What if we thought about weight like debt?

It’s been a somewhat unremarkable week for us. Nothing of note has happened at work. Justin had an exam on Wednesday and a paper due on Friday, so he spent a lot of time studying. Our evenings were pretty quiet.

But I’m trying to get back to writing more regularly. So I’m going to write about something that’s been helpful for me as I’ve been working on losing weight. I feel like some of this might be stuff I’ve talked about before, but maybe it’s just because it’s been on my mind a lot. Also, this post got a lot longer than I originally thought it would.

I know, I said I don’t really want to talk about my weight-loss much just yet. But when I was starting it up again, I was thinking about my failures and successes in the past and what they had in common and how I approach the whole thing. At the same time, I was reviewing our progress on our debt payments and how long it’s likely to take before we’ll be done with the credit card debt. It’s going quite well, though not as well as we’d been hoping last January. We had a more expensive 2015 than we’d hoped.

I think most of us have been working on that specific problem lately – paying off debts, working on emergency funds, all of those wonderful things. I think a lot of people have a hard time separating emotions from the picture when it comes to money. I don’t seem to have that problem much, it’s mostly just a math puzzle, and a tricky one at that because I’m not very good at math. But when Justin and I talk about it, we have to be able to discuss calmly the opinions we have about certain things, like whether or not purchases are wants vs. needs, if it’s a want that we’ll not be likely to find as cheaply as this particular sale and if that’s worth the extra debt, if going without something is an inconvenience that we’re willing to put up with for a short time in order to avoid more expense, that sort of thing.

Point being, the emotions behind it never seem to go anywhere near thinking about our debt as being a reflection on my worth as a person. It’s not personal. It wasn’t the smartest thing ever, but we’re learning from our mistakes and moving on. The closest it got to being personal was thinking that I’d just been kind of dumb about handing my resources.

My weight, however? For a long time, I considered it to be a personal failing. It was evidence of my sinful behavior. If I’d not been so gluttonous, I’d not eat so much. If I wasn’t so slothful, I’d exercise more. If I had more self-control, etc., etc. So losing weight was fighting against myself and my sinfulness. If I didn’t like the exercise, I was fighting my sloth and it had to be good for me. Restricting my diet was fighting my gluttony and managing self-control. If I slipped, I failed to fight my sin.

Not to say that skinny people are without sin. But I think I figured most of it would have to do with vanity.

I’m not really sure when I started to be able to separate the two, but I know that I have been able to be happy with myself regardless of my weight and not feel like a big fatty failure who sins. I’ve even considered myself to be pretty, even at 250 pounds. I wish I could pinpoint when and why that changed, but I have no idea. I do know that it did change, though.

When I was thinking about financial debt and appropriate use of resources, though, it occurred to me that a lot of the mentality that I’d been using to work on our debt would apply easily to trying to lose weight. What if I was able to separate my emotions from what got me to this point and focus on the same ideas that have worked well with my finances?

Instead of dollars, it’s calories. Instead of losing debt and gaining savings, I’m losing weight and gaining strength.

It takes specific concentration, every day, about how to spend or save the money available in order to be able to achieve specific goals. That same concentration can be applied to making sure that the calories I intake are not more than the calories I’m burning.

The same idea of setting wants aside in order to focus on the needs lets me look at a piece of cake and consider whether I’d rather have a couple minutes of sweet delicious empty calories or the lentil soup and small wedge of cheese for my lunch that will sustain me for longer without the sugar crash, and without the need to exercise for a lot longer in the afternoon. The satisfaction of feeling like I achieved something by passing on the cake is just an extra bonus.

And it’s a balance – I can’t stop paying rent and put all the money into debt payments; I can’t stop eating entirely in order to try to lose weight more quickly. But I can adjust the thermostat to cost less energy and just be a little uncomfortable (until I adjust), and I can eat less food and be a little uncomfortable (until I adjust) in order to lose weight.

Slipping now and then isn’t such a big deal, either. We really wanted to get me a nice pair of hiking boots this past summer, so we spent a lot of money on a great pair of boots. We looked at other budget categories we could pull other money from to pay for that and accepted that it’d just be an extra bit of work we’d have to put in to pay for those.

I really wanted some ice cream a couple days ago and it wasn’t really going to fit in the calories for my day. It wasn’t much out of my plan for the day, but it was a little over. And instead of passing on it and getting grumpy about it, I carefully measured out a serving size and enjoyed it thoroughly. And the next morning I got up and did a hard workout in order to pay for it, and made sure I was a little under my calories for the day.

Because when it comes down to it, my weight problem is primarily due to a poor use of resources. I’ve incurred more than I could afford, and now I have to pay for it. Over time, with perseverance and dedication, I will be able to resolve it. I can pay off thousands of dollars of debt. I can work off a handful of dozen pounds.

