Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up: 9/30

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on… PAYING OFF MY MOTHER F-ING STUDENT LOAN! Sorry, but I'm just so excited. I'm $1032.75 much closer to being debt-free. Whoop whoop!
2. Today I am thankful for the magic that is Autumn :) So excited for the weather and fun fall activities this weekend.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was spending Sunday on a walk with Adam and Bentley. (Notice how most of my free happiness comes from these two? Pretty sure that's a good sign!)
4. I will consider this week a success if I get a few runs in.
5. A talent I wish I had is anything related to creativity. If I could be an artist, a dancer, or a musician (or at least have some talent in one of those areas), I would be thrilled.

Thanks, My Pretty Pennies!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


For real? As if I needed another reason to start running!

I'm not naming names...

...and I won't even reveal his face.

But SOMEBODY with green paws bounced around my white comforter this morning.


Ah, it takes me about 20 seconds to forgive him for just about anything he does. And it's not his fault the lawnmowers came when it was time for his morning poop.

Anywho, I found this article yesterday on increasing your running speed. I thought the treadmill workout looked killer:
"I run at speed 10 at an incline of 1.5 or 2.0, sprint for 30 or 45 seconds, and then jump off," Natasha says. "So if you run for 30 seconds, you'll rest for 30 seconds. Do 10 straight of those, take a 2-minute break, and then jump on and do 10 more." Work your way up to three sets of 10. Once you notice a difference in your speed and feel the difficulty level waning, increase the speed and incline to make sure you're still pushing yourself.

So I attempted it this morning.

It.was.AWESOME. I couldn't even get up to 10mph on the treadmill...I had to hover around 8.5 or 9. And boy, let me tell you. When it was time to jump off after those 30 seconds, it was WELL DESERVED. I actually only got through one set of 10 of these, and with a warm-up walk and cool down, my whole workout lasted about 15-20 minutes and I blasted 200 calories.

Not a bad way to start the morning, eh? Even with green paws.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Make it Count

Y'all, running is HARD.

Really hard.

Remember how I was all gung-ho about lifting weights with New Rules of Lifting for Women? Or at least how I pretended that I was?

After taking my measurements when I completed the first stage, I found that I had lost an inch. In two months. Sure, that's better than nothing; I could have gained inches, blah Blah BLAH! Sorry, but an inch in two months isn't good enough for me. Hell, when I was training for my half marathon in the spring, I lost 5 inches in my hips ALONE.

This brings me to my next point. I've decided I have to run. Observe.

This handy-dandy chart is a representation of 2011 from the perspective of my weight. I've weighed myself (almost) every Friday since January 7. I think there is a clear pattern going on here.

Run=lose weight and inches.
Don't run=get fat.

It's not rocket science.

So, despite not having a goal to work towards or a big race to run in the next few months, I've got to get back to running.

Tonight, though I got off work at 7pm, though I am working a 12-hour day tomorrow, and though I feel like I have beat the proverbial crap out of my emotional self from my lack of devotion to my health and wellness in the past couple months, I ran. I told myself I had 30 minutes. Not long at all, but if I only allowed myself 30 minutes, then I had to make it count. I intended to do 25 minutes of intervals, but having been so lax with my running routine since May, I had to take a few more breaks than I wanted.

A 13-minute mile. Not too bad considering, but I have so much room for improvement. Last year, my goals were only to complete my races (5k, 10k, 10-miler, and half-marathon). I think in the next few months, my goal will need to be to get FASTER. That way, when this rolls around in the spring:

I can show those hills who's boss and leave last year's time in the dust.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up 9/23

Happy Friday, Y'all!

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on my car payment! $191 a month. I am determined to pay this off 3-4 years early, so hopefully, post-2012 I won't have a car payment.
2. Today I am thankful for hot dates with my boyfriend. We don't frequent fancy restaurants, but we both decided to set aside some money to go on one nice date this month. That date is tonight and I've been looking forward to it all day!
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was spend the morning at the dog park last Saturday. It's not exactly free...but I feel like we've gotten more than our money's worth as it only costs $30 for the yearly membership.
4. I will consider this week a success if I successfully plan and execute a menu for the next week.
5. If I could have coffee with one blogger, I would choose seriously, all of them! With that said, I would love to meet Molly at Smart, Pretty, & Awkward, Ninja at Punch Debt in the Face, and Andie at Can You Stay for Dinner?.

