My Experience with Identity Theft

Update 12/1/18:

I’m not going to say that this is over, but it is certainly down to a “2” on my 1-10 worry scale. For a couple of weeks after writing this post, I still received some notices in the mail from companies where lines of credit were attempted to be opened. However, all of the fraud work that I had done in the week prior to this post paid off in spades. Not a single application got past the first stage of the process because all roads ended with the company checking in with me. I got a phone call, told them it was fraud, and then got a piece of mail a few days later stating the application was denied/closed. I guess the system works once you get ahead of it. I think the key to this was the 7 year fraud alert on my credit report. 

I’m still checking my credit report at regular intervals, and I’m still enrolled with InfoArmor. But, I did upgrade my service plan to cover all three credit bureaus. It cost a few extra bucks but it’s well worth it. The benefits team at work was very interested to hear about my experience, and how InfoArmor played a role (since the benefit was provided through work). Based on my feedback, they got with InfoArmor, and were able to get the higher level protection added as an option for people signed up for the benefit. THANK YOU WORK!

Once this post came out, I got a couple of pings and comments that talked specifically about the value of an Identity Theft Protection Service. One commenter pointed out that you (personally) can do everything that these services do, and you don’t have to pay for it. To a certain extent, that is true. But, that is time you need to set aside and dedicate EVERY MONTH to this process (FOREVER). In my mind, it becomes a value proposition. If you sign up for a service to facilitate this process for you, is it worth the $6-$15 per month that you’ll spend for piece of mind? I can’t answer that for you – that is something you need to figure out for yourself. For me personally, I do see value in the service.

BUT.

And this is a big BUT.

I realize that having a service like this in your stable isn’t a “set it and forget it” proposition. You still need to check on stuff and be vigilant.

Let me say that again – EVEN IF YOU HAVE ONE OF THESE SERVICES, YOU STILL NEED TO BE ACTIVE IN MANAGING YOUR CREDIT AND CREDIT REPORT.

Don’t think that this is your invisibility cloak. AND, don’t think you can just be sloppy and careless in your credit/internet life. Hackers and criminals still can get to you if you make yourself the low hanging fruit.

But, having one of these services is like having a sherpa or guide along the way. And, if something does happen, some of these services offer help along the way to recovery. The best thing you can do as a consumer is look at ALL of the players in this market, see the services/protections that are offered, and make a purchase based on what you see as the value proposition.

If you are in the market for such a service/product/program, here is a website you can reference to get information on some more companies (not listed in the original post). This site (by lendedu.com) discussed the pros/cons of some of the larger players in this space. In addition, they also provide some nice bullet point information on what you can do to keep your identity safe.

Continue reading My Experience with Identity Theft

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Should you be drinking your calories?

Water. Soda. Alcohol. Juice. Coffee. Tea. Smoothies. Bone Broth???

We drink a lot of stuff. Heck – I’ve even heard that Canadians like to chug syrup.

The problem is, that list above (not a complete list by the way), has some real calorie bombs on it.

And yes, pure maple syrup is a huge calorie bomb. Don’t chug maple syrup.

Unfortunately, a majority of the population doesn’t realize that their bulging waistline and/or other chronic metabolic issues are being caused by the liquidy goodness they dump down their gullets. When you boil it down to a nutrient level, sometimes that gulp you just took is the equivalent of a bite of something else.

Before we dive into the calories you should consider drinking moderately (or not at all), lets really quick cover the liquids you can/should drink in abundance.

 

Drink as much as you’d like:

Water – drink as much as you’d like. BUT, don’t over hydrate.  This is one of those things where you should just listen to your body. If you feel like you are choking down water, then you probably should stop drinking water for a little bit. For a treat, you should try unsweetened and sugarless sparkling water. As long as the ingredients are water and natural flavor, and there are zero grams of carbs in it, you have a good product. Sparkling water is a nice and fun beverage to sip/enjoy if tap water is too boring for you. I love sparkling water – I’m a fan of both Ozarka and La Croix (current news issues notwithstanding).

Herbal tea – drink as much as you’d like. I keep a nice variety of herbal teas in my desk and at home, and enjoy several different types over the course of the day.

Decaf coffee – if that is your thing, enjoy as much as you’d like. I’d say to shoot for decaf made via the Swiss Water method. After learning about the chemical processes used for decaffing coffee, I was very turned off at the prospect. The Swiss water method seems very c-l-e-a-n.

Regular coffee and caffeinated tea – as long as you don’t over-caffeinate (people’s tolerances vary), and as long as you don’t add a bunch of sugary crap to flavor your coffee, you can be pretty liberal in your consumption.

