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. 


Friday, February 25, 2011

Opps, I Did It Again *Sigh*

....I don't think I will ever learn at the rate I'm going.  I had another ridiculous stupid money month in February where I've spent $254 on dining out (this doesn't include our joint grocery budget).  The problems started in January when someone was able to charge $1200 in new smartphones onto my debit card while I was in Europe.  I had the card with me so it came as a total shock when I looked at my checking account balance.  Fortunately, my credit union gave me a temporary credit so I could pay my bills.  Cool. But I'm an idiot who likes to tempt fate and I dipped into the money once Amazon credited my account.  Idiot, I know....I was short $400 and had to take an advance on my payroll saving account to cover the cost.

Fortunately, the interest rate is negligible but I do have to pay the full amount back at the end of February.  D'oh! To complicate things, I still have 3 checks out which haven't been paid and again I dipped into that money. Shit! I had to take yet another advance to cover those checks and tomorrow is my husband's birthday and he usually gets shafted b/c I can't seem to manage my money through the end of the month. Luckily, I got paid today from my side hustle. Whew!

Now I'm able to pay off all the bills, buy my momma a gift for her birthday (also in February), celebrate DH's birthday without handing him a card with an IOU note inside and put $300 toward my credit card bills (this in addition to the minimums I pay each month).  But this leaves only $50 of "play money" for March.  Why do I keep doing this to myself?

I am determined to get a handle on this "non-budgeted" spending if it kills me.  I'm already planning to sell some stuff to raise funds but I need to stop eating out so much esp. since I grocery shop and cook pretty regularly.  I found myself ravenous this AM when I was getting our living room ready for the arrival of new furniture.  It wasn't like we didn't have food....I was just too lazy to prepare it. But the $254 is imprinted into my brain and I scrambled to find a way to buy something quick.  Luckily, my husband had just given me a $10 Subway Card.  Wahoo!  Since they are having a $5 footlong sandwich promotion, I got a 12" sandwich which I had for 2 meals (breakfast and lunch).  I already had some pork chops thawing so guess what's for dinner?

After DH's birthday dinner tomorrow (which I have budgeted for), it will be brown bag lunches - chili, stews, salads, casseroles.  I honestly don't have a choice if I want to ever get out of debt. Urgh! I hate that I'm back at the drawing board.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weight Loss Update

I got back on the weight loss wagon upon my return from vacation with a goal of getting out of the "obese" category for 2011.  This means I need to lose 28 pounds.  To make sure I got off to a good start, I applied to be a contestant on Win, Lose or Blog which is a seven-week weight loss competition where the contestants must blog their experience.  Two weeks in, I'm down 5lbs.  Go, me!!!  I'm not winning the competition nor do I really care if I win....I just know that blogging about my weight loss ups and downs is helping me deal with my emotional eating, develop new habits and stay motivated. You can check out my blog at

I'm following the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program and I absolutely love it.  I'm eating more fruits and veggies than ever before and also keeping my starchy carb intake in check.  I'm also loving Zumba for Wii because I'm having a blast and sweatin' like a 'ho in church.  I am still doing my FIRM DVDs and recently purchased their newest system called the FIRM Express Set (though I'm waiting and waiting for their customer service reps to get my damn order right).

My first Non-Scale Victory (NSV) was fitting comfortably back into my Old Navy "Flirt" Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans without having my stomach bulge out so far that it looked like a booty.  I bought these jeans for our trip to England and by the end of the trip, they were cutting off the circulation in my belly and thighs.  Not anymore...dropping 5lbs is already making a difference. 

Me and the Hubbs are planning a trip to Florida in late March/early April and I'd like to be down another 15lbs by then. But more importantly, I'd like to be back into a size 14 blouse/12 bottom (I'm top heavy) because I have a bunch of clothes in those sizes that I haven't worn since 2003.

