9/20/07 Log

Yesterday’s final meal went well, and I stayed within my 1600 calorie cap for the day even with the bit of lo mein and the fortune cookie at dinner instead of the pear I had packed. (There goes my non-Saturday cheat item for the week!) I got home late, but still squeezed in a bit of sewing by fusing some interfacing onto the waist band of some cute Burda 8513 pants I am making for myself this weekend. Don’t worry, I’m not doing the lace or patchwork stuff.

I almost took a nap during lunch because I got to bed a bit late and was half an hour short on sleep this A.M. when I dragged myself to the gym for shoulders/abs and my 15/15 run/walk. I raised most of my weights again for this workout, which puts me at nearly my pre-slack off strength levels for this workout program, though not as high as my TT numbers since TT had lower rep ranges. I’ve been following the workouts for 3 weeks now, but I think I will be swapping out exercises after next week to prevent too much adaptation (and boredom). Another stab at the TT Hardcore Fat Loss manual, the TT Unilateral Fat Loss program or just straight one-for-one exercise substitutions might be in order at that point.

I used the free Cardio Coach V.6 MP3 download for my run/walk cardio. Once again I was surprised at how much faster the 30 minutes passed with the help of the program. My posterior chain muscles still complained, but I got up to a decent 9 mph dash in the sprint portions without killing myself, so I count it as a success. One more run on Sunday and week 1 of the Runner’s World beginner’s 5k plan will be under my belt. I just hope my hamstrings are back to 100% functionality by then!

DH got up and did his Shoulders/Arms P90X session today. He still hasn’t braved the Ab Ripper X workout (he seems to have some sort of irrational fear about performing it), but maybe I can get him to try it with me this weekend. We talked about morning workouts over breakfast this morning. When I said that I liked the feeling of having my exercise DONE for the day vs. dreading having to do it after work, he agreed and said he was actually not looking forward to his 2 hour martial arts practice tonight since he’d already exhausted his arms this morning and jumped around for an hour last night with Plyo X. Chris is by no means a morning person — I secretly suspect that his body actually fuses itself to the bed in a strange symbiotic relationship at night — but he seems to be adapting to and enjoying his A.M. P90X sessions so far.

Sketch group is tonight, but I am working late again until 9 pm, so we’ll see how it goes. I could still get in about 90 minutes of drawing before the B&N closes.

In case anyone is morbidly curious, here is a sample day of this week’s menu. It’s not perfectly clean, but it is sustainable, limits my cravings for salty/sweet/crunchy stuff, and fits my desired nutrition stats. I put the evil boxed cereal loaded with sugar-encrusted raisins in my PWO window to minimize the damage, heh…

M1: 80 g Albertson’s Raisin Bran cereal, 3 egg whites
M2: 1 small banana, 1 plum
M3: 3-4 oz. grilled, seasoned chicken breast, 1 c. peas, 1 c. veggie mix, 1 T. Szechuan hot chili sauce
M4: 1 T. ANPB, 1 apple or pear
M5: 4 oz. grilled, seasoned chicken breast, 4 c. mixed salad, 2 T. light dressing, 2 corn tortillas
M6: 1 c. light soy milk, 3/4 scoop vanilla Dymatize Elite protein, 1 T. cocoa powder, 1/2 oz. nuts

I’m easily chugging 4 cups of water before I even have breakfast, another 2-3 with breakfast, and then I down about four 3-cup servings of green tea at work throughout the rest of the day.

It’s still early days right now, but I am feeling leaner already.

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WORKOUTS
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– Shoulders/Abs (55 min)
– Cardio Coach v. 6 Interval Run (30 min)
– Walk (15 min)

9/19/07 Log

I think I’ve finally dropped down to pre-bloat weight levels this morning. I was 141.1 lbs pre-workout, which is where I expected to be this Monday instead of the 142.x that appeared on the scale. Oh well. Onward and downward, right?

After a good night’s sleep I drove to the gym and knocked out 30 minutes of intervals on the upright bike and 30 minutes of steady-state on the recumbent bike while reading the November issue of Oxygen for motivation. There is a recipe for jerk-seasoned sweet potato chips in the issue that I am determined to try this week. I’ll post it if it turns out well.

The loss of a pint of blood (I donated again yesterday–lots of coupons and goodies were being handed out, though I gave away the chocolate chip cookies to a co-worker. I am up to 2 gallons, 4 pints as of yesterday’s donation.) doesn’t seem to be affecting me too much today, but I’ll make sure to keep on top of my fluid consumption (already up to 6 cups today) and get plenty of rest to avoid coming down with another summer cold while I’m temporarily short on white blood cells.

