We survived week two of the 21 Day Fix! And it was… Confusing?

Once again this week, Bryan and I stuck with the 21 Day Fix exercise routine: Every morning at 5:15 a.m., we woke up and followed the workout videos. And all week long, I used the color-coded portion cups to measure my food and make sure I balanced fruits, vegetables, proteins and carbs.

100% Honesty: I’m not sticking with the “approved food list” for the diet. Why? Because I’m trying to build life-long eating habits, not lose as much weight as possible in as short a time as possible. Real-life means you eat a variety of food, both healthy and not. Especially when you love food! The difference now is that I’m controlling my portions, and balancing out the types of food I eat throughout the day. More veggies and fruits. Smaller portions of carbs. Protein throughout the day. So, I won’t lose 15 lbs in 3 weeks. That wasn’t my goal when I started though. I keep reminding myself: 1-2 lbs per week!

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m stuffing my carb container with cake! We’re trying to make healthier decisions, and eat a variety of foods. But the reality is, Bryan and I are steak and potatoes kind of people. Or pasta and garlic bread. It just means I eat a lot less of the pasta and steak, and balance it with what I’m eating earlier in the day. And I’m eating small meals throughout the day, so I’m not starving and pigging out at night. I’m also switching out some things for healthier versions, like whole grain pastas, and greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

I didn’t do any better during week 2 with eating all the food than I did during week 1. Actually, my plan for sticking at the same food level (1,500-1,799 calories) seemed to be making things worse! My thought had been, since I’m eating “off list” foods anyways, I’d stay at that level, and whatever I missed would balance out with extra calories I was likely eating. But it became too difficult to balance. I found myself skipping too many veggies and fruits because I “wasn’t hungry”. Not good! About midway through the week, I decided to downsize into the lower level of food consumption (1,200-1,499 calories). That meant I lost a carb, a fruit, and a veggie serving each day, along with two of my oils. Doing that made it much easier to balance my foods, and ensure that I was getting enough produce. I also started adding Spring Mix to just about everything, since coming up with enough veggies in a day is hard for me. I mix it with cottage cheese for breakfast. Mix it with leftovers to make a salad. We usually do a vegetable for dinner, so I get more of a variety at night. Keeping it simple helps me stay on track!

The workouts are still hard. I pushed myself more during week 2 to try not doing modified versions of exercises, but I still struggle with a lot of them. I no longer have so much muscle pain: It’s been replaced with a weird ache, and often a feeling of muscle fatigue when I try to do random things throughout the day. Especially anything that causes me to hold my arms up. My shoulders burn! I had some back pain this weekend, but it resolved itself within a couple of days.

The loss of muscle pain brought about some weird feelings about my body. Part of the week left me feeling like a busted can of biscuits. Maybe I was bloated? I think part of it is that I can now feel my ab muscles engaging throughout the day. Feeling the full extent of my muscles meant I was also feeling something else: All that fat that lies on top! I was highly aware of my fat for the majority of the week. I started panicking that the plan wasn’t working, that I wasn’t doing enough. It was almost enough to make me start taking more extreme measures. Finally I had to take a deep breath, relax, and trust that things were heading in the right direction.

I have no idea how much I’ve lost so far, since I’ve decided not to weigh myself until the end of the 21 days. But I am starting to see small changes: I can easily zip my coats now. My belts are one hole snugger. I looked at Bryan Sunday and pointed out that I thought my ankles were getting smaller. He thinks I’m insane for noticing such a random thing. And then he tells me that my boobs are higher and firmer, as is my butt. Go figure that’s what he’d be paying attention to!

The plan isn’t hard. Changing my mentality has been tough. I’m not used to a diet where I’m not starving, or obsessively restricting myself. I’m also not used to working out so intensely. But, I think this could be a good change in our lives. I’m still motivated to do it every single day. Hopefully we can make this into a permanent habit!

  • Cindy W.

Net Worth Icon

Welcome to my monthly net worth post for January, 2016. Each month, I post a complete breakdown of my net worth, along with a chart showing the progression of my net worth since the start of this blog. Posting my net worth helps keep me accountable for what I do with my money, and motivates me to make better choices and push to reach new goals. You can see previous net worth updates here

January wasn’t exactly the start to 2016 that I was hoping for. At least not financially speaking. I ended the month at a loss over last month.

