Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Fitness Pal

I have both an iPad and an iPhone, so I have been exploring the world of apps! Aligning with my renewed focus on fitness, I have been meandering through a product called My Fitness Pal. This app is very cool, it has a back end database that you can search through to add in your meals and snacks, and it totals up the calories for you. 
There is little magic behind the wonders of weight loss, it is rather a simple mathematical equation.  Calories IN must be less than calories OUT, eat less fuel than you burn, creative a negative and you will minus the kilo's.  Create a positive and overtime you will increase!  Pretty simple concept and it often results in a better diet.  In my case I get roughly 1300 calories to eat a day.  When you count them you sure do realise the importance of feeling satisfied and the sacrifice required for that chocolate.
Of course everything in moderation, so if you really want that chocolate then you have to find the balance, which often means increasing exercise to burn calories to create the deficit.  It can be an eye opener to realise how long on the treadmill it will take to burn off that little craving your heart desires.  The app also lets you add in fitness workouts, and then calculates the additional calories that you are allowed to consume based on your efforts. For a free app, it was worth the download.
You can link your account to friends to create a virtual support network, and of course, some external accountability.  For me I am not a huge person, but I do have some challenges to work around.  An annoying health issue which limits movements and often causes fatigue.  I also have a demanding career and of course I manage solo parenting in the equation also. 
My "range" has reached my maximum, so it is time to get back into the swing of things and bring the equation back into balance.  I did ask my sister to join in the challenge, but with Christmas almost upon us she was happy to binge away until the New Year.  For me I took the start early approach, not much new there in the approach to my goal setting.  She is getting an iPad for Christmas, so I will load up her My Fitness Pal account!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Goal No. 61 Sky Diving

This goal has been many years in the making.  Not because it was unachievable, expensive or required a lot of planning.  It was because I am petrified of heights!  I have moved through abseiling, hot air ballooning and now to the big one.  With my upcoming 40th birthday, it seemed like the right time to take the plunge.

I love the water, so landing on downtown Kirra Beach was a fabulous venue.  The glossy spiel from the company website states that jumping from a plane is not like over looking a ledge on a building.  I spent the majority of the week in denial.  I figured if I didn't think about it, then I would not have time to stress.  This strategy worked really well.

The evening before I took the daughter out for a last supper.  It turns out that Macca's is all you need.  At least it was an economical last supper, and it came with a toy.  I also threw caution to the wind and inhaled an orea sundae.  A few extra kilos were unlikely to make a difference in the event of an untimely death.

Regrettably after driving for several hours and being only minutes away from the training session, we were advised that the wind was not in our favour.  We rescheduled to the following afternoon on the promise that the weather was going to be awesome.  I took the opportunity to bring down the extended family to allow for my daughter to watch, hoping that the end result was not a life scarring splat, and more an opportunity to showcase that life is full of adventure.

The training was simple, you are likely to forget everything, so don't stress!  As we arrived at the tarmac, and I spotted the plane, I am on camera quoting that the my daughter has bigger bath toys than that plane!  I didn't stress as we snuggled in, or took off.  The view was spectacular, and I was actually contemplating that the view alone was worth the price tag of the journey.

As I glanced over to my travelling companion, I could tell that moral support and a show of strength was in order.  I actually maintained all composure until the DOOR OPENED.  When you feel the wind at 12,000 feet OMG it has some power.  As I saw my mate try to hang on to everything and then instantly vanish at the speed of a lego up the vacuum, I did think....well I stopped thinking!  Somehow I managed to get to the door, and out on to the ledge.  In my head I did it all with grace and dignity in comparison to the previously dispatched traveller.

Regardless of that, the journey was soon to begin.  Nothing can explain what the feeling is of the speed of free fall.  Even the web site skips this bit.  It is adrenalin that rushes at this point, along with the fear of looking awful on your pictures and DVD!  I couldn't actually get air into my lungs, so I actually took short sips of what could only be akin to a pregnant woman actually about to get through the final stages of contractions, huffing and puffing.

The chute opens and you are jerked back into civilisation.  With a lung full of air and a semblance of composure returning you can start to appreciate the magic of the scenery.  We managed to spot a sting ray which must have been huge give how high up we were.  Then there was some discussion about whale watching (which is another story all together). 

It was around this moment of traversing the downward path when my severe motion sickness kicked in.  I threw caution to the wind, no longer worried about how my cheeks looked during a free fall, but more concerned about vomiting on the camera!  Lucky I was well versed in huffing and puffing, as I returned to this as a strategy to maintain dignity.

