Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts’

Macro Comparisons

This is a little bit of deeper post than I normally write. There’s this thing I like to do, it’s like comparing myself to others, except on a macro level. Yes, I look at other women’s arms or hair or whatever and think how I’d love to have them, but I don’t think that while putting myself down. I guess that’s the implication of my thought, but that’s not how the thought forms in my mind.

Thought steps:

1. See a woman with arms I envy (I really, really, really want muscular arms)
2. Think “god, I would love to have her arms”
3. Tell myself that one day I will have arms like that
4. Go home and flex my arm muscles in front of the mirror for a few minutes deciding how far away I am
5. Decide I’m on my way, thank you kickboxing

And that’s pretty much how it goes. I guess it’s not good to compare myself to others in that way, but I also don’t think it’s a terrible thought process.

But that’s not what I view as my worst habit. My worst habit is looking at someone’s life and naming all of the good things that they have in their life and comparing them to how bad those same things are in my life. This especially comes up when someone complains about something.


1. A friend complains about what long hours she works at her job.
2. I commiserate with her, but really I’m thinking “why is she complaining everything else in her life is great she has a wonderful boyfriend, great best friends she’s had for years, she’s really close to her family, plus a thousand other things I don’t have”

I don’t necessarily feel like I’m doing a great job at explaining this, but basically it comes down to my thinking that everyone else as at least ONE good thing in their life and I often feel like I have none. I’m single, I don’t have a great group of friends, I love my family but we’re not very close and even if I wanted to be close to my family there are a lot of issues there which make it a very challenging family, I don’t love my job, I don’t love my living situation, I don’t make a lot of money. I honestly have a difficult time finding one good area of my life.

That all being said, I don’t feel sad or desperate. I am, thankfully, an eternal optimist and I do believe I will have good things in my life one day. And I hope that I am currently taking some steps to get there. But in the meantime I know I need to stop comparing the larger parts of my life to other people because it’s not healthy and it just makes me resent my friends, which is a terrible thing. If only it were easy to stop.


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(Don’t forget I’m hosting Fitblog tonight at 9pm EDT. Please join us to talk if/how/why you track your workouts.)

At the end of August I posted about my desire to be more financially responsible. For me that meant drastically reducing my spending and drastically increasing my savings. If you remember I made a list of fixed expenses and then set a budget of $100/week for food and $100/month for whatever I wanted. Everything else would be saved. Overall this worked out really well.

I stuck to my $100/week for food, this came out to be about $50 on groceries (Trader Joe’s, regular grocery store, Greenmarket), about $40 for two meals out, and then $10 for a bottle of seltzer or a bag of chips at lunch or a scone in the morning, etc.. There were a few weeks where I’d run out of money by the end and dip into the discretionary fund for something small, but that’s what discretionary means, right?

Otherwise I’m not completely sure what I spent the discretionary fund on. I definitely used it for beers one night when I went out to watch the US Open final and didn’t have enough food money left. I think I bought some hair gel this month. I suppose that’s what I used when I needed the co-pay my birth control pills. And then I pretty much draw a blank. Wait, I saw a movie at the beginning of the month, I probably paid for it from this fund.

Anywho, I did a very good job of eating dinner at home, I don’t think I ordered take out once. Which is good because it makes going out more of a social thing. Lunches I did great for the first half of the month and then the second half I ended up not liking the recipes I had made for lunch and therefore not really wanting to eat them. I ate a few lunches out, some of that money came from the food fund and a few (two I think?) came from using my debit card and the money I want to be saving. It was almost weird to use my debit card, I think I used it four or five times in September. Signing my name was weird! Before I was probably using it four to five times per day!

The one thing I did do that differed from my original plan was buy a pair of Tom’s, which I used my debit card for. I decided I’d let myself buy one thing per month, something I really wanted. So last month it was a pair of Tom’s.

Things I’ve learned about myself:

– Not having something instantaneously isn’t THAT bad. As I mentioned in the original post I’m making a list of the things I want so I can ask for them for Christmas and really evaluate whether I will make use of them long term. One thing that’s really been reduced, besides my spending, is my guilt over stupid purchases.

– The one bad thing I did was use money as an excuse not to socialize. I love my friends, but I also really like being alone. Plus I have a tendency to distance myself from people when I’m going through tough times (like I was in September). So I’d get invited to something or think I should really get together with so-and-so, but then say oh well, I can’t afford it, let me keep sitting at home reading/watching TV/sleeping.

– Watching your savings account increase is a great feeling. Thinking of all the things that I can do with this money (long-term big things, not fleeting things) makes me so happy. For the first time in my life I believe that I could actually own a house one day or take a really cool vacation (totally legit spending, in my opinion).

