Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It Isn't Coming Off

Okay, this is just messed up.

So I am going on my third week of working out every weekday. I do take the weekends off. I go to the gym, run for half an hour, and then lift weights for about 45 minutes, rotating between upper body and lower body workouts every other day. After this, I sweat in a sauna for 10 or 15 minutes. I have been watching my diet and portion sizes and when I have a Coke, I have Coke Zero. I have not had a real Coke in weeks...sigh...I miss it. I might have a few beers on the weekend but other than that, the drinking is in relative moderation. I have been taking my multi-vitamin and I have been eating three meals a day every day.


On the upside, I am not gaining any either. I have a feeling I am building muscle as I burn fat and this is offsetting any weight loss that may occur, seeing that muscle is heavier than fat and fat people tend to convert to muscle faster than skinny people.

While I may not be losing weight, I have been feeling consistently better than I have in years and that is worth something. I also feel less stressed. I think the working out is working, I just wish I was losing a little weight because in the back of my head there is a little voice saying that that is all that matters. I know this isn't true but there is nothing like seeing pounds come off that scale.

Anywho, I am off to work!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The End Of The Week

Since my last post, progress has been made and I am pretty proud of myself.

I have gone to the gym everyday this week and have started going in the mornings like I had been talking about. I can safely say, I am addicted. Working out in the mornings is sooooo much nicer than dealing with it in the afternoons. In the morning, I am pretty much alone in the gym and the whole process just seems so much more relaxed. The other cool thing about working out in the mornings is it has changed my eating style. If I begin the day with a workout, I am off on the right footing and I don't want to screw it up by eating crappy food or more realistically, huge portions of crappy food. Daily morning workouts have served as a reminder to me as to what I am working out for and that reminder keeps me mindful of my diet throughout the day. I think I am doing something now that I can keep up. Oh yeah, the amount of energy and positive attitude I have through the day is crazy.

Ben, you do not have to pay me to lose weight. Thanks for the offer but for me, the feeling better thing is its own reward. I woke up a couple of weeks ago and it just kind of hit me that I was ready to not be chubby anymore. I have had that mood before but this time it has stuck and this is the most driven I have felt about it. I just don't feel like being overweight anymore so I don't think I will be...at least not willingly. I know this is going to take some time but I feel very committed to being healthier right now and so far, all of the good feelings I have had this week have re-enforced that. Ben, you mentioned weighing myself and I am actually already on a schedule for it. Once a week on Mondays. This may get changed to Friday but right now it is Mondays. I think anymore than that and it will feel like I am beating my head against a wall. Knowing my body, I will probably lose about 10lbs. in the next week or two. It is all water weight and comes off easily. After that, I think I will start grinding away at the actual fat I have let build up for far to long. I know it won't be tremendous gains all the time but knowing that now will keep me from being disappointed later. Oh yeah, I like the smell of two Axe(tm) varieties and have been using them since I have moved back from Japan. :P

Dustin, you mentioned how snacking can be beneficial and for some people I think that is true. For me, I am kind of afraid of it. Historically, I don't trust myself around food. I have known for a long time that I don't eat because I need nourishment, I eat simply because I like the act of eating. I love food. I love the preparation of it, I love the taste of it, I love the look of it, and I love eating with other people and the sense of community it brings. I just like food. Knowing that, snacking is something I try not to do because I think I have a hard time telling what is a snack and what is a meal. When I snack, I purposefully stick to food that I know other people consider snack foods like apples or a pack of M&Ms. I am lucky because I don't care for most candy or sweets. I like them but I am not driven to eat them all of the time. For further explanation, I used to consider a meal at McDonalds a snack. In my heart, I know this is not a snack but I would use it as such. For the past couple of weeks I have been very mindful of what I eat and I make a conscious effort to track my food intake. Right now this is working and so I will stick to it. I know a lot of it is food choices and in the past I have not made the best food choices. That is slowly changing and I feel like how I have eaten over the past week or so has been much more reasonable and I have done it in a way that does not make me feel like I have missed out on anything but I know I have eaten way less.

As for money stuff. I met with my IRA guy and I took out $3200. After fees and whatnot it was closer to $5000 but I still feel like I have made the right decision. I feel like crap for doing this and I know Ben is shaking his head right now, but I know that for me, this was a good choice. Basically, $1700 of it is going to pay my tuition for this semester. Some of it will also go to books. Some will go to pay the few hundred I have on my credit card. A small portion will go to pad my checking account and the rest is being put in a regular savings account. What this means for me is that I am no longer living paycheck to paycheck. Each check I am putting some directly into the savings account and after I am sure I can afford it, I will be putting extra toward my car payment. Lately, even with the small checks I have been getting, I have managed to save money and so I think I am in a position to be able to bank a good sum each paycheck.

