Eustress and Distress

The following is one of the most important guidelines when in comes to exercise. So important, in fact, that it applies to every workout you will every do.It is the concept of distress and eustress. Distress is negative stress such as being sick or going through a painful breakup. Eustress is positive ‘stress’ such as accomplishing a goal, being particularly excited about something, or being in a loving relationship. Distress and eustress can come from all parts of your life. Your job, diet, relationships, etc…can all add to your total stress level (positive or negative). Exercise is actually a mix of distress and eustress – but the most immediate effect of a reasonable demanding workout is distress. Each time you plan a workout routine, or begin a workout session, you need to take into account your overall stress level. For example, if you do not have to work very many hours, have access to a great diet, are in a wonderful loving relationship, and are getting plenty of rest every night, you may be able to handle a workout routine consisting of 2 workouts a day – five days a week. If you have a physically demanding job, at which you work long hours, and are going through a ‘tough time’ personally, then the best routine for you may consist of only two workouts a week.

This concept is very important and easily illustrated in the following real life situations.

Situation #1 When I was a junior in college, around the beginning of the year, I had a somewhat demanding workout regimen – I lifted weight and ran 5-6 days a week – and I did all these at a high intensity. I was getting good results, I wasn’t huge, but I was really cut. Unfortunately I also had a demanding school load and I was right on the brink of over training (a lot of distress). Then it happened – I had a dose of personal stress, and it was enough to throw me over the edge. I became sick and had almost zero energy for a couple weeks to a month.

Situation #2 I was studying abroad in Spain. Classes were short and easy. Everyday life was fun and relaxing; I also had good nutrition. I had a good supply of eustress. I lived near gym and trained consistently 4-5 days a week. The training was great; I made gains, and never felt over trained or exhausted.

Situation #3 After leaving Spain, I moved back to San Diego. In San Diego I began training very hard. Life was not the stressful outside of training – but the exercises I was doing were very hard on my body and was not giving myself enough rest. I eventually injured my shoulder. My shoulder joint basically had much more distress then eustress (in the form of giving the muscle a break and chance to heal).

Situation #4 (The current situation) I have a very busy, yet somewhat irregular work schedule. Because of the irregularity, some weeks are harder then others. Because of this, and my experience with over training, I know that some weeks I can perform five to six workouts and some I can only perform two. My results are good so far. I have avoided overtraining, but am still making gains. All in all, I am very happy.

So, before your next workout or before planning your workout schedule, take some time to think about the sources of both distress and eustress in your life and how they may affect your available energy for exercise.

This article was featured in the weight managment and fitness forum carnival.

The best way to save over $200 a year!

I think for the first time in my life I was convinced by a door to door sales person to purchase their product. What were they selling? Cable…as in tv and internet. A man working for AT&T knocked on my door one afternoon and began his sales pitch. I was tempted to interrupt him and tell him I was not interested (as I do with most other salesmen).

He handed me a pamphlet of information that included all the different package options and pricing AT&T was offering. I saw their basic cable and internet package was $89 per month. I was paying $91 for my COX cable package. I told the man I wasn’t interested in making the switch because I wouldn’t be saving any money. He asked me about my current COX package (internet speed, how many channels I get, etc.). With COX I was only getting basic cable (channels 2 through 60) and medium internet speed. With AT&T’s basic package I would get over 200 channels and slightly faster internet. It sounded too good to be true so I asked the man how much the instillation fee was. Turns out, there is no instillation fee and we also get a cable box that can record four shows at one time and a high power wireless modem and router. With COX we don’t get a cable box and they charge a rental fee for the modem. The man said these aren’t promotional rates that are going to go up in one month. He explained AT&T is just trying to be competitive against the San Diego Mega-Cable companies like Cox and Time Warner.

Convinced that AT&T would be more bang for my buck I asked the guy for his card and told him I would give him a call later. I went back to my computer did a little more research and was sold that AT&T was a great value. I scheduled my appointment. The cable folks came out last weekend and installed our new cable and let me tell you…IT IS WONDERFUL! The cable box is amazing. I don’t need to record four shows at once, but its still a neat feature. The internet is WAAAAY faster than our old internet. Paranoid that there was going to be hidden fees or an upgrade that I wasn’t aware of I called AT&T and asked what my bill would be at the end of the month ….$99 the lady told me, but since we had cable and internet we got a $10 discount to bring out total bill to $89…just what the salesman quoted me. This is when things got really good. I asked the lady if she knew of any other deals that would be worth my while. This is when she told me that for $40 extra a month we could upgrade our cable to get a total of 400 channels. I politely declined. Then she said… “Oh wait I can get you the 400 channels and a $40 discount for 6 months making your bill total $89 a month.” I don’t need 400 channels, but if they’re free I’ll take them. I wrote myself a note to cancel the extra package in Dec. so I don’t get stuck with a higher bill. Oh yeah, and did I mention we get our fist month of service at no charge and a $100 check for signing up. All-in-all I will end up saving about $250 this year and will have a way better cable package.

