Ok, so maybe I didn't create this super simple exercise program, but I can tell you that while doing this I lost over 40lbs. I went from around 215 to 170 doing this, combined with a pretty big change in my diet of course. Today, nearly 3 years later, I'm still at or less than 175.
The desire for change came one day when my very good friend Bracken mused (paraphrasing): "It is really hard to watch what I eat when I'm with you all day. All you eat is cheeseburgers and fries." Ouch. My wife and I had also just welcomed my son to the world. I thought about the example I would set for him, and I really, really didn't like it. Indeed, time for a change.
One thing I really dislike about exercise is pain. Are you with me? Maybe it is just my personality, but pain is bad, and I find no joy in it. I have friends that run marathons with 7,000 feet of vertical gain. Not for me.
When you hear how simple this is, you're going to laugh, and you might even laugh out loud. My goal when starting this experiment was to find something that I could never make an excuse to avoid. I would never take the time to go to a gym. I would never run. I needed something though.
It takes twenty-one days to form a habit. It takes easy to make it twenty-one days.
THE EASY PLAN. One plus.
I created a plan I could manage. I did three exercises one time, twice a day for two days. The third day, I moved up to two, twice a day for two days. The fifth day, I moved up to three. You get the picture... I kept going until I hit five a day. I did these right when I woke up, and just before bed - no excuses - even if I went to bed at 2 AM.
Then things changed; I'd been doing this for 10 days, and I was half way to a new habit. I started to increment one a day. The 12th day I did 6 twice a day, then 7 and so on. Before I knew it, my body felt different and I had more energy. In less than fourteen days, I was seeing the change I'd hoped for.
This is so easy, even I can do it.
The morning I started this plan, I was a little unsure of where it would go since it was so easy to start. By the time I was ready to try something else, I was at 262 - twice a day - 524 reps a day of these three exercises. I didn't do 262 in a row mind you. When I started out, I'd take a few seconds break between every 10. Then it was every 30, then every 50. By the time I got to 262, I was doing 100 at a time - so 100 twice, then 62.
I felt so good by then, I was also doing a bit of running. I was riding my bike for about 50 minutes at 16 to 17 miles per hour (a converted mountain bike, mind you) on Saturday mornings. Exercise was something I could do.
I can only speak from my experience, so if you decide to tweak the plan, you're on your own. It is so easy though, I really encourage you to do it just like I explained.
Want to give it a try? Here are some links to Expert Village videos. I chose these videos in particular because they're the exercises I did, I just didn't have these videos as a reference when I did it. On a side note, I do my sit ups and leg stretches with my arms crossed on my chest, but these methods are just fine.
Push Ups, Sit Ups, Double Straight Leg Stretch
If you try this, let me know how it works for you. Remove the thoughts "I can't" and replace them with "I'll try" and you'll succeed.
It all started one summer, passing through New Mexico while driving from Colorado back to Texas. This whacked out but curiously logical guy was on the radio telling listeners how to get out of debt. I made a mental note that I'd like to be debt free, and intended to find him again. He was crazy, a crazy I liked, and besides - who doesn't want to be debt free?
A year and a half later (October, 2006) a friend of mine asked if I'd heard of a guy named Dave Ramsey. My "debt free" mental note was nowhere in the archives, so of course I said "No." He suggested that I download the Dave Ramsey podcast and give him a listen. That I did, then it hit me like a ton of bricks, "This is *that* guy!" We bought his book The Total Money Makeover along the way - the advice was simple and worked well in our minds.
Here are the numbers we were dealing with: a $23k personal loan, $24k in two cars, and a few thousand on credit cards ($50k for for the math deficient). We hated opening Quicken to see the red "net worth" number, but at least we knew where we were - good or bad.
Before I get too far in to this, I want to just stop for a second and get something off of my chest. There will be a number people that think that budgeting is something poor people do to squeeze every penny out of the bank account. That if you budget, you must not make enough money to survive, or that if you budget you're somehow telling "the universe" that you're poor. That is a load of crap. You budget so that you know exactly where your money is going, no matter how much money you have. If you don't know where every penny is going, you don't know how much you have to invest. Or how much to use to pay off debt. There, I said it, budgets rock!