January 2016 Net Worth:

Net Worth - 0116

Net Worth as of January 31, 2016

All said, I lost $422 in January. Not the end of the world. There were numerous things that attributed to the loss, some of which are obvious from the numbers, and some of which aren’t. The drop in the market is obvious: My 401(k) lost $681, and my Roth IRA lost $73. My 401(k) should actually be a bit higher: For some reason my weekly contribution and my employer’s monthly contribution haven’t hit my account yet. I briefly considered adding those amounts to the total for the month, but in the end decided against it. I don’t want to start into adding things every month. It’s so much easier to just count the numbers as they are in the accounts.

What isn’t so obvious? My emergency fund is down $1,000 this month. My cash accounts vary month to month, so it really isn’t obvious that the money is gone. Where did it go? With it being winter, Bryan is laid off. He’s managed to pick-up a few odd jobs here and there, but it definitely isn’t the same as his full-time job. We’re mostly down to one income. Not a big deal; That’s what the emergency fund is for!

Depending on the weather, things should be back to normal in the next couple of months. In the mean-time, I’ll reduce what I’m paying towards my car loan, instead of pulling any more from the emergency fund. For now, I don’t plan to build the emergency fund back to $5,000; The $4,000 that’s there now should be enough for any emergencies that should come up. I want to keep my focus on the car loan, for now.

This should be the last rough winter for Bryan. I’m not implying that he won’t get laid off again. Until he retires, layoffs will likely be a normal part of his job. The difference will be preparation. Bryan lost his salaried position in September of 2014 unexpectedly. He had no chance to prepare for being laid off. He spent most of 2015 struggling to stay afloat. In 2016, he’ll no longer have a house payment, along with a variety of smaller monthly expenses. Once the season starts off again, he’ll be able to payoff all his debts, and then start saving for next year. By the time layoffs come again in 2016, he should be prepared.

So, I’m down a little in January. I knew that was a possibility going into the month. It could have been better. It could have been worse. I’m not going to stress about it. February should definitely see some improvement.

Net Worth Progress Chart:

My net wroth update since the start of this blog (February, 2013).

Monthly Net Worth since the start of this blog (February, 2013).

Of course, I’d love to see my net worth going up every month. But the reality is, life doesn’t really work that way. We save, we spend, we try to roll with what life brings our way. I have a solid plan, and if I can continue to stick with it, things will start heading in the right direction again.

  • Cindy W.

I’ve been having an argument in my head a lot lately about what it means to be cheap. Or, more specifically, about whether or not I’ve become cheap. I feel like my budget is fairly in line with my wants/needs most of the time. But more and more often it seems like there are a lot of things that I just cut out completely, because they don’t fit into what I allocate for spending.

It all started with shoes.

I spent a lot of time standing in 2015. In hospitals. In funeral homes. At family gatherings. We’re a family of standers to begin with, and these types of places just seem to equal hours of standing. Sometimes days of standing. And my feet hurt ALL.THE.TIME. Sometimes there was enough going on that I didn’t even notice. But, if you’ve ever spent days next to a loved one in the hospital, you know there are a lot of quiet moments when you’re just standing there with your own thoughts. Especially when you haven’t slept, and every other emotion you have is spent.

It occurred to me somewhere along the line that every pair of shoes I own hurt my feet. Why? Because they’re old, and worn out. I tend to wear the same shoes over and over again. And I try to take care of them, so they still look nice. But the insides are so broken down that they don’t provide any support. For the most part, I only buy shoes for special occasions: Heels to match the dress for my sister’s wedding. Shoes to wear on vacation. Sometimes these shoes get integrated into my daily wear, but mostly not. Somehow in my mind, I justify buying shoes (and clothes!) for special occasions, but not for everyday wear. After all, I have shoes.

So, I suffered along in silence standing on my sore feet. Until I woke up one more and felt the sharp pain across the top of my foot. And then I remembered: Broken feet! It was less than 5 years ago that I broke a bone in my foot. It didn’t take long for the pressure from that break to cause the bone next to it to break. The Orthopedist put me in a boot, and warned me if I wasn’t careful the other bones in my foot would break, like dominos. The culprit? Walking in unsupportive shoes. I broke two bones walking!

It occurred to me that, despite having fabulous insurance, the co-pays for the doctors visits, and X-rays, and everything else would far exceed the cost of new shoes. Even if I had to buy 3 or 4 pairs to replace what I wore throughout the week. And so, I went out and bought a new pair of shoes. I bought a pair of tennis shoes at first, followed a month later by a pair of cushy black flats. It’s amazing how much better my feet feel!

