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  1. Brains are interesting things, and the persistence of ones’ past experiences is super fascinating. Case in point: It’s February. I spent my early childhood in the Midwest USA, where we pretty much always had snow this time of year. I split my remaining childhood between the Midwest and Southeastern US, where it was always cold - but not usually cold enough to snow - and potentially rainy this time of year. I moved to the extreme Southeastern US, where winter meant the dry season and temps would dip down to jacket territory. I moved to the Northeast, where the biting wind and snow would occasionally cause the City to freeze, resembling a snow globe. I currently live in the Middle East, where it’s sunny every day with an average temp in the high 70s F. Winter here means the freedom to enjoy the outdoors and (usually) an increase in festivals and other cool things to do. What does my brain think about all this bouncing around? My brain takes the calendar month and the deep shade that is my balcony (my apartment doesn’t get direct sunlight at any time of the year) and translates that into: whelp, it must be cold. Probably with howling winds. Never mind that it’s 23C in the house; you want to hibernate with your gathered nuts. Cabbage & potatoes with kielbasa sounds great. I’m continually shocked that it’s warm outside. Shocked and disappointed that it’s too warm for a jacket (most days, and then the wind kicks up and I’m freezing to death). I’ve spoken about this disconnect to friends from other climates (mostly regarding holidays), and their feeling is the same: my Australian friends fare pretty well - and are more surprised when it’s 50C here in July - friends from snowy climes are confused in similar way to me. Friends that are less hiberatory (just go with it) see less of a disconnect because they deal more in actual reality - whereas I have theory and feeling to inform my brain. Super interesting stuff and has shitall to do with my goals this Cycle, but is a drop in the bucket to explain my seasonal need to pad my ass with fat (lol). More contextual stuff: There is also a rumor that we may imminently be going back into lockdown here. They’ve increased restrictions a bit again (with at least lip service being paid to mask enforcement), but cases are still rising (we are currently at 427 new daily cases). We are also in the midst of the FIFA World Cup 2020 (or something like that) tournament with a big tennis tournament later in the month set to start. And it’s winter - when things usually happen around here. Aaaaaand the blockade just lifted, and with it - a slight lift in travel restrictions (quarantine is still required and tourists aren’t allowed in - but citizens and residents can, at least at this moment, move with some amount of guarantee they can get back into the country if they leave. We’ve also got at least 1 travel bubble in place). So. That all is a conflicting pile of info and it’s unclear what that all will come to mean for day-to-day life. Whatever it is, I shall adjust accordingly. Updates coming if needed. Goal 1: Nutrition Staying the course on my more recent nutritional guidelines: Smaller portions, less meat, more veggies, nutrient dense food options, no GI issues. Drink enough water. Eat with an eye toward Base MFP goals for slow weight loss: 1,260 calories, 20% protein, 50% carbs, 30% fat but without judgement if I go over or under on calories. Basically, eat what I’m going to eat - but by the fact of tracking, that tends to be more reasonable. I’ll also be adding in some probiotics and digestive enzymes in an effort to help with gut issues. Goal 2: Fitness Staying my Druidy course of action (shocker) with 4-5 yoga classes per week - hoping to continue my M vinyasa /T functional/W detox/F handstands schedule, with a 20 minute walk to and from the studio. Goal 3: Fulfillment This goal encompasses a bunch of small things I have going on a daily basis already - with a couple tweaks. Some bloggy stuff, some creative stuff, some dog stuff. Checklisty Stuff Daily [ - ] Duolingo Arabic classes [ - ] Physical craft project (currently sashiko, lucet cord making & planning another quilt) [ - ] Digital art practice [ - ] Enrichment feeds for the pups [ - ] Training for the pups [ - ] Yoga class [ - ] Breakfast: [ - ] Probiotic & Enzymes Lunch: [ - ] Probiotic & Enzymes Dinner: [ - ] Probiotic & Enzymes Snacks: [ - ] Picture of the Day + Daily meal collage Weekly/Challenge [ - ] Finish W30 recipes e-Book [ - ] Post W30 recipes e-Book for sale [ - ] Work on Paleo recipes e-Book [ - ] Post weekly recipe [ - ] Create February/March Pins [ - ] Schedule & post February/March Pins [ - ] Schedule February/March ‘Grams [ - ] Review Q1 financial shit in prep for taxes send off [ - ] Stay connected with the world outside my little bubble - be it through keeping a regularly scheduled chat up (my local bestie is moving to North America next week - so my now-usual Tuesday coffee morning will likely be spotty at best as our remaining coffee friend has a newborn and spotty attendance) or attempting to forge new connections. Or, if restrictions go the other way, who knows? We may just see a return to forced scheduled socialization
  2. I crack myself up. Weeeeeeellll ... it’s another year. Which will hopefully be better than the last. Fingers frickin crossed there. Let’s turn to a fresh page, shall we? Let’s start this year off on the right foot with continuing to stay the course on most things, while peppering in a few extras for spice. Goal 1: As always, Nutrition Staying the course on my more recent nutritional guidelines: Smaller portions, less meat, more veggies, nutrient dense food options, no GI issues. Drink enough water. Eat with an eye toward Base MFP goals for slow weight loss: 1,260 calories, 20% protein, 50% carbs, 30% fat but without judgement if I go over or under on calories. Basically, eat what I’m going to eat - but by the fact of tracking, that tends to be more reasonable. I’ll also be continuing onto my third year of daily food photos (to go along with my Picture of the Day), since y’all seem to enjoy that and get something out of it. Goal 2: As always, a Fitness Component Staying my Druidy course of action (shocker) with 4-5 yoga classes per week - hoping to mix in live 3-D classes with my Zoom schedule. Not sure as of writing this how exactly that’ll take shape. Will update later. Also adding my wrist, ankle/quad/glute, and breath work rehab exercises here for accountability. Wrists & breath work are daily, along with trigger point massage; ankle/quad/glute work is every other day. Goal 3: Fulfillment This goal encompasses a bunch of small things I have going on a daily basis already - with a couple tweaks. The secondary digital project is new, but I’m enjoying learning how to create in this space so I think I’ll keep it up. Pup training is back - I think they’re ready to move on from just working on reactivity; we can find another project aside from deep naps. [ - ] Duolingo Arabic classes [ - ] Primary craft project [ - ] Secondary digital project [ - ] Enrichment feeds for the pups [ - ] Training for the pups Goal 4: Do Some Shit That Feels Adulty We have a few things on the fire at the moment, or hope to in the near future, so I will have goals & targets there. More on those as they materialize. Hopefully. I also still want to focus actual (step up from minimal) effort on my blog, so that goal is staying. Picture of the Day has been going strong for 10 years; I’ll be continuing that Weekly recipes are staying I’m hoping to add weekly ingredient spotlights e-Book(s) are happening this year At least a modicum of Pinterest effort is happening Working on yet again revamping my food photography style for this year And aside from that, I need to find something else to work toward so my brain doesn’t mush. Pulling sentences for the last big blog post I wrote was harder than it should have been, and it isn’t a great post, tbh. More on this one when I pick a course of action.
  3. ‘Cause we’re not jingling all the way anywhere this year. Is it Deep Holiday Season again, already? This year has seemed interminable - and yet quick; but like it’s barely happened? Let’s get an early review in: Jan - Feb: “Normal” life; a fair bit of travel, too many nights and weekends spent eating and drinking allthethings in preparation for my local bestie skipping off to a different desert. Mar - July: Fortress of Solitude life - yoga where I had the band with for it, kicked creative projects into high gear sparked off by Animal Crossing and coloring on the iPad. Ate like a college student for the most part. August: Lockdown lite and kicked yoga into high gear with walks to and from despite it being surface of the sun hot - I was just happy to be outside and moving my body in a way that felt nourishing. A return to not eating like garbage. September: Quarantine for reals and a wrist (re-re-re) injury; back to doing what I could as far as yoga was concerned. Kept up the healthy eating