Freedom from Debt

Hi Friends 🙂

Are you having a lovely day?

I am, because I took the day off of work. Jason and I decided to take a little trip tonight/tomorrow down to Kansas City, MO – which is all part of his birthday gift. We are going to see Dave Ramsey speak:

(I realize that is a banner for a different date, I couldn’t find the correct one) It is a one day seminar about leadership. Although I am looking forward to the trip/seminar, this is totally more for Jason. He loves this sort of thing. The seminar is geared towards small business owners (which we are not) but the principles taught can apply to anyone.

We love Dave Ramsey, because it was his book The Total Money Makeover that helped us get our finances in order. Averie recently wrote a post about paying off debt, and to be honest, it is a subject that I have wanted to write about for a long time, but I felt so ashamed and there seemed to be this sense of guilt hanging over my head.

When Jason and I got married we had tons of debt – a mortgage, a car payment (thankfully my car was paid for), and credit card payments up the wazoo. I never told anyone (except for 1-2 friends who had as much if not more debt than we had) because I was ashamed. I felt like we had both been so terrible with money and I was embarrassed!  I also knew that if we had asked our parents for money they would have helped us in a heartbeat. But I didn’t want that. I wanted us to pay off the debt ourselves. And we did!

It took us about a year and a half to pay off 4 credit cards that totaled over $35,000. It was not easy. I am working on a few more posts detailing how we paid off that money, but basically we only bought what we absolutely could not live without and we budgeted every penny we earned. There were some months that we were able to pay lots of extra money onto the cards (garage sales, 3 paycheck months, tax returns), and some months we didn’t have as much extra money (car repairs, replaced washer/dryer, etc)

We still have some debt (mortgage and car payments), but it isn’t hanging over us and being such a stressor in our lives. We have built up our savings (and we are continuing to build it!) Our cars will be paid off before the end of this summer and what a relief that will be!

Seriously if you have debt (especially credit card debt!!!) I urge you to visit Dave Ramsey’s website – his Total Money Makeover book is usually only $10-$15 on his site and is well worth the money. I’ve heard Suze Orman is a good money/debt advice person as well, although I haven’t personally read any of her books.

Even though I still feel shame when it comes to having credit card debt, I feel so much better after sharing with someone how far we have come! You remember that we took a weekend trip to Las Vegas last November – that was to celebrate paying off the credit cards and saving enough money to pay for the entire trip with CASH. We haven’t charged ANYTHING in almost 2 years. It feels great!

If you have any questions that you’d like me to address in future Debt Relief Posts – feel free to email me at couchpotatoathlete (at) gmail (dot) com.

Hopefully our car trip will go quickly – have a great day!

~Holly

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Posted in Life. Tags: . 37 Comments »

Results & March Goals

Hi Friends 🙂

Well I’ve finished Catching Fire and tonight I will start the 3rd book Mockingjay. I am in love with these books and you will not regret picking them up.

Anywho – I did pretty well with my February goals, here is a quick recap:

1. Follow Marathon training plan – CHECK!

I do need to continue to work on stretching/foam rolling each day. It does help me, I just need to do it!

2. Read 2 books – DOUBLE CHECK!

Love and Respect

In Defense of Food

The Great Fitness Experiment

The Hunger Games

3. Try 2 new recipes per week – CHECK

Microwave Banana Cakes

Spinach Pancakes

Orange-Cilantro Black Bean Salad

Salmon Patties

Quinoa Burgers

Strawberry Bread

Vegan Alfredo

Eggs baked in Tomato Sauce

Egg Souffle

Avocado Pasta

Tortilla Casserole

4. Stay on budget – CHECK!

Jason and I were able to save a good amount of money this month. By the way we use Mint.com for budgeting/money planning purposes.

5. Blog more consistently – CHECK!

I think I missed 2 days of blogging in all of February which is definitely a success for me.

*

March Goals:

1. Get new blog up and running (!!!)

2. Continue with Marathon training & foam roll every day.

I have to do it – it helps my leg feel better while running and after running. Don’t worry, this is not something I will update you on every day!

3. Try 2 new recipes each week

I liked this one from February so I’m going to keep it going. As always, I will take suggestions on what to try!

4. Have at least one fun date night with Jason each week.

Don’t get me wrong – I love going out to eat once in a while or making a nice dinner at home – but this sounded like a fun goal to have, so we’re going for it. I also have seen some great Groupon deals lately (like scuba diving lessons and rock climbing!) and I thought it’d be fun to turn those into “date nights”.

5. Read these two books

Omnivore’s Dilemma

 Born to Run

(any other book on top of those coughtheothertwohungergamesbookscough is great, but I for sure want to get through those 2 books)

6. Stay on budget and save $XXX

I don’t want to get into specifics here, but I know what the X’s stand for and we will save that amount. One of our big goals for 2011 is building our savings, so every month counts!

