Budgeting money, calories and riding the rails like a bandit...
Friday, June 03, 2011
Michael Moore did not exactly have it right when he said that in Norway they pay you to go on vacation every year. What they actually do is take money out of your paycheck every month for a year and then give it back to you in June tax free so you can go on vacation. They also make sure that you have the time to do it since most Norwegians get four to six weeks off each year minimum. Many businesses close during July here so naturally that is when people tend to go away, us included. The restaurant will be closing in a few weeks and reopening in mid August. It is a little weird coming from an American stand point to both get so much vacation and to have the government insist, in a way, that you save for it!
We calculated our expenses for vacation in early May and realized that despite what we will be receiving we had slightly over planned our trip and it exceeded our vacation money somewhat. Total bummer I must say! Sooooo we have been on a budget this past month. A tight one! Literally every krone is accounted for and no extra spending of any kind has been done. I even slashed my weekly grocery budget down by one third for the month...I was a little dismayed today, by the way, when I got mixed up by the little squirrel on the package and brought home paper towels instead of toilet paper and had nothing left in my budget to fix it until next week!
We were doing beautifully overall however, until I lost my public transportation pass a few weeks ago. This little mistake threatened to screw up the whole plan, as that was 590 krone I had not planned for to replace it (about 110 USD). Now, in Norway riding public transportation is kind of on the honor system. You buy a pass and then you ride the train, bus, trek or the commuter boats and no one checks your ticket on a regular basis. It is kind of weird. They have even installed the devices where you have to scan your card to get through like in Paris but they can't bring themselves to make them operational for some reason so each day I just walk past the gaping doors and get on the train with my pass in my pocket. Sometimes they do get on though and check passes or they will barricade an exit and stop each person getting off a train. The fine is about 800 krone if you do not have a pass. Sooooo....I could not afford a new pass...and technically I HAD bought a pass this month and so, for several weeks, until I could scrape up enough money by going under my grocery budget even further... I just rode the rails like a bandit! Oh my nerves! Always looking over my shoulder...sauntering around when I did see one of the ticket checkers and then jumping on to a train car going ...anywhere...just to get away from the station where they were checking! I even bought a day pass which I never activated figuring I would play the dumb American if I was stopped ...waving my ticket around saying that I had no idea how to activate the thing...or maybe I would say that my husband told me that HE had already activated it for me...What? He didn't! How could that be?...Oh yes I played all the scenarios over in my head as to what I would say if I got caught. Acting! I would act! Then I finally got a pass three days ago but realized that if I rode the rails like a bandit just a few more days I could activate it on the on the third of June and have it expire on the first day we would be out of the country not having to pay for the few days over lap.
So I did it. I did not get caught. I activated that thing at 3:58 this afternoon and it felt so good not to be a bandit anymore. I even saw ticket checkers at one of my stops. I felt smug. I hoped that they would ask me for my ticket. I was due. But they did not care about me...clearly I did not look suspicious enough to them. Little did they know what I was capable of!
I did do some extra walking due to my ticket situation. I would either walk an extra stop or two before getting on the train or I would get off the train before getting to the stop closest to my work (the stop by my work is underground and if caught I would have been trapped with no place to hide or run...dramatic isn't it! :D ). All of my walking is really adding up I think, because I have lost a few pounds. I have four more to go and I am right on track. I have a feeling that I do way more exercise in a day though than I have given myself credit for and am seeing that now that I am tracking it all more closely.
I commute on foot about one hour total a day not including my train rides. (half uphill and half with a small person on my back) I walk to the grocery store and back several times a week. We hike for fun on the Sundays a minimum of two hours. I am on my feet from when I get home with the kids until they go to bed...but one of the biggest things I have realized is that I am exercising all day at work. All day I run stairs, lift heavy pots, carry produce, walk from my kitchen to the main kitchen down stairs...down more stairs to the pastry kitchen and back...I am moving and lifting all of the time! I have even been putting more effort into it since I have been trying to drop these pounds by moving even faster, never taking the elevator and generally just putting more effort into what I do. Oh yea, I lost my assistant (another one bit the dust) so I am doing two jobs at once. Oh yea ...and we had a photo shoot of our food last week and it was incredibly stressful and exhausting...alot of running...we produced 15 photo worthy dishes in two hours and set them up down the hall...I ate nothing but sweets and reindeer all day...it was horrible but I just got back on track the next day. Due to the extra hours at work I have not been running (I will resume in three weeks) but I have still been losing weight.
The other change is that I have been keeping as close as I can to 1500 calories and I had never done that in the past. I used to say around 1700 to 1800 calories when losing weight but based on the rapid weightloss I think I am realizing that 1700 is probably just fine since I must burn more calories than I thought in a day. (I wonder how many I DO burn in a day.) I have been eating a healthy diet and basically trying to cut out sugar...very hard to do since I have my hands in it all day but I am doing my best to be more aware of what I put in my mouth while at work. I have also, for the most part, been stopping for a nutritious lunch each day and that is success for me!
Well according to the scale I am doing something right. Moving is good. Walking is good. Riding the rails like a bandit...burns a lot of calories... but I am glad it is over!