Saturday, August 27, 2016

Blue Suede Shoes

One thing I have learned over the years is...time changes a lot of things.  My idea of what to spend my money on has changed greatly over the past few years.  I considered myself very frugal when it came to spending.  We never went on vacation or to the movies.  Being in the military, I've been to several different places around America and the world.  I never spent too much money on clothes either.  I've never been really interested in showing off with regards to money.  After all, my kids and wife love me...what would having luxury clothes do for me?

Back in January 2015 I decided to lease an electric Smart Car.  I would have never thought in my lifetime I would have bought or leased a new car.  However, after much consideration, analysis and wonderful incentives I pulled the trigger.  I couldn't be happier with my decision.  I thought I enjoyed wrenching on cars, however the truth is...I don't.  I did like fixing problems, but they take away time I could be spending on things I enjoy more.

I have been watching a YouTube channel Real Men Real Style.  Much like the Art of Manliness, it provides a great deal of good information for men.  In fact, this is why I decided to write a post about shoes.

I typically have worn loafers to work.  My father worn loafers to work and he was a very practical man.  Although, I must say he wasn't really interested in style or spending money on clothes.  This was the same with the cars he purchased as well. Naturally, I gravitated toward wearing some of the same clothes as my father, but not quite so dorky.  Don't get me wrong, I can be quite the dork...but I try and keep it on the DL.  The Skechers Examiner is one of the shoes I have worn sense 2008.  It's simple, inexpensive, and I felt it had a decent appearance.
However, something I did notice is people pay attention to the full body.  It's human nature...we cannot help but look people up and down and make judgments on them.  Regardless if intentional, it happens.  When a man dresses very well and then wears a cheap pair of shoes, it really is sending a signal of...well, they almost got it right.  Some people can pull of wearing shoes that do not belong with a certain outfit.  Jerry Seinfield is one such person.  However, he is certainly one of the only people who can pull of the snickers with a sports coat.

So, I began to think...why am I still wearing these cheap shoes after 8 years?  I've had to purchase new shoes on an annual basis.  Sometimes I'd buy two of the same shoes knowing they would go bad after 6 months to a year.  After they go bad, I'd use them to cut the grass or something.  After watching RMRS talk about the 4 o 5 different types of shoes and what they are to be used for...I began to wonder whether I should look into purchasing a quality set of shoes.

From a financial standpoint does it make sense?  You can only wear one pair of shoes at a time.  This is a fact.  I have always found getting the right shoe to be quite difficult.  I have very wide feet and thus I do not fall within the standard deviation of shoe sizes.  This means I typically have to wear the next size up, to make the shoe comfortable to wear.  I have never purchased custom shoes or shoes made specific for my shoe size.  I'd typically wear anything from a size 9.5 to 10.  However, after going to Allen Edmonds the shoe saleman shared with me my size is a 8.5 EEE.  You can't get any wider than this.  It took about two sets of shoes to get the right size.  They didn't have the shoe I wanted in stock.

I am going with the Cody Tassel Loafers.  They are very expensive compared to my $50 Skechers Examiner.  However, they are repairable.  I like the idea my shoes are not just throw away.  When the salesman had me finally put the correct shoe size on it made me smile.  It felt good to wear a shoe specific for my foot.  The quality of the materials was instantly noticeable.  The shoe costs $400 and I am expecting to have them last 10 years or more.  I will more than likely have to have them repaired one time over the course of this time.  If I meet my goal, the cost is only $55 per year before taxes ($400 + $150 / 10).  I'm certain I'll more than likely never purchase another pair of Skechers again.  The company does make some dress shoes as cheap as $199, however most of the shoes are $250 - $400.  Being a cost analyst has changed my perception on how much things actually cost.  You really need to take a look a many factors including the life-cycle costs of a poor quality shoe. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My candid interview with Donald Trump

I've been a fan of Donald Trump probably since 2003 when I started reading many financial books while going to Wright State University.  Most of my attention was on Real Estate investing and the stock market.  So, I logically picked Trump and Warren Buffett as my mentors.  The interview began because Trump and I became friends pretty much after I read the Art of the Deal much like all red blooded Americans.  I've read The America We Deserve and Think Big and Kick A$$ to name a few others.  I enjoyed watching the Apprentice and thought it was an entertaining and educational show.  However, I did have a falling out with Trump a few years ago.  I cannot remember the exact reason, however I'm sure it had to do with some of his outlandish comments on Fox News.  Everything up until then seemed somewhat reasonable.