I haven’t completely succeeded: I still need to replace a few other pairs of shoes that I used to wear. And I need to throw my old shoes away! But, I’m making progress. And, I’m trying to keep this in mind for clothing as well. No, wearing a camisole with holes in it under my top isn’t going to break any bones. But I need to accept the fact that replacing clothes is part of life! And “everyday” is actually MORE worthwhile than special occasion, if taking into account the amount of use an item will get.

I don’t exactly have it figured out how this will fit into my budget. Maybe I’ll just pull from other areas when I need to buy something? Maybe I should start putting away a certain amount every week to buy clothes? I don’t know. But I do know that I need to stop being cheap!

– Cindy W.

 

Bryan and I officially survived the first week of the 21 Day Fix. How was it? Well, in some ways it was easier than I expected. In some ways, it was harder. I feel like I learned a lot this week.

Let’s start with the food.

Honestly, I went into the program making it harder than I should have. I love good food. Complex food. Exotic food. Anytime you start a new diet, you read all kinds of recipes for all the wonderful foods you can eat. Which is great! But I went into this program thinking that every meal needed to be complex and wonderful. And that’s exhausting! And time-consuming! And, often times, disappointing.

It took a couple of days for it to occur to me that sometimes, food is just food. Not everything you put into your mouth needs to be the most fabulous thing you’ve ever tasted! If I tried making complex meals every day for work, I was going to fail. There was nothing wrong with eating simple: A pear. Grapes. A simple salad. Turkey deli meat stuffed into half a whole wheat pita pocket. Cottage cheese. Left overs from dinner the night before. Things got a whole lot easier once I realized that I was the one making things complicated. Food doesn’t have to be so complicated!

It also didn’t take long to realize that the level I was at expected me to eat too much food. 4 Vegetables (Green), 3 Fruit (Purple), 4 Protein (Red), 3 Carbohydrate (Yellow), 1 Healthy Fat (Blue) and 1 Dressing/Seed (Orange) container each day, and 4 teaspoons of Oils or Nut Butters is more than I can eat on an average day. Most days I ended up short a fruit, and usually at least one other container from one of the other categories. Sometimes several. I briefly considered bumping down a category. But, we also weren’t really measuring the oils we used for cooking, and one or two days I ate some extra cheese. I figured it balanced out. The biggest thing for me was not using the extra containers to pig out at dinner time; I stuck to one or two servings of vegetables, one serving of protein, and, if we had a carbohydrate, one container of that.

And, keeping with the idea that we were working this into our everyday life, we still met up with friends for drinks Friday after work and Saturday afternoon. I didn’t drink the rest of the week. I limited the number of drinks I had. I didn’t get any snacks while we were out (no jalapeno pretzels!). And I cut back on my carbs for those two days. It’s all about balance!

I also cut out all coffee and soda this week. Soda wasn’t hard; I’d switched to mainly drinking Sprite, so I wasn’t missing caffeine in the evenings. But the mornings were rough the first few days without coffee! The plan doesn’t say you have to cut out coffee. But I like my coffee with a ton of cashew milk. And I was really using it more as a replacement for eating in the morning. Since I was eating small meals throughout the day, I didn’t really see any reason to keep drinking coffee.

As for the workouts? I’m not gonna lie, they were rough! Monday started with Total Body Cardio. By the time we finished, my legs hurt so bad I couldn’t even walk up the stairs! I was not expecting the pain to kick in so soon! I continued struggling with leg pain on Tuesday as well, even though we did arms that day. By Wednesday (leg day!) I was finally feeling better. Bryan didn’t really start hurting until Thursday. Unfortunately, that’s about the same time the workouts started aggravating his bad hip. I feel bad that he’s in pain now. He’s insistent that he stick with the workout program, but, he’s finally talking about seeing a doctor. I worry about him hurting himself, and I don’t like that he’s in pain. But, I’ve also been asking him to see a doctor for the last two years, for a variety of reasons. so this could be a good thing, in a really bad, round-about way.

Some of the workouts I could do the full version of. Many I had to follow Kat, who does modified versions. Kat is stockier than anyone else in the videos, but I quickly learned that was totally deceptive: There were several times I was screaming at Kat because I still couldn’t do the modification. After all, I was starting out at zero on the exercises. I can’t do a plank, and can barely do a modified plank. Pushups? Yeah, right! Even downward dog on yoga day was a struggle. All of the workouts were a struggle, even yoga day, which is supposed to be an “active recovery” day.

On the plus side, I can’t see either of us mastering these workouts in 3 weeks, which means we’ll still be able to keep using them for a while. And I love that there are seven different workouts, plus a short ab workout. Every day was different.

