My 401K Investment and the Ugly Truth

Well, this isn’t how I wanted to start the new year, but it’s looking like I’ll have to make a withdrawal on my 401K to hold me over until I secure my next position. Thankfully, I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ll have something lined up next month, but that doesn’t change my current financial scenario.  Plus, what if my gut is wrong?!

Sure, I could ask a few friends for a loan, but I hate borrowing money from people – especially when I have it available to me in my investments. I’ll need to take a hit on my taxes, but I think this is going to be a good lesson for me as I prepare to enter what I equate with TRUE adulthood (my forties).

Lesson 1: I need to truly create an emergency fund.

I need to be better prepared for things like losing a job, getting ill, suffering an injury, needing a major car repair, etc. I’ve never been good at this, and this past year has been a major eye opener.  Sure there was a severance package and there’s unemployment benefits, but if I had ALSO had an emergency fund, I would not need to consider a 401K withdrawal and could probably have been fine until I accepted a new position.

save

Lesson 2: I need to get serious about retirement.

In the past, I’ve used my 401K to pay off my credit cards and car loans. I need to get to a point where it really doesn’t get touched. If I end up not having a life partner to share expenses with in my future, then I need to really take some time to fully understand how to maximize the returns on my investments and how to get myself to a point where I don’t freely borrow from it.

Lesson 3: Evaluate my spending.

I’ve gotten much better at not spending foolishly, but there is always room for improvement. My health journey has helped me spend less on food – much less eating out – so that was a huge step for me these past 6 months financially (health benefits were a bonus). However, I still have a second bedroom full of craft supplies that are collecting dust because I keep buying more!  It’s time to go on some crafty no-spend months and start to donate and/or use some of my stash.

Lesson 4: Create a passive income stream.

When it comes to crafty ideas, my head is full of them! I need to find a way to put those ideas to use and preferably to create a passive income stream with them so that I’m not working myself to death in my free time. I also need to actually set up a shop with a some pre-designed items. I love the act of crafting, but then I’ll just let my creations sit in my house or give them away. I’ve had way too many people ask me to set up a “shop” so they can make purchases, so I just need to move forward and see if their interest translates in to actual sales. This papercutting nerd needs to get to work!

Lesson 5: Being a grown up is a hard.

I don’t think I would have ever imagined myself talking about investments and passive income streams…which is just a sign that I’m more of a grown-up than I care to admit (ha!). I may be young at heart and spirit, but it’s time to listen to the logical side of my brain and start planning. And yes, this plan will include a plan to reinvest the money borrowed!

Happy New Year!

Fit Latina in the Making – New Blog

For those of you that first came upon my blog to get crafting ideas…I want to apologize. My health goals clearly took over my life (and they needed to) which means that they took over this blog.

I’m nowhere near finished on that journey, so I have decided to separate that content in to a new blog so that I can expand what I write about.  I would love to have you join me there too!  And let me know if there are things you would like me to post about…I’m happily taking suggestions!

Fit Latina In The Making Blog

Fit Latina in the Making: So I Took a Break

I know this post is long overdue. I imagined coming back and celebrating the achievement of my election goal while talking about the progress since I last wrote. Well, unfortunately there has been no progress to celebrate, and I got a much needed scolding by Ray last night.

You see, my break turned in to a month long “vacation” of doing nothing.

Thankfully, I have not put on the weight I lost during this break but it’s not for lack of trying. Because when I say break, I mean a total break. I haven’t really watched what I’ve been eating, and I’ve definitely only been on my elliptical a handful of times since November 2nd. Sure, maybe I’ve already trained my body to make better choices overall which is why I haven’t gained weight, but I definitely indulged far more than I should this past month.

But why did I take this break? We all deserve a moment to relax and enjoy success, right? After reaching my goal weight and winning my election bet, I treated myself to a piece of delicious pie at my favorite local bakery. I had earned the right to indulge a bit so I did.

But then I just stopped completely.

Was I injured, no?

Was I busy?  Unfortunately not as I had been laid off a month before.

Was I frantically interviewing?  Not really…as the holidays impacted interview time availability.