And thinking about it this was has helped me a lot. I don’t feel like I’m suffering or punishing myself. I’m just working to pay off another debt, and I’ve done that before.

Just popping in to give the latest news

I’ve been meaning to get on here and do an update for the last several months, but I’ve had trouble getting my words together. Things have been going really well, I’m just haven’t felt like writing.

But the last couple weeks have been challenging, so I figured I’d come in and share. Because misery loves company, you know?

And as I write that, I realize that this isn’t nearly so challenging as what’s happening with Luke and Krista right now and I feel really badly about that and I wish there was something I could do to help there. But until I can figure out what to do there, this is what’s been happening here.

The morning of September 14th, our little blue Nissan Versa started making a weird noise. It sounded like a weed-whacker. Really annoying BbbbzzzzzzZZZZzzzz noise. I drove it to work and mentioned it to one of my coworkers, and he suggested it was the steering fluid. We took it to the mechanic’s on Tuesday and they didn’t hear the noise — it stopped making it by the time we got it to them. But they did get a weird error from the computer. They asked that we bring it back another day when they’d have more time — they diagnostics report they got was 12 pages long. Also, we have electric steering, so it’s not the steering fluid pump.

So we brought it back Thursday night so they could have it all day Friday. It was being more troublesome now — it had trouble climbing up the slight hill to go over the interstate. The engine stuttered and the speedometer stopped working. We stopped, turned the car off and on and the speedometer came back on again, but it definitely was not accelerating properly.

The following morning, our mechanic called to tell us that there was a sensor failing, which they needed to order from the dealer and get shipped in. They still hadn’t heard the sound, but they figured they’d replace the sensor and see if it still being weird. The sensor was something that talked between the computer brain of the car and the transmission, so hopefully fixing that would fix the weird acceleration problems.

If you recall, by the way, we are a one-car household. We sold the second car ages ago and we’ve only had this one. Fortunately, we’ve been car-sitting for Jessi’s car while she’s doing her internship in NYC, and we’ve been driving that around.

Friday, by the way, and this will come up again later, I complained to Justin that my ear was hurting a little. I figured it was nothing, just annoying, and that it would go away soon.

Saturday, the sensor arrived, they plugged it in, and then they finally heard the noise. And as far as they could tell, it was something inside the transmission. And they do not do transmissions.

You know, in my limited experience with cars, it seems like we have two basic groups of  car mechanics: those who work on transmissions and those who do not. It’s the only one huge difference I’ve found.

So we thanked them for the work that they were able to do and drove the car home. Monday I went to work and did an impromptu survey asking my coworkers if they knew any reliable transmission mechanics. I came up with 5 different places to call and passed them along to Justin. He called them to find out if any of them would look at the car and give us a quote on what it would cost to get the transmission repaired.

He called all five of them and all five of them said that the Nissan Versa has a CVT transmission — a continual variable transmission, I think. And they do not repair those. None of them. But the last one said that he’d look at it to confirm that it really is the transmission.

We drove it to their garage at the end of the day Tuesday so they could have it first thing on Wednesday. All day Wednesday, they didn’t call. We weren’t feeling very good about things. We looked up the Kelly Blue Book value of our car and determined that if the work was anything more than $1200, it wouldn’t be worth the money.

Also, my ear still hurt.

Thursday morning, they called and confirmed that yes, the transmission is the problem.

I just want to break for a moment and say that this car has 122,000 miles on it. We’ve taken good care of it. Done proper maintenance to it. Never been really hard on it. We got it new, as  I’m sure you recall, back in 2008 when my Buick died. Also of transmission failure. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG TO THESE CARS?

The mechanic’s garage was so wonderful to even call and see if we’d purchased an extended warranty on the car when we bought it. We did! Guess when it expired? 120,000 miles.

They gave us a quote on what it would cost to replace the transmission, because that’s apparently all you can do when the CVT fails. You either replace the whole transmission or replace the whole car. There is no other option, apparently. The quote they gave us was $3700.

So we said no, thank you for checking into it for us, we’ll come back on Friday and pick up the car.

And Justin told me to accept that my German tank of an immune system was not going to clear this up and to just call the doctor and get an appointment for whatever is wrong with my ear. Which I did.

And that brings us up to today. We went to the garage to pick up the car after I got off work. Justin tried to drive it away, got as far as the stop light down the street and turned back around because the car would not get out of the lowest gear (or whatever our silly transmission has) and would not go more than 4 miles an hour, even with the pedal all the way down. Whatever ails our little Baby Blue had well and truly taken effect and we were not going to get her back home. He drove it back to the mechanic’s, who said that they’d let us park it in the back of the lot and leave the keys with them, so whenever we could find a way to get it moved, we wouldn’t have to drive out there.

