Health Goals 2012

Since it’s the first week of 2012, I figured that I’d share my goals for 2012 with all of you.  I don’t list every goal in every category, but I do put the ones that I feel relate to the things we talk about on the blog.

Every year for the past 6 years, I’ve created goals for myself.  I wasnt too good with the tracking thing in  the early years, but I’ve gotten better recently.  (also, while editing my goals posts, I wrote I’d been having goals for different amounts of time in every post i’d written).  I decided to break up my goals into categories last year, and I’m doing the same this year.  The following are my goals for getting/staying healthy throughout the year.

This year of course comes with a little added incentive because I’m getting married.  While I dont mind looking like a tool at my wedding, I dont want to be overweight or unfit – in fact, just the oppisite.  I’d rather be in the best shape of my life, or close to it anyway.  Hopefully the goals I’ll set will help with that.

The first health goal for the year will be to run a marathon.  I don’t really think this will be that difficult.  Im a very function oriented person (if X, then Y) so my plan is to pick a marathon that I’d like to do before the wedding and then follow a simple training program.  I’ve already found a training program that i’d like to do, and have identified a few marathons that I’d like to do (both are in june, providing me 6 full weeks to get really fat before my wedding).  I think that H may run it with me, but she’s only interested in running a half marathon, so her training wont be quite as extensive as mine, but at least I’ll have a training buddy.  As far as I’m concerned though, I just have to follow the steps on my training program week in and week out, and I’ll be fine.  That may be simplistic thinking, but I dont need to get all worked up over it.  As of right now, I’m looking at 2 races, both in the beginning of june pretty hard, and one potentially in may, but it is a trail run so I’m not sure that I’m quite up for that yet.

The next health goal is slightly subjective (which makes for a poor goal) but I’m going for it anyway.  H and I will be spending plenty of time lounging around on the beach during our honeymoon, and obviously I dont want to look like a troll.  Unfortunately, there’s no way I’ll look as good as she will, but either way I’d like to be in good shape for my honeymoon.  How I’ll define this I havent figured out yet, but hopefully I’ll come up with something.

I’d also like to eat more veggies.  Next summer, H and I are going to be getting veggies in our CSA along with our friut, and I’d like to make sure that none of that ends up in the compost heap.  In order to do this, I’ll need to eat more veggies next year, both as snacks and sides, as well as main dishes.  So, one of my goals for next year will be to eat vegetarian at dinner 3 times per week.

I think that those goals should keep me occupied in the health sector for a while, and nothing looks like it will be too difficult (other than following the plan).  One thing I was told to watch out for is my marathon – It seems like there are quite a bit of injuries during training for a race, so I’ll need to watch out for that.

Readers:  What are your health goals for the coming year?  Do you have health goals, or are you simply trying to maintain what you’ve got?  Are you goals focused on weight-loss or something different?  

Year End Goals Review

It’s getting towards the end of the year, and it’s a great time to review the goals that I had for the year and how I fared with them.  I put some of my goals up on the site, and you can find them here.  I’ve also been doing some quarterly updates that you can read if you’re curious (Q1, Q2, Q3) but this is the final one  for this year, and soon will come goals out for 2012.  While I didnt put my goals all on the website, I did put goals for my finances and my health on here.  Goals not included were either mean to be a surprise or were not relevant to the topics on this blog, so I left them off.  So, without further ado, here were my goals and how I fared with them in 2011.

Financial Goals

  1. Pay off my Direct Loan.  The balance for this loan as of 12/31/10 will be right around $4,250.   While this wont help out my cash flow that much, it’s still by far the lowest loan balance  that I have.  I’m hoping that this will be paid off in Q1, and it should be if I can get back to my gazelle intensity that I lost in December.
Success!  I had a pretty ambitious goal of paying this off in the first quarter, but was rudely woken up when tax season came around.  I ended up using money that was supposed to be for debt repayment to pay both state and federal income tax.  After that, it was mostly traveling during the summer that ate up my extra money for loan payments, and once I was finally ready to pay it off, they lost the check.  Eventually (mid november) I was able to pay it in full.
  1. Pay Off Truck.  This goal is going to be a heavy lift, but I think that I can do it this year.  I’ve been debating if I should pay this off first or move on to the next lowest balance.  In the end, the truck is going to win out because of the amount of cash that it’s going to free up.  The balance on this note as of 12/31/10 is $17,979.
Fail!  Although I knew last year that this would probably be a bit too far out of reach, I decided to put it on here anyway so even if I ended up failing, i’d be pretty far ahead of where I was supposed to be.  I didnt make extra payments on the loan, but got a huge insurance check from a hail storm and was able to put that towards the value of the loan.  After borrowing 21,000 in December of 2009, The loan balance is near 9,000 now, which I’m more than fine with.  I originally financed the note for 6 years, but it should be long gone before then.