The plan? Live on less than you make (a lot less if you can), and use the rest to pay off debt. Once you're out of debt, build wealth. Duh. Living on less than you make is pretty easy if you make a budget every pay period. Not every month, because there is no magical month that a budget will always apply to. Expenses change, and your budget needs to reflect that.
Make a written budget every pay period. Make sure you know where every single penny goes from that check, so you don't wonder where all of those pennies went. It may take a couple of months to get this right.
We weren't exactly living paycheck to paycheck back then, but at the end of the month we had practically nothing left. We had no real savings, and no backup plan other than credit cards in case something big happened.
I made a vow to myself to eat lunch on $10 or less every day, eating decent food too, not just fast food crap. Surprisingly this is a really easy thing to do. I have friends that try to eat lunch on $5 per day now. I dropped my coffee expenditures to around $100/mo too. I work in coffee shops every day, not for the coffee shops, but because I'm a cafe warrior. I run a small software company and use coffee shops as my office (that is another story all together).
Those two things alone reduced the budget by couple of hundred dollars. Eat at home for breakfast and dinner. Buying groceries is alway cheaper than eating out, and you can actually eat better. If you're in a relationship, cooking for your partner is always a grand slam. Make an event out of it and use it to expand your palette.
So we formulated a plan based on Dave Ramsey's "Baby Steps."
1. The $1,000 Emergency Fund - we put ours in a savings account that was tied to the checking account as overdraft protection. That helped us get over using the credit cards as a buffer. We found that we never had an expense so large that we needed more than $1,000.
2. Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball - pay off the debts, smallest to largest, using the payment from the last one on the next. Eventually, everything is paid off and the fun starts. Interest isn't relevant in the conversation because the excitement and the feeling of progress by paying off debts is extremely valuable. Don't get out the calculator, it doesn't matter. Pay them off, smallest to largest, and you'll see how fun getting out of debt can be.
We started with the smallest card, then the other. Closing credit cards is fun. In the meantime I made the incredibly difficult decision to rid myself of my car and the $800/mo it was costing us. Man I loved that car, but $580 for the payment, another $100 for insurance, and $120 or so in gas per month? Didn't love that. My car took two months to sell, but once it did we were able to apply that money to the other car (it was next in line).
With the second car paid off ($300/mo), my car sold ($800/mo), and the credit cards gone ($180/mo), the personal loan was up next. The friend that loaned us the money was getting a little impatient with us given how much debt we were paying off, but he was pretty excited to see the progress come so quickly when it was his turn. We were paying that debt off quickly. Very quickly.
It is said that once you start doing smart things with money, money finds you. Whether or not I believe that in a metaphysical sense is a matter of debate, we did see a nice tax return (the largest in years) and had an investment pay decently that spring. We didn't get raises during that period, and still haven't, but the investment keeps making returns and by getting out of debt, we've found a lot more money in our salaries.
We wrote the last check on September 18, 2007 - we were debt free in less than a year.
3. 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings - we chose a high interest savings account... and decided on 3 months of expenses because two of us were working. By extension, that means 6 months as long as we don't both lose our jobs. We've completed this step. Reaching this goal while debt free was relatively painless - we were already trained by the budget.
4. Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement. In 2007 - for the first time ever - we fully funded our IRAs. We snuck it in just under the wire, but we did it.
So now we're working on 5 through 7:
5. College funding for children - We plan on having Z go to a state university and will have set the ball in motion closer to that time. He already understands the concept of being paid (we give him a quarter to clean up before bed) and will understand how to manage money from a very, very early age.
6. Pay off your house early - we don't own yet, but we're saving for it. Every now and then we wonder if buying is even for us given that we've moved ever few years since we've been together. We'll see how this goes. If nothing else, we can always do the 100% down thing later if we wait long enough.
