Friday, May 14, 2010

Designing...What Am I Supposed To Do?

So, since I moved in with my boyfriend almost two years ago, we haven't done a lot of re-designing..  I moved in right after he laid wood floors and later we tiled the kitchen, he also bought new living room furniture because of a naughty kitty that couldn't find his litter box (also why the carpet was torn out..gross, I know!).  Because we did all of that, neither of us felt as though we needed to really 'decorate'..

Well, we also have different tastes in styling.  Fortunately, we both like the same colors; neutral.  But I enjoy accesorizing, and he prefers bare walls.  I want to put a rug down under the kitchen table, and he doesn't want to.  Another part of our differences is the money.  He does not want to spend money on 'stuff', whereas I think it'll add a lot! 

Slowly but surely, things are changing!  First it started with a wine rack, it's really cool-you stick the top end of the bottle in a hole, and it hangs sideways on the wall.  We both liked it, even though he doesn't drink wine. 

Then, last christmas our 'gift' to each other was finding something to hang above the couch!  (oh my, something on the walls!!)  He let me pick it out and I found some very colorful artwork at BB&B that I loved, and he could live with. 

Now, it's adding a bedside table for me.  We also bought a giant king size bed when I moved in-his double was tiny for us, as we both appreciate our space while sleeping-most nights.  But when we bought a bed side table, he only bought one, which was on clearance, so by the time I could get to the store to buy one too, they were all gone.  At this point in our relationship we were still 'his and hers', we hadn't really joined our lives as closely as we have now.  So, the new table should arrive for me soon and if he likes it enough, he's going to buy one to match and we will move his current one into the spare bedroom-where all of the 'spare' items go in our house-like guests!  (totally just kidding, Mom!)

I also found this awesome overhead light thingy for in our bedroom.  We have a side lamp, but its on his side-same with the alarm clock.  Let me tell you, crawling across a giant king-size bed in the morning to hit the snooze button is a lot of work!  So I'm going to be investing in my own!  Slowly, we are starting to make his townhouse look like our home.

I find that decorating, finding things that I love and want to surround myself with, takes a lot of time for me.  Granted, I feel as though its a little more difficult when someone else always needs to at least appreciate it, but even without someone else's opinion, I can never decide on one theme or one look, let alone find the things needed to create that look.

For example, we have a mantel in our living room, the fireplace has three sides to it, so it literally sticks out into the room-which is really cool!  But the 'things' on this mantel are mine and then his, not ours.  So it doesn't really carry any 'theme' or pattern to what is there.  I want to change it, but when I look at items at stores I love the items separately, but I don't know if they would really fit well in our space.  Because of this, I usually buy a lot of 'stuff' that doesn't fit our house but I love.  This is what I want to avoid.

I have a girlfriend that recently married and moved in with your husband, she decorated her entire house and it looks so beautiful (also on a not-very-expensive-budget)!  I don't know how she did it soo quickly and made it look so professional and put together!!

What do other people do to organize their thoughts and ideas for putting together a room??

Monday, May 10, 2010

Finally, a car I can appreciate!

After writing the title of this post, I have to say it isn't entirely accurate.

I appreciated that my Mazda started no matter how cold it was outside in the middle of winter.  I appreciated that it got be from point A to point B safely each and every day..

I did not appreciate that half the speakers didn't work, I was missing a side mirror (luckily I didn't hit a single thing while driving the car), the ceiling leaked on the passenger seat when it rained (and also on my feet), the lights weren't very bright so driving in the middle of nowhere always gave me white knuckles and left me scared to death of hitting a crazy animal.  The exhaust was so loud I would get a headache if I drove on the interstate too long. The volume button didn't work on the stereo, if I tried to turn the music up, the volume went really low and vis-versa.  It was ugly-the ceiling is torn a little, the bondo applied to it was cracking and rusting and my stepdad backed into the driver side fender last summer leaving a giant dent and scratch marks.  It smells a little odd-probably from all the rain that gets inside and then dries in the heat after, just like a sauna.

My Mazda was not pretty, I did not enjoy driving it and I spent a year and a half dreaming about buying a new car (but only 6 months were spent saving for it!-I had issues with always spending my money..).