Health Goals

  1. Establish a routine at the gym.  I seem to be teetering on the brink of a solid schedule of gym attendance, and I’d really like to have it gel into a nice routine this year.  Unfortunately, this goal sits a bit at odds with my goal of paying off my debt (because I spend extra time working more to earn more).  I’ve got a spreadsheet tracking my progress, and I’m aiming for 4 days a week at the gym (if anyone cares, tuesday, thursday, saturday and sunday).  I think I can do this and stay focused on all of my other projects.  I’ll share these results in my monthly reviews so you can keep up as well.
Semi-Success.  I got into a pretty good routine during the first 8 or so months of the year, but kind of fell off after that.  Though I was able to regain a bit in December, I’ll be back in full force with all of the other new years resolution people in January and February, but I’ll still be there when they drop off in march.
  1. Identify an unhealthy eating behavior and stop it.  After thinking about this for a while, I’ve decided that instead of stopping an unhealthy behavior, I’m going to start a healthy one.  I’ve decided that I’m going to eat vegetarian 1 or 2 dinners per week (my breakfasts are sometimes vegetarian, and I can switch my lunch if I want).  This will give me 1 or 2 days of full vegetarian food per week, which should do great things for my health.
Success!  This went really well, quite unexpectedly.  H decided that she wanted to become a vegetarian (though she does eat fish) so that made my meal planning much easier.  When I wanted to do a vegetarian night, I’d just eat whatever she was eating.

October 2011 Monthly Review

Every month, I review my debt and the progress (or not) that I’ve made in paying it down.  I havent gotten much paid down so far this year because I’ve been doing quite a bit of traveling, but that has officially ended (finally)!  One of my goals for last month was to finally wipe this stupid direct loan off of the list after sending them a large payment last month.  Well, as of this writing I’m still waiting for them to find a check they misplaced so I can go in online and pay the remainder.

Student Loans

I made more progress on these!  My smaller loan is waiting to be paid off.  Why do these people make it so tough to give them money.

Direct Loan $0  ($563) – I have enough to pay this off but I haven’t done it yet, so I’m just going to mark it paid. Wa-HOOOOO!  They have lost the check that was sent (though they did cash it) so I’m waiting for that to post until I can pay them.  They should be finding it soon, or so they say. (UPDATE: They still haven’t found my check.  This obviously doesn’t make me happy)

Great Lakes Loan $11,448 ($96)  I hate this loan.  It never goes down.

Truck Loan

Pretty self explanatory – the loan for my truck.  I got a huge boost on this loan this summer from a hail storm we had in the area around mid july.  There was quite a bit of damage (many are getting new roofs) and there was over $6k of damage worth to my car.  When I got the check, the insurance rep said I could get the vehicle fixed or use the money to pay down the loan.  No brainer for me, and I wiped out 33% of the value of the loan.

Ford Credit: $9,765 ($300):  I cant believe that less than 2 years after taking a 20,000+ note that it’s under ten grand.  Though much of this was because of a hail storm that I couldnt have predicted and a low interest rate.  Some of it is because I was paying more than the minimum at the beginning of the loan – when it matters most.

Health Goals

I’ve also decided to track my health goals for the year.  This has been up and down all year, but despite the traveling, I’ve managed to keep it together this month.  This is usually gym visits, but I dont always like to go to the gym, so I’m changing it to workouts.  Usually when I dont go to the gym, I go running.

Goal Workouts: 20

Total Visits: 2

As you can see, this was a total and complete failure.  I was ok the first week, then the wheels just completely came off.  It snowed last week, so this is going to be mostly inside from here on out.  Hopefully I’ll be OK getting back on the wagon next month.

August 2011 Monthly Review

Hey there.  Thanks for coming by.  This is the time of the month when I review my financial and health progress and share with  you all. To check out my yearly goals, see the tab at the top of the page.  Thanks!

Last month, I finally realized that I needed to add credit cards back into the review.  After the review, I paid it off.

Credit Card

Chase British Air Card $0 – I was able to pay this one completely off in the first week of august, and while there is a balance on it again, I’ll be able to easily pay it when the bill comes, leaving some left over for my student loan.

Student Loans

I made some progress here for the first time in a year.  The progess could be short lived though, as I may have to save up for my alaska trip with this months extra cash.

Direct Loan $1,657  ($396) – I was able to make a nice sized payment on this loan for this month.  Hopefully, there will be more to go around when I get paid again at the beginning of the month.  I should be able to put another couple hundred on it.

Great Lakes Loan $11,626 ($104)  Just sent my regular minimum payment to this loan. I’m working on this one as well, but it will probably be the last debt I pay off.