My interview with Mr. Trump took place in one of his cars (I believe it was a Lincoln). Trump was driving and Ivanka Trump was in the passenger seat.  I was in the back seat asking questions.  (Full disclosure much like Yahoo! News articles that suck you in with their title and after reading you feel empty and ticked off.  This interview took place in my dream last night, but I felt it was news worthy)

I admit during some of the interview I found myself staring at Ivanka and Trump's magical hair.  Seemed I wasn't paying attention to what Trump had to say (Still working on my dream controlling abilities).   As I'm interviewing Trump I did find it odd he was driving.  I would have thought we'd all be in the back of his Limo, but perhaps he was just showing me he was a normal person just like you and me.

My first question..."Mr. Trump if you are serious about running for president, why didn't you run for Governor of New York."  I thought it was a valid question.  After all Ronald Reagan was an actor, but at least he was developed into a real politician and showed he could govern a real state.  Which begs to question, why more governors aren't running for President.  Serving in the Military and governing a state are two qualifications most Americans could probably agree as important steps in becoming President.  To become commander in chief it is logical to have some military background.  Obviously more important than both of those qualification is popularity, which always goes in the toilet after elected.

Trump seemed to act normal to all of my questions as he did in his books.  Unfortunately, I cannot recall any of his responses to my many questions.  I woke up energized by my dream and it turned out to be a pretty good day.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cost Analyst's guide to weight loss

Folks, I did it.  I cracked the code to weight loss.  I've been struggling with my weight for quite some time now.  It has been over the past 7 years where it has been the most difficult times.  Going up and down in weight trying several fad diets such as Atkins diet which were very painful.

I decided back in December of last year to start losing weight.  I weighed in at 212 pounds when I started a year ago.  I am now down to 200.2 pounds.  It hasn't been until recently where I have started noticing a break thru.  I recorded most of my progress via a video, but haven't decided when i was going to get around to post the videos.  They were of me and my youngest son Arthur.

So, the secret to losing weight is consuming less calories than you burn.  Of course everyone knows this right.  However, any diets I've tried to go on seem like they are really expensive.  Until now!

I began my weight loss plan by simply starting to exercise.  I exercised everyday without changing my diet.  I got on the treadmill and walked about 1 hour a day.  I would increase the incline and speed, but continued to eat a ton.  I did managed to lose about 5-7 pounds. over the course a a few months, but then really struggled to gain any traction after this.  I recently moved to Utah in September and was eating out every day.  I'm not certain where my weight went from there, but I purchased a Total Gym.  The same system Chuck Norris has used for quite some time.  Good enough for Chuck...good enough for me.  Anyways it costs like $225 at Walmart.  I would label it the most cost effective training equipment and have used it with better results than walking on a treadmill.

My diet has been really poor until about a month ago when I thought to myself, I have to supplement my diet at work rather than eat chips and snacks from the Snacko.  But many diet stuff is expensive.  I found Equate ultra weight loss shake and it is great.  At $9.95 for a 12 pack that is less than $1 per meal.  I will drink either two or three cans throughout the day totaling 360 or 520 calories.  For dinner I eat whatever my wife makes.  This has worked wonders.  I still get the occasional donuts, cookies or whatever at work probably only totaling 1000 calories.  This is seriously helping me keep my calorie intake to around 2k or less.  Previously it had to be over 2500-3k.

So there you have it.  Cheap meals, cheap exercise equipment.  A cost analyst's dream.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Car Comparisons and Mother Maintenance

One of your most difficult decisions besides choosing a life partner and buying a whether to continue to maintain your current car, or purchase a new one.  You should never throw good money after bad.  If you've owned cars for over 20 years, you've probably run into the problem of spending money to fix your car, only to find out that it needs additional repairs soon after you've taken it to the maintenance shop.  Worse is if you do something as simple as get your oil change and all of a sudden something seems wrong with your car, your baby...what did they do to it!

Whether you've owned your car for 15 years, or you've slaved way working tirelessly making your used car new can be difficult to let go.  Cars much like pets can create an emotional attachment.  After all, you could be spending hours with your car each and everyday.  A car is your instrument of freedom.  Some people name their my Dodge Neon was the Red Dragon.