The first half of the week was rough; I’d get tired midway through the day and feel like I was crashing. I sometimes found myself eating for no other reason than trying to keep myself awake. But after I got past the initial shock, I found that I was much more alert. I wasn’t struggling to get up at 5:30 a.m. I was drinking water like crazy, which was a complete shock. I used to struggle to finish a bottle of water a day; Now I’m drinking 5-6 bottles. My muscles hurt, but not so much I can’t move. I kind of like the feeling, and find myself wanting to move around more throughout the day. I can feel muscles I didn’t even know I had!

I really like the way I’m feeling right now. My body feels good. I feel happier, which has been a surprising side effect. My pants feel ever so slightly looser. With that in mind, I’ve decided not to weigh myself until the end of the 21 days. As much as I remind myself that healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, when you’re putting in so much work, you start hoping for bigger results, especially the first few weeks. I don’t want to feel disappointed if I don’t see big results, or if one week I lose big, and the next week not at all. For now, I want to concentrate on how much better I feel, and consider that alone a win. Three weeks of just feeling like I’m winning, without paying attention to the numbers on the scale. It’s a new concept for me, so I’m hoping it will help.

  • Cindy W.

My most popular post of 2015 was also one I mostly forgot about: In January of 2015 I wrote about how I was going to attempt doing a capsule wardrobe. I didn’t completely forget. As the seasons changed I thought about how I should be doing a better job of pairing down what was in my closet, creating outfits, tailoring clothes that didn’t fit. But, as the colder weather started warming, I mostly just added my lighter weight clothing into my closet, and went back to how things had always been.

I can’t really say if capsule wardrobe-ing wasn’t for me, or if 2015 just wasn’t the best year to try it out. I tend to be a creature of habit and comfort. My favorite clothes are becoming worn and ragged, yet there are many things in my closet I rarely, if ever, wear. In an effort to be more clothing and environmentally friendly, I try to wear most of my clothes multiple times before washing them (underwear and socks excluded, of course!). But as the craziness of December struck, it occurred to me that I needed a better system. I couldn’t remember what I’d already worn that week, or even the day before. Was I wearing the same outfits multiple times a week? Would anyone notice if I did?

Instead of trying a complete overhaul, I’m moving towards putting little systems in place. I started by culling the worn out clothes from my closet. Most were beyond the point of donating, so I made a commitment and cut them into rags. Then I whittled my closet down to only the items I could/would wear right now. I have a variety of cute shirts that I love, but feel like they’re a little too small right now. Instead of holding out hope for skinny days, I moved them into storage. If I lose weight, they’ll come back out.

My concept of “storage” is also changing, thanks to a second dresser and a semi cleaned out closet. Bryan has a ridiculous amount of clothing, so I keep my things in the second bedroom. There are actually two closets in the second bedroom, but the bigger one has always been filled with so much stuff that it isn’t worth getting into. We’ve gotten rid of some things recently, and while it isn’t cleared out enough to keep all of my clothing in it, I’ve moved my “maybe someday, special occasion, wrong season” clothes into that closet, and am keeping my everyday clothing in the smaller closet. I find I’m less willing to take things out of my everyday closet when they’re packed away and harder to get to. The weather here is always unpredictable, as are my moods.

My "everyday" closet.

My “everyday” closet.

My next step was to arrange a system so I’d know what I’d already worn, and try to start wearing clothes that I normally didn’t. I’m not so worried about bottoms; I have a variety of different jeans and dress pants, each better suited to some tops than others, that I do a fair job of rotating through. And besides that, I sit at a desk in my office all day. No one sees my pants! I arranged my pants on the bottom rod of the closet, from lightest color to darkest. The closet isn’t very big, and has an exhaust vent running up one entire side, which means I lose about a foot. On the other side, there’s a “corner” behind the door, which makes it hard to see items that are put on the far side of the closet. For this reason, I put jackets on the bottom rod on that end, and cardigans on the top. I tend to run cold, so unless I’m wearing a sweater, I’ll usually pair my outfit with a cardigan or jacket. They’re something that I’ll look for, so I don’t have to worry about keeping them in sight.

On the rest of the top rod, I arranged my tops. My plan is that, after something is worn, it will go back into the closet on the far right, before the cardigans. When I’m getting dressed in the morning, I’ll try to choose an outfit based on what tops are on the left. I have enough tops that I could possibly go most of a month at work without wearing the same one twice. Granted, I’ll still dress according to mood and weather; I’m not just going to grab the item furthest to the left every morning. But I’ll always know that tops farthest to the right (and in the laundry) have been recently worn, and I should probably pick something else.

