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My life began to change 3 1/2 years ago (roughly). I’d been living in Ireland with my daughter and (then) boyfriend for a couple of years. We’d been informed at the beginning of July (2014) that we could no longer stay there. Our lack of a visa had made us illegal, which was not news, but now someone had noticed. 2 1/2 more years there and we could have applied for citizenship.

We had less than 3 weeks to pack our things, unload as many personal belongings as we could from what we had accumulated and head back to the states. We’d been living in furnished homes since leaving for Cairo in August, 2010, but we had a small child with us and had accumulated toys and things like that.

I remember we were running so late at the airport the day we flew out (my birthday; July 16th) that we were literally running as we unloaded the golden lab (called Crixus) in his carrier and I met the buyer of my car, who gave me a quick 400 Euro in the airport parking garage. I quickly apologized for the dog hair and we raced inside. From that day forward, my life not only would be different, but it would be an uphill battle.

A lot has happened between then and now, but last year I found myself single, stuck in the state I grew up in (Wisconsin), which I loved, but no longer wanted to be/live in, so hated. It was just me, my daughter and our small zoo of animals. I never wanted to stay here. I wanted to go right away, but it wasn’t in the cards for us, so we re-settled in the area.

I realized last winter that I can’t handle the Wisconsin winters anymore. Well, I’m doing it, so perhaps I can, but really don’t want to. Dealing with the snow is too much. It pushed my over the edge of being able to tolerate my existence here and feeling like I was going to crack. I realized that I was walking in place again, like I’ve done so many times before. It was time to get my shit together.

I formulated a plan in my mind. My small zoo now consists of the golden lab (Crixus), a Great Dane (Shaggy), a tortoise (now 1 1/2-years-old), Blue Ears, the rabbit, and Shakespeare, my parrotlet. How would I ever find a place to rent? This would especially be hard because I wanted to relocate across the country to Oregon, or possibly Washington. I was looking for either Irish-similar weather I’d grown so accustomed to or the western dessert I also knew and loved. Oregon seemed like a place to find exactly what I was looking for.

It hit me one day. By now I’ve had the plan in the back of my mind from so long that I don’t even know how I thought of it or what I was doing when I thought of it. I just know that before last year’s taxes, I’d decided I was going to buy an RV. I went back and forth between buying a travel trailer or and RV. I’d settled on an RV (despite people who care about me telling me the trailer might be better), because I can drive it with or without pulling behind a vehicle. Either way, it is a small home on wheels.

With an RV, I could load up my animals, drive to where I wanted to go (preferably at the beginning of a summer) and we could check out different places. We’d find a suitable place to rent/live over the summer, hopefully before school started in fall, so we’d end up in a safe place, unrushed. It seemed like the perfect plan and if I wanted to be totally unrealistic with myself, I thought I could do it last summer (ha!).

I tried and tried to find an RV, but found nothing. Finally, out of desperation I posted an ad in a Facebook group asking if anyone knew of or had an affordable RV for sale? It didn’t have to be pretty or updated, but it did have to be functional and affordable. A woman contacted me nearly right away telling me about her 1986 Gulf Stream Sunsport. I now know it is 30′ long. At the time, I was told it was a bit bigger. She said the cabinets had been replaced and that a lot of work had been done to it. She said all the flooring (tile, she said) had been purchased already and would come with it. It ran and drove, but her husband had been working on remodeling it for years. They had purchased a new one and she wanted this one gone. They wanted $2,300 for it.

I had my tax return, which was around $3,100. Excitedly, I rode with my dad to Cambria to take a look at it. The seller had driven it to a parking lot to meet us. The interior was much different than described. More had been done to it than I’d been told, but also less. The “tile” she’d been talking about was vinyl tile. As someone who has installed all types of flooring and used to own a construction business, I can say that I was not impressed. Her husband insisted he had fixed the roof. I could see that he’d replaced the subfloor, but the cabinets were ripped apart. The 80s were very apparent inside, but it wasn’t gross or disgusting, just a bit in shambles. The cloth interior was a teal and green design and I instantly thought it looked dark inside with the fake wood and the wicker design in the center of most of the cabinet doors. The lower doors for the cabinets had no hinges and I could see it had not been well thought out. There was a brand new, never-used toilet…sitting uninstalled in the bathroom. Old wallpaper covered everything and the ceiling had turned icky with age.

For some reason, the old owner had pulled apart the dash. I guess he thought it was important to replace, but in doing so, he’d pulled apart all the wiring. Nothing was hooked up. I’d immediately put money down on the RV to hold it until I could get a cashier’s check from the bank for the remainder and we’d signed something. After I’d put the money down, they contacted me and said the brakes had gone out and they would repair them before handing it over to me. This repair took weeks and I wondered if I’d ever truly take possession of it. I eventually did sometime in May. I believe they delivered it to its storage location around the 8th.