– I saw a thing on Pinterest that said a grocery budget for one person should be $100/MONTH. MONTH! I want whoever thinks that to go grocery shopping with me. That would be $25/week! And I am a good shopper, I don’t eat a lot of meat-based meals, I don’t cook recipes that involve tons of ingredients, I try to use leftover ingredients from one week in a recipe the next week. Honestly, I just don’t think I could eat whole, organic (not everything I buy is organic, but much of it is), fruits and vegetables on $25/week. At least not in NYC.

One month down. A lifetime to go. Anyone got any useful financial tips for me?

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Austerity Measures

NPR is obsessed with austerity measures. Greece is undertaking austerity measures. Spain needs to take austerity measures. Germany wants austerity measures for everyone. And that’s pretty much my understanding of the world economy.

But now it’s time for my own austerity measures. I am really, really, really AWFUL at saving money. I am good at not getting in debt, I am good at not bouncing checks, I am good at paying bills on time, but long-term financial thinking is not my strong suit. (Except for my 401k which I am completely devoted to; I want to retire ASAP. I also really like my 401k because it’s like tricking my company into paying me more.) However, that needs to change. I need to get over my need for instant gratification and focus on the big picture. And the big picture requires money.

Here’s the deal. For a long time I’ve been saving a certain amount each month. I get paid twice each month and I automatically put 2/3 of what I save in my savings account after the first pay check and the other 1/3 in after the second pay check. And that’s great. But, inevitably, at the end of the month I run out of money and I need to transfer some of that savings back to my checking account. Or I go crazy with my credit card and I need to use that savings to pay off my credit card. Which defeats the purpose of saving.

In July I made it my goal not to use my credit card, which I’ve done a pretty good job on. August was a hard month with weddings, bridal showers, and trips so it got used a few times, but nothing too damaging. What I really want to focus on is cutting out all the unnecessary stuff. The $4 smoothies after kickboxing, the bag of chips at lunch, the buying lunch even though I’ve brought my lunch to work, the buying clothes just because I get an email about a sale.

And that’s where the austerity measures come in. I would like to save a significant amount of money by the end of the year. That gives me four months. I can probably survive four months without new clothes. I have a lot of clothes. I’ve come up with a goal of what I want to save, but sharing that on the Interweb doesn’t seem wise. But I have made a list of my essentials:

– Rent
– Metrocard
– Utilities
– Student Loans
– Spotify
– Netflix
– Food

I feel like I might be forgetting stuff there, anyway, the only non-fixed thing on that list is food. I think that $100/week should be plenty of money for food. I am going to make a real effort to meal plan and do most of my eating at home and bring lunch to work. And, if I go out, which I will inevitably do since this is NYC, I will try to order an appetizer (i.e. something cheaper) and no drink.

Now this sounds like a sad and depressing life, but it’s something I need to make a real effort to try to do. I’ve totaled up my fixed expenses, $400/month for food, and I’ve also added in $100/month for whatever I want (clothes, fancy makeup, Valium to make my life livable in this financial hell…) and then subtracted that from my meager salary to get to what I hope will be my monthly savings.

When I want something I want it right away. I am not good at delayed gratification, I am not good at depriving myself, and I am great at rationalizing ridiculous things. And yes, I realize this does make me sound incredibly bratty, I know I am very lucky to be able to blow my money on stupid stuff, but at some point I need to grow up and be responsible.

I’ve also started making a list of things I want but can’t buy. I will then give that list to my mother at Christmas. And hope she wants to spend $10,000 (not happening…). But it will also allow me to think about whether I really want something or whether I just want something in the moment. Other benefits I’m hoping for: weight loss (buying less shit), feeling less stressed and more in control, and having fun. It’s like a game. Watch my savings account add up!

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Last week I wrote about how happy I was to not take 10,000 steps/day. At the time I realized it was an odd thing to say, but I was. I feel like I’ve been go, go, go all summer and while I normally love getting 10,000 steps/day, it was nice to not for a day.

What I didn’t realize when I wrote that is I would spend most of the last week not taking 10,000 steps/day. I was always under the impression that I did a lot of walking at tennis tournaments. But, the pedometer doesn’t lie and my steps per day took a serious decline last week.

This was especially disappointing because I decided not to work out last week thinking I would get a good amount of movement in just by walking, but that wasn’t the case. However, I honestly don’t know where I would have fit a workout in. I went to bed after midnight every night and woke up at 8am feeling pretty tired.

Maybe if I had been working out I wouldn’t have been so tired? But I think the better strategy for next year’s Cincy tennis tournament is to make sure I do more walking. Yes I go there to watch tennis matches, but another lap around the outside of the stadium won’t take that much time away from tennis.

Luckily I don’t anticipate having this issue at the US Open next week. The grounds there are much bigger, there are a lot more stairs, and I walk there and back (well, to the subway) rather than drive like in Cincy.

Here are my thoughts on walking. My goal will always be to get more than 10,000 steps every day. When I’m home in NYC that’s easy, it requires pretty much zero effort. And when I’m not in NYC it’s a really great goal to have to make sure that I’m not just sitting on my butt. However, there will be days where I just want to rest, and that’s ok, just as long as they’re few and far between.