This system will also give me an idea of what items I won’t wear. It’s easy to be optimistic about a piece of clothing, thinking that eventually you’ll wear it. But, after a few months, if something is still hanging out on the left and I still don’t feel like wearing it, I know it’s time to say goodbye.

I feel like this is slightly easier than building an actual “capsule wardrobe”. There’s no pairing down to a certain number of items, no packing things away, no creating outfits. I’m about two weeks in now, and so far, it’s working. I feel like I’m wearing more of a variety. And on mornings where I really could care less, it makes getting dressed easy: Whatever top is furthest to the left is the one that gets worn!

Unfortunately, this system isn’t going to make me a more stylish person. But how much do I really care about what people think of my style? Obviously not enough to put more effort into it! I think this is one of those situations where I need to accept the person that I am. There’s a difference between improving yourself, and trying to turn yourself into someone else. It isn’t that I dress badly, I’m just not a fashionista. And I’m really okay with that!

  • Cindy W.

Bryan and I start the 21 Day Fix today. Or, more accurately, I start the 21 Day Fix, and Bryan starts eating a little healthier, and working out. The alarm is set for 5:30 a.m. Ugh!

The program came in the mail last week. And I’ll be honest, my first reaction was less than excited. The containers look tiny. Especially since they come nested together:

21 Day Fix Food Containers, nested together. I used a can of Coke for size comparison.

21 Day Fix Food Containers, nested together. I used a can of Coke for size comparison.

Of course, I panicked. Omg, I’m going to starve! I’ll never be able to stick with this! I’ve wasted $78!

And then I calmed down, and separated the containers. Much better!

21 Day Fix Food Containers, with Shaker. Can of Coke for size comparison.

21 Day Fix Food Containers, with Shaker. Can of Coke for size comparison.

And it isn’t like I only get one of each container: My current weight puts me in the 1,500-1,799 calorie range, meaning I get 4 Vegetable (Green), 3 Fruit (Purple), 4 Protein (Red), 3 Carbohydrate (Yellow), 1 Healthy Fat (Blue) and 1 Dressing/Seed (Orange) container each day, and 4 teaspoons of Oils or Nut Butters. Eating this way will be so different for me, I’m not sure whether it will seem like a lot of food, or not very much. It should be interesting!

My philosophy going into this program is that I’m building lifetime habits: Portion control. A balanced diet of whole foods. Exercise. With that in mind, I’m trying not to get too crazy with it. I don’t plan on doing the 3 day plan to get “bikini ready” at the end of the program; The diet and exercise regiment for that are really strict. Sure, it increases your results. But it doesn’t do anything towards ensuring lifetime results. Besides, who’s wearing a bikini in February? This is the Midwest! I’d freeze!

Alright, for accountability, I need to admit where I’m starting:

Size: 16
Weight: 188.5 lbs

Measurements:
Bust: 39.5″
Waist: 36″
Hips: 49″
Left Arm: 13″
Right Arm: 13″
Left Thigh: 26.75″
Right Thigh: 27″
Left Calf: 16.25″
Right Calf: 16.5″

I was pretty careless with my diet last week, which made my starting point that much higher. The 21 Day Fix Advertises that you can lose up to 15 lbs in 21 days. But, like I said, I’m working on changing habits for a lifetime, so I don’t plan on going extreme with the program. I’m trying to keep in the mindset that losing 1-2 lbs a week is healthy. Of course, there can be a larger loss the first week of a program, due to losing water weight. With all that in mind, I’ll consider the program a success if I lose 3+ lbs, or if I notice a difference in how my clothes fit. Baby steps.

Since the program is 3 weeks, I might do an update each week. Assuming I feel the need to say anything about it. After 3 weeks, I intend to keep following the food guidelines and working out, but I probably won’t be commenting about it as much. We’ll see!

  • Cindy W.

As it turns out, I wasn’t one of the 3 winners of the PowerBall Jackpot. I didn’t really think I would be. Typically, I don’t play the lottery. I’m not really much of a gambler. A few times a year I’ll feel lucky, and throw a couple of bucks into tickets. Bryan plays the lottery every drawing: Two PowerBall tickets and two from our state lottery, twice every week, for a total of $16 a week. When we dream about winning, we always talk about what “we” would do. Which seems unfair, given the chances that “we” would be winning off his ticket. That being said, I’m too loss-adverse to throw money into the lottery every week.