My then 9-year-old daughter and I spent every extra minute all spring, summer and fall (while the weather was still warm) working on it. We made progress, but not near what we wanted. Paint was the cheapest beginning and we set off painting all the cabinets white and the wallpapered walls a very light grey. We may have gotten half of it done.

Not long after I got the RV, I was lucky enough to find two cream colored leather captain’s chairs and a fold-out brown leather couch from a newer RV for free on craigslist. I was lucky enough to get them. Slightly worn, but much improved from the seats I ripped out. Those were installed (by me) in the summer. At one point, I also found replacement dinette cushions off of craigslist. I think I paid around $100. They were used, but were like brand new, in perfect condition and were a brownish color that went well with my cream and brown furniture.

By the time Halloween rolled around, it was just too cold to do much more and by then I saw what I’d accomplished, but also how far I had to go. I shook my head at myself, wondering how I would be able to accomplish all I needed by the summer of 2018, which was my new goal for leaving. By December I’d made it up in my mind that I was leaving by then no matter what. While I’d been spending all this time working on my RV, I’d also been trying to finish the house I was renting. I’d committed to installing flooring in the living room, kitchen and three bedrooms. All was done except the kitchen. I’d also painted two of the bedrooms and the living room and had partially painted the bathroom. My dog had ripped up the brand new bathroom flooring my landlord put in the winter before, so I also have to replace that.

By the first of the year, I had this feeling like things were going to work out for me this time. I realized I may have to let go of things. Over the summer I’d paid a guy to organize my over-flowing garage so I could find things. After he’d done that, I could actually get two vehicles in it and could walk through it and see what I had. I realized 85-95% of it would have to be gotten rid of. I already knew I’d sell my couch for what I could get for it before I left. We were taking no bedroom furniture of my daughter’s, per her request, and she wanted to get rid of the majority of her toys, because she is getting older and no longer wanted to play with toys. That left my bedroom set, my grandparent’s dining room set, one single leather rocker/recliner I felt I had to have with me, electronics, tools I wanted to keep and possibly a solid wood and very heavy (and unmanageable) long dresser I have in my living room that I use as an entertainment stand. I can’t forget all of my kitchen appliances and things I do not want to part with or have to replace.

I found quotes online for various things: moving pods, moving trucks (like U-Haul and Budget), storage buildings, moving companies–whatever you can think of. It all came down to a need for a few thousand dollars. Somewhere along the line I had it in my head that I would need $6,000 to move.  I would need gas money to get there, money to rent a place to put the RV, full coverage insurance on the RV and roadside assistance, food money and “oops” money for things I could not foresee.

I was happy to see my taxes were going to give me about half that. I was even more happy when I took my Explorer to a local mechanic who said another customer had offered $2,500 to buy it. I’d purchased it 2 years before for just $550. I thought that was a nice profit and that $2,500 would almost get my to what I felt comfortable leaving with.

Then something shitty happened. My Explorer was parked outside of the shop waiting to be repaired and some guy (high and/or drunk out of his mind) stole it, committed another crime in it and totaled it within just a few hours.

Luckily, I’d had full coverage insurance on it. Progressive moved quickly and sent me a check for around $1700-something (after my $250 deductible). Something clicked in my mind and I sat down and re-figured some of the expenses I thought I’d have in leaving for Oregon. I realized I could lower my numbers by quite a bit. I’d had it worked out with that same mechanic to pay him a deposit and a monthly amount to fix my vehicles and do repairs on the RV. He’d looked it over and determined it needed brakes, fuel lines, u-joints, he could do the re-wiring, and it needs its roof re-sealed again. He said we could store it at his shop and I could work on it there. With heat in it, I could get things done in cold weather. He said he could have it done by June, but after I re-figured, I asked him if I just paid him for it, could he do it faster. Of course, he said yes.

I re-arranged the plan in my mind. I would rent a storage building near where I lived and commit to bringing as many boxes and tubs as I could each weekend. My daughter and I would go through them and take only over what we intend to move. I’d number each one as I put it in, so by the time I was done, I’d know how many I had. This information is important for various moving quotes. This would also be helpful, because I’d received a letter in early January from my landlord that he was going to put the house I was in up for sale around March 1st. Of course, there would be the opportunity to stay, but also I may have to move. The stress was all too much and that was when my problem-solving mind went into overdrive to figure a way out of my problems. Bad thing after bad thing kept happening, but many things seemed to be leading me out of the state, where for some reason, I felt this black cloud I seemed to be under would be lifted.