Bone Broth – this is starting to get a lot of attention as shelf-stable versions of bone broth become accessible. Previously, you had to make your own bone broth via stove top or crock pot, bag or jar it, and thaw/prep to consume. Really hardcore nutrition people didn’t bat an eye at the process. More time-crunched people just didn’t have the ability to go through the requisite steps. BUT, now that the stuff can be bought shelf-stable, more people are exposing themselves to it. There are a myriad of health benefits to consuming bone broth (not just chicken by the way). I’ll let Dr. Axe explain this one. If you don’t trust him, do a Google search for “bone broth benefits.” I personally love the stuff. I’m partial to chicken. I warm it up and sip it like coffee, or I use it as a base in my homemade chicken soup. The stuff really is incredible.

 

Exercise restraint:

Alcohol – ever hear the saying that alcohol is empty calories? That is because there is no nutritive value to alcohol. For those that aren’t familiar, alcohol and carbon-dioxide are the by products by yeast eating fermentable sugar chains during the fermentation process. From a metabolism standpoint, the problem with alcohol is that your body uses it for energy FIRST. All other sources (fat, glycogen, etc) are put aside so the body can work on metabolizing alcohol. This is such a wasted process for your body. If you over consume alcoholic beverages, you could be busting your waistline by either the calories in the alcoholic drink itself (beer, mixed drinks, etc all have additional sugar in them), or just from the simple act of having your body focus on the alcohol for fuel rather than other stuff that will ultimately get stored as fat. This post isn’t meant to advocate or demonize alcohol – that is a personal decision each person must make for themselves. The point of this passage is to say that if you do consume alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation, and if you have a larger nutrition plan where you are monitoring calories, be sure to include that glass of beer or glass of wine in your calculations. That extra 150 calories a night will add up over time if you aren’t taking it into account.

Me personally, I am a homebrewer of beer. Its a fun hobby, and I like to think I’ve learned how to enjoy such spirits responsibly. I do prescribe to the belief that a few drinks a week can reap some health benefits. Again – I’m not pushing this as a recommendation or lifestyle – I’m just saying to check out the information and make your own informed decision. Here is an article from Heathline that talks about benefits and risks. As you’ll see, this is a complex topic.

Juice – most people think that a glass of juice is a healthy part of their day. Its marketed as part of a balanced breakfast. Marketing materials can’t say, “100% real fruit juice” loud enough on their packaging. Parents pump their kids full of juice thinking they are providing vitamins and minerals and giving their kid everything he/she needs to win the day. The problem is that juice is loaded with sugar. Check out this blurb from the linked Healthline.com article…

soda and juice comparision

From a metabolic standpoint, apple juice has nearly as much sugar per serving as a can of Coke. That flood of sugar into the bloodstream kicks off an insulin response. The pancreas doesn’t care where the sugar came from (soda or juice) – it just sends a flood of insulin to clear out the sugar. Here is the big takeaway on juice – yes, it contains vitamins and minerals and nutrients. But – PLEASE USE CAUTION AND RESTRAINT when consuming. You can not drink a ton of the stuff without consequences. You need to monitor and restrict your servings. The better option to get the vitamins/minerals out of fruit is to actually eat the fruit. That way, you are getting the fiber that comes with the natural fruit package, and that helps blunt the insulin response.

Smoothies – smoothies are a more calorie dense version of juice, but are even sneakier in how they can injure your ability to manage your weight. Here are the nutrition facts for a Pumpkin Harvest Smoothie from the Jamba Juice website…

jamba juice smoothie.JPG

The SMALL portion has 44 grams of sugar. That is more than the can of Coke from our above juice example. Yes, there is protein, and fiber, and some other nutritional goodies. But that is 44 grams of sugar. Go ahead – have one for breakfast every day. Here is your pancreas after awhile…

sad pancreas

I’m not trying to demonize smoothies. Like juice, they do provide exposure to some nutritional goodies. I’m saying USE RESTRAINT. Don’t chug a large smoothie every morning and think you are winning the weight management fight. Aim for smoothies that have more veggies that fruit, and try to get that total sugar count down. Maybe some power greens, a scoop of protein powder, some nut butter, a half a banana, and half a cup of berries. It tastes good, and its much lower in sugar than the Jamba Juice version. Again, and I’ll keep saying it – the name of the game is to NOT DRINK SUGAR!

 

Probably Best to Avoid All Together:

SODA – I’ll be honest – I have no qualms whatsoever with demonizing soda. Soda is a demon and should go away. People should stop drinking regular soda, diet soda, and any other soda type derivatives. I’ll let Google take this one…

Me: “Google – is soda healthy?”

