Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh Costco, How I Do Love Thee

One of my dear friends wrote a blog post this morning about Costco.  I started replying, but once my husband commented, "What are you doing?  Writing a book?"  I decided to write my own post.  :)

Costco is my most favoritest store on earth :)  My first experience was in 1984, when they opened their second store in Portland, Oregon, and until the past couple of years, I have been a steady and faithful member and shopper.  It is only because of moving FAR from any C. that keeps me away now.

I remember the first time my sister and I went to do the grocery shopping alone, and when we got to the checkout we said, "Yeah!  We can spend $200, too!"  That was kind of the family joke about how much my mom always spent.  That was probably a fair estimate of how much I spent regularly once I had my own family, but it wasn't weekly.

I usually lived at least an hour away from Costco, so it was usually a once-a-month shopping trip, and we mostly stuck to the basic necessities.  But, like you, I know we succumbed frequently to something new or different.
I don't have records anymore of how much I spent there, but I do know that in later years especially, I definitely saved money by shopping there.  I had a couple "tricks" that helped me in that area.

First, I made a spreadsheet of all the grocery/household items that I normally keep on hand, and had columns for each store where I would normally shop.  I could then "fill in the blank" with the price at each location, either price per container, or per ounce/pound, etc.  I carried this master list with me at all times!  I could then compare prices at Costco with the regular prices in other stores to know if I was really getting a savings, as well as compare sales prices in the grocery store with C's basic price.  To this day I have a really hard time buying things like cheese in a grocery store, because I know it's about twice the price that C has. 

My other "trick" was to have a basic shopping list made out, that would cover our usual meals and keep us stocked up on all the stuff I needed on hand to change the menu occasionally.  It was for a month, and right before my shopping trip I could see how many whole chickens, bags of potatoes, #10 cans of green beans, olives, mushrooms, and tomatoes I needed, as well as the rest.  I had it divided into sections: baking needs (flour, sugar, spices, etc.), freezer, refrigerator, non-food (tp, pt, zip-lock bags, BATTERIES, etc), well, you understand.  I could then double check my cupboards for the essentials and make sure I bought them when I needed them, and where I knew I was saving money.

I also could hand out part of my list to the boys and send them to a section of the store with a cart and have them help with shopping.  Having extra hands does help :)  They knew we'd usually pick at least one thing to buy extra, whether it was something new to try, or an old favorite.

Costco's Food Court was also frequented by our family.  We could feed everyone for much less than two of us at a nice restaurant, and everyone liked it.  I once tried to estimate how many Costco hot dogs I've eaten in my lifetime.  I figured that I ate probably an average of one per month, for 20+ years.  I'll let you do the math :)

A few years ago I needed to purchase new glasses.  I checked the prices for exams, frames, and lenses at several locations, and even if I included the membership price as part of the cost for my glasses, it was still cheaper to go to Costco.

I have had probably hundreds (if not more) photos printed there, as well, and I don't remember a single complaint.  Once I finally joined the digital photo world, I loved that I could upload my photos at home, crop them or add borders or whatnot, and have my order ready at whatever store I would be at next.

The customer service is also wonderful, and I would compare it to that of Fred Meyer (where I worked for several years) and Nordstrom (where I shopped occasionally - from the clearance racks, naturally).

Costco is not only a wonderful place to shop, but it is also a great place to work.  No, I was never an official employee of Costco, but I worked at nearly all the stores in Oregon, as well as a couple in Washington, while working for different companies who were Special Event vendors.  I got to know some of the employees at a few of the stores, and it was always a pleasure to return a few months later for another Road Show.  My favorite stores were Hillsboro (the biggest Costco in the world!), Vancouver, and Clackamas (although, I always had a lot of jewelry stolen there).

If I lived near a Costco, and if I had money to spend :) I would definitely have a membership again.

Oh, and I didn't always spend $200 each time I shopped.  On at least one occasion I went in needing bananas and that is the only thing I came out with.  A whopping $0.97 spent.  I think that must be a record.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 8

It has been a week, and I've done my T-Tapp Basic workout 7 times.  Yes, I know that I should have done it 8 times, since this is the 8th day, but there's still a couple hours left in the day. :)  (Actually, I will be getting up and doing it once I'm done here.)

