Sunday, August 19, 2018

Weekly Retrospective....




What I’m reading:  The Book of Daniel (Bible) and The Six Sigma Way Team Field Book: An Implementation Guide for Process Improvement Teams ….

What I’m listening to:  We Study Billionaires (T.I.P) podcasts....

What I’m working on: In general: Me…. More specifically: Reorganizing my basement and leaning out more ….

Where I’m succeedingFinishing what I start ….

What I’m grateful forAn example of a life well lived ….

Quote that has me thinking“If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth. Whether a tree falls to the north or to the south, in the place where it falls, there it will lie. Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” – Ecclesiastes 11:3-4

What I’m excited aboutI finally filed the paperwork for my scholarship non-profit …. Interested in seeing how this evolves …

What I’ve been ponderingLegacy ….


Friday, August 17, 2018

Accountability Challenge Week 3 Results (week 4 for me)....




This past week was considerably better for me with regards to my eating discipline. I’ve maintained improvements from the first week over the past three weeks. However, I’ve not made the necessary adjustments to my workout routine (to be honest, I’ve barely worked out at all, proving the theory that 80% of your build is based on diet) and so progress has been nil. Time to pull out an old exercise tool I haven’t seen in a while thanks to my body composition accountability partner, Mr. 1500 over at https://www.1500days.com/ and get to work….

Sunday, August 12, 2018

See You Soon....

















I’ve been fortunate in my life to have a handful of mentors to help guide me with their words, but more importantly, their actions. The first, and most impactful, was my Grandmother, Lillie-Mae Norman Lang. She passed yesterday after 88 years on this earth; a servant to her family, her community and her God. Words do her life no justice, but I thank her for displaying what a life well lived looks like, along with allowing me the honor of publishing her memoirs and sharing with me a strong and powerful lineage that I will strive to uphold and pass down to my own offspring.

I know that the time between now and when we meet again will pass like the blink of an eye, and that there is a huge celebration reunion going on in heaven, but the current pain I feel in my heart is very real.

I will see you soon, Grand-Momma….I will see you soon.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Accountability Challenge Week 2 Results (week 3 for me)....















Today is my planned weigh in/measurement date with my accountability partner for this endeavor, Mr. 1500 over at https://www.1500days.com/ 

This past week resulted in zero gains after solid movement the previous 2 weeks. And, if I were honest, it was actually worse, because I lost some of my previous gains the first half of the week, making the second half more painful than necessary. I could make the excuse that I drove 2,100 miles over 3 days and was limited to fast foods during that time, but to quote Jocko Willink: ‘Discipline Equals Freedom’ and because I lacked discipline, I suffered to make up for it. I’ve discovered that when I truly put effort into something, I am successful. The majority of times in life where I have failed have been due to either poor planning or a lack of effort. This was one of those times.

Enough talk….

Friday, August 3, 2018

Accountability Challenge Week 1 Results (week 2 for me)....



As I mentioned recently, I am currently tracking gains from reengaging in intermittent fasting. I started back almost 2 weeks ago but will track progress today and then next Thursday on a weekly basis. My friend over at https://www.1500days.com/ is also tracking his progress as we help hold each other accountable, so please head over to his blog (much better than my random ramblings) and check him out when he posts his results later.

To date I am down almost 6 pounds and an inch off my waist. Additionally, I’ve lost no muscle from my arms or shoulders (according to the tape measurer).

More to follow….

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Breakfast of Champions....



Like a boxer ahead of a match he’s trained hard for, I look forward to tomorrow’s weigh in with Mr. 1500 at https://www.1500days.com/ after a shoulder/delt workout and hearty breakfast consisting of protein shake and cold bacon….

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New Goal, New Challenge and Some Morning Motivation….


I’m setting a goal of losing an inch on my stomach during August without losing any muscle mass. I’ll be taking new measurements every Friday….

My challenge is less of a challenge, per se, and more about men holding each other accountable. In this case, my accountability partner is Mr. 1500 from the website https://www.1500days.com/   who will also be reporting his progress.

And here’s my morning motivation, a still frame from my ole Army buddy, Ragnar, getting after it in a boxing workout while traversing the eastern seaboard…. If he can regularly hit his workouts at sea, I have no excuse….


On that note, heading downstairs to do a lat workout….

Monday, July 30, 2018

Credit Card Trial....



I recently became the 4th (out of 4) victim of debit card fraud in my immediate family. And I get that that it’s a huge racket; but I cannot understand how someone can somehow walk in a store and use my debit card without the pin number hundreds of miles from home. But I digress….

My wife recently mentioned that one of the things she wants to do more in the future is travel. Hmmm, I thought: “Is there maybe a way to kill two birds with one stone here?”

Starting August 1, we will use credit cards to make all of our non-cash purchase (utilities, groceries, eating out, etc.). Chase has a card that will give us 50,000 reward points (equal to $600 in travel purchases or $500 cash back) for charging $4,000 in 90 days (or something like that) as well as cash back on all expenditures after that.