In my previous article I wrote how far cars have come in safety.  Just look at this crash test that was done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) comparing what many would believe is a seemingly safe "Chevy boat" car get crushed by a 2009 Chevy Midsize Malibu.
It is quite amazing how much safer cars have gotten over the years.  I believe these crash tests are making a difference in safety.  With the introduction of the new small overlap crash test, many car companies made changes within a one or two years to correct a serious flaw in design.

However, this blog is about Financial Freedom.  The real question is, should I sell a 15 year old car that is paid for and is starting to have some minor annoyances, or should I bite the bullet and buy a new or used car.

The reason why I bring up safety is because it is a big concern for me.  It wasn't ever really on my mind before.  However, I have four kids now...and sometimes it takes me a while to get wise in my way of doing things.  Not everything is black and white.  Life has a lot of gray areas that certainly do not weigh in financially.

To give an example, let's take a 2000 Honda Accord 4 door with 180k miles on it.  The car has a few problems such as an intermittant a/c unit that is probably a function of some electronics.  Can it be fixed easily without paying $400?  Perhaps a work around exists.  Check out this video:

It worked on this Toyota...will it work on the 2000 Honda Accord?  Well, send a message to Scotty Kilmer and find out.  The waterpump and timing belt will need to be replaced in another 20k miles.  That will cost around $900.  A new exhaust system may be needed over the next 5 years would probably cost around $1000.  New shocks and struts would probably cost around $800-$1000.  A new altenator may be needed as well.  That could cost around $500.

Best case scenario you'll need only $2000 in maintenance cost.  More likely scenario is probably around $3000.  Worst case maybe $5000 if a transmission or engine problems occur. 

According to KBB a 2000 Honda Accord LX with a in value in Good Condition is worth 1K.  Would a dealer offer more for the car?  Maybe if they are looking to push cars.  At 250,000 the car goes down to $866.  So, depreciation isn't really a concern.

Let's say you keep the car for 5 more years and only spend $2,000 in repairs over the 5 years and now your car is worth around $1,000.  No real change in value.  Gas mileage probably will improve slightly if you get a new car.  It may even get worse if you purchase something bigger like a van.  Being a wise financial manager, you probably aren't concerned about 0-60 times.  Therefore the only limiting factor is safety.  IIHS does comprehensive safety tests on a variety of vehicles.  However, many older vehicles such as a 2000 Accord are not shown.  However, equivalent cars are able to show the difference in crash rating.  Look at the 2004 Accord in a side impact test.

It was rated poor in this crash test without an airbag, but Good with an airbag.  The 2000 model doesn't have an airbag.  People will say to me...but Gary, you drive a Smart car.  That's a death trap.  Well, you can look at the crash tests on a 2008 which isn't nearly as safe as my 2015 model that includes additional knee airbags and modifications have been made to the airbags in 2011 and 2012.  The 2016 model which is redesigned will be even safer.  Being small has several advantages in simply crash avoidance.  In the instance of a side impact the car will hit either the front or rear axle unlike what you see in the Honda Accord which takes the full impact into the B pillar.  More importantly, I won't risk the lives of my children.

I did purchase a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan.  Although for the driver the small overlap did get a poor rating due to hip/thigh and lower leg/foot is leaps safer than my 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan that received a marginal rating on the most basic moderate overlap crash test.  I do not feel that the 2014 Grand Caravan puts my children at risk.

The 2013 Accord coupe got only an acceptable rating on the new very stringent small overlap crash test, but by 2015 it got the coveted good rating.  The 2013 Accord sedan received good rating overall.  The Honda Odyseey has received good ratings since 1999, however limited testing was done until 2005 where head restraints and seats showed marginal ratings.  This was corrected in 2008.  The small overlap crash test for 2014 passed with good ratings and they added front crash prevention safety features for the first time on the Odyseey.  The biggest downfall to all minivans is the bloated price tag.

Bottom line:

If someone would allow you to trade in your 2000 Honda Accord and receive $3500 on that trade, for purchasing a 2013 Honda Accord with less than 20000 miles for $19000 meaning you'd being paying $15,500 and be able to drive that car for another 15 years or about $1000 miles per year.  It would save you the up to $1500 in maintenance costs to extend the life of the vehicle and more importantly...have piece of mind that your vehicle has all of the latest safety features.  You could purchase a new 2015 for around $23k before trade and love your new car from birth until another 15 to 20 years down the road.  One small additional advantage is 27 city/36 hwy mpg verse 25/31.  Probably not a huge consideration to the purchase, but it is about a 10% combined increase in fuel efficiency. 

