Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

2012 Year in Review: Health and Fitness January 12, 2013

Filed under: Fitness,Food — Stephanie @ 2:16 pm
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I’ve been saying for a few years now that I’m going to get in shape.  And I’ve had occasional posts claiming that “THIS IS IT”, that I’ve finally found something that will work for me.  And then all that excitement and hope is replaced by laziness and lumpiness.  This health and fitness thing is still a work in progress, but the good news is, there has been progress!

I started off the beginning of this year knowing I needed to do something about my health.  I’d managed to get pretty lumpy around the tummy, and knew that wasn’t good.  I talked to my doctor for my annual checkup and asked her for advice.  Any diets I should follow?  Her advice was just to eat more fruits and vegetables, eat smaller portions, and get some exercise.  Not really the most mind-blowing advice, but good solid advice.

So I started doing that.  And as you know, I love trying new websites.  I started out trying a lot of different fitness tracking sites.  I tracked my weight, food, and exercise on LoseIt.  It really helped to see just how much food I was eating, and how many calories snacks, larger portions, and second helpings were adding to my daily intake.  And I became more mindful of what I was eating, and tried to replace unhealthy choices with healthier ones, like fruits and veggies instead of chips and cookies.  I guess I was building an eating lifestyle like my friend Sara (well, especially points 1. Veggies, 2. Fruit, 7. Hydration, and 9. Exercise).

I started writing a lot more about health and fitness activities.  I had to buy new shoes for all the walking and running I was doing!  I joined in a few challenges (Hometown Wellness Showdown and Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge).  And I got all thoughtful about comparing personal finance and health goals.

The results/achievements in 2012:

  • I hit my goal weight, which meant I lost around 9% of my body weight over the year.
  • I go to the gym/work out multiple times a week (and make sure to track it all on DailyMile)
  • I’ve gotten compliments from family/friends on my thinned down body.
  • I’ve increased my 5k time by 4 minutes 15 seconds.
  • I walked the entire 20-mile route of Walk for Hunger, raising over $1k to feed hungry Massachusetts families.

Goals/Plans for the following year:

  • Keep working toward running an entire 5k (I’m currently stuck at Week 5 Day 2 of the Couch to 5k training program).  And once I hit that goal, it will help me reach my stretch goal of coming in at the top half of finishers.
  • Enter some more 5ks.  For runners out there, do you sign up for the same races year after year?  Or try new runs each year?  (Will add the races I sign up for to my Steph on Fitness page)
  • Keep going to the gym, including surviving this month’s UXF Ripped program that I won through a raffle at the gym.
  • Lose a few more pounds of fat/gain a few more pounds of muscle (basically, keep training!)
  • Sign up for the Walk for Hunger again this year, and raise even more money!  And complete the entire walk even faster than last year!

How did you do this past year?  Did you achieve your health and fitness goals?  And what are your goals for 2013?  Please share your experience/advice/ideas in the comments!  Hearing your goals and accomplishments is so inspiring and motivational!

 

My newest obsession: Getting in shape January 22, 2012

Filed under: Fitness — Stephanie @ 9:15 pm
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A lot of people made new years resolutions.  Many centered around getting healthier.  And I’ve decided that I’m going to jump on the bandwagon.

I guess the other big resolution a lot of people focus on is getting a handle of their finances, paying off debt, etc.  I’d like to think I have the money thing under control.

So, getting fit.  Getting in shape.  Losing weight.  Eliminating muffintops.  Whatever you want to call it.  I’d like to think I’m ready to tackle this.

I’ve set some goals.  There’s a weight goal.  I’d like to be closer to 125lbs.  I also want to go to the gym at least twice a week (to start).  I want to be stronger.  I want to be able to jog/run a 5k and finish in the top half of the results (the times I’ve done 5ks have been jog/walks where my time is on one of the last pages).  I want to eliminate the chubbiness around my middle.

Okay, I have a lot of goals.  Maybe too many all at once.  I’ve gotten all excited about getting into shape before, only to burn out and end up wasting having a gym membership (a scandal for the personal finance world and the fitness world alike!  Luckily I don’t have a horribly high membership fee…but still!)

But as you know, there’s one thing I love when it comes to personal finance:  tracking websites.  And the same holds true for my new fitness goals.  Yes, tracking has failed before, but I think I’m gaining motivation and momentum by having accounts at so many places 🙂

I joined LoseIt.com after a few people told me how much it was helping them lose weight and control what they eat.  They also have apps for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch as well as Android (and apparently on other gadgets like the Nook and through the Amazon App Store), if that’s more your thing.  I don’t have a smartphone, so I’ve stuck with the website.  What I like about this site is that it gives you a calorie budget, and you can track your food and exercise, and it has a pretty comprehensive database of calorie content (for food) and calories burned (for exercise).  It even has Wii Fit exercises!  You can add friends on the site and for mutual support.  And you know how much I like sites where you can earn badges (like Payoff.com), and this site awards you badges for accomplishments, like sticking with the site for even a few days  (little stuff to keep you motivated), to losing 10lbs, to working out multiple times a week.