Not related to the blood donation, but I have to confess that yesterday’s lower body workout with my 3 posterior chain exercise substitutions is already causing me some major DOMS in my hamstrings and glutes, woohoo! I need to work on those two areas (my quads and calves are already well-developed enough), so I view the soreness as a good sign that I targeted the right muscles with my modified workout.

I am definitely booking local photographer Lori Barbely to take some Trash the Dress photos of me and Chris in mid-November. Putting down the $50 deposit out of my very limited fun money account for the session should help keep me motivated to see my program through.

Luckily, I only paid $99 for my wedding gown, so getting it wet and dirty really won’t bother me that much. If it is salvageable via dry cleaning afterwards, I plan to donate it to charity. We are planning to do the session at Wekiwa Springs State Park, the same location where Chris proposed to me last October.

Chris continues to plug away at P90X, though he missed Monday’s workout and is therefore pushing the workouts down by one day. He did Chest/Back again yesterday and is seeing some improvement in the number of full pull-ups and chins he can do before having to resort to the assisted chair method. I’m not sure if he got Plyo X done this morning since he was already out of the house when I returned from the gym, but I will prod him subtly about it later today.

On the financial front, I submitted my corrected W-4 to our administrative office Monday and am looking forward to seeing some extra money in my weekly paycheck within a week or two. As soon as it starts to show up, I’ll set up an automatic payment into the HELOC to start paying off that A/C. I also applied for the American Express Blue Cash credit card and will be gauging whether I really want the 5% cashback bonus enough to charge up a cumulative $16,000 worth of merchandise and services over 12 months (paid off in full each month, of course) in order to meet the threshold for the higher bonus rate. Since I don’t actually buy that much stuff, especially big-ticket, frivolous stuff, I’d have to put every household bill besides the mortgage on the card to reach $16k.

Decisions, decisions….

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Workouts
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Monday 9/17
– Back/Abs
– Elliptical (30 min)

Tuesday 9/18
– Legs
– Treadmill Run/Walk (30 min)

Wednesday 9/19
– Upright stationary bike intervals (30 min)
– Recumbent bike steady-state (30 min)

PDB Mega Challenge Weekly Chat tonight (9 PM EST)!

If you’ve signed up for the Pink Dumbbells MEGA Challenge and want to kick off your 15 weeks with a motivating chat tonight to meet and greet your fellow challengers as well as discuss your plans, please join us for the first weekly challenge chat.

The MEGA Challenge Chat Night will be Monday Nights at 9 PM EST (8 CST, 7 MST, 6 PST) It might go for only 10 minutes, or it might go hours. But it’s not required. It’s simply a space and time for everyone to give a shout to one another live, ask questions, share successes, and generally get to know your challenge team-mates. This is also optional. We would love to see you there!

Pink Dumbbells Chat Room (Chat begins at 9 PM EST)

B4945: Retro 50’s Style Apron

I finished up my Butterick B4945 sushi-print retro apron tonight and posted my review of the pattern up at PatternReview.com. I’m very happy with the way it turned out and plan to make some more in other fun prints to give away as Xmas presents this year.

B4945d_600

Another PR member posted a link to a site called Kitsch’n Glam selling similar 50’s style aprons for $31.50-$61.50 each! This is a bit steep for me since MY apron cost only $4 in materials, but some of the aprons on the site are seriously cute.

Don’t be surprised if I offer up a pink retro apron as a prize for the Pink Dumbbells Mega Challenge starting tomorrow! (There’s still time to sign up!)

Have You Checked Your IRS Withholding Lately?

Because you never know what you might find!

In my case, it was $2075, enough to cover half of the new $4075 Carrier air conditioner Chris and I had to put on our home equity line of credit at 6.75% in late June one week before our wedding because we didn’t have enough of an emergency fund to cover it outright. I had already mapped out a repayment plan for 2008 that would get the HELOC balance paid off by the end of the year, but on a whim I wandered onto the IRS.gov site this morning and decided to see if I was on track with my federal taxes using their IRS Withholding Calculator.

It turned out that due to the higher 401(k) contribution I was making for the whole of 2007 (10% vs. the 4% I was doing last year) and my failure to lower my W-4 withholding in January 2007, I have been giving Uncle Sam way too much money this year. The IRS calculator told me that based on how much I had paid in federal income tax already and how much more I was projected to withhold for the rest of the year, I would be due a refund of $2075 next April.

While some of you might say, “Cool! Just let things stay as they are; you’ll have a big fat check next year to spend! It’s like an automatic savings account!”, I have to point out that savings accounts generally pay out this lovely thing called interest which dear Uncle Sam generally does not. If you are not carrying any debt, but still habitually use your federal withholding as a virtual piggy bank, please take your head out of your ass and realize that you are simply giving the government a big, fat, interest-free loan every year by doing so. You would do a lot better by opening an online savings account at a bank like EmigrantDirect which will pay YOU 5.05% interest and having the same amount that you would normally overpay in income tax automatically transferred to your ED account each pay period. And those of you who do have debt, especially high-interest credit card debt–how stupid is it to tie up your money in unnecessary federal income tax withholding (earning zero interest) when you are carrying credit card debt at 10, 15, 20, or even 30%?