The only explanation I have for the total stop is that I probably was a little more bummed than I care to admit over being laid off. You see, I don’t have the type of personality that stresses about things for too long. I’m very rational, and I take all moments in life as learning opportunities and/or fate. Being laid off sucks (especially when you loved what you were doing), but I told myself that it must be a sign that I got too comfortable and needed to push myself more.  I thought I really believed that, but I think my subconscious needed more time to wallow than I allowed….so I think I just stopped lots of things. My house became a disaster zone, and I stopped participating in the one thing that I was so very proud of for finally achieving.

The funny thing is that I’m actually having a really great week personally (and potentially professionally), so I had already started to feel energized and was in the process of getting my shit in order (at home) when Ray checked in. The minute I saw it was him, I cringed because I knew I was going to have to tell him that I had done nothing and it would disappoint him. I made a promise to him and myself that I would never lie, so my stomach sank.

And then it happened…I had to tell him the truth.

Tears rolling down my face as I responded. I know how much he has invested in me, and I know this is a shared experience. I had earned his trust to work out on my own ages ago, and now that I was feeling like myself again, I was afraid I had lost it. We had a tough but good conversation. He hasn’t given up on me nor has he lost trust in me….we just needed a plan.

I know that I need to hold myself more accountable and that posting about my journey really helps. I’m still down 40 pounds but I still have a long way to go. It’s time to remind myself that there is always a day one. The key is to not stop fighting for that day one to help you begin again so let’s get back to this journey!

img_0648

Fit Latina in the Making: Will He Vote?!

It’s November 1st ya’ll and that means my time is up.

Last August, I was bamboozled in to making a bet I refused to lose.  If I reached a weight-loss goal of 42 pounds, my trainer extraordinaire, Ray Peleckas, would cast his first official vote of ANY election. Civic responsibility is not something I take lightly, and I vowed to work my ass off to win.

When I first started this journey, the win was my pure motivation. I don’t think I’m a super competitive person, but this prize was far too important to me. It fueled me, and I think Ray knew exactly what he was doing when he came up with this plan.  However, I don’t know if he truly knew just how much it truly motivated me beyond the actual fitness progress I was experiencing.

Because let me be honest….I have spent most of my life as the overweight girl. I had learned to accept my body in whatever shape or size it was most of the time, and I never imagined being able to do what I have now done. Just look at the visual transformation from last November to right now?!  My clothes don’t fit anymore, and I can now see why!

image1

What a difference a year makes!

I’ve learned to eat in a way that doesn’t starve or deprive me of anything. Sure, I might be eating less of some things in general, but I haven’t permanently eliminated a single thing. I’ve managed to fully comprehend what affects my weight-loss targets and trained my body to gain satisfaction from healthier sweet options when I’m craving a special treat.

And I’ve become a bit fearless about working out.

Some workouts are still brutal and some exercises are still super hard, but I give things a shot and modify when necessary. I’ve seen that consistent movement and a gradual push of my limits has lead to progress. I mean, come on…I can do an actual burpee now!  I still hate working out in general, but it’s now just a part of my daily routine.

So am I proud?  Fuck yes!

Am I done?  I wish!

I’m down 42 pounds (which was more than I wanted to reach for my 40th), but why stop there?

My new target will be to try and lose 60 pounds by January 9th.

There is no crazy bet this time (yet) and I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t quite reach it, but I’m going to try my hardest to get there! This Chicago foodie will need to enjoy Thanksgiving and Navidad with her family which equals Tamales and Pozole will be eaten. So I’ll have to be careful up to and around the holidays and treat my family time as cheat days.

Because if you’ve eaten my mom’s food, then you know they NEED TO BE CHEAT DAYS!

3224_79191782076_2778492_n

The annual holiday tamalada awaits me!

So there you have it…Ray will have to vote this election. I honestly think he would have voted regardless of me reaching my targets because he knows I’ve worked really hard, but it has to feel good to know that this crazy bet worked.

I didn’t have a similar bet with all of you reading this blog, but I do hope you’ll exercise your right as Americans to cast a vote next Tuesday. This is the very foundation on which this country was founded and many groups have fought so that people like me….a woman..a Latina…a daughter of Mexican immigrants…could have the right to vote.