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Longtime readers of this blog will remember that I used to run a lot. I started running in the spring of 2009 after trying to run my entire life and hating it. What was different? I started running with a friend (so helpful!) and we followed the Couch to 5K plan (which I can’t say enough nice stuff about). I kept running after our 5K, running two more 5Ks, a 10 mile race, and eventually a half marathon. From the summer of 2009 until the spring of 2010 I ran a lot. And I loved it. If you had told me I soon wouldn’t be running at all I never would have believed you.

Sometime after the half marathon my knees started bothering me. I tried to keep running, but it just wasn’t working so I stopped. I ran on and off during the summer of 2010, stopped in the fall, tried to start again in the fall/winter, but ultimately my knees bothered me and I never felt the same passion.

I decided to try running again in the spring of 2011 and ran throughout the summer of 2011. Once I rejoined the kickboxing gym in the fall of 2011 I just didn’t have time for running, and I was ok with that. I still went from time to time, but I didn’t miss it.

Once I injured my wrist this past winter the only workout I was really left with was running. So I ran, but I pretty much hated every minute of it. I wanted to be kickboxing and running was a real struggle.

So what’s changed? Honestly, I think it’s just that I found something I like better. Running was great for a while, but, for me, it got monotonous. In addition, running is A LOT of work. I have to be careful what I eat before I go because my stomach gets upset. I need to spend 10 minutes stretching before I go, 10 minutes walking up to the park, about 30-35 minutes running if I want to do 3 miles, 15 minutes walking home, and then another 10 minutes stretching. All to do something that I don’t particularly enjoy.

Kickboxing is great because it requires zero thought on my part. I show up at the gym and during the hour long class I’m led through stretching, a full body workout, and a cool down. Someone tells me what to do, someone picks the music, and I’m motivated by the instructor and my classmates. In the 3-4 times per week I go to kickboxing  I push myself harder and get a better workout than I did in probably 95% of my runs.

There are still times when I feel like I should be running. When I see other bloggers post about running or I see runners in the park or heading up to the park I sometimes catch myself feeling inadequate. But I am feeling more and more secure in my decision not to run (or only run if the urge to run comes over me).

I think I’ve learned a lot about myself in this process. Running was great for me for a long time and  taught me a lot about self-discipline, setting goals, and working hard. But now I need something different and that something is kickboxing (or maybe any class). I’m certainly not ruling out running again but for now I’m very happy not calling myself a runner.

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Happiness Part Two


Any Mad Men watchers out there? Do you remember the Don Draper quote from this season: “What is happiness? It’s the moment before you need more happiness.” I really liked this quote, and I think, in many situations, it’s true. There’s another quote about happiness I really like too, I can’t remember where I heard it or how exactly it goes, but it’s something like: “Happiness is being happy even when things aren’t going the way you want.”

So to me Don Draper’s quote refers to fleeting happiness. The happiness people get from stuff. I agree that true happiness is being happy even when things in life go wrong.

I wrote a post in January about how I wake up every day and decide that I’m happy. And that’s still true. I’m still happy. The past few months have been hard, my wrist injury left me feeling very blah and listless. Since I’ve been back to kickboxing I feel like a big weight has lifted and I don’t feel as directionless. But even during the hard times I knew I would be ok and that my life is good.

Source: moneysavingmom.com via Maggie on Pinterest

This Pinterst quote goes along with my theme. Happiness is making the best of what you have and not letting the little things in life get you down. And being optimistic that things will get better.

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I don’t think of myself as an insecure person. I don’t put myself down, I don’t think bad things about myself, in fact, it’s quite the opposite, I’m constantly building myself up. But it’s occurred to me that rather than that confidence being helpful, it might actually be hurting me.

I am really good at lying to myself and justifying things. Whenever I see or hear people talk about “fat talk” or negative body image I always tell myself that isn’t my problem. I could certainly stand to lose weight, and I’m trying to lose weight, but even with that I never feel that bad about my body.

Typical thoughts that go through my head:

Looking in a mirror and seeing stomach fat rolls: Bad angle

Not having my usual clothing size fit in a store: Must be cut small

Not having clothing I already own fit: Laundry guy must have shrunk it

I can’t remember a single time in my life where I looked at myself and “I am so fat and disgusting and worthless.” And I am very happy I’ve never thought that, but what if that’s actually a bad thing? What if my inability to see myself accurately is what’s stopping me from losing weight?

If I’m constantly telling myself good things about myself why should I really change?

And maybe I don’t need to change. My weight isn’t a “healthy” weight, but I feel in good shape physically and my doctor would tell you that all my vitals are good. But obviously, for optimal health, I need to lose weight, especially because I tend to carry my weight in my belly, which is, according to what I’ve read, the worst place to carry weight.

So if I keep building myself up can I really lose weight? Do I have to be meaner to myself in order to accurately understand my situation and force myself to lose the extra weight?

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