaner or stop reading health and fashion magazines."  I'm finally at the point where I'm getting honest with myself about the changes I'm willing to make.  Letting go of my bi-weekly hair appointments was hard initially until I learned how to do my own hair.  Sometimes I have a setback when I try a new style technique but overall, my hair has grown thick and full and I have averaged spending $40 per month as opposed to my usual, $250. 

Since I'm actively trying to lose weight, buying new clothes each week isn't logical or necessary so this was a budget I could readily ZERO out.  Not eating fast food has been challenging to my psyche more than anything but I still have yet to be consistent with making my own meals because I'm still relying on frozen meals to learn portion control. This is definitely a process.   Meh!

With so many approaches to frugality, I guess I was becoming overwhelmed. For some people, it means cutting out all the extras while others think of frugality as finding creative ways to not spend money.  Even after living on the edge financially, at this point, I'm coming to realize that frugality is living with ones' means for the things you need and saving up and sacrificing for those things you want.  I'm not willing to not travel or be active with my sorority sisters but what I am willing to do is to save for these things, finding ways to cut costs on everyday, common expenses and be willing to be patient enough to delay gratification instead of allowing "emotional spending" dig me further into a whole. 

I suppose as I start to see the real tangible benefits of my "small" changes, I'll worry less and less about which approach I subscribe to and instead focus on building upon my successes.