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Getting Started: The First Steps to Taking Your Life Back

Introduction

Welcome to angryfatcouple.com. We are glad that you have decided to spend some of your valuable time with us today. This will be an introduction into the details of our site and what you can expect from us. Now, a little bit about who we are.

We are a husband and wife team with a teenage daughter. We are both in our mid-thirties and not happy with where we are in life. A plethora of bad decisions, accidents, and various job lay-offs got us here-mountains of debt, overweight, and spiraling out of control. Instead of enjoying life, it seems life is happening to us and we are always responding.

Throughout this site you will find ways that we have used (successfully and unsuccessfully) to help shed some light at the end of the tunnel. We are striving each day to improve our situation more, and it is our desire that you may benefit from our experience as well. However, this is a two-way street: please share your story. Anonymously if you so desire, but let us know what works for you, what doesn’t, what you have tried, etc.

Getting Started

Photo attribution: Tonyhom0727

Photo attribution: Tonyhom0727

Take and Honest Assessment

Before you can see where you are going, you have to know where you are starting. While painful, this is the starting point for your success. Just remember, it took a while to get into the shape that you are in-it will take a while to get out. The way that we started was just with old fashioned pen and paper. If you are the sole decision maker (single) you can do this alone. If a couple (which is what most of our site will be geared toward), then each of you must sit down and work through these areas together. It can be emotionally draining, so we recommend doing no more that one area day, preferably just a couple in a week.

Health

red-30141_640It should go without saying that this is the most important aspect we will discuss. Without good health, the other items on our list (paying down debt, being more productive, having better relationships) could be even more difficult. Start with the following questions:

 

  • -How well do you feel each day? Rested? Energized? Tired and groggy?
  • -Are you short of breath often? -Unexplained aches and pains?

Anything health related place on this note. Be completely honest, and list everything that you see or feel that you need to improve on.

 

Relationships

love-313417_640

If you are in a relationship, it is imperative that you get on the same ground. If you are not in a relationship, find an accountability partner. This can be a parent, sibling, other family member, pastor-anyone who will help you develop a plan and then assess your progress.

Nothing is more frustrating than two people trying to work together who are going in opposite directions. Sit down with you significant other and get it all on the table. Be sure to give each other time without interruptions to express needs/desires.

  • -Make sure to allow time for each other. Even if it is just a few minutes, have some time each day for conversation and intimacy.
  • -Have individual goals as well as goals as a couple. Remember, it doesn’t count if it is not written down.

Bills

Photo attribution:  Alchimista

Photo attribution: Alchimista

Financial pressure is the number one cause of relationship problems (and divorce). Start today by recording each bill as it comes in on a list. How much total debt are you facing? If you just pay the minimum each month, how long till your are debt free? What are you largest expenses? Where can you make adjustments if needed? Again, be completely honest with yourself and each other.

 

  • Just imagine with me for a moment, what could you do if you had no debt and only utility/food expenses?
  • How much could you give away to make a difference in someone else’s life?

 

 Productivity

Often overlooked, productivity is an area we can all improve on. How much time could you gain with just a few minor adjustments? What are your biggest time wasters? Are you just wondering through each day on autopilot and not enjoying the little moments in life?

  • -Do you have a morning routine that empowers you to tackle your day?
  • -Do you know what your most important task is both at home and at work for the day?
  • -Are you making progress toward your life goals at least weekly?

Tools

Just like any skilled craftsman needs a proper set of tools to complete their work, you will need a set of various tools to help you take your life back and regain control. Being on a budget, we will keep all of tools at either free, or very low cost. Eventually, we will have post on our use and workflow for each of the following tools, but until then be sure to use each of their help files and videos to learn how to use them efficiently.

Health/Weight loss

MyFitnessPal

This app/web interface is the most important tool in our weight loss arsenal. For a more detailed look at the app and how we use it, see this post. -Home Exercises In the beginning, keep it extremely simple. One thing that we have seen happen to others (and it happened to us as well) is a burning desire causing burn out quickly. We started off several times with 3-5 two hour workouts each week. We had great success……for about three weeks and then it faded away each time. Better, more consistent success has come from a short, 30 minute max, workout six days a week.

Relationships

Finding the right tools to improve your relationships is a little trickier than the rest. The value of and improvement of a relationship is hard to quantify. First of all, time is currency. In order to nurture and grow a relationship you must spend time on it. Therefore, one of the most important tools is the calendar.

Calendar

Several options are available for you to use as a calendar, and we love anything that syncs with Google calendar. Currently we use Calendars 5 on iOS, and Google calendar on the PC. Try to set a block of time each and every day on your calendar for each other, even if it is just 15 minutes. Then hold yourself to it. Make a pact with yourself that whatever goes on your calendar you will complete baring an emergency. If you frequently place items on your calendar and do not complete them, you will lose trust in yourself as well as the system.

Bills

In the beginning it is best to start on paper for all your bills. For the first 30 days, write each bill down as it comes in along with the minimum amount that has to be paid. This includes any collections that may come along, with a plan you will be able to pay those as well. Once you have a good idea of what your outgo is, then you can start using one of the following:

Spreadsheet

If you are fortunate enough to have the Cadillac of spreadsheets and use Excel, then that is a great option. Otherwise, there are many free alternatives that work well including OpenOffice and Google Docs.

Third Party Software

Many options exist in this category, such as Quicken, but honestly unless you have a very complicated investment strategy we can not recommend this option. You will get lots of bells and whistles, but in the beginning you really need simplicity. If you feel you would be better with one though, try to find one that has a free 30 day trial before you purchase.

Apps

We will link to our favorite apps on iOS and Android in this section once we have them ready.

Productivity

Lastly, you will need to get a system in place to help you be more productive, save you time, and show you where you should place your focus next.
Calendar

As with the relationship tools, you will need a calendar in order to really ramp up your production. Use of the previous examples works well for us in this circumstance too.

Tasks Manager

Many task management options are available, but we love Omnifocus for iOS, or Remember the Milk for PC. You really need to find something that works for you that will allow you to have project (such as building a house start to finish) as well as context options (at grocery store, next time I talk to the boss, while at the computer, etc.). This will allow you to focus on what you need to do to move a project forward, or let you see what you could be working on based on location.

Timer

A good time is necessary to see where you are spending your time. Usually you only need to run it for a couple weeks to see your typical patterns, but you will need to run it 24/7 and log every activity. We found that we were spending more time on TV/Social media than we spent at work each week! That was a kick in the gut.  We use and recommend Toggl.

In Conclusion

There is no better time to start than now. Pick one of the actions above and get to work on it. It is scary at first, and can be somewhat daunting, but hang in there and you will see your own personal plan slowly start to evolve. We chose to focus on the health and relationship categories first and that seemed to lessen the resistance when it came time to face the music in the others.

As always, please stay in touch and let us know if any of this has helped and where you are in your journey. Have a great day!

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