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The finances of health and fitness

Friday, October 07, 2011

This started off in another blog in which I realized that much of my way of referencing actions I take toward a healthy lifestyle come from finances. Since then, I've thought further on it and see a lot of analogies as well as quite a few other people who use similar terminology.

We spend our daily calories on the foods we choose. We balance our calorie budget with our exercise. We splurge. We cut back. We invest in ourselves and/or our future.

But even more than borrowing the words, a lot of the concepts that can help us break free financially are just as applicable to breaking free physically. Someone's blog recently referred to a list of 5 things necessary to financial freedom. I went looking and couldn't find it, but did find several lists and almost every time, the same steps could be applied to getting healthy and fit.

Setting goals
Tracking ins and outs
Reading and researching
Acting on the plan
Achieving goals and setting new ones

But even beyond that:

No one plans to wind up heavily in debt or badly struggling financially.

No one plans to end up overweight, obese, or morbidly obese.

Most financial troubles started off with relatively inocuous behaviors - that Grande every morning, the weekend trip to the movies, the dinner out two nights a week, the car with barely affordable payments we didn't plan for insurance, gas, and other expenses for. Or they start with the unexpected , the medical expenses or job loss or inflation or car breaking down.

Most weight problems don't start with us at our peak weight. That same Grande every morning, the popcorn and soda at the movies, the bread before and dessert after and the heaping full plate that could have fed four people, the car we get in to drive ... 2 blocks to the 7-11 for candy and slurpees (*raises hand* yes, I've been guilty of that). Or it starts with the unexpected, the injury, the gym we can't afford or leaving school for a full-time job and no athletic program.

Some people are emotional spenders. They combat upsets or depression with credit cards and purchases that give them a temporary lift.

Some people are emotional eaters. They combat upsets or depression with foods that give them a temporary lift.

Most people with financial trouble could not give an exact accounting of how much they earned and how much they spent in the last couple months.

Most people with weight problems could not give an exact accounting of all food eaten and activity they engaged in.

It just goes on and on.


I'll end off with this - I think this analogy works so well for me for yet another reason. I feel more in control of my money. I know every expense I have, I know what I spend in each category. I've been tracking that for over a year now. I'm also just hitting one of my original goals now - a debt from 22 years ago mostly paid off.

The only area I can't control relates to my employer's bad money management (I haven't been able to count on a paycheck on time in ... four years now. I have to constantly talk to finance to keep them mostly current. And that 22-year old debt? It was in garnishment and my employer back-owes about $2,000 of what has already been withheld from my checks - enough to pay off the remainder now.)

With that much success in controlling my money, no surprise I'm trying to apply the same basic concepts to my eating and exercising.

Hopefully as I reach the end of my 40s, I'll have both my money and my health at the new goals and maintaining stages.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ACURVYLADY 10/10/2011 11:39AM

    Wonderful insight : )

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Wicked Stepmother

Friday, October 07, 2011

Sleepy, but wanted to make one clarification for those who read my blog yesterday. I do remember plenty of good to my childhood. I don't think I was abused and have forgotten. Instead, the sense I have of my not remembering much is that I couldn't control or do anything about it, so I forced myself to ignore it.

My stepmother was certainly not mentally stable. However, she never struck out at me - and I've had people who knew us in that time period later tell me that she was afraid of me. I've never been submissive or passive or dependent. It's just not in my nature. In fact, because I only ever saw my dad administering discipline, it later surprised me to hear she was physically abusive to at least 2 of my four full siblings.

Some years after I moved out, she finally wound up having to see a psychiatrist or psychologist - and supposedly had repressed memories of abuse from her father. Who knows? All I knew before that was she tended to get into obsessions and not really be well-grounded in reality. (She claimed Proctor & Gamble logos were Satanic, but went beyond that to claim she could feel the demons around and that certain actions she did were because they possessed her. Yeah ... pretty out there.)

