Tag Archives: goals



Good Bye Status Quo, Hello Something Else

cow

It’s been a while and a lot has happened since my last post. So, I thought I’d put finger to key and give you the scoop on how I tipped a few sacred cows over the past 10 months.

Running again – Farther and faster than ever

I’m now putting in 35 miles a week with some of my longer run days up above 8 miles.  I’ve run PB 5 and 10ks.  Back in February, my body was feeling broken and old.  How did I go from not being able to run much at all, to running better than I ever have?  Simple.  I tried something else.

The main thing keeping me on the sidelines was my toe and it just didn’t seem to be getting better.  My podiatrist had me taking ibuprofen and applying ice after walks, both of which made me feel better for a couple of hours.  But, I couldn’t keep this up for the rest of my life, could I?  So I said goodbye to the doctor and hello to my own R&D.  I started by cutting up insoles from some old running shoes to make my own custom metatarsal pads.  I figured out exactly what shape worked best for my foot and discovered wearing it inside my sock kept it in place.  Before long, I was off the meds and ice, and back to jogging again.

My make-shift toe pad still didn’t seem like a viable long-term solution, especially if I wanted to get back to full running.  So, I started looking at my shoe options.  I after some research, I found Altras.  They’re specially made with a super-wide toe box to let your toes spread out.  The minute I put these on, I felt like my toes were free.  I decided to switch to Provisions and Olympus’s for trails.  I also increased how often I replaced my shoes.

Aside from the shoes and the pads, was there something different I could do with my running?  I started looking at workouts online and reading books such as Daniel’s Running Formula and Build Your Runner’s Body.  I learned that my workouts were too hard.  In order to prevent injury, I needed to incorporate more slow or easy runs into my weekly workout schedule.  In fact, most of the running I do now is easy.  I only push myself two or three days a week.  The other days I just run at a nice, leisurely pace.

With all these changes I believe I’ve completely overcome my toe problems.  Now I’m able to gradually slide up my weekly mileage, speed, and fitness level without injury.

Bacon, Butter, Beef and Coconut: the 4 Food Groups

Call it Atkins or call it Paleo.  Whatever you want to call it, most of my calories are coming from fat now and I’ve lost 9 pounds and at least an inch off my waist!  I never considered myself fat, but I don’t really miss that extra baggage, either.

It all started with a trip to the doctor.  I hadn’t had a physical since college, but with my Dad going through some serious medical issues this past summer, I was motivated to get myself checked out.  After taking a routine blood test, my doctor diagnosed me with high cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia.  He thought both my LDL and my overall cholesterol were too high.

This was a complete surprise to me.  I always felt like I was pretty healthy.  I ate right, I exercised, and I never really had any major medical issues.  High cholesterol was for older people who lived off of fast-food and surfed the couch all day, right?

Well, the doctor seemed to think it was pretty serious and wanted to put me on a drug called a statin right away to tank my cholesterol levels.  Whoa, hold on!  I’m not the kind of person that likes to just jump on a pill to make my problems go away.  What is this statin and is there some sort of lifestyle change I can make before committing to a lifetime of strange mystery meds I know nothing about?

So, once again, I ditched the doc and started my quest for more answers.  I found the EatingAcademy.com and picked up a few books including The Great Cholesterol Myth, Grain Brain, and Wheat Belly.  I discovered statins are bad, cholesterol (as it was measured in my blood test) doesn’t affect your risk for heart disease, inflammation and high blood sugar are much better indicators of heart disease risk, and fat consumption (saturated and monounsaturated) does not increase your risk of heart disease.  These new findings completely blew my mind.  The food pyramid I was used to (with bread on the bottom and fat on top), was completely turned upside down!

So I cut WAY down on the grains and sugars, and upped my intake of saturated and monounsaturated fats (also more veggies).  Think Buddy the Elf‘s diet, but the complete opposite.  As a result, my pants are way too big now.  Not to mention, my energy levels are steady throughout the day, I sleep great, and I just feel better overall.

Six Months and the House is Ours

Assuming no unforeseen mishaps or pay increases, six months from now we should be living in a completely paid-for house.  It’s hard to believe we’re almost there.  And now that we’re so close, it’s hard not to get impatient and day-dream about life after a mortgage.  Mrs. Pennypacker and I often think about buying a second house in the mountains.  Six months from now, that may be our next big ocean to cross.

I’ve already written extensively about why we decided to be different and pay off our house.  It’s a similar story to the toe and the diet – me just looking at normal and thinking, “there has to be another way.”

How did I get here?