I started looking through craigslist searching Washington and Oregon for RV sites. I’d been thinking I would go to an RV park and had found one as cheap as $350 a month plus electricity, but then I came across an ad for a single family that had an RV site with hookups on their property. I researched their area and really liked it. I’d emailed them and had received a voicemail from the husband the next day. I called back and got his wife, who I had a really nice conversation with. I instantly liked her and could tell she felt the same. Unfortunately, they were prepared to rent to me and I was prepared to rent, but was not ready to go. They said they couldn’t wait until June, but had not had an good prospects yet (except me). We agreed they would let me know if they rent it and I would contact them when I was ready to go to see if their spot was still open.

I realize now I may not get to rent their spot, but the rush is driving me to push harder to get out of here faster. Even if the opportunity slips away, the more I can get done in the shortest amount of time will put me in a better spot. If my landlord sells my house while I am still here and I decide I have to move, it would be nice to be able to just go to the RV. It would save me money.

So that is where I am at. My next step is to put insurance on the RV, so it can be driven or towed to the mechanic and he can begin. I also need to rent that storage building, which I think is going to cost me about $50 a month. I’m waiting for my Progressive check to clear. I put it in a relatively new bank account and they are sitting on it for 5 business days. My first purchases will be insurance and roadside assistance and then the rental unit, which I plan to pay at least two months of. I still don’t know if I will rent a pod to put my stuff in, store and move to Oregon when I go or if I will leave everything in storage here and rent a moving truck later. It makes more sense to me to do the pod and I feel more comfortable about having my things in the same state. That way, if something goes wrong and I need to remove the items, I can. If I am in Oregon and for some reason cannot pay the rental in Wisconsin, all of my things would be lost to me. Not  just some of my things, all of my things.

This was a pickle I’d have to conquer once I get ready to move. A lot will depend on the amount of money I have available to me. The good news is that I work from home and so my income will move with me and will not change. I get paid weekly, so even if I am running low on funds when I first get there, I’d get paid pretty soon right after.

Tiny home living and unconventional housing is becoming more popular. The more I read about other people’s lives, the better I feel about my plan, which to some people, sounds crazy. Sometimes I’ve laid awake at night asking myself I am crazy, taking my now 10-year-old daughter and our small zoo across the country to live in a tiny space. I realized, though, that it’s a very sound decision in a life that has become too expensive. I may even stay in the RV for a year instead of finding a place right away. If one year of slightly uncomfortable living would get my debt paid up or off and provide me the opportunity to buy my own home or make a step toward where I want to be in life, why not? It seems like a small price to pay. I even think about buying a piece of land to build on. A place where I can plunk my RV down while I continue onto the next step of my plan. It’s a race to provide my child with a relatively normal childhood before we both miss out on the stuff that makes it fun.

Meanwhile, I plan on detailing my steps here for anyone who is interested. Perhaps this type of choice would be right for you or maybe you have your own experiences to share with me. If you’re interested in reading more about alternatives way to save money in rentals, check this article out: 30 photos show the extreme lengths millennials will go to live in cities instead of suburbs

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Weight Loss Update


I started this journey on January 29th, 2018. A week and a half later (on February 7th) I received the products in the mail that would make it easier for me to follow the eating plan. These products included special protein bars, supplements, fiber powder and protein drinks.

I eat a lot of snacks on this plan–as many as I want, actually. I knew I’d be happiest with this program when I’d reached 10 pounds lost. That happened for me this morning when I stepped on the scale and was down 10.4 pounds. I’d wanted to reach this goal by last week Thursday, but due to taking in too much sodium (as best as we can tell), it did not happen or become clear until this morning.

My next goal is 5 more pounds. It doesn’t matter to me so much how long it takes me to lose another 5 pounds, I just know I want to set my future goals in 5 pound increments. Although I lose more some weeks than others, it averages out to be around a 3.84 pound loss a week, so I suppose it may be possible that I could be reaching that goal within the next two weeks. We’ll see.

The best part is that this is totally sustainable. It’s very easy, I’m satisfied with what I am eating, I eat enough to make sure I am never hungry and since the only required exercise is that I walk 10,000 steps a day. It doesn’t matter if you do it all at once, how fast you do it, etc. It only matters that you do it.

I hope I will be able to continue to report continuous weight loss on here.


RV Sink 1

In some ways things are moving along for me. Tomorrow is the day my RV is supposed to be towed to the mechanic who is going to work on it for me. I was pretty proud of myself when I was able to pay for a Good Sam membership (roadside assistance).  It was cheaper to do that for a little more than $100 than to pay for a tow.

If that weren’t exciting enough, I received the new kitchen faucet I ordered on Friday. I’m very happy with it. The faucet pulls out and doubles as a sprayer. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the faucet is a dark bronze type of color. On Saturday, we received the bone colored sink. I ordered both on eBay for about $110 for both. I’m excited to see them installed with the newly painted white cabinets and the faux stone countertop I plan to refinish the wooden one to.