Anyway, long story short - most of what I was remembering about food and her wouldn't fit into the realm of what makes my siblings and I call her the "wicked stepmother". It was more the normal kinds of things that happen, like "clean your plate before you leave the table" and being forced to eat larger than normal servings of disliked foods.

The thing about those events is that she isn't important. I don't blame her.

What was important was the decision(s) I made and the opinions I built around food. Stealing so I could eat how I wanted was okay. Sneaking or stealing food was okay. The only kind of cooking I'd do was Mac&Cheese, Pasta-Roni, Rice-a-Roni, Hamburger Helper, frozen dinners and so on - quick and easy and not really requiring effort to "cook". When I did go more elaborate with cooking, it was always sweets - cookies, cakes, brownies, fudge.

Those are the things I'm having to root out, the way one weeds a garden. It's not enough to stomp out the habit right now in the moment if the roots stay in the ground. That's only a temporary prevention. Now that I realize I have those deep roots, I'm on the road to ripping up the weeds completely so they never grow back.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JAHCANNON 10/7/2011 9:26AM

    I'm so proud of you for digging into the "why" of this! What great insight.


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So many thoughts going through my head, so little time

Thursday, October 06, 2011

A 30+ minute walk is a lot of head time for me. So I thought about what I might like to write about the "finance of weight" and was realizing that there's a lot of analogy between handling money and handling our health.

I don't know anyone who ever started off as a child or young adult with the plan to be broke and burdened with debt they never thought they'd get paid off. Similarly, there's not a whole lot of people who set out intentionally to gain a horrendous amount of weight. (And I say that even with the fact I weigh so much right now having been rather deliberate to "hide" - because even before that intent, I hadn't been under 170-175 since before my second child. I may have crossed the 200 barrier deliberately, but I was already overweight bordering on obese.)

This then reminded me of SSVINGENJONES's blog yesterday - The Mental Battle Inside my Head. Yes, some of it is genetic, some of it is environment (how we were raised and food treated, how as young adults our food views were shaped), but there's more than just that.

I didn't follow that thread, though. Instead, I started to think way way back to a point in my life I usually spend as little time remembering as possible. The "wicked stepmother" years.

I have this picture in my baby book of me at my dad's remarriage. I'm so scrawny as to look gaunt and sickly, probably just through a recent growth spurt, somewhere on the cusp of 12 I think. In no picture before then was I ever anything more than healthy child weight. In the next picture and on, I'm varying weights but always looking curvy, a little extra weight (10 pound range), and dressed rather frumpy.

I don't even remember how fast or slow it happened, but suddenly all dairy food was taboo in the house. So was chocolate. She went on a health food craze. We had soy milk, soy cheese, carob chips, and regimens of vitamins and supplements because we were apparently so horribly unhealthy. From Arkansas, her cooking was generally sauces to hide gross foods or boiled-to-death veggies. (And by we ... I'm the eldest of my dad's five and she came with one who slotted right in the middle age-wise.)

Even later as her obsessions changed, when it turned out one of us was allergic to soy and real milk came back, food was rationed or gross. I remember so very little of those years. What I do remember includes:

1) Stealing money from my father - he kept some in a pouch in a drawer in their room - and spending it on school lunches, pizza slices and real milk, puddings and candy.

2) Stealing carob chips at night to the point that she put a note in the jar that she knew how much there was and that they were being taken and she'd know. So I took my handful, tilted the jar to make it look like the same amount to a shorter person, put the note back in and put it back on the shelf.

3) Getting my last paddling from my dad because I was eating peanut butter from the jar, hid it when he came in, lied to his face that I hadn't seen it, then got caught trying to sneak it back.

4) Taking a cooking class in school, spontaneously making (of all things) chicken pot pies from scratch for the whole family ... 8 of them. I remember being so proud, that they were good, and then all of that being destroyed along with any joy in cooking because all my stepmother got out of it was "oh, now you can do half of the cooking". I learned to burn or oversalt or ruin everything until that chore was taken back.

