Goal – Lose 30 Pounds in 3 Months

This post is to make public my goal of losing at least 30 pounds in the next 3 months. One of my goals for 2018 was to lose weight. I didn’t set an exact weight loss goal. I knew I needed to lose about 50 pounds though. Right now I weigh about 5 pounds less than I did at the beginning of the year.

It is clear I haven’t been working too hard on this weight loss goal. I actually gained weight earlier this to reach my highest weight ever. Due to that I had to lose 9 pounds in order to get to 5 pounds down for the year. At this point losing 50 pounds during the year is unrealistic, but I think losing 30 pounds can still be accomplished.

Last week I was able to lose 4 pounds by just abstaining from soda and fast food for a few days and exercising in the morning. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while you might remember that I lost 30 pounds back in 2014. Although I have since gained all of that weight back, that previous weight loss combined with last week’s results indicate to me that I am capable of losing weight when I really try.

A major factor in my favor for losing 30 pounds in 3 months is that in the past I’ve consistently lost 10 pounds a month when living outside of the United States. That was without making a special effort to lose weight.  Last year while I was in Europe for just under 3 weeks I managed to lose 5 pounds despite eating a lot of fast food and drinking a lot of soda and not making any effort to lose weight. Living in Thailand where the food will be much more foreign to me should lead to greater weight loss than I experienced in Europe. Plus, while I’m in Thailand I will actually be trying to lose  weight.

One of my goals in going to Chiang Mai for 3 months is to work on improving myself. Being in Chiang Mai should facilitate my weight loss goal. A major help will be the fact that to my understanding my favorite soda, Dr Pepper, is not available there. I have tried and failed to quit drinking soda several times this year. Starting today I am quitting soda for the rest of the year. Since I don’t especially care for any sodas other than Dr Pepper, it not being available will help me quit soda. About 25% or more of my calories come from soda so cutting the soda habit will save me a lot of calories.

I’m also thinking that I will find it easier to not eat fast food while I’m in Thailand. Although, I know they do have Western fast food in Thailand, I don’t think fast food outlets are quite as ubiquitous there. Having fast food be a little less conveniently available should help. Also, the Thai food is supposed to be much cheaper than fast food. Being a tight-fisted miser should work to my advantage since I won’t want to spend extra on the less healthy fast food.

When I choose an apartment in Chiang Mai I will pick one with a gym. Having a gym in the apartment building should overcome any resistance to working out. Also, I should have a lot of time on my hands so I will want to exercise to help fill out my day. I don’t plan on renting a scooter or frequently using ride services. I intend to walk everywhere I can reasonably walk to which will help burn more calories.

To provide myself with a little more motivation I will be posting my results at the end of three months, including before and after photos. Getting healthy should be all the motivation I need to lose weight. Just in case it isn’t sufficient motivation the desire to avoid the embarrassment of posting an after photo that looks a lot like the before photo will provide me even more motivation.  The results will posted on November 29, 2018 regardless of the outcome.

2017 Review and 2018 Plans

With the New Year it is time to look back at the old year and make plans for the current year. To prepare for this post I looked back to see what my plans for 2017 were at the end of 2016. I didn’t make any goals for 2017, but rather listed a few different plans that I might follow. I ended up not following any of them.

There was a somewhat positive reason for not following my possible plans. I ended up getting hired full-time at my tax job.  That put the kibosh on my traveling plans and my plans to look for a different job.

One of my plans for 2017 was to finish my hike of the Appalachian Trail. My tax job limited the time I had to do that. My job does have an annual eight week unpaid vacation which I could have used to hike. Instead my GF and I traveled to Europe. We spent several days in Paris with a short two day side trip to London. My GF was only able to stay for nine days. After she left, I traveled on to Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam, and a couple of Amsterdam suburbs. We neither one had been to Europe before and were happy to finally visit.  My three weeks in Europe were the highlight of 2017 for me. The trip made me wish I could travel more.

The full-time job didn’t really help my finances as much as would have hoped. One reason for that is that I paid a lot towards my student loan during the first half of the year. My failed house purchase also wasted some money.  I did manage to make a maximum contribution of $6500 to my IRA. And I also put a couple thousand in my solo 401k and a thousand in an HSA.  So I guess I didn’t do too bad financially. It just seems like I should have made more progress after sacrificing a year of my life for a job.

Overall 2017 was just an okay year. I would like 2018 to be better. Here are some of my plans to make 2018 better. These are just preliminary plans for now, they will be fleshed out to actual goals later.

Save/Make More Money

I made the most money I ever made in a year in 2017.  Still, it shouldn’t be difficult for me to  make more money this year.  All I need to do is work more hours, especially the more lucrative overtime hours that are available during tax season. I’d also like to increase the money I make from my non-job sources.

I should be eligible to contribute to a 401k at work this year, although I haven’t received any sign up information for it yet.  Assuming I am able to contribute to the 401k, I should easily be able to increase the amount of money I save this year. I’ll be eligible to contribute $24k to the 401k.  That won’t be easy to do, but if I’m able to do it that would be a big increase in savings for the year.