and was 100% tired of French fries at this point. October - November: A great groove was found with my Zoom yoga classes; most week I was able to fit 5 in. I had a bad week or two with anxiety and body freak outs, but overall some solid progress to be had. December: Hoping for the same. This year, I’m actually looking forward to staying the course as it were. The Holiday Season is always kind of wonky for us - if we’re Stateside and we travel, it’s either for Thanksgiving or early December and that’s always stressful. If we’re left to our own devices, it’s either travel for pleasure around my birthday and Chinese food + a movie on Christmas; or it’s lots of little get-togethers with friends and possibly a big blowout brunch on Christmas itself. This year, we aren’t able to travel anywhere so we are doing a birthday staycation (hence the dunes part of the challenge title), and we don’t feel like joining the masses for a big brunch blowout. If we congregate, it will be with 1 other couple. And that’s okay. Every year, this time is a whirlwind and it’s Really Frickin Easy to absolutely go off the rails when it comes to my own fitness and nutrition goals. Some years I manage to keep my proverbial shit together, but not the past few. This year will be spent focusing on other things. I’ll be spending this holiday season keeping the habits going that will fuel future-me, instead of creating a situation 2021 me will have to dig herself out of. If we choose to celebrate with back home family via Zoom, great. If not, that’s fine too. We have games for our NYE game night right here to mark the end of the year in our own style. Holiday Bash NF-Style Goals Betcha didn’t think I’d say nutrition. I’m going to continue to build on my last couple challenges here - continue to MFP track daily and report weekly without judgement, continue to post a daily log, continue to post daily pics, and continue to do what a can re: portion sizes, meat consumption, garbage consumption, and veggies. Movement. This month is going to be kinda wonky with Zoom classes - Hopefully by Week 1, schedules will have settled out and I’ll have figured out what I’m doing and who I’m paying for the privilege. Feed Your Mind. Continue on with 1 Skillshare course a week + ongoing crafting project(s). Feed Your Family. Continue on with doggie enrichment and training. Feed Your (potential) Future. Continue learning how to grow readership with the blog and figuring out if monetization is something I want to pursue. Mini Challenges. I know there will be mini challenges. I have the bandwidth to participate this year, whatever this may bring - Be it internal or external, Bring It! Come on Squatmas!
  4. Character Class: Rogue Hey sports fans, fellow cool-cats, and...snickers-bars...? (I couldn't think of anything great-sounding for the last one, heehe!) Friendly neighborhood Tabby-Cat, here! (^__~) Ya know, I almost forgot I joined this website. Golly. I was a major lurker for the longest time! WELL YA KNOW WHAT? I lurk no more! *Cue confetti, falling from ceiling, much fanfare* WOOT! In my bid to 'get my shiz together' (Which reaches it's height every new year, and rolls around every few months) I have decided to become an active member of a bunch of different forums, including this one! YAY! It's a way to keep myself accountable, I guess ya could say. Not to mention, it helps hone my writing skills and develop the discipline of writing every day (Which I'm trying to get better at, ESPECIALLY since I finally started a blog!) I wanna keep myself accountable not just for fitness, though. But also for every other aspect of life. So, I'll probably gripe about the occasional thing and talk about my addiction to all things coffee related *Nervous gulp*...it's uh...*Eye twitch* A problem. *Eyes nearby empty coffee cup* But, back to fitness! I'm a gal who definitely could be described as 'Skinny-Fat'. At 5' 2'', and 106 pounds, I've been told I look like a- well, like a gust of wind could blow me over, heheh! Not a lotta toughness in these ol' arms of mine! My boss frequently says, "You're killin' me, smalls." *Makes huffy sound* So my goal is to get toned, (^__^) To get a little muscle on me, ya know? And to DEFINITELY stop eating like a bear preparing for winter. I.E. Enough pizza to kill a hippo. And this site is full of so many wise, intelligent peeps, I know I'm gonna learn a lot from you all, on the way! And hopefully I can entertain with some of my adventures~ *Raises sword in the air, staggering beneath its weight* O-oof!