As relationships go, nothing is ever 100% equal. But, the longer we’ve been together, the more I feel that our system is unfair. You shouldn’t benefit if you aren’t willing to risk, right? And, until we’re in a situation where our finances are combined, it isn’t “our” money. So, at the start of 2016, I came up with a compromise: Every week, I’ll throw $16 cash, from my weekly spending money, into a jar. Over 52 weeks, that equals out to $832. It isn’t a ton of money, but likely more that Bryan will win in the lottery in the course of the year. What happens to that money? Well, whatever we want! Maybe we’ll use it for a vacation next Fall? Or something for the house? The point is to use the money towards something we’ll both get enjoyment out of.

It seemed like a pretty good compromise. He’d take risks, and I’d save. But then, the PowerBall started climbing, and everyone got “lottery fever”. The people at work decided we should all pool together to buy tickets. The jackpot was over $500 million; If we each contributed $5, we’d have more chances to win. Sure! Why not? $5 wasn’t going to kill my budget, and even though I knew we wouldn’t win, I also didn’t want to be the only person in the office NOT to play if we did.

We didn’t win. But neither did anyone else. The jackpot grew, and so did the fever. Another $5, plus the few dollars we’d won the first round. More chances for millions. And then it was another $5. The longer it went on, the more excited everyone got. “Third time’s the charm!” “I can feel it, we’re winners!” One guy even got a fortune in his cookie about an investment paying off exponentially.

I’ve known a lot of people who swear they just know they’ll win the lottery one day. I’ve never felt that way. It’s nice to dream about having lots of money, but I don’t see that as something that will happen to me. But the bigger the jackpot grew, and the more excited people became, the more the panic started to set in.

I don’t want to win a billion dollars!

Sure, the idea of never having to work, or worry about money again, is extremely alluring. But the longer I thought, the more panicked I became. I thought about where I grew up, the type of people I knew, my family, acquaintances, Bryan’s family. Unimaginable wealth would ruin so many relationships for us. I thought about Bryan, and his enjoyment of gambling. The chance of winning hundreds loses its allure when you have millions. Would that push him to want to risk more? Would we become the statistical winners who win big, only to lose it all? Would the money ruin our relationship with each other? Would I become fat(ter) and lazy? Would drinking overtake his life?

It’s great to think of all the things you could do with that kind of money. All the people you could help. But most people only think about the positives of having money. The more hyped the people around me became, the more I thought of Bryan and I as flawed people. We aren’t bad people. But we’re also far from perfect. What choices would we make if money was no object?

In the end, I didn’t need to worry. We weren’t winners. I’m 99% positive we’ll never win the jackpot. And I’m more than fine with that. I like our life the way it is. Sure, things could always be better. And maybe $1-2 million would be fabulous. Enough to live comfortably for the rest of our lives, but not enough to feel we could go wild. And who knows, maybe we could have beat the statistics? Maybe we could be multi-millionaires, and still be grounded?

In the end, I’d rather not find out.

  • Cindy W.

I’ve mentioned it before on this blog: I struggle with my weight. I always was one to yo-yo between being a little chubby and fairly slender. There was never any consistency to the way that I ate. Things definitely became more difficult in my 30’s, and losing the weight I’d put on wasn’t nearly as easy as it once had been.

The second half of 2015 I was working on building healthy habits, losing slowly, and maintaining. But, as an emotional eater, everything fell apart towards the end of October, when, well, life fell apart. Fast food became my go-to during the day, and I struggled with portion control at night. I tend to gain weight at the end of the year anyways, between Holiday goodies and stress eating. By the end of 2015, I’d gained back about half of what I’d lost during the year.

Like most people, I tend to start thinking about losing weight at the start of the new year. It’s a combination of things: Reflecting on last year, and wishing I’d lost weight then. Thinking about what I want out of this year. And the stress and eating of the Holidays being over, and the cold weather meaning there won’t be a lot of social functions to plan a diet around. Let’s face it, January is the perfect time to start a weight loss plan.

Last year I went a little rigid, and we did The Whole 30 in January 2015. Paleo is great, and I usually lose weight fairly well with low-carb diets. But, Bryan and I both love our carbs. It wasn’t a good long-term fit. Plus, Bryan doesn’t have an issue with his weight. He wants to be supportive, and do the program with me, but then he bucks against having restrictions. So then I’m struggling with staying on the program, while also struggling to defend it, and dealing with the strain it creates in our relationship. Not fun!

So, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I should do now. I need more than just self-control and watching my portions on my own if I’m going to succeed. After several weeks of thinking it over and considering the long-term implications, I finally decided on The 21 Day Fix. I ordered the Basic Program from Beach Body last week; It should arrive towards the end of the week, and we’ll start on Monday.

