Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ups and Downs

Well, I was not on the tail end of the cold if my blocked sinuses are anything to go by, and I'm not loving the addition of a pounding headache to the mix. I think I might be quite dehydrated which is probably making everything feel worse, so I am drinking as much water as I can right now.

Food wasn't good this past week, despite my plans to keep it confined to that weekend. The combination of being sick still and having to visit the dentist (one emergency appointment when the back of my tooth came off, one appointment after that to fix cavities seen in appointment 1), with more appointments in the works (root canal on my front tooth, impacted wisdom tooth to remove, tooth root to be taken out), meant that I fell back in to old habits of taking the easy way. That is, eating out for my meals. At weigh in I was a kilo up, whether it's all real weight or some water I'm not sure but we'll see.

The good news is I cleaned my apartment yesterday, I'd gone off my cleaning calendar when I got sick too, either everything works or everything slips, so I'm feeling much better mentally for doing that. I also got paid yesterday, which has me breathing a sigh of relief. I'm using 'you need a budget' to keep track of my money, so I plugged it straight into there along with what I expect to spend this month and where I want the money to go. Is it incredibly geeky of me to be excited about that this? I love this kind of thing. I'm hoping this will help me save what I want to go back to school when I finish in China.

I have my lunch made and packed, may this be the start of a controlled week.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wobble

When things don't go great I have a way of disappearing. Sometimes I want to wait until I've got a few 'good' days under my belt again so that I can say 'hey, this happened but things are fine now' (but either I don't update or I don;t have a few good days), and sometimes I just fall into the abyss to turn up months later, sheepish and weighing 20lbs more. In the interest of not doing that it's probably better I come clean now. This weekend was not great for me (My 'weekend' being yesterday and today).


The last week has had its good points. I was down again on the scale on Monday, I took my lunch to work 4 days out of 5 like I planned, and I made it to Monday under budget against all the odds, so I was feeling pretty good. I can't pinpoint why I couldn't keep that going, maybe the fact that I could loosen the reigns a little bit and I let it go to my head? Maybe there was no real reason other than opportunity, but if that's the case it still teaches me (well, re-teaches me) the importance of a clean living environment (both literally and figuratively) at home. 

Yesterday I overslept, waking up at 11:15. I'm on the tail end of a cold so I figured I needed the sleep, but now that I've had two days in a row of late wake ups I think it's just a sign of apathy on my part. Getting up late meant I didn't feel as motivated to get my cleaning schedule done. Having my environment be untidy makes me mentally more likely to allow other things to fall into disorder. I couldn't be bothered to make something proper to eat, which led to me picking at food most the afternoon. This all led to me baking a pan of brownies and eating them. Genius! Today I got up late again, but wasn't doing too badly as I made myself do some laundry, and got a little of the cleaning done so the day wasn't entirely unproductive. I went to the store and got groceries, but then on the way back got lazy and decided to go to McDonald's instead of waiting until I got home and spending time preparing something. I don;t really have an excuse for this, but I think the reason may have been poor planning on my part. I should have eaten something before I left.

So there we have it. One a scale of 1-10 on how bad this could have been, 1 being 'did what I was supposed to' and 10 being ' found dead face down in a pile of chocolate spread 3 days later' I would rate this at about a 4. One incident of plain binge eating/giving in to cravings, and 1 incident of old fashioned laziness. I'm hoping better planning, and adhering to a schedule of getting up and completing a set lists of jobs a day before allowing myself to relax, will give my weekends more of a sense of purpose and achievement. That way I won;t feel like it's OK to let things slide on days when I'm not at work.

So there we have it. A reasonable look at what happened, at attempt to identify why, and a plan to stop it happening in the future. Onwards march my friends.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Blah

This week is definitely turning out harder than last. I went and paid my Internet/cable bill on Wednesday, it came to 2300 (for the year) which means I am now totally skint. I have about 200 kwai in my purse for the rest of the week (£20/$32, shouldn't be a problem), but then only 1,000 (£100/$160) until pay day (somewhere around the 28th). This is China, so it's doable, but it's half what I had planned so I will have to watch things carefully. In anticipation of this I made a big pot of chilli yesterday and froze it into individual portions. I kept some unfrozen for lunch today/tomorrow, but if all else fails it means that I have that ready and waiting.