I also ordered some king sized sheets I plan to use for the ceiling instead of continuing to paint it. I hate painting ceilings and things a soft design would look much better. If I change my mind, the sheets will be nice on my bed.

Once the re-wiring is done in the RV (and I buy the second battery–so far I’ve only replaced the one that runs the motor), I can start working on painting the inside again. I’ve realized that I will need the top cabinets painted before I can put my fabric on the ceiling (it may sound strange, but I promise it will look cool).

Off my checklist this:

  • Sign up for Good Sam
  • Purchase an Interstate battery for the engine
  • Ordered and received new sink and faucet for kitchen area
  • Ordered fabric for the ceiling

Here are decorating purchases I have left to make so far:

  • The flooring – I’m going to get vinyl plank flooring, because it’s easy to install and only requires a carpet knife and a snap cutter. I don’t need to plug anything in to install it. I’m thinking of going with grey, but will see what the paint and countertop looks before I decide 100%.
  • I am sure I will need more white paint for the cabinets.
  • Something for a back splash behind the sink. I’m thinking of using decorative tin tile.
  • Replacement mattress – I found one I want that in theory should fit from Overstock.com. That is an expense I plan to make sooner to using it, because you are supposed to unwrap the mattress right away and let it puff up itself and I don’t want to put it in there until the construction is done.

There are some other things that are more mechanical that I will have to pay for (parts and labor):

  • Brake lines
  • Fuel lines
  • U-Joints
  • Replacement steering column

Beyond that, I have grandiose ideas of having the entire outside of the RV painted black. I also want chrome wheel hub covers, an air horn, new steps put in for the main door plus more steps on the driver’s side because there are none, and a variety of other things that I may or may not need, but want. Things like solar panels. I also want backup cameras, an air horn, to re-do the roof and I need to find a good used generator.

Looking at this list, I am pretty sure I will not be able to get all this done before I have to leave, but we’ll see what can be done. Where there is a will there is a way!

My next dilemma is that I have no drive to work on the house I am in anymore. I have tons to do before I move. I have things in the basement, garage and my daughter’s room to go through. Not to mention getting rid of pretty much anything I can.

Meanwhile, I know that Sunday is my only day to do anything and what did I do today? I spent a lot of the day sitting around watching TV. I did some dishes, made dinner, got grocery shopping done and I worked on this post, but I didn’t go through laundry with my daughter and sift out old clothes that neither of us wants anymore, or help her fill at least one or two big bags with things she wants to get rid of from her room.  I didn’t even take the three boxes out to the garage from the dining room. *big sigh*

Sometimes I am more productive with cleaning and organizing during the work week. It seems like weekends I just want to sit and relax. I think it would be better if I used Saturday afternoon/evenings to run my errands, so I did not necessarily have to go anywhere on Sundays, my full day off.

I know I am overly stressed. One thing is weighing heavily on my mind. Next Friday I go for a PET scan and a cat scan of my sinuses. It started when I went in because I was sick and had started wheezing. They did a chest x-ray and saw two rather large spots on my right lung. They sent me for a chest cat scan and discovered that my lymph nodes in my chest were also enlarged. Last Thursday I went to see a pulmonologist, who said he is concerned about these lymph nodes and they scheduled me for these new tests next Friday.

In the mean time, I am freaking out about how long I will be able to stay in my rented house. I know my own rental property will be empty in the next couple of months and that house needs a ton of work also. What I really want is to be on the road without all these worries. I’m feeling confined. For now, I just have to keep doing as much as I can on a daily basis.

One final thought that goes back to the sink. When I ordered it, I ordered it so it came with the cover for it, so I can have more work space, but also so I knew it would fit.

rv-sink-2.jpg


smartphone-1957740_1280

There are several ways you can make money with your phone and doing it won’t cost you an extra penny. Payouts are generally small, but if you allow them to accumulate, they can really add up.

  1.  I have been using S’more for over a year now and I’m very happy with it. S’more is an app you can download for free. Once installed in your phone, you answer a few questions (to determine your interests) and then the app is ready to use. S’more makes money by posting ads on your phone. What does this mean? It only means that you will have to swipe the add aside whenever you want to get into your phone. This may be slightly annoying to some people, but for me, I’ve gotten used to it. Sometimes the ads are of interest to me and it’s something I actually want to see. Over the course of a year, I have earned over $50 in points, which you can trade for things like Amazon gift cards and gift cards to other places to shop and eat.S’more gives you 10 points (1 point = 1 cent) a day just for having the app and using it, but they also offer surveys, so if you have some free time you can take some surveys and earn more. I’m not sure if they are still doing it, but for a while they had deals in which you got a good deal and earned points. For example, last year I got Norton Antivirus through S’more at a very discounted rate and I also earned $10 in points.

