Monday, June 27, 2016

Post Camping Update

I committed to weighing in upon returning from my camping trip. I will keep this post small and to the point. Since my last weigh in on June 20th I have nearly lost a pound (0.8). This brings my total weight loss since starting this journey to six pounds. My current weight is 352 pounds even.

I am not going to pretend that I was doing my best on this camping trip. The main issue was that I was drinking quite a bit of soda. I did mix in water and as much La Croix as I could take though. I also tried to limit myself to one helping at meal times, but I must say, the food was so delicious that I did have seconds a couple times.

I was a bit more active than usual as one would expect on a camping trip. One either end of the trip you have set and tear down of the campsite. That is not very strenuous but can be more sweat inducing than working inside an air conditioned building.

I was concerned that I wouldn't lose any weight this time so when I stepped on the scale I was quite relieved and maybe a touch surprised. That being said, I need to focus on the goal ahead. 350 pounds is as close as it has been on this journey. Given the short amount of time until next weight in, I am skeptical that I will be able to achieve it.

I am leaving for my annual trip to Idaho to visit the folks this coming week. That might mess with my weigh in schedule. I think I will still be able to weigh in the 1st and if I do then my weigh in routine would be maintained. Check back soon for my next weigh in and hopefully more good news! Later my friends.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Point Of Clarification

I have had at least two of my friends kind of inquire about one of the things that I said in my last blog post. Also, I will be out camping on the day that I would ordinary weigh in so I won't be able to do it until I get back. I thought I would throw up this mini blog post in the meantime to clarify what I meant. Here is the paragraph in question.

"This weigh in, I know exactly why my results came in the way that they did. I ate out several times and on Father's day, we went out and saw a movie and enjoyed popcorn and a coke. I have mentioned several times in the past that I don't really like making excuses. I do believe that sometimes, you need to enjoy some small things in life. That is not an excuse to go nuts all the time and not do the right thing. But sometimes, it is nice to enjoy time with friends and family. Also, I do feel that this can recharge the body for the journey ahead."

They felt like it sounded like I was kind of endorsing overeating. I am glad that they brought this up as it made me realize that perhaps what I meant was not as clear as it should have been. But I think it is good to have an open and frank discussion even if people do not agree with me once I clarify my position, at least I can better define exactly what I meant.

So, first, obviously I did overeat to some extent or I would not have gained weight. Part of the problem was the frequency. I believe that we went out at restaurants maybe two or three times. I forget now exactly. To be clear, I am not saying that you should do that. What I was saying was, I think that it is good to go out and have a meal once in a while. Let me explain the reasons that I think that is a good thing and some of these are strictly from my experience.

1) Burnout: You have to be careful with this one. It is easy to use this as an excuse to not eat healthy. At the same time, from my own experience, if I stick steadfast to a set amount of calories day after day and never deviate from that plan, I will eventually burn out. I am not trying to use that as an excuse. It is just what I have observed happening to me.

2) Calorie Cycling: This is an interesting one to me. I have read some articles online that discuss calorie cycling. That is basically where, and I am probably butchering this explanation, if you stick to a set amount of calories all the time, your body adjusts to that and it actually makes it harder to lose weight. The recommendation is to vary your calorie consumption so that your body never has a chance to adjust to a set, defined number of calories being consumed. I can tell you that there have been multiple times in my previous weight loss journey where I would hit a plateau big time and just couldn't seem to move forward. This was at a time when I was sticking to a defined calorie plan fairly religiously. When I went started varying my calorie consumption it allowed me to break through that plateau and start to make progress again. This happened to me on at least two separate instances and I am not talking about small bumps in the road either. I mean like being stuck for months at a time being obsessive about calorie consumption and not seeing the needle move until I changed it up.