The morale to the story is, you'll probably end up paying about $2-5k over the next 5 years regardless of whether you keep your old car, or purchase a new model.  Yes, you could save $1-2k over the 5 years by keeping the old car.  The more important question is do you love your car, feel safe driving it and more importantly do you have a honest mechanic that will look after your car if it has troubles?  After all, if someone wouldn't have crashed into my 91 Dodge Monaco I would be still driving that baby today. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Big Gains in Car Safety

Two years makes a huge difference in vehicle safety.  Ever since the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) started doing the small overlap test, car companies have redesigned their car safety to make certain cars were built better.

The Honda Fit is a clear example of how just a few years it improved it's vehicle rating from 2011 through 2015.  The 2011 model did poorly in the small overlap crash test and had acceptable roof strength.  By 2015 the small overlap test is acceptable and all other categories are good.  The roof strength went from 3.29 in 2011 to over 6 times the vehicle weight.  That's impressive.

My Dodge Neon that I had in 1996 and another car in 2000 did very poorly in all the crash tests.  It received a marginal rating for the moderate overlap test compared to my 1996.  Compare this to the new Dodge Dart which receives good ratings overall much like the Honda Fit.  However, the roof rating is almost at 5 times the vehicle weight.  Granted, the Dart does weigh significantly more than the Honda Fit.

Probably the worst car on the road is the Mazda 5 for safety?  Why?  Well, because it's supposed to be a minivan like vehicle.  It's one thing to get a poor rating on the small overlap test.  Many vans did poorly on that test.  However, to get a marginal rating on side impact is unacceptable.  Even though many vans do poorly on the small overlap test, this doesn't mean that the rear occupants aren't safe.  To me, those are the most important people in the vehicle.

Two other cars that did poorly on crash testing by the IIHS are the Kia Rio and Chevy Aveo.  Like I said above, many improvements occurred through 2012 through 2015.  Forunately, Chevy stopped producing the Aveo.  Just look at the safety ratings and then think about your old Cavalier.  People don't truly know what a death trap is these days.  I get comments about my Smart ForTwo being a death trap.  Folks who drive trucks probably think their vehicles are safe, such as a Dodge Dakota.  However, check out the safety ratings.  They are poor.  It will be a great day in automotive history when the number of deaths becomes close to 0.  Of course, we will all be driving electric cars and finally have clean air which for some reason people aren't very excited about.  Perhaps because they can't understand what it would be like to have truly clean air. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lease vs. Buy...Electric cars have changed the rules

Total Ownership costs for new cars are coming down.  Most websites do a lousy job in regards to the all new Electric cars.  You don't have to be a cost analyst to see the benefits, because I am one...I'll show you the truth.

I've been driving a Smart ForTwo Electric since January, and it's been a real joy.  I haven't enjoyed driving this much since my 91 Dodge Monaco.  That was over 16 years ago.  When it comes to electric cars, a great deal of misinformation has appeared.  Mainly due to ignorance and other factors such as making reviews on cars they don't actually drive everyday.  Plus the whole eMPG is just plain ridiculous.  What they should be touting is mpKwH or miles per kilowatt hour.  This is much meaningful rather than the stupid eMPG (electric Miles per Gallon).  But, I wouldn't stop there...for the Smart EV, I'd add another number to the mpKWH.  I'd add the cost per 100 miles @ .11 per KWH.  This will give people a better understanding of how superior electric cars are.  Since my car on average is getting 3.8 mpkwh I am paying $0.029 per mile or $2.89 per 100 miles.  Unlike gas prices, this price will stay constant for the year.

Now, before I get started...if you live in Minnesota, North Dakota, Alaska or Maine...well electric cars are not for you at this time.  I'd say only 10 states EV doesn't make any sense.  If you need to drive on the Interstate, the Smart EV is probably not very smart.  State routes where the speed limit is 55 is fine. 