Truck Loan

Pretty self explanatory – the loan for my truck.  I got a huge boost on this loan this month from a hail storm we had in the area around mid july.  There was quite a bit of damage (many are getting new roofs) and there was over $6k of damage worth to my car.  When I got the check, the insurance rep said I could get the vehicle fixed or use the money to pay down the loan.  No brainer for me, and I wiped out 33% of the value of the loan.

Ford Credit: $10,359, (5,601): I have just been making minimum payments to this loan, but my truck got killed by a hailstorm in July.  The insurance company cut me a check on the spot, and told me I could get it fixed (and pay my 1,000 deductible) or I could send it to the loan.  Easy chose.

Health Goals

I’ve also decided to track my health goals for the year.  I went to 5-6 days per week, and I really was doing good at the first of the month but once the rodeo started, I totally fell off the wagon (though I do a lot of physical labor at the rodeo, i’m not counting it).

Week of July 31  27: 3 Days
Week of August 7:  4 Days (I’m counting rafting as a workout as well)
Week of August 14:  4 Days ( I had a tough hike that I’m counting as 2, and the Warrior dash this week)
Week of August 21:  4 Days

Goal Visits: 20
Total Visits: 15

Like July, this month was pretty crazy.  I wanted to enter my canning in the county fair, but missed the deadline.  I traveled to West Virginia (for fun), to Colorado to hike the Maroon Bells and for the Warrior Dash, and I’ll be traveling to Colorado again for a friends bbq on the last weekend of the month.  Interspersed in there, was quite a bit of planning for my Alaska trip (finally confirmed), more work for the Financial blogger conference, and lots of work to get my alexa rank for the site under 200k.  While it seems like months like this are usually rough on the financial side, I made tremendous progress this month, while my health goals took a back seat.  For next month, I’d really like to try and do well at both,  but it will be difficult, considering I’ll be traveling 17 days for the month of September.  Probably a personal record, but I’ve never felt the need to keep track of things like that.

How To Give Up Caffeine

Back in 2006/2007, I was quite addicted to caffeine.

3 Cups of Tea

Photo credit: Mat.teo, Flickr

Tough to say, but there’s really no way to sugar coat it.  Thinking about it now, I kind of recoil in horror about the amount of caffeine intake I had.  I would regularly wake up and have a coke for breakfast (horrible, I know), and then it would be a few hour break from caffeine (and all liquids, actually), then I’d get home, relax and make some dinner and then start on my homework/work and have another cup of tea (or 2).  This tea was typically green or black, but on occasion I considered my caffeine intake and switched to white tea (but only if I was planning on going to bed soon).  It wasn’t good, and not only was the consumption outside this world, the rate at which I consumed a cup was astounding.   Either way, it got to a point where even I started to realize my consumption was high, so I decided to make an effort to cut back.  Here are some of the BEST reasons I found to give up caffeine:

  1. Caffeine has a half life of 4.9 hours for healthy adults (women taking oral contraceptives, it’s 5-10 hours, dont ask me why)
  2. Caffeine hogs your liver.  When you drink caffeine, it gets broken down into 3 parts in the liver (Paraxanthine 84%, Theobromine 12% and Theophylline 4%).  When your liver is breaking down these things that you put into your body knowingly, it cant break down toxins that are in your body that you don’t know about.
  3. Caffeine has been linked to miscarriage, with women who consume more than 200 mg a day (2 cups drip coffee) doubling their risk.
  4. It will make it harder for you to fall asleep, and you’ll wake easier
  5. We all know about the feeling a few hours later when you crash.  Coffee is a lot like credit cards in this way – you can keep having fun, but eventually you’ll have to pay the piper.
  6. It will dehydrate you.
  7. The acidic nature of caffeine drinks has a negative effect on your body by preventing other nutrients from getting absorbed.
  8. The “Latte Factor” (or soda factor) It doesn’t really matter how much you do or don’t drink of the stuff. It will add up no matter what, and lets face it: Water is free & better for you.

You’re probably addicted to the stuff (Just like I was), depending on the amount of caffeine you drink.  Lets work out how long it could take.   1 shot of espresso from starbucks has 75 mg of caffeine in it.  Given our half-life formula, that 1 espresso shot (or drink) will stay in your body for the next 31.5 HOURS, Give or take a few hours depending on how healthy you are.  At 4pm tomorrow, are you still going to be thinking about that espresso shot you had at 8am today?  I didnt think so either.  It’s probably time to give it up.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, something as simple as getting a waterbottle to fill can help you out.  The soda can/tea cup I used to reach for was replaced by a water bottle, and I didn’t really notice the difference at first, then I started to feel a lot better after a while.   Once you start switching to water during the times that you typically blindly reach for a caffeinated beverage (read: at your desk) you can start doing the difficult part: purposefully avoiding it at restaurants, in bars, etc.   But, please, don’t try both of these at once.

