January 2020 Goals

These are more actions that I will take rather than goals I will achieve. If following the actions results in me losing weight and saving money I will be happy with those results. I’m not concerned about shooting for a certain number for the month.

This month I will be strict with my intermittent fasting. I’ll do all my eating within an 8 hour window. I’ve had a bad habit the last few months of eating snacks or meals after I’ve finished working for the day. This results in me eating just an hour or two before I go to sleep. That isn’t good for my digestive system and it doesn’t help me lose weight since I’ve generally already had enough to eat for the day when I have my nighttime meal. This month I won’t eat after work. I need to learn to not always give in to my cravings and that it is ok to be a little hungry. Cutting out that meal will save me calories and hopefully lead to me losing weight. It should help me sleep

I’m also going to eat fast food no more than 3 times a week. That might sound like it is still a lot. Last month I had fast food 26 out of 31 days. Cutting back to 3 times a week will be a significant reduction. I’m also going to plan and prepare my food to take to work the night before. If I wait until morning I know I’ll get lazy and just buy fast food rather than taking food from home. This should also help me lose weight.

I’m going to try an experiment this month and do most of my spending with cash. I use my credit cards for almost everything so this will be a pretty big change. I want to see if using cash reduces my spending compared to using credit cards. I’ll still use my credit cards for my recurring online bills. I’ll also use a credit card for gas since that will get me 5% back and I don’t think I’ll buy more gas just because I’m using a credit card. Any other credit card usage must be planned ahead of time and there must be a reason for using the card.

Lastly, I am going to track and share on the blog every single thing I buy this month. I already track my spending down to the penny, but I don’t break down all of my expenditures. For example, if I buy groceries I would just list the expense as groceries in my monthly budget. This month I’m going to detail every single thing I buy. I think that sharing everything I buy will lead to me buying less. This would be due to me not buying something just because I don’t want the hassle of having to blog about it later and also I may not buy something because I’d rather not share it on the blog. For example, I bought a lot of junk food last month- chips, soda, snack cakes, cookies, etc. – and I’d be a little embarrassed to share exactly how much junk food I bought.

Today I spent $450 on rent. I also spent $11.25 to pay my rent with my credit card. I did that to meet a spending requirement to get a 60,000 mile bonus on my Virgin Atlantic card. That will be recorded as a travel expense. My $19.89 Regal Unlimited movie subscription was accounted for today. This allows me to watch as many movies as I want at my local Regal theater. I can’t cancel it until Summer. Lastly, I spent $2.21 to upsize a free small popcorn coupon I had to a large popcorn. This is the drawback to the movie subscription. I watch enough movies for the subscription to be a good value. Unfortunately, I have a hard time resisting the popcorn which is bad for my weight and my wallet. This year I intent to only buy popcorn when I have a free coupon. After today I hope to have a few days with no expenditures at all.

Some Goals for 2020

I only have one definite goal for 2020 at this time. My current goal is to save $2500 a month for the first four months of 2020. That will be a difficult goal to achieve. Working in my favor is the fact that I’ll be working two jobs during that time. I’ll need to work 15 hours a week at my tax job while still getting 40 hours at my document review job. That will be difficult to achieve in January when training at my tax job will be during my doc review job hours. After January I will be able to work Saturdays at the tax job making it easier to get my full hours at the doc review job.

January will also be a 5 payday month with 3 of the paydays being double paydays. That should allow me to get off to a good start at saving money. I will also get my tax refund and sell some things during the first 4 months to help me reach my savings goal. Since I have basically unlimited work hours between the 2 jobs I won’t be spending much, if any, time on trying to make money from side hustles. It makes more sense to focus on the guaranteed income during this time.

Some of these savings will be in my 401ks. Both jobs have 401ks that I participate in. I’m planning on having 100% of my tax job pay directed to my 401k. I’ll also be depositing 20% of doc review income into that 401k. I’ll adjust that as necessary to still be able to pay my bills and meet my other savings goals. I also plan on maxing out my IRA. Once I determine how much I need to contribute to my traditional IRA to get my federal income tax to $0, I’ll contribute the remaining allowable contribution amount to my Roth IRA. Once I’m ready to contribute to the IRAs, I’ll have to dial back the 401k contributions.

After the IRAs are maxed out for 2019 I will start saving in a regular savings account. I plan on traveling several months in 2020 and I will need some savings to live on during that time. I will review how I’m doing at the beginning of April and adjust my retirement savings to ensure that I have enough savings for travel.