What else am I using?  Well, work is again sponsoring a website that encourages you to get in shape.  I’ve formed a team with my coworkers, and we’re going to be competing in the weight loss, exercise, and pedometer steps categories.  We’ll be tracking our progress in those categories.  I like having a team with my coworkers, since we’ll be supporting (and nagging) each other to eat healthier and get some extra exercise.

The rest of my websites are connected to my iPod Nano.  One of the cool features of the latest generation Nano is that it has a Nike+ sensor/pedometer built in (no shoe widget required).  So I’ve been able to track my runs and steps (recorded as Nike Fuel) through their online sites.

I’ve used MapMyRun on and off for a few years.  So one thing I’m excited about getting back to using it is that it will sync with my Nike+ runs and record them automatically.  So that makes things easy 🙂

And lastly, I joined Earndit, a site that syncs with many of the tracking services (like Nike+, Fitbit, and others) and allows you to earn points, which you can spend on rewards.  I like earning points and rewards!  They also have challenges sponsored by fitness-related companies from time to time with prizes available to the best scorers.  And even if you don’t have any of the supported devices, if you have a smart phone, you can earn points by checking in on Foursquare when you go to the gym!

So, yes.  I’m using a lot of different websites.  That’s how I roll.  But other than using a million websites (and posting inspirational images/informative posts on Pinterest), I am committing myself to the habits that will get me towards my goals.  Watching what I eat, replacing unhealthy food with healthy food, going to the gym for cardio, weights, or yoga a few times a week.  Walking to nearby places instead of driving.  The little things that can get me to where I want to be.

I’ve also made goals to reward myself for good behavior.  Like buying myself a FitBit Ultra after my Nike+ running log says I’ve gone 50 miles this year.  I’m not there yet, but I’ve heard really good things about the FitBit from others (like Elizabeth and Kristen), and it also works with the websites I mentioned above.  Basically I like data.  So the more data, the better.

So, what do you use for motivation or tracking your weight loss/exercise/fitness?  Are you members on any of the sites I mentioned (want to be friends with me on there)?  Do you think I can actually get in shape this time?  Or am I starting out too intense and will just end up lying on the couch eating ice cream?  The past few weeks have gone relatively well.  Only time will tell.  I’d love to hear about your fitness techniques!  Please share your advice!

(FYI, I’m linking to all these sites merely as recommendations.  I am not being compensated in any way for mentioning them.  Though if they’d like to give me some free stuff, I’ll take it 😛  and then of course I’d update this disclaimer)

 

I may have found the health improvement plan that works January 26, 2009

Filed under: Fitness,Food — Stephanie @ 11:38 pm
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So, like many companies, my company is interested in creating a healthier workforce.  And there are lots of good reasons:  it lowers health care costs, reduces absenteeism, and improves productivity.  The newest addition to their plethora of health promotion items (already including smoking cessation, weight watchers, and subsidized gym memberships) is something called Nutrisum.

It’s probably too early to tell, as today is the first official day of the program, but I think this is the type of system I’ve been looking for.  Basically, it helps me keep track of health-related accomplishments without making me go into too much detail.  I decided a while back to do a search for online food trackers.  I came across a few, and tried using FitDay, since it allows you to track what you’ve eaten throughout the day.  I figured I’d like it because I like using walletproof for tracking every single purchase I make.  I think the problem was that it was too difficult to find the exact food I ate, and determine the exact amount I ate.  Too much work!  Tracking expenses is much easier:  look at your receipt, and record that number!

So, with this Nutrisum system, you get to earn points.  And I like to earn points!  You earn points for things like eating breakfast (because that gets your metabolism going in the morning), having 3 servings of whole grains, 5 fruits/veggies, 5 glasses of water, and not eating within 3 hours before bedtime (or at least not eating after dinner).  You also get points for exercise.  I like the idea of it because it encourages you to do healthy things.  And now that I’m conscious of those important activities, I’m more likely to do them.

Oh, and reading over this, it sounds like I’m some sort of infomercial promoter or getting paid for this post.  Let me assure you, I’m not!  I’m just excited to try something that’s a bit easier.  Oh, and in other news, the gym near work (where work will subsidize a membership) is offering a free trial run and training session so I can see if I like it.  I know that it’s a bit of a trick, since they try to hook you with the free trial, but I’m looking forward to just trying out the gym before I fully commit to joining.

I’ll keep you updated on how well I stick with this new health kick!

 

 
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