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New Writer – Biggest Mistake I Made

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When I first decided I wanted to freelance for a living, I had just been laid off from my job.  So, I had plenty of time.  I did lots of research on the web in order to find out how I could break into writing, and followed through on many of the ideas.  But, despite the guidance on the internet, I made lots of mistakes.   As a freelance writer who was trying to make a living, my biggest mistake was that I spread myself too thin.

So many places to write for, so little time!

As a startup writer, I tried to do everything.  This cost me lots of time, and probably some money.  Here’s what I had going on.

  • I continued to look for a regular job. Early on, before I knew I could make a living writing, I kept looking for “real” work.  The online application process is very onerous, and it took months before I realized I needed to stop.  Employers have gigantic application forms, and some even want you to record a video before they’ll even speak to you.  Considering that the offers I received were ridiculously paltry, I ended the quest for a day job.  But, 3 months had gone by.
  • I signed up for every content mill that I could find. In the beginning, it was refreshing to write for Textbroker and receive my first paycheck.  They also offered feedback on my writing, and I quickly learned to put commas in the right places (most of the time).  I also signed up for WriterAccess which paid way better than Textbroker, but alas, they did not have enough work.  I signed up with HireWriters, but never did anything with them because they paid ½ cent per word.  This process also took time.  There were writing tests and profiles to complete.  It also meant that I was writing every day, a good thing, but for very, very little money.
  • I signed up with Rev.com. This is a huge and credible transcribing company.  I made about 77 bucks before I realized that if I had to listen to one more inaudible, accented voice, I would kill myself.  A ten minute conversation took me an hour to transcribe.  My average hourly rate was $7.00.  Not horrible if you’re starving, but it wasn’t the writing job I envisioned.

new writer - biggest mistake

New Writer – Biggest Mistake, Freelancer.com

  • I searched for work on Freelancer.com and Guru.com. There are some people out there who swear by Guru, but I never could understand why.  On Guru, I had been accepted for a project by some unknown employer, and never got paid.  After churning out 4 articles, I demanded payment, and the person fell behind the obscurity curtain of the internet.

Freelancer.com might just be the biggest scam writers can fall into.  I was hired (again by another anonymous person called SEOMart), and I cranked out 8 articles.  Freelancer.com automatically sent out an invoice to SEO, and after that, my project was cancelled.  I emailed Freelancer to find out why they would cancel a project when there was an invoice and tangible work product associated with that project.  But, they never replied.  My advice is not to sign up with any of these folks.  I spent weeks writing for free.

And I kept on going….

  • I applied for every writing job I could find on the internet. There are lots of jobs out there, but the application process is as bad as when you’re looking for “real” work.  No one gets back to you.  You often have to take tests, provide specific writing samples as dictated by the employer, and pitch ideas for their businesses.  I felt that the applications were designed by crafty employers who were looking for new ideas, and didn’t want to pay for them.
  • I wrote and pitched articles to big name websites like Huffington Post. Now, this may seem like a constructive way to start off your writing career, and it is.  Remember that my problem was that I was trying to do it all.  It was highly unlikely I was going to get published by a big name since I didn’t put all my energy into it.  How could I when I was too busy writing articles about no-credit loans and vacation rentals for Textbroker?
  • I blogged on sites like HubPages. I wanted to try to get my name out there, and figured that free blogging sites could help pull me out of obscurity.  Unfortunately HubPages accepted my blog, I made one change, and then they rejected the blog.  I wasn’t clear on what they wanted, and gave up on this endeavor.  But, that was after wasting several days.
  • I set up my own website, kardwellconsulting.com. Here I could post my blogs freely, and even see if I could drum up some residual income by joining some affiliate programs.  Though now I was able to blog whenever, and on whatever I felt like, this website wasn’t making any money.  Not a penny.  In addition to the writing, I was also the technical person learning WordPress as I went along.  Not to mention all the research into driving traffic and marketing techniques.

New Writer – Biggest Mistake (corrected)

At the end of 6 months I grew weary, and also a wee bit paranoid.  Every potential lead seemed like a potential scam to me.  I finally realized that instead of trying to do it all, I would need to focus on two things, and only two things.  What I chose was to pitch to big name websites, and continue working on my blog site.  I set aside all the other things so I could focus.

When you’re trying to break into writing, my advice is not to try to do it all.  Writing needs to become your business, and you need to have clear goals and plans.  Do not sell yourself short.  Get your priorities straight and don’t dilute your day with busy work.  A crystal clear vision will, at the very least, set you up for success.

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In Your 50s and Out of a Job? 8 Things You Must Do.

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This is an independent entry of my blog, the unexpected retirement.   May you find the information useful in getting you to a wonderful and happy retirement. We all want to retire well! You can find related blogs below this post.

