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.

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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: 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!

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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!

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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: 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!

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

 

Fit Latina in the Making: Side Lunge Leg Raises (Yowsers!)

I knew it was only a matter of time before I found another exercise that I could equate with the burpee.  It’s a move I saw Ray film for a future month’s session of Bodyburn. I can’t even remember what it’s called because as he’s describing how he wants me to set up, I exclaimed: “Are we doing that one exercise I saw you do?!”

He just smirked back at me and shook his head affirming that I was about to do a round of these awful exercises.  When done in superhuman form, they look like this:

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Let’s just say my leg NEVER made it as high as Ray’s, and I slowed down as I pushed through to complete all 40 reps per leg.  But just like everything else we do, I completed all 80 of these side lunge leg raises (what I’m calling this evil move) and was a bit shocked that I was able to do it.

The best part was the fitness realization I had in between sets. 

I would sit back on my knees to rest up my legs, and I realized I wasn’t in any sort of pain. In the past, I used to feel a lot of strain if I sat on my knees like that. It was not a position I could sit in long, let alone get up and move around easily after spending some time in that position.  Apparently, that issue is now gone (like a few others in my life) and that helps fuel my motivation to keep going at this.

 

 

Fit Latina in the Making: “OMG. Aren’t you the Girl from Chicago?”

This weekend, I had the painful pleasure of taking my first trip out to Boston to work out at the Club with Ray and his team. They rebranded and refurbished the studio so I had quite the introduction to what a Bodyburn session is truly like. Let’s just say this, I don’t normally like classes, but I can definitely see the appeal of this place. The atmosphere and energy of the participants and instructors was not like something I had ever experienced.

First – the instructors are insane. They are fun, their bodies are sick and they know how to encourage you when you feel you can’t do one second more. I mean, look at this crazy bunch of beautiful people!

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I arrived on Friday and was immediately put to work. Yup, I somehow became the weekend’s unpaid intern – ha! I helped put the finishing touches on a few things and had the chance to finally meet the team. I haven’t laughed this hard in quite some time.  I was immediately at ease, welcomed with lots of hugs and knew that I had to set aside any nerves about my first class the next day.

So there I am watching as the first class comes in. I was scoping out everyone’s fitness level visually and starting to psych myself out about having to stand next to people who I perceived to be more fit for an entire class. But I’m from the Midwest, so I often smile at people to acknowledge them when I make eye contact. Imagine my surprise when one of those persons gets this strange look on their face and immediately comes up to me saying:

“Oh my God.  You’re her, right?  The girl from the blog?  From Chicago?”

I burst in to a huge smile and laughed as I affirmed that it was in fact me. This happened SEVERAL times the entire weekend and never stopped surprising me. These complete strangers were reading my blog and following my story.  What?!

I heard words of encouragement and learned that some of them had started back up at the gym because of my story. To say that I was humbled is an understatement. I’m just trying to make healthy changes in my life and have decided to share my journey because it keeps me accountable. I didn’t expect to truly be inspiring others – especially people who had never met me!

So I quickly told myself to put the nerves away and anxiously watched the first class wrap up.  There was a DJ blasting tunes for the Bodyburn class and my best friend was going to follow me from station to station (she was going to be my “buddy” but had hurt her back the day before and needed to rest). Once my class officially started, I didn’t have a chance to even stress about whether or not I could keep up with my classmates. There was new equipment and frequent changes from cardio to strength. I just had to focus and keep moving.

And I did it.  Every single exercise.

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Was it hard?  Yes!  My body started to remind me very quickly that these were new exercises and that my muscles were not used to it but I was able to do almost all of it without a ton of modification. There were two machines that I had a little trouble with and one of the push up exercises had to be done on my knees, but I didn’t stop moving. I was a hot, sweaty, exhausted but happy mess at the end of class.

Do I think I would have been able to do this class a month ago?  Yes. How do I know this? I saw that there were various fitness levels in each session and the instructors were there to help anyone that needed a little help. I even had the honor of seeing an 80 year old woman show up to take the class cold turkey.

She kicked ass and I watched in pure amazement.

I remember smiling and thinking that I would like to be her in 40 years and that means I just need to keep at this.