And then we drove to my doctor’s appointment and was told I have a minor middle ear infection, to be treated with amoxicillin and flonase. The most wonderful part of that story is that it only cost $2.18 to get my prescriptions filled.

The not so wonderful part is that I’ve probably seen the very last of my blue Versa and I loved that car. It was a great car. I learned a lot of things about how NOT to buy a car. And it’s seen me through some really wonderful times. And I really wish we didn’t still owe like $1100 for the new tires we put on it back in June and the $200 we paid for the new sensor last week and the oil change and the other work we’ve had done. But at least we’re paying that off on a card with 0% interest and should have that whole card done shortly.

THAT actually, is the annoying thing — we were right on track to have all the credit cards paid off by Christmas. And the last of the current school debt paid by March  or April. And then we would be completely debt free. And we’re not looking forward to needing to pay a car payment. For now, we’re good using Jessi’s car — through we are going to get it an oil change and maybe some other maintenance since we’re going to be driving it so much more than expected. And we don’t really know when she’s coming back to town, so we might be able to use her car for a while yet.

And we’re not totally up a creek. We have a great option on the table that we’re considering and I’ve been asked not to talk about. But it might be our solution. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more about that soon.

I was really hoping that we’d be able to trade in the Versa and get some money there, but I don’t think we’re going to get much for a car that doesn’t run.

Anyway, other than that, things here are fine. My ear infection should be cleared up in a couple days, the doc said. Work is going fine. Being just the two of us in the house is STILL not getting old. It’s wonderful. It’s so clean.

And I think I’m going to go back to binge watching NCIS.

We own our car!

I just sent the last payment for our car!! We now own this baby completely!! Well, as soon as they process the payment and send us the title, but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

Now we’re going to be able to get really serious about those credit cards that we’ve been working on FOREVER. No more car payment!!

And we did learn some very valuable lessons about buying cars. Like, specifically, not to get suckered into buying a brand new car when we don’t have the money to afford that. Six years is a long time for us to let that lesson sink in really nice and deep.

We just passed the 100,000 mile mark on this beauty, by the way, but we should be able to get several more years of driving from this car. We just spent a chunk of change getting the works done at the mechanic’s — new brake shoes and pads, a new rear shock (or two?), all new fluids, new filters. I feel like the only thing we didn’t get on this trip was new tires. But she’s a happier car now.

I’m just SO EXCITED to have finally paid off that loan!! That feels AWESOME.

Mid-March goal updates

It’s been about a month since I wrote about my goals, so how about an update on that?

First, a quick reminder that my goals by June 31st are:

  1. Pay at least $200/month extra toward our debts
  2. Sew at least 1 skirt and 1 shirt
  3. Be able to play 3 chords on my guitar
  4. Be able to run 1 mile contiguously
  5. Visit Chattanooga
  6. Grow 2 plants for food/spice
  7. Look into Lean/Six Sigma certification training
  8. Learn how to make better goals

And now a rundown on how those are going thus far:

  1. On track: Progress on paying off our debts is going fine. I haven’t got an actual update on the numbers right now, but I know that we’re making steady progress on paying these off and I’m happy about it.
  2. On track: I’ve got a skirt put together that needs finishing – I would like to top stich it with a double needle and I don’t have one. And I might tear it apart a little and do a better job along the waistline because it’s just not fitting quite right. I’ve got the fabric for the shirt that I’m making for Dad, but the pattern I have is the wrong size, so I’ll be taking that back and getting the right one. I should have the skirt done by the end of the weekend and I hope to have the shirt done by the time Justin and I catch up with Mom and Dad on their April Tour of Homes.
  3. COMPLETE: I am happy to say that I have exceeded this goal already! I can play 6 chords: C, G7, F, Am, Dm, & E7! I have my second lesson with Dad tonight and I’m very excited about it! I’m listing this goal as completed, but I’m certainly not going to stop working hard at this. I’m enjoying it far too much to stop now!
  4. At risk: Exercising regularly has been, so far, my biggest goal-progress failing and I haven’t shown any significant progress. I need to put more focused energy on this.
  5. COMPLETE: The Chattanooga visit was fantastic and we very much enjoyed the city. We’re still evaluating it (or, at least, I am) and weighing the options and everything. At this point, moving is such a long ways out that this is not a significant goal.
  6. On track: The parsley is still alive! And I’m going to look more into what would need to happen in order to grow strawberries.
  7. At risk: Dad sent me a great link about Six Sigma training, but I haven’t taken the time to read it yet, so I really need to sit down and do that. Mom also mentioned professional editing and I’m going to review again why I dismissed that as an option previously. This is the other goal that I really need to put some focus into but haven’t managed to do so just yet.
  8. Tabled: I think the way I’m working on the goals that I’ve set for myself is working out just fine, so I’m letting this one go for now. I’m very pleased with the progress that I’ve been able to make, so why fuss about it?