Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Navigating the Reboot: Getting Back on Track After Falling Off of It. (The Track, I Mean.)

(Note to readers: This post is a tad self-indulgent. [On a blog! Go figure.] But hopefully, it'll help some folks who have been sidetracked on their financial and foodie journeys.)

Between September and early January, I was adopted by a cat, got married, went on my honeymoon, traveled to another wedding, got a new job, traveled for Thanksgiving, moved to a new apartment, blew through Christmas, traveled for New Year, broke my toe, and was buried in snow up to my cerebellum. Except for the prolonged limping, it was fantastic. I loved every minute with family, co-workers, and various strangers at the airport.


You know all those good intentions you have stored in the back of your mind? And those behaviors you honed and practiced until they became habits? And those years and years of good financial, nutritional, and organizational practices, which you blog about almost every day, to the point where your husband asks with some regularity when you’re coming to bed?


Not to say I’ve spent the last few months buying Lexuses and cleaning out Chipotle. But I’m ludicrously out of shape, and my financial discipline has fallen way off. Part of this is (see above reasons). Another part is that I’m cooking for three different websites, all of which require an array of totally unrelated groceries. As far as the third part, I have no excuse. Spreadsheets made me sneezy? Yeah, that's the ticket.

Yet, my undies are not in bundles. It’s been a wonderful few months, which I wouldn’t trade for all 30 Rock reruns in the world. And, though it's not often mentioned in the frugality blogosphere, it's thoroughly possible to temporarily neglect budgeting and still feel okay about yourself.

But now, it's time to shape up, ship out (?), and get back on the horse. (You know the horse. It’s big and made out of money and noodles.) So here's my plan. Maybe it's applicable to your situation, too, and we can track our progress together. That would be neat.

1) Set some measureable goals, both long and short term. There's no better way to spark action and drive than having a quantifiable objective. For the short term, I'd like to get in shape, at least to the point where I'm not winded by subway stairs. For the long term, HOTUS and I would like to buy an abode before the apocalypse. So it's time to start saving.

2) Forecast necessities. First, the Commodore 64 from which I write this blog will soon be incompatible with … anything remotely technological (though it will make an incredible paperweight). Second, I'm running out of contact lenses. Actually having none would not only impair my ability to see, but impair my ability to get fuzzies caught between my contact and my eye. And last, but not least, my iPod, which I love like a child, has a big ol' line running through the screen. Is this a necessity? That's like asking, "Can I live without daily infusions of Weezer's Pinkerton?" Which – duh. No.

3) Create spreadsheets/tangible records. (*Sigh*) As it turns out, procuring a new job and a new husband kind of blows your former budgeting process to tiny pieces. Getting a handle on our spending, plus our combined financial powers, will go a long way towards accomplishing #1. Hello, Excel. Be nice to me.

4) Work out. For real, now. While dreams of being the first woman to play Major League Baseball have long been quashed by the sad acceptance of my A) total physical incompetence, and B) gender, it doesn't mean I should forgo exercise entirely. A 33-year-old shouldn't be stiff arising from bed in the morning. So, walking (and perhaps the dreaded jogging) will soon be in order.

And those are it for now. Readers, have you ever fallen off the horse? How did you get back on? Tips are sweet.


If this prolonged navel gazing appealed to you, you might also enjoy these:

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Marcia said...

Ah, I fall off the horse pretty darned regularly. Just a little regroup is good. And it's always good to set measurable and attainable goals.

I'd like to lose 4 lbs. The easiest way for me to do that is Weight Watchers. But darn it, a full time job as an engineer at a startup company, a four year old, a husband, and the stress of picking a know, maybe I should cut myself some slack, at least under the kindergarten thing is over.

On the new year, though, I made a commitment to get more exercise. I was exercising 4 days a week. Now I'm up to 6. On the days that my spouse goes to the gym (we take turns, see 4 year old, above), I toss in a P90X DVD at 5:30 am. And hubby does the same on my gym days. It's helping me build more muscle, get more flexible, and hopefully staving off the hands of time so that I'm not stiff as a board at 41. Which is a few short months away.

Rete said...

The 2nd half of 2010 has definitely knocked me off my horse. Dang, horse! Get back here!

Now that I can see signs of spring in my neck of the woods I'm feeling like I'm waking up from my winter hibernation.

I'm ready to get reaquainted with my spreadsheet and the eliptical machine at the gym that mocks me.

Angela said...

At home workouts are definitely the best way to ease back into it! Netflix has a good library of workouts that you can stream or order via DVD, which saves a ton of money. My Netflix queue is full of workouts because I get bored easily. P90X is an awesome investment, though not until you've been on the horse for a little while as it is pretty intense (but also super effective) And, as much as I hate to admit it, yoga DVDs work wonders for easing the creaking/sore/tightness of being "more mature." At 34, I am way more flexible than I ever was at 24, just basically due to yoga, something I thought was total hooey till P90X came around...