  5. I've teased a challenge with the Monks for a while, so here it is at last. Unlike most of my challenges, this will feature no theme and goals will be more like a bucket list of stuff that must be taken care of by the end of the challenge. Nutrition, workout and other stuff will still be monitored on my Battle Log. Let's get to it. Muay Thai Another thing I've talked about for a while and the main reason I'm Monk-ing (this is now a word) this round. It's finally time I took the step towards the dojo next to my home. It's closed for the summer right now, but I'm keeping an eye out. This quest consists of 4 sub-quests, the first 2 of which are my must-do baseline: 1) Drop by, check the place, talk with the owner and get some info, especially if I'll be ok training in my contact lenses 2) Do a free tryout class 3) Subscribe for a month to try this thing out 4) Attend 3/week Adulting There's stuff that needs to be done and I'm on staycation at home until the end of August, so I must use that time to take care of everything. I'll make a list of tasks every morning and cross them out as they're done. Anything remaining carries over to the following day. Blogging: HWA A while back, in the days of 6 week challenges, the Monks did an inspiring Street Fighter mini challenge. This eventually morphed into my HWA challenge, where the theme was about me running the wrestling promotion of Poison and Hugo Andore, starring characters from SF and other comics, movies and videogames. That challenge fell slightly apart during the last week, but it was a lot of fun and I left a lot of storylines unfinished. A few weeks back, I re-launched the idea as a blog with a more compact format that doesn't require so much work on my part or the readers'. I'll have to keep this up and post at least one episode every week. If you'd like to take a look, I would very much appreciate it if you left a comment there. Blogging: HHH Back in my hometown, I also ran another blog that covered the local hard rock and heavy metal scene with live reports (mainly), interviews and album reviews. Not linking that, because it's in Greek. That blog went into hiatus last Easter, when I moved to the capital and a new job. I was recently contacted by a band asking for a review of their debut EP, an interview and the chance to be on their tour poster as a sponsor, as well as free admission to their promotional show at the capital. I posted on the blog's FB page about the EP and a festival in my hometown, which were warmly received, rekindling the fire and making me consider alternative ways to bring back the blog. At first there can be album reviews, interviews and live reports from bands that make it to these parts, but the bread and butter of the blog which is the live reports can't happen while I'm away. My goal here is to publish the album review, the interview, attend the concert, put out a review and think of ways I can keep that blog alive. I might even put out a request for a local correspondent in my hometown! Training changes My Crossfit subscription ends early October, but I've been disappointed with my box since the start of 2016. Thing is, the only decent box I'd like to go to is far away from my workplace and home. I'm using the summer break to disappear from my box and try out Muay Thai, but I'll have to use September to finalize my plans. Where will I be crossfitting and how will I combine that with Muay Thai if I catch that bug as well? I need an answer by the end of the challenge Catch up with Lucha Underground and Mr. Robot I've seen the first 2 or 3 episodes of Mr.Robot and my Special Ranger Lady Friend (SRLF) says I need to catch up so we can start watching the second season. I also got into Lucha Underground about a month ago and it's awesome! Finished all 39 episodes of the first season last week (thanks long ferry voyages to and from my hometown!) and I want to blaze through Season 2 as well before September 7, when the third season of LU premieres
  6. As per my usual in 2016, its the third day of the challenge and I'm getting my thread started. Meh, I've been busy. But, let's get to it. Last challenge I mastered my late night snacking tendencies after limiting them in my first challenge. I'm not going to make that a goal, but intend to keep it going. I've also been soda free since the start of the last challenge, but I'm going to continue that goal. Those 2 things plus the training has my weight down 5.5 pounds in 2016 and has my 5K time down by about 30 seconds per mile. So, let's kick that up a notch. Goal #1 While continuing to limit the late night snacking I'm setting my sights on the other part of my day that is near sleepy times -- the morning. I have a tendency to hit the drive thru for some coffee on the way to work. That wouldn't be so bad, except while sitting in line I will usually decide that I need something to eat to go along with the coffee. I speak from lots of experience, there are no healthy foods available in any drive thru. So, my goal is to eliminate the drive thru food. My plan is to attack it the way I did with snacking after 9 PM. So, for this challenge, I'm limiting myself to once per week and the next challenge I'll eliminate them completely. Goal #2 Continuing the no soda goal. Goal #3 Continuing the plan. We're on to the second month of the plan, which means new exercises but the same overall program layout. I'm feeling stronger and faster on my runs. Additionally, I haven't had any of the injuries I typically get when jumping into a new routine. So, I'm just following the plan. Goal #4. I failed at this goal last time, but, I'm going to try to do it this month. 1 blog post per week for the length of the challenge. So, 4 posts this challenge.
  7. So I think it's safe to say that the last challenge of the year was awful...in fact worse than awful. I don't think I even got through the first week! But this is a new year and a new challenge so I'll learn from what went wrong and try and work on succeeding this time round. One of the main reasons things went so wrong over the past couple of months is because of work. It got busy fast. There's not much I can really do about that however I can change my routine a little to ensure that no matter what happens at work I still get my exercise in and I eat well. On the plus side all my hard work did land me a promotion and I am well on the way to saving for a deposit. So that's a plus! Anyway to the challenge! This year I want my focus for the first six months to be on getting fit...for rugby. At the moment when I am on the pitch I am slow, I am tired and I'm out of breath. That's not great if you play rugby. So I have two fitness 'goals' for January: Run 10-20minutes, 6 out of 7 days every week this month (22/26) Do three exercises to stretch my back every night before bed (26/26)I will run as soon as I wake up...normally I end up spending 45 minutes in bed once I've woken up doing nothing productive. It's a waste of time that can be used better. Running every day bar one a week may seem a little extreme...but I am really not fit so I'm not talking miles and miles. I can at the moment only manage about 15 minutes of walking and running which is around 1.8km. My run is more like a slow jog. The point of this goal is just to work my cardio back to something reasonable. The better cardio system I have, the longer I can last and be effective on the field. I sit at a desk all day at work...roughly 6-7 hours. The three exercises will hopefully re-align some things and help me start to become less injury prone. For my life 'goal' Publish a blog article every day of challenge (26/26)I've recently started using my blog (which up until late last month was just sitting there being paid for but not being used.) and the plan is to use this blog as a way for me to track everything. So I feature stuff on my fitness, experiences, stuff I'm studying, my story-writing and anything else I want to write about. Link is my sig but it can also be found here: LifeOfGilly - I'll probably be posting there more than here because of this goal... I'm looking forward to the shorter challenges, I think I'll be better at them. Plus really looking forward to the whole character creation and quest thing!!
