Does Intermittent Fasting Really Work?

Does Intermittent Fasting really work?  Many people think it’s too difficult, but it’s actually quite easy.  And YES, it works.

A Quick Backstory

On June 1st, I weighed more than I ever had at 194.4  lbs. That was  turning point for me.  I started working out 5 days per week, stopped drinking sodas and tried to eat healthier.  After 3 months (and a scare when I hit 197.2 lbs, six weeks into my program) I finished at 188.6 lbs.  A net loss of 5.8 lbs!  I was happy, but I wanted faster results.  Work was getting busier as I work in Elections so going to the gym everyday wasn’t going to work much longer.  I took a week off from training and researched Intermittent Fasting.

My New Plan

I came up with a new plan.  I would workout just on the weekends, and do intermittent fasting as my meal plan.  I have never eaten breakfast because I’m just not hungry in the morning, so that part was easy.  Lately, I was finding that when I ate lunch, I wasn’t all that hungry for dinner, but I’d eat anyways because it was the social thing to do with my family.  My wife is an amazing cook, so even though I wasn’t hungry, I would eat way more than I wanted to because her cooking is so awesome.  My solution was to continue to skip breakfast, have a protein shake or protein bar for lunch and then eat whatever I wanted for dinner.  I allowed myself to have a mini candy bar for dessert if I needed something sweet.   So how did it go?

The Results of My Intermittent Fasting & Exercise Program so Far…

AMAZING.  I skip breakfast and lunch, drink water throughout the day and then eat as much as I want at dinner so I can enjoy my wife’s cooking.  I workout on the weekend with heavy weights and do a mile hard on the treadmill to warm up.  As a result, the weight started melting off.  I was afraid I was losing muscle as it was coming off faster than the recommended 2 lbs per week.  However, at the gym, I just keep getting stronger on the weights and faster on the treadmill.  I feel INCREDIBLE!  I’ve gone from a 10:30 mile down to an 8:53 and I know I can go faster.  My bench has increased from 135 lbs to 175 lbs (lifting it twice).

Since September 11th, I’ve lost 9 lbs and now weigh 179.6 lbs.  I haven’t been below 180 lbs since 2016.  I still have 7 more weeks to go in my second 3 month challenge so I’m really excited to see where I end up.

When I started dating my wife, I was 163 lbs so I’m looking forward to looking like the man she married once again.

What’s Next for Me?

My goal is to hit 185 lbs on the bench before I turn 51 this month.  Right now, I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and honestly don’t feel 50/51 at all.  I also want to get back into running now that I’m lighter and there will be less stress on my knees and feet.  My running goal is to get under an 8:30 mile…which is hard to say since I used to run 8 minute miles for half-marathons.  That’s why you don’t stop running kids.  Not matter how crazy busy life gets.  You lose your speed so fast.

If you’d like to know more about Intermittent Fasting, my workout plan at the gym or anything running related, please contact me.

How Can I Save on College Tuition?

A huge question out there is always, how can I save on college tuition?  College is expensive.  It seemed expensive back when I was in college and it’s only become more so as the years have passed.  But there are ways to reduce costs.

Don’t Go to College

OK, what am i talking about here?  Don’t go to college?  Am I serious?  Damn straight!  College is not for everyone.  A lot of very good entrepreneurs never went to college.  Others did, but never finished.  If you have an idea for a business, and you have drive, go for it.  Why do you need a piece of paper on the wall?

Go to Community College

If you want to go to college, why not start off at a community college.  First of all, there are a LOT of two year degrees that pay six figures.  Why spend four years in school when you could spend two years and still make the big bucks?

If you do want to go to a four year school, that’s great.  But why not get all the basic classes like English, math, science etc. out of the way at an affordable community college?  You’ll save a ton of money this way!

Go to a State School

A State school may seem like High School all over again, but there’s nothing wrong with that.  They are more affordable than going out of state.  You could pick a State school far from home on the other side of the state and get that “I’ve gone off to college” feeling and save money!

