Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Loving Me for Me

Last night, I did my 150th class at Pure Barre Boulder. That's not a milestone in and of itself, but I'm halfway to joining the 300 Club, which I'm pretty thrilled about. It took me exactly 8 months to get to 100 classes and now it's only been (a little over) 3 months and I've already logged another 50 more.

I feel like after each class I take, I learn more about my body. I've come to realize that I'll never have a thigh gap. I have big legs and that's just how it is. I also have narrow hips and that's just how it is. I've discovered that my legs go toward each other above the knee, but away from each other below the knee. It's strange, but I probably wouldn't know that without Pure Barre.

But I've also learned so many good things about myself. I have discovered how strong I am. I have discovered new limits I can push myself toward. I have discovered it's true that your mind gives up long before your body ever does. I think I've come a long way since my first class last July.

My body might not be perfect. I'll certainly never be on the cover of the Swimsuit Edition of Sports Illustrated. But my body is mine and it's the one I've got for the rest of my life. I love taking care of it and I love being able to do something now that I couldn't do before.

I'm starting to set some Pure Barre goals for myself for the next 150 classes. I'm not adding "get a thigh gap" or "have a six pack" onto that list because I might just not be blessed with amazing genes. But I want to conquer positions I struggle with now. I want to get through a class without coming out of any position. I want to get stronger abs.

I was reading through some old Pure Barre posts and loved the post marking my 50th class and I figured I would do that again:

1st class Hannah could barely make it through weight work during the warm up.
50th class Hannah can do the entire routine without dropping the weights, and keep her shoulders down and away from her ears.
150th class Hannah has started using 3 pound weights when we "grab a heavier set of weights" and I can still do the warm up without dropping them.

1st class Hannah could barely do one of the three thigh exercises without coming out of the pose.
50th class Hannah can do all three thigh exercises without coming out of it.  She just embraces the shake and breathes through it, rewarding herself with deep stretching after.
150th class Hannah has finally conquered chair position and doesn't shake in most positions for thigh sprints.

1st class Hannah felt more work in her standing leg than her working leg during seat work.
50th class Hannah still feels work in that standing leg, but she crunches her Pure Barre ledge and her outer seat and thighs even come to a shaking point sometimes.
150th class Hannah can do all the seat work effectively and rarely feels it in her standing leg.

1st class Hannah never felt her abs work during the under-the-barre ab portion of the class.
50th class Hannah realizes that the deeper you tuck, the harder you work.
150th class Hannah is finally getting the hang of round back and flat back ab work.

1st class Hannah faked her way through the rest of the ab work, thinking all those years of crunches were a joke.
50th class Hannah knows her abs need to shake if they're going to change, and she needs to stay in it if they're going to shake.
150th class Hannah is embracing the shake in her abs and pushing herself to do better than the last class.

Mastering Pure Barre doesn't happen over night and I still have plenty of room to grow, but I love my body for allowing me to accomplish what I have accomplished so far. 

I'm also excited to announce that I started working at the front desk since my 100th class. It's been almost two months and I absolutely love it!  

Check out my other posts about Pure Barre:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Budget Update

So I'm a little over two weeks into my new budget. I've decided to "pay myself" with my envelopes every pay period. It makes it a little difficult since some pay periods are longer than the others, but I'm trying it this month and I'll tweak things from there if needed. For instance, I have to go back to using my card for gas after this month. It's just so easier for me to keep track of (the light doesn't work when I'm low on gas) and I like filling up my tank completely. Some months are different than others and I'll use more or less gas, but it's usually in the same ballpark each month. Gas was the first of my spending envelopes that I emptied, but I had enough gas.

I was curious to see after one week how my new budget affected my spending habits. Since I've been tracking my spending for a while now, I added up how much I spent on "extras" in the first seven days in January through May. (Extras would be things like eating out, shopping, etc.) When I compared that to what I spent the first seven days of June, I was shocked. I spent 45% of my average spending from those first five months.

The first week was definitely an adjustment. I'm so used to swiping my debit card and now I'm having to count out bills and coins. In fact, I was at Chick-Fil-A and gave the cashier 35 cents when it was 34 cents. She asked me if I wanted my penny back and I practically exclaimed YES! I don't want to start counting pennies, but in a way, I am. Every penny counts in a budget!