Google:

soda unhealthy.JPG

I swear I didn’t plan it this way. The first SENTENCE in the pinned response is, “…the sugar and acids in soda are a disaster for dental health…” Then, look down at the first hit under the People also Ask section. The last sentence in that abstract is, “…regular consumption of sugary drinks is linked to numerous health problems including diabetes, heart disease, asthma, COPD, and obesity…”

The movie, “That Sugar Film” introduced me to what are called Mountain Dew Teeth. This is really sad. I almost didn’t want to include this in the post, but, if it convinces one person to not let their kid drink soda, then its worth it. Do a Google search for “Mountain Dew Teeth” and prepare to have your heart broken.

mountain dew teeth

One could argue that I can safely list soda under the same area where I talked about juice, alcohol, and smoothies. Anything is good in moderation – right?

Maybe?

I’d respectfully disagree. I’d argue that a product which can lead to “Mountain Dew Teeth” should get kicked off the bridge. At least with those other beverages, you can find a benefit to the controlled consumption of the item. I’d argue that there is nothing redeeming about soda, and any small fraction of nutritional value it might have is completely dwarfed by how bad it is holistically. I’m taking a firm position that soda is the devil, and should be avoided at all costs. The really sad thing is the fallacy surrounding diet soda. It might actually be more dangerous than regular soda depending on the artificial sweetener used. People guzzle diet soda because they think they can have their cake and eat it too. More and more research is coming out to show that just isn’t so.

 

Final Thoughts:

I used to drink soda. Don’t get me wrong. It does taste sweet, so I get it. And that fizz makes it refreshing. When I started striving for a healthier lifestyle, soda was the first thing I kicked off the bridge. For many years, I drank juice and made smoothies thinking I was hacking the nutritional system. In retrospect, consuming those items may have contributed to the slow creep that happened to my waistline in my late 20’s. I’ll also bet that it played a role in me not losing weight when I did extreme workout programs. At the end of the day, sugar is sugar. The body doesn’t care if its juice or soda. Insulin gets released. Glucose gets shuttled out of the blood to the muscles and what is left gets stored in fat cells. End of story. The way to keep your weight in check (or lose if that is your goal) is to dial in your sugar consumption. That doesn’t mean just food – it means looking at the seemingly innocuous calories you find in the stuff you drink every day. Cut that stuff back, and you’ll make some pretty nice strides towards you goals.

Guaranteed.

 

What are your thoughts about sugary drinks? Have you made a decision to try and limit the amount of liquid calories you consume? If so, please let us know in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thank you.

Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – Weekly Catch Up

I kind of slacked off in documenting my workouts for the past week. To be honest, they are probably going to be boring to read about. I think I’m boring myself typing about them. All I really did for the past week is yoga and push/pull stuff.

bored

That’s it.

Yoga…

Push & Pull…

Rinse/repeat all week long.

I did get semi-creative for the garage workout. I combined the yoga AND the push/pull.

really.

I know all of that sounds as exciting as a box of hair. But, here is my take away from the week – you can have a boring routine and still have a solid week of training. Even though it seemed basic and monotonous, I mixed in three different yoga routines, and also clocked 3 different push/pull routines with a variety of grips and angles for those pushes and pulls. In the big scheme of things, I’ll take that over going to the gym and doing biceps curls and leg presses!

In other random streams of consciousness, I’m a Madden junkie. For those not familiar, Madden is the popular football video game series. Its been around forever. I’ve been playing forever. I particularly like the franchise mode – building teams through the draft and scouting players is a ton of fun. As I’ve fallen down this rabbit hole further and further (I’m in year 22 of a 30 year franchise, and have played out about 97% of the games along the way), I’ve needed to find new ways to challenge myself. I have the difficulty settings as high as they can go. Each season, I turn over about half of my starters to make room for my new draft picks. Despite all of this, I keep going undefeated. I keep scoring lots of points. I keep allowing not a lot of points. I think I’ve broken the game in a few ways. Some of the statistics don’t even tabulate properly anymore. At one point, the game even made up its own rules. Part of me wonders if the programmers ever expected a person to play this far into a franchise mode, and just “phoned in” the last couple of years programming. In the most recent season, I decided to only allow myself to run two plays all season. One passing play and one running play. I’m “proud” to admit that I just completed yet another undefeated campaign where my rookie QB threw over 70 TD’s. Proud is in air quotes because its probably just sad.