When I found myself out of a job at 58 years old, I wasn’t overly concerned at the time. I had an okay severance package, employer covered health care for 4 months, and a decent savings account. What I didn’t realize is that finding work as an older executive (I was in Sales), would be so very challenging.

The Department of Labor, reports that from January 2013 to December 2015, there were 3.2 million workers displaced from jobs they held for at least 3 years (7.4 million in total if we eliminate the 3 year factor). In January 2016, the re-employment rate for workers ages 25 to 54 was 73%. Reemployment for those 55 to 64 was only 60%, and forget about it if you were 65 or older.  Of those older workers, a measly 27% were reemployed.

I was one of those displaced workers in October of 2016, and it was startling to learn that I only stood a 60% chance of finding new employment. Yikes! I was certainly not ready to retire. I realized that I needed to get a grip on the things I could control, and try to take stock of the things I couldn’t. With that in mind, I created a checklist for those who may find themselves in a similar position hoping to make things a little easier for you.

1) Return the company cell phone.

 

Many of us are provided with company phones. While the company may allow you to keep your device, my advice is don’t. Who needs an old Android device, when for $10.00 a month, I could have the latest and greatest? A company may let you stay on their data plan, and this may be tempting (it’s certainly easier than going out and finding a new provider), but don’t do it. You will find a data plan that will fit your new budget. It’ll be a better one, a cheaper one. Trust me.

2) File for unemployment immediately.

States have different laws regarding the collection of severance in parallel with unemployment. You may live in a state where you can collect both (California), or you may live in a state where you’re told that severance needs to run out before you collect (NY). Regardless, you need to file so that the Department of Labor can make their determination as to when benefits will start, and how much those benefits will be.  I couldn’t collect NY State unemployment until after my severance pay was finished, but even so, the bureaucrats insisted I file the week after I lost my job.

3) Cobra benefits need to be clearly understood.

My company would pick up the entire cost of Cobra for 4 months after my lay-off. After that, the cost would be $1,200.00 per month. Of course I took the free Cobra, and of course I dropped the expensive option when the 4 months was up. They key is for you to know your options. If your ex-employer is not picking up a sizable amount of Cobra, chances are Cobra is way too expensive for you. There are alternatives, and you can find them online. Note that for those making less than $22,411.00 a year, you can qualify for Medicaid.

Cobra

4) Once you understand your medical coverage options, get to the doctor.

The beauty of not being employed while still retaining health coverage is that you finally have the time to take care of yourself and go to the doctor. Anyone over 50 needs to have the following tests done:
• Blood tests (for high cholesterol, sugar levels, and possible deficiencies)
• Bone density test
• Colonoscopy
• Prostate cancer screening
• Mammogram (and pap smear if under 65)
• Skin cancer screening by a dermatologist
Don’t forget about the more routine exams such as getting a physical and vision test. You should get your flu shot, and refill any prescriptions you have. Ask your doctor for a 90 day prescription. They are generally less expensive than the 30 day ones.

5) Clean up your social network pages

If you’re like me you have lots of connections and friends. Too many! Make sure the people that you’re friends with, or linked into are okay for prospective employers. I point this out because I had a few nieces and nephews who held nothing back when it came to talking about their indulgences at various parties, which were quite frequent. While, I myself am known to let loose on occasion, I certainly don’t publish these facts.

Employers look at your social networks, in particular LinkedIn. I also removed anyone who I felt did not have my best interests at heart. There are always some people who will take great pleasure in your new unemployed state. Whether that pleasure stems from jealously, self-righteousness, or what, I don’t know. I do know I did not want them seeing my every activity. When you’re unemployed and looking for work, there’s enough negativity to go around (some of it comes from inside us). I don’t think it’s wise to keep in touch with those who may bring you down.

6) Organize that budget.

Just in case you may be long term unemployed, (I’m going on 5 months right now), it’s time to take a hard look at your assets and your liabilities. You will be amazed at how resilient and savvy you can get when it comes to money. Currently, I’m making $430.00 a week from unemployment. That’s a huge drop from my old salary, which was more than four times that amount. However, once you have all that time on your hands, it’s almost fun to start slicing away at your expenses.

Sadly, the first thing I dropped was my 401k contributions. Not only was I ineligible for the plan through my employer, but I could hardly afford to sock money away at this point in my life. From there, the budgeting got a little more fun.

I switched to an IP phone, something I long held back on due to frequent power outages in my area. I loved my landline, which always worked even on the darkest of days.

I quit smoking. That was an $80.00 weekly savings. I started using my wood stove instead of cranking up the electric heat. That was a $200.00 monthly savings. I just cancelled Netflix, not only to save money, but I found that recently, whenever I wanted to watch a movie, I had to rent it from Amazon rather than stream from Netflix. Netflix simply didn’t have the movies I wanted to see. I cut Sirius from my car which saved me over $100.00 per month. I had been disappointed with Sirius. They were slowly chipping away at the reasons I listened. They cut out OutQ, Martha, The Book Channel and, Rad Classics. Why would I pay for music when I have so many other options these days?