I decided to add another envelope--miscellaneous. I guess this will just be a catch all for my other purchases because it dawned on me that I needed somewhere to get money for the random things that don't fit into the other categories. I want to start sending people notes and cards just to say hello or for their birthday and I need an envelope for that. I want a the new Pure Barre tumbler (mostly because it will fit in my cup holder) and I don't have an envelope for that. You get it, it's just for things that aren't clothes or food basically.

So far, I think the hardest thing for me has been the envelopes that I haven't been using as much. When you budget, you have to think in terms of the future and not just the here and now, so that's certainly an adjustment. I gave myself an envelope for clothes and I did actually buy two pairs of sandals from Target this month (thank you buy 1, get one 50% off sale!), but I haven't been shopping a whole lot lately. I know that there will come a day when I need something or I really want something, but right now that money is just sitting there not being used. (And I could have drinks on the patio with that money!) That could possibly be a sign that I'm giving myself too much money for clothes each month, but June is just a trial run and I'm willing to move some numbers around after the first thirty days.

I have to admit that I went to two different restaurants within the first week with my debit card in my pocket, with every intention to spend off the budget. The first time, I was meeting a friend at Chipotle who had said he had a two-for-one coupon. I wasn't sure how the payment of the "one" would be, so I had it just in case. He ended up paying for it. The second time, I went to brunch and took my card because I knew my individual tab would be around $30 (thanks to $13 bottomless mimosas!). Even though I had plenty of money in my dining out envelope both times, I still took my card. I think the second time I was concerned that I would use the rest of the money in that envelope and still have 6 days left. Once again, someone picked up my tab and I didn't actually use my card, but I need to stop doing that. And interestingly enough, I ended up with nearly 1/3 of my dining out cash still in the envelope by pay day!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ten on Ten :: June 2014

10 pictures on the 10th day of the month!
Document a snapshot of your life & find beauty among the ordinary things in your day!

 Picked up some $2 burritos for breakfast the rest of the week. They're delicious!

Ever since I started my budget, I've been obsessed with "crunching the numbers".

Argon, one of my sweet foster kittens.

I'm starting a teatox tomorrow!

 Outshine popsicles make for the best after work snack.

I'll never get used to being able to see these from the front desk at Pure Barre.

Did I mention I work the front desk two days a week at Pure Barre Boulder now. I love it.

Sarah kicked my seat in the 6:35 class!

A beautiful sunset on the way home for the second night in a row. I love Colorado.

Ending the night with dinner (popcorn), a kitten (Neon), and Netflix. Don't tell me what happens in season two! I'm rewatching season one first!

Monday, June 09, 2014

Bear Lake Adventures

Last week, my friend Stephy asked if I wanted to go to the mountains instead of going to work. Um, yes! After I got the all clear from the boss, I was ready for a day of fun in RMNP.

We had a bit of a slow morning due to the fact that I wanted to attempt to get tickets to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Sadly, I wasn't able to, but it only set us back about 30 minutes. We encountered another snafu when the road to Estes Park was closed due to flood damage from September, but Estes Park, Allens Park, and Lyons are all connected by a scenic loop and we were able to get there with no problem at all.

Stephy wanted to walk at Bear Lake, which is a 1/2 mile loop around a lake with a gorgeous backdrop. It's wheelchair accessible, which means the path is wide and mostly flat. It would be perfect for us and easy to walk for her almost 3 year old daughter.

The trail was a little soggy with some snow melt, but it wasn't too bad at the beginning. In fact, it was quite an enjoyable (albeit slow) walk and the surrounding mountains and trees were just breathtaking!  When we got about halfway around the lake, we had to climb over some snow. It was hard enough that we could walk on top, but not easy for little hikers, especially on the slippery parts. We got some help from another adventurer, but it ended up taking about 3 times longer to do that stretch of the lake since it was nearly all covered in huge piles of snow pack.

In the end, we did it and we were all deemed strong, brave, and ADVENTUROUS! We decided to call it quits after one loop around since we were all getting hungry for lunch.

We had to drive to find a good picnic spot, but we got more incredible views and even saw this pretty lady just standing on the side of the road. We slowed to take a picture and she just posed for us!

We had a quite lunch by a raging river. I don't know why, but picnic lunches always taste better. This week, I've been on a major cheese/cracker/salami kick, so I packed my lunch accordingly. The only thing it was missing was one of those little boxes of wine like a juice box!