I am pleased to announce that I have a new vehicle.  It is my new favorite thing and I hope it never changes in condition or beauty.
2006 VW Jetta GLI

It has everything I dreamed about in my new car. Love it!

Does anyone want a 1997 Mazda 626?? Runs great with minor cosmetic damage.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Sporadic Blogger

I think I should rename my blog to 'The Sporadic Blogger'.  I just have a hard time consistently having something to write about.  Unfortunately, I can't help but think it's because I have no creativity. Well, it isn't that I have absolutely ZERO creativity, it just takes a while for me to get in that 'mood'. 

There are days where I don't usually think about doing something that isn't on my 'list of things to accomplish'.  It's an on-going list and usually when it gets shorter, I find things to fill it back up with.  Lately, though it's been hard.

It's Summer!!!

I had my student recital yesterday-stressful, but mostly successful!  So officially my summer begins!  All that I need to do this summer is buy a car, pay off a small car loan, save money, go running and relax...Plus a bazillion other things that I do enjoy, like cooking/baking, playing my musical instruments and visiting with friends...

Something tells me I won't be doing a whole lot of 'relaxing' this summer. :D

In other news, I'm very close to buying a car.  Finally.

But on to my real reason for posting.  Politics.

I've been reading a lot of various types of news lately, and I must say I'm very proud that we have Health Care Reform.  So many people told me terrible things about this reform, and for the most part they are/were ill-informed.  As a person who has a 'pre-existing condition', I am glad that if I'm ever in a bind, my rights will be protected when it comes to finding health care (among many other things that will change).

I have been thinking lately about taxes.  So many people seem to complain about them, it's almost like these people forget that taxes run our country, they provide roads, pay for regulation enforcement on things such as food, medicine, products, roads...Taxes also pay for us to be able to get government assistance for medical care (specifically for MN, at least), they provide security to the people.  Taxes are a huge reinforcement of our government's structure! 

Paying taxes is essential to keeping our freedom, yet there are some who think that paying taxes takes away our freedom.  But I must argue that while taxes can be a big chunk of your yearly 'bills', it provides a big chunk of your way of life.  Imagine having to drive on this to get to work because the government doesn't provide infrastructure development..

That would be miserable! Or think of not being able to afford to send your kids to a private school, and there was no public school system to turn to!! How would they learn and be able to create a successful life of their own?

Taxes are not always fun and it seems like we pay so much to the government.  And while the argument of wasteful spending can certainly be argued, we all have to accept that taxes provide our ability to succeed and live a comfortable lifestyle! 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Does PTSD Last a Lifetime?

Realizing that many may be roaming on my blog, due to my guest post on 100 Pounds, please feel free to explore past posts.  My blog certainly isn't as specific on its content as others may be, but life isn't specific either.

Lately my life has been emotional and physically whelming.  I never realized how I would react to my gym closing, but when it happened, I became very stressed.  Where would I go, would they have the equipment that I've become so accustomed to using.  I think the comfort zone that we all end up in can have a profound effect on our confidence, as well as our ability to deal with things that come up in our lives.

I started this post last night, at about 10:30.  Mostly, it was because that was when I had finally been able to process my busy day, and all of the information I had discovered; it was painful, yet relieving. 

PTSD.  Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder.  Most people know that the Soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan or dealing with this psychological problem in more numbers then expected, and in more numbers than we realize.  But what about older veterans?  Does PTSD last a lifetime?

In this case, it does.  My stepfather, who will be hesitant to tell you anything about his service in the Vietnam War, has been dealt a tough hand recently; I believe his past is finally catching up to him.  His problems didn't start until after he left the service.  While his history is long and details may be grim, his only physical proof is in his poor hearing and through his eyes.  I would like to say that it started when the recession hit; when a small town that survives on the operation of a potato plant started to feel the pinch of people not wanting fried potatoes, but for him it started decades ago.  He is only now able to come to terms with all of his emotions, and since he has only recently publicly admitted them, he refuses to be in his own house.

