First, the good news.
I finally got my 2016 bonus check ($4,922)! Woot!! I now have ALL the money! lol
This is how I have allotted it.
- Health maintenance fund ($2,500)
- Opportunity fund ($1,250)
- Emergency fund ($222)
- Checking account / slush ($500)
- Evil Student Loan extra payment ($500)
I also made my first $2,650 monthly mega payment (up from $2,300). The resulting balance ($83,896) barely looks like it’s even moved since last month. Still pretty much in the mid-80’s.
Why is so much going to my health fund? Keep reading…
On the Downward Escalator
After 40, it can feel like we’re all on the downward escalator. Health issues appear, or worsen. Our weight and mid-sections increase. It becomes harder to maintain health without substantially more effort; like continually running up an escalator to get back to where you used to be and the health you used to have.
It can make us wonder about our own mortality. How should we prioritize our time when, unlike in our youth, it becomes apparent that we won’t live forever, or even last into old age with good health. Sometimes I think, like Grace from her (now defunct) blog Graceful retirement, what if I only have 15 good years left?
My Health Goals for 2017
I’d also like to lower my body fat by some yet to be determined percentage.This will entail improving diet and physical fitness. I cannot and will not promise to have a perfect diet, but I can make improvements. Gym membership, perhaps a few personal training sessions and higher quality food will require money. I also will be meeting with a couple of doctors in the coming year to start to address some increasing health concerns. Doctors visits cost money too. Sigh. (2017 Goals Post)
Before I can set specific goals, I need to determine my starting points. In the past I’ve only learned my weight during doctors visits. I never focused on it enough to own my own scale. Well, I decided to get some numbers around my health goals. I went a bit overboard perhaps and got a fitness tracker and one of those fancy scales that tell you your heart rate, body fat percentage, muscle density, bone density, etc. Oh yeah, and it tells you your weight too! Well, after a few days of putting it off, I decided to bite the bullet and record my starting numbers.
Weight – I’m officially at the heaviest weight I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve gained over 15 pounds since I lost my last job and moved here. Stress, hormones, poor diet, lack of sustained exercise, more stress… Ugh!! Not long ago I donated a bunch of clothes that I couldn’t fit into anymore and then had to buy a size up. For the longest time I thought my clothes were shrinking! LoL! Then I started to see and feel the fat around my midsection. I don’t like the way I look in the mirror. I would like to lose at least 7 pounds of fat and convert the other 8 pounds to muscle gain.
Body Fat – According to my fancy scale, my body fat percentage is 28-29%, which is toward the higher end of the “Acceptable” range for women. However, “Obese” starts at 31%, which isn’t that far away! Eeek! I’d like to be in the general “Fit” category of 21-24%. I think 24-25% is a good target percentage to shoot for.
Resting Heart Rate: So far, mine is clocking in at an average of about 86 bpm. While not an abnormally fast rate, it is not healthy. A resting heart rate of a healthy person is in the 60s bpm. According to general scales and research, my heart health looks poor. POOR! Check this quote from Harvard University health blog:
For example, a 2013 study in the journal Heart tracked the cardiovascular health of about 3,000 men for 16 years and found that a high RHR was linked with lower physical fitness and higher blood pressure, body weight, and levels of circulating blood fats. The researchers also discovered that the higher a person’s RHR, the greater the risk of premature death. Specifically, an RHR between 81 and 90 doubled the chance of death, while an RHR higher than 90 tripled it.
Three words folks: WTH?? I swear, this debt is literally killing me.
Cholesterol: Somebody call Jimmy McMillan. My cholesterol is too damn high! My cholesterol has never been low, but my current numbers are downright scary. This year (recent blood test), it is in the high 200s. No, that is not a typo. Aieee! I feel like I’m practically a heart attack waiting to happen. Stress, poor diet, more stress, age, family history, even more stress are big factors. I’m fairly certain an underlying health issue is contributing to my numbers being this out of control, beyond just diet. This number has to come way, way down, obviously.
My Plan of Attack
ONE. Get some lab work done.
- I have a doctor appointment set up to start putting together the pieces of my ongoing health issues. These appointments, tests, dietary changes, and possibly medication will cost $$$, so it remains to be seen if my new $2,500 health maintenance account will cover things this year. One test that I may have to have costs between $400-800 by itself. I have my HSA as a backup, but hopefully I won’t have to tap into that.
TWO. Get regular physical activity.
- Find organized team sport? Could be fun, but, ummmm…. This is me trying to play soccer….
I really don’t have a body fit for contact sports. I break easily. Even so, I’d be willing to try something non-competitive. Unfortunately, there are no community team sport activities out here in the boonies where I live, at least not that I know of. I will look out for any.
- Return to my pricey boutique fitness studio. I want to give this another chance. This time I will try to be smarter about it. This is a small gym that I was going to regularly and really liking for a little while last year. I stopped going because I burned out and injured myself. This time, instead of going there 4+ times per week, I will initially go only 1 or 2 times per week and will keep aware that I’m not pushing myself too hard. Easier said than done, but worth a try. I will pay on a per visit basis instead of monthly membership so I’m not tempted to go more often than I should.
- Workout in my room. I don’t have high hopes for sustaining this based on past experience, but I’ll give it another go.
THREE. Reduce Stress!: Get more sleep & Meditate
- My fitness tracker also measures my sleep. I have a long standing habit of staying up late and then getting up crazy early to go to work. (Not good and very stressful on the body.) I knew I wasn’t getting enough sleep, probably less than 5 hours per weeknight, but the tracker revealed the truth. I was only getting between 3-hrs,41-min and 4-hrs, 27-min per night of actual sleep. I’m making a concerted effort now to get to bed at an early hour so I can get a solid 7 hours each night. I’m using the new ‘Bedtime’ feature in my iPhone clock app.
- I’m also using a meditation app to help me wind down when I feel keyed up.
FOUR. Improve my diet.
I want to set realistic goals here, so I’m not promising to have anything close to a perfect diet, but this year l’m working on cutting down on the worst offenders for me (wheat/gluten, dairy, and sugar). Eating more high quality food will also cost $$$. I will need to recalculate how my monthly food/personal budget category will be impacted.
So I have my work cut out for me. Thankfully, I now have some money set aside so I don’t have to feel like I’m choosing between debt repayment and taking care of my health.
Are you struggling to stay (or get) healthy? What are you doing? Do you feel that it competes, financially, with your focus on getting out of debt?