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  1. And doesn’t lift all the things (for now). Short back story: At the moment a fair number of my endocrine systems are wonky (or rather, wonkier than usual), so I’ve been in figure-out-what’s-wrong-and-fix-it mode since September. I spent my last challenge with the Druids, and my goals here are a continuation of those. The short-term over-arching goal: feel better --> go back to lifting all the things. Current routine Food: strict autoimmune paleo protocol until further notice. Fairly low carb. Limited red meat. Lots of veggies, poultry, fish, and healthy fats.Exercise: lifting (modified version of Wendler’s 5/3/1) 3x/week + yoga, ideally on most of my rest days. Lifting is currently low volume and relatively low intensity. I’ll add back accessories, joker sets, and AMRAP sets as I feel better. While the week-to-week variability in how much I can tolerate has been frustrating, the re-commitment to yoga has served as a silver lining—namely, I’m figuring out ways to challenge myself with my yoga practice since the lifting progress has been inconsistent.Stress management: Yoga. Meditation (using the Calm app to track). No caffeine. Get the sleep.Supplements/meds to reduce inflammation, fix some vitamin/mineral deficiencies, support blood sugar, and promote hormonal balance (including thyroid hormone replacement as of today). Working with a naturopathic doctor on this and the food sensitivities.Fitness Quests: That other AIP stuff Eat chicken liver at least 2x/week Have fermented foods or beverages at least 3x/week (unless I start taking a probiotic) Eat food containing gelatin (the equivalent of one recipe/week) Bonus: learn how to make bone broth and make at least one batch Yoga At least 3x/week for 15+ minutes Poses to work towards: Mermaid One-legged wheel Sleep Computer curfew for non-work activities: 8:30 pm on school nights, 9 pm otherwise. Phone use after this time is fine, but no internet browsing. Life Quest: Meditation: improving my consistency At least 5x/week At least every other day (i.e., don’t skip 2 days in a row) Break my current record streak (13 days) Unofficial lifting goals to keep me accountable: 1) Stay far, far away from failure, and 2) Don’t skip my deload week for this cycle, regardless of how I feel come that time (should be during the third week of the challenge). Happy new year everyone
  2. Hello Druids! Can I hang out with you for a challenge? Brief backstory: I started powerlifting in April 2014, joined the Warriors, and never looked back. My original motivation for strength training was to help manage PCOS (an endocrine disorder that typically affects insulin and sex hormone functioning in women). Unfortunately, despite the lifestyle changes I’ve made over the last several years, recently I’ve struggled to manage some of my symptoms (especially fatigue), and a lot of upheaval these past couple of months (finishing my Master’s, moving thousands of miles, starting a PhD…) hasn’t helped. However, I’ve finally found good medical support in the form of a naturopath and am already feeling MUCH better. For this challenge, my focus is on moving towards optimal health and balance. Goals: “This food stuff is supposed to help us, not hurt us...†–Urgan [+ 3 CON]Follow an elimination diet (pretty much the autoimmune protocol) to root out paleo-approved foods that I’m nonetheless sensitive to. I started on Oct. 26, so depending on how I feel I might get to the reintroduction phase towards the end of the challenge.Limit red meat to ½ lb/week to decrease inflammation. I'm also going to try to eat more fresh fish so I'm not stuck with poultry and canned fish.Stick to low carb (<25% of calories from carbs, probably significantly less on rest days). Sweet potatoes, squash, and the like only after lifting. Limit fruit to a couple pieces/week at most. Right not I’m not tracking closely—I have in the past and have a pretty good idea of what I need to do to stick to the low carb plan. I’ll modify my strategy if need be.Yoga 3x/week (15+ minutes) to start re-forming this habit [+ 3 DEX]. Any suggestions for free guided sessions (esp. in the 30-min range) focusing on stretching and de-stressing would be appreciated Meditate [+ 3 WIS]. I’m not setting a concrete goal because I don’t want having met my goal to be an excuse NOT to meditate. Instead, I’m just going to try to rack up as many minutes as I can using the Calm app to track. It should be easy to add 180+ minutes over the challenge if I’m consistent.Schedule to support sleep [+ 3 STA]:On lifting days, go to the gym right after lab/class. This means hauling my lifting gear all over campus because I don’t have a locker, but it really helps me get to the gym sooner à getting out of the gym sooner à getting to bed sooner (since I lift in the evenings).9 pm screen computer curfew for non-work, non-chore, non-meditation activities (including NF). Ideally this will hold for work- and chore-related activities, too. If this goes well, I’ll start moving the curfew to an earlier time.Take the supplements [+ 2 CON]. I already take some supplements to support insulin and testosterone balance, as well as to reduce inflammation; I’m about to add some more to help with progesterone and cortisol levels. Because of the number, I need to stay organized, especially since for some, the time of day and whether I take them with food matters. As part of this goal, I need to organize those supplements that are in pill form in pill containers at the start of every week. Life Quest: read part one of a book on dynamical systems theory [+ 1 WIS] As mentioned above, lifts will still happen and will be posted sporadically in my battle log (link in my signature). My focus isn’t on gainz, though, and I’ll listen to my body when judging how hard to push myself—it helps that my current program has a lot of autoregulation built in. It would be ideal to continue making slow and steady progress, though. My participation this challenge will be a bit hit-or-miss because of my schedule, but I look forward to meeting some Druids and learning more about your approaches to health and fitness .