I have voted in every single election (except one because I woke up with the flu) since I was 18. I don’t just preach civic responsibility…I am fully engaged.  Please join me and vote!

 

Fit Latina in the Making: Make Good Choices

Now that I find myself with plenty of free time (albeit forced upon me), I realized I had no more excuses when it came to reaching my fitness goals. I took a little time off from training directly with Ray but that was because I ended up taking some time away from Chicago to regroup and refocus (which increased our time difference).

I’ll go in to more detail of my crazy fitness/family-time adventure to Los Angeles in a later post because there is a lot to share! I have several funny stories and pictures from my week in the City of Angels, and it’s all Josephine’s fault! It was a wonderful escape, and I’m so very lucky to have an incredible friend that knew what I needed before I even had time to wallow in any sort of self-pity. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I want to focus on what has been a recurring theme lately. Many friends have recently commented on my eating when we go out together. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m not any sort of scripted diet, but I guess I have learned to make better choices overall. As a foodie, eating out is a part of my friend experiences and I can either let it crush my fitness my goals or make some alterations.

What does that actually look like?

  • Focus on proteins and vegetables.
  • Eat a small salad when possible as an appetizer – something with little to no dressing (or ask for it on the side).
  • Fresh fruit is a yummy treat.
  • Have a deliciously rich creamy (whole milk) cappuccino when everyone else is having dessert because it’s more filling and rich.

I’ve also learned that I shouldn’t deny myself a taste of the fatty/sugary goodness that is ordered in a group setting!

When I know there is a dish I looooove (and one of my friends get it), I’ll ask for a bite. That one bite gives my brain as much satisfaction as eating the whole serving used to in the past. It also allows me to be in the moment with my friends and not have them worry about whether they should be ordering something that might be too tempting for me.

Avoiding temptation isn’t what’s making me reach my goals – it’s understanding why a different choice will help me achieve my goals faster.

It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even realize I’m making these choices anymore. They are just a part of the way I eat now.  I realized this the other day when I sat down with a friend at a cafe in DC recently and she said, “I need to eat more like you.” I paused and looked at what she meant. I had purchased a fruit cup to enjoy as an afternoon snack and she had indulged in a cookie.

fruit-cup

Now please hear this – neither choice was better or worse.

My choice was just the better one for my current goals and it made my friend evaluate her goals (and how my choice might have been a better one for her too that day). Because trust me…there will be many days in the future where I will have the cookie too!

Fitness tip of the day: Know what your goals are and make good choices!

 

Fit Latina in the Making: When Life Hands you Lemons

It’s been an interesting past couple of weeks in my household, and I was honestly at a loss for words. A little over two weeks ago, I received the unwelcome news that my position was being eliminated and was laid off. If you know me well, you know that I loved what I was doing so it was difficult news to receive, and I’m still trying to work things out as I do a little soul searching for what’s next.

Thankfully, I have a few distractions in my life that are helping me keep a healthy focus and fueling me with energy to embark on my new professional adventure.  Because let’s face it…at this point in time, if you haven’t been laid off once in your career, then you haven’t been pushed by fate to keep driving and learning professionally. There is a silver lining in every dark cloud.

I thought I was done going out of my comfort zone when I agreed to work with Ray, but I guess this journey is a part of my training ground for life. I giggle now because the weight loss journey still feels like the most difficult commitment I have had to make.  So am I worried about finding what’s next? Not too much (yet).  I’m more nervous about finding the perfect next phase so I’m going to try and take my time.

For now, let’s continue to push me out of my comfort zone and stay on track with my fitness goals!

I’m super lucky to have friends that have immediately reached out to make sure I’m not freaking out, and have helped me unwind from the shock. There’s been a lot of crazy adventures and it’s too much to post all at once, but I promise you there are fitness stories to share! And I’ll start sharing them this week!

The most important update I can give is where I am on my crazy bet with Ray to convert him in to a voter this election period.

Our ultimate deadline is November 1st and I have a target weight loss goal of 42 pounds.