I did actually manage to land without displacing lunch, to an adoring crowd of family support, including my pint sized fan club who ran up to "catch me".  There was no words for Mummy, just a super big hug.  Goal number 61 is completed.



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Your Money Your Life

This book is tauted as an American financial classic and was on my list of books to read. I had no real expectations, and I generally maintain if you can take one good thing from a book, then it was worth your time to read it.

Myself, I am an avid goal setter and financially reliable, and one of the recent goals has been to start rebuilding my share portfolio managed by myself and not the financial advisor. The author had been a stock broker who retired in his early 30's, although there is no reference to him retiring with millions based on his success.

The prologue is fairly catchy and commences with a few questions for the reader, such as "Do you have enough money?, Are you spending enough time with your family and friends? Is your life whole? Do all the pieces - your job, your expenditures, your relationship, your values - fit together?" After reading questions like these, I was interested to see how the book unfolded.

You will learn about the "evolution of the fulfillment curve" and the differences between survival, comfort, luxury and over consumption. The chapters will take you through a 9 step program, which looks at where you are now, where you could have been, and how to change where you want to go.

Step 1, net worth fairly simple. Step 2 starting looking at how old you are and how many hours you have left to live, and I was wondering where this book was starting to go! Then we started to work on tying our income to life hours, and working out the real costs of life/hour.

Step 3 - now with any finance book, you will be asked to make a budget, and this one is no exception. Although the twists on what you do with that budget are fantastic. So now you are looking at a budget configuration that tracks what your net worth position against your life energy, and you end up with a method that will assist you in assessing the real value of potential career moves.

Step 4 works through your life goals, or the need to start considering them if you don't have any! Your budget changes are then linked to how much life energy value you receive from the expenditure, and allows the individual to tailor their programs based on their own values.

Step 5 is commencing to graph you income through the use of a wall chart. I myself embraced the electronic age and used Excel, as graph paper is almost a distant memory! After tracking your monthly income, you then add in your monthly expenses, and commence a program to spend less than you earn. In today's society this will be a challenge for most. Our materialistic world is now in the grips of learning a valuable lesson, a global financial crisis.

In Step 8 the addition of monthly investments are added to your wall chart, and you start to learn about the "Crossover Point". This is the magical point in which you no longer NEED to work. Now the book has some ideas on what you could do with your time, and their suggestions were geared to saving the planet, charity work etc.

Now for me, I love the challenge of work and love my job. However, do I need to work full time? After working our my crossover point, I have gone back to the 65 year plan and made some adjustments. At my crossover point I will be moving to working part time, and using my life energy to do some of those things on the my life to do list.

The book explored life balance, it addressed the emotional and physical well being, matching your life energy and goals to provide a path to "Financial Independence", and well worth the read!

End of Year Review

So at the end of each year I wrap up what have we achieved, and pull down from the plan what goals we are setting for the following year.

Nearly all successful people have a plan and set goals, yet many of us struggle to know where to start. When asked, I always tell people to start with 100 things they want to accomplish in their lifetime. But remember, we are now part way along, so go back into the memories and look at the high points of things that you have been proud of, and write them on your list too.

At first, the 100 things may take some time to think of, so carry your list around and write the things as they come to mind. It also provides an opportunity for you to look at the list, which reminds your subconscious that this is something that is important to you. Delta has a song with some words "...a dream stays a dream unless woken..." If it is not written down, then it is not a goal, but only a dream.

However in the essence of balance, we must set goals across all areas of our lives, including;

· business and career

· financial

· family

· health and fitness

· lifestyle

· contributing

· adventure

When you finish your list, go back and place the individual items under your category headings. How does it look? Is there a balanced approach in your life? If it helps, they never do on the first cut.  Now you have to look at the areas that are weaker and add some items into there.

Blue Print

I was around 18 when I started to think about what I really wanted to achieve out of this life.  In those days, the Almanac was widely used in place of the Internet!  I spent some time doing some research trying to work out how I could make the most of this finite resource called life.  My mother had died about five years earlier, so I knew that time had to be cherished, and everything will end, regardless of you being ready for it.

I found that the average Australian woman lived until 86, and I began to craft the 65 year plan.  In my travels over the next 20 years I have never manage to find anyone with a plan as ambitious as mine.  In fact those who do know about the length of mine are often teasing me about it.  I simply smile.  It is my life and whenever it ends, I will have done all that I could in the time that I had available.  I will have lived my life.