Basically ... long before I ever considered myself to have a problem with food or weight, the seeds of later issues and bad habits were being planted.

I have much more thinking to do, and I'm sure the increasingly long walks are going to really help that.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REALLY_ROBIN 10/7/2011 12:34AM

    Thank you for having the courage to share your story. I know I've had a lot to work through with my child hood, as well. And being on this side of it, it's very empowering to know that I'm the adult now and I will always take care of myself. I've also found dealing with the emotional stuff this time while losing weight, gives me great hope that this is the very last time I will have to lose weight. You are doing so great...keep up the good work!

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ALLPROTAMMY 10/6/2011 4:15PM

    Good reflection! Great use of walking. Thanks for sharing!

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PODIEX2 10/6/2011 1:14PM

    I wish I could walk long distance, I get a block and my hips and legs give out, I'm in a wheelchair when I go out, but I start off pushing it until I just cant walk any longer, I too have been reflecting back to my childhood and how I let myself become so overweight.
Great Blog.

Comment edited on: 10/6/2011 1:14:56 PM

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SPICY4356 10/6/2011 10:55AM

    I find that working out helps me work through any anger or frustration for the day. I can't comment on a bad childhood, I was very lucky and had 2 wonderful parents growing up. But I find that some upbeat music and a little hostility makes for a great work out!

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BD3269PM 10/6/2011 6:49AM

    I so agree with that saying that it is never too late to have a happy childhood. You will work through this and enjoy all the good to come! Stay motivated and keep on Sparking emoticon

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BUSYGRANNY5 10/6/2011 6:46AM

    It's great that you're using your exercise time as "therapy" time.. I do the same while riding my bike... it helps me "clear my head" without filling my belly! I wish you continued you success on your journey to a healthier you!


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SARA126LBS 10/6/2011 4:58AM

    I love walks with an ipod.. music or audiobooks.. sounds like they are helping you get perspective.. :) emoticon

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    Go for it and keep focused. One of my favourite sayings is - it's never too late to have a happy childhood...

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FWBLONDIE 10/6/2011 3:29AM

    Keep up the walks, its amazing how therapeutic they can be!!

Keep Sparking



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The unexpected pitfall of pushing myself to walk faster

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

So, I didn't bother checking my 5k preparation to confirm how long I was supposed to walk for. Had it in my head that it was 25 minutes. (That was last week. This week D1 is 30 min.)

That wouldn't have been a big deal. The 1.54 mile route took me 31 minutes the first time, so it still would've been good enough. But it only took me 26 minutes. I've sped up from 19-21 min/mile to maintaining 17 min/mile over the whole distance. I finished the route, saw I had the 25 minutes I thought was all I needed, did my cooldown, did my ST (Strength Training), stretched, and went to get it all logged.

Whoops, I actually need 30 minutes of continuous walking. I'm not going back out again to walk even further in order to get 30 minutes tonight. It's going to have to happen tomorrow night instead. (And I won't "cheat" myself and go walk for 4 more minutes because I did the full cooldown already.)

So, the unexpected pitfall of pushing myself to walk faster is I finish my routes faster. I need to evaluate my routes and add a block here and there to get them long enough to keep up the amount of time I want to spend walking.

On the plus side, if I can keep up the 17 min mile as I get to the full 5k, I'll be finishing cleanly under the hour maximum I was hoping for. \o/

Oh, and the other good news ... I called about the Oktoberfest 5k to confirm they had me registered. They didn't. Resent it (fax). Turns out I had goofed which address was on my card for them to charge and they called, so now I know it's definitely done and I'm not in for any "we don't have you down" surprises.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JAHCANNON 10/5/2011 11:18AM

    Wow! You walk faster than I do. I'm still at about 22-24 minute miles. And I'm happy with that since it's better than where I started. I need to do 2 miles tonight - I got behind schedule again.