Ben, I know you have never liked the idea of me taking stuff out of my IRA and frankly, I haven't either. But we are in different situations financially. You already have a job in a field that you consider your career. You make good money and even better, you make about the same amount each month. You have stability. My job pays way less, my paychecks vary greatly from pay period to pay period, and what I am doing now is not what I will be doing five years from now...hopefully, not even a year from now. What I am trying to say is the road you are on is a little bit clearer than the one I am currently on. While going to Japan was a great experience, it held me back in several ways. Had I stayed here, I would have gone back to school much sooner and would be teaching by now. I would also probably also have a house by now. Though I may be dipping into my IRA now, when I have a teaching job, I will have a killer retirement plan and benefits. My Special Ed certification will also bring me a job security that would make most people weep. I know that once I get that piece of paper, I am set...I just need to get there.

Financially, I am also repairing a lot of stuff that I messed up a long time ago and it takes a bit to get out of the hole I dug for myself. I think I am out now and I don't plan on falling back in. I feel very liberated right now.

Ben and Dustin, thanks for your input. I appreciate the advice and have always valued what you guys have had to say. I know I am not the most money minded person in the world but I think I am finally mastering my finances and your advice has helped me a lot.

Anywho, I need to format my computer now so it is time to shut down my web browser, pop a disc in the drive, and re-install. Joy!

Monday, January 12, 2009


I think this week is going to end up being good in the long run but for the present, it is going to suck. I have been in a right crappy mood lately due to a lot of factors that I have mentioned before and a couple of new ones. Well, I am sick of being bothered about stuff so it is time to change some plans and get on the right track.

The first thing that has bothered me (for years) is my weight. Since I have come back to the U.S. I have slowly but surely been getting bigger. Where I am at now isn't bad but unless I make some corrections it is going to get out of hand and that isn't going to happen. I attribute the weight gain to me not eating Japanese food two thirds of the time and me not riding my bike like I was over there. Eating American food the way most Americans eat food is basically signing up to kill yourself in a slow and delicious fashion. Portion sizes and I have never gotten along and I think I am going to take control of that now. Also, I have been working out more but it is irregularly and I am getting myself on a set workout routine. Until now, I have been working out when I finish with work for the day. This has been problematic for several reasons: 1)There are days when you get done with work and just don't want to go to the gym. 2)There are days when you are going to hang out with friends after work and have a life. 3)School is also after work. To correct this problematic scheduling, I am going in the morning. I hate getting up in the morning. I loathe it. But I need to do it. So starting tomorrow, I will be waking up at 6:30am in order to be at the gym by 7am. This will allow me to get my full workout in and still have plenty of time to get ready for work. The other advantage to subjecting myself to this dawnish hell is that I will eventually get used to it and it will put me right on schedule for when I get a legit teaching job. I am still not a fan of this idea but it needs to happen. I hate how I look and there is now good reason to sleep in everyday until 9:30am so this kills two birds with one stone.

The second area that needs adjusting is my financial state of mind. Last Fall, I took a bit out of my IRA to get some debt taken care of and that has been very nice. The problem is that I should have taken out more to give me a cushion in my checking account so that I am not constantly going paycheck to paycheck. So I am going to dip into Mr. IRA for a second and final time. This time I am going to get enough to pay for school this semester instead of having my dad pay for school and me pay him and get enough to get rid of the little debt I have accrued (like a few hundred bucks...not much)and give me a cushion that I will use to pad my checking account and possibly start a savings account with. I am not overly trusting in the stock market as of late and starting a savings account is a good second option. It also allows me to get into it without the stupid penalties and taxes that you deal with when dealing with the IRA. What irritates me is that I almost took more out the first time and I should have because a week after I started all of the IRA stuff up, the market went to hell and I lost about six grand in about a week. Beh...stupid markets. I am also setting early February as my date to start going cash only on purchases and day to day living. There might be a couple of extenuating circumstances to this rule but for the most part, I want to go cash only.

All of this leads up to the goals that I have set for myself this year. Last year I had eight goals and all but two of them got accomplished. This year I have five goals but they are a little bit harder than last year's.

First, I really need to find a girlfriend. This whole single thing sucks. The downside to this goal is that I can't totally control it. I can do things to help it out though. The working out thing can't hurt and I am also getting out more thanks to finding this online group that isn't online dating but more like an online event finder called, Meetin. I am hoping I can widen my social interactions through some of the events available on the site. I am going to my first Meetin event tomorrow, nothing big, just a dinner club that is meeting at Shige's for sushi. I am not expecting a ton but I am looking forward to at least meeting new people and I need that...and I have been craving good sushi lately so here is to hoping.

Second, I need to finish school. This is the easiest goal because nothing is more brain dead than attending graduate courses at BSU. I wish classes were harder but I am not going to argue with a good hour or so each night dedicated to Facebook.

