Why I’m Going for a Hike … Again

Appalachian Trail in Northern Virginia On April 12th I will return to the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey and hike to the terminus of the trail at Katahdin in Maine. Despite the fact that I’ve cut my previous hikes short I once again am returning to the trail. This decision may not be entirely logical since history suggests that I won’t hike long enough for it to be worth the trip. Nevertheless, I want to hike again and feel like I should. The past few years I have gotten too lazy and too unwilling to put up with discomfort. It is my belief that completing my AT hike will reduce my laziness and increase my tolerance for discomfort.

Long time readers of this blog might remember that I suffered from clinical depression while in law school. The depression hasn’t returned, but I do feel like I’m in a bit of a funk that could lead to depression if I don’t do something about it. My plan is hike myself out of the funk. That is why I’m committed to completing this hike as long as I’m physically and financially able. In the past I’ve quit hikes because I was thinking of all the other things I could be doing. On this hike I need to focus on the hike and make the hike the priority.

There is a possibility that this funk might be due at least partially to health problems. I’ll be going in for an EGD and colonoscopy next week. I’m hoping those exams will not reveal any problems, or at least not any major problems. If they do reveal any problems that need to be taken care of then I’ll have to postpone or delay the hike. Otherwise, I’m committed to doing the hike. If I’m not able to hike then I’ll have to make some other major change to get out of this funk. I’m not sure what that will be yet, but I’m considering several possibilities.

Sharing my goals on the blog hasn’t always been enough to motivate me to accomplish my goals. I thought about making a bet similar to my $3000 Healthy Wage weight loss bet to provide myself with some motivation. I decided against it though since I don’t want to rely on external motivation. I’ll complete the hike because I want to complete the hike. If I’m able to start the hike I will complete the hike as long as I’m physically and financially able.

2015 Review and 2016 Goals

With the new year around the corner it is time to look back on 2015. Reflecting on this past year I don’t feel like I accomplished much. I am happy that I was able to travel to a couple of new places Niagara Falls/Canada and the Portland area of Oregon/Washington. Other than that I don’t feel like I did much this year.

I did terrible on my goals for 2015. My three goals for 2015 were to run a 5k in 23:59 or faster, finish hiking the Appalachian Trail, and to keep my average monthly expenses under $1000 for the year. I also later added a secondary goal of being able to do a chin-up.

Keeping my monthly average expenses under $1000 if the only goal I achieved. When I set the goal I stated that I wouldn’t count the cost of getting dental implants or the cost of getting a car. Taking out those expenses and the unexpected biopsy medical expense I did keep my spending under $1000 a month in 2015. I usually do well with financial goals and this wasn’t much of a stretch from my normal spending so it isn’t too much of a surprise that I was able to accomplish this goal.

I didn’t even come close to meeting the goals of running a 5k in 23:59 or faster or finishing the AT. Getting hit by a car did derail my plans for hiking the AT, but I still could have finished the hike starting later in the year. Finishing the AT is no longer a priority goal though.

The 5K goal was my biggest failure. I never got into a running routine and I most likely couldn’t even finish a 5k in my current physical condition. I gained about ten pounds this year and am in worse condition then I was at the start of the year.

My track record for achieving goals that I post on this blog is pretty poor. This TED Talk from Derek Sivers states that you should keep your goals to yourself. This is because when you tell someone your goal and they acknowledge it, psychologists have found that it’s called a “social reality.” The mind is kind of tricked into feeling that it’s already done. And then because you’ve felt that satisfaction, you’re less motivated to do the actual hard work necessary. I’m not completely sure that is true, but I do know that sharing my goals publicly hasn’t helped me accomplish them. Therefore, I’m not going to share my 2016 goals on the blog. The exception will be my goals of running a 5k under 23:59 and doing a chin-up since I’ve previously posted that I was carrying these goals over to 2016. Once I’m making progress on my 2016 goals I will share what I have done to make that progress.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and a great 2016.

