journey 4.1 – financial independence

yearsalaryinvestment worth
[on 12/31 of yr per
Personal Capital]
change from
previous yr
2016$90,000$62,998.62
[paid off debt 12/15/2016]
N/A
2017$92,700$124,129.28$61,130.66
2018$110,000$171,845.76$47,716.48
2019$120,000$289,864.70$118,018.94
2020$123,600$435,532.45$145,667.75
2021$126,381????
summary of investment worth [retirement & non-retirement]

Since paying off my debt in December 2016, I have been saving and investing my money on my path to financial independence.

The above table shows the progress I have made so far. Since 01 Jan 2017 I have been able to save/invest $48-75k each year. That money has gone into my HSA, Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, 401(k), brokerage account, and/or savings account.

Note: my salary listed does not include any bonus or overtime pay. My typical annual spending is $30-40k.

Most of my money is invested in low fee index funds in various types of accounts. I have a $15k emergency fund (equal to about 6 months of expenses), and $2k cash in my HSA for emergency medical expenses.

If someone had told me four years ago that today I would have an investment worth increase of over $370k, I wouldn’t have believed them. It is amazing how much I have been able to save in such a short amount of time since I no longer have the burden of debt. It is so freeing!

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journey 7.3 – DIY REI Flexlite Air Backpacking Chair Ground Sheet Project

I recently bought an REI Flexlite Air backpacking chair (thank you, dividends!). I wanted to get one of those ground sheet mats that goes under the chair to keep the feet from sinking into the sand/snow/soft ground like other similar brands sell (like the mat for the Helinox Zero). Unfortunately, REI doesn’t make a ground sheet for the Flexlite, and the dimensions of the feet are different than most similar chairs, meaning other brand ground sheets don’t fit very well. Instead I bought this Trekology ground sheet and altered it to fit the REI Flexlite Air. Below are pics/directions for how I did it.

The Trekology ground sheet is approximately 15″x15″. Mine arrived with a flaw in the stitching where the middle strap goes to help hold the ground sheet on the chair. Since I knew I would be altering it, I didn’t mind this flaw.

materials:

  • Trekology ground sheet
  • seam ripper or knife
  • 6-8 straight pins
  • black thread
  • sewing machine with zigzag stitch
  • scissors
  • ruler or tape measure

step 1: Remove the strap and buckle from the ground sheet as shown in the picture below. I used a seam ripper, but a knife would also work.

Trekology ground sheet with strap/buckle removed

step 2: Pinch about 1.5″ of mesh fabric in the middle of the ground mat in the part with no black strap (left-to-right in the above photo), and fold it over to reduce the overall length by 3″. Adjust it until the folded section is roughly centered, and pin it using straight pins. The mat should now be approximately 12″x15″.

Trekology ground cloth pinned to 12″x15″ dimensions

step 3: Using a sewing machine with a zigzag stitch set to approximately 1/8″ width, sew a series of stitches along the folded mesh that you pinned to secure the mesh. I sewed one row of stitches, removed the pins, and stitched five sets of stitches along the mesh to secure it in place. One in the middle of the seam (the folded part), one on each “edge” of the folded part, and one in the middle of each of those rows of stitches.

Sewn Trekology ground sheet altered to 12″x15″

step 4: Pinch about 1″ of mesh fabric in the middle of the ground sheet to the right or left of the strap, and fold it to reduce the overall width to approximately 13″. Pin it in place.

Trekology ground sheet pinned to 12″x13″

step 5: Sew down the mesh the same way you sewed it in step 3 above.

Close-up of sewing the mesh in step 5

step 6: Pinch & pin approximately 1″ of mesh on the other side of the strap, like step 4 above. This will reduce the overall footprint of the mat to approximately 12″x11″.

Trekology ground sheet pinned to 12″x11″
Test fitting the pinned ground sheet to test the 12″x11″ size

step 7: Sew down the mesh the same way you sewed it in step 3 & 5 above.

Strap/buckle and altered Trekology ground sheet (12″x11″)

step 8: Pin the strap with the buckle to the center of the ground sheet. Note: I pinned and sewed the strap/buckle onto the strap already attached to the ground sheet (middle of the 11″ width side). I thought that would make it more secure, but be aware it means it is 90-degrees rotated from the leg bar when attached. I don’t mind this, but if you want it to lay flush, you should attached it along the middle of the seam without a strap (the 12″ length side).