He served in Vietnam.  My great uncle once told me he remembers when soldiers came home and people spit on them; it didn't matter if they were walking, in wheelchairs or still in stretchers, the soldiers were a disgrace because of the war.  But my stepfather still had hopes; he started a family, had 3 children and a wonderful home.  It was a wonder why alcohol would become his problem and would ruin that happy home.  After a divorce, and living a lonely life for several years-maybe even decades, he met my mom.  I can't describe why or what it was that drew the two of them together, but after ten years I still see love.

Although I have a close relationship with my stepfather, I don't know that much about his past.  I mean, I KNOW about his past, but I don't know how he feels about it, or how some events effected him.  When his oldest daughter died, life became abnormal.  It involved a lot of alcohol and my sisters and I walking on our toes to avoid any negative disturbances.  I remember a night where he had drank quite a bit, he told me right in my face (literally), that I was just like his oldest daughter-his favorite.

I can't describe my reaction just then, but I know I have remembered it.  It had become part the start of the intertwining of our father-daughter relationship.

Since then, he has healed-as much as a father could-but every year there are two days where no matter what is going on in life, he isn't smiling; his daughter's birthdate and the date she died.  Nonetheless, he was still able to enjoy life as best as possible, he had a loving wife, wonderful grand kids and had been able to form a close family between my mom, sisters and I.  Since he retired, 4 years ago, things just haven't been the same.  His life is now drowned in one medical problem after another; a rare nerve disease, leg problems, back problems, heart disease, small strokes, he's suffered a major heart attack, is living with severe depression, and he falls asleep in the middle of sentences, the list just keeps getting longer.  While the VA has been supporting his medical needs, they are hesitant to say any of this relates to his service in the war. 

My stepfather copes with alcohol.  Looking back, I realize that its more to for his sake, than anything else.  I was recently told by my mom that he still has nightmares, he always has to have a drink, or three, before leaving the house-I didn't realize that was why they had 'happy hour' before we would all go out to dinner.  I had finally been able to understand his world, but just barely.

Now, my stepfather has finally shared intimate details of his past with his therapist.  Now, his therapist is understanding to his drinking and his defensive attitude towards talking about his past.  She told him, "This is clearly PTSD."  She will recommend he recieve in-patient treatment to overcome his lifelong obstacles.  But is this too little too late?  After a lifetime of living with nightmares, cold sweats and violent reactions that a person can't explain, does it matter if he goes through treatment for those now?

Yesterday, I discovered the depth of their hardship.  With my stepfather unable to work, and my mother laid off every few weeks from work, their income has drastically declined.  While they aren't behind on their house, in a few days it won't have heat, electricity or water.  They just had their phone shut off, and are going to my sister's in order to make phone calls and watch tv-one of their only 'escapes' from their situation.  It is sad to see my parents go through such turmoil.  It is sad to know that I can't help them.

Before yesterday, well, really, before a few months ago, I would've told anyone that I hadn't seen the effects of the recession, that PTSD was just a problem for veterans in this most recent of wars.  But yesterday my eyes were opened wide, and I saw the effects, not only of the recession, but of war, hatred and violence.  I wonder, maybe if the recession hadn't come along for my parents, would my stepfather had faced his demons?  Or would he still be sitting at home, with a bottle of wine, wondering when life will finally give out on him?  And after all of this is over, will he finally feel as though his past is really behind him, or will this only make it worse?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Maybe Life IS Too Much, But At Least I Have My Blog

Most of the time when I write it isn't necessarily a topic that I think about for long.  In fact, most of my 'better' posts were written the moment I thought of them. 

It makes me wonder if all bloggers are the same?  I know that professional bloggers have a more detailed arrangment of how a blog or vlog is created; what the content is and when it is posted.. But to me, writing isn't about planning, it's about spontaneity (I spelled it right on the first attempt!).  I can't sit down and compose a piece of writing without have some sort of emotional drive to write it-which means I can't start a piece of writing and then come back to it later..

Many times I'll read Penelope Trunk's Blog, and I just don't believe that she has an editor.  So much of what she writes sounds like it came off the top of her head and without a second thought she posted it-this might have something to do with her content, it can get a little 'crazy'.  But there are other posts she has regarding 'advice'; her How to Blog category of content is almost silly to read through.  I don't feel a great writer can be created-I don't think anyone can read that advice and have a successful blog.  But I do believe that people will try. 

