Archive for March, 2007

Splenda Rant…

March 30, 2007

Am I the only dieter out there that hates the taste of this stuff?  A few days ago I put a little Splenda brown sugar blend in my oatmeal and coffee to replace the normal brown sugar I usually use to save a few calories.  I had that crappy artificial sweetener aftertaste in my mouth the entire morning. 

I am not even sure why I purchased this stuff – it was really a waste of my money.  I have always disliked the taste of low-calorie sweeteners.  I have never liked diet soda.  I tried a girl scout sugar free brownie bite a few weeks ago and it left the same bad aftertaste. 

I think this kind of food actually makes me eat more because I eat something else to get rid of that taste in my mouth.  It also doesn’t leave me as satisified as using the real sugar. 

So I think for now, I will just use normal, high-calorie sugar… just less of it. 

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Daily Goal update

March 30, 2007

I haven’t posted my daily goals for a few days (don’t you hate it when your real job gets in the way of blogging?)

Wednesday

Nutrition (Burn to Earn challenges):

  • Drank 8 glasses of water
  • Ate 5 servings fruits/veggies
  • Ate 3 servings of Dairy
  • Ate a healthy breakfast

Exercise – I went to the gym over my lunch hour for a lower body strength workout.  My legs were still a little sore from Monday’s workout, but it still felt great!

0328Weights

Thursday
Nutrition

  • Drank 8 glasses of water
  • Ate 5 servings fruits/veggies
  • Ate 3 servings of Dairy
  • I did not eat a healthy breakfast today – there were donuts in the lunchroom and I gave in

I think aiming for 5 fruits and veggies a day has really helped my diet. Instead of junk food in the evening I am grabbing a piece of fruit to get my 5 a day.

Exercise – the two monkeys went to Grandma’s house for the weekend so my hubby and I had a night alone. He went with me on my walk/jog. I really enjoyed having his company. I had to yell at him to slow down a few times during our jogging intervals (I jog about the same speed as I walk), but it was still nice to have the company.

Our intervals were 2 minutes jogging and 3 minutes walking with a 5 minute walking warm up and cooldown. Total time = 40 minutes.
Total calories burned = 355.

Daily Check-in 3/27/07

March 28, 2007

I had another great day as far as my diet/fitness goals. 

Nutrition (Burn to Earn challenges):

  • Drank 8 glasses of water
  • Ate 5 servings fruits/veggies
  • Ate 3 servings of Dairy
  • Ate a healthy breakfast

Exercise:
42 minutes – Alternating betweeen walking and jogging.  I believe I actually jogged 14 minutes – a new record!

I finished my workout shortly after 9pm.  I did a quick stretch afterwards, but when I went to bed around 10pm my legs were burning!  I think it had to do with my legs being sore from the strength workout the day before.  I didn’t think I would be able to get out of bed this morning!  Luckily they felt fine when I woke up – I guess they just needed a rest. 

Today I have another strength training session over my lunch hour.

Post-Workout High

March 27, 2007

I love the feeling of being sore the day after a strength training workout.  Every time I stand up out of my chair, walk down stairs or lift something I have a reminder that I did something good yesterday.  It is also another motivation to eat well and exercise again today – I don’t want the work I did to be wasted.

Even though I know there is no outward difference in my appearance from that one 30-minute workout from yesterday to today, I feel a since of pride.  I feel stronger.  I feel healthier.  I am holding my head up a little higher today. 

Daily Update 3/26/07

March 27, 2007

A new challenge started today at my city’s park and rec dept called Burn to Earn .  It is an 8 week program (totally free).  You earn points for doing cardio, strength, flexibility, and specific nutrition guidelines.  If you have enough points at the end of the 8 weeks you can earn prizes.

This was motivation enough to get me to the gym over my lunch hour for some long overdue strength training.

032607 strength workout

I had planned on doing 10 exercises, but I ran out of time and only finished 7 since I only have 30 minutes.  I think I am going to have to rethink my workouts and only focus on one area per strength training workout – Upper Body, Lower Body and Core.

After the girls went to bed this evening, I got a 30 minute walk in.  It was a perfect exercise day for me!

I did outstanding on my diet also.  I drank 8+ glasses of water, ate 5+ fruits and veggies and 3 servings of dairy.  The best part?  I didn’t have one bit, piece or taste of chocolate!  And I survived!  It is possible! 🙂

Daily Goals – 3/23 – 3/25

March 26, 2007

I had a pretty rough weekend as far as my diet went.  I ate out 5 times between Friday lunch and Sunday lunch.  That is probably more than I have eaten out since the beginning of the year!

