Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fiscal and Physical Fitness

Yesterday, Tara, of the "Days Missed on a Hammock" blog, brought up an interesting topic about July 1 is the beginning of the fiscal year in many areas of finance and business. That lead her to not only wonder about how fiscally responsible she has been, in this time of rising energy and food costs, but also how physically responsible she has been now that summer should be a time of more outdoor activities.

She made a pact with herself that on July 1 she'd try to be more fiscally and physically responsible for the year, and I told her I'd join in, and blog about this also.

I have always been a walker, and I posted once before how I usually meet a couple of friends every morning to walk a walking track in a local park. We try to do three laps at a quick pace which is about three miles in a less than an hour. The nice thing about this is that we keep each other motivated to show up every morning and spend the walking time talking and enjoying each other's company.

Below is an aerial view of my local neighborhood public park and its tree-lined oval walking path:

I've seen people advertise the beginning of "walking clubs" in parks, and also for indoor air-conditioned malls, and I think that is an excellent way to gather a group of people together for the same motivation and distraction, and also a way to deter very hot weather or rain from interfering with a walking routine.

My friends and I have been walking together for over ten years, and we've walked in 100+ heat, and -3 degree cold, but as we are all aging (just a little) and some arthritis is flaring up, I have noticed a little slow down in our commitment to walking in extreme weather, but for the most part we enjoy the time we spend together and miss it when we don't.

If you read my blog regularly I'm sure you noticed that I do love to cook and also eat out and that I have a hearty appetite, so lately I've decided walking wasn't enough to help me stay in shape and my husband and I joined a nearby gym.

A gym membership is expensive in the New York area, but my husband and I decided that being sedentary and developing illnesses because of that would be more expensive, and so we made the commitment to join a gym for a year. We keep each other motivated to go, at least four times a week, and it has become an enjoyable way to spend some time together. We try to do a cardiovascular exercise to increase our heart rates, such as the bike or treadmill, and then we use the resistance machines and weights for upper body, leg and abdominal work.
While I haven't exactly felt the pounds falling away, I have felt more flexible and strong, and we often remark how good we feel in the evening after working out.

The hardest part of being physically fit is avoiding carbohydrates and increasing our consumption of vegetables and fruits, lean meats and fish, and whole grains -- and to cut back drastically on sweets and snacks! I know this is the most important part of the equation, so I am really trying very hard to commit to a full-time healthy diet and portion control.

Now to address fiscal health! It is a difficult subject in the United States when gasoline is well over $4 a gallon and milk, bread, produce and meat are all rising in cost due to high transportation costs and inclement weather.

I've always been somewhat frugal by nature. I look for sales, I buy in bulk, use coupons, I lower the thermostat in winter and put on a sweater, and only run the air conditioners in + 90's weather, walk instead of drive whenever I can, etc. But, I'm also at a fortunate point in my life where my children have been educated and are on their own and are financially independent. We've lived in the same home for almost 32 years and we have more or less finished renovations and are content to keep it as is. It would probably not be featured on HGTV but is comfortable and cozy.
We live in a middle class neighborhood, and luckily maintaining our house is relatively inexpensive, and we are able easily to take public transportation or walk to stores and services if needed. New York is an expensive state in which to live, and New York City has many extras costs such as high city taxes, high rents and housing costs, high car insurance rates, high bridge and tunnel tolls, high cost for entertainment and parking. I often dream about finding a little hamlet where all those costs were much less, but I do love my city and all the cultural and entertainment opportunities it gives, and I don't see myself moving in the near future.

So fiscal responsibility becomes a matter of choices for us, of being a little more careful with the day to day "extras" which can add up, buying only on sale if at all possible, and enjoying more free and low cost activities, while still having the security to splurge now and then on travel, which is our passion.

I'd love to know if you'd like to join the pact to get both physically and fiscally fit, and if you have ideas and tips you've found to be most effective in doing either or both. Thanks! Bookmark and Share


Tara said...

