The New Year, and Those Damn Resolutions

Every year, it’s the same old story. We chalk the closing year up to a loss and resolve to make the next year a better one. I don’t think many of us do a very good job at looking back and giving ourselves enough credit for the year past. It’s extremely important to consciously do that or we begin to fixate on the bad.

Last year I made many resolutions, and most I didn’t accomplish 100% but I know that I tried the best that I can. I didn’t save up the amount of money I wanted but I saved money, while managing to visit 3 new countries and 4 states. I didn’t read as much as I wanted to but I read 10 different books, that’s 10 worlds I got lost in! I paid off my car and for the very first time completed a full round of a fitness program!! Looking back and giving myself credit for everything I’ve accomplished is an accomplishment in itself. I’m such an overachiever in every aspect of my life so I constantly feel like I’m failing. But one of the biggest things I learned this past year was the importance of being kind to myself. You are the only person that will be with you constantly for the rest of your life, don’t make an enemy of yourself and don’t make all the time you spend with yourself awful because you aren’t friends with you. Appreciate the good and work on the bad, one cannot exist without the other.

So I continue to set goals for myself. In this new year I want to travel more, I want to learn more, I want to read more and I want to grow more. I want to be healthy and I want to feel good. I’ve set actionable targets for all these goals but I will be sure to appreciate the journey to accomplishing them. You never know what a new year, month, week or day will bring. A wrench will be thrown into your plans for this new year but that’s the beauty of the life we live. It’s so much fun if you just enjoy the ride!

Book Review: Murder on The Orient Express

I’ll bottom line it for you guys, I hated this book.

My 2 best friends and I have created our own semi book club. We all live in different states so it’s a good way for us to have something to motivate us to reach out to one another. So, it wasn’t my decision to pick up this book.

The story centers around a celebrated detective who has never been unable to solve a case in his career. He is travelling by train when in the middle of the night, while stuck in a snow bank, one of the travelers is murdered. The book follows the detective as he tries to solve the mystery and understand the killer and their motivation.

But really, I hated it. I’m not a big fan of mystery books to begin with (I HATE being confused the whole book or show or movie). That probably made me a bit biased going into this book. And, to be fair, if you really like that kind of thing, you may be into this book. For me, it lacked depth. It dragged on, the language was tiring; I felt like someone was pulling me through this book kicking and screaming. Honestly, the only reason I got through it was because I just can’t put a book down half finished but trust me, I was not happy about it.

The premise was kind of interesting but the execution, for me, wasn’t impressive. I even watched the movie after finishing the book to see if maybe I was just not enjoying the way it was written. Wasted my time.

The one interesting thing I found in this book was a decision the detective has to make at the end of the book. When the mystery is solved he has to choose between his duty as a detective to tell the authorities what happened, or to be loyal to his morals and turn a blind eye. It’s extremely symbolic of the idea that there are 2 kinds of evil, those who are evil and those who ignore it. But the book plays devil’s advocate and really gets the reader thinking what they would do in this situation.

If you’re extremely intrigued, give it a go you may have a different opinion than I did. If you’re looking for some background noise, watch the movie. If you’re looking for a good page turner, I would recommend you keep moving.

2 Steps Forward & 1 Step Back is Still Moving Forward!

A few weeks ago, I completed BBG 1.0 and I felt unbelievably excited and ready to start BBG 2.0. I decided to take a week off because I was attending a friends wedding that weekend and wanted to let my body take a break (which was the right call, I was beating it up pretty hard). The week I was planning to be back in the gym to start BBG 2.0, work got insane. It was crazy for about 4 weeks. I was working well over 13 hour days and just drowning in it, I was stress eating, not drinking enough water, etc. So it all kind of fell apart.

To this day, I still have not started BBG 2.0, about 5 weeks later. I gained most of the weight I lost back and find myself back where I was before I started BBG. Tired, hurting, upset with my body. So what exactly is the progression here? Well, I know I can do it now and that it works. I know that I have to be conscious of the decisions I make regarding my health when work gets crazy.

It’ll be easier this time because once I start, I won’t be wondering if it’s ever going to work, I’ll know it’s only a matter of time. I plan on starting next Monday and will let you guys know how it goes! Good luck with the health journey through the holidays. Let your body be your guide!

Ugh, Look How Skinny I Used To Be!

