Saturday, January 31, 2009

Biggest Loser Family Challenge Weigh-in #1

At the end of last year, my mom casually threw out the idea of a family Biggest Loser Challenge. Little did she know that I would jump on the idea and run full sprint out the door and around the house with it.

My family is heavy. None of us have chronic diseases because of it, but there's nothing to say that it isn't just a matter of time. My parents are nearing retirement and my aunt an uncle are in their 40s. Changing their lifestyles is going to be difficult. On the younger end of the spectrum is my sister, brother-in-law, husband, and me. All married for less than two years and looking to start having children in the near future. There's no way we want to pass our bad habits on to the next generation. Given that my husband loves anything competitive I knew he would be in. Now, I only had to convince the rest of the group.

The Challenge:
We broke into teams of two with one male and one female on each team. Each team lives in the same house, so there are similar support structures. The first weigh-in was January 2, 2009. Each month we weigh in as a team again with the final weigh-in being January 29, 2010. This will teach everyone that it's a lifestyle change, not a diet. We will go through each holiday and everyone's birthday and learn how to celebrate without jumping off the wagon. If we fall, we have someone there to pull us back on.

Game Play:
Each month, the team with the highest percentage of weigh loss for that month wins an extra pound off the final weigh-in. Given that the challenge is so long, we needed an incentive for people to not wait until the end to start loosing weight. Teams can use any weight loss and exercise regimen they chose.

The Prize:
Thirteen months is a long time, so a big prize was needed. Each team is tossing $150 into the pot and the winning team will walk away with $450 in cash. The challenge ends the day before our family cruise vacation, so that's a lot of party money! And we'll look fabulous doing it.

So how did we do??? Well, Team Monkey kicked ass and won the first month. Down a whopping 22.8 lbs and on our way to total family dominance!

Team Monkey: 446 - 423.2 = 22.8 = 5.11%
Team P: 464 - 455 = 9.0 = 1.94%
Team F: 588 - 567 = 21.0 = 3.57%
Team L: 436 - 438 = +2.0 = +.46%

Thursday, January 29, 2009

So, does this mean I got a pay raise?

So originally I was going to come home and write a post detailing the Biggest Loser challenge that my family is participating in. It was going to be full of the fun details of the challenge and quick summary of how things began earlier this month. Then...then I came home to find yet another way Uncle Sam is trying to fund the next round of the stimulus bill.

Apparently, if you try and play it safe by declaring 0 on your W-4 form so that you'll damn near be guaranteed a state refund in the spring, that refund can then be required to count as income on your next year's Federal income tax return. Seriously??? Now, I know it's been a while since I've been in a classroom, but since when do I have to pay taxes on income twice?? Forget taxation without representation, I'll take that any day over double taxation.

So clearly, in my total and utter state of shock and disbelief, I called on my Pat to set things straight. I mean, there can be no legal way that I have to declare this as additional income. Imagine my surprise (yes, we'll call it surprise as opposed to say--furry) to hear that indeed they CAN require that. After dropping the eff bomb repeated times in confusion and questioning that this really was in fact the case, I promptly thanked him for not giving me the answer I wanted to hear.

So to summarize, the government has found a new and exciting way to take more of my money and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it. By a new era of change, they must have been referring to the few little coins they were going to leave to rattle around in my wallet. Joy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Welcome to Washington Mr. President

Well, if you live in the DC Metro area there was no escaping the repeated news reports of how our new President thought it was ridiculous that today would be called a snow day (read here). Apparently in the wonderful city of Chicago they never cancel school for snow. Well Mr. President that's because in Chicago they get snow, in DC, we get ice. You can walk through snow, have recess in snow, drive successfully in snow. In ice however, you can do the splits on a sidewalk, bust your ass walking out the door to get the mail, and slide off the side of the road in your car.

Yes Mr. President, in DC we also have an ever circulating number of immigrants from around the country. See, being the home of our nation's capital we have many people that move here for job opportunities and stay for a while before leaving and being replaced. There is a steady stock of home grown locals, but even they fall prey to the newbies. Those that haven't gotten used to driving in ice and still can't believe that four wheel drive doesn't mean that you're invincible. I'm also pretty sure that in your wonderful land of Chicago they don't have nearly as many parks as we have here and people that commute from over 40 miles away to come to work. Have you been on River Road (I believe your daughter's school is near there) or on the GW Parkway when it's been coated by ice? The roadside trees and sudden drop offs are enough to send anyone's stomach into knots.

We're not the great northeast of Maine or north of Chicago, and sometimes go an entire season without a significant snow presence. So yeah, our budget isn't dedicated to road clearing trucks and an exorbitant amount of chemical to help keep our roads safe for travel. So sorry that you think it's a big joke that the school system cares enough about your children's safety to keep them at home. When you see a bus full of school kids slide sideways down a street because of icy road conditions, be sure to thank your children's school system for keeping your kids at home and calling it a snow day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

To Blog, or not to Blog, that is the question

I've been throwing around the idea of blogging for a while. In my head I write posts all the time (I have conversations too, but that's a whole other post), but never seem to have the time or follow through to actually post anything on the blog that I've now had for about a year. Yep, that's right. I created this blog a year ago, and am just now getting around to creating my first post. Talk about procrastination.

But, this is the year of Change, or so I'm told, and to that extent I am making changes. I turn 29 tomorrow and am going to spend the next year making positive changes so that I can look back and say that turning 30 kicked ass compared to turning 18 (yay, I'm an "adult"), 21(woohoo, I can drink), or even 25 (watch out, I can now rent a car). I've made the decision that I'm going to run full sprint into 30 with arms wide open and give it a big fat hug HEL-LO!

On tap for the list of change are the following:
  1. Develop, and stick to, a realistic workout regimen
  2. Eat healthy -- learn and exercise portion control
  3. Keep house clean not only when company is coming over, but on a regular basis. (This will help when we decide to graduate from furbabies to real ones)
  4. Learn to take time for me. This could be reading a book, or actually working on the photography thing. Either way, it has to be just about me, and no one else (and that's OK).
  5. Appreciate Monkey C on the outside, not just the inside. (He likes to hear compliments and "Thank you" just as much as I do)
  6. Don't wait to tell people tomorrow, what you can tell them today. Time is always shorter than you think.
  7. Don't procrastinate just because you can.