Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Conflict of Interest

These past few weeks have been a blur. I feel like all I have done is worked out and stressed out. The other day, CN said that maybe we should not go on the cruise at all, because it is stressing me out so much.

Maybe he's right. I have been so frustrated lately, and it's causing me a ton of stress. Maybe it wasn't a good idea to get all gung-ho about my New Year's Resolutions at the same time. Perhaps I should have tried to work on my budget OR my waistline -- not both. I am still interested in meeting my goals, but I find myself in constant conflict with reaching them.

You'd think these two goals would go hand-in-hand: eating at home usually means fewer calories and more money in the bank. Going for a run on a Saturday afternoon burns calories AND keeps you away from the mall. So yeah, in some situations, these two goals can play off of one another.

At other times, they are in direct conflict. Some examples...

What do you do when someone's parents (CN's, in particular) take you out to eat........and the menu consists of scarcely anything besides fried items? You can't say, "No thanks" or "Can we go somewhere else?" -- you HAVE to eat, because they invited you and they are paying. So I tried to order something that sounded healthy-- grilled shrimp with steamed veggies. When my food arrived, I found that "grilled" meant "drenched in oily sauce" and "steamed veggies" meant "butter-drenched veggies".

So I had a choice to make: eat on someone else's tab, which is good for my budget........or totally blow all my hard work at the gym that morning by eating this pool of oily shrimp and limp veggies.

I almost cried, you guys. It totally ruined my whole meal -- I picked at it, hardly eating anything. And I felt guilty, since they had invited me to eat with them and they were paying. I hate to waste food. Then I got home, and I was still hungry! Aaaarrrgh.

Budget: 1
Waistline: 0

Then, last night, I went to the gym to meet up with my new trainer. I had originally had a guy I will call "Biff". I don't like Biff. He doesn't listen, he won't give me straight answers to my questions, he flirts with the front desk girls when he's supposed to be working with me, he won't give me clear directions, and he contradicts himself. In short, he leaves me confused and frustrated, not to mention ticked off. So, when he told me last week that he was not my official trainer, and only my introductory trainer, I was relieved.

"Good," I thought. "Maybe now I can have a trainer who is actually worth the $40 an hour I'm shelling out, because you are pretty much worthless!"

Last night, I met my "official" trainer. I will call him Tee. I liked him immediately. He listened, gave clear instructions and one of the front desk girls told me he's a really good trainer. He told me that Biff put me with him because he gets results and I am a "highly motivated" client. This was all music to my ears.

Until he told me that he'd have me out of there in a half an hour.

Um....exsqueeze me?

Thanks to Biff's smooth talking, I didn't realize that I was signing up for two $40 half hour sessions per month, not two hourly sessions, as I had previously thought. Crap. I envisioned my bank account dwindling rapidly, like sand in an hourglass. I could feel my stomach cramping up, and not because of Tee's crunches.

So now, it seems that I have chosen my waistline over my budget, in this situation. Arggggh. Score tally:

Budget: 1
Waistline: 1

Then, I decided to play around with Turbo Tax, just to see what kind of a tax refund I could expect. Turbo Tax said "$987". Hmmmm. I was kind of hoping for at least $1,100. So instead of paying about $40 for Turbo Tax, I am going to go ahead and spring for H&R Block, which will charge me about $130. Am I possibly shooting myself in the foot? Yes. But do I trust myself to maximize my own deductions, even if it is with Turbo Tax's assistance? Um, no. Not with my abysmal understanding of money. I may not get more money back at the hands of H&R Block, but at least I know I'm preparing my taxes properly.

In order to have time to make the trip to H&R Block, I will more than likely have to skip a gym trip. Arrgh.

Tomorrow, the termite guy is coming to my house to do the annual termite bond. That will cost $150. And a trip to the gym -- he's like the cable guy, I have to be there all morning, hoping he will show up between 8-11am. So much for my 10am weight lifting class.

And Friday after work, I am getting the dead rat on top of my head tended to by my hairdresser. That will be an additional $150, and the gym will be closed by the time I'm done. (In my defense, I haven't had my hair done since before Thanksgiving, and if I don't do something quickly, I will soon look like one of those trailer-trash girls on COPS).

I got on the scale again yesterday. I have lost........maybe 2 pounds. I swear to all things holy, I am going to chuck that thing through my window before this is all over. I did get my body fat percentage re-calculated last night, and it showed that I have lost 0.2% body fat. Not awesome, but a small step in the right direction. My pants seem to be fitting a teeny tiny bit better, but it might just be my imagination.

My birthday is in one week (mark your calendars now -- ha!), and I can't think of anything fun to do that doesn't involve spending money or eating yummy fattening food. What I really want to do is shop all day in the outlet mall near Charlotte, and then hit The Cheesecake Factory for dinner on the way home. But that can't happen, because it will totally mess up everything I've been working for these past few weeks. Does anyone have a good idea for something that is fun and cheap and doesn't involve cake???