Am I close? Yes

I reached 35 pounds five days ago, and I’ve lost a few more pounds since then.  I’m going to need to buckle down these next couple of days, but I promise you…

THIS IS HAPPENING.

The year that the Chicago Cubs go to the World Series is the year Ray Peleckas will vote! Both of these events will be EPIC and LIFE CHANGING….fate has made it so!

14556740_10154569407708150_2109644596254470749_o

It’s also the first time at the Art Institute of Chicago lions are wearing Cubs gear!

 

Fit Latina in the Making: First Goal Status Update

I was traveling this weekend and didn’t get to post a very important update!

I’ve realized this past month, that there are a lot more people reading this little blog than I ever thought.  I’ve had people asking me (and asking Ray) if I was going to reach my first goal on October 1st of losing 30 pounds.

I’ve even learned from Ray that some of his other clients are asking him how I’m reaching my targets so quickly? First – let’s keep this real. I have a lot of weight to lose and years of a very sedentary lifestyle. What I’m doing now is making changes happen quickly so my rate of loss isn’t abnormal…it’s just a reflection of how changing my diet and exercise schedule is affecting my health. I’m sure to plateau eventually.  For now, I’ll take this downward weight spiral!

So did I reach my first goal?

The weekend of travel had me super nervous because Ray was being a stickler about the date. I had to send a picture of the scale’s reading on October 1st. I’m used to weighing myself in the mornings in the comfort of my own home and like many people probably do…with very little clothes on!  I mean, let’s be honest here…every pound counts right? So I sure as heck take the clothes off to weigh myself every morning.

I knew the hotel room probably wouldn’t have a scale, so it meant I was going to have to weigh myself in the hotel gym. I obviously didn’t want to get kicked out for indecent exposure, so I was going to have to do this fully clothed.  Would I reach my goal? I was still almost 4 pounds away as of Monday and had had a few plateaus lately so I was nervous.

I spent all week getting very serious about food and limiting my calories. I was going to reach this target. If it meant going a little more extreme, than so be it. I was not about to lose this bet and was going to stop any sort of little indulging.

On September 30th, I got up early and forced myself to go to the gym at the hotel. I stepped on the scale fully clothed and prayed as I moved the bar to see if I was close to my goal. What did the scale say? EXACTLY 30 pounds gone…which meant I was probably beyond my target based on how I was weighing myself at home. So you know I was super motivated to get my workout done that morning, and I did it with a huge smile on my face!

img_9489

The biggest challenge came that night- the day before my goal day!

I was invited to a reception in DC where I would know the majority of the people. We were celebrating our part in helping President Obama getting elected and that meant champagne and hors d’oeuvres would be a given, and a late night of celebratory drinks would continue in to the next morning.  I was going to have to make some conscious decisions about what I put in my body that night.

I ate zero carbs all day and pre-gamed with a protein bar before the event. I knew that I had limited my calories that day, so I let myself indulge in one glass of champagne at the party, but then I kept to zero carb options and told myself that it didn’t matter how late I would be out…I would be working out the next morning.

After strolling in at 3:30am, my body was screaming in pain as I rolled out of bed to go to the hotel gym. I was dehydrated and exhausted but I had to see if I had reached my goal despite the evening’s shenanigans. I was confident the morning before, but I had butterflies in my stomach as I stepped on the scale.

Imagine the look on my face when the scale said I was 2.5-3 pounds lighter!

32 pounds gone on October 1st?  WHAT?!

img_9513

I didn’t want to scare you all with a color version of this picture….the dark circles under my eyes and leftover make-up from the night before were quite scary. Ha!

So you know that means…

Ray will be registering to vote this week! 

We both celebrated the progress all day through various text messages, and I took my final day in DC to indulge in a few things.  I had some ice cream (kiddie size) from a fancy gourmet shop AND I had popcorn at the movie theater where we killed some time before out late flight out.

So on to the next phase….42 pounds must be gone by November 1st in order to get Ray to cast his first vote. I won’t be telling him whom to vote for, but I do hope he does his homework and votes in what he believes in. I’m happy to provide resources on why I think he should align his votes with mine…but I won’t judge him for not doing so (at least not too much!).