Some other goals I plan to make later in 2020 are to lose weight and increase my blogging/online income. I intend to start on my weight loss while I’m still working, but I’m not yet ready to make a concrete goal for the weight loss. Blogging/online income is something I’ll work on this summer. Once I have more free time this summer I might be inspired to pursue more goals. I’m leaving the option for more goals open at this time.

Later this week, I will publish a post with my tentative plans for 2020. What are your goals and plans for 2020?

Losing Weight with Bets

Since returning from Thailand in November I have regained almost 10 pounds of the over 18 pounds I lost while in Thailand. Since returning to the U.S. I have been indulging in fast food, junk food, and Dr Pepper a little lot too often. I have a goal of getting to an under 25 BMI this year. That isn’t going to happen if I’m gaining weight rather than losing weight. I’m sure I’ll lose weight when I return to Thailand, but to reach my goal I need to be losing weight now.

To get myself back on track, I decided I needed a little extra motivation to start losing weight again. I know from prior experience that I can lose weight when I eat better and exercise. I just need to actually do those things. Long time readers may remember that I lost 30 pounds in 6 months a few years ago. That was accomplished by betting $3000 with HealthyWage. The fear of losing $3000 was enough to make me get serious about losing weight. The reward of winning a few hundred dollars for making my goal also provided motivation.

Since betting on myself to lose weight has worked in the past I am now trying it again. HealthyWage has a policy that to make a second wager with them you must be at or below your weight at the end of the first wager. Since I’m still a few pounds away from that, I am using DietBet to help motivate me to lose weight right now. I’ll do a bet with Healthy Wage later this year.

At DietBet I am doing what they call the Kickstarter Challenge, where the goal is to lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks. DietBet has smaller bets so I’m participating in 3 different games. They are for a $25 bet, $30 bet, and a $100 bet. The combined total should provide me with enough motivation to lose the weight.

Update: It is now 3 weeks into my DietBets and I still need to lose 4 pounds to win my bets. I lost quite a bit of weight the first week and then got lazy thinking it would be easy to win the bets. After not paying attention to my eating and exercise I gained some of that initial weight loss back. This last week I need to be completely committed to eating properly and exercising regularly. It will be a challenge to lose the remaining weight. If I didn’t have $155 on the line I’d probably give up. With the extra motivation of wanting to avoid losing my money I’ll be trying hard this week. Ideally, after getting in the habit of eating better and exercising regularly this week those activities will continue after the bets are over.

Want to get in on the “dieting for dollars” craze and up your potential for weight loss success? Bet on yourself and start your HealthyWager today. Then lose the weight and get paid, simple as that!

This post contains affiliate links to Healthy Wage and I may be paid a commission for sales at no cost to you. I personally used Healthy Wage and would not recommend them if I didn’t think it’s a great service.

2018 Review and 2019 Plans

Before I write about my 2019 plans I want to review my 2018 plans. In 2018 I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions or specific goals for the year I just shared some things I planned to accomplish during the year. The three things I planned to accomplish during 2018 were to save/make money, finish hiking the Appalachian Trail, and lose weight.

I did not finish hiking the AT. I spent a couple of weeks hiking on the trail and didn’t complete much mileage. I wasn’t able to get in a consistent hiking groove so I decided to return home rather than keep hiking. I”d still like to finish the AT, but it isn’t a priority so I’m not making it a goal right now.

I did accomplish the goal of saving/making more money. My total earnings were actually a little lower in 2018. However, the more important goal of saving more money was accomplished. I put over $11,000 in my company 401k, $6500 in my IRA, $400 in my solo 401k, and also invested about $2k in dividend stocks. That was well over 50% of my after-tax income. I’m considering this plan/goal a win.

My third and final plan was to lose weight. The first half of the year I actually gained weight. The plan was not going well. After I moved to Thailand I made great progress losing weight. I started 2018 at 230.2 pounds, went all the way up to 234.6 pounds, before eventually getting all the way down to 206.4 pounds. I didn’t set a specific amount of weight to lose. I think losing 23.8 pounds qualifies as losing weight and consider that plan accomplished.

In summary, I accomplished 2 of my 3 goals last year. As Meat Loaf says, “2 out of 3 ain’t bad“, so I’m satisfied with those results.

This year I am going to make my goals a little bit harder. This year I intend to focus more on actions rather than end results. For example, I can’t completely control whether I lose 30 pounds. However, I can control how often I exercise and whether I drink soda. If I follow my actions I’ll probably reach my goal. Even if I don’t reach the goal I’ll make good progress and developed good habits.