    If you think S’more sounds right for you, click here for more information: S’more. If you want to help fund my RV adventure and you think you want the app, please use referral code MQKXTZ. By doing so, you’ll get an extra 25 points to start!

     

  2. Are you trying to count your steps? Maybe you just have your phone with you all the time. Sweatcoin is pretty neat. Not only is it a built-in pedometer, but every 1,000 steps converts to 1 dollar in sweatcoin. Sweatcoins can be turned in for things like PayPal and Amazon gift cards. Be sure to connect with if you do join Sweatcoin! I’d love to see what you are all doing you can find me @beth539091!
  3. Pay Your Selfie is fun and you can earn anywhere from $0.20 to $1.00 for doing different things. For example, you can earn $1.00 for posting your profile shot, another dollar for telling your story, and $0.25 for taking a picture of your breakfast. You can connect your PayPal account to the app, so it’s easy to get paid.
  4. Stash is a way to cheaply invest in many different types of companies. I’ve been doing this for several months now and I’ve already made some money. I do just $5 a week for each business I want to invest in. I hardly notice the money is missing from my account (it automatically comes out). You get $5 to start investing with Stash!
  5. Ibotta is easy to use. Simply install the app, set up an account and start scanning your receipts. You can also link your loyalty cards to Ibotta. Cash back for your purchases is deposited in your account within 48 hours.

I think it is safe to say that I have struggled with weight my entire life. I spent the majority of my childhood obese and lost weight when I started walking every chance I got when I was about 17 or 18. It was easy then, because I wasn’t actively trying. I was walking to relieve stress, because I was a teenager who wanted to get out by myself. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts, so I walked. The weight came off little by little and one day (I think around my 18th birthday), I sat next to my mom for a picture and when I saw it later, I barely recognized the thin girl staring back at me.

I simply hadn’t noticed. Clothes were fitting loose and I just ignored it, because I’d tried losing weight before and it had never worked. My mind was focused on other things.

Since then, it has always been a struggle. I stayed trim for a few years into my early 20s. I got married at age 19; divorced by 23 and by then, I’d gained around 40 pounds. I was heavier, but I could still go shopping for clothes like a normal person and people didn’t seem to notice or care.

When I met my now ex in 2006, I immediately gained another 40 pounds. I was very frustrated then. I now had gained 80 pounds. How had that happened?! I can tell you that some of it was my new found freedom after my divorce. I wouldn’t spend a ton, but I was bored and would go sit at a local bar night after night, trying to meet people and make friends.

I stayed about 80 pounds too heavy for the longest time. I gave birth to my daughter in 2008 and although I had lost 10 pounds of my own body weight from being so sick the entire pregnancy, that was as far as I would go and the lightest I would be for a long time. My weight would go up and down by about 10 pounds, but I couldn’t lose real weight!

In 2010, my then boyfriend, me and our daughter relocated to Egypt. We were only there 5 months. I thought I would lose weight walking everywhere and eating organic, but I just stayed the same. It was until until February, 2011 that I realized I had a real problem. I was under a great deal of stress (a story for another day) and in a matter of about 3 to 4 weeks, I’d gained so much weight, I had to buy bigger pants!

Again, I kind of stayed at whatever weight that was. When I was gaining all that weight, we had relocated to Germany, where we stayed for 13 months. We’d eventually end up in Ireland for about 2 or 3 years. Today, I am back in the states (WI at the moment). It wasn’t until we came back that I started weighing myself and had to face the truth. I tried and tried to lose weight (actively) in Germany and Ireland, but nothing worked. 14 pounds was my maximum. When I was at my lowest weight in Ireland, I was 45 pounds lighter than I am now.

I had no idea what I was going to do. Last year I started doing PiYO and “eating clean”, which I loved, but I was unable to sustain this lifestyle for more than a month. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, but did it took me months to receive a machine (diagnosed in June and had a machine at the end of August). I was so tired, I could barely stay awake and it would be a few more weeks of using it before I felt a little more awake. Still, I needed naps each day, I always felt tired and I had a huge to-do list that was completely on my shoulders. It was frustrating.

If you’re like me, you’ve tried and tried. Losing weight is hard, whether you have 10 pounds to lose or 100 pounds to lose. Imagine how hard it is to lose 100 or more pounds? That’s where I’m at right now.

Now I want to lose weight for many reasons, but I also want to be healthy. I already have two heart problems, sleep apnea, fibromyalgia and other problems. It’s only a matter of time before I’m diabetic and I’m already starting to experience signs.

