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I’m speaking completely from my own experience here, but I’ve found that if you are bad at budgeting in one area of your life, you are probably bad at budgeting everywhere else.  As for me, I’m terrible at budgeting calories/points (hence the need to lose weight!), and just as bad at budgeting my time and money.  I’m determined to change that.

I’ve heard variations of the calorie/money analogy a million times over — if you overspent on one item, would you just throw away the rest of your money?  If not, why do that with calories when you have one indulgent meal? — but unfortunately, I’ve had as many pre-diet “last meals” as I’ve had pre-spending freeze “last shopping trips”.  My mind tends to work in feast-or-famine mode; I’m not so good at moderation.

I’m slightly better at managing my time — largely because I don’t have a choice as to how I spend 16 of the 24 hours of my day (8 for work, 8 for sleeping) — but I’ve woken up many a Monday morning wondering what exactly I did with my weekend.

I’ve had a rough year when it comes to budgeting and saving money. I was out of a paycheck for a few weeks while switching jobs (probably not the best idea) and dwindled my savings a bit.  I also decided to embark on a few big apartment organizing projects, and The Container Store took a nice bite out of my credit card.  In addition, I put on some weight this year and needed to buy a ton of work-appropriate clothes in a larger size; I made the mistake of donating my old “fat” clothes when I was 15 lbs. lighter and thought I wouldn’t need them anymore.  Whoops. :-/

I’ve alluded to the fact that the husband and I are getting ready for some big next steps in the not-so-distant future — the biggest ones being buying a place and having a baby — and both of these big steps require money.  I don’t want to be the one bringing our joint credit score down (and mortgage rate up), and I don’t want to stress about having money in the bank when I’m out on maternity.  As a result, I have to make some adjustments in my life.

I’m hoping that by improving my budgeting skills in one part of my life the others will follow, but I doubt it’s that easy! 🙂  So I’m starting with big plans in each aspect of my life, then working on the specifics.  I actually feel pretty good when it comes to weight loss right now (lost another 0.5 lbs. this week – woo!), so my primary focuses will be on paying down debt and managing my time more effectively.

The first thing I did was formulate a long-term plan for paying off my debt — I used CNN’s Debt Reduction Planner, but I’m sure there are a million similar tools online.  I also made myself a strict budget to make sure I keep the frivolous purchases to a minimum.  I think my biggest problems will be the small stuff — my morning lattes, for example, and take-out lunch every day during the work week — but that’s the stuff that really adds up over time.

December is a BIG month for spending — I’ve got a ton of cousins to buy for! — so I decided to start strict budgeting first thing January 1st and instead focus on not using my credit cards at all this month.  I’m also going to sit down with Matt in the next few days and set a strict holiday spending budget for us; we tend to shop without really thinking about $$, and it comes back to bite us in our January credit card statements!  I also have a bunch of stuff lying around the apartment that would be perfect to sell on eBay — it’s time to stop procrastinating and just get rid of it!

As far as time management goes, I think my best bet is to make a tentative schedule for my non-work hours every day, based on the things I need to do (like going to the gym, walking the dog, apartment cleaning and blogging) and the things I’d like to do (laundry, mindlessly surfing the internet, watching TV).  I think I’ll be successful if I set aside a dedicated block of time for each activity and not try to multi-task too much.

One of the main reasons I want to improve my time management skills is that I’m starting an at-home study program to be a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant!  I learned about the program through a few of my favorite bloggers (Tina and Jenna are both certified), and after doing some research it sounded like the perfect introduction into the professional nutrition world without the commitment to a graduate program.  I’ve been thinking about going back to school part-time to get a degree in nutrition — I already have an MPH in Health Policy and Management — so we’ll see what happens in the future! 🙂

Alright, that’s all from me for now — time to use the rest of my evening wisely and make some dinner!

How are you at managing your time/money/weight?  Are you good at one, but not the others?  What are your holiday spending plans?


Update on last week’s goals

Morning!  I wanted to post an update on the goals I set for myself last week and set some new ones for this holiday week.  While I wasn’t as “good” as I hoped, I did accomplish a few key objectives:

– Get to the gym 4x this week:  Fail!  I think I only went once 😦

– Run 10 miles total this week: 6 at the gym, 4 in Sunday’s road race: almost success — I ran a little over 7 miles at the gym and at yesterday’s race.  Not so bad!

– Do yoga at least once this week: Fail.  I was going to go to a yoga class on Thursday, but got distracted by my Vegan 4 A Day fail and went home instead.  I’ll do better this week!

