Improvement Requires Change


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I’m looking to achieve some big goals in 2015. It all really boils down to being the very best I can be in the important areas of my life. One of the biggest categories is fitness. I want to tune my diet, helping me to become a healthier and much trimmer athlete.

At the end of each day, I spend a little time reflecting on what I consumed. If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend doing this at least once. Each time I do this, it’s very obvious why I’m not at my goal weight. The amount of complete garbage food I put into my body some days is astounding. One evening as I was doing this exercise, I started thinking about the alcoholic drinks I had during dinner. I tried to place any kind of positive value on them, but couldn’t come up with a single one. I could, however, come up with several negatives:

  • Drinking alcohol results in consuming extra calories preventing me from achieving my weight goal.
  • Drinking too much could result in a hangover the next morning preventing me from training as hard as I’d like to achieve my fitness goal.
  • Alcoholic drinks are expensive, money which could be used more productively

I started contemplating something I had had never imagined I would. I started thinking of cutting alcohol out of my life. Drinking has never been a problem for me. I don’t drink too much and drive, I don’t get into fights when I drink, and it’s been over a decade since I’ve drank so much that I’ve gotten sick. I do enjoy the occasional glass of wine paired with a great steak. But the fact is, at this moment in my life, any enjoyment I get out of alcohol pales in comparison to other goals I want to accomplish. Drinking alcohol is only making it harder to be successful achieving those goals.

I’ve been rolling along at a certain level of success for awhile now. Comfortable with my workout routines, reasonably consistent with budgeting discussions, and (at least in my own mind) a mindful father and an involved parent. But if I want to make progress, if I want to be better, I have to make changes. Let me say that again for emphasis:

If I want to be better, I have to make changes.

Vonnie and I missed our Thursday budget discussion this past week. On Friday night I reconciled the checkbook, updated the financial breakdown for the remainder of current budget period and asked my wife if we could talk finances. She was in the middle of another task, and momentarily declined. I asked again about an hour later, at which time she was involved in a new task. Normally, that would be the point I would give up and move on with my evening, my reasoning being we’d get back on the same page on Sunday. But there were some things I felt we needed to talk about immediately that could affect our weekend spending. I told my wife this, and eventually we had that discussion.

If I want to be better, I have to make changes.

I decided I was going give up alcohol, at least temporarily. I’m not having another drop of alcohol until I run Grandma’s Marathon on June 20th. I will re-evaluate what place I want alcohol to play in my life after that.

If I want to be better, I have to make changes.

Have you gotten comfortable, or stuck in a rut with your finances, or any major life goal? What are you going to do about it?

About Travis

32 Responses to “Improvement Requires Change”

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  1. Daniel says:

    Giving up alcohol is impressive! Definitely demonstrates dedication to your goals. Well done and good luck, you’re a better man than me. That’s a step I don’t think I could take for 6 months.

  2. I tried doing the 30 days thing once and never have I felt like more of an alcoholic because the zero allowance didn’t work FOR ME. Instead I do stuff like I won’t buy it therefore I’m not drinking at home, only when I go out, and since I hardly go out I don’t drink that much. That way I didn’t feel like I a zero policy! But I think it’s great you want to experiment with it though! I know Those liquid calories tend to stay on, especially as we get older!

    • Travis says:

      liquid calories indeed, Tonya – that’s the thing. If I’m going to consume calories, I want to make each one of them be something absolutely delicious!

  3. Kathy says:

    I’ve struggled with weight loss also. I have a liver disease and the doctor tells me I can’t touch liquor. Fortunately, I’ve never really liked alcohol anyway so that is not an issue for me. Wish I could say the same about sweets which is also a no-no.

    • Travis says:

      Yeah, I’m a sucker for sweet things too, Kathy. For me, it’s more about sweet candy – like fruit roll ups, gummy bears, etc. I just can’t have them around, or I’ll eat them all. In one sitting. I’m not kidding. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Great post, friend! I think you’ll probably find it a struggle at first – at least wherever it’s built into your life as a habit, even without you knowing. So if you always have a beer with this person when you do this, that or the other, it’ll feel weird to stop and say no. But you will feel sooo much better before/during/after your workouts, which I think will serve as great motivation. Excited to hear how it helps!

    • Travis says:

      We’ll find out – we have a gathering this weekend with friends that typically involves a lot of alcohol. Hopefully I’ll stay strong. I did go out to eat with Vonnie over the weekend to watch some football and have dinner at our favorite wing place – which typically involves a beer or two. I stuck with my water with lemon. ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks for reading, Cait!

  5. All about changing habits to improve your life. That’s how I look at things now, like losing weight. I don’t ever say I want to diet, if I want to lose weight I need to change my behavior/ habits. Changing the way I eat, exercise more, etc. Good luck!

    • Travis says:

      Any significant improvement HAS to include life changes, Brian. You and I both know that well from paying off our debt. Thanks for the well wishes!

  6. Mackenzie says:

    Good luck Travis! Alcohol is definitely empty calories. And I’ve noticed for me, the calories turn into extra calories that as I’ve gotten older, makes the weight harder to lose. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Travis says:

      Thanks, Mackenzie! A person can down a thousand calories in minutes….but it takes an incredible effort to burn that many calories. As we get older, and our metabolism slows down, we have to be even more mindful of that! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  7. I certainly enjoy a glass of wine on occasion, but it’s true that there isn’t much value to it. And you’re absolutely right when you truly want to change something, you sometimes need to take drastic measure, like temporarily giving up alcohol. Good luck, Travis!