My advice to you…. Check with other cable companies and see if you can get them to beat your current cable costs. They will almost always try and work a deal out because they want your business. If there are no competitors or you don’t want to go through the hassle of changing your cable company, at least call your current cable company and tell them you are going to cancel your service because you want to take your business elsewhere. They will offer you some type of benefit, maybe a cheaper bill or maybe just more channels and faster internet for no cost. Try it out. See if you can make your dollar work harder for you!

Take care,

The Power of Patience

I thought I was about to get in my first fight tonight. I was at the airport standing in line to get some food, when an older man (mid 40’s) stormed in cursing at the lady working behind the counter “I told you I wanted F***ing cheese on my sandwich” he yelled. The lady behind the counter was apologetic for the mix up and headed to the back to sort it out. Meanwhile, another woman, who had missed the incident, just stepped in to line. The disgruntled man moved across the counter and moved in front of the lady. She politely told the man that the line started behind her. He then looked and her and started cussing her out for accusing him of cutting. I had enough so I looked at the man and said “Don’t talk to women like that. You need to chill out they’re working on your order right now.” With quick wit he responded “Shut up.” I left the restaurant proud of myself for standing up for the innocent, but angry that this guy had no patience and was a huge jerk.

My words of wisdom:
Practice patience today. When driving on the freeway let merging traffic in to your lane. If you’ve been placed on hold for 30 minutes don’t yell at the person that finally gets to your call (it’s not like they chose to put you on hold). If you feel like your work isn’t valued, work harder and I promise good things will come of it.

Normally my blogs are more financially involved. And even though I didn’t preach about the something like the power of compound interest, I do believe patience is directly correlated to financial success. After all, Buffet didn’t become a billionaire overnight!

Do you live an impatient life? Are you willing to work hard now so you can reap the benefits later? Do you live frugal so you will be able to live extravagantly? If someone doesn’t put cheese on your sandwich will you curse him or her out?

Take a deep breath and enjoy life,

The importance of discipline.

If you haven’t read my previous article about discipline, I recommend you do as the following is part 2.

I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated that people don’t care about their finances. I’m frustrated that people choose to live in ignorance. I’m frustrated that people ignore great advice. I assume most of my readers have chosen to take action and address at least some aspects of their financial life. This blog probably wont reach the people that need to read it, and on the off chance that it does, they probably won’t do anything about it.

One year out of college I find myself frustrated with my peers’ lack of motivation to “get the ball rolling” in the financial sense.

“I don’t make enough money to be saving right now.”

“Investing is too confusing.”

“There’s always tomorrow.”

You’re right you probably don’t make a lot of money now, investing can be confusing, and tomorrow will probably come, but making excuses will get you nowhere…fast. If your expenses outweigh your income then you’re in need of some serious discipline. For everyone else, get motivated….today! Make this commitment “I (insert name here) am going to be proactive in my journey to financial freedom starting now.”

Do you know what compound interest is?
Do you know how much you contribute to your savings…hopefully it’s something.
Where does every dollar you spend go?
What is the difference between a Roth IRA and a 401K?
Why are online savings accounts better than a regular savings account?

If you can’t answer those questions you are in need of some financial discipline. Spend 20 minutes a day surfing financial blogs and getting educated on how to make your money work harder for you. I wish I could impact those around me and make a difference in their financial life. I wish I could just open an online savings account for them, or that I could sign them up for their companies 401k plan….Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. YOU are the only person that controls your life. TODAY is the best day to make that change, not tomorrow. BE proactive about your finances. ADMIT that you lack discipline in your spending and COMMIT to changing.

Note: I want it to be clear that “being rich” is not imporant to me, nor should it be to you. I simply wish people had motivation to make the best of their financial situation. I watch people wish they had more money, but choose to remain ignorant about how to make their dollar work for them. It would be like watching an overweight person say they want to loose weight while they are stuffing their face with chocolate cake.

Go forth and do BIG things,

The Cost of Muscle Mass + Health

One thing that has been on my mind lately has been the cost of gaining weight. I have been looking at my budget, trying to cut back where I can, so that I can start investing in a Roth IRA. One area in my budget that I can legitimately cut back in is my grocery spending. In May I spent $350 on groceries. This is quite a bit for one person. The problem is that I am buying a lot more food because I am trying to eat a lot more food in order to gain weight. I also like to buy healthier food – usually more expensive. So the conundrum is should eat less and/or eat less healthy. What is worth more? What do you think?

Instant Gratification Hates Discipline

This article was featured in the canrival of personal finance edition #157 found here

I went to visit my Aunt and Grandmother this weekend and found myself drooling over my Aunt’s new toy, a 14.2 megapixel SLR digital camera. I played around with the camera a bit this weekend and found myself justifying my need for 14 mp of pure greatness. Plus I have enough cash in the bank that I could pick it up. Reality check…I don’t need the camera but I REALLY REALLY want it.

