Confessions

Since I’ve started writing this blog, I’ve noticed I’m getting REALLY good REALLY quickly at dishing out advice and orders. But how good am I at listening to others’ advice and orders, or even my own?

 

Well, I’m self-employed these days – so that probably answers the one about orders; I take ‘em from nobody except myself 😉

 

And the advice? Well, I generally do try to practice what I preach. But in the last week or so I’ve noticed I’ve started to slip in a few areas. Since one of the main reasons for starting this blog was to make myself accountable, I feel like ‘fessing up to a few things. Hopefully I’ll shame myself into action (or in the investing case – inaction)!

 

So, here goes.. In the last 10 days I have…

 

1)      Done resistance exercise only ONCE (it should be 3 times in this period)

2)      Been running a grand total of 0 (ZERO!) times (I should have been once or twice really)

3)      Caught myself researching funds that AREN’T INDEX TRACKERS! OH THE SHAME!! 😉

4)      Considered buying a motorbike (not instead of the car, but as well as the car)

5)      Looked at long haul flights to take a decent break over the other side of the world

 

Stop, stop, that’s quite enough! Ok, so nothing really serious – we’ve still been socking the savings away, living under budget etc. – but you gotta nip these things in the bud early, or else! This time next year I could find myself still sitting at this desk, 2 stone overweight and invested in the latest Neil Woodford fund.

 

Better get back to it!

 

JAL

PS – As there always are, there are “reasons” for the things in my list having happened (or not). But since “reasons” is just another word for “excuses” I’m not even going to go there. There’s always a way to squeeze in some exercise, as Mrs JAL has shown in the last couple of weeks. She’s put me to shame!

 

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Introduction to.. Health

Attention, lifer! Let’s get this thing started!

Ok, the initial introductions have been made, and as promised, today I’m going to start my “mini-series” of articles on the three main themes of this blog. We’re not messing around; today we’re going to get stuck into the big one – Health.

Use it or lose it!

It is the big one, which is why we’re covering it first. If you lose your health (I mean lose it big-time) then obviously you’re not going to be happy, and as for your wealth – you could have £400m in the bank, it ain’t going to be a whole lot of use to you. Ok, ok, it could buy you the best health provision available to man.. but wouldn’t you prefer to have to rely on healthcare as little as possible? Well your best (and cheapest) health insurance policy is to stay healthy. Simple, right? That’s what we’re trying to do here, remember – keep things simple.

Buy one, get 2 free

So here we have a radical simple 2 step plan to getting fit and staying fit.

But fitness isn’t all you’ll get – added bonuses of the plan are:

  1. Your wealth should (and almost definitely will) INCREASE
  2. Your happiness levels should (and almost definitely will) INCREASE

Whaaaaat? I thought we were only talking HEALTH today, not WEALTH and HAPPINESS too?

Well, yes, strictly speaking, we are only talking health. But as I make my way through life, I find that the 3 things are often more related than we can ever imagine. Which is partly why I went for the “just about life” name for the blog, because even if I was just writing about health, or personal finance.. I know I would ultimately end up talking about “more” than just that every time I sat down to write.

So, let’s get stuck in. I mentioned a simple 2 step plan. Are you ready?

Health – the 2-step plan

  1. Eat sensibly
  2. Do some exercise

I warned you it was radical.

And if you really really really can’t stick to step 1, then just make sure you do step 2.. and make sure you crank it up a bit. Reason for this get-out clause? Again, simple – if you’re burning more calories than you’re taking on, you’ll be losing weight. So even if you consume 4,000 calories a day, so long as you burn 4,000 you’ll not be putting on weight. More on this stuff in the future, no doubt.

However, assuming you can handle TWO steps to your radical plan for staying alive, let’s have a closer look at each of those steps.

1. Eat Sensibly

Just.. Be Honest

If you’re putting on weight, you should know about it without the need for a set of scales. Trousers feeling a little tighter? Chances are that they didn’t suddenly decide to shrink. Look in the mirror, and just be honest with yourself.

Especially as we get older (usually around mid-thirties onwards, so I’m told.. I’m just reaching that age now and preparing for it..) we can’t keep chugging back the beers and scoffing down the cake without repercussions.

There used to be a girl in an office I once worked in, and she was conscious of her weight. She’d constantly be telling her colleagues:

– “I just don’t understand it! I eat a small bowl of cereal for breakfast, a sub-250calorie sandwich for lunch and yet I just don’t lose any weight!”

Most of us who overheard this constant outcry could tell that it was the 10am chocolate bar, mid-afternoon cake, and the frequent take-away meals and boozy nights out that were quite possibly the cause. But she wasn’t being honest with herself, and so wasn’t therefore going to be able to fix the problem. Ever.

2. Do some exercise

And after that particular gold nugget, straight away I’d like to say this:

GYM memberships are NOT necessary to maintain a good level of health. Absolutely NOT necessary. At all.

If you’re the kind of person that can only get motivated in a “gym”, fine, go for it.

If you currently have – or have had – injuries, and you need to exercise on certain machines etc., fine, go for it.

For the rest of us – the vast majority of us – they are just not necessary. If you have a membership, go ahead and cancel it right now. You’ll probably be saving something like £600 a year – for most people that’s going to be akin to pumping an extra month of savings into your investments every year. Imagine that! Your savings account says you worked an month this year.. except you know that you worked the usual 47 weeks, same as last year. Over 20 years, you can expect that £600 a year to be worth something like £18000*. Again, for most people, what that really means is that you could give up this work thing at least a year or two ahead of your current target.

Another way

So now we’ve got no gym membership, what do we do? Here are a few ideas that are available to anyone and everyone:

– Home circuit workout (ZERO equipment required!)

– Running (outside! in the fresh air! for free!)

– Shadow (or bag) boxing (freak the neighbours out!)

I currently use those methods – and only those methods – to control my weight and muscle tone. And you too can achieve your goals, or just “maintain” your current condition (if you’re happy with it). More detail on the workouts to come in a future post.

Benefits with friends

So, what are the downsides to cutting the gym membership? Umm.. none for me. I dislike gyms!

Upsides?  Fresh air (instead of that lovely gym air..), nature, much less time required (no travelling, changing, parking..), running with a friend/relative/loved one/future loved one

If you’re used to only running on a treadmill (yuck!) and don’t go running outside much, do yourself a favour and go outside for a run today as soon as possible (i.e. NOW, or straight after work). Then when you get home, after you’ve done your stretches, come back to this blog and leave me a comment to say “thank-you”. I guarantee you will be wondering what the hell you were doing on the treadmill all that time.

(Bonus: If you’re in the UK, then you’ll have noticed that spring has well and truly sprung, so the feel-good factor of running outdoors will be ramped up even more!)

Just.. Get outta here

That’s it for today – so stop reading, lace up your runners and get out there! And don’t forget to check in next week for my Introduction to.. Wealth.

Until next time – be honest with yourself!

JAL

PS – If anyone’s interested in details on the circuit workouts, or any other aspect of what I’ve said, let me know and I’ll gladly put some info up on this blog sooner rather than later.

* somewhat conservatively assuming an average 4% investment increase each year

DISCLAIMER

I am not a medical expert. I do not work in the medical industry. Nothing on this blog is intended or can be considered medical advice, and I cannot accept responsibility for any of your actions. Do your research, make your own decisions, and if you have a medical concern then consult with an appropriately licensed and qualified physician or other health care worker. I am merely expressing an opinion here, based on my own experience.