  3. Quest for Oneness This is the continuation of my quest for a healthier, more balanced life (check out my last challenge for a little more background). The Journey So Far Over the last two challenges I've Built support team of doctorsSuccessfully completed an autoimmune protocol elimination diet and began reintroductionsBegan meditation as a form of stress reliefTook steps towards meeting new friendsBegan tackling weaknesses in my trainingStarted mindfulness of mouth (read: don't be an asshole)I've had different levels of success with each of these, and many are works in progress. The big challenge this go 'round will be maintaining (and building upon!) the health I've achieved while changing some life factors. New workout routine (back to ALL THE SQUATS!) complete with mucho conditioning, preparing for the GoRuck Light on November 9, and experimenting with foods as I do more reintroductions. Recovery is king here. Without proper recovery I'm going to get knocked on my ass. How Not to Get Knocked on My Ass Tasty, tasty recovery: It's hard to eat a lot doing an AI protocol. Many days I found myself at 1500 calories and under 100g of protein. Lame. I need to eat at least 1800 cals and 130g of protein. Those are my bare minimum goals. Aim will be higher but points will only be taken if I go below this threshold. Grading: A- 40+ days with minimums hit B- 30-39 days C- 25-29 days D- 20-24 days F- 19 or fewer Stats: +1 STR, +1 STA, +2 CON Meditation: Continuation from last challenge. Going to aim for 2x per week at home. Yoga only counts if it's for zen purposes-not stretching or exercise. This, allegedly, helps manage stress. My body reacts much more negatively to stress than the average joe's (example:last week when I had family in town for 2 days and ended up exhausted and crying) so this is really important for my recovery. Grading: A- 11-12 meditations B- 9-10 meditations C- 7-8 meditations F- 6 or fewer Stats: +3 WIS, +1 CON Ruck: I bought my bag and bricks early on. Both are sitting in my closet, unused. Lame. With the ruck looming I figure it's time I put the bag on and get out there. Do something crazy with my ruck at least 1x weekly (this includes hiking, long walks, shortish walks, bring it to the gym for finisher shenanigans, etc). Grading: A- 6+ ruck adventures B- 4-5 ruck adventures F- 3 or fewer Stats: +2 DEX, +2 STA I'm also considering adding a part 2 to this that would involve using my ruck as a day to day bag (with bricks!) but I'm not sure about that. Thoughts fellow Ruckers? Life Side Quest Don't be an asshole: This is a continuation on last challenge. My focus is going to be entirely on maintaining professionalism, giving concise answers, not losing my cool in front of coworkers, etc. Grading: Say 1-3 unnecessary things: A Say 4-6 unnecessary things: C Say more than 6: F Stats: +4 CHA No additional side quests this time. And while it won't be part of my goals I'll be spending this challenge working on food reintroductions. I've got a nifty document drawn up to track dates introduced and reactions (with ratings!). I'll keep that stuff updated here, too. And, since I'm starting a new workout plan there may be things I tinker with. So, that'll be updated here, too. And gifs. I promise there will be gifs.