  8. This is the challenge through the end of summer! Whatttt! Craziness. Building off of some things I learned last challenge, I've decided on a different sort of set of goals. Lifting and gymnastics will continue as per usual with additional glute accessories in my lifting days and a continued focus on press handstands for cast to handstands at gymnastics, but these goals are going to be trying to break me out of the schedules I like to set for myself. And I won't be afraid to call myself out when I'm slacking and expect you guys to do the same. Goal 1. Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent *Get out and do at least two fitness things each week that aren't just lifting or gymnastics. (Must be in different categories. Bonus points for getting a full set of 4!) -Hiking, rucking, going out of the way to walk for errands (at least 2 miles) -November Project, GymnasticsWOD workout -Outdoor crossfit, circuit workout of some sort -Yoga class, outdoor yoga, yoga video at home Lifting and gymnastics are my two loves right now, of course, but I want to be working in some other fitness activities in the coming weeks. This goal is to help address my weaknesses (cardio endurance), to get outdoors more and enjoy the summertime, and to prep for our vacation at the end of August. I need some SPICE in this life. Goal 2. Love yourself *5+ minutes of self-care (sun salutations, nail-painting, callus maintenance, foam rolling, etc.) per day *45+ minutes per week While I am good at giving myself care in the form of fitness and food, I definitely could stand to benefit from actually paying attention to other needs like taking care of my visual appearance better, taking care of my hands, and really doing a better job with foam-rolling. Something simple like sun salutations will count toward this as well. While I'd like to make a daily habit, I've also set a goal for the week in total as just five minutes per day may not be enough for the whole week. Goal 3. 5 Gs, Please *Defeat the prosnacktination habit of doom with a basic, visual points system on the fridge +1 point for every adulting task done between getting home and eating dinner -1 point for every snack eaten between getting home and eating dinner *Each week, try to get more points than the previous week This is going to be my new approach to try to tackle my habit of snacking when I get home from work or practice. I think it should be applicable to the weekends as well, as I go out and do errands and it's between those errands and making food for dinner that the habit really rears its head. Adulting is up to my own interpretation, but includes: dishes, laundry, folding laundry, unpack boxes, taking out trash, clearing out kitty litter, cleaning up desk, wiping down the counters, etc. #GAMIFICATION Goal 4. Back rolls?!?! (Cinnamon rolls!) *Revive the blog beyond the Bundt Bakers Club posts *12 posts to the blog before the challenge ends *Only 6 desserts can count toward this challenge goal I really do want to have a more active blog, and with the decrease in snacking from G3, I should be making more substantial dinners that will be worth posting about! Plus, I'm using up the weekly CSA and should be making sure to feature those veggies on the blog rather than just cookies, cookies, cake, etc.