November 2015 Goals Update

royalsparade Before getting to the goals I would like to give a shout out to my Kansas City Royals for their World Series win. It had been thirty years since their last World Series win in 1985 and most of the years since then the team wasn’t very good. They really turned things around the last few years. The picture is of the celebration at Union Station. I wish I weren’t in Las Vegas so I could have attended the celebration. Oh well, even a free trip has drawbacks.

I haven’t done a goals update the last couple of months. Not surprisingly, I haven’t made any progress towards my goals the last two months. My yearly goals are to keep my expenses under $1k a month, run a 5k in under 23:59, and be able to do one pull-up. If you don’t include medical expenses I am close to keeping my expenses under $1k a month. I’m satisfied with my progress on that goal. I do tend to do better on my financial goals then my other goals.

My two non-financial goals for this year are both physical goals. I”m sad to say that I haven’t made any progress on these goals at all. If I had to run a 5k right now I would likely be slower than I was at the beginning of the year. I doubt I’ve made any progress towards being able to do a pull-up either. It is obvious that I won’t achieve either of these goals this year. I’m not giving up on these goals though. These will both be yearly goals for next year.

Although I’m pushing these goals to next year I still want to make some progress towards them this year. Therefore, I’m setting some goals for this month which should help me progress towards these goals. My first goal is to exercise at least 3x a week with at least 2 of the exercise sessions being runs. My second goal is to cap my daily carbohydrate intake to 100 carbs a day. This will start when I return from Las Vegas. I used this cap last year when I lost 30 pounds and it was a big help in losing weight. I should give up soda and fast food but don’t yet have the self-discipline to give them up completely. Having a 100 carbs a day cap keeps my soda and fast food intake under control.

Also, I will be joining a gym before the end of the month. I won’t be joining solely to make progress towards my physical goals, but using a gym frequently will help me reach these goals. Although I’ve done terrible on my physical goals so far this year I feel like I will make progress on them this month. I have plenty of time so there is no excuse for not meeting these goals.

August 2015 Goals and Plans

It has been a while since I’ve done a post reviewing my monthly and yearly goals. I made some goals for June and never got around to reviewing how I did on those goals. The fact that I pretty much forgot what those goals were gives you a pretty idea how I did.  I didn’t even bother making any goals for July since I knew I wouldn’t meet them. When I’m working full-time I don’t accomplish anything outside of the job. There has been a lack of progress on my yearly goals as well.

My yearly goals are are to keep my expenses under $1k a month, run a 5k in under 23:59, and be able to do one pull-up. If you don’t count medical expenses I’ve been doing pretty well at keeping my expenses under $1k a month. I’m doing okay on that goal.

I’m doing terrible on my other two goals. If I had to run a 5k today I would probably be slower than I would have been at the beginning of the year. I need to get into a routine or running regularly. It has been too hot to run outside. That isn’t much of an excuse though since we do have a treadmill in the basement. I do find running on the treadmill boring, but I need to do it anyway if I’m going to make any progress on my 5k goal. Although I doubt it is possible for me to make this goal by the end of the year I’d still consider this goal a partial success if I could considerably improve my 5k time. A new goal of running a 5k under 30 minutes is probably more realistic.

My arms might be slightly stronger, but I’m a long way from being able to do a pull-up.  I did buy some dumbbells back in June and have been using them semi-regularly. I need to buy some new weights since I’ve maxed out on the weights that came with the dumbbell set. I seriously doubt I’ll be able to do a pull-up by the end of the year. I’m not sure what I could set as a new goal in place of this goal.

I’m only setting one goal for this month since it is a big goal for me. This month I intend to give up drinking soda. I already tried to do this a couple of times last month, but gave up when the caffeine withdrawal headaches and other symptoms hit. I just started a new attempt at quitting soda this weekend and woke up with a terrible headache and body aches this morning. I drank some tea to get some caffeine which has lessened my aches although it hasn’t cured them. My plan for quitting this time is rather than quitting cold turkey I’ll cut down to one 12 oz soda a day for a week or two in order to hopefully reduce the withdrawal symptoms when I quit the soda completely. I’ve been having sleep, fatigue, and digestive problems which I’m thinking are probably caused at least in part from my large intake of soda.