I think this all comes down to talent-passion-focus-desire.  These four elements of a person's personality always seem to follow the successful and people who are happy in their life.  I've already discovered that I need to do something that I'm passionate in my life in order to fully enjoy it.  Usually, what you are passionate about is what you have talent for.  When you have passion and talent in something that you do, it sparks a desire to have the focus to succeed.  Therefore, you feel fulfilled and that leads you to feeling happy. 

Of course nothing ever goes perfectly, or as planned.  But knowign that life only takes 4 simple elements, makes getting out of bed when my internal clock hasn't caught up to daylight savings a lot easier.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

iPhone: A Story

My iPhone died last night at about 9pm.  And I really mean that.  It is non-responsive to my fingerly love...

iPhone: A Story...

There once was a young Gentleman who decided to purchase an iphone way back in February of 2008.  He loved his iPhone, but hated the service, for he lived in one of the only black holes AT&T had in the Minneapolis area.  So this gentleman decided to jailbreak his beloved iPhone.  It took a while, and he didn't succeed on the first try, but eventually there was success.  His iPhone would work with his Tmobile account, he could bond with his iPhone and make changes to it and add apps.  He would become the most popular at the bar; any question could be answered, as long as the young Gentleman brought is iPhone with him.  It was pure love.

After a while, the young Gentleman started to feel distant from his beloved iPhone.  He had discovered the iPhone 3G s; a much faster, prettier and skinnier iPhone.  Taking a huge risk, the Gentleman bought this new iPhone 3G s and worked on it for hours to jailbreak it.  He spent several hours talking with AT&T to transfer the account so that he could keep his iPhone 3G s, and not the horrible service.  Miraculously, the software proved easy to jailbreak.  It was love...All over again. 

But what about his original love: iPhone?

Well, this gentleman had a human love as well; a young Lady.  After a little coaxing, this Lady was able to use the iPhone as her own.  This was absolute heaven for her.  The iPhone provided just about everything she could possibly need to function on our technology laden world.  iPhone went everywhere with the young Lady; she checked it more frequently then necessary, but she couldn't resist. 

Of course, there were a few accidents...iPhone fell on the tiles at work; this caused lines across the screen.  The iPhone had an accident with her keys while snowboarding, which caused the glass to break at the bottom..Everytime, she would pick up iPhone and apologize, hoping it would still work for her.  IT wasn't the prettiest iPhone and she knew that...Nonetheless, she kept her iPhone; it was far too dear and important to her to let it go.

After time she noticed that it was getting even more worn, and very slow.  She didn't want to have to give up her iPhone unless it was for something absolutely perfect:  a White iPhone 3G s.  But they were too expensive for her to buy, so she waited...And waited..She was giving up hope.  She didn't want to upgrade to something that would disappoint her, iPhone had made her so happy, she didn't want to sacrifice it.

All the meanwhile, she kept an eye on her iPhone to make sure it kept working properly-though slowly.  A few days after the young Gentleman left town for a 2-week road trip, the phone couldn't take it anymore!  It was too much work to try and process apps that were far beyond the software and hardware in the phone!  The young Lady decided to watch a video from when all of a sudden everything stopped!

She tried to get it to go again, but nothing would move!  The home button did nothing for her, the iPhone was completely unresponsive..

She tried to sync it with her Mac, take some memory off of it; frantically she tried to save her dear iPhone...But it was no use! 

The iPhone had left this world, it went to a better place.  A place, where hardware never wore, software never became old.  A place where iPhone could find many other friends that had been abandoned, or were also too old to keep going. 

Meanwhile, the young Lady was left to her unattractive, not-anywhere-near-as-awesome Blackberry.  She talked with the young Gentleman and they had decided there was nothing to do.  The time had come for iPhone to say good-bye.  "Game over" as the Gentleman would say...

The End

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shame on Me, and Networking to Stay Healthy

Shame on me!

I haven't written in almost two weeks..And of course, I have an excuse.