Anyway, the list of budget saving ideas goes on and on. You just need to take into account what you’re spending, and whether that spend is really worth it now that you’re unemployed.

The other thing you need to figure out is, what dollar amount do you need to bring in at this point in your life? Once you budget properly, and are living on the pittance that unemployment give you, you may find out that you can live on way less than what you’re used to. Or, you may need to continue to work in order to save enough money for retirement. You may need medical coverage. You just need to determine whether you need a full time job, part time job, another stressful executive job, or a low pressure job that simply satisfies your monetary needs.

7) Get the  job resume in order.

No matter what you decide on, you should have a resume on hand for when the perfect job comes up. Sometimes, even volunteer work requires a resume. For us older folks, my unemployment counselor gave the following advice. “No more than 10 years of work experience on your resume.”

For me, that sounded counter-intuitive. I have all this experience, and I’m supposed to forego all that because I have to seem younger than I really am? Yep. The key is getting your foot in the door where you can wow prospective employers with your charm and expertise. If you list 30 years of experience on your resume, employers will quietly shuffle your resume to the trash. Employers are scared of older worker’s salaries (we did make a lot), and their outdated skills. While those fears are far from the reality, having a resume that acts as if you joined the workforce 10 or 15 years ago rather than 40 years ago will help you score that interview.

8) Have fun!

Without a job? Enjoy!

Being laid off from your job doesn’t have to be a morose event. If you’re like me, you’ve toiled for over 40 years and need to look at this unemployed state as an opportunity, a glorious and wonderful opportunity. We have a rare chance to reinvent ourselves. There are unlimited possibilities when we think about where we want to put our efforts and energies into. We can actually relax for a bit. Lets take up that home improvement project we never had time for. We can visit with family and friends since our free time is no longer squeezed into two tiny weekend days. We can learn something new. Try something new. Being over 50, and being laid off is a rare gift of time that, as employees, we never really had. Enjoy it!

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The Unexpected Retirement – Part IV – Going Out On Interviews

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After filling out numerous applications, and taking civil service tests, I finally started getting requests for interviews.  I was nervous because I hadn’t gone out on an interview for quite some time.  It had been over a decade.  The first 3 interviews I lined up were as follows:

  • Postal Carrier – This was the result of my testing with the USPS. Salary was decent as were the benefits.
  • Sales Administrator – This was a salary + commission job for a Real Estate Firm.
  • Department of Transportation Dispatcher – This was with D.O.T. in Pennsylvania. Another result from filling out a government application.

Continue reading “The Unexpected Retirement – Part IV – Going Out On Interviews”

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The Unexpected Retirement – Part III – The Reality of Looking for Work When You’re Over 55

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The Reality of Looking for Work

This is the third installment of the Unexpected Retirement Blog.  It picks up where I left off; my continued job search as an older job seeker.  If you have experiences to share, please post a comment. You can find related below this post.

Up until this point, I had assumed I would find a similar job, either in Sales or Management, most likely working for a competitor of my old company.  I applied to some big corporations located in my geographical area.  Mars (yep, the candy company) was one of them.  They listed an open position that matched my skills to a T.  Whenever I checked their job website to see where my application was at, I saw the status was always  “under consideration”. I also put in applications to similar corporations.  All total, by the end of 2 months, I had probably applied to 25 or more jobs.

job search stress

 

Age Discrimination and the Job Search

I didn’t get a single response to any of my applications.  I began to think that age discrimination was coming into play.  Employers can’t ask your age directly due to the Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) which prohibits companies (with 20+ employees) from discriminating based on age.  However, in my job search I found that employers had all kinds of ways to find out how old you were.   The most popular is the seemingly innocent question: when did you graduate high school?  Well, that covers it all right there doesn’t it?   If I answer, the employer knows I’m over 55. If I don’t answer, the employer may think I never graduated.  I’ve also had more subtle questions such as, “when did you get your driver’s license?”   Or, “how long have you been working in your field?”

Continue reading “The Unexpected Retirement – Part III – The Reality of Looking for Work When You’re Over 55”

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The Unexpected Retirement – Part II – Looking for Work When You’re Over 55

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Looking for Work (when you’re over 55)

This is the second installment of the Unexpected Retirement Blog.  It picks up where I left off; my beginning efforts to search for work.  If you have experiences to share, please post a comment. You can find related blogs below this post.

With my severance package about to run out in about 2 months, I sadly decided it was time to look for work. Retirement would come in due time, but that wasn’t for another 4 years. Starting a job search at 58 years old is a lot like starting a job search when you’re 20. You need to set up the basics. Once you have the basics down, then the job search for older workers greatly differs from a twenty year old.

