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My Noom Review

13 Jan

Okay, for those of you looking for the short and sweet point: Noom is a nope for me.

Now, for the longer story…

I was unhappy with my weight around my birthday, so I decided to use some birthday money to invest in 4 months of a Noom subscription. Noom is a weight loss app that you can download. The cost varies based on whatever special they are running, but I think at the time it was like $120 for the 4 months.

Noom is a four-part process:

  • You weigh in each morning and track it on a chart.
  • You log your food throughout the day. It gets divided into green, yellow and red zones to help you focus on eating healthier food (no food is off-limits).
  • You get a few articles to read each day which are designed by behavioral psychologists to help you make sustainable lifestyle changes, rather than being on a restrictive ‘diet’.
  • You get access to a “goal specialist” and a “group coach”, as well as a support group of other people going through the program at the same time.

 Month 1 thoughts (October-ish):

I started out strong. I weighed myself and logged it every single morning and tracked every bit of food that I ate throughout the day. I lost about 4 pounds within the first 10 days and then just stuck there for the rest of the month. At this point, I was enjoying the reading and learning all the little psychological tricks on why we do what we do. I was excited about Noom and brought it up in conversation with my friends (probably too much). After week two, my goal specialist reached out. I was hoping for someone who would really help me feel motivated, but instead he was kind of annoying and each chat felt like homework. Basically, every post ended with a question and it was a little more time consuming than I expected. As for my group, the group coach posts prompts on the page and then only a few people in the group bother to respond. During the first month, I responded to a few prompts each week.

Month 2 thoughts (November-ish):

I’m still reading the daily articles, but I’m finding them less interesting at this point. I’m still weighing myself in on a daily basis, but I haven’t lost any weight. Instead I’m up a pound, I’m down a pound, I’m up two pounds… and it’s pissing me off. I’m still tracking my foods, but not 100%. I find my goal specialist irritating and his responses are starting to feel canned. I ignore him for a couple weeks and he keeps posting “hey, we haven’t talked in awhile and I’d love to know how you’re doing.” I feel guilty, but not guilty enough to deal with him. My group is becoming less active and I probably only post once a week.

Month 3 thoughts (December-ish):

Hello holidays! The daily scale thing is starting to make me a little crazy. I know that everyone fluctuates, but the up and down is starting to wear on me. I’m more of a weigh-yourself-once-a-week kinda girl. I’m still on average about 3-ish pounds less than when I started Noom and with the holiday treats surrounding me that is certainly a win. The articles seem to be getting longer and more plentiful. I’m completely over the goal specialist and the group coach. Both are basically nothing but canned responses and prompts and barely anyone in my group comments at all on our group page. I decide to give myself a break for a week and I don’t log in at all between Christmas and New Year’s. I feel like my brain is a lot healthier when I stop weighing myself daily and tracking every bite.

Month 4 thoughts (January-ish)

I’m done. I still have a few weeks left on my subscription, but I’m so over it. Once again, I feel like a ‘diet’ failure and each time I see the app on my phone I’m reminded that Noom has worked for thousands of people… but not me. I’m in that “I’m too fluffy and I ate too much over the holidays” phase, and I think maybe if I could just force myself to use the app again I’ll do it *right* this time.

Monday comes around again and I do my weigh in and start tracking my food again. By Wednesday I’ve stopped. Putting this much focus on food and my weight is making me unhappy and stressed. On most days I’m still 2-3 pounds down from where I started. Did Noom help me lose weight? Possibly. However, any time I buckle down for a couple weeks and forgo snacks that is typically what I would lose. For free.

When it comes down to it, I know what’s healthy and not healthy. I know I should drink more water. I know I should be more active each day. It’s not magic, it’s just hard. The Noom app didn’t work for me. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right headspace for it. Maybe I’m just not a food tracking sort of person. Any which way, I’m pulling the plug.

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Financial Goals: Tips I’ll be Following This Year

9 Jan

Did you know that almost 65% of American’s make New Year’s Resolutions? (source) Yup. And the top five categories for New Year’s Resolutions are: Health (39.2%), Self Improvement (31.64%), Money (29.81%), Love (16.51%), and Career (13.69%).

I’m still working on my 2020 goals, but one of them is absolutely going to be to improve my finances.

I came across a really interesting article in US News & World Report called “Make the 2020s Your Best Financial Decade” and pulled out some of my favorite tips for you (you can find the full article here):

Set Clear Financial Goals

The article suggests that you decide on a key goal or two for the next decade and then break the goal down into steps. For our family, one of my big financial goals is to save more for retirement (which is also one of their suggested goals). When Travis left his last job and started his own business, we rolled over his 401k but then didn’t add to it since we were waiting to see how the business was doing. For our joint retirement account, we have a small amount automatically come out of our checking account on a monthly basis.