Shop Around and Find a More Affordable College

If you are set on a particular school, shop around and find something affordable.  People shop around for the best deals on clothes, insurance, cars, houses, even groceries!  Why not shop around for your education?

Get In-State Tuition

Determined to go out of state?  Take a gap year, establish residency in the state you want to attend college and viola, In State Tuition!  This way, you can work, save up, get residency, go to the school of your dreams and save money by being In-State!

Other Ways to Save / Reduce School Loans

Work full time or close to it so you have to borrow less.  If I could do it, anybody can.  I worked evenings and weekends for a total of 40 hours per week.  I scheduled my classes so I had time to study and do homework.

While in high school, take AP coursework so you can get college credit for classes.  Do really well in other subjects and try testing out of them when you enter college.  I know lots of people that tested out of almost a year of school, saving a whole year’s tuition!

Consider your degree!  What I mean is this; if you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, then an expensive ivy league school may pay off by getting higher paying jobs.  But if you want to be a writer, a philosophy major, a teacher…all very important and great professions…you don’t need to attend an ivy league school.  It’s silly to pay $200,000 to graduate and earn $30,000.  Just think about your college as an investment in yourself. Invest wisely.

Once you graduate, consider working in public service.  There are programs that will pay off your college tuition for you if you work in public service for a certain amount of time.  Same with teaching.  If you teach inner city kids, or poor performing schools, you can often find programs that will pay off your school debt for every year worked.

In Summary…

I speak from experience.  After high school, I moved to Austin, Texas, established residency by living and working there for a year, went to Austin Community College to knock out the basics and then transferred into the University of Texas, Austin.

One of my daughters, chose an in-state school, and works full time while attending and my other daughter is establishing residency in the state she’s attending college.  She also took a ton of AP classes and has skipped an entire year of school because she was able to get credit for/test out of all the core classes like math, english, etc…

I know a young lady who graduated high school and is getting her real estate license rather than going to college.  She’ll spend $495 for the 6  week course and have unlimited potential in her earnings in the super hot market of Western North Carolina.

I’ve had friends that had all their college loans paid off by working in local government since it was public service work.

The above ideas work!

Let me know in the comments below how you make / made college more affordable and will graduate/ graduated with less debt.

What is a Quick Workout I Can Do at the Gym?

Want to Know a quick workout you can do at the gym during your lunch break?  If you’re like most people, the main problem with working out is finding the time.  In the morning, you are getting yourself, maybe your kids too, ready for the day and then in the evening, after work, the same thing.  Winding down, making dinner, bath-time for the kids, etc.  That’s why using your lunch hour to workout is perfect.  But how can you make it to the gym, workout and get back in the hour you have?  It’s easy with my multi-exercise approach.

Compound exercises are the key.  What is a compound exercise?  It’s basically several moves in one.  For example, rather than do squats, do a squat with dumbbells.  As you stand up from the squat, go right into arm curls, then go up into a shoulder press where you lift the dumbbells overhead.  Do 3 sets of 10 reps and you’ll feel it.  Lunges are great too, but with the same idea.  have some dumbbells and go into a shoulder raise as  you step forward.  You can raise your arms out straight in front of you, or to the sides and hit the muscle differently.  Of course basic Push ups are great!  They work your chest, arms, shoulders and abs.  Do these 3 and you’ll leave the gym in under 30 minutes and feel like you’ve definitely worked out hard. You’ll have hit your Chest, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, abs, legs and glutes.  That’s the whole body.

What is a Debt Snowball?

You may have heard financial gurus talking about the debt snowball approach to paying off your debt. I think Dave Ramsey is the one that really made it popular. But what is the debt snowball?

How Does the Debt Snowball Work?

The basic idea of a debt snowball is to take all your credit cards, car loans, personal loans, etc. and list them from the least amount owed to the largest amount.