I'v been feeling kind of low for the last few days. No discernible reason, just mildly depressed. I'm feeling kind of burned out on work even though I only came back from my holiday home 3 weeks ago (maybe because I came back only 3 weeks ago?). It's assessment/End of Term Presentation time, which is always stressful, so that could be it. It also doesn't help that I was feeling a bit off around 3pm yesterday, and that feeling has now descended into 'I'm sick'. I've been chugging orange juice and trying to stay hydrated in a hope that it won;t get worse than it is. I get sick a lot in China (working with kids, everyone spitting/not covering their mouth when they cough/sneeze) and it usually turns into a hacking chesty cough, which I'm desperately trying to avoid. I'm hoping the fact that I have been eating well, taking my vitamins and sleeping properly will work in my favour and that this will pass me by without too much incident.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Going well

Well, I made it through the week sticking to my budget. It was actually fine, and I underspent which was nice. I sent home all my money but what was in my budget, so it's important I stick to it. It's a little unfortunate that I realised right after sending it that I actually have to pay my internet and cable for the next year tomorrow, but I had completely forgotten about it! I think it's about 2,000 kwai, so I'm hoping I can still pay it and manage on what is left in my account, but things will be pretty lean at the end of this month! I figure if it gets terrible I can also get some money out of my home bank (my card from the UK is accepted in most cash machines here) but I'd rather not if I can manage at all!

A fortunate side affect of cutting down the money I spend is that I've been sticking to eating mostly home food, which means I lost 5lbs last week. That's great for me! I've joined a weight loss challenge on SparkPeople that ends right before my birthday, so I'm going to try and keep it up without overwhelming myself.

Gotta go, I'm late!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Plans

(I've had this sitting in Drafts for a while, sorry)

Turns out when using an automatic, driving is kind of awesome. I had a small heart attack when I merged on to the motorway for the first time, and then again when I had to do my first big island solo, but after that things were sort of great. Every time I overtook a lorry I started humming the Indiana Jones theme tune. Not having to worry about stalling the car was really nice.

I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I've had to sit and think about my 5 year plan just recently (which makes me feel about 50 years old) I want to go back to university and become qualified as a teacher. That means (somehow) getting on a program (my biggest worry) and then supporting myself through the time I'm studying. This in turn means saving enough money in my time left in China to do all this.

(end of draft)

I'm trying to look upon the budgeting as an opportunity. In order to make my budget I'm going to be doing a few things, and those things usually directly correlate with me losing weight, so everything should hopefully start to fall into place. I want to save at least 5000 kwai (£500/$800) a month, something that's actually completely doable in China. In order to do this I've been looking at my basic income and come up with this:

Salary: 12,450 (after tax)

-5,000 savings
-3,000 rent and bills/month
4,450

4,450/31 (max days in a month) x7 (days in a week) = 1004.84

I'm rounding that down to an even 1,000 (£100, $160) a week for simplicity's sake.

Every Monday I go to the ATM and get the thousand out, then I live from the cash in my wallet until the next Monday. This helps me keep track of what I'm spending and what I have left. No visits to the ATM in-between or paying for stuff on cards! I walk to work so commuting coasts aren't an issue, but anything else (taxis, groceries, any eating out/fun things I do) will come out of that money. If I use up that money by Wednesday, I'd better be ready to scavenge meals from what's left in my apartment and freezer until next Monday.

When Monday arrives, if I have any money left from the week, I will top it up to 1,000 so that I'm starting with the same all the time. Anything I don't spend can be extra savings.

Even though I budget for my rent/bills every month, I only pay them every three months (in a lump sum, very common here in China). I just did my most recent payment this week, so after every rent payment from now I will go to the bank and send what savings I have home. I find this a lot easier than having the money in China, as once it's in my home savings account the money doesn't exist for me in the same way it does in my Chinese bank. I'm much more likely to chip away at it here.

I'm at the end of the first week now and things went great this week. A big part of keeping to this is not eating out at work so much! It's all we go right now and it siphons away your money fast! Not to mention that eating at MacDonald's every day loses its appeal rather quickly and is really bad for you. I brought meals in 4 days this week and ate out of the 5th, which is about where I want to be. I'm not banning it, I just want it to be an occasional thing instead of everyday. This, in turn, is meaning I finally lost a little weight this week (1.5kg) so I'm hoping to keep this going.

There aren't 31 days every month, and 3,000 is the top estimate fore my bills, so it's entirely possible I will save more than I am planning. Also, 1,000 a week is quite generous if I keep to my plan of making my own food. I'm going to keep on the 1,000 a week for the next month while I try things out, and if I find I have quite a bit left over at the end of the week (as I did this week), I may lower my weekly budget and try and save 7,000 a month instead. I don't want to budget myself into the ground though, to the point where I feel like I can't do anything so I say forget it and blow a load of money on something, so the next month should show me what a comfortable compromise is.

Sorry if this post got a bit boring! I'm trying to keep things laid out and straight in my head to keep it going.