Well, for 2020 we decided to bump it up! I already had a meeting with our financial planner and we decided to increase our monthly savings. We started an automatic payment into Travis’ retirement account and we also doubled our automatic payment into our joint retirement account. As for my retirement account, I qualify for a 401k at my new company in June and I will absolutely start adding money there as soon as I am able to. While unfortunately we are not able to top out our annual retirement savings accounts, by adding a little more when we can it will certainly help!

Minimize the Costs of Unimportant Items

The article states that you should try to minimize any expenses that don’t really matter to you and gives the example of buying the store-brand in household supplies. For us, I’ve noticed a huge change when we shop at Aldi rather than our other grocery store. Sure, there are some things that Aldi doesn’t carry, making it necessary to also do a Martin’s run, but for the majority of the items we can save big. I’m making it a goal for us to do the absolute majority of our grocery shopping at Aldi throughout the year.

Learn How to Cook at Home

Everyone knows that eating food you make at home is much less expensive than going out all the time. And we do eat dinner at home the majority of the time on weekdays, only going out on weekends. One thing that really helps me is getting our Home Chef subscription. We had been doing Home Chef about once a month to mix things up. It’s like a compromise between making our own food and going out to eat, because the menus are so diverse and its fun for me to try making new recipes. I’m going to start using Home Chef more in 2020.

Another area for improvement for me is to pack my lunches more often. My big temptation is going out for lunch since I work right in Baltimore and there are so many yummy food options near my office. One of my goals for 2020 is to pack my lunch 4x a week. If a lunch averages $10 – 15, this could take me from spending $50 – 75 per week to just $10 – 15 per week. Based on an average savings of $50 a week, that is an annual savings of $2,600!

Question Every Subscription

The article points out that you might not need a Netflix subscription if you already have Amazon prime. Or you may not need a gym membership if you typically exercise outside. While I won’t be getting rid of our Netflix, Amazon, or gym subscriptions, there are other annual payments that need a closer look.

I recently got rid of my FabFitFun quarterly subscription, and Jack’s Highlights High Five magazine because we realized we could easily cut them. I’m also considering whether I need my Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription, our Amazon Free Time subscription for Jack’s Kindle, or my magazine subscription to Magnolia magazine. By being more choosy with our subscriptions we currently have, it also helps me to decide if it’s really necessary to add additional subscriptions to our monthly bills.

Are you planning to make any small financial changes this year/decade?

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An Unplanned Bathroom Refresh

7 Jan

Our kitchen faucet was pretty much shot with terrible water pressure, so we decided to replace it with a new one. As it happens, my dad happened to have exactly the faucet we needed in his truck. He’s much like Mary Poppins and her carpet bag… but it’s home improvement supplies and his work truck.

My dad ended up stopping by our house on Christmas Eve to help us switch out the kitchen faucet. It turned out that the job was so easy-peasy, he decided to started poking around our leaking bathroom sink.

And then he ripped the whole pedestal sink out of the wall.

I mean, there was a little more leading up to it. But basically, the sink was a pain in the butt so I told him to just feel free to rip it out. And he did.

Here’s the before from an old blog post:

And here’s the during:

I’d always hated that stupid sink. The bathroom is soooo tiny and the sink was weirdly HUGE… while also providing no storage at all. The only reason we hadn’t ripped it out before is that the toilet is an almond color and all the small vanities/sinks at Home Depot and Lowes are white.

Welp, once you have a hole in the wall where your sink previously was… you get a lot less picky about matching toilets!

When it comes to tiny 18” vanities you don’t have a ton of choices. As it turns out when Travis and my dad ran up to the good ol’ Home Depot there was one 18” vanity in stock. SOLD.

It cost $79 and once we bought all the other plumbing crap we needed it was around $100 total. My dad shimmied it into place and hooked up the faucets before he left that night. A few days later, I sanded the walls, touch-up painted, repainted all the trim, and used silicone caulk to affix the sink to the wall. I also painted a few coats of white paint on our wood medicine cabinet/light combo. I would have preferred a whole new mirror and light, but I figured I’d give the cheap option a try first.

Here’s how it all turned out:

It’s an awfully tight space, so here’s another angle:

As it is, I’m super happy with our $100 bathroom update. With the vanity and the medicine cabinet matching in white, it makes the whole room look so much cleaner and brighter. Sure, the toilet is still the almond color, but I don’t mind it as much as I thought I would.