I'm starting to feel like I will never lose weight or get a grip on my spending. I know I'm an impatient person, but someone's gotta throw me a bone! I'm getting very discouraged. All this frustration and pressure I've put on myself is really causing me to stress out. I have the cruise looming over my head, and all I think about all day long is, "How will I pay for the cruise? I'm going to need at least $700. Where will I find the money for that when I was going to use my tax refund towards my credit card debt??? How will I look on the boat, standing next to the skinny girl going with us? I am going to eat too much food and I will be the fat girl in all the photos. How can I lose 10 pounds by then when I haven't even started losing yet???" -- It is looped in my brain, all day long. This is in addition to all the regular money stress and weight issues I was already having before this whole cruise idea came about. I can feel the anxiety building up inside me. I have had 2 emotional meltdowns in as many weeks, and I'm wondering if any of this is even worth it. Maybe CN is right. Maybe I should not go on the cruise because it is just too much right now.

Then again, maybe I should just shut up, get a Rx for Xanax, put my nose to the grindstone and quit whining. And cut myself some slack.

I know that's what I need to do. I just had to get all of this off my chest. I just needed to vent. Thanks for reading this and allowing me to do so. :)

Ugh. I have a headache now.


cmk said...

Last time I did the losing weight bit, I started off gang busters and lost about 5 lbs in a week or so. Then it slowed to a couple of pounds. Then I went on to NOTHING for a couple of weeks. I understand frustrated! BUT, I stuck with it and was rewarded with a rapid 5 lb lose. Stick with it girl and you WILL be rewarded, too! :) (Besides, you are YEARS younger than me, so your body remembers HOW to lose weight! :D)

Amber said...

Before you spring for H&R Block, I suggest seeing if there is a VITA location in your town. VITA is the Volunteere Income Tax Assistance Program and is sponsored by the IRS. Trained volunteers will help you fill out your tax return. If you go to and search for VITA, you can get some more information. The website says to locate the nearest VITA site call 1-800-829-1040.

Alison said...

Look, maybe you'll get some money for your birthday and you can spend it while shopping at the outlet mall. And, go for the Cheesecake Factory on the way home. Seriously, if you deny yourself completely the things that make you happy, you're going to get frustrated and give up on both goals. The key is moderation, and since it's your birthday, do what you want to do, have fun with it, and don't feel guilty about it. You can get right back to your goals the next day.

JP said...

Maybe check for a local tax preparer. My mom does taxes out of her house and she would only charge about $35 for someone like you. (I think she undercharges, but her customers love it!) Unfortunately, she's based in Pennsylvania.

Krissy said...

1. I can totally relate to the weight thing. This means that, unfortunately, I can not offer you any advice, as I have the exact same problem.

2. Make sorbet. It is no cheesecake, that's for sure, but it is yummy and fat-free, and (from someone who enjoys the labor involved with cooking) is fun because you can flavor it however you want.

That's all I've got for you...but really, I hope things work out. I hope so much that I crawled out of the cyber-shadows I've been lurking in to tell you.

Smug said...

OK, take some deep breath's! I have a free idea for each of your goals:

Diet: Go to I think that you will really like it and it was really motivating for me and it is 100% free! It helped me lost 20 pounds before my wedding. The community of people is huge and supportive and really great!

Budget: Get "Women and Money" by Suze Orman either as a book on CD from the library or send me your e-mail address and I will e-mail you a copy that you can read on the computer or print out. My e-mail address is and I will be happy to e-mail a copy to anyone. It is really motivating and 100% free! I got it from the library and downloaded it to my iPod, so I can listen to it at anytime!

As for your birthday, why not have people over at your place? Have everyone bring something low fat, or assign something healthy to each person. Have the dishes be their gift to you. That way, you still have fun, but don't spend much money or blow the diet!

One big thing for me to overcome was thinking about all the things that I couldn't have to eat or things that I couldn't do because of my new diet or money saving plan. Try focusing on the positive things without obsessing. Picture yourself looking at you bank balance and seeing the large amount there! See yourself in a bathing suit on the cruse, how CN can't stop staring at you. Don't think about being broke, or being the fat girl - you have to start focusing on the positve. Bring the positive into your mind and keep it there while you work on your goals!!

You can do it!!!

GrewUpRural said...

Amber is absolutely correct about checking into VITA. When I was in college studying accounting, I volunteered with VITA. If I am not mistaken, don't you work at a University? See if they have an accounting department. Most accounting professors do taxes on the side.

As for the cruise, put it off for next year. By doing this, you can work on your goals at your pace, not someone else's. As you are paying down your debt, put a few bucks aside each week towards the cruise for next year.

Stuck said...

RE: Eating out

1) Don't be afraid to be high maintenance when you order. I don't mean be a bitch. But when you order food (such as steamed vegetables or grilled meat), specify "without butter" or "light butter."