The first step advised to come up with some extra money that you can pay toward the smallest debt.  Let’s say your minimum payment is $25 and you can pay an extra $25 each month for a total of $50.  You make this payment until your smallest debt is paid off.  On all your other bills, you’ve been paying the minimum.  Now that the smallest debt is paid off, you go to the next debt.  You pay that minimum payment PLUS the $50 you were paying before to the other bill.  This gives you the “snowball effect” meaning each time you pay off a debt, that debt’s payment goes toward the next debt and the payment amounts get bigger and bigger with each progression.

As you can imagine, if you can stick to this, you can pay off debt really quick.  The big question I had when I first started, was where to come up with that extra money to apply when you are living paycheck to paycheck meaning you have no extra money to spare.

Here are some ways to pick up some extra cash to apply to your debt snowball.

Reduce Your Monthly Expenses 

  • Cancel your cable and use that money each month.  Once you’re debt free, you can always sign up for it again.
  • Drop that gym membership you don’t use and work out at home using body weight exercises.  (I’ll make a post about this soon.)
  • Look for cheaper car/home insurance to free up some cash.
  • Cancel the newspaper and get your news online.
  • Walk to take public transportation and save gas money.
  • Eat at home and eat out less.
  • Take your lunch to work.

If you can’t cut expenses to find some extra cash, how about raising your income?

Earn More Income

  • Get more hours at work if possible.
  • Get a second job.  It’s not forever, just until you can knock out a few items on your debt list.
  • Start a side hustle like
    • Mow lawns
    • Wash windows
    • Clear gutters
    • Babysit
    • Uber/Lyft
    • Shovel snow
    • Raking leaves
    • Bike tune ups
    • Small engine repair
    • Music lessons
    • Flip free items off craigslist.  You’d be amazed at what people give away for FREE that you can pick up and sell for cash!
    • Running errands for others or basically doing things for people that they can’t or don’t want to do for themselves.
    • Blog about your favorite topic?  I love running and I have a running blog.  I hope to get it monetized by sharing my knowledge.  You probably have a talent or skill you could share that somebody would pay for.  If you’d like to blog but don’t know where to start, I have a free program from a group called Wealthy Affiliate that can help you.  It’s the very one I use for my running blog.  Check it out here.
    • Become an affiliate and sell other people’s products and services.  Here’s a great free program by a group called SFI.  They have 1,000’s of items you can sell, earn commissions on and never have to spend any of your own money.  I’ve been with them since 2003 and have never had to pay a recurring fee.  Yesterday, in my Drink more water post, I mentioned a water bottle that I love.  That water bottle is from SFI and every sale made earns me $1.62 just for mentioning a great product.  Don’t you wish you got paid every time you recommended a product or business that people then went to?
    • Of course, if you’re handy, you could be a part time handyman.  Real Estate Investors are always looking for reliable help to fix up their rental properties and could provide you with steady work.
    • On that note, the ultimate side hustle is real estate investing, which I did for years and am currently trying to get back into.  Buy houses cheap, fix them up, sell them for a profit!  Just one good deal and I’d be debt free.  But this is a whole other post.

I’m currently working on my debt snowball and I’m trying the blogging and affiliate route.  Once the election season is over, I may consider a second job to speed things up.

Have you tried the debt snowball?  What was your experience?  Leave comments below.

Dieting Tip of the Week: Drink More Water

Hey everyone, hope you enjoyed my last dieting tip. Just FYI, I practiced what I preached last week and what I’m about to today and lost a little over 1 lb last week.  Today’s dieting tip of the week: Drink more water!

How Much Water Should You Drink?

In general, you should drink eight 8 oz glasses of water per day.  I have to be honest, that is really hard for me to do.  But it is what’s recommended.  When I’m close to it, I feel like I’m constantly going to the bathroom.  So, as a result, I’ve tweaked it a little as you’ll see below.

When to Drink Water.

I just make sure to drink a tall glass of water right before I eat a meal or if I’m feeling like I want to snack.  Of course, I also drink water after I run or work out.