I would love to know, which bloggers would YOU love to have coffee with?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I noticed this week on the financial blog circuit the recent popularity of the book Switch. I haven't picked up the book yet, but one of the philosophies mentioned really resonated with me.

In one of JD's posts on Get Rich Slowly, he talks about the metaphor of the elephant (do not insert fat joke here):
The rider represents our rational or logical mind. The large, powerful elephant represents our emotional mind. And the path through the jungle represents our environment and surroundings.
The authors say that we most often approach habit change by leveraging only our logical mind, the “rider”. We outline the exact tips, tactics, and strategy we need to systematically execute our plan.
We see early success with this method because, in the beginning, the rider has enough control and strength to force the elephant to go wherever we desire. But the longer the rider tries to overpower the elephant, the more quickly she tires and burns out. Trying to change a habit with only your logical mind quickly leads to exhaustion. You cannot succeed with willpower alone.
He goes on to mention that you need to motivate the ELEPHANT, or the emotional part of your mind and you also need to work with the jungle, or your surroundings.

This is the very best thing about being a Dave Ramsey follower. The reason he sets up his debt snowball in the fashion that he does is so you DON'T lose momentum when trying to get out of debt; to do this, he appeals to the emotional side of your brain. When you're chipping away at debt, if you're paying off your smallest debts one by one, the emotional gratification that comes from your quick pay off will help keep you motivated throughout the process.

How very applicable this is to not only getting out of debt, but to losing weight as well. I LOVE that Weight Watchers sets small, achievable goals. They don't tell you to lose 50, 100, 150 pounds right out of the starting gate. You start with a 5% target, your 10% target, until your WEIGHT LOSS snowballs. (Look, I just connected money and weight loss. How clever--someone should make a blog about that).

For me, I feel like I set myself up for failure by constantly expecting perfection.

If I don't get in 4 (or 5 or whatever arbitrary number I designated for the week) workouts in, then I have failed at life and I just quit and veg out on the couch. You know what? 2 or 3 workouts would have probably been just as good.

If I haven't stuck to my daily calorie needs and I've gone over? Well, screw it all! Velveeta shells and cheese, I'm comin' to get you! (Right, that's a fabulous idea.)

In all honesty, I feel like I've been at this game my entire life and I still can't get it right. For this week, I will try to think as more than just the rider; I will consider the elephant in the jungle as well.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming...

I spent the last, oh...36 hours engrossed in this. 

Thanks, Suzanne Collins. Like I didn't have other things I wanted to do this weekend. 

Pages 243-301 were a good excuse to finally get my first pumpkin spiced latte of the season, though.

At least I got the entire thing out of the way, but then of course I had to start the third in the installment. I'll get back to y'all as soon as I get through this one. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up 9/14

Yes, oh yes. I have found another financial blog to follow! This one is My Pretty Pennies, who has a weekly money check-up. Y'all probably see too much food around here and not enough money posts, anyway.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on rent! At $425-ish a month, this is my biggest expense (besides every extra penny I contribute to my debt snowball).
2. Today I am thankful for coffee.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was hiking with friends at a state park.
4. I will consider this week a success if I stay within my food budget! Thank you, Whole Foods Living Social deal for helping me stick with my goal.
5. My favorite game to play is Apples to Apples or any other card games. But depending on my mood, the quiet game might just be on top of my list.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What's YOUR Grade?

I'll be the first to admit that exercise and I have serious commitment issues in our relationship. And yes, I fully take the blame for that. Exercise treats me so well and makes me feel good about myself, yet I can't commit fully to it. If it sounds like I need to call a relationship hotline, it's probably because I do.

Working 10-7, I thought I had landed the dream work schedule. I can wake up early, get my workout in, and still have plenty of time to eat breakfast and get ready for work! After work, I could do whatever I want because I wouldn't have to worry about my workout!

Let's be honest, when 6:30am rolls around and I look into the wonderful sleepy eyes of my pup, the last thing I do is want to get out of bed, much less wake him up.

Could YOU awake that sleeping baby?

Alas, I need to stop blaming Bentley for my lack of motivation in the morning.

This weekend, I talked to Adam about how I've always heard that losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise. If I'm doing the 80% (and in all honesty, how often am I doing that right?), then why do I care about the 20%?