The Basics – The Resume

I hadn’t looked for work in over 13 years so my resume definitely needed tweaking. However, being that I was 58 years old, I needed to take some precautions so I could avoid age discrimination. After reviewing many job and resume tip sites, I updated my resume accordingly. Most experts agree that when you’re older, there’s no need to list every job you’ve ever had. In fact, the pros recommend that your resume reflect the past 10 years of work experience, and only that. The only older jobs you should list are jobs that are relevant to the position you’re seeking, and you should exercise care even in that case. For me, that meant that my resume would only reflect one job, the job I was just laid off from.

I also read many articles on what makes for a standout resume. My resume was reflective of all the advice I had gathered. Depending on what job you’re looking for, you’ll need to craft several different flavors of the same resume. For example, when going for a sales job, you want to highlight relevant sales experience and accolades. But, if you’re going for a Postal Carrier position (I did actually interview for that job), you’ll need to downplay some aspects of your previous work experience and highlight others. *For more resume writing tips and services, see our resume writing page.

Continue reading “The Unexpected Retirement – Part II – Looking for Work When You’re Over 55”

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The Unexpected Retirement – Part I

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 I Was Laid Off!

This is the first installment of my blog, the unexpected retirement.   May you find the information useful in getting you to a wonderful and happy retirement. We all want to retire well! You can find related blogs below this post.

Most of us hope and expect to retire. In fact, many of us can’t wait for it to happen. Some of us can retire in their late 50s due to a generous pension plan, or a stroke of luck.  For others not as fortunate, we typically know we’ll be retiring sometime between 62 and 70 years old. It really all depends on our financial situation.

a frustrated worker - Retire!

While in my mid-fifties, I started thinking about retirement. How much should I save? Should I take early retirement at 62, especially in light of the fact that I had grown weary of the corporate world? I reviewed literature on what to do when you retire.  There was a ton of suggestions about how to spend your time.  Everyday can’t be like Sunday. We understand that weekends are all the more pleasurable because we work so hard to get there.

So there I am, at 58 years of age, toiling along in my corporate job (sales job) when one day I was told I was being “restructured out of the company”.  I was shown the door.   Even though I had achieved top sales in 2 of the 3 years I was in that position.

Not Ready to Retire Yet

At that time, the layoff was one of the happiest moments of my life. I received a nice severance package which would last for 3 months, and if the employment situation looked bleak, there was unemployment money for an additional 6 months. I really had grown tired of all the hard work and little reward my company offered. Sure, the money was nice but that was literally the only nice thing about the job. And, I’m not sure about you, but as I get older, my priorities shift. Money doesn’t seem as important as health, family, experiences and activities too long neglected.

a glorious new day - Retire!

I wasn’t terribly upset, and even had to console the HR Manager who had known me for over 13 years. “Don’t worry”, I said. “I have a degree, sales and management experience, and I actually am looking forward to this little hiatus.” Don’t get me wrong.  I was angry at the company for sure, and promptly “unlinked” everyone who worked there, but I wasn’t really troubled.

It was a beautiful late September day when this happened and, I immediately went home and made a list of outside projects I could tackle. The plan was to spend the month of October painting the decks, the stairs, and the retaining wall. I would get ready for winter. I’d cover the summer furniture, cut down the garden, and prepare the lawn. And, that’s what I did. I was happy to be outdoors instead of trapped in the office. Happy to be enjoying my own home instead of sipping wine in a Hilton Hotel lobby as I anguished over the next customer visit. Happy, happy, happy!

happy, happy, joy, joy- Retire!

 

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Is a Gift Card a Good Gift?

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If you’re wondering why this article is in my retirement blog, wonder no more! I write articles, blogs, and content. This is simply an example of an article I wrote for one of my clients. If you need content, send me an email at kkardwell@gmail.com.

There has been much debate over whether a gift card is a good gift at all. If you ask two people, each one will likely have a different answer. And, in most cases, each person will have their valid point of view.

We know there are some things that are great about gift cards. For the giver, gift cards are easy to buy and there is no lamenting over what the recipient may or may not want. Gift cards are easily accessible at any chain store, big box store, or online. A generic gift card such one from Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, offers the recipient a way they can acquire anything they want within the limits of the gift card value. Gift cards from specific stores can also come in handy. Especially if the receiver of the card has expressed a sentiment such as, “I only shop at Old Navy” as some tweens and teens are prone to do.

In a pinch, gift cards are absolutely the way to go for their ease of purchase and use. However, there are cases where gift cards simply become a bad habit. Take for example, holiday gift giving. Year after year of receiving and giving gift cards can result in an indifferent kind of feeling which leaves everyone wondering why presents are exchanged at all. Gone is the question, “what did you get”. Everyone knows what everyone got, a gift card! Gift card giving should never become the routine however, they still can be the most appropriate gift you can give at a particular time.