Strap/buckle pinned to strap on Trekology ground sheet

step 9: Sew down the strap/buckle with a series of straight stitches across the strap to secure it.

Completed Trekology ground sheet altered to fit an REI Flexlite Air chair (12″x11″)

I hope this helps someone else. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

journey 2.5 – ZOMG! i am debt-freeeee! (12/2016)

Um, I don’t even know what to say.  I am speechless.  Officially, as of 12/15/2016, I am 100% debt-free.  100%!

My personal loan is paid off.  My car loan is paid off.  All of my credit cards are paid off.  I don’t owe a penny.  Wow.  It feels amazing.

I am debt-free.

A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and though it has already been 3 days–I don’t think it has entirely hit me yet.  I am debt-free.

I don’t think I have have been 100% outta debt since college.  Probably sophomore or junior year.  I am 37 years old.  That’s a fricken long time to be in debt.  Essentially my entire adult life I have been in debt.  And now I am debt-free.

Sorry.  I just needed to type it out a few more times. *grin*

I am debt-free!!!

WOOT! WOOT!

journey 2.4 – debt reduction update (4/2016)

Where I started from…

In the fall of 2011, my husband and I unofficially separated (i.e. he stopped coming home).  The following April the lease on our shared apartment was ending, and we made the decision to officially separate.  As I was burdened with tens of thousands of dollars of consumer debt (much of which had been his decision to take out, and I stupidly allowed him to do so in my name), I was desperate to find an apartment that I would be able to afford, while still being able to make at least the minimum payments on the debt each month (I knew he couldn’t afford to help with the payments at all at the time, and I knew I didn’t want to default on any of the debt).

I live in Boston, which is consistently rated with NYC and SF as one of the highest cost of living cities in the United States.  So I knew that finding a cheap apartment would not be easy.  But I found it.  See my post: Journey 2.1 – My Ghetto Apartment, for more details.  I moved into my new apartment on March 31, 2012.

As soon as I moved into my new apartment, alone, I knew that my divorce would be inevitable.  Which also meant I knew that I would be solely responsible for getting myself out of the financial hole I was in.  It was super scary.

When I moved, my debt totaled $79,787.61, and I was accumulating over $1,100 in interest  each month.  My annual salary was $65,000.  I was still paying for my husband’s health insurance.  I had also just switched careers the following summer, and was in a more junior position in a field that tends to offer lessor benefits than my previous career.  Yikes.  Things were not looking great.

Serendipitously, just two days after I moved, my employer announced that our firm had been acquired by one of the largest firms in our industry.  We were now all employees of a corporate behemoth.  That can be good or bad, but I was excited that the acquisition brought with it an increase in pay ($5,000 annually for me) and what seemed like better benefits.  Side note: several of my friends told me that though they would normally be surprised to hear that one of their friends had a lot of big changes happen at once, that because it was happening to me, specifically, and crazy things always happened to me, specifically, that hearing that I separated, moved, and got a new job within 3 days of each other was surprisingly not surprising.  I’m not sure what that says about me (or them), but I find it amusing.

I immediately knew I needed to reign in my spending and take back control of my finances, and take advantage of my upcoming raise and increase in benefits, and so I started doing something that I had done when I was younger.  I started keeping track of every penny.  See my post: Journey 2.0 – Keeping Track of my Money, for more details.

By the end of 2012, I was also keeping meticulous notes about where I stood with my debt, and the progress I was making on my debt reduction.  This is what I’d like to give you an update on now.

The Update

Table 2.4.1 – My Debt,  December 2012

balance interest rate minimum payment due 3-yr payoff plan interest credit limit
credit card 1 $7,541.81 27.24% $242.00 $309.00 $166.81 $7,600.00
store card $467.70 25.24% $25.00 $25.00 $9.28 $500.00
electronics store card (did not have this card) NA NA NA NA NA $0.00
gas card 1 $0.00 24.99% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $300.00
clothing store card 1 $0.00 24.99% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $1,000.00
clothing store card 2 (did not have this card) NA NA NA NA NA $0.00
department store card 1 $0.00 24.50% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $250.00
gas card 2 $3,844.00 23.99% $120.00 $150.00 $82.00 $0.00
credit card 2 $27,357.53 22.74% $792.00 $1,057.23 $524.65 $27,300.00
department store card 2 $0.00 21.90% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $1,500.00
credit card rewards 1 (cash back) $9,755.59 19.99% $207.00 $363.00 $161.30 $9,700.00
credit card 3 $1,677.20 19.80% $43.00 $62.00 $27.20 $2,050.00
credit card rewards 2 (educational savings) $5,127.71 18.24% $128.21 $186.00 $77.71 $5,200.00
credit card rewards 3 (airline miles) (did not have this card) NA NA NA NA NA $0.00
personal loan $4,391.13 10.74% $104.58 $140.00 $67.76 $10,000.00
car loan $15,882.73 4.74% $327.81 $445.00 $65.01 $25,334.00
$76,045.40 $1,989.60 $2,737.23 $1,181.72 $90,734.00