In all honesty, the majority of the time I feel like I want a snack, when I drink a glass of water, the feeling goes away. When I drink a glass of before eating a meal, I definitely eat less at that meal.

Other Benefits of Drinking More Water.

Some other benefits of drinking more water and eating less are that I save money not buying as many snacks.  I also stretch my grocery budget by having leftovers which I can take to lunch rather than eating out all the time.

You also save money by not ordering soft drinks at restaurants.  I mean seriously, $3.00 for a Coke?  Sure, there’s free refills, but still!

What if You Don’t Like Water?

I’m right there with you!  I don’t really like the taste of water most often.  In Miami Beach and other coastal cities I’ve been to, the tap water smells like fish.  In Asheville though, it’s not bad.  I find that buying a pitcher and filling it with water and placing it in the refrigerator helps a ton!  Ice cold water just tastes so much better to me.  You can also buy pitchers that have infusers in them.  You can cut up a cucumber or various fruits and place it in the infuser and the taste filters into the water.

A pretty close second, would be to drink tea if you really don’t like just plain water.  Tea is really good, but try to avoid adding all the sugar to it.  Try honey instead which I believe is better for you than sugar.

Let me know how you get more water into your diet in the comments section.

Review of Lending Club Loan Process

I love Lending Club!  That could be my total review of Lending Club’s loan process, but I’m sure you want details.

The Application Process

The application process could not be easier and what’s great is the initial approval does NOT harm your credit.  It’s a soft inquiry.  Once you decide to proceed and accept the loan, they pull your credit and it does ding your score just a bit, but any loan will do that.  Simply enter your name, address, the amount you want, employment info and income and you’re on your way.  It takes all of 5 minutes, if that long.

How Fast Can I Get My Money?

Once you’re approved, you get your money in a matter of days.  I don’t think I’ve waited longer than 3 business days for my cash, which is deposited right into my back account.  It’s then mine to use. I’m on my 3rd loan with Lending Club and I’m highly satisfied.

Pros of Lending Club

The pros are easy application process, soft inquiry so doesn’t hurt your credit to check for pre-approval and you get your cash deposited directly into our account.  In addition, Lending club allows you to select your payback period for larger loans giving you the option of 3-5 years.  Smaller loans like I’ve taken out have been only for 3 years.  The good thing is that in 3 years, that debt is gone.  Credit Cards you could be paying on for decades if you only made the minimum payment.

Another Pro to lending club is that it appears to help your credit to have personal loans rather than credit card debt.  A couple of years ago, I consolidated some credit card debt and saw my credit score jump double digits!  That was a nice bonus.  Higher credit scores means better interest rates for future loans, credit offers, etc.

One other pro to Lending Club which I’ve not seen with other lending groups is that if you refer someone that gets a loan, they will pay you.

Cons of Lending Club

So surely there must be some cons to it, right?  Well, to be honest, the only con that really springs to mind is one of the pros.  Above I mentioned how you will pay off  the loan faster than if it was credit card debt.  That also becomes a con in that by paying it off faster, your payment will be a little higher.  For example, some credit cards I was paying a total of $56 on, I consolidated into Lending Club and now pay $84. So my outflow is a little more, but to me, it’s worth it knowing it’ll be paid off in 3 years.

If you would like to consolidate some credit card debt, I highly suggest you do it with a loan from Lending Club.  Please click here and use my link.

Dieting Tip of the Week: Quit Drinking Sodas

Hey everyone, I just wanted to share an easy way to lose some unwanted belly fat.  Quit the sodas

QUIT THE SODAS

That’s right, sugary soft drinks are just empty calories you are feeding yourself.  A 20 oz bottle of Coke is roughly 230 calories.  Let’s say you have just one Coke per day, or 30 bottles per month.  30 cokes x 230 calories is 6,900 calories per month.

Since it takes expending 3500 calories to equal one pound of weight loss, you’d lose 2 lbs per month or 24 lbs in a year, just by dropping sodas.