  8. At the end of last year I started picking up the bad habit of eating out again. I had to slap myself a couple of times to snap out of it in order to get it together to start out the new year right. I believe that its great that you are even having these thoughts. For so many years I was always complaining of things just going wrong until one day I realize that I needed to change. Good luck.

    • Travis says:

      Agree, Petrish…we are truly in control of our destiny – but we sabotage ourselves! I’m glad to hear you realized that you needed to change…and more importantly that you COULD change. Good luck to you as well!

  9. Kim says:

    I would be fine to never have alcohol again, but I can’t seem to give up Diet Pepsi…. I also consume too many stupid calories, usually at the end of the day after eating healthy for breakfast and lunch. I really need to make more of an effort to be consistent all day long.

    • Travis says:

      I’m the same way Kim! I can be PERFECT until I get home from work…then it’s like a shovel throwing junk into my face as fast as it can. LOL. Thanks for sharing….hopefully we’ll both get a handle on this in 2015!

  10. Good luck on the alcohol ban! We stopped drinking during the week a while back and have found that we’re both perfectly happy with one drink on Friday night and one drink on Saturday night. That way, beer and wine are a big treat for us and, we don’t consume the calories and expense on a daily basis.

    It’s been a good scaling back for us and we now drink tea in the evenings instead–which is a change I wouldn’t have excepted a few years ago! You’re so right about changing behavior, it’s possible and I always surprise myself with how easily I actually can change my habits. Good luck to you!

    • Travis says:

      I’m 100% fine during the week…and quite frankly most of the times on the weekend. It’s when I get together with friends that I seem to throw it all away….so it will be a good challenge. If a person can achieve a goal, those same skills can be applied to achieving the next goal. Thanks for commenting, Mrs. Frugalwoods!

  11. I go through phases of alcohol bans and Friday night only for a glass of wine or delicious beer, and I have found that’s it’s totally worth it. My workouts are better, my expenses are lower, I sleep better, and my skin looks a lot better (not sure this last point is high on a man’s priority list, though). The rut of dessert every night might be holding me back from the abs I’ve always dreamed of…but I spend a fair amount of time dreaming about dessert too ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good Luck with the alcohol ban and the training!

    • Travis says:

      I agree with the sleeping better for sure, Brittany….every time I drink too much I sleep like crap. Don’t underestimate how much a guy values his skin….lol. Thanks for the support!

  12. Sassy Mamaw says:

    Something I noticed, Travis, was that you were looking over your calories at the end of the day. That’s a bit like tracking your money after you’ve spent it. If you find it difficult to cut the alcohol altogether, or you find that you are replacing those calories with others, you might try something like a budget for your calories, where you plan ahead for upcoming events, the same way you do with your money. Good luck!

    • Travis says:

      I like your analogy, Sassy mamaw…..but in my own defense I’m constantly thinking about making the right choices…..but many times fail to do so. I use my end of the day review to take a second look at what I consumed so I can remind myself that I need to do better when faced with those choices. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Good luck with the change Travis. I can relate quite a bit as I’m on the home stretch of my weight loss goal and hitting a plateau lately. I imagine that’s somewhat natural to have happen, though I still don’t like it. ๐Ÿ™‚ I home brew so I enjoy a good craft beer, but it’s so easy to forget that you’re actually consuming calories when you’re drinking. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve tried the no-alcohol approach and it just doesn’t work so I tend to allow myself one or two a week and make up for it by cutting calories elsewhere. But…when you’re already consuming so little in a day you begin to question whether or not it’s really worth it. I might be joining you at some point in order to kill my goal for good.

    • Travis says:

      I’m not usually a “all or nothing” kind of guy either, John. I usually take a moderate approach of not depriving myself totally from something. But in this case I honestly feel that the only way it’s going to stick is if I just default the answer to “No” every time. If you do end up going with the no booze approach, let me know – we can lean on each other!

  14. My husband and I went without alcohol for the 10 years between 1998 and 2008. It was a church-related decision that was right for us at the time. Those happened to be our most stressed financial years, so going without alcohol was good for all kinds of reasons – financially, of course, but also for emotional health. In the times of huge stress, we might have turned to alcohol for self-medication. I can be shy in social situations, and I used to rely on a glass of wine to make me feel more at ease and allow me to have fun. Through those years, I found I had just as much fun socially without alcohol as I ever did with it. We eventually started to think we would like to have the odd wine or beer again, and then in 2008, our youngest daughter won a trip to Mexico for the family! All food and drinks included. We took it as a sign : ) I’m glad we experienced that prolonged alcohol fast. And I’m glad it wasn’t forever. I wish you well in yours. Will Vonnie join you?

    • Travis says:

      Vonnie isn’t at a place in her life where she feels she needs to give it up. It’s not a problem by any means, but it’s just not something that’s holding her back from achieving her goals. She is, as expected, super supportive of me, though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. After some serious health complications for me last March, my wife and I made some major changes with our eating habits and exercise, and we each lost a good bit of weight. But our progress has stalled for awhile (if I can call six months “awhile”) and it’s clear that if we want to be better, we have to make changes, again. Over time we’ve gradually slipped backwards in our eating habits, and I love the idea of reflecting each day on what we consumed (and why we consumed it). I’m sure a weeks’ worth of reflecting will help us pinpoint exactly what we need to do about it.

    • Travis says:

      I’d love to hear what your thoughts were after doing that for a week, Gary. I want to get to the point where I’m completely clean……I think of everything I consumed at the end of the day and everything was the RIGHT choice. A guy can dream, right?

  16. Michelle says:

    You touch on something that I spend a lot of time thinking about…basically, it seems like we achieve more when we push through our comfort zones. I can’t wait to read your post after that marathon.

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