A sentence my friends and I often send each other as we look at our Timehops and see old photos of ourselves from six, seven, eight years ago.

I HATE that my weight has spun out of control on me. I am 5’3 and weigh about 170 pounds. This is the heaviest I have been and I can FEEL it. About two months ago I went on vacation with my family and some friends. I was so self conscious about the way I looked in a bathing suit, I haven’t uploaded any pictures or let them put up any pictures with me in them on the beach.

For the past four or five years I have been trying to really get a hold on my body and health; constantly starting to work out, doing it for two or three weeks then stopping and never really being good at the nutritional part of it. I was extremely mean to myself on a daily basis because I hated my body. About four weeks ago I looked at the scale and saw that seven after the one and I lost it. I was just so tired of being exhausted all day, tired of only wearing t-shirts because I was uncomfortable with the way I look, tired of feeling like I have no control over myself, tired of being hated by my own self for being overweight.

So, I started the BBG work out by Kayla Itsines. I did BBG in March but quit after week three because I didn’t see results. Isn’t that insane?! Three weeks and I wanted to have the perfect body. No, I wanted this time to be different. So I am working through it one week at a time, not using the scale to gauge any progress and really trying to focus on my journey through this.

This feels different to me. I am enjoying my time at the gym, enjoying the non-tangible wins. Like when I don’t feel like I need to sleep every single minute of the day, like feeling motivated to get out of my apartment on weekends instead of laying on my couch accomplishing nothing. I am fueled by the need to prove people wrong. This time, I am out to prove myself wrong! I want to show myself that you can learn to love yourself and be kind to yourself and what a huge difference it makes. The fact that only four weeks into this journey I am able to look at myself in the mirror and feel strong and beautiful is HUGE for me. It’s been almost 8 years since I looked at myself in the mirror and saw someone who I thought was beautiful looking back at me. That’s how I know this time is different.

I encourage all of you who are reading this and feeling the way I did a few weeks ago to truly self reflect and set a goal for your fitness journey. Don’t set a goal like “lose weight” set a goal like “I want to get through BBG 1.0” or “I want to feel beautiful”. That will help you power through, and once you hit your stride there is nothing like that feeling! Join me in going through the BBG program, I will be updating weekly on the progress I am making!

A Bit About Me

We can cover the facts first. My name is Sally and I’m 27 years old. I was born in Egypt and lived there until I was about 6 years old. My parents then immigrated to the United States where we set up home in Jersey City, NJ. I lived in Jersey City until it was time for me to go to college. I left and attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. I graduated from Rutgers with a mechanical engineering degree with a concentration in alternative energy studies. I started working the summer I graduated and moved out to Kansas City, MO where I lived for a little over a year. I was then relocated back to NJ by work for a year and then relocated once more to Burlington, VT.

I currently still live in Burlington and have been here for a almost 2 years. Throughout these past few years I have come across many things that I was not prepared for by school or my parents. That was my motivation to start this blog. This is a lifestyle blog as well as a way for me to help ease the growing pains of adult life for others. This blog will likely shape shift as I grow into myself some more. I love to read so there is a portion of this blog that will be dedicated to reviews of the books I have read. I am extremely passionate about fitness so I will post about my journey.

I want this blog to help motivate, inspire and create dialogue. So please, join me on this journey to figuring out my twenties!

Tell SallieMae, Jesus Paid it All!

Student loans.

Those two words are the modern day equivalent of a witch hex. So many terrible connotations and bad feelings come intertwined with those two words.

The truth of the matter is, everyone has student loans now, so don’t take it as a personal attack or a weight that you have to bear on your own, just make a plan. When I graduated school, I owed north of $50,000. It seemed almost insurmountable. Every time I authorized my payments it wasn’t without a week’s worth of depression and thoughts of a million ways that money would have been better spent. It wasn’t until I started to look at this as a true challenge that I really started to make any headway with these cursed loans.

I started to read multiple online blogs that talked about strategies to pay off loans. There were a lot of overwhelming words in there that I had to do secondary research on and I would get all panicky and think I had no idea what I was doing and I was somehow getting duped into paying everything I was making into these loans. Totally irrational. So, let me bottom line it for you so you don’t get stuck in the same endless cycle that I did.