  9. Following on from my self-imposed exile from the Assassins after my last failed challenge, I'm siging up with the Adventurers (if they'll accept me) as this guilds feels like the most appropriate place for me whilst I rediscover who I am and what I'm doing. Also, there is no Templars guild. This time last year I did set out some long-term goals which I made some success with (although nothing worth mentioning) so, as part of my gritty re-boot, I'm going to set myself some new year-long targets and base my goals for this challenge around them. Goal 1: Lose the excess xmas weight! Last year, the goal I stuck with longest was reducing my percentage bodyfat down to 15% which I did finally achieve in November. However, since then the holiday season has sort of upset things and I'm back up to 17% again! My first goal for this challenge is to get back down to 15% again with my year aim to be 12% or lower. This I'll hopefully achieve by being strict with my eating so that means no sweet things, no alcohol, only water and green tea for drinks and by sticking to high fat meals on non-workout days and higher carb and lower fat meals on work out days. This has worked well for me in the past so really it's just a matter of me sticking to it. Goal 2: Lose the excess limb! My other year-long goal is to master at least one, but hopefully all of the following single-limbed exercises: one-armed push-ups, pistol squats, one-armed pull-ups. I've been using Convict Conditioning, as well as various other online resources, to venture down this path so for this challenge I shall be cocentrating my efforts on getting close to, if not actually achieveing the next progression level of those exercises: Uneven Push-ups 1/2 one-leg squats Uneven pull-ups Goal 3: London Bridge ain't falling down! I've worked on it in the past but never stuck with it to the point where I could properly hold one so for this challenge I'm going to try to 5 minutes work every day either on flexibility or strength exercises that'll get me moving down this path. A few challenges ago the Assassins did bridging as they're mini-challenge and then put it all together in a pdf at the end so I'm going to try to work through it again, week by week and see where this gets me. Goal 4: Get creative! I've been toying with the idea of doing something creative with myself for a while so I think, in the spirit of re-booting, I'm going to start a blog (I've been led to believe that the internet is currently lacking people writing down stuff and publishing online just any random crap that pops into their head, so I'm looking to take advantage of this apparently overlooked market!) The Minimalists just put up a new article about resolving to write more this year so I'm going to use that as my leaping off point and hopefully create an outlet for the noise inside my head. I'm not sure where this will lead me but anywhere is better than nowhere. I'll also try to update my profile description at some point so it'll actually say something about me rather than being a bunch of out of date links.
  10. SEIZE THE DAY! Alrighty, Princess Heather is back in action! I have been MIA around here for the past few weeks, and it was due to me being in a bit of a funk and also lots of life happening. I have been promoted at work, from office manager into a sort of project coordinator, responsible for overseeing several ministry teams and being the point person for outreach and service projects for my church. It's a fun environment, and out biggest service project(s) of the year happen at the end of September so I've got lots going on for that. We are also in the midst of TTC, and keeping healthy for that is another major priority, leaving less and less time for internetting. Which is also at odds with a blogging project I'm trying to get off the ground. For anyone who was following my last (pitiful) challenge, I more or less accomplished all my goals with reading and with workouts, but food was a bit more elusive. Still trying to reign that in, but I know it's miles better than my diet was 3 years ago that I need to just keep trucking and not worry about being perfect. Goal 1: Quit being a hater... to myself I give myself way too much grief when I'm not perfect, which is of course all the time because perfection doesn't exist! I'm always fluctuating between being content and being critical, and while I've been making progress on this over the past 3 years especially, I want to make this a goal this time and hopefully improve my self talk habits and tip them towards contentment. Which I have to remind myself, is different from complacency. It's not about accepting me as I never bothering to improve again, its about making sure to be happy with how things are in the moment. Measurable goal: Post one thing each day that I'm happy about in my life, because there is always SOMETHING to be happy about. Goal 2: Come at me bro (science) Just kidding, though I love me some Dom. I've been struggling ever since I effectively took a semester off from lifting in the spring. I was so swamped with finishing my graduate capstone that I lifted maybe once a week if I was lucky, and it wasn't really with any direction or program. I've been trying to get restarted since, without really doing any tracking and without really ensuring proper protein or carb intake to fuel and recover... it's just been a mess. And no results. So I am going back to basics, and redoing New Rules of Lifting for Women. I had really great success with this the first time, and I expect that I can progress through it faster that I did the first time. This will give me a direction, and something to track, and a good new foundation for being strong. I just want to regain my BW squats by the end of the year, which I feel is not out of reach if I'm training with purpose. Measurable goal: Lift 3x Weekly Goal 3: Deal With It.... and do a Whole 30 This goal will start on September 22, and go to October 22, so ending right before the challenge ends. I will be a teensy bit lenient with added sugars in things like organic and clean BBQ sauce (for bbq pineapple crock pot chicken), but more or less will follow the protocol. I have been back on the juice (caffeine) and I'm already weaning off that again, and I have been SUPER tired and I think its a result of being too low on carbs when I'm not eating crappy ones. Carbs are easy to get when you binge on gummi bears, but harder when all your carbs some from carrots and brussels sprouts. Whole 30 is okay with potatoes now, and I will allow white rice smothered in coconut oil in case of emergency... which makes me think I should keep rice in my office's fire extinguisher box. Measurable Goal: Finish Goal 4: Publish something on my fledgling blog I have a blog that I have like 5 incomplete posts for, with nothing whatsoever published. I want to post at least one thing each week of this challenge, regardless of length or content. That's only 6 entries, not insurmountable. I have some pics of meal prep already, nothing unique but I have to start somewhere. Measurable Goal: 6 Blog Entries BONUS: Get a logo made by my design type friend.