Visiting Kelley Blue Book website they list the top vehicles by class 5 year total ownership.  Electric cars should be on the top of the list, but they aren't.  Why?  You'd have to ask them where they got their depreciation number from.  For example, they list the Smart ForTwo Electric vehicle at 5 year total ownership costs at $26,825.  They list the gas version on the Smart car at $27,102.  However, the top car listed on their website is the Nissan Versa S coming in at $24,392.  These costs assume you drive 15000 per year.  Who does that?  Not me.  Depreciation for the Smart EV KBB put just over $20k???  Something is malfunctioning.

The KBB website doesn't take into account monthly payments, but rather uses depreciation to show how much it is costing you to own the vehicle, which is kind of misleading, but we can go with this.

I adjusted the miles to 50000 since the Smart EV lease is only 10000 per year.  If you are driving more than 10000 either you only have one car, or you live too far from work.  Much like range anxiety (not knowing all the data), people may have mileage anxiety (will I use more than my lease).  Sure it can scare people when "Limits" are put in place.  However, if you do some analysis you'll quickly realize many of these assumptions that you perceive are completely faulty.  For example, I live 8.1 miles from work, I can round to 10 in case I go somewhere to lunch.  That's 20 miles per day.  I pass many major restaurants, stores on my way to and from work if I need to pick something up.  If I total up the miles 20 x 5 x 52 = 5200 miles per year.  Obviously I do drive on the weekends, so you can figure out how much you typically drive.  On average I drive about 500 miles per month, which isn't even close to breaking 10k.

The Nissan Versa cost the following with 1853.40 down @ 2.48% APR for 60 months
Nissan Versa
$5,857 fuel
$3,220 Insurance
$648 Financing
$1,067 State fees
$2,388 Maintenance
$2,046 Repairs
$5,481 Depreciation
$20,707 Total 5 year ownership costs

This information is from actual data I have collected based on my experiences thus far.
Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
$1,447.37 Fuel @ .11 per kwh
$2,940 Insurance
$1,853.4 Initial Payment including state fees
$1,853.4 Second Initial payment including state fees
$9,117.27 Payment $85.4 per month battery and $69.13 per month car lease, which includes depreciation
$495.00 Turn in cost
$17,706.44 Total 5 year ownership costs

Difference of $3000.56 in favor of the Smart Electric Drive.  Personally, I don't believe my second initial payment will be that high, however to be conservative I left it alone.  Why is the lease an even better deal?  Well, you get a new 2018 model with all the technological advances, where the person who bought the Nissan Versa still has that boring 2015 model.

What else does this not include?  How about free fuel for the Smart EV?  In Dayton, OH there are 20 electric chargers free to use thanks to DP&L potentially violating the Clean Air Act.  I could charge my car at work for about 1 hour during lunch on the 240 volt charger and pay for half of my daily commute.  My 3.8 mpkwh is based on winter driving thus far.  I would assume my fuel efficiency will go up during the Spring, Summer and Fall.

What about safety?  Well check out the IIHS Crash tests on the Nissan Versa.  In the small overlap test it did poorly.  Model year makes a big difference.  If you look at the Honda Fit in 2013 it did poorly in the small overlap test, but the 2015 model did acceptable.

The Smart EV monthly payments comes to $154.53 per month vs. $210 per month.

Purchase price of $11,917 for the Nissan + $825 Destination fee, tax & license fees $934 costing $13,676 with the $1,853 down payment and 2.48% interest (data from KBB).  It assumes a manual transmission, basic model.

Is the Smart car cheaper to own and operate than the 2000 Dodge Neon that I sold (miss you, xoxo)?  Probably I cannot drive the Smart EV on business trips.  The safety ratings were just down right horrible on the Neon.  Neon Moderate Overlap test was marginal.  Neon side crash test for 2005 was poor vs. Smart EV with 8 airbags is good.

2008 model - Improvements have been made since then, however it received a good rating in each category.

Moderate overlap - Smart EV
Side crash - Smart EV
Roof Strength - Smart EV

Feel free to comment below, and criticize if you think I made some errors.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Making money with Youtube

It's been a long time since my last real post.  I've been spending a great deal of my time taking care of my four kids, rental properties, work, house projects, watching TV, and making videos.  There isn't a day that has gone by that I could say I was bored.  After all, bored people are boring people.

This topic is on making money with YouTube.  I've been using YouTube since 2012, and really never thought much about it.  I didn't quite understand what it was all about besides watching cool shows or learning how to do things from others.  Had I known people were making big $ on YouTube by putting videos online I'd probably would have started this a long time ago.