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REALLY_ROBIN 10/5/2011 9:35AM

    We are just going to have to start calling you Speedy Gonzalez!!! Keep up the great work!

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    wow well even tho you didnt get in the 30 you did something amazing and all this walking is great im so proud of you Im so far off from a 5k but soon enough I will be doing one Im sure

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Oof, now that one wasn't worth it

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Another day, another experience with serving sizes. This time it was something I've had off and on through the years - a "turkey pot pie". Definitely filling, but being in a package in the frozen dinner and entrée section, I suppose I had always just figured it was a single serving. For a single serving, the nutrition facts aren't horrible.

Problem is it's 2 servings. One serving is half the pot pie.

There's no easy way to store a cooked pot pie for a later day unless I'm at home with containers. Eh, phooey, I'll just have a very light dinner I figured. And I did just that.

But it was painful to try to get any sort of nutritional balance because that one "meal", in and of itself, used just about midway through the alloted amount of fat ... but, despite being full of turkey meat, made for only about half the needed protein and less than half the carbs. Had it been more balanced given the calories spent on it, it would have been easier to build around.

Worse, while reasonably tasty, it's not anything great. My biggest memory of it has nothing to do with flavor. Instead, I cooked it in a smaller microwave (less watts), so added time to ensure it cooked through. And being hungry, I started eating without letting some bites cool adequately. Leaving me with that strange feeling that is a burned tongue.

What a wasteful meal. And not one I'll be repeating.

(And I was just noticing - I'll have to ponder on it more in another blog - that I tend to think of my eating very much in "finance" terms.)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELUNAMAKATA 10/7/2011 1:00PM

    It's crazy. the whole serving size thing. I've gotten to where i'm making meals out of a 2.5 serving size bag of green giant steamer veggies, then adding like half a can of tuna to the side. But also sometimes when you do try to cook something, even a recipe on here sometimes, it'll just say 5 servings....well 5 servings of what size? I don't know what size you consider to be a normal serving of this food! (particularly casseroles and such)

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FAITH__IN__ME 10/4/2011 8:25PM

    I think it's funny that you think of calories/fat/carbs in a form of being spent as if they were money. I do the same thing. It started a few years ago when my Tio came to visit. He counted the days he took off as money being spent. I thought that was odd, but when he explained it to me, it made sense.

I've since started doing the same thing. Deciding if things are worth it based on engery spent, calories spent, time spent as if it were financial. :)

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    I think about the finance part too

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KIMBERLY7783 10/4/2011 2:11PM

  Betty Crocker's 300 Calorie Cook Book has THE BEST Chicken Pot Pie recipe. I am a sucker for comfort foods but found the same thing in terms of serving size and all of that does me in (like a personal pizza (it's in the name right, PERSONAL, that serves TWO)).

Good luck and thanks for the eye opener!!

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PODIEX2 10/4/2011 12:19PM

    makes mental note about avoiding the pot pies........I make my meal plan goals first thing every morning so I know what I'm eating all day long and can look forward to it.....I works for me at this time since I'm just starting. I'm having a hard time with sodium, I loooooooooove salt. great blog.

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JAHCANNON 10/4/2011 9:43AM

    Sneaky serving sizes!!

Especially on something so hard to store as a pot pie! Who saves half a pot pie?! That's kind of messy....

And I'm discovering the challenge of the end-of-day balanced eating, too. Especially since I'm not very good at planning my meals out aheah of time. I get to the end of the day and have some crazy collection of numbers with which to craft a dinner. :P

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REALLY_ROBIN 10/4/2011 8:31AM

    I've actually heard that is good to think of it in finance you've only got so much money for a only have so many calories. I'm sure the sodium content wasn't so stellar either. Awesome observation!!!

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ALLPROTAMMY 10/4/2011 1:21AM

    Hmmm....Interesting...Good information!

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