Anonymous said...

I was getting pretty lazy about working out, as in...not. So, started the P90X program. The first few weeks were a little rough, but I love, love it. And I feel so much better physically and more confident.

Erica said...

Check. Check. Aaaand Check. I've been playing fast and loose (by my standards anyway!) with my budget, meals, and exercise since the Holiday season started.

I haven't even grocery shopped with a REAL grocery list in that time. (Uh oh!) It's nice to know I'm not alone! :)

I resolve to eat from my pantry until next week (TOTALLY doable if I'm not lazy) so I can at least start off March with a clean slate, both grocery-wise and money-wise. I will plan my meals and make my grocery list this weekend.

Also, my boyfriend and I decided to start running together. We've gone once. Two weeks ago. Time to start lovingly nudging him into joining me so we can hold each other accountable.

See? Now I have a plan. Time for the follow-through...

Sancia said...

This is such a great post. It is only realistic to expect that we all 'fall off the wagn/horse' now and then. It is important to still feel good about yourself! Thanks for those tips.

Nick said...

I can totally relate... I'm a very goal-oriented person when it comes to finances and fitness, but I also have a wine-drinking... uh... habit. Thanks for the tips. I learned a thing or two, especially about setting measurable goals. I can probably save 50 bucks AND lose a pound per month is I just switch to white wine.

Tarrant said...

oh, I have fallen so hard this winter! I am glad to have the reminder to reboot!

Dee Seiffer said...

I agree with the at-home workout being my best bet with getting back on the horse after falling off. I like low-impact aerobics and yoga DVDs.

Speaking of falling... I fell on the ice 6.5 weeks ago and broke my leg. Got another 6 to 8 weeks until I can walk. I am allowed to lift weights for my upper bodyand do yoga/pilates for my core. Not sure if I haven't done it because I'm channeling all of my energy toward healing... or it is a REALLY good excuse to lie on the couch for hours and hours and hours.

I did buy an yoga/pilates DVD (still in the shrink wrap) and Zumba for Wii (incentive for when I'm really, actually healed).

Keeping track of financial goals? My advice is Quicken or Money instead of Excel. So much less tedious. We've spent much, much less money on groceries, dining out, etc because I can't freakin' go anywhere. The hospital & surgeon's bill make up for it though.

BTW - Congrats on all of the fun, fun changes in your life. How exciting! Kisses to the kitty.

mariasolci said...

Awesome post! Really made me feel human/okay about my recent badness. My family just moved to a new place, so the past few weeks have been a blur of cleaning & eating out...a lot. We did find a great new pizza place though!! I've got great tips & ideas for our next move and how to make it go smoother. Thanks again for the post!

Kris said...

Yes! You guys, while I wouldn't wish prolonged non-budgeting on anyone, I'm so glad I'm not alone. We will conquer our bad habits! I declare it so!

mariasolci said...

I really truly am thankful for this post. I have such a hard time forgiving myself for inadequate planning and such, so it's nice to know that I'm not the only one. I just try to remember that it's not something we do all the time!! Thanks CHG for your awesome posts. I'm being all mushy now!!!

GrowingRaw said...

I have to say that your own blog would be an excellent guide. It might be fun to pretend to be your own customer for a while - you can go back and revisit much of what you've already experienced and written about.

It'd be really interesting to hear what it was like for you to live through some of your own advice... you'd probably rediscover some old recipes too. It would also be pretty cool to be inspired by yourself!

If you do that, you could show us the old post and tell us about how you're reliving it. I think that would be fun... surely this blog has loads of stuff newer followers have never seen or dug up for themselves yet?

Kristine said...

Great post! Life happens, and those happenings usually blow up the budget and other things!

I set some goals at the beginning of January, and have found that I do better with plans, goals, and lots of structure. So far, I'm doing pretty good with meeting my goals on a fitness and frugal path.

Good luck with your goals!

kazari said...

oh man,
your way sounds really, really hard.

my prefered option is pick a habit, any habit - and stick it.
once its stuck (takes about four weeks - or longer if you have a teething toddler or mastitis or a heatwave or all three)
pick another habit.
congratulate yourself for any bonus good behaviour along the way.

Manda said...

I am completely useless when it comes to budgeting and I was recently handed the golden ticket: seriously, check it out, I've been using it for 2 months now and I've never felt better about my finances. it changed my world. and no, they didn't pay me or anything ;)

I've loved this blog for years, keep up the good work!