  4. BIO Since I'm setting up camp in an entirely new area this challenge I figured I'd delve into some background info. I've been with NF since 2011. I've done countless challenges, made many health improvements, and learned a whole lot about lifting weights. Previously, I've been fighter-boxing, dabbled in Muay Thai and an OMer-longterm love affair with yoga. Currently, my fitness routine is a little hodge podge of bodyweight and weight work (we'll talk more about that below). I've also run the gamut on dietary lifestyles. I spent the better part of 14 years as a vegetarian; some years were vegan, some pescatarian. I'm now (grudgingly) what one may consider paleo (we'll talk more about that below, too). Oh, and I partake in intermittent fasting. Otherwise, I'm semi ranty and enjoy shenanigans of all sorts. Oh, and I have a thing for gifs. I'M A HOT MESS All that stuff we'd talk more about, yeah, here it is: Issue 1: Injured Laura is injured. I just don't know that much about it yet. Something about disc degeneration in my cervical spine. Currently using chiropractic to treat it while I wait for my new doctor to become available. So, lifting heavy is on the back burner for the time being. I can still lift from time to time, but not as often. So, I've got a hodge podge of stuff set up. Currently, I'm trying to own the pistol squat. Issue: 2 This is the big one. My body hates me. Or thinks I hate it and is fighting back? Not sure. I do know that I have anxiety and it's out of control. I also know that I'm not happy. At all. And there isn't really a reason for that. And I know that I've been under intense stress for a very, very long time now (hmmm, funny how this all works together). So, in addition to the neck thing I've started to notice a lot of other issues. I won't list them all but I suspect three things might be the issue: 1. Leaky gut (which sounds gross, yay), 2. An Autoimmune disease (specifically RA), and/or 3. Cortisol/Adrenal issues. Before this challenge I was mostly a primal style eater. I didn't' bother to name my dietary choices, but that sums it up pretty well. Now that my body is freaking the frak out, I'm starting an autoimmune protocol. And I'm not that happy about it. Which brings me to: GOALS This isn't going to be set up like NF recommends, but hey, I'm getting way out of my comfort zone here. Mental Well-Being Goals: Goal 1 Get help. I've seeking professional help but I'm a slacker. I'm not going to grade myself on finding the right person to help me since there's no telling how long that will take. I am going to grade myself on how much effort I put in. Call or email nice lady who offered to help and ask for names Call and set up appointment with someone on The List If, after a few meetings, I deem this person isn't The One, call next person on The List within 3 days. Rinse and repeat as necessary.Goal 2 Guided meditation. I tried alone style meditation before bed previously and that was an epic failure. I think something guided will be better. Also, not before bed. I think I'd like to get an app or something to use during walks (which I generally take during my "lunch" break). Do this at least 4x per week. Goal 3 Walk. Minimum of 20 minutes, twice per week at work, as many times as I want at home. Health Goals: Goal 4 Cut back on coffee. Coffee is a no-no in the AIP world, much to my chagrin. Generally, I drink 2 cups in the morning (black). I do this for two reasons: 1. Caffeine, duh. and 2. It's helpful during a fast. I'm going to slowly decrease my coffee intake and grade accordingly: Week 1, one cup per day maximum. Week 2, half cup per day maximum.From here, I'm honestly not sure where I'll go. I thought about doing X number of days without coffee each week but I don't think that will work well. Also, depending on if this is AI or cortisol the future will vary. Cortisol treatments generally recommend no caffeine, while AIP is okay with some caffeine but not COFFEE. So, theoretically, I could add in green tea, which I miss desperately, but I become nauseated when I consume tea on an empty stomach (all kinds). So, unless anyone knows a way to change that, I'm out of luck. So, I think, starting week 3, I might just go cold turkey. We'll see. Goal 5 Eat for autoimmunity. This is helpful for anyone unfamiliar. I rarely drink, or eat gluten as it is. I don't take NSAIDs unless it's an extreme situation. I do adore eggs and eat a ton of grassfed dairy and love me some nightshades. So, my heart is breaking just a little here. These, along with spices, will be the hardest for me to give up. I've already gone a week without dairy. It was annoying more than anything and I've pegged that as the easiest to get rid of. Okay, well this post was full of long, boring words and lacked my usual gif fest. Not my best first impression, I'm sure But I promise for more fun at a later date. I might add points later to 4 of the 5 goals if that's permissible. I haven't done a challenge in which I felt comfortable leveling up in a little while, but if this all goes well that might change.
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