I questioned.  Maybe it’s the Gen X in me, or maybe I’m wired differently, or maybe my parents raised me to be a rebel.  Society tells us to take pain pills and apply ice to our injuries.  Everyone says eat less fat and eat more whole grains to be healthy.  In America, you take out a mortgage and keep making payments until you retire or die.  In all these cases, I wasn’t satisfied with normal.  I had to find a better way.  It’s like that old T.J. quote…

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god…”
– Thomas Jefferson

Are there any principles or societal norm that you’ve flipped upside-down lately?



When Your Body Says, “Whoa!” Sometimes You Have to Listen

saucony-exodus

Back in November of 2015, I set out on a six month journey to conquer a Navy SEAL Fitness program.  I had high hopes that I’d cruise right on through April and cross a nice little accomplishment off my list.  Sadly, my body has said, “Whoa!”, and I’ve decided to listen.

The Return of the Toe

I’ve been on hiatus for 2 weeks now because of a couple nagging injuries (toe and bicep).   I injured my toe last August (the doctor diagnosed the injury as capsulitis), so up to this point I’ve been substituting spin bike sessions and row machine rounds for running.  About 3 months ago, my toe was feeling pretty close to healed, so I started gradually mixing in some brief, easy jogging.  A month ago I started upping my run times to 20 minute sessions, three days a week.  Well, two weeks into those, I had a relapse.  My toe started hurting again; just about as bad as when I first injured it six months ago.  I was bummed.  I knew I had to completely rest it, and maybe even start my treatment/rehab cycle all over again.

Bye Bye Bicep

My bicep’s been another issue.  I suspect it’s a case if tendinitis that first bit me about six weeks ago.  It mainly hurts when I crank on some pull-ups.  I don’t want it to get any worse, so I’ve pretty much laid off doing pull-ups, rows, curls or any other potential bicep straining movement.  My poor biceps are just withering away.

Why Can’t Days be 25 Hours Long?

The time commitment had also become a challenge.  My hours at work had been increasing just as my workout time had been ratcheting  up.  I was putting in a good 90 minutes a day, six days a week.  I called it quits around week 12 of the six month program (right around the halfway mark).  My workouts were only going to get longer.

A Different Kind of Challenge

I did enjoy the experience.  The SEAL workout has a big emphasis on core exercises – planks, supermans, wipers, and the like.  Not to mention a big helping of push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups.  It’s much more endurance focused than say a CrossFit style workout where your sessions don’t last more than a few minutes.  Plus, I think there’s a different type of a mental challenge involved.  You’re not just seeing how fast you can complete a wide variety of movements, you’re trying to see how much you can endure, and for how long.

Reluctantly Resigning

I hate giving up.  But, I feel like I have to.  I do think I gave it my all for the 12 weeks I put in.  As time rolls on, I plan to keep a light regimen of push-ups, sit-ups, and core – balancing on the tightrope of resting my body and keeping the fitness embers smoldering.

Once my injuries are healed, I’m not sure I’ll jump right back into the SEAL fitness schedule.  Instead, I’m thinking of getting back into a more CrossFit oriented workout, mainly because of the shorter time commitment.  I’m also bound and determined to get myself back into the forest for some relaxing weekend morning runs.

 



Mortgage Pay-Down Goal, Check…Well Almost

yellow house mortgage

It’s been six months since Mrs. Pennypacker and I set our last mortgage pay-down goal and I’m sad to say we didn’t quite make it.  The goal we set in July of last year was to have the mortgage paid down to 30% left by the end of 2015.  As of now, we’re at 30.5%.  Yeah, I know.  We’re pretty darn close.  Okay…really…now that I look at it some more, we’re sooo close, I’m just going to round down and call it accomplished.

Goal-Over-Reach

I can’t think of any particular reason why we fell slightly short this time.  No big, unexpected expenses came up.  Our income stayed pretty steady.  I think it’s just a small case of goal-over-reach.  It’s no big deal.  Setting goals isn’t a perfect science.  Sometimes you make it to the top of the mountain ahead of time and sometimes you come up a few feet short.  The key is to adjust your goals so that next time around you’re right on target.

A little easier this time around

Since we set our sights a little too high last time, this time around we’re going a little more realistic.  Our goal will be to get paid down to 23% at the beginning of July.  I’m likely to get a raise at my day job and Mrs. Pennypacker may get a bonus at her job, so we may end up surpassing this number.  But, we’re not counting these chickens just yet.  Our goal should still be reachable, even if our income stays flat.

So, when’s Mortgage D-Day?