Lately it seems like everything surrounding me is a negative. I'm getting cabin fever, and am desperate for warmer weather. All the negative turns me into a complaining, negative nancy. I really don't want that to appear on my blog. I've tried to write posts, and then they turn into something negative, something that is bad, wrong, or just plain old complaining. So I didn't write.

Lately, I've been reading a lot on my friend's blog. He made a goal at the beginning of the year to lose 100 Pounds, intriguingly that is also the name of his blog. First, I have to say that he is one of the most interesting, creative and honest people I know. So I knew that his blog would reflect that. In two months he has created a huge online community supporting him in his efforts-I have no doubt he will succeed in his goal.

His blog also helps me to stay focused on what my health goals are. At times it's hard for me to talk with others about my weight and health goals. The problem is that most of the people I talk to aren't as pro-active in their health as I am, so then I feel as if I'm rubbing it in that I watch what I eat and workout as much as possible but I'm still 'skinny'. I know by the look on their faces that they think I should be able to eat anything I want and not complain about my body. Well, thats not true! Being happy with my body and looking the way I do takes work-and not just for me, but for everybody! By reading the blog 100 Pounds, I'm realizing that I have the same daily struggles as my friend. At the end of the day, I still want to eat that tub of ice cream, just like the next person-whether they are overweight or not! Being able to talk about it on blog comments, or even here helps to take those stereotypes away; on a blog, we are all struggling with the same thing-no matter what our body types.

There is another reason why I feel so inspired by my friend; I've realized that if he can get to the gym every day for 21 days, then so can I (even though I still don't...). And I can push myself to my limits, just like he does. Just like everyone else, I have my days at the gym where I'd rather just 'pretend' that squatting 40 pounds is difficult-even though I should be squatting 90 pounds. I want to be lazy and not have to sweat and breathe so hard I think I'm going to die...But without that 'pain' of pushing my body to the max, I won't see the results I want. Now when I'm on my way to the gym I think about what I'm going to accomplish-and I hold myself to it, for myself.

In the end, I think being able to take the stigmas of body image away from the daily struggles of human temptations helps everyone be the best person they can be. The internet, blogging and networking are able to do so freely and with ease.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Donating to Charity

Have you donated to a cause this year?

I know...Most of those who will read this blog will think, "I can barely pay my bills, let alone donate to others!"

But hear me out-In 2006 ABC released an article that stated that 75% of American Families donate roughly $1800/year. 2006 was also the year we broke the bank on the amount of donations we made...But since the recession, this has not been the case. Most charities fighting for hunger, homelessness, child abuse, etc have been hit hard by economic times. People have cut their spending, and one of the first things to go was donations.

I've blogged about donating blood-It's free and it saves lives. It's well worth the cause-and the free cookies are awesome as well! For the past three years I've managed my company's United Way Campaign and was able to see how easy it was for people to donate their money. I know that everyone can find some time or money to sacrifice in life.

Even in tight economic times, donating is possible!

Most people think that donating only includes giving money, people don't realize that there are thousands of organizations that need your physical help as well. It could be something as simple as volunteering in a food line, or something more difficult like erecting a house for Habitat for Humanity. Many of these programs are well planned, non-profit organizations that have proven their success over and over again.

The problem with this, is that people value their time just as much as their money. People don't think that giving up one Saturday of their life will make a difference, but IT DOES! The people that have suffered and sacrificed for either their bad mistakes or misfortunes in life appreciate all the help they can get! When you donate, judging people on their lifestyle is not a part of the equation.

There are also very interesting organizations, such as the Polar Bear Plunge. And this is part of the reason why I wrote this post. The Polar Bear Plunge is an event that takes place all across the frozen parts of the country during the winter. One in particular is the Plunge on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, MN. People sign up to take the plunge, and then they ask their friends and family (and fellow bloggers) to donate for the cause in support of this person plunging into the freezing cold water of Lake Calhoun-or whichever lake it might take place on. This particular Plunge is donating to homelessness, or even child abuse. It's donating to the Special Olympics of Minnesota. I'll explain more on this program in a paragraph below. But first, I want to ask you to donate to this event-I have a friend who is going to take the Plunge, and he needs the support of his friends, and his online community. Here is where you can read about his decision to take the plunge and how you can help!