I suggest starting with having your morning coffee ( and if you started out drinking 3+ cut it down to 3, then to 2, then to 1).  While you’re doing this, start replacing the coffee you’re not drinking with 2x the amount of water.  It will fill your stomach up and leave less room for the caffeine.  You’ll also rehydrate yourself in doing so.  Once you get in the habit of doing this, you can move on to the next step!

Good Luck.

Healthy Routines

Im back to health again after long time focusing mostly on finances and the environment.  Like I say everywhere in the blog, these things are quite interconnected, and some of the rules that apply to your finances can apply to your health.

The one I have been thinking about most recently is the automation portion.  Every morning when I get to the office, I park in the farthest parking spot that I can from the door.  Im typically one of the first ones there, so I do have my choice, but choose to park quite far away.  So, I walk a bit further to get into the door, and feel nice and energized when I get there.

However, I dont think you need to do this ALL the time.  One example for me is target: I swear, whenever I go in there it rains or snows, without fail.  That, coupled with the big-box store mentality of parking close to the entrance, I typically try to find a parking spot as close as I can to the front door.  To me, this isnt a big deal at all.  I go to target about once every week and a half or two weeks, so not taking the extra steps is not that big of a deal.  However, I go to work EVERYDAY.  Taking those steps everyday will create a solid routine for the future, and will also add up over time.

Just like with saving money, in health, Every little bit counts.

This solution also works well with messages you need to take around the office.  You could use the phone, but you’ll probably feel better if you walk up a few steps to talk to whomever you need to talk to.  I’ve never worn a pedometer or tried to count steps, but if you’re interested, you can get them for cheap or probably get a free one.

Another healthy routine to get into is eating breakfast.  I know you heard it from your mom everyday, but it’s the truth.  I usually dont have mine at home, but I eat it while at work.  I just keep a box of blueberry flavored granola in my desk and have a cup when I get to work every morning.  Couple this with a bottle or 2 of water, and I’m set for the day.  (I’m not all that dependent on caffinene, and with the granola, I dont really need to be.  Its very energy dense, and keeps me going through lunch.)

The Five Eco Principles – Healthy Environment

While in Chicago in April, I had a chance to visit the museum of science & industry.  The experience was great, and my friend and I thoroughly enjoyed the museum.  We were both intrigued enough to pay the extra ~$25 or so to see the smart house.  We were not disappointed, and left with some good ideas about things to re-use and things to purchase made from re-used items.  Recently, I thought it would be a good idea to share the principles with the readers, and figure out how you can best take advantage of them.  Today is the fifth one, focusing on a Healthy Environment.

Ensuring that you live in a healthy environment is paramount.  You are in your residence a significant portion of time, so if something potentially harmful to you (or your loved ones) has the potential to cause problems at best, and can be lethal at the worst.  There have been some spectacular incidents that can illustrate this problem perfectly, and show you a few:

  1. Asbestos – This used to be used in multiple products in the home (floor tiles, roofing, fire retardant) and elsewhere around the home (brake pads).  Asbestos poses no threat until its been disturbed.  During a home remodel or other disturbing event to the asbestos, the fibers can become airborne and inhaled.  This is obviously not good for you, and can lead to serious lung problems in the future.  Asbestos is no longer common in building materials, and is currently regulated by the EPA.
  2. Lead – This used to be found in gasoline and paint.  Poses huge risks to our children (those six & under), and can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems and possibly death.  This is also something that you dont want floating in the air in the place where you spend most of your time.
  3. DDT – Probably one of the most infamous products ever used in or around the home.  Typically, it was used to kill mosquitos carrying malaria.  This chemical became very popular around the home, and was eventually linked to multiple problems, such as appearing in humans, thinning eggshells of wildland creatures and showing up in the fats of fish.  It was one of the first major environmental campaigns, and was brought on by the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

There are also plenty of modern day examples.  One of the current ones is VOC Paints.  VOC (aka Volatile Organic Compounds) are in some paints, and can seep out after the wall has been painted.  Something else that could pose a problem is your granite countertop.  Some granite countertops house uranium, which is not only radioactive, but can release radon gas, which can cause lung cancer. The amount of uranium that is most likely contained in your countertop is not suspected to be enough to pose a significant risk to your health, but are you willing to find out the hard way if that ends up not being true?

Now, think about how much time that you and your loved ones spend inside your home.  There are a few things to think about when it comes to these type of pollutants.

  1. How worried do I need to be about these products? No one really knows what the long term effects of these chemicals will be.  Do you want to be one of the first to file a lawsuit because you found out?
  2. To what degree do I want to protect myself and my loved ones? – Many of the things that can mitigate potential sickness cost more.  How much more  are you willing to pay?

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