Third, I need to get out of my parents' basement. Living here has not been bad, I like my parents and it is free. But having all of my stuff either in boxes or crammed into my room is slowly driving me insane. The other thing that irks me is that it seems like I am the only one that does not have my own house or apartment. As much as I applaud them for achieving it, hearing about all of my brother's friends that are getting houses is almost like listening to nails on a chalkboard. These people are five years younger than me and they are getting houses! I do not have a house. I know all of the decent reasons as to why I don't have a house but it still doesn't mute the voice in my head that is constantly reminding me that I don't have my own place. This needs to be rectified. Finishing school and shoring up my finances are helping this but honestly, until I get a legit teaching job, the house thing will probably not happen. In the mean time, I am considering finding a reasonable apartment and possibly moving there. The downside is that the job I have now is a tad unpredictable and that makes getting an apartment, let alone a housing loan, something that mildly creeps me out.

Fourth, getting a legit teaching job. Finishing school pretty much guarantees me getting a Special Ed position. I think I just need patience here. I am doing everything I need to be doing for this to happen and it is really a matter of time but sooner than later is a very very good thing.

Fifth, is losing weight and getting in habits that make me healthier. This means eating smaller portions, limiting my self to one Coke a day if even that, working out on a routine, eating all meals(something I rarely do), taking my daily multivitamin, trying to eat more green crap, and put a limit on the booze. It isn't like a drink a ton right now but cutting down saves money and calories. I know what I need to do and I think if I follow the above rules, I can succeed at this goal. I don't snack very much so that isn't really a problem for me. I just need to get correct eating habits put into place and not deviate from them.

That is pretty much it. If you want to know what I am thinking about for 75% of my waking hours, the above stuff is pretty much it. A couple of other things have been nagging at me this week but they aren't important and will pass. I think the time of year it is also has not been helping me. I have not been taking a lot of pictures lately because the weather has not been kind to photography and I have not been cooking as much because of time constraints. I just need to chill out and get into a positive groove. I think I will be there in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2009?! What the....whatever....

Well, the holidays came and went and to be honest, they felt weird to me. They were nice and it was cool to see the family and have a traditional American Christmas for the first time in a couple of years but there was just something that felt off. Unfortunately, it seems I was not alone in this feeling and the general consensus among most of the family was that this year was odd.

The really weird part and this is not a slant toward this Christmas but I found myself really missing my first Christmas in Japan. I hung out with Reid and Karie and we had a generally rockin' time. I miss that Christmas. I liked this Christmas because it felt comfortable but I liked that Christmas because I felt free.

In other news, Broxton is doing well and I think Brody and Michela are getting adjusted to being parents. It is kind of cool to see Broxton and to see him at a time when almost every time you see him, he looks a little bit older. He also looks more like a baby and less like a small alien creature. I think I like Broxton; we will have a lot of fun when he gets older. Right now, he doesn't do a ton other than sleep and eat and in that sense, he and I may be more similar than I care to admit.

Being on Christmas break from school was fun for about a week. Not being in school means time that I am not being a teacher. Not being a teacher means more time that I don't have my own house. Not having my own house means more time I am living in my parents' basement. Living in my parents' basement isn't doing me any favors in the not-being-single department. It is somewhat nerve wracking to know that most of my future well being hinges on one very slow moving process that I can only partially control. I wish I could take all of the classes I need in one semester but as it stands now, I have four classes coming up and then one or two summer school classes and depending on how many summer school classes are offered, maybe one class this coming fall. I really need to get a teaching job and school is slowing me down. Upside, I got a 4.0 this last semester and I probably put about as much effort into studying as I do in watching a couple episodes of the Simpsons. So much for being challenged. I am beyond wondering whether the classes are really easy or I am just creepy smart, I just know I am bored out of my mind.

So now it is the new year...I am not totally sure what I think about that but it isn't like I have a ton of say in the matter. I went into 2008 knowing that the year was going to be a wash and knowing that it was going to be a sort of an administrative year to figure out my new American life. It was a good year but not a ton got done on my part. Good things happened like Ben getting married and Broxton getting born and Malia being my girlfriend...and then not. I sold some of my pictures and I like my job and it is nice to hang out with my old friends all the time. The thing I was hoping for that didn't happen was that the administrative year that I knew was coming, didn't really end. It is looking like 2009 will probably also be an administrative year. Maybe I will just call it 2008.5.

I see progress being made and I see a light at the end of the tunnel but man, the train I am on is moving at an absolute crawl. I take solace in knowing that I am doing all that I can in regards to school and my career and future but it is so irritating to know that I can't just wake up tomorrow and get on with my life.

In a totally unrelated vein of thought, I really dig this show on A&E called, Intervention. It is basically about drugees and alcoholics being confronted by their families and getting treatment. I have no clue why I like this show but I have been watching it for three hours now while typing this out and doing some stuff for work. I can probably relate to it because some of the people I work with should really be on this program.