2) Never feel obligated to eat just because someone else is picking up the tab. If they ask why you're skimping, be honest. Tell them that you're trying very hard to lose weight, and that it has nothing to do with feeling guilty about spending their money.

RE: Taxes

I've always found that H&R Block comes up with almost the same value as TurboTax for me, which is almost always the same value I come up with with a pencil and paper. I don't think I'm smart with taxes. I think that H&R Block hires people who are as dumb as me. (I mean, really, their slogan is "I got people." How smart can they be?)

RE: Party
I had the same problem in December, but I don't have an answer. Rock Band and a Playstation 3 certainly wasn't a cheap alternative to eating like crazy, but it was the best birthday party ever. ;)

RE: Stress
Eat a graham cracker. You'll feel better, and they're not bad for your diet. Losing two pounds is a good accomplishment. I think The Biggest Loser has set unreasonable weight loss goals in people's heads. Just stick it out, and when you start feeling stressed, focus that stress towards something like running.

Becky said...

i can relate to SO much of this. seriously its such a mess for me too. weight loss at a MAJOR standstill but thats cuz i suck and i've been eating bad. and our budget sucks which is why we have to freakin sell our pay off all the bad budgeting we did for years. *sigh* vent all you want

Phantom Hater said...

Take deep breaths and deal.

Skip H+R Block, they're expensive. If your refund is that close and you're spending over 100 bucks to get your taxes prepared, it sounds like it's a wash.

Stop weighing yourself all the time. Just stop it.

The trainer sounds really expensive. Even though they may have locked you into a contract (gyms are notoriously bad about that), you might be able to complain about your Ptrainer experience, maybe get a partial refund or something. I sure as hell wouldn't pay 80/hr for someone to stand around and flirt while they should be working.

Why are worried about spending money on your own birthday?? I would expect CN to pick up the tab, and if you don't, you're too nice. It's your day. That's the last thing you need to stress about for your b-day. And do the Cheesecake Factory. I love that place, and a slice of cheesecake, especially if shared, isn't bad in the long run.

As for the restaurant, you can always try and order things on the healthy side in a restaurant (sauces on the side, for instance), although you're in S.C., and I don't know if they can prepare food there without butter and fat. You can also soak the grease up with a napkin (works with pizza too) to reduce fat. But one meal will not make that much of a difference.

Or you could pop a vicadin and vomit after the meal. :)

Sonri said...

Oh try the YMCA, I joined the one near my house and trainers are free! :) Plus the gym membership was only $52 a month.

There are tons of personal finance blogs out there to motivate you and provide tips on how to save and budget your money. I read and he has TONS of links to other PF bloggers to get you going.

Remember to take each day at a time and dont overwhelm yourself with the future. Pack a lunch, walk/run in your neighborhood everyday...small things help in the long run. :)


Megan said...

Diet: Hang in there - you can do it! I 100% agree with Stuck - be an ordering snob. I always ask for a to-go box when my order arrives so that I can box it up and either 1) take it home or 2) throw it away - anything to keep me from eating it all at once. Plus I always order no butter, dressing or sauces on the side, etc.

Cruise: Go! Life is short. Have fun and do it. You know CN is really looking forward to it and you two would have so much fun.

Birthday: I liked Smug's idea. Or go out - it is just one day and it only happens once a year. Just remember to get back on the wagon(s) the next day.

Taxes: Totally check out VITA! My mom use to volunteer for them and they do good work.

Gym: Get rid of the personal trainer. Surf the internet and print of workout routines. I do this once a month or so to keep me motivated. I keep them in a 3-ring binder that I take to the gym and pick and choose.

And if you can't make to the gym because of other obligations - work out at home. Dips off a dining room chair, sit ups, push ups, lunges, etc.

But mainly - hang in there. Your goals are obtainable. You are doing great and are a real inspiration!

Lynn-e said...

I'm a CPA and I suggest you stay far away from H&R Block. I liked the suggestion above in regards to checking out the accounting department at the University you work for. That's a great idea.

I can so relate to the weight loss struggles but you have to take some deep breaths and realize that even if the scale doesn't budge, making good choices in regards to food & the gym is good for your health overall. You're doing good things!! Be proud of it!

RWA said...

You've had some road blocks and minor setbacks, but I am confident you can accomplish all three goals - financial, physisal and the cruise.

Hang in there.

Stella said...

I say ditch the cruise. You won't have to worry about food temptation on the ship, how you look in a bikini, money. You'll be removing a huge source of stress.

Can you put off the termite bond? I'm not saying don't do it, but what would happen if you waited a few months? If you put away $50/mo for the next three months it doesn't seem as bad as $150 NOW.

Don't feel bad about venting. Weight loss and money are my two big issues too!

Sam said...

You are a nutjob. You cannot tackle the two biggest thing in the history of the world at the same time!! Pick one! Go on the cruise! Take 2 xanax and call CN in the morning.