Every time you request a loan, it was most likely at a different interest rate. So, in my case, I would request a federal loan (which means it came through the government) and a private loan (which means it came through a credit agency) every semester. So after I graduated, I had 16 different child loans of the two larger parent loans I got with all different interest rates. Within these child loans you either have a fixed interest rate (which means you agreed on the interest rate based on the market when you requested the loan and it won’t change) or a variable interest rate (which means you agreed on the interest rate based on the market when you requested the loan but as the market fluctuates, so will your interest rate. Could go up, could go down)

In general follow the below guidelines when paying off loans:

  1. If you have both private and federal loans, try to pay the private loans off first. Usually the private loans have higher interest rates than the federal ones but the federal loans also have a bit more wiggle room if you find you are not able to make your payments, there are programs you can lean on.
  2. Pay off the variable interest rate loans first. Even though the variable rates are usually a bit lower than the fixed, the potential for them to sky rocket is pretty high. Yes, technically they can go down but if you’re not willing to hedge that bet (which the odds are stacked against you) then maybe just pay them off first and save yourself the constant panic.
  3. If you have two loans with the same interest rate but different principal (the amount you borrowed originally), pay off the higher principal first. This is just based off percents. If the principal is higher, the actual money you are paying in interest will be higher.

That’s it, plain and simple. Once you wade through all the fancy financial gymnastics and deliberate word play, that is the simple strategy that got me to pay off my loans in less than two and a half years.

Now, that is the financial side of it, but there is more to it. This is the part that makes all of us cringe: there will have to be sacrifices made. In order to pay off your loans without falling captive to the interest, you WILL have to pay more into your loans on a monthly basis than your monthly payment.

  1. Write down all your monthly expenses. Start with your fixed costs (the stuff you have to pay every month) rent, phone bill, utilities, car, insurance, etc. Then compare that to your monthly income. From there, work backwards what your extra spend should be. For example, Suzanne’s fixed costs are $2200 a month, she makes $3200 a month. Suzanne wants to put an extra $300 toward her loans on top of her fixed payment so she can spend $3200-$2200-$300=$700 on whatever she pleases.
  2. Concentrate these extra payments into one specific “child loan” following the priorities discussed above.

I moved to a different state for a year and was able to pay a good amount down but then I moved back in with my parents and funneled almost 60% of my paycheck into my loans. Now, not everyone has that luxury but whenever you find opportunities like that, you have to bite the bullet for a few months so you can set yourself up for a great future.

What really helped me was writing down my loans on a monthly basis. It’s like weight loss, it happens gradually and you won’t notice it unless you take progress pictures. Think of these monthly checkins as your progress pictures of your loans. It motivated me to really get at them. Any money I came into went right to my loans, bonuses, tax returns, Christmas gifts, etc.

It truly is worth it once you pay them off and realize the financial independence you have but you also set yourself into very good financial habits that you will continue to reap the benefits of well after you pay off those irritating loans!

We Wanted to Be Adults So Bad, Now Look at Us!

Trying to complete a puzzle with out the picture on the box is a daunting task. The task is clear but how to go about it is not. Life is very similar to this. We graduate college and are sent out into the real world without instructions or preparation.

When I graduated, my first job was halfway across the country. I had to figure things out that I had never come across before like how to look for an apartment, how much can I spend on rent, do I need to pay for a covered parking space, wait I have to get the gas and electricity turned on how the hell do I do that, what exactly is a 401k? Along with a million other questions. I had no idea what I was doing or how to do it, I was essentially just guessing at everything I did.

Two and a half years after signing a lease for my first apartment I still stumble on things from day to day that I honestly just don’t know how to handle. I wish I had a how to guide that I could just ctrl+f what I wanted to figure out. Adulting is SO hard and I want to make it a bit easier.

This blog is for all the twenty-somethings who are just trying to figure it all out. This is a one stop shop for everything I have had to learn on my own so far and so many things that I still want to learn. I want to seek things out that we’re all struggling with and find answers and I want to share those answers with everyone who is looking for them. Think of this as your adulting cheat sheet! One part instructions and facts that you are looking to find and the other part my take on the things I am experiencing and how I am trying to handle it all.

I am so very excited to start this journey and welcome anyone who identifies with anything they read on this blog. Please email me any subjects you would like me to research and write about or anything you feel like you might be the only person experiencing, I assure you, you will not be!