I tried to keep my water in check – I ordered water instead of a drink each time we ate out except today.   I didn’t keep track of the number of glassess specificially, but I hope I had between 4-8 glasses each day.

Exercise:

  •  Friday:  35 minute walk with a few jogging intervals
  • Saturday:  Nothing… bad
  • Sunday:  40 minute walk with jogging intervals.

Tomorrow starts a new program I am doing at my gym.  We earn points for doing certain activities to earn prizes.

Daily Goals 3/22/07

March 23, 2007

I am going to start posting my results of my daily goals to keep myself accountable.

I have two goals I am working on:

  1. Do some form of exercise
  2. Drink 8-10 glasses of water 

Exercise:
I finally made it to the gym over my lunch hour today.  I think it has been 2 weeks since I have done that.  In theory, I could have saved a punch on my gym card and walked outside today, but I didn’t want to get my new running shoes dirty.  So far they have only been inside shoes and I am not ready to break them in outdoors yet.

I walked for a total of 34 minutes on the treadmill including about 4 minutes of jogging (yea!).  And the best part?  I did this all WITHOUT using my asthma rescue inhaler.  The Singular I am taking really does work. 

In the evening, I did another 45 minute walk around the neighborhood. 

I want to start another exercise streak to see how many days straight I can do some form of exercise.  I did this in the fall and it really helped my weight loss.  Today is day 1.

Water:
I think I drank at least 64 oz of water today.  I didn’t really count, but I had 1 1/2 big glasses at work plus another big glass at home. 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

March 22, 2007

I had a proud mom moment this morning.  I was making breakfast for myself (oatmeal as usual) and used the last of the oatmeal in the container.  I threw the canister in the garbage and my 3 year old stated that we need to buy some more for cookies.   That’s right Megan, cookies are made with oatmeal.  

Here is the oatmeal raisin cookie recipe I use.  Granted it still has a lot of sugar and butter, but I like to think I at least made it a little healthier.  If you make the cookies small, they are under 100 calories (not that I have ever been able to eat just one cookie…).   

Quaker’s Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (modified)

Ingredients:
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup raisins
Directions:

Heat oven to 350 F. In large bowl, beat butter, applesauce and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add both kinds of flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Nutrition InfoOatmeal Raisin cookies

Big purchase – new washing machine.

March 20, 2007

My hubby and I plan on purchasing a new washing maching next weekend. Our current one is around 10 years old and recently it has started sounding like a jet plane is taking off in our basement. You can hear it all the way through the house and outside. It also leaks a little bit of water each cycle. When it started doing this I decided I was going to wait until it died completely before replacing it, but I really can’t stand it much longer.  

Originally I did not want to spend over $500 on a new appliance. Our current washer was a cheaper model and it lasted 10 years. However, now I am reconsidering:

  • We now have 4 members of our family = more laundry. Since we have two girls, I can only imagine that the laundry load will continue to grow. My oldest, who is only 3, already will change clothes several times a day “just because”.
  •  I have been working the last few months on saving money on our utility bills. We insulated our home in December to cut down on the winter gas bills. We only buy CF light bulbs. Buying a energy star washing machine fits into this goal. Sometimes you have to spend a little money to save money in the long run.

However:

  • I do not phisically have the money right now for a front loader washer.
  • I have $550 saved for a new washer plus we will be getting around $2000 from our tax return (when I get around to finishing them…). I will have the money shortly, but this conflicts with my “NO DEBT” resulution. However, if I put it on my credit card, by the time the bill comes due I will have the money. The laundry detergent that is required these appliances is more expensive than traditional laundry detergent. I believe you use less of it and with the water & electric effiency you will still come out ahead.
  • My other hold back, is that this is going to require additional research. We got a copy of consumer reports from a friend. Once we find out what model\brand we are interested in, we will have to figure out where we can get the best deal. I hate shopping around. I know it is in my best interest, but it is just so boring – I can find a much more interesting use of my time.

Basically – I just want someone to make this decision for me. In the past, I have just let my husband deal with the big purchases like our car and when we replaced our dryer. It is not that I don’t want to be involved with the decision, I just have a hard time parting with my money in big chunks. It makes me feel sick in my stomach just thinking about it.

Ways to pay off debt faster

March 15, 2007

Kelly at Thrifty Mommy wrote a great article on 20 ways to pay off debt faster.