Okay, let’s start with the name: No, 21 days is definitely not long enough to “fix” my weight problems. I figure I gained the weight over several years, I should give myself at least a year to take it off. I’d like to lose around 45 pounds, which should put me at the upper end of a healthy BMI for my height. I’m going into it with the same idea that I had last year (up until the last two months): Losing is great, but so is maintaining. The weight will come off eventually. I just have to hold on to the losses I’ve already achieved.

The idea isn’t that you’ve fixed everything after 21 days, but rather that you’re fixing old habits over 21 days. You don’t stop after 21 days and go back to your old habits. You build new habits over 21 days that should last a lifetime.

The food plan is based around 7 color coded containers: A green one for veggies, a purple for fruits, a red for proteins, a yellow for carbs, a blue for healthy fats, and two oranges for seeds and dressings. Your current weight tells you how many of each container you can eat each day. What fits in the container is a serving of that type of food, and the program tells you how many servings you can have a day. They provided lists of what counts as each type of food: Whole grains, lean meats, etc. But it also tells you how many of which containers you give up for a cheat, like a piece of pizza, chocolate, or a glass of wine. The whole day isn’t lost because you ate something less than healthy.

I like the idea of this plan because it’s about portion control, and what you should be eating. Most diets are just a list of things you can’t have. I’m looking for something I can do long-term, not something that will help me lose weight, but that eventually I’ll end up abandoning because it’s too restrictive. On past diets, I’ve spent so much time thinking about what I can’t eat, that I overly restrict myself to the point that I’m hungry, and then I cheat. I’m hopeful that on this plan, if I can stick with it, I’ll be eating enough good foods that I won’t be so obsessed with missing the bad.

The bulk of your daily food intake comes from veggies and fruits. I like this idea. But it’s also very different from what I’m doing now. On a daily basis I eat very little, if any, veggies, and I rarely ever eat fruit. It’s going to take some time to adjust, and especially to get it right on how much I (or we) need. I’m really worried about wasting produce, so I’m going to try to keep that in mind.

In addition to food containers, the plan also includes workout DVDs. One 30-minute workout for each day of the week. Seven workouts total. Right now I workout, well, zero days a week. I’m a little apprehensive about these DVDs: Most of the reviews I’ve read are from people who were already working out, and in pretty good shape. That isn’t me. But, there are supposed to be modifications for those who can’t do the full workouts.

There are additional workout tapes that you can buy after the first 21 days. I don’t see that happening though. After 21 days, I’ll have only done each workout 3 times. Given my current level of physical activity, I doubt I’ll even be past the modified versions by that point. At some point, if I can stick with the plan, I’ll look at other workouts. But I think that’s way down the road.

The plan isn’t cheap. I looked for a used version online, but no luck. Amazon does sell the program, which might save some money for shipping if you’re a Prime member. I’m not. The plan ended up costing me around $78, including shipping. If I don’t stick with it, that’s a pretty big waste of money. I’m hoping the financial outlay will be a motivator to keep me going. But, I also feel like this is something I can actually do. It’s based around portion control, choosing healthy foods, and working out. Exactly what I need to be doing!

If you buy it through the Beach Body website, there are all types of “add-ons” to the plan. Protein shakes. Extra videos. I just stuck with the basics: The containers and original workouts. I’ve never had much luck with protein shakes, and why add more videos when you’re already apprehensive about the ones you’re getting?

Why am I sharing all this? Well, first off, it’s a big financial outlay. $78 isn’t exactly cheap. And I expect our grocery bills to go up with all the added produce. Secondly, I plan to report back here periodically on how things are going. It adds an element of accountability to the plan, and also a resource for others who are considering giving it a try. I found a lot of reviews online, but most of those from people who had health/weight-loss blogs, and were already eating healthy and working out, or people who were somehow related to the company. I’m starting at zero, so I figured my take might be a little different.

The worst that could happen is I waste some money. The best is a healthier me in 2016. I’m willing to give it a shot!

  • Cindy W.

I am in no way related to the Beach Body company. Any information provided on this site is strictly my own opinion. I am not being compensated in any way for writing about this program, and did not receive any type of discount on purchasing the program. 

I’m sitting here in my sweats with a cup of hot cocoa as the snow falls outside, reflecting on 2015, and my goals for this year. There were a lot of things that happened in 2015 that were outside of my control. But despite it all, I was still able to work towards my goals, and achieve most of them.