Now, about the Special Olympics; It's more than just getting a few mentally disabled kids together to run around and have fun. This is about getting kids active, helping the less fortunate be able to develop motor skills, socializing skills and give them a meaning to their lives! When a child knows they cannot work when they grow up, they can't learn as fast as other kids, or take part in so many of the activities 'normal' kids can take part in, it leaves them with a lack of confidence and inspiration. The Special Olympics provides a meaning, it provides support and happiness. Another aspect that most don't think about is that the Special Olympics allow families of these children network and build a support system to help raise their child the best they can. The Special Olympics provides hope to those that weren't born with the same possibilities as everyone else.

So please, donate to my friend's cause, donating does make a difference!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Truffles, Winter and Work

Last weekend I went snowboarding in Lutsen, MN. For those of you who do not live in Minnesota, Lutsen is a beautiful place to visit-winter or summer! Plan your next vacation there-It has plenty of resorts, hiking, golfing, camping, take a visit to Grand Marais, shoot down to Duluth. It is well worth it!

While we were there, my super friendly and rambunxtious friend talked with the Sous Chef at one of the restaurants. Thank GOD for this, I tasted one of the most delicious truffles I have ever eaten! I had one that tasted like banana, and another that tasted like raspberry. And don't be fooled-these truffles were not little! The next best part is that these truffles are made from natural and fresh foods! The website is small and still being developed, but I recommend you check it out and order some tasteful treats for yourself and your loved ones here.

I had this huge rant about winter and how much my car sucks... But rants don't help anybody. To put it simply; winter sucks when it's dark out and there is moisture on the roads! Every time I drive my car I think about how awesome it will be when I get my new one this spring! I'm very excited about it, and I'm getting more impatient each day! I even started a countdown; 86 days roughly until the purchase! :)

Being a girl can get a little crazy at times. Especially when I need to find something to wear and I'm on a time crunch-like this morning. I was almost late for work becuase I wasn't happy in anything that I had in my closet. And I also realized that buying more won't make me happy. Sometimes nothing can change my outlook on things-except time. Time changes everything. And hopefully someday I can wear jeans and a relaxed sweater to work!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fat: Finding the Balance in America


Americans are fat.

If they aren't fat, they're very skinny. Hollywood skinny. Anorexic.

And then, there are people like me. I'm not skinny, thank you very much. But I'm not fat either, even though there are days I'm convinced otherwise.

Diet 'experts' (the skinny people on TV) tell you that you need to lose your belly fat, hip fat, butt fat, thigh fat, neck fat...all of it. It's almost as if we shouldn't have any fat on our bodies whatsoever. And if we do, then we should buy their product, try their diet, or do their 'exercises'. I'm tired of listening to those people. I'm tired of hearing people fall for diet fads.

Americans, in general, use magazine covers and Hollywood stars as their guide for what is beautiful, what is popular, hot new trends and next season's line of lip gloss. Fortunately for me, I know better. I know Lindsay Lohan is unhealthy-even though most think she's beautiful. I also know Christina Aguilera will never be a size 2 (and she knows that too!) because that isn't how her body was made-she's got hips! But most of the population just sees skinny girls and rock hard guys walking down the red carpet and think, "that is what I need to look like to be beautiful and happy."

Where do we draw the line when it comes to our bodies?

Two years ago I went on a vegetarian diet for about 6 months. I also started running around that time. I lost 10 pounds. I thought I looked great! But once I moved in with my boyfriend and started to eat more, I started to gain weight. Even though I ate healthy and still went to the gym. It wasn't until I trained with someone this fall that I realized my 'healthy lifestyle' wasn't so healthy. Not eating enough protein and running, without lifting weights caused my body to eat my muscle. Not my fat. So then, once I started to eat better and more often, my body couldn't burn the extra calories. Now I've gained about 10 pounds of muscle, I may not be as 'small' as I was before, but I'm healthy. And I look like what my body wants to be-I have hips and they want to be shone off!