And yes, after a year of spending every cent (except for $1,000 of our savings) we had to eliminate all debt, a credit card scares me. I actually had a dream last night where I forgot to pay the bill and we somehow ran up more debt than our home is worth, while also spending the rest of our money traveling. I woke up in a panic…. However, the pros seem to outweigh the cons in this scenario, so we will give it a shot for the remainder of this year and see how it ends up.

More to follow….

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Weekly Retrospective....




What I’m reading:  The Book of Psalms (Holy Bible) and The Six Sigma Way Team Fieldbook: An Implementation Guide for Process Improvement Teams


What I’m listening to:  Choose F.I. podcasts....

What I’m working on: Always having something to work on ….

Where I’m succeeding: Morning routine ….

What I’m grateful forLife ….

Quote that has me thinkingPeople are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time, they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.” – Seneca

What I’m excited aboutOpportunities ….

What I’ve been pondering: Digital hiatus ….

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Back At It - Week 1 IF (sorta) Update....





















Back in April I started an 8-week journey that allowed me to lose several pounds of body fat while gaining muscle and improving sleep and energy levels. I was able to accomplish this through intermittent fasting (eating only between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM) and the Keto diet (high fat/moderate protein/low carbs).

However, during the 2 months since, vacations and traveling with work (excuses, excuses) have resulted in me losing some (but not all) of those gains.

On Monday of this week, I started back on this journey, but with a twist…I allowed myself to cheat each evening if I was hungry, but only with good food (healthy fats, proteins, dark chocolate).

The results the past week were a ¾” inch decrease in my stomach measurement and a 4-pound decrease in body weight. I’ve also measured my body fat percentage, but it has fluctuated based on hydration levels so I’m not sure how accurate it is in the short-term.

More to follow….

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Ragnar....


My Army buddy from back in the day still getting his unconventional workouts in while at sea.....






Monday, July 23, 2018

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Weekend Projects.....


Stained a chair I made a couple weeks ago, made some jalapeno poppers on the grill, mashed some guacamole and tomatoes and made some keto-friendly  fat balls for the coming week....


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Homemade Guacamole….




Kept it chunky this time and added some sliced homemade tomatoes…..delicious! 

Friday, July 6, 2018

C.S. Lewis Quote....



Isn’t it funny how, day by day, nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different – C.S. Lewis (thanks, Kadar)


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

2018 First Half Report....


The first half of this year has been solid with regards to return on investment in most areas of my life. As Jocko Willink says: “Discipline equals freedom,” and if you put in the work on the front end, most of the time you can use that momentum to gain compound interest over time, and even segue successfully into other areas. However, I also failed to get any traction in a few areas because of a LACK of discipline…I base my ratings of success or failure on goals I set at the end of each previous quarter.

2018 First Half Successes
·       Read 11 books on personal finance, diet, self-improvement
·       Read 40 books of the Bible (21 Old Testament/19 NT)
·       Obtained Six Sigma Green Belt Certification (finished course and took test in less than a week)
·       Completed several projects around house, including replacing fence boards, extending out brick walkway and getting gardens planted
·       Helped daughter move into her own house (assisted with moving, painting, etc.)
·       Took wife to California for 2 days (her fav place)
·       Started ‘Man Letters’ with son (12 to date this year). Also visited him at college twice and helped him move back home for summer.
·       Coordinated Grandmother’s 88th birthday party
·       Saved/invested 40% of bring home pay
·       Gave away almost 12% of bring home pay
·       Became shareholder in startup venture/investment opportunity
·       Created multiple tax shelters to protect more of income (FSA, 403b, IRA) – thanks to Tony Robbins (Unshakeable) for this invaluable advice on protecting assets from taxes and fees
·       Paid cash for family vacation in Florida
·       Regular rehab workouts at home, consistent resistance workouts at gym/home
·       Met with doctor and had MRIs done on shoulder and back. Shoulder surgery required during second half of year (at least 3 tears)….
·       Made great strides with Keto/Intermittent Fasting diet, losing 11 pounds, 4% body fat and 2+ inches off waist
·       Commended at work for flow chart design/presentation for operating forum
·       Selected to participate in upcoming design sprint at corporate HQ
·       Increased overall net worth by 4-4.5% (still waiting on final #s)

     2018 First Half Fails
·       Did not get paperwork turned in for non-profit
·       Failed to create minimum viable product (MVP) for business idea
·       Did not see eye doctor (overdue)
·       Backslid on diet in June (vacation time 😊)
·       Did not continue morning routine and meditation after first quarter
·       Completed assessment of local real estate opportunities and made offers, but after counters were made, decided to hold off for the time being. I have an agent and will evaluate new opportunities as they come along, but only make offers on exceptional deals.
·       Failed to follow up with education momentum after completing Six Sigma….

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Weekly Retrospective....



What I’m reading:  The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone

What I’m listening to:  Stacking Benjamins podcasts....