It was fairly cloudy all day, but we didn't get caught in a terrible storm like the clouds might imply. It made it a little more chilly, but nice for pictures. (By the way, when I was a kid I always thought it would be warmer in the mountains because you're closer to the sun. I mean, DUH!)

We found a kind of trail (it would appear, then disappear, then reappear) and we walked about another 1/2 mile. We walked to this beautiful green valley. Maybe I'm remembering Colorado incorrectly, but I was just taken aback by how green everything was up there. All that snow this winter/spring must have helped out a lot!

We drove back through the park and saw lots of elk and a mother and baby fox, but that was about it. On the way up, we stopped where people were out taking pictures and I caught a glimpse of a moose, but it never came out into a clearing for some good pictures.

We did happen to catch a big elk sitting along the side of the road, practically in someone's back yard!

We ended out trip with a stop at Grandma's Mountain Cookies, which is Stephy's favorite place in Estes for treats. I had never been there and couldn't decide between a regular sugar cookie (though it was decorated like the Colorado flag) or this chocolate chip cookie sandwich with buttercream in the middle. I absolutely made the right choice. It was sweet enough to last a while and for me to still be dreaming of it today!

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Envelope System

Last week I saw a tweet from Jamie about the envelope system she and her husband use to budget. After a few more tweets, I was directed to this post by Victoria that broke it all down for me. I thought about it for a while, and that afternoon I started mapping out my finances a little bit and what the envelope system might look like for me.

I started with how much I make each month and subtracted some of my bills that are on auto-pay (car payment, car insurance, phone bill, etc.). The number I came up with was the number I used for my envelope system. Instead of going weekly with the envelopes, I'm just going based on my 2 pay checks each month. They're the same amount, so it was easy to designate dollar amounts to each envelope. The only hurdle I can imagine is that some pay periods are longer than others. We'll see how that works out. At first, I came up with 9 categories, but I later added 2 more (tags and vacation).

eating out
personal items

I used Victoria's categories as a jumping off point, but I spent some time going over how I spend my money month-to-month. This year, I've been using an Erin Condren Life Planner and it's been a godsend. Each month, I use the monthly page to track my purchases. I list where I spend my money with both a daily and weekly total. At the end of the month, I add up all my "necessities" and all my "extras". So I picked these nine envelopes to start with my trial run in June.

CAR - As Victoria explained, they put away enough money to stay on top of their regular oil changes and other car expenses. I think this is a category I'll need to reevaluate after using this system for a few months, but it's always nice to have some money set aside for a specific thing. Right now, I already need an oil change and a new set of windshield wipers for my car.

CHRISTMAS - Every year when Christmas rolls around, I always wish I had saved a small amount of money each pay check to create a cushion for the Christmas gifts I purchase at the end of the year. Too many people are stretched too thin around the holidays and I've been one of them for too long. For instance, even setting aside $10 a pay check (if you get paid twice a month) adds up to $240 by the end of the year, which is a nice place to start and you're really only giving up one lunch out or two trips to Starbucks.

CLOTHING - For lent, I gave up shopping and I did a pretty good job sticking to it. I haven't actually shopped much since Lent ended either and it feels good. I truly spent too much money on new clothes, focusing more on having the latest trends and fashions, rather than creating different looks from the pieces I've already own. I've done too many major closet clean outs recently and if you're getting rid of dozens of items and still have a full closet, it might be time to cut back.

EATING OUT - At this point in my life (I'm afraid to say), too much of my money goes to eating out. Ever since I discovered how amazing everything at Chick-Fil-A is, I stop there for lunch all too frequently. It doesn't help that it's smack dab in the middle of my commute from the office to home. But eating out lunch multiple times a week adds up quickly these days, and that doesn't include special dinners out or random outtings for froyo. Honestly, the amount I was spending at restaurants was the biggest motivator to create a budget and stick to it. The amount I designated for eating out each month is about 50% of what I had been spending. This envelope will definitely be the biggest test of my determination to stick with the budget.

ENTERTAINMENT - It shouldn't come as a surprise that I love going to movies. This is where that money is going to come from. Things like baseball games, concerts, and other activities of the sort will come from this envelope as well. Of course one month may be slower than another, so it will be good to "roll over" some of that money to use it on something with a bigger price tag that I really want to attend. Now I just have to decide if the popcorn at the movie theater will come from eating out or entertainment!