– Get in at least 5 fruit/veggie servings every day this week:  I’d say I was about 90% successful — I hit my 5 F/V goal every day but yesterday, and I only came up short by one serving.

–  Track everything I eat on the blog and in my WW points tracker: success with the blog, not so much the points tracker.

I’m starting to gravitate away from WW and am heading more towards intuitive eating, but I still think I need the structure of Weight Watchers to lose weight and keep my portions in check.

– Work on my sleep schedule: Almost done — I’m getting better at waking up earlier, but still not there 100%.  I’m definitely getting to bed earlier and sleeping better, though!

  • Get to bed earlier
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night
  • Wake up earlier

– FINALLY clean out my closet/dresser: Done!!

  • Bring out winter clothes
  • Put away summer clothes
  • Put away anything that doesn’t fit right now
  • Donate clothing that is too big/anything I don’t really wear

– Clean our apartment top to bottom: mostly done, but I still need to attack the floors with the steam cleaner and do my laundry.

Now for this week’s goals!  I’m not so worried about overeating at Thanksgiving dinner — I’m not a big turkey and stuffing fan — but dessert is my problem.  I’m taking a tip from Tina’s blog and will put all my desserts on a plate so I’m not tempted to graze on the spread. I always thought it was worse to fill up a plate with desserts than just grab a bite or two here and there, but when you grab a cookie every time you pass the dessert table, you’re eating way more than would on a single small plate! 😉

So, here’s my plan for the short week:

– Get to the gym 3 times this week — this should be doable, since I only have Thursday off.  I’ll try to get in four workouts, but I’m not going to drive myself crazy about it.

– Run 6 miles this week, either inside or outside (or both)

– Track my points all week, and post photos of everything I eat on the blog — the second half of this should be MUCH easier than the first.  I hate estimating points, but I know I won’t have much choice on Thanksgiving.  On second thought, I might give myself a free pass on point counting on Thursday, just to keep my brain from breaking 🙂

– Finish cleaning the apartment

– Get in 5 F/V servings every day this week

– Start Christmas shopping!

I think that’s a reasonable list for the week — wish me luck! 🙂  Have a great day — back later with today’s eats!

Do you ever give yourself a free pass for calorie counting/point tracking?  How does it affect you and your goals?

Do you set weekly goals for yourself?

Lazy Sunday

I think this post is going to be a quick one — I just tried to plug my camera cable into my Clif bar.  That does not bode well for an articulate, well thought-out post! 🙂

First off, my post-race photo shoot!  This is my windblown and exhausted, but totally happy face:

Also, the hat I’m wearing?  Used to be navy blue.  That’s what happens when you wear the same hat for virtually every race!

As I mentioned before, my pre-race “breakfast” was a venti skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks, also known as my “wake-up drink” — that’s what the security guard in my office calls it when I walk in with it.  After the race I had the other half of my Clif bar from last night and a banana, both unpictured because I shoveled them in my mouth REALLY fast.

My two breakfasts kept me incredibly full during a late morning/early afternoon shopping trip!  Thanks to some coupons, a gift certificate and some sales, I got around $500 worth of stuff (Kara presents and a few Christmas presents) for about $150.  Jackpot!  Maybe I’ll debut a few of my purchases at work (and on the blog) tomorrow 🙂

By the time I left Modells and headed home, I was STARVING, and decided to stop at a new place for lunch on the way home.  I’ve walked past Healthalicious a million times before and it always intrigued me, but I had never gone in until today.  I ordered a turkey burger on a multigrain bun with cheddar, grilled onions and lettuce (I took off the tomato) with a side of mashed sweet taters:

The burger was delicious-licious (see what I did there?) but a bit unevenly cooked, and the mashed sweet potato was just meh.  I only ate a few bites of it before tossing it.  All in all, an okay lunch, but at $17 for the whole meal, WAY overpriced.  Maybe next time I’ll try one of their platters with sides included — I think they run about $10-11 each.

I spent the afternoon chilling on the couch with Barkley, surfing the interwebs, reading blogs and watching my Jets get embarrassed by the Patriots.  Good thing I don’t really care about football!  I also snacked on a Fruit2Day (man, I really love these!) while I vegged out.  I planned to be a little bit more productive today, but it was nice to just have a lazy day at home.