The crazy unicorn dreamer in me says we’ll pay the entire mortgage off by the end of 2016.  If both Mrs. Pennypacker and I get raises this year, and we throw a little savings in towards the end, it just might happen.  On the other hand, the realistic dream-killer in me says we’ll pay it off by the middle of 2017.  I suppose we could live with another 6 months.  But, it just sounds so nice to say it will be done in a year.

Is this the right thing to do?

We still believe it is.  Most experts think the stock market will be fairly flat next year.  By paying off our mortgage early, we get a guaranteed 3% return on our money.  That certainly beats any savings account out there right now.  Plus, once it’s paid off, we’ll have more money to invest elsewhere.

The best thing about paying off the mortgage is the flexibility and security you gain, by not having that giant beach towel of a mortgage payment soaking up your paycheck every month.  Without that payment, if one of us gets laid off, we’d still have enough income to cover our day-to-day expenses.  And, if one of us wanted to switch gears and go after a dream job that maybe didn’t pay that well, we could still support ourselves.

But what about the tax deduction?

We’d rather have our house completely paid off and pay zero interest, than keep paying interest just so we can get a 25% discount on that interest.  Besides, if we really miss the tax deduction, we can always just give more to charity.

Rewards?  Sure, why not.

We like to reward ourselves when we accomplish a goal.  Last year we bought new flooring.  Six months ago we bought a new bbq.  This time around we’re buying a new laptop and a new couch.  The laptop is in the mail and should be here next week.  The couch is still being decided on by Mrs. Pennypacker, but I’m sure it will be forthcoming.

Did you accomplish your goals for last year?



Budgeting Buddy 1.0 is here

budgeting buddy logo

Happy New Year!  After several months in beta and several more months in development, I’m happy to announce that version 1.0 of Budgeting Buddy is now available!

What is Budgeting Buddy?

Budgeting Buddy is an app that helps you track your financial health.  I’ve tried several other tools and software to manage my finances, but none of them really resonated with me.  So, being a software developer by day, I decided to write my own.  If one of your New Year’s resolutions involves getting better with money, Budgeting Buddy might be just the thing to help you.

How is this different from other apps out there?

It’s simpler.   There are three steps you can take every month to improve your financial health:

  1. Create a budget.  This is a plan.  It’s you telling you where your money should go.  But, you’re an adult.  You should be allowed to buy a treat from the impulse aisle at Walmart or pick up a new TV because your current one isn’t quite big enough, right?  Wrong! No one has an infinite supply of money, and as an adult, it’s your job to plan your impulse buys ahead of time while saving some money for the future.
  2. Track your financial health and spending.  This your chance to see how well you stuck to your budget.  Do your bank and credit card statements match up with your plan?  Do you need to change your budget for next month?
  3. Set goals.   Got a credit card to pay off or a car you want to save up for?  Maybe your goals are bigger – pay off the house or maybe retire with a million dollars in the bank.  Budgeting Buddy helps you track your progress and get to where you want to go.

Budgeting Buddy focuses on making it easy to do these three things.

It’s more secure.  A lot of apps will offer to link your bank accounts so that all the statement transactions can be synced up in one nice neat place.  Sounds great, right?  Well, not to me.  I’d rather not trust some third party app with access to my bank login and account information.

It forces you to pay attention.  The other reason Budgeting Buddy doesn’t link to your bank accounts is you lose track of what’s really happening with your money.  Instead of blindly syncing all your transactions, you manually enter them into Budgeting Buddy every month.  So, instead of not really looking at the $100 you spent on coffee last month, you actually have to type in all those trips to Starbucks, making you more inclined to cut back.  By the same token, if you have to manually enter in that you only saved 1% of your income this month, you might be motivated to up your savings rate for next month.

Sounds great. How do I get it?

Budgeting Buddy is available on Google Play.  For non-Android devices, including an IPhone, IPad, laptop, or desktop; it’s available on the web at budgetingbuddy.com.



How I Stumbled into a 26 Week Veteran’s Day Challenge

Flag-Helicopter

It’s funny how sometimes, without any planning, things just fall into place and you end up doing something really awesome.

It all started  a couple weeks ago when I recorded a bunch of movies off a free preview weekend for one of those premium movie channels on cable that I’m too cheap to actually pay for.  Last week, I decided to watch one of them – American Sniper.  I loved it!  In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I decided to pick up the book and read it.  Mrs. Pennypacker can attest to how rarely a movie motivates me to read the book.