The math teacher in him then advised me that if I'm only getting an 80%, then that's a C according to his district's grading standards. What a wake up call this was. If I want to be getting 100% out of this little merry-go-round, then I need to be putting in 100%!

Again, for me, the motivation to wake up at 6:30 to work out is not there. I am perfectly capable of waking up early and being at work on time since I will be held accountable at the office. However, I don't have anyone holding me accountable for my workout. So this week, we cut a deal. I get in my 3 New Rules of Lifting workouts (plus spin class on Saturday for good measure), then he takes me out for breakfast on Saturday. Keep your fingers crossed for me. It could be a long week.

If you had to give yourself a diet+exercise grade, what would YOU give yourself?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why "free" isn't always free

Interesting fact about me: I could eat Chick-fil-A every day for the rest of my life and die happy. True story.

Being a "fan" of them on Facebook has its perks, namely, the few times a year when they give out free food (score!). So, of course, last week when they had posted a free breakfast entree deal, I was ON that. I selected my location, date, and time to drop in to get my free chicken biscuit.

Adam came with me and I offered to buy his breakfast as well. $1.25 for a coffee, $1.99 for fruit, and $3-something for a meal for him later, my free chicken biscuit amounted to $7 for breakfast.

Right, I understand that's still cheap. After all, one of my favorite activities is weekend brunch at Wild Eggs, and THAT can run you a good $20 for a meal.

But the point is, I felt like I had won the lottery by getting that free chicken biscuit deal (it's the little things...), yet I fell for the classic restaurant tactic of roping you in with an offer, just so you can spend more money and give them more business. And I didn't even make it out of there spending nothing! I could have made a half-decent breakfast with what I already had on hand, and that would've saved me $7.

Keeping your eyes peeled for coupons, sales, and the like is a smart way to save money. But when those deals wind up costing you MORE money than you would have spent otherwise (I'm looking at you, Groupon deal for a $30 massage that I didn't REALLY need), then you're really not getting a good deal after all.

But, who am I kidding? It was worth it for that made-from-crack biscuit.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

I have NO idea why it took me 25 years to try this, but it has become my favorite breakfast by far. Paired with a cup of coffee, I'm satisfied until lunch (usually).

Behold the peanut butter and banana sandwich. The squishier the banana, the better!
Try it NOW!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Top 5 Tuesday

After two miserable days of 100+ temps, Labor Day itself was a welcome relief with 60 degree weather. Of course, I pulled out all the seasonal stops and took advantage of this. My top 5 favorite Labor Day 2011 activities (in no particular order):

Starbucks Hot Chocolate (and a cuddly pup)

Naptime (in HOODIES!)

Engaging reading material

Autumn ambiance

How are you enjoying the changing of the seasons?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Less is More

Remember when I mentioned how I HATE letting my ingredients go to waste?

My goal this week when I was menu planning was to buy things that I would use, and possibly use more than once.

In doing this, I managed to get away from the grocery store spending under $25 for the week (Score!).

Here's how I did it. Bear with me:
  • Kroger has chicken on sale for $1.99/pound this week. Looks like I'll be working with chicken!
  • I searched for a chicken recipe I enjoy that doesn't have overly complicated or too many ingredients. Skinnytaste's Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili is one of my favorites, easy to put together (especially spectacular since I don't get home from work til 7:30 pm), all of the seasonings are already on hand, and many of the ingredients are one-timers (I'm looking at you, canned beans and tomatoes). This means I'm really only going to have chicken left after making this.
  • SO I searched for another chicken recipe without too many ingredients. Enter cheesy chicken bagel pizzas. I had homemade marinara, mozzarella, and chicken, so all I needed to buy was two bagels. I made it even more delicious by breading the chicken bits in panko crumbs. Unfortunately, the pictures didn't do it justice, and I had a showdown with the broiler again. I think we tied.

Here's their picture, since mine wasn't quite as pretty.

Between those two meals, it may not sound like much, but that chili is going to go FAR. It was Tuesday night's dinner and has managed for a couple lunches and dinners for the rest of the week as well. I'm a creature of habit, though, so I can eat the same things day in and day out and be content. This weekend's trip to the grocery store will be another adventure for my Less is More Challenge to myself!

Any tips from you all on the art of buying less ingredients while using more?