7. Build wealth and GIVE! - This excites me the most. I already have a desire to give back to the world, but I think that is more about maturity and growth. Once I have the funds to help with it, all will be well.
The advice is very simple if you follow it and I hope you've had enough of debt to make it so. Imagine waking up one day to find that interest is paying you instead because you have no debt.
One last thing. Get rid of the expensive car debt and buy a beater. I bought a 1989 Montero for $1,700 cash. If you can let go of what people think of you, getting out of debt will be easy.
I was listening to a podcast about a new concept for having news reported. The concept is that people put money into a pot, and when the pot reaches a given amount someone will write a story. The stories, from what I remember, aren't about typical local news, but more about local investigative journalism.
One of the arguments the creator mentioned was that local TV, newspapers, etc. spend a lot of time covering national and global stories, and have left meaningful local coverage mediocre. I don't read newspapers (or their sites for that matter), and seldom turn on TV news - but the times that I have seen them, he's spot on. One of the reasons I stopped reading/watching is that local news is about sensationalism... murder and mayhem, and celebrity.
Enter the blog.
When I stumble upon local blogs, they're usually covering topics of larger scope (maybe national) but with a local twist. How does the story affect them and what is the author's perspective on it. Sometimes though, it may be a story on a local sporting event, or a meetup of some kind. In my circles, these things also cover lots of business subjects... investing, entrepreneurship, etc. No matter the subject, there is a local flavor to the stories.
Create an aggregation site that blog authors subscribe to (free of course) with the express goal of providing a local "newspaper" powered by the citizens of a given market. You would be able to drill down in a Craigslist style navigation to a city or town, then see stories in given subject areas from people that actually live and work in that area. All of the typical newspaper categories would exist: business, sports, arts, movies, activities, etc.
When an author writes a story, they would have to apply it to given categories. The readers could gauge whether or not the story is actually on topic, and stories and authors could be rated for quality. These ratings would determine what floats to the front page, digg style. If you want to have fun, you could offer a payment for the author based on the revenues they generate for the site... but that is a bonus for participating, not an expectation.
If you decide to build this, let me know... I'd subscribe to the RSS feed at the very least.
What do you think?
Here's a funny one. Imagine being able to ask a historical figure a question about life. You'd probably start with one figure, then add them as you find experts that want to participate.
Of course this only works if you can get obsessed scholars to participate... but if they're that obsessed it wouldn't be too difficult to imagine that they'd want to participate. They'd love to share their knowledge.
"What do you think? Obama or Clinton?" could be asked of a virtual John F. Kennedy. Or "What should our next move in Iraq be?" to General Douglas Macarthur.
Bracken suggested that the site pick a figure a week, then have users vote on the best question for that figure to answer... I like it.
What about you? If you build this, let me know!
Someone make textcastr.com please. Yes, the domain is available.
The service is simple. A user creates an account at textcastr.com, enters their user names at twitter, pownce, facebook, etc. Textcastr.com provides their SMS short code to the user... messages sent to the short code are then relayed to the appropriate services.
The way you get the message to the available services will depend on the service of course. Twitter and Facebook have APIs, Pownce? No one knows yet.
There. Take it. And be sure to let me know when I can sign up.
This idea is pretty simple and involves website authentication and your mobile phone. It is a two factor authentication scheme that relies on the EIMI number embedded in your phone and the traditional user name/password combination, common on websites.
Put on your user hat. You go to the login page of a website, enter your user name and password, and once authenticated a new element appears with a token in it. This token is then entered in to an application on your mobile phone (phones are ubiquitous right?). That application contacts a trusted server and verifies the token and your EIMI/service credentials. You're given a token that is entered into the form, and upon submit, the destination site queries the trusted server for another layer of verification. The last transaction passes nothing other than the token received on the phone to verify that it was just issued and is still alive.
All of this sounds much harder that it actually is. Anyone want to put it together? Contact me for more ideas.