In case you haven’t seen the Academy Award nominated movie or read the best-selling autobiography, American Sniper is about the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle who ends up becoming the most successful sniper in US Military history.  You learn how he grows up and what he goes through to get to that pinnacle.  I gleaned from Kyle’s story three guiding principals that I think can apply to almost anything anyone is trying to accomplish in life.

1. Give yourself the best chance to succeed

During a couple of his deployments in Iraq, Chris Kyle was assigned to be the sniper for teams of Marines assigned to go door to door looking for the enemy.  It was a dangerous job. He could see that the Marines were getting hit almost every time they stormed a building. Kyle felt like the Marines would be more successful if he could accompany them on the ground and teach them some of the advanced building clearing techniques that he learned as a SEAL.  So he left the relative safety of his sniper’s hide and helped the Marines.  Others feared that his superiors would pull him right out of the fight if they knew what he was doing.  But, Kyle didn’t care.  He knew that what he was doing gave those Marines (and himself) the best chance to succeed.

2. Love what you do

Kyle truly believed in what he was doing and loved doing it. He was born to help people, to protect people from evil. As Chris’s father put it in the movie, there are three kinds of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. Chris, of course, was a sheepdog watching over his fellow soldiers and the American people, protecting them from the wolves.  In his mind, it wasn’t so much that he was taking lives as a sniper, but it was more that his actions were saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.

3. Seek out tough challenges

Chris Kyle joined the Navy so he could be a SEAL – one of the most difficult and demanding jobs in the military. Only 20% (sometimes less) of the prospective SEAL candidates that get into BUD/S actually make it through and become a SEAL. That was just the kind of nearly impossible challenge he was looking for.

How often do most of us face challenges in our lives? I mean difficult challenges.  Challenges that most people fail at.  Probably not all that often.  We generally like easy cake-walks that come complete with the promise of guaranteed success.  But, if we were to run a marathon, climb a tall mountain, or maybe take on a project at work that most people aren’t able or willing to do, we might see things a little differently. These are the kind of difficult challenges that, when completed, can give you some of the best satisfaction ever.

My 26 Week Challenge

So, Monday I started a 26 week physical fitness program geared towards preparing for BUD/S. This fitness program involves mostly push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, running, and swimming – ratcheting up the distance, intensity, and reps of each as the weeks progress. Since my toe is still questionable, I’m substituting biking for running and since I don’t like swimming, I’m hitting the rowing machine instead.  My goal is to experience what it takes to meet the physical fitness demands of a SEAL.  Since I’m not actually going through BUD/S, I’ll miss out on some of the mental challenges SEAL candidates face such as having a fire hose sprayed in their faces, getting yelled at and berated by their instructors, and the non-stop torture that is Hell Week.

Fast forward to today and lo and behold it’s Veteran’s Day.  I didn’t really plan this, but all these events just kind of worked out as a great way to honor our military veterans.



Budgeting Buddy Version 0.6 is Out: Start Setting a Goal or Two!

Goals edit screenshot

Version 0.6 of Budgeting Buddy has been released!  Both the web app and the Android app have been upgraded.

Set Some Goals

The biggest change you’ll notice in Budgeting Buddy is the addition of a Goals section.  This is where you’ll be able to tie a Health Item to a goal.  Let’s say you’re saving for a car.  Setup a goal for your savings account, say $5,000, and track your progress each month.  You can also see what the Predicted Finish will be for your goal.  As each month goes by, you’ll be able to see how your Predicted Finish might change depending on how much you added to your account that month.  You might be falling behind or you might be surging ahead.  If you’re on the basic plan, the number of goals you can create at one time is limited to one.  If you’re on the Premium Plan, you can create unlimited goals.

goals screenshot

Bug Fixes and cleanup

  • A few of those annoying bugs reported by beta users have been fixed.
  • A small, but noticeable change involved renaming a few toolbar buttons.  “Details” is now “Items.”  The buttons still do same thing they used to, but “Items” just makes more sense.
  • The dashboard charts have been reworked and cleaned up and should be a little easier to understand.

Next on the road map

We will be adding a notification widget on the dashboard.  This will notify you if something needs your attention.  If you are on the Premium Plan, It will also give you suggestions on how to improve your financial health.

Further down the road

We plan to add more help documentation and videos to hold your hand while as you explore Budgeting Buddy.

We also plan to add a team feature, where you can join forces with someone else in your household and share a budget.  After all, budgeting should be a team effort.

Release To Manufacturing

Budgeting Buddy getting closer to progressing from beta to a 1.0 RTM version.  Please keep the feedback coming.  If you would like to join the beta program, please let me know.  This is your chance to get involved in shaping Budgeting Buddy at it’s early stages.