I was introduced to my current plan a couple of weeks ago. My coach was quite insistent that the plan is easy, sustainable and that it would work for me. I hesitantly asked about cost, but realized it was something I needed to do. I started following the basic rules of the program even before I received my products (which consist of meal bars, shakes, supplements and fiber powder). I was told that my goal would be to get 10,000 steps a day in.

I started keeping track of my steps and couldn’t even hit 5,000. How was I ever going to make it to 10,000? And daily?! It seemed impossible. I often work anywhere from 6 a.m. until 12 a.m.  It’s crazy, and I do this 6 days a week, sometimes 7 if I get behind. I have very little time–just enough to take care of some basic needs (picking my daughter up from school, dropping her off at school, shopping, dinner, etc).

I had no idea how I was going to fit in the walking, but I started weighing myself every day, as the plan wanted, and even before I received my food items (which you only use sometimes; not constantly, so they last), I started losing. I couldn’t believe it. I also felt different. I started the program last Monday, January 29th. I received my product last Tuesday, February 6th, so I started using them on Wednesday, the 7th. In the meantime, in between starting to figure out how I was supposed to eat, I was determined to get those steps in.

At first, I made excuses (i.e. “It snowed a lot today”, “I had to work all day”, “I was too tired”). But my coach kept telling me daily that I could even have a phone conversation with a friend and pace and that I’d be surprised with how many steps I’d get in. I listened, but wondered. He listens to podcasts. That sounded like a good idea and another one hit me, I could listen to an audio book. I love reading, but I have absolutely no time to do it anymore, so this might be perfect for me.  I worried that I would have to get up even earlier than normal to fit in the time. This nagged at me.

Finally, one morning I took my Kindle in the kitchen with me not long after I got up in the morning. I kept my phone in my pocket and a pedometer watch I wear on my wrist. I turned the book on and just started walking back and forth in the kitchen. I realized that I could do this between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. and by now, I had the energy to do it. The first morning it worked so well that I decided I’d get up 15 minutes earlier the next day. My initial idea was to walk back and forth between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. and then begin work (I have a chat room I have to log into and monitor and well as phone calls, but it is not usually busy early in the morning and I can login to chat on my cell phone).

The next morning I hopped out of bed at 5:45 a.m. I took care of my dogs, weighed myself and was ready to walk by around 6 or so. I started pacing, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes in the dining room, and sometimes in the living room. I found that doing it in shorter stretches allowed me to go faster for some reason. I became so engrossed in the audio book I was listening to that I didn’t want to stop when 7 rolled around and I realized I could really do it until 7:30, so that is what I did.

The rule is that you need to get at least 5,000 steps in before noon. With this slight change in my schedule, which only forced me to get up 15 minutes early mind you, I was getting the full 10,000 in by 7:30 a.m. Then I sit down, login to chat on my laptop, check email, rest and drink my water (along with my fiber powder) and my shake for breakfast. I’ve been doing that all week and I’ve been following the eating plan to a T since Wednesday. Today, just 12 days from when I started and only 3 days from when I had the proper tools to do the entire program, I am down nearly 8 pounds.

It feels different. I have continuous energy throughout the day. There are times I feel tired, but it passes. I’m not hungry all the time, because I’m eating constantly (yes, that takes a tad bit of planning, but it is super easy one you figure it out). The rules are simple, so I know what I can and can’t eat without having to do a ton of research or thinking. I have more energy to get through my work day and even though it would be easy to suspect this nearly 8 pounds as water weight, I can tell it’s not. I just know that it will continue. I’ve started a pattern. One day I weigh myself and I’m down between 1 and 2 pounds. The next day I weigh myself and I am the same weight as I was the day before. The next day, I’m down again.

I have heard from other participants that it will stay steady like this. I may hit a plateau, but it’s possible I won’t. I am happy to see either my weight staying the same or a loss each time I weigh. As long as I lose something each week, even if it is just one pound, I’m happy, because if I keep working at it, it will eventually add up.

I plan to document my progress on here, which is a big deal, because I wouldn’t be talking about it if it wasn’t working for me.

I’m also going to profit from it. I’m losing the weight anyway, so why not join a site where I can bet on my weight loss? Healthy Wage is awesome and I’ve been thinking about it for about six months. I wanted to wait to join it until I knew I was going to be able to sustain consistent weight loss.

I plan to bet $50 a month on myself for six months that I can lose 80 pounds. At the rate I’m going, it should definitely be possible. Another neat thing about Healthy Wage, is you can join a team (teams of 5) and if your team loses the most weight over a three month period, you win $10,000 (as a team). I’d like to eventually become a coach and help others. Of course, I have to lose more too, but I feel like it’s going to work. I’d love to put a team together of people who want to lose weight who will also enter Healthy Wage with me as a team (you can still enter as an individual too, but the team rates are inexpensive — just $70 for the three months and even if your team doesn’t win, you get your fees back if your weight is down by 10% within six months of entering).