Take for example the relative who doesn’t get to eat out often due to financial circumstances. A gift card to a restaurant could be just the thing to brighten the day. Or, how about the nephew working on a home improvement project? A gift card to the hardware store could really make him happy. And, for those who send gifts in the mail, the gift card easily fits in a number 10 envelope, and unlike cash, there is no risk of theft as most gift cards are traceable.

Of course, on the other side of the debate is the depersonalization that comes from gift card giving. If the recipient feels that little thought was put into the present, the gift card is likely to be underappreciated.

In general, gift cards are a good gift if they are given with the recipient’s tastes in mind. Generic gift cards or e-gift cards don’t convey an intimate message so whenever possible, gift cards should be delivered in person. Nowadays, gift cards can be so specific and range in variety from clothing to books to theater tickets so there is really no reason for them to be impersonal. One other great thing about gift cards is that they are size agnostic meaning, even if your friend really wanted those boots you both saw in the store, you would be better off getting your friend a gift card to the store than trying to second guess their size.

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Litter Box Resolution for Cats

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- Karen Kardwell, 1/18/2017

Let's keep our cats healthy!  As the New Year gets underway and people are making their resolutions for health, we need to be aware of that our adored feline companions also could use a resolution of their own.  That is, a cleaner litter box!  But, they need a little help from us.

There is really very little variety in litter boxes.  Most have the same concept; a plastic shell case into which copious amounts of litter are dumped.  Waste is picked up with the sifting tool and the litter box is then considered clean.  Surprisingly, some experts state that if you scoop every day, you may only need to change the litter every two or three weeks!   It just doesn’t seem possible cats can go that long in a grubby box.The most common causes of death in older cats are kidney failure, cancer, and infectious disease (as in F.I.V).  Logically, you would have to think that the dirty litter box plays a role in kidney failure.  Going day after day in a urine filled box is certainly unsanitary if not unhealthy.  And, having multiple cats using the same box surely compounds the problem.  Compare a litter box to an outhouse.  Multiple people use it, it collects waste, and the conditions are recognized to be unsanitary.  Humans have been known to get diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and diarrhea from their dirty outhouses.  Certainly our cats are no less susceptible.

Here’s a tip for keeping the box fresh every single day.  And, a big bonus is, you will save money on litter.  Start with a standard litter box.  Any kind of litter box will do, and there really is no need for a cover unless you really feel the box is that much of an eyesore.  Line the box with three to four sheets of newspaper.  Then sprinkle about a cup of non-clumping liter over the newspapers, and that’s it.   Well, almost it.  Repeat this process every day and you and your cat will enjoy a cleaner, healthier, and hopefully longer life together.  Cleaning the box takes just as much effort as it does to scoop every day.  Pick up the box, toss the contents in the garbage pail, wipe down the box with a wet towelette (you may have to scrub on occasion) and re-add newspaper and litter.

Aside from keeping the box fresh, a couple more tips on cats and their potties:

  • + 1 box per cat.  If you have one cat, get two boxes.  Two cats, 3.
  • If you go with the new method of lining the box with newspaper, remember that cats can be very particular.  They may think they miss stepping in several pounds of dirty litter (they really don’t) and can refuse to use the new box set-up.   Be patient with your cat.  Try putting the cat in the box when you see them milling around their bathroom area.  Changing litter styles could require a retrain.
  •  Don’t overly clean with harsh chemicals.  Cats like to smell their own scent and will get put off by bleach and detergents.  A soapy mixture can work fine.

If you like the idea of saving money on kitty litter, and if you’d like to give your cat an excellent chance of eluding disease that may come with a dirty box, give the newspaper lining a try.

 

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The Journey to Quit Smoking

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There are many useful tips on the web on how to quit smoking. The advice varies from going cold turkey to finding a nicotine substitute. Amazingly, according to a study reported on by CNN, those smokers who quit cold turkey had a better success rate of quitting and staying smoke free than those who gradually weaned themselves off cigarettes.
No how, no way could I possibly be one of the cold turkey quitters! I had smoked for 45 years, since I was 13 and was up to two packs a day. That’s roughly a cigarette every half hour.

Continue reading “The Journey to Quit Smoking”

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Macros and the Cutting Diet (Sample)

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What Macros Are Best For A Cutting Diet?

When you want to lose body fat and become leaner, counting macros can be the ideal way to get you to your goal.  A cutting diet can help set you on a path where you know exactly what you need to eat.  Macros, or macronutrients consist of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.  Exactly how many macros for cutting diets are needed is a question that needs further examination.

Do calories count on a cutting diet?