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have my $2075 this year to pay off my share of the new A/C (which is costing me 6.75% interest) and start off 2008 with no debt except ten more payments on my 2002 Camry and the mortgage. And if I didn’t have any debt to pay off, you can be sure that money would be moving into my savings account to earn 5.05% until I needed it for a true emergency.

According to the IRS calculator, I could liberate the rest of this year’s overpayments with a simple adjustment to my W-4 that would stop all federal income tax withholding for the remainder of 2007. My take-home pay would increase by $124 per weekly paycheck, and all of that extra money could be automatically transferred to the HELOC account. I won’t even miss it since I’ve been happily living without it all this time. On January 1, 2008 I will have to submit a revised W-4 to reinstate my federal withholding, but that is no big deal. I’ll do a better job of estimating my taxes for 2008 and try to get as close to $0 refund as possible.

This is seriously like finding 2k in an old winter coat pocket or getting paid for five minutes (the time it took me to use the calculator and print and fill out the W-4) of work.

😉

After jubilantly dancing around for a bit in the office, I bugged Chris to check his withholding at the site, too. He clearly didn’t see why I was so insistent until I pointed out that he might have enough to cover HIS share of the A/C bill and pay off his USAA credit card balance before the end of the year. THEN he paid attention and grabbed his latest pay stub.

It turned out that he would be owed an even greater refund than me if he kept up his current withholding–$4933, or enough to cover half of the A/C and all of his remaining credit card debt.

I love being right.

So take my advice and spend a few minutes running your numbers through the IRS withholding calculator to see if you, too, have been depositing too much money into the Bank of Financial Stupidity. If not, props to you for being on top of your finances. And if you DO have an account at the BoFS…put in a new W-4 following the instructions given on the calculator’s results page (it will tell you exactly how many allowances to enter on your W-4) as soon as possible and do something smarter with it.

Stuff to do with the extra money (highest priority first):
1. Pay off high-interest debt (credit cards, loans, etc. above 5%)
2. Start an emergency fund savings account at 5% or more if you don’t already have one and set it up to fund automatically.
3. Start or fully fund a Roth IRA or a 401(k).
4. Save for your next major purchase like a home or car.
5. Buy yourself something nice for $50, then put the rest in a CD.

Well, you get the idea. Don’t just fritter away that extra money; make sure you are getting some sort of return whether it’s freeing yourself from an 18% interest rate credit card balance or collecting 5.25% on a one year CD.

Free Sewing Patterns & Resources

Since I’ve gotten back into sewing, I’ve found some great free sources for sewing patterns on the web that you might want to check out. If you’ve been sewing for a while, you know that a gal can never have too many patterns. If you are a sewing newbie but have been thinking about giving mom or grandma’s machine in the corner a whirl, getting started with a free and easy pattern is a nice way to get your feet wet with very little financial risk.

Pink Dumbbells MEGA Challenge Plan

Pink Dumbbells MEGA Challenge (Sep. 17, 2007 – Dec. 31, 2007)

GOALS
1. Complete 100% of my planned workouts.
2. Lose 8 lbs of fat by adhering to my nutrition 95% of the time (2 cheats per week).
3. Pay off all remaining credit card balances from the wedding.
4. Draw and post one new drawing each week here and in my blog.
5. Complete the Runner’s World Beginner 5k training plan in weeks 1-5 (See below) and run in the U Can Finish 2 or 5 miler at the U. of Central Florida on 10/21.

PLAN
Nutrition:
– 95% compliance
– 6 meals/day
– (Sun-Fri) 1400-1600 calories/day
– (Sat) 2000 calories/day
– One complete cheat meal on Saturdays only
– One other cheat ITEM (this would be a carb or protein portion not on the list of clean foods) permitted per week, to be used at any time. Total daily calories must still be under 1600 including cheat item.
– Macros between 50/30/20 and 40/30/30 c/p/f
– 5 servings of fruits or vegetables per day
– 1 gallon of water or green tea per day
– Supplements: Multivitamin, 1 calcium + D, and 6 fish oil caps daily. L-glutamine and BCAAs on lifting days only.