Finish Hiking the Appalachian Trail

I have about 800 miles left to have hiked the entire AT.  During my eight weeks off of work, I should be able to finish this hike. This plan could get derailed as I’m often being tempted by cheap airfare to places I’d like to travel. I don’t know when my eight weeks off this year will be yet. If they end up being in July or August I’ll probably scrap the plan to finish the hike since I hate hiking in the heat. Hopefully, I’ll have time in late Spring or early Fall and will finally be able to finish this hike.

Lose Weight

This seems like it is a goal every year.  I did manage to lose 30 pounds back in 2014. I quickly gained most of that weight back though. Last year I ended up gaining even more weight and now weigh more than I did in 2014. I’m at my heaviest weight ever. There also some other health issues I have along with the weight.  I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and prediabetes.  Those health issues should improve or possibly go away if I get back to a healthy weight.  This year I need to get serious about losing weight. It is the most important goal I’ll have this year. I’ll write a separate post about this later.

If I’m able to complete all three of these goals 2018 will be a great year.

2016 Review and 2017 Plans

Since this year is almost over it is time to reflect on how this year went and look ahead to what I would like to accomplish in 2017.  Before writing this post  I had to read last year’s post to see what my goals for this year were. That was a pretty good indication that I did not achieve this year’s goals.

I don’t feel like I accomplished much this year which is exactly how I felt last year. And that was probably true for at least a couple more years before that. I definitely feel that I’m in a bit of a rut. Looking back at my “goals” posts I see a lot of goals being set, but they are hardly ever being achieved. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again since it is still true, I have to start working towards my goals and not just writing about them.

The only goals I set for this year were to run a 23:59 or faster 5k and to be able to do a pull-up. Those goals were carryovers from the year before. I didn’t make any progress on those goals and only worked towards them for a little bit of the year. Although those goals are both things I’d like to accomplish they aren’t things I really want to do right now so I’m not going to make them goals again this year. I might make them goals again if things change.

My priority goals for 2017 will be the two goals I set last July of losing 50 pounds and completing the Appalachian Trail before I turn 50. I won’t be able to start hiking the trail again until after my tax job ends in April. I should be able to finish the A.T. in a little less than two months of hiking. I can start losing weight right now and I have some ideas on how to do that. I’ll share those once I have actually put them into effect.

The title of this post talks about my 2017 plans rather than goals since my goals for this year aren’t yet detailed enough to really be called goals. I am also trying to plan what I will do with the year. The first half of the year is all planned out. I’ll work the tax job until midway through April and then hike the A.T. until about halfway through June. After that my plans are a little murky.

I have three different plans of what I might do for the second half of 2017 and beyond. I’ll provide a brief overview of these possible plans now and possibly write a more detailed examination of them later. The first plan is to work the tax job in the spring and then travel the rest of the year. I can travel pretty cheap making it possible for me to  live off my tax job income and other random bits of income. I’ve always wanted to travel extensively and I feel like I’m running out of time to do so. However, I wouldn’t be able to save much money or pay off my student loan debt under this plan. There would be other drawbacks to this plan as well. If I write a blog post about this plan I’ll include a more complete list of pros and cons.

A second plan is to find a job with the government or a non-profit. After ten years of working I’d be eligible to have my student loan debt forgiven. I’d also be able to put a large chunk of money into savings. If I got a job with the state of Missouri I’d be vested in the state pension after ten years. The big drawback is I’d have to work at the job for ten years. I haven’t come remotely close to working a job that long. Also, I would be 60 years old by the time I got my ten years in. I always thought I would be retired before that age. Working ten years and getting six figures of debt and qualifying for a pension is a pretty good deal though.  Another thing to consider is that there is a chance that the loan forgiveness rules could change before I’m eligible to get my student loan debt forgiven. Although I don’t love this plan it is a pretty sensible and achievable plan.

A third plan is to find a relatively high-paying job that would allow me to pay off my student loan debt in the next three to five years. I estimate that I’d need to make at least $60,000 a year in order to pay off my student loans in this time frame. A big problem with this plan is I don’t think I’d be able to find a job paying me $60k a year. The seasonal/temporary jobs I’ve had the past few years would pay about $40-$45k a year if they were full year jobs. The extra $15-$20k seems like a pretty big jump. My spotty employment history and poor interview skills would also contribute to making getting a high-paying job an extremely difficult task.  That being said, a $60k salary isn’t really that high for an attorney/J.D. so it shouldn’t be impossible to find a high-paying job. I just don’t have any idea how to do it. A drawback to this plan is that after three to five years of paying off my debt I would be at zero. I’d still have to work a few more years or figure out another way to make money before I’d be able to retire.

Those are the three possible plans I have for my future right now. I’m not sure which one I’ll pick and it is possible that things will change and I won’t do any of them. What are your thoughts on these possible plans?

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.

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.