Hi Pat:

OK, we're in this thing together!!

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Count me in. I will go to the gym to aerobics at 5:30 even though it would be more fun to sit here and look at blogs. Thanks for a motivating post!

Barb said...

Hi Pat,

Health wise the past few years have been a bit tough for me. Several surgeries, medications, etc. I move, not as much as I should but I keep going. I love the fact that you have been walking with the same people for years. You don't see that out here.

I have always been pretty frugal. I have my moments but always try to remember- is this a want or a need?

Count me in girl!


Alex said...

Count me in, too. Both physically and financially. My husband and I have been taking care of my mother for almost 3 years now. I have 3 brothers and none of them help. It's been stressful on us financially and we've recently been talkinab out ways that we can better ourselves physically and financially...ways that we can improve in both areas.

With all that said, I join you and the others to make a sincere committment.



Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Hi Pat. I like this post. You've touched on 2 very important topics. I've blogged about being frugal, I think a month or so ago. My best tip is to check all household bills especially the cellphone bill, each month, because those cellphone, utility, and phone/internet companies make mistakes just like anyone else. I usually find errors every month, that would have cost me if I didn't find them, call customer service, point them out, and receive a credit.

I like your frugal style!

As for physical fitness, summer would have to be the worst time for me to start any sort of regime, on account of the hot muggy weather we have up here, and how uncomfortable working up a sweat would be outdoors. However, having said that, I do have a dog that I walk every day and we cover a lot of ground, so I do get physical exercise every day. I like that oval that you showed the aerial shot of; lucky to have that in your neighborhood, and to have buddies to walk with.

So count me in, on the fiscal fitness (its been a way of life for me for years...) and 'sort of' on the physical fitness.

Important post you've written here today.

nanatrish said...

This was a great post. I certainly need to work on both areas. I've been thinking a lot the past couple of days about how half the year is gone already. I need to walk more and perhaps walking in my office building might be an answer for me. The heat is horrible now. For so many reasons I need to exercise more. Count me in.

steviewren said...

Pat, you've been given an award. Pop over to my blog and check it out!

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat!
I'm trying so hard to become more physically fit. I've lost 20lbs since Jan 1st, it's so hard as we get older! But I'm eating much healthier and feeling better for it. I need to do more exercising and will try to!
As for fiscal... if only gas wouldn't keep going up! But I'm trying to be more frugal and limit spending.
Fiscal AND physical is alot to ask for Pat!! LOL
Hugs, Sherry

Joanne Kennedy said...

My first thought was NO WAY! But I know this is something I need to do so count me in!

I always worry about my family and do my best to help take care of them but as for myself, I don't take care of myself at all. But I know, if I don't then I won't be any good to them.

So starting now! I'm doing my best. I have several medical test my Dr. has been after me to get done. I just don't do them because, well the truth is, I don't want to know if something is wrong with me.

But thanks to you, I'm going to call and set up the tests.

As far as spending, well I'm on a major limited budget and most people would think I'm lying if I told you all how much I live on. So I'm not sure if I can do much in that area.

But, what I would like to do in that area is to start buying Christmas gifts now so I have something for everyone when Dec. comes around. So, I'm willing to give up my thrift store shopping, flower buying and eating out money so I can buy gifts now and not worry about them later.

So you now know you have friends from one side of the country to the other working on these issues with you.

Hope you have a wonderful 4th and I can't wait to see how New York celebrates! Here in CA will be shared with you on the 5th.


Kathy said...

I am with you Pat both Fiscally and Physically. I already go to Jazzercise (sometimes at 5.30am) my friend Susie just turned Sisxty and is my inspiration, she is also a bully haha and maks me go with her to Jazz. Financially we are in not bad shape, but as you never know what is around the corner and there is always room for improvement, we could do with a bit of a tone-up there to. Great post, hugs, Kathy.