As you can see in December 2012, eight months after I had moved out on my own, my total debt was $76,045.40.  That means in eight months I had managed to pay down just $3,742.21.  Although I was scrimping and saving to pay above the minimum ($1,989.60  due each month), the insane amount I was paying in interest ($1,181.72) was severely limiting my impact on paying down the principal.  Not to mention the additional amount I was spending (charging) each month to pay my living expenses.

Since December 2012, I have worked to reduce my expenses (implementing “no spend” months, reducing my eating out, etc.), put in extended hours at my job (establishing a stellar reputation in my industry), selling items on craigslist to make extra spending money (& reduce clutter–bonus!), and be smarter about where my (small amount of) savings is invested (to reduce fees and make more of my money able to work for me).

These changes have been working!  Last fall my boss, my mentor, and a few other colleagues, left the behemoth firm to start their own boutique start-up in our industry, and asked me to join them.  I leveraged my reputation to negotiate a much higher salary, and was excited to find out that the new firm offers even better benefits than our previous employer (more vacation time, lower health insurance rates, free dental insurance, etc.).

Around the same time I changed jobs, my husband also started a new job with benefits, allowing me to drop him from my health insurance, further reducing my monthly obligation, and providing a catalyst for us to finally file for divorce.

So what does my debt look like today?

Table 2.4.2 – My Debt, April 2016

balance interest rate minimum payment due 3-yr payoff plan interest credit limit
credit card 1 $6,000.00 27.49%* $65.00 $237.00 $0.00 $7,600.00
store card $61.77 25.24% $25.00 $25.00 $0.00 $1,200.00
electronics store card $0.00 25.24% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $2,000.00
gas card 1 $25.28 24.99% $25.28 $25.28 $0.00 $600.00
clothing store card 1 $0.00 24.99% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $1,000.00
clothing store card 2 $0.00 24.99% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $1,000.00
department store card 1 $0.00 24.50% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $1,200.00
gas card 2 $0.00 23.99% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
credit card 2 $0.00 22.74% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $27,300.00
department store card 2 $0.00 21.90% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $1,500.00
credit card rewards 1 (cash back) $4,350.00 19.99%** $87.00 $87.00 $0.00 $10,700.00
credit card 3 $0.00 19.99% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $2,050.00
credit card rewards 2 (educational savings) $0.00 18.24% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $5,200.00
credit card rewards 3 (airline miles) $3,785.46 15.74% $94.54 $132.00 $57.26 $6,000.00
personal loan $0.00 10.74% $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $10,000.00
car loan $4,604.87 4.74% $327.81 $327.81 $19.79 $25,334.00
$18,827.38 $624.63 $834.09 $77.05 $102,684.00

*transferred $7000 from the 19.99% APR to promo 0% APR with 2% transfer fee
**transferred $5000 from the 18.24% APR to promo 0% APR with 3% transfer fee

As you can see, my total debt is now just $18,827.38!  I have paid down $60,960.23 in the past 4 years, and, barring catastrophe, am expecting to be debt-free within the next 1 year.  Because of my work reducing my expenses, my increased earnings, and some smart moves (like taking advantage of 0% interest balance transfers), I am now paying less than $80/month on interest.  That’s $1,104.67 less per month than I was paying in Dec 2012, meaning that much more can go toward paying down the principal.  $1,104.67/month.  Wow.

It has been 4 long years (more than that if you count the years when I was still living with my husband), but I can finally see the end in sight.  I am proud, excited, and can’t wait until the day I can post that the debt is all gone!

journey 4.0 – money money money

So, financially speaking, a LOT has happened to me in the past 6 months.  