Next update in 2 mo' weeks....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Eternal Skeptic Goes Life-Mapping

I'm skeptical by nature. Add to the fact that I'm an academic and you can see why things like "personal coaching" and "manifesting your destiny" type of books and workshops never really held much appeal for me.  But I recently came across a blog called in which a young African American woman hosts web seminars and blogs focused on career and personal coaching.  Ever the skeptic I am I thought, "I don't need this.  I'm grown with multiple degrees, a good job, a husband and a house."  But when the blog owner offered a free Life Map exercise, I downloaded the booklet and wow, did it open my eyes.  I never realized how little I paid attention to goal-setting, planning and organization.  But after doing the exercises, it made me look over my own blog posts to see how much of a mess my finances were in, for instance.  I then realized that even though I'm a 30-something, educated professional woman with a husband and house, I still needed to bring focus to my goals and that I shouldn't stop dreaming.

The Life Map places "You" at the center and there are seven categories in which you need to develop an "ultimate" goal for each area.  The categories include: Relationships (Intimate or with Friends), Family, Work, Education, Finances, Health and Lifestyle.  Since I'm a college professor trying to get tenure, I've focused almost 70% of my time to work and have neglected other areas which are in desperate need of attention. Once I returned home from vacation, my first order of business was to develop my life map because I needed to bring focus and intentionality to what I was doing. Spending so much time on work was taking a toll on my relationship with my husband, my weight ballooned, spent too much money on fast food and ways to escape and basically was living life on default.  So here's what I've come up with:

  • Relationships: (1) Show more gratitude to my husband for the "heavy lifting" he does to keep our relationship strong and (2) Do a better job of keeping up with the household chores as this is a bone of contention in our relationship.
  • Work: (1) Stop procrastinating with grading because it affects your stress levels and interrupts your research (2) Engage in more service to the profession (i.e. pursue a committee member position for one of your professional organizations (3) Develop and stick to a research/writing schedule
  • Family: (1) Call or send hand-written letters to key family members (2) Forgive (but don't forget) grandparents and go visit them.
  • Education: (1) Enroll in sewing and creative writing classes for personal enjoyment.
  • Health: (1) Achieve a healthy weight so I can (2) become pregnant with no complications.
  • Finances: (1) Pay off credit card and student loan debt (Live Debt-Free)
  • Lifestyle: (1) Travel and (2) Stay Active with Sorority
I am fortunate that I'm happily married and in a career that I love. I realize, however, that what's been holding my happiness back is my lack of organization and my procrastination tendencies. What this life-mapping exercise is allowing me to do is to focus on things that are important to me and if something comes up that takes my energy away from my goals, reviewing my Life Map can help me ditch that which doesn't work.  I'm tired of having end of the semester meltdowns, losing and gaining the same 10-15lbs, and paying interest on credit cards.  I'm not saying I plan to achieve all of my goals in 2011 but Life Map is helping me getting the ball rolling.

I honestly started to get down a bit because I thought I had to surrender to the routine of going to work, paying bills and keeping a clean house.  What I realize now is that if I get organized, I can do all of those things plus the stuff that brings me joy. Maybe this life coaching stuff isn't a bunch of gimmicky hocus-pocus....We'll see :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Achieving Goals By Raising the Stakes

I used to say that I was "extrinsically motivated" when it came to my diet and exercise goals.  I used to focus on looking good by using an important event as my primary source of motivation.  But over the years and being happily married, the need to look good around others became less important and hitting targets fell by the wayside.  I suppose I've gotten used to not honoring my self-promises because I would set unrealistic goals AND I didn't have something to help sustain my motivation over the long-haul.  So I was intrigued to discover a new goal setting site called in which users set-up Commitment Contracts.  But this isn't your run of the mill written contract that you make with yourself and forget about it the next week.  At, your commitment contract carries a financial penalty for not achieving your goals.  This website was created by economists who realized that when people put their own money or reputation on the line, they are more apt to follow through with their plans. 

At Stickk, you give your money to either their charity or 'anti-charity' of your choice.  You also designate a relative or friend to be your "referee" to monitor your progress and keep you honest.  There is also an option to select which people you want to have access to your goal progress so they can serve as your very own cheerleaders.  For me, the idea of giving money to an "anti-chairty" intrigues me the most...Say my anti-charity was the Sarah Palin Political Action Committee, I would do my damnedest to make sure I didn't have to get that woman a single dollar of my money. 

I'm realizing that I need to avail myself to every tool available so that I can finally drop this weight and get into shape. Obviously, shaping up for "bikini season" wasn't working but the thought of giving the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin any of my money would keep me up all night dreaming about hopping on the treadmill in the next morning. Time for me to put up or pay up.