Again, I definitely over did it with regards to what I did wrong with the last weigh in. I did not mean to endorse what I did as justifiable. What I was trying to say was, I think it is good to go out and have a nice meal out with family once in a while. Everyone has to choose what is right for them. I did not mean that when you go out with family that you go nuts either. When my girls and I went to the movie we split a medium popcorn three ways and had probably 20 ounces or less of Coke. To me, that is not all that bad. The number of times that I had gone out was what cause me to gain weight and that was bad.

I hope that this post does not come across as me trying to defend my actions or anything like that. I truly love the friends that pointed this out to me. I know that they only have a desire to see me succeed. I value their input in my life. I only wanted to clarify because I think that, for those of us with a serious amount of weight to lose, it can be a daunting task. I do not think it is the end of the world to go to a restaurant once in a while.

That being said, my friend's point is that we should stop thinking of food in terms of reward. Certain holidays are even focused on food. Thanksgiving and Christmas being obvious examples. This is a great point and one that we need to consider. Youth sports teams win a game and what happens, coach takes them out to pizza. We do tend to use food as a point of celebration and that does perhaps reinforce in us the idea that when you achieve something, food should be part of the reward. Food for thought? Haha.

I appreciate my friends pointing this out. Hopefully I was able to better define what I meant and clarify at the same time where I messed up. Keep the feedback coming, even if you disagree with me. I love the thought provoking issues being brought up and trust me, I am certainly open to the prospect of me being wrong. It would be foolish of me to think that I have things figured out. I would obviously not be in this situation if I was an expert. Take care my friends and until next time, goodbye for now!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Fear Of Failure

I struggled a lot in my late teens and early adult years with being a perfectionist. One of the ways in which this manifested itself was that I would often get frustrated if I was trying to do something and I could not do it extremely well. Perhaps it could even be classified as borderline OCD. In order to ensure that things were done extremely well, I would set up systems and rules for things that ordinarily would not need rules. It is kind of funny for me to say this because anyone that knows me very well knows that in many of areas of my life, I am not a very organized person. I am selective in what I care about. Personally, I think that this is because I know that I cannot do everything extremely well in my life so I tend to focus on those that I can do well. There may also be a bit of "fear of failure" in there as well mixed with a nice helping of needing to be in control.

Fear of failure and the need to be in control can be enemies of losing weight. When I get frustrated because I am not doing something well, it is all too easy to give up on it altogether. That is probably pretty common for everyone but when coupled with the issues I mention above, compound the problem. That is one of the reasons that I write this blog. It can be an outlet for me to be completely open about my failures. The old saying is true, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Other times, despite dedication to the task at hand, the results do not line up with the effort invested.

This weigh in, I know exactly why my results came in the way that they did. I ate out several times and on Father's day, we went out and saw a movie and enjoyed popcorn and a coke. I have mentioned several times in the past that I don't really like making excuses. I do believe that sometimes, you need to enjoy some small things in life. That is not an excuse to go nuts all the time and not do the right thing. But sometimes, it is nice to enjoy time with friends and family. Also, I do feel that this can recharge the body for the journey ahead.

So, what is the damage? I have gained eight tenths of a pound (0.8) since my previous weigh in June 15th. My total weight loss now stands at a little more than five (5.2) pounds. My current weight is 352.8 pounds.

While I would hate to say that I am happy with those results, I will say that given the frequency of my meals out, it not as bad as it could have been. Still, I am eager to see my weight drop below my short term goal of 350 pounds. I am close. Now that I have enjoyed a little break so to speak, it is time to get back up and get to the task at hand. Thanks for the encouragement. Don't give up on me. Check back soon!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

But Wait, There's Less!

The last time that I updated my blog with a weight loss post, I had mentioned that I was very motivated. To be completely honest, I am always nervous after an update of this nature. It kind of adds a lot of pressure. I don't ever want to follow up a post where I talk about being motivated with a post about how I gained weight.

Fortunately, the effort and motivation paid dividends for this weigh in! Since my previous weigh in post on June 10th, I have lost an even two pounds. That brings my total weight loss to an even six pounds. My current weight is 352 pounds.