Around 7 or so I started getting hungry for dinner, but nothing in our fridge looked good and I didn’t feel like ordering out.  I decided to have some brinner: oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon and a bit of maple syrup:

EXTREME close-up:

Deliciousness!  When I was a kid my dad always made oatmeal with maple syrup, cinnamon and *coughbuttercough*, so this combo reminds me of him.  Now that he’s lost a bunch of weight with Weight Watchers (60 pounds — go Dad!!), he has his oatmeal with banana and Splenda 🙂

Surprisingly, I was still hungry after my oatmeal, so I noshed on one of the spiced pumpkin pie Clif bars (the one I tried to plug into my computer):

Now I’m happily satisfied and ready for bed — my early wake-up call, run and shopping marathon have tuckered me out! 😉  Matt just put in “Up” (which looks PHENOMENAL in Blu-Ray, by the way), so it’s time to cry for a bit, then crash.

Have a great night!

I did it!!

Nine races and a 3-hour volunteer session later, I officially have guaranteed entry into the 2010 New York City Marathon!!! The NYC Marathon is notoriously difficult to get into, despite the fact that there are 40,000 or so spots — if you aren’t an elite athlete, celebrity, charity runner, don’t have a qualifying time, or haven’t completed 15 previous NYC marathons, you have to put your name in a lottery to get a spot.  If you try to get a spot through the lottery system, I believe you have a 20-25% chance of getting in, not the best odds in the world.

As a member of New York Road Runners (the organization that runs the marathon), however, you can gain guaranteed entry into the marathon by running nine road races and volunteering for NYRR in some capacity.  In addition to running my nine races, I also volunteered at the NYRR information booth in Central Park one evening, passing out park maps, letting people know about upcoming races, and giving out general park info.  Most people were curious about where bathrooms were, but one guy asked me where John Lennon was, which was pretty strange!  (He was really looking for Strawberry Fields 🙂 )

Here are the races that got me into next year’s marathon:

– Gridiron Classic (4 miler on Superbowl Sunday): finished in 47:53, an 11:58/mile pace

– NYRR 8000 (4.9 miles, or 8K): finished in 56:39, an 11:23/mile pace

– Colon Cancer 4 Mile Challenge: 44:24 (my 4-mile PR!), an 11:06/mile pace

– Scotland Run 10K (6.1 miles), completed in the POURING rain in March: 1:14:46, a 12:03/mile pace

– Healthy Kidney 10K: 1:17:53, a 12:33/mile pace (boo!)

– Fitness Magazine Mind, Body and Spirit Games (4 miles): 48:51, a 12:12/mile pace

– Norway Run (1.7 miles): 18:17, a 10:45/mile pace (fastest race pace ever, but shortest race ever!)

– NYRR Virtual Marathon

– Today’s Race to Deliver (recap below)

In addition to the 8 road races I completed, I also did the first annual Virtual Marathon, sponsored by NYRR and MapMyRun.com.  The virtual race took place the week of the marathon, and all you had to do was run 3 or more miles (up to 26.2) that week and record your run stats online.  The MapMyRun people would then take your pace and calculate your marathon finishing time.  I wound up walk/jogging 7.24 miles around Central Park in 1:39:25 (13:43/mile pace), which apparently translates to a 6:32:34 marathon!  I’m hoping to run a little bit faster than that next year! 🙂

So, back to today.  My final road race, a 4-miler, was scheduled for this morning at 8:30.  In order to make sure I was well-rested, I crashed around 10:30/11:00 last night and was up bright and early at 7am.  I threw on my running gear and my Garmin, kissed the husband and dog goodbye and was out the door by 7:20 or so.  I tend to run better with some caffeine in my system, so I stopped at Starbucks on my way to Central Park and grabbed a pre-race latte (as well as a post-race water bottle and banana), then continued on my way.

After getting my race number, timing chip and t-shirt, I finished up my latte, dropped off my bag at the bag check, made a quick porta-potty stop and headed for the start line.  I was feeling really good at the start; I had the perfect number of layers on, was wide awake thanks to a good night’s sleep and Starbucks, and had Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” pumping through my headphones.

Now I don’t know about you, but I find the first 5 minutes of a race the hardest.  You want to start strong, but not too strong that you bonk out early, and you have to weave through the crowds of people (running around the walkers without getting creamed by the faster runners trying to pass you) to get to the right spot.  Plus, you’ve probably spent the last 15 minutes or so standing still in the starting corral, so it takes a few minutes just to get loose and feel like a runner again.

Compounding the difficulties of the first 5 minutes of a race in Central Park are the hills.  Just about every 4-mile race in Central Park follows the same route: start on 72nd Street on the east side of the park, run north to the 102nd St. transverse, make a left onto West Drive, and run down to 72nd St. again.  The first mile has a good mix of hills and downhills, the second mile is virtually all downhill and SUPER fast, mile three has three terrible hills and makes you want to die/cry/quit, and mile four is a mix of the first three but still enables you to finish strong.