I’m sharing some of my goals now and I’ll make further goals once I’m in Thailand and have ample free time to get things done.

My first goal is to be able to do 1 chin-up. I haven’t been able to do a chin-up since I was 21. That is 30 years ago so being able to do a chin-up would be a pretty big accomplishment. This is a repeat goal from a couple of years ago. I didn’t make much progress on it then. I’m bringing back the goal since my brother left behind one of those pull-up bars that hang over a doorway at my mom’s house. I’ve been using it several times a day and can tell I’m getting closer to being able to do a chin-up. I can now do 1 band-assisted chin-up and can lift myself up several inches without the band. Last year when I first tried to do a chin-up I couldn’t even lift myself off the ground so this is good progress. If I continue to use the pull-up bar several times a day and lose weight (see next goal) I’m certain I’ll accomplish my goal of doing a chin-up.

My second goal is to get down to a BMI of 24.9. That would put me in the normal range for BMI. Last year I managed to get my BMI down to 29.9 and below which put me in the overweight range rather than the obese range I had been in for several years. I have gained some weight back and now have a 30 BMI putting me back in the obese range. That means this year I need to go from obese to normal weight. To accomplish that I am going to resume my intermittent fasting. I got out of the habit once I returned to the U.S. Intermittent fasting consistently will help me lose weight. The big thing I’m going to do to lose weight is stop drinking Dr Pepper. Soda makes up a big portion of my calorie intake. Giving up Dr Pepper will be difficult, but I know it will help a lot in losing weight. The last thing I’m going to do is make sure I exercise at least a little every day. I bought a jump rope and am using it for a few minutes several times a day. It isn’t much, but I do think it will help.

I’m also going to set some goals for this blog. I will flesh those out once I’m in Thailand. The goals will involve writing more, improving SEO, and figuring out ways to make more money from the blog.

That is all my goals for now. I’ll add more goals during the year. Working at my tax job and then my trip to Thailand will take up the first half of the year. I’m unsure what I want to do for the second half of the year. Once I figure that out I can set more goals that will work with my plans for the second half of the year.

Weight Loss Goal Results

Back in August I wrote a post sharing my goal of losing 30 in 3 months. I stated in that post that at the end of the 3 months I would post my result, including before and after pictures, regardless of the outcome. The results post was supposed to be published on November 29, 2018, but as usual I am a bit behind on getting the post up. 

I will warn you now that both the before and after pictures are not pretty. I am rather fat in both the before and after pics. If you don’t want to see a half-naked fat guy you should stop reading now and not scroll down the page any further. You have been warned.

To get straight to the point I did not meet my goal of losing 30 pounds in 3 months. I managed to lose 18.4 pounds in 3 months. I went from 224.8 pounds at the start to 206.4 pounds at the end.  I also went from 30.2% body fat to 25.7% body fat. My BMI dropped below 30 which means I am officially no longer obese, I’m just really overweight.  Although this was well short of my goal I am still pleased to have lost that much weight.

The first couple of months in Thailand I was losing weight pretty steadily.  I was a little behind the pace needed to lose 30 pounds, but I was still on pace to lose almost 25 pounds. However, my weight loss plateaued in November.

My weight loss was achieved with a combination of intermittent fasting, a morning HIIT workout, an afternoon swim, and lots of walking. After the first week of November I moved out of my apartment in Chiang Mai to a hotel with no fitness center or swimming pool. This resulted in a large dropoff in my amount of exercise. Once I returned to the U.S. I continued to not exercise and I also indulged in quite a few foods that I had missed while in Thailand. Not surprisingly, I didn’t lose any weight the last couple of weeks in November. 

Below are my before and after weight loss pics. 

Although I still have a big gut, it isn’t quite as massive in the after pics. The man boobs are also a little smaller. The biggest difference was that I lost some weight from my face which I think made a pretty big change in my appearance.

The shorts I wore in the before pic are now way too big for me. While I was in Thailand I had to take an elastic band and tie two belt loops of the shorts together so I could wear them without them falling down while I was walking. 

I have actually gained a couple pounds already this month. Although I have gotten back on track with my intermittent fasting, I haven’t gotten back into the exercise habit. I need to start exercising consistently and eat better so I can start losing weight again. The fact that I lost quite a bit of weight in Thailand proves I can lose weight. I just need to do the actions necessary to lose the weight.  I’m not going to set a new weight loss goal, instead I will set goals to develop exercise and eating habits that will result in losing weight.