I got a new job, with better benefits and a $10,000 annual raise.  My ex also got a job, allowing me to drop him from my health insurance.  We got back thousands when we filed our taxes, earmarked some of the money to pay for our divorce, and I was able to use the rest of my portion to pay off another credit card.  I then was able to do two separate balance transfers to reduce more than 50% of my outstanding debt (now under $20,000 TOTAL) to 0% APR until next year–at which time the rates go up, but both should be paid off by then.

In January, I was introduced to the mrmoneymustache blog, which lead me to the jlcollinsnh blog, and I was reminded about the importance of living frugally (from mmm) and the importance of investing my money smartly (from jlcollins).  I am anticipating being debt-free by early next year, and since I have been pouring so much of my take home pay (over 50%) into paying off my debt the past 4 years, once I am debt-free my plan is to start transferring over the money that had been earmarked for debt reduction to my savings, and keep living on the amount I have been living on.

I have been consolidating all of my brokerage accounts to three personal accounts with Vanguard (traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and regular brokerage), and was eligible last month to start contributing to my company’s 401(k).  Reading a lot of financial blogs opened my eyes to the devastating impact of fees in actively managed accounts, so I’ve simplified my investments as well.

I am heading toward financial independence!

Today I won’t go into all of the details, but the gist of how I am heading toward financial independence can be summed up pretty simply:

  1. Pay off debt.
  2. Live below means.
  3. Invest what I pay myself.

I am working on #1, and could potentially be debt-free by the end of this year or Q1 next year.  I have been doing #2 for a while; I have to or I’d never get be out of debt!  And even though I’ve always followed #3, I believe I have been able to move around my money to make it work harder for me than ever before.

I am so much happier.

Feeling much more secure in my financial situation has made me so much happier.  I am worrying less and less about money.  I am not stressing about expenses.  I am psyched that since I’ve reduced my brokerage fees, more of my money is able to work for ME.  And I am SUPER STOKED to think that I will be debt-free within the next year.  *grin*

journey 1.1 – giving away things I used to love

A couple months ago I read an article about Marie Kondo, and her philosophy of getting rid of all items that don’t bring you joy.  As someone who desperately needs to declutter, and someone who gets joy from a wide variety of random items (my bath towels, my headlamp, my skateboard, my sleeping bag, etc), this seemed like something right up my alley.

I immediately got overwhelmed though.  Not with deciding what could go, but what I should do with each of the items I wanted to part with.  Was it something in good enough condition it could be sold on craigslist or ebay?  Was it something I could give to a family member or friend who could use it?  Should it be donated to a charity?  I became paralyzed with indecision.

I needed a new approach.

I thought about it, and decided that I am going to start by going through just a few things at a time (technically to follow the Marie Kondo method you are supposed to go through everything at once), and focus on identifying things to end up going to a particular place, not trying to sort it all as I go.

The other day I decided I wanted to start a care package for my dad.  My parents got divorced last year, and my dad has had some ups and downs.  So I started looking around for things that I thought my dad could use or would like, to cheer him up.  Immediately I focused in on my DVD collection.  I have a lot of boxed sets of DVDs that I never watch any more.  I thought my dad would like a little package with what I know are some of his favorite movies.  I know if I were to sell them, I would be hard pressed to get more than $1 or so for each DVD, and I think they will each bring more than $1 of happiness to my dad.

Last week I made a little pile of items to list on craigslist.  I laid them out, took photos, and carefully listed them on my page.  I already managed to sell a clunky paper cutter from deep in my closet.

And a couple weeks before that I decided to part with a blanket, a bath towel, and four throw pillows that I had made for our old couch; I gave them to my ex-husband who had kept the couch when we separated, and he was really excited to receive them.

I seem to be having a lot more success by going through my items in this manner.  Although it is slower, the whole process is bringing me more joy.

Originally all of these items had made me so happy.  I had even purposefully kept the throw pillows when my ex and I separated, thinking that since I had made them, there was no possible way that he could ever love them as much as I did.  I was wrong.  Over time they became an annoyance, as I didn’t have a good place to put them or store them, and seeing how happy and excited he was to receive them, made me smile.

it may not be what Marie Kondo had in mind, but I will take joy any way I can get it.

journey 5.0 – a new 5 year plan

When people pose the question, “if money were no object, what would be your dream job?” I smile and say that I would be a philanthropist.  I like helping people.

For years I have been thinking about changing my lifestyle so I can do more to help.