I've been using Google Adsense for the whole blog stuff, and I've gotten revenues of $81.50, however you need $100 in order to get that first check.  So, I'm almost there...but I basically quit writing cause it was like equating to $0.53 cents per post since I have over 153 posts to date.  Not that it's all about the money, but I enjoy making videos more than writing.  Plus there is a lot more to learn from making videos such as editing, using cool software to make aftereffects, green screens etc.  Where as writing is just that...writing.  I'll never get really good at writing anyways, because it isn't my passion.

So, I've started a new series on making money on Youtube.  Here is my first video.  This particular series is focused around music.  I do enjoy music, even though I'm not the greatest at doing it.  It is enjoyable for me and my family.

So, go ahead and watch the video.  Perhaps you can learn something.  Don't forget to subscribe, like and comment.  I'll get back with you for sure.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The King 2.0

I've spent most of my time over the past year doing various projects.  I've been creating how-to-videos among other things.  Coming up with a good work life balance, and helping take care of four kids is no easy task.  I've also closed a chapter in my life which is performing as Elvis.  It is a ton of work and costs a lot of money.

Here is a sample.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Death of the Retail Salesperson

Happy New Year!

I haven't written on this blog in quite a while, and felt that I should post a message or two.  Isn't technology great?  Well, it is great unless you want to keep your old job.  They call it an old job for a reason, because eventually it may become obsolete.  Unlike planned obsolescence that runs in many of our current consumer products, technology advances to rid corporations or government agencies jobs by creating efficiencies can be both beneficial and detrimental at the same time.

Why do I think retail salespeople are next on the chopping block?  Well, because of the Internet and namely Youtube, there isn't really much need for these people anymore.  I used to shop at the local Autozone and hope to get some advice on how to fix something that went wrong with my car.  The help was spotty at best, but it was the best you could hope for 10 to 15 years ago.  The Internet allows you to go to forums and Youtube to watch videos and get information on how to fix almost anything.  Plus their are product demos and recommendations all over the web.  I'd rather learn from Scotty Kilmer on how to fix something who has been a mechanic for over 46 years than some kid at the auto parts store that may be having a bad day.  With Scotty, you know he'll be always in a good mood and you can watch him over and over again without him getting upset or worse waiting in line for some other knucklehead.

Scotty Kilmer

Not only that, but big warehouses like allows people to purchase all sorts of products at very competitive prices.  For example, I can buy a strut from Amazon for around $52 for the same part that costs me $100 at the local retail store.  Obviously you should pay more money to get something immediately, but I'm not willing to pay two times more money for that part.  Plus with struts you might need to replace all four.  This would be over $200 in savings.  It is much cheaper for Amazon to pay someone to stock inventory than to learn all about car parts and how to troubleshoot customer's car problems.  I know Best Buy has run into similar problems where people would test out products at Best Buy only to buy the same product from an online retailer.  

To put a nail in the coffin, many retailers fired there knowledgeable workers (maybe they retired).  I remember I used to go to Home Depot and Lowes to get all sorts of help.  Now, it seems I would be lucky if someone can tell me where something is.  Because the Affordable Care Act has been passed, and battle for higher wages looms, I'm certain that many retail and fast food will rely more on technology to rid themselves of workers.  It won't be long before the death of the cashier occurs.  If we ever go to a cashless society then this person will be out of a job as well.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Health update #12 Milestone

So, I have finally broken a huge milestone in my quest for better health.  Well, better body weight anyways.  I just weighed myself in at the usual day/time that I always do.  And the scale was at 179 pounds.  That is a 31 pound weight loss since I first started exercising and eating less since July.  Some people find it hard to believe that I lost that much weight.  Almost a 15% reduction in body weight.

I'm pretty happy with the results, but it of course hasn't been easy.  I really didn't lose any weight for the first month of exercising everyday.  Then it was a steady decline until I got to around 186 pounds.  I wasn't losing weight for like a month, then finally started to lose a pound a week for 3 weeks.  Then I was stuck around 183-84...until a few weeks ago when I was very ill.  I had the flu and was out for about 7 days and then had sinus problems for another week.  I didn't eat anything, but I did stop exercising as well.  This week has been the first week that I have exercised in about 3 weeks.  So, although I felt like I was on my death bed, I have managed to lose 4-5 pounds.

I still have a ways to go.  I am hoping to get down to around 170.  I'll keep you posted.