What I’m working on1H2018 Summary and 2H2018 Goals….

Where I’m succeeding: My ‘Dad Game’ (thanks, Lars) ….

What I’m grateful for: Family ….

Quote that has me thinkingIf you’re not failing, you’re not pushing your limits, and if you’re not pushing your limits, you’re not maximizing your potential.” – Ray Dalio

What I’m excited aboutThe second half of this year….

What I’ve been pondering: Starting a non-profit ….

Friday, June 29, 2018

Nostradamus and Tattoos.....



I recently read about AGX stock and how it was trading at less than $35 a share, after being valued at almost twice that a year ago. So I went out last week and bought some. Much to my surprise, it’s up more than 15% this week. I’ll be buying more on Monday….




And while walking the beach this past week, I observed a lot of tattoos; some really cool, some not so much….and I even got multiple compliments on my dog tags tattoo. However, my favorite one said the following:

For Those I Love, I Sacrifice

Well said….

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Grant Cardone quote....


Hahaha….love this one (so will you, Paul)…

“You sleep like you’re rich. I’m up like I’m broke.” – Grant Cardone



Fishing Trip....


Our catch on the left (along with some fresh to the market shrimp), combined with grits and baked potatoes made for an excellent homemade dinner….



Thursday, June 21, 2018

Workout Tips...


Some reminders for those of you, like me, who are trying to stay in shape as we get a little bit older….

·       Machines over free weights: For larger muscle groups, like back, legs and chest, move to machines to avoid joint problems that arise from stability issues free weights can create

·       Use your body: Make the most of bodyweight exercises, which also develop more of your stabilizer muscles (see previous bullet point) – planks, pushups, pullups, lunges, etc. are great to begin with


·       Time under tension: Keep the targeted muscles under tension longer to get the desired results

·       Walk: Nothing burns more fat calories without potential muscle loss than a simple walk


·       Strict form: Nothing derails progress like an injury – better to lighten the load with good form than risk being out of the game due to nursing avoidable muscle trauma

·       Stay hydrated: Muscle is 70% water, so drink plenty of water to power your workouts


·       Diet: Get plenty of protein and good fats, and increase your carbs on workout days (required to transport protein to your muscles)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Roth IRA versus Traditional IRA…




I was talking to a friend today about the differences between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA and which one each of us preferred. You can invest $5,500 into each one every year ($6,500 after the age of 50). An Individual Retirement Account, or I.R.A., is an account set up with a financial institution that allows you to save for retirement with tax-free growth in a tax-deferred account.

The main benefit of the traditional IRA is that you can deduct taxes for your annual contributions (an annual savings of around $1,320 if you’re in the 24% bracket I am in, or $1,560 after the age of 50). The account then grows tax-free until you start making withdrawals in retirement.

For the Roth IRA, you cannot deduct taxes on the contribution each year, but the account also grows tax-free and you do not have to pay any taxes when you draw on the account in retirement (an added benefit is that you can withdraw contributions without paying a penalty before the age of 59-1/2).

Due to eliminating debt and being able to live on less income when I decide to retire, I am going for the tax write off at 24% now, while hoping to stay in the 12% tax bracket in retirement, meaning I’ll withdraw money being paid from from a higher tax bracket now at a lower rate in the future. However, for folks in a lower tax bracket, and especially those not paying any taxes, a Roth is likely the better choice.

Of course, tax laws and situations change, but for now, this seems like the smart choice for me…

Sunday, June 17, 2018

2017 Financial Retrospective....



I started down the path of F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence, Retire Early) at the beginning of 2017 after years of only halfway committing to this lifestyle. Fortunately, after spending our first several married years in the military accumulating debt, we immediately started setting aside a portion of our pay after entering the civilian world, which gave us a leg up on retirement, despite continuing down the normal American path of consumer debt. So, this past year, with our oldest having graduated nursing school and our youngest graduating high school, my wife and I decided to go all out for 12 months to eliminate all our debt and set ourselves up for a better future. And we made it, house and all, in only 10-1/2 months. Additionally, we continued to make our regular investments, dramatically increasing contributions the last month of the year thanks to having no debt at that time. The full breakdown (100%) of our net worth increase (28% overall) in 2017 follows:

·       Main retirement account: 48% (it was a good year for the stock market)
·       Debt elimination (house and all): 36%
·       Personal/company investment contributions: 17%
·       Home value: 7%
·       Personal savings: -8%

Full disclosure: Part of our commitment to getting out of debt meant that we cashed in all of our (non-retirement) savings except for $1,000 and threw it at our debt last January. And while we made up the majority of that by the end of the year, we still ended up a tad short.

While 2018 has started off a bit slower due to the stock market being shaky, prepaying insurance (great discounts for doing so) and paying for a wedding, living without debt opens the door for huge increases in savings/investments, along with opportunities to find tax shelters for our money (FSA for the family and 403 (b) for the wife).

See previous posts on what we did to accomplish this goal, as well as asking any questions you might have.