A few blocks into mile one is one of the infamous hills in Central Park: Cat Hill.  As this site confirms, “it is not the worst hill in the park [that’s Harlem Hill in the north part of the park]…but let’s just say, it’s a hill that every runner knows.”  Once you make it past Cat Hill you’re almost done with hills on the east side, which is nice, but it stinks that it comes up so quickly when you’re doing a 4-miler!  I made my way up the hill (where, ironically enough, a man was sitting with his dog next to the cat statue!), determined to run the whole race, and coasted down the other side.

The rest of mile 1 was pretty uneventful, and mile two was fantastic as usual.  I love running past the statue of Fred Lebow (the guy who started the NYC Marathon) and down the slow decline past the Metropolitan Museum of Art — it is such a great part of the city!  I ran across the transverse and headed to the west side’s dreaded hills.

The first of the hills comes at you as soon as you turn onto West Drive, and I’ve often stopped here during races to take a quick walk break.  Instead, I just focused on pumping my arms to gain momentum and ran the hills as best as I could, making up time by running the downhills a bit faster than the uphills.  After knocking out the first hill I felt pretty confident and kept my pace steady through the next two hills, picking it up a bit when I saw the 3-mile sign in the distance.

As I mentioned before, mile 4 has a few inclines but is generally pretty fast, so I picked up the pace a bit because I was feeling so strong and wanted to finish strong.  I gained a ton of momentum on the downhills and kept the faster pace up on the flat parts of the course.  When I turned onto the 72nd St. transverse and saw the finish line up ahead, I booked it, getting a few cheers from the crowd along the way (I checked my Garmin at the end of the race, and I think I was running a 7:49/mile pace for the last 100 meters or so!).  My final chip time was 45:40, and 11:25/mile pace, just about a minute slower than my previous PR!

I walked home from the park with a big smile on my face; not only did I run well and finish strong, but I also accomplished a huge goal I set for myself this year — earning a spot in next year’s marathon!  I can’t wait to start training seriously for the marathon, but I’ve got a few races to get through first: my next race is the Emerald Nights Midnight Run on New Year’s Eve, and I’m hoping to get another 2-3 half-marathons under my belt in the spring and summer, as well as a few more 4-milers and 10Ks.

What fitness goals have you set for yourself?

Spring cleaning

…a few months too late! 😉  I spent the day cleaning up a storm, and our apartment is finally starting to look livable again!  I still have laundry and some vacuuming on the schedule for tomorrow, but I made a ton of progress today.  Summer clothes have been put away, warm, fuzzy sweaters are out, recycling is in the basement, and every pot and pan is clean — phew!  Now, I’m completely exhausted (which was the plan — I have to be up early tomorrow!) but feel really accomplished.

The theme for today’s eats was fuel; I was running around like a crazy person for most of the day and needed plenty of energy to keep me going.  When I woke up I wasn’t all that hungry, so I had an unpictured Fruit2Day and two clementine cups.

An hour or so later I had a brunchy lunch of two eggs and one egg white on two whole wheat tortillas with a bit of cheese:

I realized my rolled-up pictures of my egg tortillas weren’t as pretty, so I took a “deconstructed tortilla” picture 🙂

The eggs held me over for a really long time, but around 6 I took a cleaning break to try the other seasonal Clif bar I ordered, spiced pumpkin pie.  It was AWESOME!  I think chocolate chip peanut crunch is still my #1, but the two seasonal flavors are in close contention for second place.

Dinner was a frozen Amy’s macaroni and cheese with a side of peas:

Not the most beautiful meal, but it was plenty delicious!  It hit the spot perfectly.  I snacked on another Fruit2Day and half a Clif bar after dinner — I was craving something sweet — but I’m saving the other half for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Time to start getting ready for bed — I’ve got a 4-mile race in the morning!  This is an especially exciting race for me, as it is the last of the nine races I need to complete in order to gain guaranteed entry into next year’s New York City Marathon.  Here’s hoping it goes well!  I’ll be back in the morning with a race recap.