  11. In continuation of the last challenge thread. See also how it began. TL;DR version at the bottom. Book 4 – Prologue "Enjoy your stay.", the jailer said as he locked the door behind me. And, as he walked away, he added "Hehe… this never gets old." I looked around. Everything in here just screamed "prison cell". Grey walls, a bunk, a basin and a toilet, all of which looked like they hadn't been cleaned in years. Yep, this definitely was a prison cell if anything. Which really was quite fine… …except that I wasn't supposed to be in prison, I was supposed to be in an asylum! And heck, I wasn't even really supposed to be there either! Why the hell was I here?! What had I done wrong?! "Hmmmmm…", I heard a voice grumble. Feeling quite uneasy about what I just heard, I turned to the cell to my left, where I had heard the voice from. A gruff-looking guy with scars along his face and pretty dirty teeth was smiling at me. But not in the good way. " "Oh crap. I backed off from the wall as far as I could. "Here, boy! Here, boy!" Suddenly… "Aaagh!", the guy screamed, clutching his neck. "What the— ugh." And then he collapsed. "Just in time, eh?", a voice from behind me said. I turned to the back wall and saw Emma smiling at me through the cell window bars. "Emma! What are you doing here?" "Tracking you down, sweetcheeks. And I should be the one asking. How did you end up in the Rangus Asylum?" "Beats me. They just said something about me not having my sanity, then they dumped me here without telling me what they meant or letting me say anything to my defense." "Oh. Yeah, the Rangus Asylum is known to do that." "Really?" "They check others for signs of lunacy, and if they find any, then they lock you up. Simple. Thing is, the 'signs' they use aren't really signs of lunacy at all… If anything, they are the lunatics here. But since they have weapons, and they look like legitimate guards, they use their power to lock up whomever they can get a hold of… before the others know who they're dealing with." "Ugh, great. So you're saying they're a bunch of criminals appearing to be law enforcement?" "Pretty much, yeah." "So I didn't do anything wrong?" "Nope." "Then I gotta get out of here." "No kidding. Not at least because of the neighbors you have here." "Say, what did you do to him anyway? Is he dead?" "Oh, no, just unconscious. A fast-acting toxin, but ultimately non-lethal. …well, I can't guarantee it in an environment full of dangerous people like this one, but normally it just knocks you out for about a day or two." "But how did you administer the toxin? I didn't see anything." "A very thin needle, and my trusty blowpipe." "A blowpipe?" "I never leave home without it. You don't have one, sweetcheeks?" "Of course not. I'm not a ninja." "You mean: not yet." "Yeah, well, if I ever want to live long enough to even start my ninja training, I first gotta get out of here." "Oh sweetcheeks…", Emma grinned at me. "Ever so young and naïve…" "What's that supposed to mean?", I asked. "Your ninja training began the instant you entered this cell." "Wait, what?!" "Listen up, student! Your next task as a ninja trainee… is to escape from the Rangus Asylum. You have six weeks." "Whaaaaaaaaat?! Emma, this is serious! Now's not the time to make a game out of this." "Au contraire, monsieur. This is precisely the time to make a game out of it. Because the last thing we need is you freezing up in fear of not managing to escape, and ultimately failing to escape because of that fear. Or worse, get yourself killed that way." "But I—" "No buts." "But how—" "You'll have to figure that out by yourself." "Wait, does that mean you're not helping me?" "Yes and no. Yes, I'm helping you escape, but no, I'm not going to actively step in until you screw up big time. I'll be playing your safety net, so to speak. But you'll have to do all the work yourself." "Why…?" "Because I'm sure you got into this mess by yourself. Knowing you, you didn't even try to disarm the guards when they started being rough with you. You gotta stop thinking that ultimately nobody wants to hurt you, because there are a bunch of people out there who actually do." "…" "You know, you should be happy. This is real hands-on ninja training. I've been locked up many times now, and I've had to escape by myself each time too. This is the real-deal. It doesn't get any more applied than this." "Emma, you're gonna get me killed!" "I told you, sweetcheeks, I'll step in before anyone gets a chance to do that." "Ugh. You can't be serious." "I am." "*sigh* I realize. But I'm still hoping this all turns out to be a bad dream." "Well, I hope you come to terms with reality soon, sweetcheeks. It's coming close to lights out time. And in an asylum, lights out means lights out. No