And that’s it for now! I’ve got a book to go read.

What is one goal you are working on this week?

Posted in Life. 19 Comments »

Help Me Decorate (AKA where should I hang our race medals?)

Hi Friends 🙂

Happy Humpday!

Over a week ago, Jason brought me these love tulips:

And now they look like this:

They look super fragile, but they are still super strong! (and even in a super tall vase they fall over like that) I changed the water and trimmed the ends this afternoon and not one petal fell off – I hope they hold on tight because they are one of the nice reminders that Spring will be here soon. Here is my reality:

(Yes they have plowed since this picture was taken, but it gets my point across!)

I tried to keep dinner light, fresh and somewhat Spring-y:

A TJ’s chicken burger with grilled pineapple, romaine and avocado.

After dinner and hitting the gym to run 3 miles (I love the short midweek runs in Hal’s plan) – I came home and saw this staring me in the face:

This is a race medal holder that I ordered from Allied Steel (and I first read about these on Healthy Tipping Point) – for part of Jason’s birthday gift. His birthday is in March, so yes I gave him this gift early – because I want to hang it up! Right now it just sits on the kitchen table. Here are a few ideas of where I’d like to possibly hang it.

Option #1 is next to our front door:

I want to hang the medals in a place where people will actually see them! I am proud of them and so is Jason – so why not, right? We can definitely take down the picture to the right of the door and hang it there. But then it will technically hang in the dining room, which I don’t like the thought of.

Option #2 is at the top of the stairs:

We could easily move that painting of the Colisseum (that Jason bought in Italy) to a different room. Then, when people come in, it is one of the first things they see. However, I wonder if walking up/down the stairs or vacuuming the stairs would disturb it/make it scratch the wall/knock it down? although I have never knocked down that picture so I’m not sure why I’m concerned…

Option #3 is in the living room: 

I *love* my crocodile and hippo pictures (no I’m not kidding so don’t make fun, thanks!) – but these could get moved. Here the medals wouldn’t be disturbed – but they wouldn’t be seen much (by guests or by us!)

Any input?

If you see Spring will you please tell her to come to MN?

The Holly Llama Gets New Shoes

Happy Saturday 🙂

Did you see the beautiful Full Moon last night? Jason and I were on our way to Running Room when we saw it. I didn’t bother taking out my camera – I just decided to look at it instead of scrambling to get my camera. I hope you saw it!

I have bought shoes at Running Room before and now that almost an entire year has gone by, I decided to get a new pair. Plus my knee has been hurting when I run, so I figured I’d try new shoes to see if that helps.

I was amazed when I opened the door – Bill – one of my parents’ neighbors (and the father of my childhood friend) was working there! I had to tell him who I was, but he immediately remembered me! We had a nice time reminiscing – I don’t think I’ve actually seen him/talked to him in well over 10 years. But he still looks the same! He laughed so hard when I reminded him that he used to call me The Holly Llama (Dalai Lama…)

He fitted me for new shoes – meaning he had me lunge, squat and walk across the room. He determined (as have every other running store employee)  that I am an over pronator (click to learn about the different types) and recommended a few different shoes. I decided to get the Asics GT-2160 – they felt great on my feet!

I also picked up a few other things: sport beans, Clif shotblocks, and a Hammer gel. I have used sport beans before, but they upset my stomach sometimes, so I wanted to try a few different products to see what works well for my body.

After leaving Running Room (which I recently learned that Cathy works for them too!), we headed to Trader Joe’s. I only get to TJ’s about once per month at the most – the closest location is only 15-20 minutes away, but it still feels so far away! We picked up the “essentials”:

Three Buck Chuck, Bean/ Barley soup, stir-fry mix, almond butter, low sugar jelly, trail mix, brown rice pasta, chicken sausages, goat cheese, dates, larabars, sushi

And by “essentials” I mean anything that looked good at the time!

Well I’m off for an 8 mile run! See you tomorrow!

*Anything fun going on today?

*Do you stay loyal to a certain brand when buying running/exercise shoes or workout clothes? Why or why not?

February Goals

Hi Friends 🙂

How is your week so far?

I just got back from the gym — ran a few miles on the treadmill. I cannot wait for this snow and ice to melt. According to the Groundhog: Spring is right around the corner!

A few months ago I posted my monthly goals, and I think that really helped me focus on them. Lately I’ve made goals but I haven’t put much work into them at all.

 Here are my goals for February:

1. Train for Grandma’s Marathon. We have our hotel room for that weekend booked. We registered for the race. Now we just have to train! I want to continue to post my workout results here on the blog.

2. Read 2 books. I have heard so much about The Eaters Manifesto and I decided I just need to read it for myself! I also want to finish Love & Respect.

3. Try 2 new recipes each week. I have officially gotten back into my food ruts (or grooves as Averie calls them!) but I am in need of some variety.