Many people will follow a diet that counts calories.  In general, these types of diets have limited success, mostly because no one tells you what kind of calories you need to consume.  It is suggested that the average woman eats about 1500 calories per day, and the average man, 2000 calories per day, in order to lose weight.  What these low calorie diets don’t take into account is that some foods will impact you and your body more than others.  For example, if you eat donuts all day that total up to 1500 calories, it is highly unlikely you’ll find yourself losing weight.  On the other hand, if you eat 1500 calories worth of protein in a day, you’re pretty likely to see some weight loss.  But, the bad news there is that living on protein alone is not very healthy.  That’s where macros come in.  Calories do count on a cutting diet, but what really matters is the type of calorie you’re putting in your mouth.

How much protein, carbs, and fats do I need on a cutting diet?

If we use the generalization that a woman seeking to lose one pound a week needs to consume 1500 calories a day, and a man seeking the same rate of weight loss needs to eat 2000 calories a day, there are some simple ways to determine how much of each macro is needed.

For protein, you use your body weight to determine how much you need every day.  For example, a man weighing 190 pounds will need to eat 190 grams of protein.  Likewise, a woman weighing 160 pounds will need to take in 160 grams of proteins per day.   Proteins have 4 calories per gram, so in our example, the 190 pound man will be consuming 760 calories of protein per day (4 grams x 190 pounds).   The woman will need to eat 640 calories of protein a day.  (4 grams x 160 pounds). This is the ideal calorie intake of the macro, protein, when on a cutting diet.

For fat, there are differing opinions on what the intake should be but the general consensus is that fat intake should be at 25% of your total calories for the day.  For example, the man needing to lose one pound per week needs to eat 2000 calories per day, and the woman, 1500 calories.  For the man, fat calories need to be at 500, and for the woman, fat calories need to be at 375.  Because the macro, fat, contains 9 calories per gram, we would take the needed calories and divide by 9.  In our example, the man will be eating 55.5 grams of fat every day.  The woman will be consuming 41.6 grams of fat.

Carbohydrates are the easiest to calculate because your calorie intake of this macro is whatever is left over.  Continuing our example:

Male: 2000 calories per day for cutting diet

Protein calories: 760

Fat calories: 500

Total calories so far: 1260

Remaining calories: 740

Female: 1500 calories per day for cutting diet

Protein calories: 640

Fat calories: 375

Total calories so far: 1015

Remaining calories: 485

 

In our example, the man needs to eat 740 calories of the macronutrient, carbohydrate every day, while the woman needs to eat 485.

Consuming macros in these proportions works best for the cutting diet.  If we want to figure out the macros (grams of the macronutrients we need to eat), we need to divide the calories by the number of grams in each macro.  Protein and carbs are both worth 4 calories per gram, and fat is worth 9 calories per gram.  So in our example, the man would have daily macros as follows: Protein: 190 grams (760 divided by 4), Fat: 55.5 grams (500 divided by 9), and carbs: 185 grams (740 divided by 4).

The cutting diet

As you can see, we’ve made full circle here.  We are still counting calories but the difference is that we have regulated our macros in specific proportions.  By managing the proportion of macronutrients that go into your body, you are optimizing weight loss and cutting out fat.  In reality, we are counting and measuring macros rather than calories.

The cutting diet is a system that makes sure your body is getting needed nutrients.  We’ve all heard about diets that cut out fat, or diets that restrict the intake of carbs, but the cutting diet recognizes that all the macronutrients are essential for health, and yes, even for weight loss.

The average macros for cutting diets

Throughout our examples we’ve been using averages, and those averages can be a good starting point for your cutting diet. The average calorie intake for a man wanting to cut fat is 2000, and for a woman, it is 1500.  Translated into macros, our average man needs to consume 190 grams of protein, 55.5 grams of fat, and 185 grams of carbs.  Our average woman needs to consume 160 grams of protein, 41.6 grams of fat, and 121.5 grams of carbs.

Fortunately, all food packaging details out the grams of each macro on the label, so it is relatively easy to figure out how much of each macro you’re getting.  For foods without labels such as meat and fruit, macronutrient information can easily be found on the internet.

As you progress on your diet, you may need to make certain adjustments.  For instance, if you find yourself losing more than 2 pounds in a week, you probably need to up your required calorie intake.  Rapid weight loss may have you thinking you’ve found the keys to success, but it is never good for your health, and is unsustainable.  On the reverse side, if you find yourself losing no weight in the first couple of weeks, you’ll need to reduce your calorie intact and recalculate your macros.

People have had great results balancing macros on the cutting diet.  You will likely be pleasantly surprised at the fat loss and energy you feel.   Find the formula that works for you, and then stick with it!  Your leaner self will be here sooner than you can imagine.