Oh, and our original project of our kitchen sink turned out great too!

Have you ever started a project which steamrolled into a whole different project?

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Goals Review: A Look Back at 2019

6 Jan

When it comes to annual resolutions, I just say no. Instead of lofty resolutions, I make goals. As in attainable things that make me feel good about myself.

For 2019, I broke my goals into a set of Health goals and a set of Happiness goals. Now that the year has come to a close, I’m holding myself accountable with a transparent review of how I did on each of them.

Health Goal #1: Go to the gym 9x a month and mix it up with new gym classes.

How did I do: Not great

I certainly did NOT go to the gym 9x a month each month of the year. However, in the spring I did a 6-week bootcamp where I worked out 3x a week and I surprisingly loved it. It was awfully expensive though and quite time consuming too. I started my new job in June and was waiting until I felt acclimated to add going to the gym back into my schedule… and that never actually happened. Oops.

Health Goal #2: Sign up and run 5k and 10k races that look fun. Extra credit for running with friends and family!

How did I do: Great

I ran two 10k’s this year, the Sole of the City 10k in April and the Wayfarers Annapolis 10k in June. Jack (and Travis) ran the kid’s fun run at the Frederick Running Festival in May. We also did a charity 5k walk as a family in October. As for 2020, I’m already signed up for the Sole of the City 10k in April and on the hunt for more kid’s runs.

Health Goal #3 and #4: My Soda Fast and Packing my Lunch

How did I do: There is a lot of room for improvement…

I was getting a little crazy with drinking soda for a bit, so I reduced my consumption to just the occasional soda as a treat. However, I fell off the wagon a bit when I started my new job because they have Coke available everywhere for us. I’m back to just enjoying it every so often again and trying to make myself drink more water instead.

When I made my packing my lunch goal, I was working from home 2 days a week and at an office the other 3 days. I wanted to pack lunch at least one day a week. Well, since June I’ve been working in an office 4-5 days a week and I certainly have room for improvement on this goal. There are SO MANY yummy places to eat within walking distance of my new office, so I’ve only been packing my lunch about one day a week (yes, I know that was my initial goal). This is definitely one that needs to carry over to 2020.

Happiness Goal #1: Travel More

How did I do: CRUSHED IT!

As a family we went to Great Wolf Lodge in February, Harrisonburg for my sister’s wedding in May, Philadelphia in August, and Ocean City a few times over the summer. Travis and I also had our super romantic trip to Kauai in May, which was absolutely amazing. On my own, I’ve done a few weekends at my besties house in Annapolis and a work trip to Atlantic City in September.

Happiness Goal #2: Have more dates with my husband

How did I do: Eh… lots of room for improvement

Well, we did have an entire week of dates in Hawaii in May… so I’m going to count that. Other than that week, we had one weekend overnight for my birthday in September. And I think that was about it. This is going on the list again for 2020.

Happiness Goal #3: Learn something new

How did I do: GREAT

I’ve picked up a ton of library books this year and have enjoyed reading in my new, improved sunroom and also on my daily metro rides. Jack and I also joined my family for a session of making pottery on the wheel and then glazing our finished piece. I did the bootcamp at my gym, which was totally outside of my comfort zone. I also visited the AR Workshop in Annapolis to make some fun painted/stenciled signs, an advent calendar, and even learned how to hand knit a chunky blanket. Which turned into me hand knitting MORE chunky blankets and a tree skirt!

Happiness Goal #4: Spend time with my friends.

How did I do: Pretty good

I wanted to be sure to make more friend dates, happy hours and sleepover party plans this year and did pretty well. I also got a small group together in September to go to a local wine festival for my birthday. I had ‘friend dates’ at the AR workshops and also put more one-on-one dinners on my calendar.

2019: Thrive

In addition to my health and happiness goals for the year, I also picked a *word* of the year. For two years in a row, I went with Balance. But for 2019 my word was Thrive. So many times I felt like I was just going through the motions to get everything done, but for 2019 I wanted to focus on THRIVING!

When I wrote and published my goals post I had no idea that my work life was about to blow up. Just a week or so later my awesome boss was gone and my whole department went through a reorganization. A job that I had planned to be at for a decade or more suddenly turned into something that made me miserable.

And you know what… I thrived.

I decided to use the reorganization as an opportunity and ended up finding a new job that was a much better fit. Once again, I love going to work each day and I enjoy the people I work with. Without that work explosion, I probably would have stayed there forever… but it was just the kick in the pants I needed to take my career in a different direction!

Next up is putting together my 2020 goals. I have some thoughts, but I’m letting them marinate a bit before typing something up.

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