ISN’T DIET SODA THE ANSWER THEN?

So, if soda calories are bad, you think you can just drink diet sodas instead, right?  No calories, but similar taste must be the perfect solution!  Not so fast there mi amigos.  While diet sodas may have zero calories, there is something about the artificial sweeteners that is tricking the body.  Researchers aren’t sure what or why or how, but people that drink diet sodas have higher obesity rates than non soda drinkers.  One thought is that the body detects the sweetness and releases insulin to combat the sugar that it assumes is there.  Another theory is that artificial sweeteners screw up the the bacteria in our guts, thus causing insulin to be released.   Either way, sugar is pulled from the blood and gets stored for future energy, or if you’re sedentary, stored as fat.

Instead of sodas, try drinking water.  Need something with a little more flavor?  How about hot tea with a little honey?

From personal experience, when I quit sodas, I see my belly get flatter in a matter of days.  The carbonation in the sodas, whether regular or diet, is a gas and it causes one’s belly to puff out.  But don’t take my word for it.  Try it yourself and let me know what results you get.

Sources:

How Artificial Sweeteners Affect Blood Sugar and Insulin, Helen West, RD June 3, 2017, Healthline.com

Diet Soda and Belly Fat: A Growing Concern, Laura A. Schmidt PhD, Sugarscience.ucsf.edu

How to Adult: Budgeting 101

Do you find that you have more month than money?  Sadly, that’s a common phrase these days.  It’s amazing to me how many people don’t make a budget.  They just get paid and and then spend money with no idea where their money is going or often times, even what needs to be paid.

What is a budget?

A budget is basically looking at what money you have coming in and where it needs to go to.  When you run out of money, the spending has to stop.  What happens is, people run out of money and start putting stuff on credit cards.  Next thing they know, they have no money and tons of debt.  I can say this because I’ve been there.  Still am to an extent but that’s another blog post.

How to make a budget?

Making a budget is super easy.  I helped my daughter make one when she got her first job.  Basically, take a sheet of paper, or a spreadsheet like Excel or Google Sheets and make an entry for how much money you take home each month, also known as your NET INCOME.  I do it this way for simplicity but you could and should record your total income, or GROSS INCOME which is your income before taxes and other deductions.  It pisses me off to see how much they take out in taxes but it does help to see where your money is going.

Let’s say we are going to do it the right way.  Start with your Gross Income, which is your hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours you worked.  You’ll see this on your pay stub.  Next subtract your deductions, taxes, social security, any benefits you pay for, etc.  What is left is your Net income.  This is what you have left to spend on rent, utilities, food, gas, clothes and going out.

For example, lets say you earn $10 hour and work 40 hours per week.  That’s $400 per week you are earning, or roughly $1600 per month.  Let’s say you take home $1,200 per month after taxes, benefits, etc. for easy math.  Your rent is $500, utilities are $150 and you need $50 per month for gas.  That leaves you $500  for clothes and food.  Make sense?  That’s a basic budget.  That’s what you can afford.  If you spend less, that’s your savings.  Great job!  If you spend more, that’s trouble.  Spending more than you earn is living beyond your means.

Tips for Budgeting

Pay yourself first!  What do I mean by that?  Before paying all your bills, take a little and put it in a savings account.  The ideal is to save 10% of your income, but honestly, any amount, no matter how small, will help.  Having savings is such a great feeling.  After all, things will happen, things will break that will need fixing, and having some money saved will keep you on your budget.

Buy clothes out of season. In other words, buy sweaters in the summer and shorts in the winter.  You’ll get great deals and dress for less.

Buy generic brand foods/drugs.  The store brand chips taste just as good as the name brand the vast majority of the time.  Same with medicines.  The knock off brands work just as well as the name brands do.  On that note, with grocery shopping, buy what’s on sale that week.  If chicken is on sale, eat a lot of chicken that week.

I hope this has helped and this is just a basic intro to budgeting.  Saving and investing will be in future posts.