Currently I think I do more than a lot of people I know, but I’m not sure if that is saying much (no offense to the people I know).  I have been volunteering with Big Sister for about 10 years.  In addition I volunteer at probably another 6-12 events or with different organizations for single day activities throughout the year.  I am on committees for two different professional organizations and volunteer my time to help them out.  I always participate in clothing drives, canned food drives, and Toys for Tots type donation drives.  I donate gently used items to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Big Brothers Big Sisters.  I always contribute to support friends or family members who run marathons or do other activities to fundraise, and usually pick 1-2 events each year to fundraise for myself (this year I did my first polar plunge!).  I buy Girl Scout Cookies, and raffle tickets and bake sale goodies.

Now that I can see the end in sight in terms of paying off my debt, and am thinking more about traveling and helping other people, I think I have decided that once my debt is paid off and I have saved a bit of money, I would like to quit my job and take on an overseas volunteer position.  Depending on the exact timing, and what my financial situation is, I am thinking something with the Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity, or other similar organization.

I think that in approximately 3-5 years I will be free from debt, and ready to move forward.

In the meantime I will use those years to do what I can to help prepare myself.  I am going to sign up this week to take advantage of Rosetta Stone language learning modules that my employer offers for free.  I am already 3 modules into a 13 module learn to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) online course.  I will look for opportunities to volunteer or participate in skills activities around Boston (planting, building, camping, first aid, etc.).

I hope to one day be able to make more of a difference.

journey 2.3 – six month debt reduction update

Okay, so it’s been more than 6 months, but I’m still going to give an update.

Since the end of 2014, around the time when I wrote my first blog about my debt, I have paid off approximately $15,000!  Woot woot!

I typically try to pay off about $1,000/month (of the principal), so the fact that I am averaging about double that, I am definitely super stoked!

Some things that have helped:

  • received a tax refund of about $5,000;
  • received a bonus at work of about $3,000;
  • have been selling more stuff on craigslist;
  • as I pay down the highest interest debt, I am able to make a bigger dent in the principal each month, which makes the debt drop lower a lot faster.

Some things that have set me back:

  • weddings! I know four couples getting married this fall.  Between bachelorette parties, bridal showers, gifts, and wedding travel, I estimate I am going to end up spending over $2,000 just to celebrate with my friends;
  • hobbies! I have splurged this year on new toys: camping gear, a new skateboard, two pairs of running shoes, over $500 in road race entry fees.  It adds up quickly;
  • my car!  My car got hit while parked twice, and hit 100,000 miles, prompting all sorts of maintenance requirements.

Despite the set backs, if I can keep it up, I should be able to pay it all off within two years.  (I seriously can’t fucking wait for that day!)

journey 6.0 – dating again

I miss being in love. 

I got married several years ago, and separated about 4 years ago.  I started dating again at the beginning of last year.  Dating again after not dating for 7 years was weird.  I loved being married, and love being in love.

Where do I look?

While I do sometimes meet guys out, I mostly online date.  I like that I can browse profiles at my leisure and screen potential dates ahead of time.

What am I looking for?

It is hard to describe exactly what I am looking for, as the biggest part of any relationship for me is attraction and chemistry, which just happens.

There are a few things I know that I am definitely NOT looking for though.  Some of these are the opposite of what a lot of women ARE looking for, and/or the opposite of what a lot of guys want for themselves, so I have found dating getting trickier and trickier as I get older.

I am not looking for a guy:

  • with a beard – ew. I hate the feeling of facial hair. It is so scratchy.
  • who owns a house – I am a renter, not a buyer, and someone with a mortgage is going to be a lot harder to convince to move out of the country with me.
  • with (or who wants) kids, pets, a boat, or lots of cars – ditto the house thing. Not to mention these are all incredibly expensive.  The kids thing is frequently a deal-breaker I am finding.  Since when did every eligible guy in my age bracket want to procreate?
  • who is a lawyer – ‘nuff said.
  • who is a picky eater and/or has food intolerances and allergies – okay, okay, I get that people can’t really control the allergies and intolerances, but as someone who is food obsessed, it is really annoying to go out to a restaurant with someone who turns his nose up at half the menu. The guy for me should love ethnic foods, hot and spicy dishes, eat all kinds of meat, and have an iron stomach.
  • who doesn’t drink – similar to the food thing, I drink a lot, and need to be with someone who is excited about checking out a new brewery with me!
  • with guns – um, no.

journey 7.2 – on how the running is going

I recently wrote a post about how much I hate running, but love challenges, and am participating in the Marathon Sports Winter Warrior Challenge.  See my post: Journey 7.1 – (Reluctant) Runner for more details.  