I am pretty pleased to have lost two pounds. It is definitely not easy to lose this much weight in just five days. I also know that it will be difficult to continue to lose weight at this pace. So much of weight loss is psychological. Stress and feeling sorry for myself can be my worst enemies. That is why I try to stay level headed and realistic about my expectations. There will be times I gain weight even after putting in some serious effort. Staying focused and setting goals will be my plan to overcome these perceived setbacks.

My knee has been getting a bit better and that makes it a lot easier to get in more steps and activity in general. Still, I owe the majority of this success to managing my calories. I have been much more careful about how much I eat. I am still not eating super healthy but I am making better choices. It helps when friends hold me accountable.

I feel like I need to set a goal now that I have been more consistent in my weight loss journey. To that end, I have always been a believer in having both short term and long term goals. My very near term (hopefully) goal is to fall below 350 pounds. I am almost there! Just another three pounds to go! My long term goal is to drop below 200 pounds. That goal is 153 pounds away. By focusing on the near term goal, I hope to not be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the long term goal. I know that I say it a lot, but the journey truly has to be taken day by day. I also like another analogy for overcoming something that seems insurmountable. It goes: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! I find that one more humorous given the weight loss nature of this blog post.

My next weigh in will be June 20th. It would be great to achieve my short term weight loss goal at that time, but realistically, I am not sure that is attainable. I could make it happen by not eating at all but that is not a good plan. Far better to lose weight slowly. I appreciate all of the kind words of encouragement that I have been receiving. It means a lot to me. Hopefully blogging about my journey helps someone else, even if only in some small way. Until next time, goodbye!

Friday, June 10, 2016


I have to say, I am ready to take my weight loss journey to the next level. My last weight loss blog post was about how I had tweaked my knee and it was hurting. It still hurts but I was optimistic that if I managed my calories that I could still lose weight. How did I do?

Since my last weight loss post on June 5th, I have lost 3.2 pounds. I have lost four pounds in total since hitting the reset button on my weight loss journey. My current weight is 354 pounds.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, I am still ridiculously overweight. That has not changed all that much with this last weigh in. What has changed is my resolve. I will lose this weight! I am more dedicated to the process. I don't want to paint the picture that I was not committed before. A person does not lose more than three pounds in five days by not being committed. I am so motivated right now!

I am also realistic though. I know that in the future, I may or may not be this motivated. I have many friends that are also on a journey to live a more healthy lifestyle. For anyone reading this blog today or tomorrow or whenever, if you find that you are lacking motivation, drop me a comment here on the blog or message me on Facebook or whenever we cross paths. I love hearing from you and honestly, your success feeds my competitive nature. Friend me on so I can see that you are kicking my butt. I love that!

I know that I can do this and I know that you can do it too! The only thing is, we have to want it. I mean really want it. We have to want it more than the donuts at the office where we work. We have to want it more than that ice cold Coke on a hot day. Life is all about choices. My favorite Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

My point is, many of us struggle with eating things that we know we probably shouldn't. This is not something that only I deal with. Not only that, but there is always a way out. Anytime I have turned down something tasty being offered to me and explained that I am trying to lose weight, no one has ever has ever had their feelings hurt. In fact, they are quick to offer support and praise.

I am going to dedicate myself to this goal of losing weight. If you are on a similar journey, what say you? Are you in? If so, let's get to it!

Monday, June 6, 2016

How To Dollar Cost Average Into Dividend Stocks While Paying No Commission

I suppose that I could very well be considered the ultimate cheapskate. When I invest, I usually spend hours searching for the most cost effective way to do it. I hate paying fees and commissions to buy stock or ETFs. A number of brokerages offer commission free ETFs, but I have always found a certain interest in owning shares in individual companies. Here is what I have found and the strategy that I employ.