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Best Camping Lanterns (a recent sample)

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As winter comes to a close, it’s time to start thinking about getting outside.  What better way to kick off the warmer weather than a camping trip?  I typically make my first camping excursion in early May, but I know many people head out even sooner than that.  Having the right equipment for your camping outing makes all the difference, which is why I’ve set out to review the best camping lantern.

Safety First

Camping Lanterns have come a long way over the years.  At one point all lanterns used fuel, typically propane gas.  These older lanterns certainly did a great job in casting light however, there were many drawbacks.  The main drawback being safety.  Having used a gas lantern for many years, there were some places where the lantern seemed unsafe and impractical.  I would never bring the lantern into my tent or home for fear that the lamp might tip over and start a fire.   Fortunately camping lanterns have come a long way with the best of them being battery operated with LED lighting.  You can’t get much safer than that.

Multiple Uses

Aside from camping, these lanterns have a multitude of uses, making them an invaluable tool to have at hand.  They can be kept in your car as a backup light source.  They are great in emergencies when the unfortunate blackout strikes.  They also serve to illuminate low visibility areas such as dimly lit closets or garages.

Before choosing the best lantern, what you need to consider is the purpose of the lantern.  Will you store it in your house breaking it out only for emergencies?  Is it going to be kept in the car?   Will you use the lantern to help light your garage when working?   Or, is the lantern only going to be used for the occasional camping trip?  Maybe you want to light up your backyard during those long summer nights?  Determining what the lantern will be used for will help narrow down your choices for the lantern best suited for your needs.

Depending on those needs, there are specific questions that will need to be answered.  For example, how many batteries does the lantern consume?  How long do those batteries last?  Are there alternate sources of power such as solar or car charger?  How bright is the lantern?  Is the lamp rugged enough for its designed purpose?   How heavy is the lantern?  If you’re backpacking you certainly don’t want to be lugging a weighty item around.  And if you’re using the lantern for camping, you want to find out if the lamp is weatherproof.

What Makes A Great Camping Lantern?

I prefer lanterns, which can serve a multiple of purposes.  For example, if I’m sitting around the campfire and lose my keys (that has happened unfortunately), can the lantern be used as a flashlight as well?   Some lanterns come with a hand crank charger which, aside from lighting the lamp, can be used to charge your phone.  For anyone who has mourned a dead phone while camping, this feature will alleviate future pain.   I happen to be a reader, even when camping, and what I don’t like about some lanterns is that the light is too bright and glary for reading.  So, a big must have for me is the ability to adjust the lighting.   I also think durability is important.  Lanterns get dropped and may get wet.  When camping, I enjoy taking my rubber raft onto the lake.  Just in case I don’t make it back before dark, I want to bring a lantern that will withstand the occasional splash of water.

You can’t review a lantern without looking at the value it brings as compared to price.  It’s pretty obvious that camping lanterns can serve numerous uses and you probably want to own more than one.  With that in mind, cost is a huge factor in decision making but, if you’re like me, you don’t want to sacrifice quality for cost.  Neither you nor I want a cheap lantern that may quickly fall apart.  For me specifically, I need a lantern that I can keep in my house in case of emergencies.  Lanterns are much more practical than flashlights when it comes to illuminating a room.  I also need a lantern that will give me enough light to enjoy a summer night dinner outside on my picnic table.  Most importantly, I need a lamp that can also stand in as a trusty camping lantern, one able to withstand being knocked around.

I set out to review five top rated lanterns in order to compare feature functionality with value in hopes of simplifying the selection process.   We’ll take a look at the great, the good, and the bad with each of these products.

Reviews

2 x HeroBeam LED Lantern V2.0 with Flashlight

This lantern has a lot of the feature functionality that I’m looking for.  Aside from the 300 lumen output, the lantern can also be used as a flashlight.  It is durable and water resistant, made to withstand the elements, and is also collapsible which makes the lantern very easy to stow.    The batteries used are 3 AA which helps keep the lantern lightweight and portable.   When the lantern is on constantly, the light will last approximately 8 hours.  The battery life can be somewhat of a con because if you turn it on at 7pm, you probably won’t have light when you awake at 5am.  Another con is that there is no setting available to make the light dimmer.  Sometimes you just don’t want that bright of a light.

PROS

  • Great light output
  • Weatherproof and durable
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Uses triple A batteries
  • Flashlight functionality

CONS

  • Battery life can be considered short
  • No way to adjust the lighting setting               

Etekcity Portable Outdoor LED Camping Lantern

These lanterns are a great choice for those looking for simple functionality.  They are bright enough to light a 10 x 10 area.  They are also lightweight and collapsible.  The lamps use three AA batteries.  Battery life is typically 12 hours so will be able to light your way from dusk to dawn.  They also feature a hook which comes in handy if you want to hang from a tree.  These lanterns may be more appropriate as indoor emergency lights however.  They are not waterproof (but are definitely durable) and somewhat small in size.   Like most of the camping lanterns out on today’s market, these have LED lights which will last (almost) forever.

