One of my New Year resolutions is to get leaner. Specifically, I’m trying to reduce my body fat percentage from 20% down to 17% by the end of the year. I stopped going to the gym when I quit my job to become a stay at home dad and the long layoff really took a toll on my fitness. I thought I’d be able to stay somewhat fit by walking around and being active with the kid, but that didn’t work. While I’m a lot more active than when I was working a desk job, walking around doesn’t really raise my heart rate enough to burn calories. I also lost some muscle mass because I haven’t been working out with weights.
Get back to the gym
I joined a gym around Thanksgiving so I could try to get back in shape after 18 months away. Of course, the gym membership came with a “complimentary” personal training session. As gym goers know, this is a thinly veiled attempt to sell you a personal training package. So I went to the session and did a light workout with the personal trainer. I told him my goal was to reduce body fat and get back to my previous level of fitness. I want to start with light and make my way back to medium weights (free weights).
After we finished the session, we sat down for the dreaded sale pitch. I told him my workout plan and then he tried to convince me that I won’t be able to make much progress without his help. According to him, my form wasn’t perfect and I was doing the wrong exercises. Specifically he said I shouldn’t do bicep curls. It’s an isolation exercise and I should be doing compound exercise that uses more muscles.
My back workout day
- 30 minutes of cardio – raise my heart rate to 140-150 beat per minute and keep it there.
- 3x Pull down machine with light weights.
- Pull ups. I used to be able to do 3 sets of 8, but now I can only do 1 and a half.
- Bicep curls with dumb bells.
- Stretch and some sit ups.
Of course, bicep curls are pretty much worthless. The only thing you use your biceps for is spooning Cheerios into your mouth in the morning. Nobody needs big biceps, but everyone loves to do curls. A pair of firm arms feeds vanity and makes you feel good.
Anyway, the personal trainer denounced bicep curls and I said fine, I’ll replace it with rows. Then he proceeded to try to sell me a package of 6 personal training sessions for $299. This guy had no chance with a cheapo like me. I’m going to do cardio for 30 minutes and then work out with weights for 15-20 minutes. It’s not worth spending 60 bucks to learn how to do basic exercises. I’ve been working out since before this guy was a just a baby. I know how to do big compound exercises. I just don’t want to emphasize them right now. The most important thing right now is to consistently get into the gym 3x per week and I’m more likely to do that if I do exercises that I like.
The key to achieving any long term goal is consistency and sustainability. When I was working, I went to the gym 4-5 times a week at lunch because it was convenient. Now, it’s a pain to get to the gym and I need to get into the habit of going 3 times per week. It doesn’t really matter what I do at the gym as long as I get there. Once I am in the habit of going to the gym, then I can try to optimize my exercises. Oh yeah, I hate having people pushing me to do one more rep. I’m more comfortable going at my own pace even if it’s not optimal.
The same is true for retirement saving and wealth building. My finance goal is to save and invest $50,000 in various tax advantaged accounts this year. The easiest way to do this is to set up automatic deduction and then make do with whatever is left. Here is what we’ve done so far.
- $17,500 Mrs. RB40 401(k) – Set up auto deduction so she’d max out by the end of the year.
- $17,500 My individual 401(k) – Can’t do auto deduction so I set up a recurring reminder in Google Calendar to tell me to contribute every month.
- $4,000 RB40 Jr.’s 529 – Set up $400/month auto deduction.
- $11,000 Roth IRA for both of us – This one I plan to do manually when we have some extra cash.
As you can see, most of the heavy lifting is already done. If I wait until November, then there is no chance that we’d meet our goal.
Your financial goals are personal and you have to figure out your own way to accomplish them. You might have to try different ways to invest and see what sticks. Some people are good with real estate and some are good with the stock market. The important thing is to keep pushing toward your goals and make forward progress every month/year.
What do you think is the most important factor in getting fit? What about building wealth?
photo credit: USMC