Where to buy

I was a little bit surprised in this day and age of lower cost investing to not find many options for buying individual stocks commission free. Admittedly, I did not research certain options extensively because they were not that appealing to me. For example, I know that stock can be purchased through some companies investor relations pages on their corporate website. That often involved adding my bank account to all of the different companies investor pages that I would like to purchase as well as certain minimum investments. Another option was Robinhood. This is basically an app based investment platform that runs on iOS and Android devices. At the time of this writing, they do not have an option to invest through a web site and so I chose to not invest with them at this time. So who did I choose to invest with?


There are some key features of Loyal3 that really appeal to me as an investor. Like all things in life, there are also some things that are not optimal with Loyal3 as well.
  • Pros: No commission trades. Fractional shares. Invest as little as $10.
  • Cons: Limited stock selection. Batch trading (no control over execution price, no limit orders). No dividend reinvestment (curiously except for Frontier NASDAQ: FTR). No account options such as IRAs, just a standard taxable investing account.
Because of my aforementioned propensity towards being cheap, I designed an investment strategy around Loyal3's strengths and weaknesses. I should also mention at this point that this investment is strictly for my own pleasure. I am not banking on this account for my retirement.

The Strategy

The strengths of Loyal3 play well with the concept of dollar cost averaging. That is the premise that if I continuously buy a stock over time, when I buy low, those shares will be worth even more when the stock price goes higher. If we believe that over time, the prices of stocks do tend to rise, then the strategy should work. I use dollar cost averaging to the extreme by only buying ten dollars worth of stock at a time. The goal is to overcome the lack of control that I have over the execution price of the trade. In order to overcome the limited stock selection and some of the inherent risk in dollar cost averaging individual stocks, I have a simple criteria for stock selection that I follow. I invest in every stock available on Loyal3 that pays at least a 1% annual dividend. This selects 41 individual stocks for my Loyal3 portfolio. In essence, I have created my own mini ETF or mutual fund where I pay no commissions and dollar cost average into each of my holdings. My stock selection process is passive in that I don't exclude any company based on my own biases, for or against. So long as they meet the criteria, they are in.

The 1% List

This is the list of 41 dividend paying stocks that I currently invest in at Loyal3 and their annual dividend at the time of this article.
  1. 21st Century Fox: NASDAQ: FOX 1.00%
  2. AMC Theaters: NYSE: AMC 2.76%
  3. Abercrombie & Fitch: NYSE: ANF 4.10%
  4. American Eagle Outfitters: NYSE: AEO 3.15%
  5. American Express: NYSE: AXP 1.75%
  6. Anheuser-Busch InBev: NYSE: BUD 3.13%
  7. Apple: NASDAQ: AAPL 2.33%
  8. Best Buy: NYSE: BBY 3.45%
  9. Coca-Cola: NYSE: KO 3.13%
  10. Disney: NYSE: DIS 1.44%
  11. Dr Pepper Snapple: NYSE: DPS 2.30%
  12. Dunkin Brands: NASDAQ: DNKN 2.74%
  13. Frontier Communications: NASDAQ: 8.14%
  14. Gap: NYSE: GPS 5.02%
  15. Hasbro: NASDAQ: HAS 2.35%
  16. The Hershey Company: NYSE: HSY 2.51%
  17. Intel: NASDAQ: INTC 3.27%
  18. Kellogg's: NYSE: K 2.68%
  19. Kohl's: NYSE: 5.53%
  20. Kraft Heinz: NASDAQ: KHC 2.74%
  21. L Brands: NYSE: LB 3.51%
  22. Macy's Inc: NYSE: M 4.36%
  23. Mattel: NASDAQ: MAT 4.80%
  24. McDonald's: NYSE: MCD 2.92%
  25. Microsoft: NASDAQ: MSFT 2.72%
  26. Mondelez International: NASDAQ: MDLZ 1.52%
  27. Nike: NYSE: NKE 1.17%
  28. Nokia: NYSE: NOK 5.25%
  29. Pepsico: NYSE: PEP 2.96%
  30. Ralph Lauren: NYSE: RL 2.10%
  31. Restaurant Brands International: NYSE: QSR 1.44%
  32. Store Capital: NYSE: STOR 4.19%
  33. Starbucks: NASDAQ: SBUX 1.46%
  34. Target: NYSE: TGT 3.27%
  35. Time Warner: NYSE: TWX 2.11%
  36. Unilever: NYSE: UL 2.98%
  37. VF Corp: NYSE: VFC 2.38%
  38. Viacom: NASDAQ: VIAB 3.55%
  39. Wal-Mart: NYSE: WMT 2.84%
  40. World Wrestling Entertainment: NYSE: WWE 2.70%
  41. YUM!: NYSE: YUM 2.23%