Now that I’ve survived over 2 weeks of this, I figured I’d post an update.

The Good.

If I do say so myself, I have been KILLING this challenge.  I haven’t ran yet today, but for the previous 18 days, I am averaging over 5 miles/day (my total mileage is 92.36 miles as of last night).  So far the lowest mileage I logged in a single day was 3.92 miles, and the most was 7.79 miles, either walking or running.  I have not yet missed a day, and (so far!) haven’t forgotten to log my mileage either (if you don’t meet the deadline to log your mileage each day you get knocked out of the challenge).

Most days I’ve been running about 70-80% of the distance, and walking the rest, but there were a couple days I didn’t get to run at all, just walked, due to weather, scheduling, injury, etc.

Knowing how much I hate running, and knowing how much I am not good about having self discipline to do stuff like this, well, I am super stoked that I have been crushing this challenge, and, frankly, have made it this far into the month!  Go me!

The Bad.

This challenge is crushing my motivation to do other things, and taking a toll on my social life.  Finding time each day to get my miles in has been tough.  Especially because at this point I am starting to get a wee bit competitive, and it’s not just good enough to log 1, or even 3 miles each day.  I want to log 5, 6 or 7 miles each day.  And when it’s cold out, that becomes a process.

I wear up to 7 (yes, that’s right) layers of clothing when it’s really cold, dark, and windy (sports bra, short-sleeve wicking shirt, long-sleeve wicking shirt, wicking hoodie, long-sleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt, and reflective vest).  So it can take me up to 20 minutes just to find all of my running clothes/gear and get dressed to go out.  Then, when I get back, I have to peel out of all of those layers, which by then are sweaty and smelly, not to mention restrictive/clinging to my sweaty body, and get into the shower.  I scrub up in the shower, which can be another 10-20 minute process, and then most nights, or at least every few nights, I decide to do a load of laundry so I don’t have to wear smelly clothes later in the week.

All of this can take anywhere from an hour and a half, up to a few hours.  That’s hours. Every. Single. Day.

Once you add in my job, it doesn’t exactly leave me a ton of time to go out on dates or hang out with my friends, and the energy it is sucking from me is making me lazy about doing chores like washing the dishes, vacuuming, or cleaning up anything other than laundry.

The Ugly.

Because I am, ahem, slightly competitive…and, um, kind of, extremely stubborn, I have jumped right in, but not exactly been super healthy about how I am approaching this challenge.

Prior to January 1st, I don’t think I had gone for a run since late September or early October.  I don’t think my muscles, heart, or lungs were quite ready to jump into daily 4+ mile runs in 10-40°F temperatures.  I am not a stretcher.  I get bored doing stretches.  I abhor yoga.  My calves have been tight and achy all month.  My back hurts at night.  My shoulders and ribs are achy in the morning.

I have had issues in the past with my IT bands tightening up and causing pain at my knees, and I have been dealing with off-and-on ITBS pain all month.  Usually it starts after about a mile, mile-and-a-half of running, gets worse for about a half-mile or so, and then gets better.  Sometimes I have to take walk breaks where I do exaggerated high-knee steps to make it feel better.

I have high arches and twice now have had to stop my runs and switch to walking due to mid-arch pain.  I’m not sure if it’s plantar fasciitis, or something else, and I won’t go to the doctor unless it gets so bad I can’t walk since I have the worst health insurance ever, so the answer to what the actual issue is is like how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know.

I haven’t been drinking enough water and feel chronically dehydrated.  Which also makes me achy.  And headachy.  And makes the back of my throat sore and dry.  I just really hate the taste of plain water.

So much showering and cold air is making my skin dry and itchy.  I feel like I can’t apply enough hand or body lotion.

And all of this exercise is making me extremely hungry all of the time, and I have been bingeing on, well, anything that crosses my path.  Yesterday I devoured 12 ounces of salsa and a half a bag of tortilla chips in the afternoon…because they were there.  Hunger also makes me cranky, so I can tell you, I have been a peach to be around alllllll month.

I am not a nutritionist, but I don’t think that’s what you are supposed to do when participating in an exercise program.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to February 1st!