But first…I’m really hoping some of my skype sessions turn in to the dance party I witnessed this weekend because I couldn’t stop laughing at Ray dancing away as he watched his team run the show and the class participants getting the work done. You could tell he was proud of what was happening and he deserved to be that happy. It was an incredible weekend and a sign of the fun that will follow. And no…I’m not saying working out is fun. I’m just saying the Bodyburn by Ray is a fun place 🙂

And of course I had to put my crafty skills to use for this first trip out east by making myself a custom shirt to wear. I’ll keep practicing my Baaaahston accent while I continue with the workouts.

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Fit Latina in the Making: Answering the Tough Questions

During one of our sessions last week, Ray really made me pause and reflect on a pretty tough question:

When did I decide that I was going to be okay with being fat?

I realize in typing this that it’s hard to understand the way the question was delivered, but it was a genuine kind question. Ray even prefaced it with a “I just want to fully understand because I know it will help me coach others.”

I think my commitment and progress these past two months has shown him the type of person I am in most areas of my life – goal focused, driven and consistent. The fact that I hadn’t put this type of energy on myself was probably now more surprising because he’s gotten to know me better.

But I still had to answer the question. When did that mental switch happen?

I couldn’t answer it right away.  I knew there had to be a moment where I just decided this was my body’s fate. The chubby, fat, obese girl who loves fashion and make-up and is the best cheerleader for any fitness event (just not ever a participant)!

So I decided to go back and look at some pictures to see if the visuals would help me pinpoint the when or the why.

I came across some hysterical flashbacks!

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I realized I really was the chubby girl for quite a long time.  Yes, I had weight to lose, but I didn’t start crossing in to the obese category until I became an official adult.  When I got my first job.

And realizing that sort of blew my mind. I was clearly prioritizing things differently and most of it did not involve moving my body. I focused on professional achievements, learning how to manage my finances and just figuring out every day adult shit.

At some point along the way, I obviously decided that my growing waistband was just part of whom I was meant to be. Was I happy about that?  Of course not! Did I think I could really do much about it?  Not really.

I honestly thought that all my repeat efforts had been enough work and that my lack of success was a sign that I couldn’t reach the vision of the girl I saw in my head. So I settled.

Thankfully, I have a few amazing people in my life who don’t let me settle and know that with the right strategy, I can be forced to reassess my current situation. I’ve clearly now realized that I am capable of making this change if I just put the focus where it needs to be, stay on task to reach my goals and maintain consistency.

Those three steps have worked for me in every other aspect of my life so I’m not going to fix what’s not broken. Tried and true….here we come!

 

Fit Latina in the Making: The Unwelcome Reminders

This week I’ve been bombarded by devastating health updates for several people in my life. These three incredible women are all fighting a tremendously difficult battle against Stage 4 Breast Cancer.

When I learned about the first person this week, it immediately reminded me of a promise I had made to my friend Deyla who lost her journey to this very diagnosis a little over 2 years ago. I vowed then that I wouldn’t take my “health” for granted.

I remember feeling frustrated with myself for taking my time on this planet lightly. For not doing even half of what I saw her trying to do despite the devastating updates from her doctors that the treatments were not working. She fought every second because she wasn’t done living. She wanted to see her children grow up, she wanted more days with her husband and she wanted to continue laughing with us (her sisters, friends and family). She wasn’t given that privilege.

Deyla has had to inspire us from beyond. My sorority sisters and I are closer than ever and our friendship became stronger when we rallied to support her and her family. We made a promise to each other to not only get together in times of grief. We needed to see each other more regularly, and we have because of Deyla.  She is a part of every gathering, and we know that we should thank her for bringing us all together again.

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But to learn that three new people in my circle have this very same diagnosis is both upsetting and motivating. I can’t work on the research to find a cure, but I can do my part to provide whatever I can that will make a difference.

For now, I need to continue on my path of getting healthier while I find ways to support my coworker, my friend’s aunt and my aunt. These three kind, gentle souls have already given so much to this universe, and I pray that they will have many more years to continue showering this universe with their sweet spirits and loving hearts.

I promise to not take my health for granted so that I can continue to emulate them in my daily life and work.

I see how medical illness impacts families financially every day, so I’m not even going to hesitate in putting this ask out for my aunt Nena. Her family has a Go Fund Account open to help in her fight. Any amount will greatly assist them in focusing on what they should most – time as a family and her treatment. I would be so very grateful for your support.

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