There is a general rule that skinny is beautiful. When in reality, being healthy is beautiful. It comes in many shapes and sizes!

Two-thirds of American Adults are overweight. One-third of children are overweight. This is finally starting to level off. But we are still a long way from being a healthy nation. Losing weight is incredibly difficult. It takes determination, motivation, desire, will, a lot of sweating and a lot of convincing your mind to think that you just don't need that donut.

Most Americans will die overweight. Losing the extra weight is just impossible when there are fast food restaurants everywhere. Every social gathering is surrounded by half-price deep-fried apps, high calorie alcoholic drinks...Food galore! Resisting the urge is excruciatingly difficult.

Then there are those that believe the quick weight-loss diet plans will work. Unfortunately, weight doesn't stay gone forever. Most people gain one-third of their weight loss weight back within a year of losing it.

Let's face it, change is tough.

There is only one way to lose weight. Intake vs. output. Healthy eating and exercise. Muscle gain and fat loss. ...Get my drift?? But this is also hard to do!

Most people who need to lose 50 pounds or more don't just go on a diet. They go on a weight-loss journey. They need to be educated about what they need to change, about what needs to happen in order to lose the weight. Then, they need to work their asses off (literally). In the end, they change their complete lifestyle. It's quite the challenge. I've been following my good friend, Tralle, in his blog about his journey to lose 100 Pounds. He's in the early stages and has seen success, but struggles every day to stay focused on the end goal. You can join him on his journey here.

In the end, it will take decades to reverse the damage fast food has done to our nation, our arteries and our way of living. It will take even longer for people to realize that beauty is not about being the smallest, or having stick-straight hips. It is about being healthy-allowing your body to look the way it was meant to. For some that means being stick thin and still being able to eat a burger everyday. For others, that means we just might need to enjoy our curves a little more.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

If You Could Retire, What Would You Do?

Friday night brought forth an interesting conversation with co-workers: If you were retired, what would you do?

At first I thought, "Gee, thats a dumb question! I would do everything I've ever wanted to do." But then I started to think more about it. Today, 60% of people haven't thought about how much they will need for retirement. That also means they don't know if they are saving enough, or anything at all! Research also shows that a majority of Americans will only save through mandatory savings-Social Security. And we all now how that program has been going with the baby boomers nearing or at retirement age! You can read more about savings trends in the U.S. here. Essentially, most people will not be able to do anything when they retire because they will probably make less than what they did while they were working. That is sad. Very sad.

It's difficult to say to someone reading this blog, you need to have X amount of money saved before you can choose to quit working. I can't do that, but I can tell you that you should probably look at what you want to do when you retire now so you can plan for it. And I would advise for you to think big, just so you'll have money to do what you really want to do when you get to that age (hey, things change!).

Saving for retirement: I have a 401k. That should be plenty right? Wrong. Let's use me as an example. My 401k started when I was 21 years old. So even if I don't max out my contribution each month, I will still make a hefty amount over my lifetime. But if it isn't at least $1,000,000 then I won't consider it enough money. I will need to open an IRA. This is separate from my 401k and I will probably need someone to manage it for me (I'm not investment savvy..). Which, as long as I make a lot of money, I don't mind paying someone to make my money grow. The next goal is to max out the yearly contribution for these.

The big challenge is to not take out money from these accounts, penalties hurt and in the long run its like stealing money from yourself that you haven't seen yet. Investments grow faster when more money is in the account. So lets just watch it from a distance. You'll appreciate it when you decide to travel around the work at 70 years old.

So this goes back to my conversation I had with co-workers, what do I want to do when I retire...? I would want to travel and continue to make my money work for me. I would also hope that I have the health and mind to do all of the things I wanted to do over my lifetime but couldn't because of my job, or my family, or other goals that I had. I would make sure to volunteer. This can allow for more traveling if I work my cards right. I would be decorator, play music, take classes, maybe even open a restaurant (where I can work when I want)....I would want to do everything. And right now, at the ripe young age of 23, I know that I have the power to make this happen by investing in my future.

I would hate for my answer to be, "Worry about how I'm going to pay my bills."