PROS

  • Decent light output
  • Military grade durable
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Uses triple A batteries
  • Handle for easy carrying or hanging
  • Light duration is about 12 hours

CONS

  • Small, may not illuminate sufficiently for campers
  • Not waterproof

AYL StarLight 

This lantern has a 300 lumen output making it very bright.  It is durable and waterproof and has a long lasting battery life of up to 6 days.  The lamp uses 3 D batteries to keep it going.  One of the great features of this lantern is that the lighting has 3 settings.  You can put it on high, low, or strobe, so depending on the situation there is a setting which will probably work for you.  However, although there are three different settings, there are some reports that the lantern emits too much of a glare.  It is lightweight and easy to carry to your camping site.  The reflector covering can be removed to provide you with more focused lighting.

PROS

  • Excellent light output
  • Very durable and waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Light duration is about 6 days of continuous use
  • Perfect for both camping and to keep at home for emergencies
  • 3 light settings

CONS

  • Light may be too glaring

AGPtek Solar Lantern

This lantern has some very cool features.  There are 5 different charging methods.  You can use solar, hand crank, AC adapter, 3 AA batteries, or a car charger.  This means you will never be out of power. It also has an usb adapter which is suitable for charging your phone.  There are two brightness modes.  One is really bright with an output of 240 lumens, and the other mode is more suitable for reading, putting out 120 lumens of light.  When using the really bright mode, battery duration is roughly 12 hours but remember you can easily recharge this lantern using the various options available.  If you charge the lantern using the built in solar panel, the light duration is about 8 hours.   The light is not weatherproof which may be of concern to campers.  On the other hand, for those considering this light for emergency use, the different charging options as well as the USB outlet for your phone makes this a very practical lantern.

PROS

  • Decent light output with two settings available
  • Multiple methods for charging including solar and hand crank
  • Lightweight
  • Light duration is 8 to 12 hours
  • Inbuilt phone charger

CONS

  • Not weatherproof

The Siege Lantern

This lantern comes with 5 different light settings.  There is a very bright mode of 340 lumens, a medium mode of 175 lumens, a low mode of 33 lumens, a red LED mode, and a flashing mode.  The red LED mode can come in quite handy if you’re walking into a dark campsite as there is just enough brightness to light the way. It operates on 3 D cell batteries and, there is a battery indicator on the lamp so you know when you’re going to run out of juice.  The lantern floats and is water resistant.  It is also very durable and passed a 2 meter impact test.  Battery life on low is approximately 295 hours.   With the light on high you can expect about 15 hours of continuous light.  In water situations, such as night fishing, light can seem low as you can’t remove the diffuser cover.  If you did, the light would no longer be waterproof.

PROS

  • Excellent light output with multiple settings
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Floats, water resistant
  • 15 hours of continuous light, more if used on low

CONS

  • Light may be too low in certain situations

Conclusion

All of the lanterns reviewed offer great functionality and versatility.  If I were selecting a lantern for emergency use only I would select the Etekcity Lantern.  The reason for my choice is that it is lightweight and will give you up to 12 hours of continuous light.  The HeroBeam flashlight only provides 8 hours of continuous light which is not ideal during a blackout.  While the HeroBeam does have a built in flashlight, if you’re like me, you already have plenty of flashlights stored around the house.  The AYL Starlight, with its 6 days of continuous light, would also make a great choice however for the value, the Etekcity provides suitable functionality as an emergency lantern.

However, I want a lantern that can serve as a great camping lantern which can also be used in my house in case of a blackout.  The Etekcity is too lightweight and is not waterproof.  Unfortunately many of us campers have been caught in a rainstorm and having a lantern that’s going to fizzle out because of a little water simply doesn’t work for me.   The HeroBeam is waterproof but the battery duration is too short for me.   I also was a little put off by there being only one setting, bright.

I seriously considered the AYL StarLight due to it being able to work for 6 days without replacing the batteries, but I did not like the reports I read about too much glare.  It is very annoying to sit campside with the only thing you can see is this gleaming bright light in your eyes.

If I were a feature person, I’d definitely go with the AGPtek Solar Lantern.  But, I’m not a feature person.  I have owned crank radios and know from personal experience that it takes a lot of cranking to get about 15 minutes of power.  This lantern is not waterproof which is a concern for me.

In the end I’m going with the Seige Lantern.   It has a reported 15 hours of continuous bright light and I absolutely love the fact that this lamp floats.   Because the lamp is waterproof, has 5 different light settings, and is durable, I selected this as the best camping lantern when compared to the others.

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