I know a lot of people don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s face it, the Holidays have a way of filling us with hope and joy. Definitely not a bad thing. But the euphoria can sweep us away, causing us to see the future in unrealistic terms. We set resolutions for the next year aiming for perfection, only to quickly fall short and lose our resolve within months (or weeks!).

That being said, I still enjoy setting goals for the new year. I try to set financial goals for the new year that are realistic and measurable. I also try to be flexible, and make adjustments to what comes along. After all, life happens, and you never know what the future might hold. January is also a great time for me to set personal goals, and try to form new habits. After all, life and work are a little slower in January, giving you more time to make changes. It’s also Winter, and the weather isn’t exactly ideal for getting out. What better time to work on making improvements?

I was reading L Bee and the Money Tree’s Thoughts for a New Year a few days ago, and was really intrigued with her idea of setting a one word intention for each year. I like the idea of having a theme for the year. I think this appeals to me even more this year, when I’m starting off the year with so many unknowns. If I had to choose a word for 2016, what would it be?

After a lot of thought, I finally found something that fit: Exploration. Not exploration like travel; I’m hoping to take a vacation or two in 2016, but I definitely won’t be traveling the world, or anything wild like that. Instead, I’m thinking exploration on more of a personal level. Bryan and I will be exploring our dreams and wants for the future. We’ll be making plans. We’ll be trying out new things, figuring out what works, and what doesn’t.

I briefly considered Change as my word, but I’m not sure how much change 2016 will involve. I think this year will involve more thinking and planning for the future, rather than implementing change. But maybe I’m wrong? 2015 definitely taught me that a lot can happen in the course of one year!

I’m definitely far from perfect as a person. I fell like, at 37 years old, I’m still exploring who I am, what I want, and what type of person I want to be. I try, but I definitely have a lot of space for improvement in my life. That’s another part of my life I’m hoping to explore during 2016.

If you had to choose one word for 2016, what would it be?

  • Cindy W.

The Holidays are always a rough time for me: I have to do year-end financials at work, make time for Holiday gatherings, buy presents… As much as I love the “magic” of the Season, I have to admit that I also find it extremely stressful and overwhelming. This year I had the added stress of my Grandma passing away, and making arrangements, and dealing with family issues.

I dealt with all of this by letting go of the small stuff, and trying to cut corners where I could to make life easier and less stressful. Not exactly budget friendly, but it worked!

Where the money went: December 2015

Where the money went: December 2015

I definitely overspent on Christmas presents this year. I waited too long to start shopping, as usual, and bought several things in a last-minute panic. I will be getting about $40 back, as two of the gifts I ordered had a shipping issue, and were returned to the company. Didn’t exactly help with the stress!

December is also when the plates renew on my vehicle, and I pay my semi-annual car insurance. I’m super excited about my new car insurance premium: It costs less for a whole year now than I was paying every six months before! For the same amount of coverage! Win!

Speaking of the car, I was impressed to see that I did so well with making extra payments on the car. Honestly, I don’t even remember making any extra payments! I assumed that I’d only done my regular payment, and siphoned what should have been my extra payment amounts into other spending areas. I guess I was just so busy in December, and distracted, that I don’t remember making extra payments. Not gonna be mad about that!

I did buy some new clothes for my Grandma’s funeral. I separated this out from other “Grief Expenses”, since I bought pieces that I could wear to work, and a couple of extra items so I could mix-and-match to make several outfits. I really do need some new clothes, so these items will serve more than just a one-day purpose.

All said and done, I spent $3,752 in December, while earning $3,073. I save for plate renewal and car insurance throughout the year, so that money is already in the bank when the bills come due. I also had some money left in my Savings for Holiday expenses. But, admittedly, I did dip into my emergency fund a little. I only took about $250 out, and have already paid it all back. I’m not sure how I feel about that. A lot of people passed away this year, and, aside from my Grandma, who was 87, I couldn’t possibly have foreseen any of those deaths. Sure, we talk about funeral expenses and life insurance for people we are financially tied to in personal finance all the time. But what about the other people? When Grandma, or a brother-in-law, or a nephew dies, how does that fit into the budget? If you’re close to the family, you’re bound to incur expenses, even if it’s just for travel, and flowers, and food. Is that an emergency? How do other people deal with those things?

All in all, I’m not too upset about my December spending. I didn’t do as well as I hoped, but I made it through better than I expected. For some odd reason January is typically a rough spending month for me, so I’m trying to keep a better eye on things this month. We’ll see how that goes!

  • Cindy W.