Food hangover

Ever have one of those days where you eat a bunch of junk, then wake up feeling almost hungover?  You’re tired, your head sort of hurts, you’ve got a bunch of regrets…

Yep, that’s how I’m feeling right now.  Ugh.  I’m not dwelling, I promise — I’m really trying my best not to beat myself up about stuff anymore — I’m just really feeling the after effects of a day of crummy eating 😦

I guess I figured that maybe if I didn’t blog about what I ate that it didn’t actually happen, but that’s obviously not the case.  So, here goes nothing!  Before I start, two quick warnings about Friday’s eats: one, I was VERY hormonal yesterday and two, I didn’t take that many pictures of yesterday’s eats, largely out of embarrassment.  Hopefully my word pictures will suffice! 🙂

Breakfast was my old, unpictured standard from Starbucks — venti latte and oatmeal.  Honestly, I think I preferred my homemade old-fashioned oats to the Starbucks kind!  Maybe I’ll start getting up a little earlier in the morning…

Lunch was one of my favorite wraps from Lenny’s — fresh turkey, cheese, grilled onions, lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat wrap:

This sandwich usually comes with bacon, but I told them to leave it off.  Crazy, right?  Who am I??

I tried my best to listen to my hunger signals this time around (this was the sandwich that left me overstuffed and uncomfortable when I hoovered it down earlier in the week), so I ate half, waited for a little while, then ate the other half.  It worked — no awful stomachache!

A few hours later I snacked on some fruit packed in Splenda:

Not such a bad day so far, right?  After I shut down my work computer I went home and the trouble started.

As soon as I walked in the door I realized I was a bit hungry and drank a Fruit2Day to get some more fruits and veggies in my life.  Then, still hungry, I dove into my new box of Clif bars and had two: a seasonal iced gingerbread bar and a chocolate chip peanut crunch.  At that point I realized I was completely EXHAUSTED (again, stupid hormones!) and hopped into bed for a quick late afternoon nap.

The husband came home starving around 8:00 and we ordered dinner, even though I wasn’t all that hungry after my Clif bar “snack” (which, calorie-wise, probably counted as a full meal).  We ordered barbeque, one of my take-out nemeses, and I chowed down on some sweet potato fries (so greasy! ugh) and three ribs.

THEN, a few hours later, I decided I wanted something sweet and had a sandwich thin with some maple peanut butter on it.  After that, I had another sandwich thin, but this time toasted with a little butter.

To be honest, I’ve had FAR worse food binges over the years that would make Friday look like nothing, but the combination of eating pretty well over the past few weeks and generally eating less over the past month made yesterday feel really crummy.  Today is a new day, though, and I’m determined to make it a better one!  I’m about to head out for a nice, long walk, followed by errands and some apartment cleaning.

Before I head out, let me leave you with an adorable picture of my reluctant Sabres fan:

Have a great Saturday!  🙂

3 parts vegan, 1 part omnivore

I’m falling asleep as I type this, so here’s my quick recap of today’s eats before bed:

Breakfast was vegan meal #1 — some old-fashioned oats cooked on the stovetop with a scoop of brown sugar:

Man, the texture of this oatmeal was SO awesome!  I hate waking up early, but this oatmeal might be worth a few lost minutes of sleep before work 🙂  I also had a morning snack at my desk of some pom arils:

Lunch was also vegan: tomato soup, hummus with mushrooms and a whole wheat pita (I made sure to ask the waitress if the pita was vegan!):

Take a look at how thick the pita is!

Honestly, the hummus and pita weren’t all that flavorful, so this lunch wasn’t as satisfying as it could (or should!) have been.  Also, the soup had a bit too much spice to it, so it wasn’t really my thing.  Oh well, better luck next time!

I snacked on a few unpictured vegan fruit cups at work — mandarin oranges and pineapple.  Tasty, but also not super satisfying.

When I got home from work, vegan for a day officially ended with about 8 of these wonderful Lindt peanut butter truffles:

HOLY YUM.  I can’t even describe how tasty these were — melt in your mouth peanut butter and chocolate deliciousness.  But obviously not at all vegan.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I was feeling really deprived as a temporary vegan today and considered bingeing, but instead decided to have a small amount of something really tasty.

While this was a bit of a splurge — calorie-wise and price-wise — I’m not beating myself up about it; the quality of the chocolate was really high (no high fructose corn syrup or other weird frankenfood ingredients) and the entire package (12 truffles) only had 800 calories, less than a pint of ice cream or jar of peanut butter.  I enjoyed every bite!

Dinner was some of the Free Bird chicken on a multigrain tortilla with half a slice of organic cheese and some medium salsa:

Not bad!  I also had some (vegan!) roasted sweet potatoes with olive oil and a touch of sugar:

I finished the final four peanut butter truffles while watching DVRed Office and 30 Rock with Matt and Barkley.  I wanted to save a few of the 12 truffles for tomorrow, but that didn’t exactly happen 🙂  I’m not beating myself up about it, which is progress in my book!

Alright, time to walk the dog — have a great night!