So that is where I’m at with weight loss. I’m happy and hopeful for the first time in a long time and hopefully down the road, I’ll find my own team I can coach. I plan to use any Healthy Wage earnings I get toward my move.

Keep checking back to see my progress. I’ll try to post about this at least once a week. 🙂

Cheap Family Date Night


Let’s face it, it’s hard to feed a hungry family these days. It’s easy to feel like we don’t have enough money to take our families out to eat, but there are places we can go that offer free or extremely cheap kids nights. If you’re willing to go out on a school night (usually between Monday and Wednesday), you’ll find there are several places to choose from. Keep in mind that the days and prices offered by these places may vary from area to area. Here is what is available in my area (Fox Lake, WI):

Applebee’s (Beaver Dam):  Up to 2 kids eat for 99¢ Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Ponderosa (Beaver Dam):  Kids 10 and under eat for 99¢ every Tuesday between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. (one child qualifies for each adult entree that is purchased). Kids 2 and under eat free all day every day of the week.

Benvenuto’s (Beaver Dam): Kids eat FREE every Monday (up to $5.50 a meal) with the purchase of an adult entree.

Pizza Ranch (Waupun):  Kids eat FREE every Monday (with the purchase of an adult entree).

Activities

Don’t forget about free and cheap activities (depending on the season).

Rogers Cinema Beaver Dam: Sometimes they offer customer appreciation days. Usually you can get in by donating a canned food item. They’re not that great about advertising this, so you have to keep watch on their Facebook page.

Tower Lanes:  In the summer, you can sign your kids up for KidsBowlFree program.  Every week they will email you a coupon that allows your child to bowl free each day. They also offer discounted family programs too, so you can bowl too.

Crystal Lake Park: Crystal Lake is great. There is no lifeguard on duty, but there is a little free beach in the summer. They have some umbrellas and tables; also bathrooms, showers and changing rooms. Kids can go to Crystal Lake camp 5 days a week for under $100 a week. They do arts and crafts, swim, play games and take a field trip every Friday. The camp is open to residents and non-residents, but there is a price difference.

YMCA of Dodge County: They offer all sorts of inexpensive events. For example, right now they have a fall and winter Flick’n’Float. Non-members are just $3 each. Enjoy crafts and swimming with Santa December 4th. Members are free and non-members are $5 a family.

There are many things free and inexpensive for families. Make sure you keep watch of Facebook pages and check for future events on websites, so you know what’s going on. If you have anything to add about this area or your area, please leave it in the comments!

Thanks for reading!


Today is the first day of my new eating plan: The Ketogenic Diet (Keto for short). I ordered a “free” copy of ‘Bacon & Butter: The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Cookbook” by Celby Richoux a few weeks ago.  (It’s not really free, because you pay s&h, but it’s still very cheap and worth it.)

There is a brief rundown of how the Keto Diet works and then it provides recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts.  After reading through the book, I also looked up more recipes and information and was pretty impressed. The diet seemed similar to the Paleo Diet, which I’ve tried out before and liked (I didn’t like the no legumes or dairy for the Paleo Diet).

As with many diets, there is some fasting involved.  I’m not sure when I want to do the fasting or if I want to mix it on days that it works better for me. I work 6 to 7 days a week from home (full-time+ hours) and I’m so busy during the day, I often don’t have a lot of time to put into eating healthy during the day. In fact, there are some days, I barely have time to put together a decent meal in the evening.

I’ve been planning this journey for a long time. Before summer hit, I’d been eating as healthy as I could and doing PiYo every day, but Friday. I loved it and was getting stronger. One thing I noticed is how great my posture was. I realized that I could stand for hours without feeling it. That was a big difference.  By June, 2017, my sleep issues had become too much to handle. I realized I was having sleep problems for a long time, but doctors tried many other things and I didn’t realize that the issue could be related to my health. I thought I was just staying up too late working and had too much stress in my life.

Although those two things happen to be true, I had an underlying issue going on that can actually be quite serious and may have been one of the reasons I was not able to lose very much weight before.  Throughout the past few years, I have always tried to eat healthy and exercised and did everything possible. I’d lose around 14 pounds (not enough to go down a pant size) and then plateau.

The sleep specialist told me she had to do an overnight sleep study of me, but she was fairly sure I had sleep apnea. My father also has this, so it was not a complete surprise.  It took the entire summer for them to officially diagnose me (after waiting for the insurance to approve the sleep study, waiting 2 weeks to meet with the specialist after the sleep study and then once again waiting for insurance to approve a CPAP machine).  I finally got my machine about a month ago.  I’m still getting used to it and I knew I should not attempt to lose weight again until my sleeping was under control and I had more energy during the day. While I waited for the machine, I was sleeping 6 to 8 hours a night and then was so exhausted during the day that I would also have to take a 1 to 3 hour nap at some point. It was awful. I basically worked and slept.  My summer was lost.