GAS - This is pretty self explanatory. I tracked how much I've been spending on gas in January through May and created kind of an average number to use in a month. I may have to adjust it, but we'll see. This one is going to be tough for me because I'm so used to swiping my card at the pump. When you pay cash, you give them a set amount beforehand and that's how much gas you're going to get. I like to fill my tank up completely, even if it's a random number like $49.67, and I won't know how much money will get me a full tank. The biggest problem I see with this is my gas light on my dashboard doesn't work and I usually go by how many miles I've driven on that tank (especially when it gets around E). I'm willing to test drive (HA!) the idea for June, but if I get stranded on the highway with no gas, I'm going to have to go back to using the card and maybe just being conscious of how much I'm driving to help stay around the budgeted amount instead.

GROCERIES - This is self explanatory as well.

PERSONAL ITEMS - This is going to be the money I use to purchase basically toiletry/sundry items. Usually I just toss them in the basket at the grocery store, so I haven't really kept track of how much I spend on those kinds of things and how frequently I purchase them. Also, I usually take advantage of the deals at Target on items like deodorant and tampons. Sometimes if you buy a certain number, you get a $5 gift card. Why not? Those things don't expire! So I may need to reevaluate this number as well, but we'll see how it goes for now.

SALON - I absolutely cannot stand to have my eyebrows plucked, I have to get them waxed. I get my eyebrows waxed once every four weeks and since my childhood friend just got a job at that salon, I've decided to actually start getting haircuts on a regular basis, every eight weeks. This one was actually a little tricky. I figured out I get my eyebrows waxed 13 times a year and I'll be getting a haircut 6.5 times a year. I took the amount I spend on each service (tip included) and multiplied it by how many times I pay for it to get a total number, then divided that by 12 to find out how much money I need to set aside each month. 

TAGS - I added tags after I spent some time thinking about Victoria's categories. I actually just paid for my car registration in May and while it wasn't a devastating amount, it was missed. The tags for my car right now allow me to set aside a very small amount per check that will add up and cover the cost when the time comes each year.

VACATION - This isn't meant to cover the cost of airfare or hotels. This is just going to help me collect some extra cash to spend for when I do go on vacation. I'm going to New York this summer and while I won't have built up a huge foundation of money by then, it will be nice to have just a small amount set aside to spend while I'm there. It's a lot easier for me to save than way rather than thinking "No, don't go to Starbucks today so that I can get a cupcake from a fancy NYC shop in a few months" or something along those lines. If I had been doing this all year, it would probably help me out significantly so I wouldn't blow a whole pay check on a few days of vacation.

I went to the bank after deciding on my 11 categories to get the cash. I know it won't be a hassle next time, but it definitely was this time. I swear I met a banker who couldn't do addition or count money. At home, I had indicated how much money I was putting in each envelope, then determined how many of each of the bills I would need. I made a note and then headed over to the bank. I told the teller I needed to withdraw X amount and then this is how I want the bills to break down. I'm not sure what caused the error, but she said "Okay, then a hundred?" I told her I didn't want a hundred dollar bill and if the math was off, I apologize, but I need this many $5's, this many $10's, this many $20's. That was the important thing. She got all flustered and confused before I just took out my phone and added everything up again to make sure the total amount was correct, which it was the first time. She had some difficulties counting the money as well since it has to be counted three times, but her supervisor came over and everything went smoothly after that. I know it's not going to be like this every time, it was just a strange occurrence.

I'm using June as a bit of a trial run. I know I need some sort of budget and I think this will be a good fit for me, but I'm a little nervous as well. Luckily, when I finished dividing the money up for the envelopes, I still had some left over, so I can make some changes next month if need be. I like Victoria's idea of over-budgeting rather than under-budgeting. I know myself and I know I would be really discouraged if I was spending "too much money" each month because I was setting unrealistic goals for myself. Jamie also suggested moving my debit card to a different place in my wallet as a reminder that I'm using cash now and not the card.

I truly think this will be a good change for me. Spending money via debit card makes it way too easy to spend money and harder to think about the value of what I'm buying. You just don't have as much of a grasp of that when you never actually see the money change hands. I'm already on day four and I consciously spent less money this weekend than I normally would. I made a trip to the grocery store and gas station after going to the bank on Friday and I went to the movies on Sunday, but I made sure to go when tickets were $5 and didn't stock up on junk food at the concession stand just because.

 My new kitten with my new wallet! (No idea why he's sleeping like that.)