Oh, and in year 22, these Philadelphia Eagles have won 19 Super Bowls. Carson Wentz retired as the GOAT in career TD’s. He was the yards leader (over 80K) until some fictional QB that just won’t retire ruined it.

Who says video games don’t mirror reality???

Continue reading Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – Weekly Catch Up

Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/27 – The Basics (plus)

It feels good to feel good.

I don’t mean that in an ironic sense, or a “I’m better than you” way. I mean it feels good when your body and mind feel good. When you are sick or injured, you certainly aren’t your best self. That “not feeling good” feeling really sucks. Whether its a self-inflicted imbalance from one too many IPA’s the night before, or an unfortunate chronic illness you are battling, sub-optimal health just doesn’t feel good. And you know that it doesn’t feel good. Even if you are off by just 10%, you know that it feels different than feeling 100%. You miss and CRAVE that 100% feeling.

I’m usually pretty sensitive to pollen and other allergens in the summertime. That affliction presents with the usual runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. This summer was a little different. I didn’t get any of those symptoms despite pollen counts that were off the charts. Rather, I experienced fluid in my ears for the first time. In both ears. For almost two months. I can’t confirm that its attributable to allergies, but the coincidence isn’t lost on me. I’ve read that pollen allergies can present this way. Since my doctor couldn’t come up with anything better, I’m going to run with that.

Talk about something that will mess with you. Each day felt rotten. It really was a struggle to get through between the cycles of fatigue and the general feeling of imbalance. Your mind starts to wander to some weird places. You basically have an internal argument going on – your body/mind feel like just laying down and staying still. But, there is a small sliver of your mind that knows you shouldn’t do that, and it fights to keep you plugging ahead. That internal debate is exhausting.

I’m very happy to say that I’m going on my 7th day w/o those symptoms. It appears the fluid has resolved (which I’ve been told will happen over time, and was confirmed by a doctor’s appointment earlier in the week). Whether it was just time, or the mega dose regimen of Vitamin C I started about two weeks ago, I’m finally on the other side (at least it feels that way). It’s fun to wake up again. I’m going to really try to relish this 100% feeling for as long as I can.

I guess the moral of the story is – appreciate your health. Appreciate feeling good, Appreciate feeling energized. Appreciate feeling able.

Continue reading Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/27 – The Basics (plus)

Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/19 & 7/23 – Catch up

A couple random thoughts…

  • Fantasy football season is approaching. For those of us who partake, getting ready for the draft is fun, AND, if you do a live draft with fun people, it can end up being one of your favorite days of the year. I very much miss the live drafts I used to do when I lived on the east coast with my buddies. I have to do those remote, and it sucks. Fantasy football drafts should be full of cooking out, beer, and progressively crooked name stickers on the draft board.
  • Watched the movie “Tag” on Friday. Lots of fun. Highly recommend it. I clearly like stupid comedies since I wax poetic about the merits of Happy Gilmore. So, if you enjoy movies like Happy Gilmore, you’ll enjoy “Tag.” And, it teaches a very nice lesson about long term friendships. And, its based on a true story – that makes it even more fun.
  • Lawns are annoying during heat waves. Even though you water every day (and jack up your water bill), parts of the lawn still turn brown and look awful. Really feels like a waste of time. I wonder if my HOA will allow a backyard of just sand and/or rocks…?
  • Listened to a podcast where they debated the merits of what to call your grandparents. Side note – listening to people debate the merits of stupid topics is actually pretty funny. The more thoughtful and articulate the arguments, the funnier it gets. Listening to their breakfast food draft was hilarious.
    • Such names included…
      • Grandma (or grandpa) followed by first name (ex: Grandma Jean)
      • Gammy / Gampy
      • Nanna / Pop pop
    • Not sure where I land on this topic. I know we are going with Nana for Baby Breaking’s relationship with his grandmother. That was kind of issued to us since she was already a nana from other grandchildren. Can’t derail that train. Kids get confused. I don’t know what I’ll want to be called once my kid has his own spawn. Unless something better comes along, I think my vote will be “Pop pop.” For the female side, I’m a huge fan of Me-Maw. For some reason, years of watching “The Big Bang Theory” have ingrained that in my head. Grandmother = memaw. Case closed.

Since I’ve been trying to finish out my 3 Week Yoga Retreat review, I’ve been doing that every other day. To not fall too far behind on maintaining my other strength, I’ve just been doing push/pull routines on my non-yoga and non-rest days. All of that volume should pay off in one way or another. As long as I’m getting proper rest between sessions, it can’t help but benefit me.

Continue reading Bodyweight Workouts – Basement Sessions – 7/19 & 7/23 – Catch up