My birthday was two days ago. As, I’m sure it is with most people, this annual event has lead me to some introspection. To be honest I’m a little bit frustrated that I’m repeating some struggles I thought I had already dealt with. Let me explain.
From 2007 until May 2010, I was going full force in Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 2. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dave Ramsey, it’s the step in his process where you pay off all of your consumer debt. It’s not impossible but it’s a process. The first time around, I went so far as to be a gestational surrogate to speed up the process. I became debt free on May 28, 2010. By July of that year, I had an emergency fund set up (Baby Step 3) and I had the down payment for our house (Baby Step 3B). We closed escrow on December 29, 2010. Yes, at 33, I had my shit together! Well, my illness in 2015-16 basically wiped out my emergency fund. Hello, it was an emergency. Not mad about that at all. But when I went back to work, I didn’t focus on rebuilding it. That was 100% on me and I own it. But that wasn’t enough stupid for me.;I took it one step further. Last April I must have gone mildly insane because I ran my credit card up $2000.00 above the limit (how does that even happen, Wells Fargo?) AND I took out a car loan on my Sonata when the Highlander died of old age. WTF Stacy?! Like Uncle Dave says, you can wander into debt but you can’t wander out. So here I am, 42 years old with a Visa and a car loan, funneling every spare penny to pay for these mistakes. Again. Because I didn’t get miserable enough to learn my lesson the first time. I snapped out of my fog by July and I’m working diligently to get these debt’s paid back and reestablish my emergency fund by the end of this year. Then I can return to building my 401k and paying off my house. The carrot I’m dangling in front of myself, my “why” if you will, is that I want to take an extended vacation with my daughter in Asia when she graduates high school in three years. I’ve been in the financially happy place and I know I can get there again. And we are going to have a blast!
But wait, there’s more! In 2014, I switched to clean eating. I called it “paleo with a cow.” I ate meats, non starchy veggies, fruits and yogurt, very little processed food (does yogurt count as processed?) I also started running and the gym was a daily date with myself. I ran a few 5ks that year with hopes of graduating to half marathons. These changes burned up 35 lbs! I went from 162 to 127. More importantly, I felt great! I had energy. I looked at my gym time as me-time so it was great for my mood as well. Then in 2015 I got sick. I was put on a medication that killed my appetite (in addition to other unpleasant side effects) so I started allowing myself to eat whatever sounded good just because nothing ever sounded good. My very regimented eating program had to go out the window just to get calories in. Now, I’ve since healed but I was still pretty lax with my eating, enough to find 15 of the pounds I’ve lost. And my energy never returned to the level where daily gym visits and runs were even a consideration. But on Monday, I took the first step: I made sure my gym key still works. I did a cycle on the treadmill. Yesterday, I did another round, this time with the elliptical. Then I swung by the grocery store for fresh fruits and vegetables. Those two gym days did not kill me. As a matter of fact, I’m going back tonight for round three. My goal is to get my weight back in line by mid-April (8 weeks) but my weight is definitely not the focus; it’s just one way to measure that I’m back on the right path. My increasing energy will be the real test, though. I want to break the sugar addiction as well. It’s not about getting a summer body so much as reclaiming my body by summer.
Now I’m 42. I want to be back in control. I’ve been there before, I know how to get back there again and I know how great it will feel when I get there. I saw a post today that said, “You weren’t born just to lose weight and pay off debt.” I wholehearted agree. This is a temporary focus and when I reestablish my good habits, I can put my focus on more exciting endeavors.