It’s Never Too Late To Make A Good Resolution, Is It?

Recently, I’ve been made very aware of how out-of control I’ve let my life go. Namely, there have been three incidents: first, the realization that I owe close to two-thousand dollars in taxes to the DC and Federal governments, especially shocking as I was expecting a refund; second, Tippy’s health-scare, which taxed my checking account severely; and third, my sister’s upcoming nuptials this Spring (and specifically, how this relates to my weight).

Reflecting on these, there are two lessons (well … two lessons I’ve known, but only just recognized): One, I am a 31-year old independent adult male working two jobs and living paycheck to paycheck, and this needs to stop. Two, I could stand to lose some weight (especially if I hope to take one* of my sister’s friends back to the hotel with me after the wedding).

So I made some resolutions: the first is Money, the second is Weight, and the third is Free Time.

First – Money

I need to gain a healthy little savings account. At the bare minimum, I need not to worry when taking my cats in for routine (or non-routine) health matters. I’d be happy with that, for a start. This involves, pretty much, a complete spending freeze on things not considered “essential.” Essential by whom? Well, by me. So, no more books or media. No more eating out (far cheaper to bring something from home). These are the big changes:

1. I am not going to buy any new books, or media. As far as books go, if they’re CL or QPs (which is publishing/bookstore lingo for “hardcover” and “oversized paperback”, I can borrow them for free so long as they’re returned in undamaged condition). Besides, do you know how many books I’ve got on my “to read” list? (A LOT!)

2. I’m not eating out anymore. I might make an exception if I’m working all day at the Bookstore and an Easy Mac just won’t fill my tummy. But no more dinners at Mackey’s. No more lunches from the café downstairs.

3. I’m canceling my Netflix. I’ve had my current three movies for three months. The money I spent on Netflix per month is essentially being pissed down the drain, and it’s not like I don’t have plenty of DVD options at home to choose from.

4. I’m also scrapping my cable TV (keeping the interwebs). The only things I watch are CNN and Lost anyway, and I can go to CNN.com for the news, and Hulu or ABC.com for Lost.

5. Things that I will buy: food, cleaning supplies (like laundry detergent), toothpaste, cat litter, cat food. Essentials. But actual essentials.

6. I’m going to open a savings account. I had one, but thanks to a bizarre bank merger (where some of Chevy Chase’s banks in northern Maryland were given to another bank?), it wound up being closed. I’m going to put at least a few bucks a week into it. I will not touch it.

And because making extra money never hurts … I’m also going to try to increase my hours at the Bookstore. Since Christmas, I’ve been working two weeknights and all day Sunday – that’s about eighteen hours a week. Before Christmas, however, I was often working close to forty hours. It’s not like I enjoy having no free time, however, gotta be honest: when I’m working, I’m generally not eating, or spending money. Plus, on a busy night, it’s good exercise running here, there, and wherever. Really, this goal can be easily accomplished: pick up the phone, call, “Hey, did anyone call out tonight? Do you need any extra help?” Gotta be proactive!

Second – Weight

Right now, this morning, I’m somewhere between 250 and 260 pounds (not exactly sure), which is (or is at least very close to being) the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m changing my eating habits (we’ll see how long this lasts – the last time I tried, I stuck with it for a few months and actually lost 30 pounds). These are the big changes:

Eating:

1. No more hot chocolate in the mornings at work.

2. I drink 2 to 3 gallons of milk a week. I’m going to try to drink more water at home and hopefully drop my milk intake to 1 gallon. This will also help with the whole “not spending money” thing, as milk can get expensive.

3. No more ice cream. AT ALL. (This one makes me really really sad). Also, no Skittles. Boo.

4. Pretzels, carrot bits, and rice cakes for snacks. No more jalapeno cheddar Cheetos! This one is also going to be really tough (they’re sooooo good).

5. When I do eat not-good foods (i.e., most frozen foods, chips, etc.), I’m going to try to respect the “serving size.”

6. On Fridays (“bagel day” at work), I will only eat one bagel with cream cheese.

7. I am going to start eating breakfast, which is a meal I usually skip. Thankfully, the café downstairs sells bananas for seventy-five cents, because if I tried bringing some in, hoo-boy would they spoil.

Exercising:

1. Sure, sometimes the escalators and elevators are impossible to beat – like, at Bethesda and Woodley Park Metros – but there’s no reason I just have to stand on the escalator: I can walk up it! Or down it! Also, in general, I’m going to try to shun elevators in favor of stairs whenever possible.

2. I will walk home as much and often as possible. Sure, I don’t always have an option – it’d be a three hour walk to and from my day job, but there’s no reason I can’t start walking to Van Ness Metro in the mornings (1 mile); and I won’t use sore feet for an excuse to catch the L2 home after a late night at the Bookstore – that’s a good two mile uphill hike, and it feels so good when I get home (I might cheat and take the elevator up to my floor, though).

Third – Free Time

Admittedly, I’m not going to have much free time. However, I want to be more productive in the free time I do have. When I racked my mind to consider what I wanted to do, this is what I came up with:

1. Blogging – Not only do I want to blog more here, I want to talk more about myself rather than just the occasional political or bookstore related ranting or raving. In addition, I want to resurrect dc.crimereporting.net, which had a brief life last summer. I made some mistakes with it initially, but I think if I keep it limited to a link-page of DC-only crime, it should be manageable.

2. Reading – I’ve been bad on my reading. Tripped up and ran into the wall that is Bolano’s 2666 and Peter Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star. This really sucks because they’re both very, very good.