Workouts: (Google Calendar version of schedule)

== Weeks 1-5 (Body By O + Runner’s World 5k Plan ) ==
Mon: Back & Abs; Elliptical (30 min)
Tue: Legs; Run (10, 15, 20, 25, 30 min); Incline Walk (20, 15, 10, 5, 0 min)
Wed: HIIT Bike Sprints (30 min); Recumbent Bike (30 min)
Thu: Shoulders & Abs; Run (15, 20, 25, 30, 30 min); Incline Walk (15, 10, 5, 0, 0 min)
Fri: Chest & Arms; Elliptical (30 min)
Sat: Forza (60 min)
Sun: Outdoor Run (2, 2.5, 3.0, & 3.5 miles and 2-Mile race on 10/21)

== Weeks 6-11 (Body By O) ==
Mon: Back & Abs; HIIT Run (20 min); Incline Walk (10 min)
Tue: Legs; Elliptical (30 min)
Wed: HIIT Bike Sprints (30 min); Recumbent Bike (30 min)
Thu: Shoulders & Abs; Elliptical (30 min)
Fri: Chest & Arms; HIIT Run (20 min); Incline Walk (10 min)
Sat: Forza (60 min)
Sun: Rest

== Weeks 12-15 (Turbulence Training & Martial Arts) ==
Mon: Turbulence Training w/Intervals (45-60 min)
Tue: Martial Arts (60 min)
Wed: Turbulence Training w/Intervals (45-60 min)
Thu: Martial Arts (60 min)
Fri: Turbulence Training w/Intervals (45-60 min)
Sat: Martial Arts or DVD Workout (60 min)
Sun: Rest

Other:
– Attend sketch group every Thursday night 8-11 pm to draw and network with other artists.
– Attend all free figure drawing sessions offered by my company.
– Design and print ALL needed birthday cards myself for the rest of the year.
– Set up automatic payments for credit card bill(s).
– Set up automatic savings plan to build up emergency fund.
– Spend only the allotted “fun money” in my ING Direct checking account for both non-essentials (posh hair cut, games, books, etc.) for myself and gifts for friends and family. Do not charge anything except gasoline and other required auto maintenance on a regular credit card.

WEAK SPOTS
1. Going to bed too late. (I am setting a bed time of 11:30 pm Sun-Thur. I don’t have to be asleep, but I have to be IN the bed at that time with a very boring non-fiction or D&D book from DH’s collection.)

2. Mommy and Daddy Wang’s home cooked meals (Realistically, I won’t say no to parental feeding. I only eat there once a week, and the dinners are never that bad nutrition-wise. I will, however, keep my portions reasonable and NOT snack on extras like roasted peanuts, Asian beef jerky, dried squid, or anything else from the Shelf o’ Snackage.)

3. I don’t like to run, even though it is the most effective lower body fat-burning workout for my body type. (Going to combat my dislike by making the running both purposeful–training to increase my speed for the UCF 2-miler–and/or HIIT style ONLY.)

4. Evening snacking on carbs like popcorn, cereal, or other processed carbs. (Stay in the home office between 8 pm-11:30 pm and work on drawing, Linux, sewing, or graphics. Processed carbs are only permitted in Saturday’s cheat meal or as weekly cheat item during the rest of the week.)

5. Buying stuff I don’t need for myself just because it is a Good Deal. (Make a list of all presents I need to purchase this year and buy or make THOSE items first before spending on self. Always ask myself “Would I rather go on the PDB Cruise or have this Gazingus Pin thingie?” before buying.

6. Wasting time on TV/games instead of drawing or sewing. (Limit self to 4 hours of TV/week–recorded on DVR and viewed on Sunday. No channel surfing without purpose.)

7. Friend’s wedding weekend Oct. 27-29 (Eat reasonably but take a break from strict dieting. Pack TT 4-week bodyweight manual and a set of workout clothes for Sunday morning workout. Use the gym at my sister’s apartment complex.)

8. Halloween (1 serving of candy per day the entire week of Halloween as a replacement for a carb in meal 2. Must be planned ahead of time to maximize my appreciation of the treat!)

9. Thanksgiving/Xmas (Use BFL portion size guidelines when dining with family and friends. Bring nuts, MRP bars and shakes, and dried fruit as snack options. Pack TT BW manual and workout clothes and shoes.)

10. Losing Motivation in Weeks 3-4 (Make it mandatory to re-read and post this sign up post every Sunday by bed time. Must report on the progress I’ve made each week towards each of my goals.)

Google Calendar Training Schedule

I have been playing around a bit with Google Calendar and figured out how to share and embed calendars into my site today. Since Google Calendar is so easy to use (and doesn’t require any CPU resources from my host), I’ve moved my training schedule over to it and made it available for you all to view whenever you are feeling curious about my workout routine or simply very, very bored.

There is a permanent Training Schedule link up in the Basics menu to the left, but here is what it looks like:

Pretty nifty, if I do say so myself!