This strategy does present some fairly significant risk. For example, the portfolio skews heaving toward only a few sectors. Consumer discretionary is definitely overweight here. Another potential risk is whether brick and mortar retails can evolve their business model in order to better compete with the online juggernaut Amazon (AMZN). Also, can traditional television adapt in an environment where Netflix (NFLX) seems to be gaining market share as more and more people "cut the cord".


There are many opportunities for do-it-yourself investors at Loyal3. I chose to go with a dividend portfolio but one could just as easily create a growth portfolio. Perhaps the appeal of a growth portfolio might be all the more enticing given the high share price of many growth stocks like Alphabet (GOOGL) and Amazon . The ability to buy fractional shares at ten dollar increments might just be an interesting proposition. After all, where else can an investor dollar cost average within a single share of stock? In addition, my personal choice to make my portfolio passive in a manner of speaking may ultimately lead to lower returns. However, there have been a few surprise performers in this portfolio that I would have missed out on had I cherry picked the stocks using other metrics. I do feel that overall, it is very hard to "beat the market". It is my hope that broadly investing in dividend paying stocks over time using dollar cost averaging will eventually pay off.

One last thing, I hope that this article does not come across as an advertisement for Loyal3. I am strictly a user of their service and while I do enjoy employing my strategy through their brokerage service, I am also quick to recognize the limitations of the platform. What I hope came across instead is my passion for investing and my willingness to think outside the box to overcome investing hurdles. Happy investing!

Sunday, June 5, 2016


I have been so inconsistent so far with updating my weight loss journey. I apologize for that. I have not been looking forward to updating because I knew that my numbers were not good. Finding the time to blog about it lately has been a challenge. Not to mention, it has not been good news and that always adds another level of reluctance to making time to blog. I need to get focused though so here goes the bad news.

I don't believe in making excuses, but I have tweaked my knee really bad. It hurts even when in bed and rolling over. I am probably going to have to get it looked at if it does not improve. I don't know if I tore the meniscus or one of the knee ligaments or what the deal is. All I know is even walking hurts pretty bad. So, add to that the fact that I am substantially overweight and it doesn't help the situation.

My last weight loss blog was on the 15th of May. I did weigh in on May 20th at 354.4 pounds. That was a gain of 1.6 pounds. I had not weighed again until today. Admittedly, today's weigh in was in the evening. Typically I weigh in the morning and that number will usually be lower than if you were to weigh later in the day. Ha! Another excuse after I said I do not like making them. Today I weighed in at 357.2 pounds. That means that I have only lost 0.8 pound since my reset of the weight loss journey on April 30th.

It probably goes without saying that I am pretty down on myself as well as feeling sorry for myself. It is twice as hard to get motivated when moving hurts so much. Still, I need to focus on the one thing that I can do for sure. That is watching what I eat. If I can drop some weight, it is only going to help with the knee issue. These knees were never meant to support so much weight so anything I can drop is going to help.

I have really struggled with motivation lately. Like some people, the temptation is there to just stop trying and turn to eating as an emotional coping mechanism. Talk about self defeating!

I am going to try my best to pull myself out of this rut and get back on track. I know that I can do it even with this bum knee. It is just math. Consumer fewer calories than you burn and you will lose weight. Easy right? I will do better! I must do better! Check back soon!