I'm not going to weigh or measure until the end of 30 days.  I don't feel my clothes getting looser yet.  I don't feel lighter.  But, my legs aren't hurting as much the past couple of days when I do the moves.  Maybe I'm not working as hard?  Could be.  Or else they're finally (hopefully) getting used to doing something productive after a long period of uselessness, which is not the fault of my legs, by any stretch of the imagination, but mine entirely.  ;)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 4

April 10 was the start of my 60-Day Challenge.  My short-term goal is to lose enough to get down a size (okay, to get where my jeans aren't bulging and stretching out in all the wrong places).  I have a few longer-term goals, though, and I'm really hoping that the next two months will give me a good jumpstart into them.

  1. Make exercise/activity a normal daily activity for me.  Except for a few seasons of volleyball and cross-country (Me a runner?  R-i-g-h-t) a century ago when I was in school, I just haven't led an active lifestyle.  I'm not getting any younger, and if I don't change my habits now, I'll regret it later.
  2. Get back to my pre-baby weight/size.  Or close to it.  That's about 3-4 sizes, and/or 40-50 pounds.  I don't anticipate this happening in just a couple months, obviously, but it's a realistic goal for the next year.  Or two.  As long as I am making progress and don't start going the other way, it will be good.
  3. Okay, remember that crack about me being a runner?  Well, I would like to eventually be able to run a 5k.  I don't care how fast I do it, but to get the stamina to run/jog/woggle (kind of a wriggly jog or joggly walk) continuously for that distance would be really awesome.  Also, when I do it, I want to do it barefoot.  

So anyway, I weighed and measured myself Tuesday morning and had hubby take pictures.  NOT happy with the numbers, and the view of me in super snug-fitting clothes wasn't too pretty either.  I'm going to spare all of you and not post those.  At least not now.  Once I have some noticeable progress, I'll reconsider.

How am I doing on the challenge?  I haven't changed my eating yet.  I'm not suddenly cutting out all sugar or drastically reducing my carbs, though I am trying to be good about limiting those to less than normal.  For me, I know that those are things I need to do, but my experience is that when I eliminate them and then decide to treat myself I binge and all the progress is quickly lost.  So this time around I'm not going to deny myself something if I really want it; I will just try to have a smaller serving or put it off a while and see if the desire passes.

I also started doing T-Tapp again.  I'm doing a Bootcamp first, which for me will be 14 days in a row and then every other day of the Basic (BWO) or Basic Plus Workout (B+).  I'm starting over with the Basic Instructional which takes about 20 minutes.  Tuesday I got it done in the morning, but the past two days it wasn't until right before bed.  It will probably be late tonight again.  I first did T-Tapp last fall, and this time around it is a LOT harder.  It could be because I'm bigger now, but I've also heard that the more you do it the harder it gets, because as you learn the workout you can start focusing more on your form.  Either way, my arms and legs were screaming at me to be done!  It's good that there are only 8 repetitions of each move.

The facebook group is doing just a 30-Day Challenge (and for any form of diet/exercise, not just T-Tapp), and so I will have to measure and take photos at that point, but I am going to do the whole 60 days just as if I were in the official contest.

Stay tuned!  And feel free to join me!

Monday, April 2, 2012

60 Day Challenge

About two months ago I wrote about my need to lose weight.  Sadly, I haven't done anything about it.  I gave up on my "mostly sugar-free" thing, because, dang it anyway, I love sugar!  Too much.  So hard to give up sweets.  Wouldn't be so hard if I had plenty of honey to substitute, but I don't.

Well, something is happening soon to get me going.  Again.  Running from April 10 to June 10 is T-Tapp's 2012 60-Day Challenge.  There are a few reasons for not joining officially, but many more reasons to join unofficially.  I'm hoping to write regularly about what I'm doing, to try and keep myself accountable.  Plus I'm in a great facebook group of friends who are all trying to lose as well.  Oh, and this isn't a challenge to lose weight, but to lose inches.  Because, really, isn't our size and how we fit into our clothes much more important than a number on a scale?