4. Stay on budget. This is a goal every month! We are still trying to build our savings account while trying to quickly pay off our two car loans. Jason and I have paid off a lot of debt over the past few years and budgeting has helped us do just that! Now we are using our budget to save, save, save!

5. Blog more consistently. I’m going to put up posts when I can. Maybe that will be every day for a few days, then maybe I’ll take off 3-4 days. I need to figure out what works for me! But please know that I appreciate everyone who stops by to read, comment or email. This community is wonderful.

***So what are your suggestions for me? Any new recipes that you’ve tried that I should try? Feel free to leave me a link!

***Have you read any good books lately? I’ll need some ideas for March!

Posted in Life. 34 Comments »

That Damn Bear

Hi Friends! I hope you’re having a great morning so far.

Around Holidays or special occasions (anniversaries, etc) Jason and I usually sneak out to buy each other gifts (or we buy online!). Before Christmas, Jason had cleaned part of his office at work and brought home a few bags of stuff.

I naturally thought my gift was mixed up in the bags, so jokingly, I reached for the bag and asked “is my gift in here?” and Jason replied “nope, go ahead”. I reach in the bag and find

I said “what is this?”

Jason obviously looked bummed and I could tell that the bear was a part of my gift. He told me he forgot he had it in one of the bags. And I know I sound totally ungrateful, but never in a million years would I guess that Jason would get me a stuffed bear for a gift. It just isn’t my thing!

We don’t really have stuffed animals (they drive me nuts because where do they go? On the bed? On a shelf?) Stuffed animals from my childhood are stuffed in this bin:

Out of sight, not cluttering up my house!

So back to the bear. What do I do with this? At first I told Jason to take him back to work (jokingly, but I was kind of serious too!)

But he’s still here. And Jason keeps “hiding” him in my car each morning before work:

He is always someplace new every morning when I leave for work.

And then when I get home from work I return the favor:

I finally found a great place:

That way Jason will see him as soon as he parks his car (he backs his car into the garage)

I really hate that damn bear, but I’m starting to like him more and more 🙂

Have a great Thursday!

Holly

Posted in Life. Tags: . 21 Comments »

Do you have Pooped-Out-Itis?

Hi Friends!

Thanks everyone for the warm welcome back!

I’m sure most of you have heard by now that Jack LaLanne died a few days ago, right? 

 (source)

I remember watching his infomercials for his juicer – and I really wanted one for the longest time. Then, when I finally did get a juicer, I never used it so I sold it on Craigslist. I don’t really miss it, but every once in a while I wish I had hung onto it. Too bad it took up so much space in my kitchen!

On the radio Monday morning they were playing clips of him speaking, and one of the quotes was Jack talking about how so many people are struggling with Pooped-Out-Itis. I agree! And somedays, I struggle with Pooped-Out-Itis too!

 Here is what I do to try to prevent POI:

1. Get plenty of rest. Some nights I go to bed at 9pm or even earlier. It feels good to wake up refreshed and not have to literally pry open my eyelids when my alarm goes off in the morning. There are nights that it takes me a while to fall asleep – if I am stressed or worried about something. Those nights, I find it helpful to tell myself to “think about those things tomorrow” and I mentally cross them off my “list”. Then I actually tell my brain “goodnight”! This may sound crazy, but it really helps me calm myself down and fall asleep.

2. Drink plenty of water. Whether it is hot (for tea) or cold, fluids keep me awake and energized. I drink at least 4 refills of this bottle per day:

And I have 2-3 cups of tea in the morning as well.

3. Exercise. For a few weeks there I was really not consistent with exercise, but I have my mojo back big time. I think getting a new yoga mat and kettlebell for Christmas lit a spark under me – as did signing up for Grandma’s Marathon! But also with exercise, comes a few days of rest. I love my rest days (Mondays and Fridays) and they help me exercise longer and better! (A few of you asked me about my kettlebell, I hope to do a whole post all about mine, what I like and don’t like, etc)

4. Eat well. When I eat junk, I feel like junk. And I feel sleepy and like a blob.

5. Caffeine. I try to limit caffeine by only drinking it before 1-2pm, but to be honest, most days that doesn’t happen. I’ll have some diet coke or a small cup of coffee mid day to give myself a boost.

6. Take mini breaks throughout the day – every couple of hours (when I am at work) I will stand up, stretch, and move around. Usually I just need a few neck rolls to keep myself from feeling so stiff. 

Do you suffer from Pooped-out-itis? What do you do to fight it?

I’m currently writing this post and watching The Biggest Loser. I know, I’ve written before how I really don’t like the show and it is unrealistic, etc but I can’t stop watching! Have you been watching this season? What do you think of the new trainers?And, guess who I saw at Mall of America on Saturday?

(That is Bob Harper for those of you who didn’t know!) No I didn’t get to meet him, the line was too long 😦

Enjoy your day!

Holly