I have a tentative plan to start a roughly one-month hike on the Appalachian Trail on August 25th. If my health and finances permit me to hike than I will hike. The hike should allow me to lose weight which will be helpful in making progress towards my 5k and pull-up goals. Being in the woods without regular access to convenience stores and fast-food should also make it easier to give up soda.

If you have any tips on how I could make better progress on my goals I’d love to hear them.

Student Loan Payoff Progress Report – June 2015

studentloanpayoff I didn’t make any progress on paying off my student loan this month. Since I’ve been unsuccessful in finding a job and haven’t been making much money from my other endeavors I was only able to make the minimum monthly payment of $183.16. Since my loan accrues $21.26 in interest each day my loan balance has increased a few hundred dollars this month. That isn’t the direction I want my balance to go. I probably made a mistake by taking out the credit card balance transfer loans to pay down my student loan when I didn’t have a job. I felt certain I would have a job soon. Unfortunately, that feeling was wrong.

For now, I think I need to put my goal of paying off my student loan on hold. I need to concentrate on paying my monthly bills and putting any extra towards paying down the balance transfers on my credit cards. If I’m not able to pay them off before the 0% promotional rate ends then I’ll be stuck paying a ton of interest. That is why paying off the credit cards needs to be my priority now. Next month I will be getting three dental implants which will cost me $2700. The money I had set aside to pay for the implants has gone to pay for my medical bills from being hit by a car and another medical problem. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the driver’s insurance company is going to offer me a fair settlement so it could be quite a while before I’m reimbursed for those medical bills.

In order to make decent progress on paying off the student loans I need to find a job making $60,000 or more. Although I’m confident that I will eventually be able to find a job I seriously doubt that I’ll be able to find a job paying that much. That is waaaay more than I have ever earned before. A more likely scenario is a job that pays around $40,000 and I make the rest of the $60k from other sources such as blogging, Amazon FBA, and Uber. Until I’m able to significantly improve my financial situation I will need to keep the student loan payoff on hold and concentrate on paying off my credit cards.

May 2015 Goal Review

This is my monthly check-in to see how I’m doing on my monthly and yearly goals. My yearly goals are to keep my expenses under $1k a month, run a 5k in under 23:59, and be able to do one pull-up. My monthly goals for May were to have fast food no more than twice a week, not buy any chips or other salty snacks, and to write at least 200 each weekday on my book.

My May expenses were over $1k but not too far over. I’m going to modify this goal to keeping my expenses under $1k not counting my medical expenses. Otherwise this goal would be impossible to make since I’m going to have lots of medical expenses over the next few months.

I ran a local 5k in May and finished with a time of just over 40 minutes. I ran 3 miles this morning and had a time of 39:35. I obviously have a long way to go on this goal. I need to start running at least three times a week and lose some weight so I can make progress on this goal. I have actually gone backwards on this goal since the start of the year. My original goal of running a 5k in under 23:59  might not be achievable, but I want to at least get close to it.

I didn’t do anything towards the goal of being able to do a pull-up. I decided not to join a gym since it was more expensive than I expected and I can’t afford to be paying any extra bills right now. Instead I have ordered some weights and found an online upper-body workout that I will do.

I met my goal of not eating fast food more than 2x a week until the last week of the month when I had fast food a third time. My favorite fast food restaurant opened a new location near me which provided some extra temptation. I also bought chips twice so that goal was also a fail. I did well on my goal of writing 200 words on my book each weekday until the last couple days of the month. Even though I failed at all three of these goals I did better in these areas then I would have if I wouldn’t have set a goal at all.

For June I’m going to carry over my goals from May. I’m modifying my fast-food goal to only 1x a week, but fast-food mystery shops will not count. Also, if I start my job I will not be keeping the 200 words a day writing goal. I’m also adding a couple of new goals for this month. I will run at least 3x a week and I’ll do an upper-body workout at least 3x a week. Those goals will give me plenty to work towards and I feel that I’ll make good progress towards my goals this month.