I do not have credit card debt – I never had it and hopefully never will have it.  I do use credit cards, but I make sure to pay them in full each statement.  The last few months I have taken this a step further and pay the charge online as soon as it appears on my account.  I do however have a car loan, a home equity line of credit and a huge school loan of my DHs.  Currently I am working on paying off the car loan (this is the smallest of the three) and hope to have it paid off by fall. 

Here are some of my thoughts on the items on her list I am currently doing:

1. Create a budget and stick with it!
For budgeting, spreadsheets seem to work the best for me.  I have tried Quicken and Microsoft Money in the past and basically only used them to balance my checkbook.  I never really used it to track a real budget.  The last few months of 2006 I started using a spreadsheet I created myself and as of January 2007 I am currently using PearBudget.  It is a spreadsheet based budget system.  I added a few additional spreadsheets to the workbook to track my checking account and to categorize the money in my online savings account. 

2. Figure out why you are in debt in the first place. Do you spend more than you take in? Do you eat out too much? Do you have an addiction that is killing your financial freedom like shopping? Get an accountability partner to hold you accountable to stop whatever you are doing.
When I was figuring out where my monthly budget numbers need to be I found the following items were killing my financial freedom:

    Lattes
    Buying the girls toys/clothes when they have way more than they currently need
    Eating out for lunch
    Going shopping for entertainment when nothing else was planned for a weekend. This usually involved eating out also.

None of these items were a lot of money at once, but added up, they were making me spend more than I made. 

4. Live within your means. This will help you keep from getting into more debt.
That is what the budget is all about.  If you don’t have the money – don’t buy it.

7. Use the envelope system. Budget a certain amount for entertainment, eating out, groceries, etc. and put the cash in an envelope. When the money runs out, you are done for the month. It really works.
I totally agree – this does work.  I do a very simplified version of the envelope system.  I take out between $100-$150 each week and put the money in my wallet.  This is my household money for the week – groceries, gas, miscellaneous\target items.  I tell people that I use a cash for these types of purchases and I always get the same response “I can’t keep cash around, otherwise I will blow it.”  In order for this to work for you – you may need to change your attitude about cash.  Once the cash is gone, you are done spending for the week.  It helps to also remove any ‘backup’ methods of payment when you first start doing this.  Take your checkbook, ATM and credit cards out of your purse when you go shopping.  You will start thinking twice about picking up that bag of chips you don’t need or the shirt that is on “sale” at target.  You won’t want to be embarrased at checkout that you don’t have enough money to pay. 

8. Don’t cut every form of entertainment out. This will surely be your downfall as you will not stick with it.
Each time I take cash out for household, I put a $20 bill in the “Fun Money” bank.  We use this for ordering pizza, eating out, or other entertainment.  I also put any extra cash\change from my household purchases that I didn’t use. 

13. I do not recommend cashing out your savings totally. Usually, if you are in debt, you don’t have any savings. But if you do, knowing that you have a small cushion in case you get in trouble makes you rest a little easier.
I left 1500 in my savings account for “emergencies” and used the remainder – a little over 1,000 to pay off my own school loan and a small medical bill.  Any extra money I have at the end of the month for being under budget goes half to debt and the other half to building my savings back up. 

19. Try to go to the grocery store and Wal-Mart only once a week. Little trips to the store add up and will kill your budget.
I plan my meals a month at a time and only go to the store once a week.  I try to do the Target trips even less – 1-2 times a month.  These are the stores that kill me. 

These are two items I am not sure I agree with 100%, but I do understand where she is coming from:
9. Cut up all but one credit card to start with. I hate credit cards to begin with because they get you into trouble faster than you can blink. Keep one paid off for emergencies and have a low limit on it. The credit card companies will try to increase your limit so you can spend more. Just decline the increase and stand your ground.
If the credit card asks increase your limit – let them.  This will help your credit scrore.  Just don’t use your card!

12. Do you have equity in your home? Using the equity to get one lump sum to pay off might be more financially responsible as you would probably have a lower interest rate and can deduct the interest on your taxes.
Kelly is correct, you can deduct your home equity interest on your taxes.  However, if something happens where you can’t make your payments, you could lose your house.  Credit card debt is unsecured – they can’t take anything away from you if you don’t pay.  I have friends that buy their vehicles with their home equity account.  It is very tempting (and I am not saying I will never do this).  If you default on your car loan – you just lose your car.  You default on your home equity loan – you could lose your house.