3. I have, for some time, wanted to build a Lego spaceship. Not one that could actually fly into space (duh), but a model of a spaceship built out of Lego. And I’ve wanted it to have a complete, functional interior – in the sense that, were someone to dissect it, not only could they could point out, “Ahh, here are the cannons, and here’s the magazine, and the sickbay, and the airlocks” but also, “Here’s the water filtration system, and the gravity generator, and the oxygen scrubbers, and the fuel tanks…” I’ve got a lot of Lego, why the hell not give it a shot?

4. I’ve been living in DC for just about two years, know where I still haven’t gone but I’ve been wanting to? The Building Museum! You number is mine, buddy. (Also, a National’s game).

To Keep On Goal:

A friend once gave me good advice: “Don’t weigh yourself every day, you’ll never see any progress.” So I’m going to weigh myself every Sunday evening. I know that I should expect a big weight loss the first week (water weight), with less over the following weeks. Given my experience in 2006, I know I can do it. Just gotta have the will power.

So, I am not only going to keep track of my weight on a sheet of paper tacked to my bathroom wall, I’m also going to post about my weight every Sunday night.

In addition, I’ve got a little black book – I’m going to carry it with me wherever I go. Anything I spend will be recorded in said little black book, and once a week, I’ll post what I’ve been spending my money on. With luck – and your help! — this’ll keep me in line.

*or MORE!

20 thoughts on “It’s Never Too Late To Make A Good Resolution, Is It?

  1. for a min i thought you might be “growing up” but then i read the “spaceship of Legos” thing and sighed with relief… ;-)
    xoxo

  2. How tall are you? If you’re anywhere near 6′, 150-1609 lbs is downright skeletal. Are you sure you don’t mean you’re 250-260?

  3. David – Thanks!

    S.B. — Hah! Never fear! I’ll never be (fully) an adult!

    Chris – Good catch … should’ve read 250-260. Edited!

    Thanks M :)

  4. Best of luck to you on this! I’m in about the same boat size-wise and really need to downsize. Inspiration!

  5. Good luck! And don’t get too caught up in the weight numbers…it’s more about how healthy you feel and how your clothes fit. Noble goals, indeed!

  6. Consider opening a savings account at an online bank like ING. You’ll get a decent interest return (much better than a local bank) and your money will take more than a slight whim in order to get it – no instant transfers to your checking account. Being forced to wait a couple of days to get to your savings will likely keep you from blowing it all at once.

    Then, consider continuing the payment you’re making to the IRS into your savings account. If you manage to live without that money for several months, you can do it for longer! Make the money you’re contributing into a savings account PART of your monthly budget, not in addition to it.

  7. wow, excellent goals! i’ll second T’s recommendation for ING direct. i have them automatically pull $100 from my checking account every time i get paid so that i never see the cash in the first place and can’t miss it. it’s working out fantastically so far, and accumlates way faster than i would have thought.

  8. I gave up on trying to save money years ago. I’m married so that is not something I have control over.

    About five years ago, I lost 25 pounds on the Weight Watchers system (my wife was a member, I just followed the rules). I kept it off for two years but have put on 40 pounds in the past three year.

    Good luck with the plan. I also have an easy two year backlog of books, but I still buy new ones anyways. That is a tough habit to break.

  9. With the spending money thing, I think that you should treat yourself every once in awhile. Same with the eating. Just plan it ahead and make it a once every two weeks or once a month. It’ll be something to look forward to and you’ll appreciate it so much more.

  10. Chris – Good luck with your future weight-loss endeavours!

    A. – Someone once told me, “Don’t go by what the scale says, go by the waistlines of the jeans you can get into.”

    T – that’s a good idea, and I might do that. The benefit of having the savings account w/ the same bank as my checking account is that if I ever overdraw funds (which, sadly, happens), it can take it from that account without overdrawing the account.

    Alice – ING, eh?

    yellojkt – I also had luck with Weight Watchers in the past. In the end, though, it’s only a tool: I’ve still got to be careful about what I eat, and exercise.

    SN – Oh, totally. But I’m not going to pick stuff up “because it looks cool.”

  11. Consider opening and keeping a small reserve savings account, then. That way you’d have enough to cover an accidental overdraft, but most of your money would still be earning you a better rate.

    I know you said you’re getting rid of the credit cards, but if you’re truly going to try to keep all of your expenditures in a notebook, it should be easy to keep yourself on budget while using a credit card. You have the added benefit of never having to worry about an overdraft fee and perhaps even getting a cash reward! The American Express Blue Cash card gives me 5% cash back annually on grocery store, drugstore, and gas purchases. Discover also has decent rewards.

  12. T. – Ugh, credit cards. A lot of my current financial messes are due to credit cards, or rather, my inability to keep them in check, and my eagerness to get in way over my head. I haven’t used a credit card since December 2008, and I intend to keep it that way for a while.

  13. I remember when you lost all that weight, you cut out the pizza. I can’t believe how much time you spend blogging. Your rediculous, do people really follow “Jeff’s life” that closely?

  14. I don’t actually write that much anymore, Greg, and my readership has dropped precipitously. It wasn’t just cutting out all the pizza, although that was a huge part of it.

  15. I am also trying hard to lose a lot of weight. I know that weighing in every day can be frustrating, I think it’s important to get feedback on what specific things have the biggest effect on your weight. If you can look at it graphically the little blips are less important and the overal trend is what you shoot for, but I’ve learned a lot by looking and recording my weight every day. For example, missing a day exercising isn’t nearly as bad as late night snacking for me. So far I’ve lost 11.6 lbs over 58 days, which makes me happy. Two apps on my iPod touch that have helped are Lose it! and Weightbot.

    Good luck – I’ll be rooting for you.

  16. Lose it! (free) is a food and exercise diary that tracks calories and fat. Weightbot ($1-$2) is a weight graphing program so you can see when you’ll hit your goal and see trends over a month or a year.

  17. Pingback: Malnurtured Snay » Weight: Week One

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