Instant gratification, the conscious expenditure of effort to make the time interval between wanting something and getting it as short as possible, lives in all of us. We must control how much reign we allow this beast to have in our day-to-day spending. Do you have credit card debt? If so there is a good chance that the beast within has control of your spending habits. Maturity is often defined by the willingness to delay gratification. Look at your bank statements. Do they reflect mature spending? Where is your money going? Or more importantly, where is your money NOT going…investments, savings, retirement? As I began the justification process for why I should reward myself with 14.2 megapixels of pure heaven the voice of reason whispered in my ear “You already have a camera that you don’t use, do you really need another one?” This my friends is the process of delay of gratification. After a short internal debate, I convinced myself the camera was unnecessary and would delay my “future house” fund.

Discipline is what separates the strong from the weak, the rich from the poor, the smart from the stupid. Are your spending habits disciplined? If you impulse buy when you see a great deal or you spend too much shopping, odds are you haven’t conquered the art of frugality. Here’s some advice to help cure your impulse buying.

1) Just because it’s “on-sale” DOES NOT mean you have to buy it. If it’s on sale at store “A” now it will be on sale at store “B” tomorrow. Be patient.

2) If you are considering using credit to make your purchase, don’t. Force yourself to save. This has many advantages. First, you don’t owe anyone money! Second, it may get cheaper during the time it takes you to save for it. Lastly, once you save up all that cash you might not want it any more because you realized just how hard it is to accumulate that much money.

3) If it’s not essential, don’t buy it. Plain and simple, the key to frugality is only buying the essentials and saving the rest.

There’s plenty of information on the web offering up advice on how to be more disciplined. My advice…get it together. No excuses, no credit, no financing, no spending when you don’t have the money. No big purchases without talking it out with yourself and loved ones. Don’t be stupid. Make the choice to live your life differently.

Be the solution not the problem,

Total Money Makeover

So I bought Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover” and just recently finished it. If you haven’t read it and you have little knowledge of the financial world I highly recommend picking up a copy. For those that are more finance savvy, you have probably heard everything this book brings to attention. As I continue on my journey to financial freedom I can’t help but disagree with two pieces of advice Ramsey gives.

While I understand why he discourages the use of credit cards, it just seemed too radical for me. If you have read through my earlier posts here then you know I am a big fan of using my credit card for any and all purchases I make. Throughout the whole book, Ramsey instructs everyone to cut up their credit card. Broke like a joke or Rollin’ in the dough, Ramsey says cut up the card and pay cash for everything. I will definitely be ignoring this recommendation. My credit card is free cash for one month and airline miles in my pocket. I’m pretty sure if I went to the grocery store and wrote them a 30 day I.O.U. and requested frequent flier miles in exchange for my groceries the clerk would kindly ask me to leave the store. With my credit card I can do just that. Ramsey and I are both advocates of discipline. He advocates discipline in debt repayment, spending habits, giving, etc. I just don’t get why he doesn’t mention that, with discipline, credit cards are a valuable asset. I wish he acknowledged the fact that credit cards are not a bad thing, it’s the people that use the credit cards that cause problems.

Second beef, paying off all debt (except mortgage) as fast as humanely possible. Again, I understand where Ramsey is coming from, but I completely disagree with this stance. I currently have one, and only one debt to my name. I have a consolidated student loan for $28K at 7% interest. I decided to stretch the student loan out for 20 years to lower my obligated minimum monthly payment in case I ever find myself in a financial bind. With payments of approximately $220 a month my loan will be payed off in 2027…I know pretty crappy. With interest, over 20 years, I will be paying approximately $54k for my education, that’s $26K in interest!!! My education is not worth $54K to me so there is no way I am making minimum payments. I ran some numbers through my calculator to decide exactly how much extra I want to be paying on my loan. I decided I would pay an additional $110 monthly to shorten my loan term and take a huge chunk out of $26k in interest. Making monthly payments of $330 I am able to pay my loan off in half the time and save over $16K in interest.

I’m sure with “gazelle intensity” I could pay off my student loan much faster, but at what expense? Ramsey recommends putting retirement investing on hold until all debts are paid off. If I take this advice and I postpone my Roth IRA funding for two years, while I focused on solely on paying off my student debt, my Roth IRA at 65 would have approximately $2,044,000 in it. If I ignore Ramsey’s advice and contribute to my Roth IRA from now until 65 I would have $2,434,000 in my account. That’s a difference of $390K!!! You better believe I will sacrifice paying an extra $10K on my student loans over the next ten years if it means I will have an extra $390K in my retirement account. Now one could argue that Ramsey’s advice is warranted in that the sooner I pay off my student loan the sooner I will be able to contribute additional income to my retirement accounts and can therefore make up for lost time. Need I remind you though, that Ramsey advises only putting 15% of income in to investments. I currently contribute 18% of my income. I guess this is advice that I NEED to ignore.

Overall I enjoyed my read and thought there was plenty of valuable information, but I wish Ramsey acknowledged that, with great discipline, there are alternative ways to acheive a “Total Money Makeover.” Have you read the book? What do you think? Is there something I’m missing or not picking up on?

Making money,