I am feeling better now and although I still had to take naps the first couple of weeks, I am at the point where I don’t seem to need a nap anymore during the day. I do feel tired, but I’m able to push through it and my energy level is higher. I’ve become walking my dog on short walks twice a day (longer on weekends) and I’m getting more things done.

My plan is to re-start the 8 week PiYo program soon. Unfortunately, I’m in the process of having a plantar’s wart removed from the ball of my foot. It has pained me for years. My earliest memory of it was in 2011 when I was living and walking everywhere in Germany.  So I’ve had it a long time, which means it’s pretty deeply rooted. I’d had enough and went to see my family doctor. He tried to freeze it off, but that only caused pain and no change at all. I went to a podiatrist who started a new treatment every two weeks.  She applies some sort of acid treatment to it (painless during the treatment) and then puts a band-aid on it and wraps it.  I then can’t get it wet for 2 days.  After that, I must keep a band-aid on it at all times, changing it after showers, etc.  The area blisters and becomes quite painful within a couple of hours after the treatment.

It then stays painful for at least a couple of days, but sometimes for the entire 2 weeks. It will get less painful with time, but it still hurts quite a bit. I make a follow-up appointment for two weeks out before I leave each appointment. At the follow-up appointment, she delicately scraps out the dead skin (killed with the acid) with a scalpel and if there is any wart left, she re-does the treatment. This has been going on for about 8 weeks now; maybe longer. She did give me the option to “take a break” during the last treatment, but I opted not to, because it has pained me for a long time and I just want to get it over with. I don’t want to be dealing with this in the winter and I don’t want to give it a chance to spread.  This is not a sure treatment for getting rid of the virus.  This is the best they can do.  Where did I get it? Who knows. We lived all over the place (WI, OH, Egypt, Germany, and Ireland, plus visited the UK on a vacation). I could have picked it up anywhere.  No one else in my household has them or ever has had them.

That being said, any kind of exercise has been very difficult with my foot. There are days that it hurts, but I can walk relatively normal, and there are days that it is so painful, I have to limp around.  Walking my dog, taking my daughter to do fun things (like going to a botanical garden) and things like that has really been difficult, but I have been determined to take my life back and am a little bit impatient about it all. I want to take advantage of the beautiful fall weather in WI before snow and ice starts. By then, I will want to start taking advantage of my indoor exercise equipment.

As soon as my foot is better, I am going to start the PiYo again.  In addition to the exercise and the diet changes, I’ve been buying Garcinia Cambogia from Walgreen’s as often as possible (to try to build up a stock of it, because it can be expensive to buy it each week and I want to make sure that I have it and don’t have to start and then stop it). I have heard good things about this product and get 2 bottles at Walgreen’s for around $10 on sale, which seems to always go on.  You get 50 pills per bottle and you are supposed to take 3 pills 3 times a day.  At 9 pills a day, you will need to buy more after about 11 days.  The brand I bought is Nature’s Science.  We’ll see if it works.  Due to my heart issues, if it messes with that, I will have to stop taking it.

I also plan on re-starting my daily dose of It Works Greens. I took those all last winter and never got sick, even when my daughter, who currently sleeps in my bed, brought illness home from school.  I stopped taking it and ordering it over the summer and was lucky to never get sick.  I have two to three months worth of it left before I have to order again.

This morning I started my day with buttered coffee, which may sound weird, but it wasn’t so bad.  I actually kind of liked the buttery taste added. Buttered coffee is 1.5 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of organic unsalted butter, 1.5 tablespoons of coconut oil and I used 0 calorie sugar.

You can drink that in place of breakfast or in place of breakfast and lunch. This book I have suggests many different snacks, but other websites I’ve found say that any kind of snacking is not recommended.  This diet is based on eating a high fat, lower protein and low carb diet. The idea is to encourage your body to burn protein instead of carbohydrates.  People have good luck with this lifestyle and the great thing about it is that you can eat a lot of bacon, sausage and other high fat foods.

So that’s where I’m at now. I wanted to see how the coffee would affect me. I feel okay; no hunger at this point and it’s nearly 10 a.m., but I don’t like the taste of coffee in my mouth once I’m done and will likely be brushing my teeth each time I drink it.  I am also supposed to drink a gallon of water a day. This is double what my normal intake is.  I’m not looking forward to drinking more. Everyone says I will get used to it, but I have tried to do this before and will basically live in the bathroom if I do this, so we’ll see.

I go in this Thursday to have my foot looked at again. Keep your fingers crossed for me that this will be my final visit, but I won’t bet on it, because after a week and a half nearly, it still hurts.