ifs, whens or buts. At least you'll be getting some decent sleep… once you're good enough at shutting out the screams." "D:" "Same thing for waking up. Lights on is lights on. There's no 'please just five more minutes' thing." "D:" "Oh, and since you have lots of free time, and quite a bit of space, I expect you to continue your strength training. You'll probably need it to survive here." "D:" "Well then, that's all the guidance I can give you for now. Except maybe one more tip: the guards have no freaking clue who's locked up where. If you need to go undetected for a while, just enter the nearest empty cell. Or even a shared cell, if you're sure your cellmates won't tell on you." "Emma, this isn't 'Assassin's Creed'." "No, but it's close enough to it. You'll be missing out on Eagle Vision, but that's just about it." "…" "Right. The patrol is coming around in a few minutes, so I'm off. And don't worry too much, sweetcheeks. I'm not bailing you out of here precisely because you gotta learn to swim by yourself. And because I know that you don't really need me to help you here." "Oh. Uh, thanks." "Anytime, sweetcheeks. Now, go show them what it means to be a Monk of the Rebellion! And my student!" "Yes, ma'am!" Emma got up and stepped away, but turned back one more time. "Oh, and when you're out, I expect you to do 30 push-ups for not calling me 'coach' three times. Got it?" Oh, what the— ugh. "Aye-aye, Coach!" End of prologue Author's comments: The usual "yada yada yada" about creative freedom and such. And I've never been to an asylum or a prison before… at least not outside of video games and TV shows. TL;DR: challenge goals Baseline goals Go to bed by 12am midnight. No ifs, whens or buts. Lights out means lights out.Wake up by 9am and get ready straight away. That means brushing teeth, taking shower, shaving and having breakfast. If I genuinely oversleep despite going to bed by 12am, no matter… provided I still get ready straight away.Do bodyweight strength training (the Convict Conditioning workout programs) 3 times a week. Usually on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.Additional optional challenges Low- or medium-intensity workout on rest days. Stretching, martial arts form practice, Tai Chi… whatever I can think of. The point is to get into the habit of doing exercise every day, not necessarily to progress in those exercises.Write one blawg post per week. What kind of blawg only has one post? A dead blawg. Who wants to own a dead blawg? No one.Keep my backlog below five days. Post progress updates here more regularly, instead of two weeks worth of updates in a single post. Hopefully this will free up time to read (and comment on) other people's threads too.Post an act of book 4 at least once every two weeks. Need to keep the story going. But my blawg needs more of my attention, so I'm not committing to anything more than this.Motivation I'm tired of running (what should be) the minutiae of my life on auto-pilot before having taught my auto-pilot how to fly. Why the "escapes from the asylum" theme? My last challenge (“Multiplexingâ€) failed, and I lost my timetable during that challenge. By losing my timetable, I lost my sanity. In my last mini-challenge (“redeeming my sanityâ€), I didn't regain my sanity. So I don't have my sanity anymore. I thus conclude that I am by definition insane. And that's how I ended up in the asylum. Also, I'm breaking out because I don't like it here. It's the color, ya know?
  12. In continuation of the last challenge thread. See also how it began. TL;DR version at the bottom. Book 3 – Prologue November 9th, two days before the beginning of the next semester at the Dojo of the Rebellion. Grandmaster Spezzy had summoned me to the instruction hall this morning to discuss my new timetable, before the semester starts. I had seen the influx of new disciples last semester already, so I could very well understand why she wouldn't want to have to deal with us veterans on the same day. (That is, if I could even be called a veteran already.) "The 13th disciple, please step inside." And I did. "The 13th disciple, congratulations on completing your first semester here at the Dojo." "Thank you, Grandmaster." "It is customary for second-semester disciples to continue with a program similar to their first semester, with adjustments made by their mentors. However, your mentor recently approached me and requested your admission to a higher-level training program." I gulped. Just like Emma had mentioned, she knew what to do to get the Grandmaster to join in on her crazy plan. "You should know that this higher-level training program is decidedly more complex and difficult than your first-semester training program.", the Grandmaster continued. "Nevertheless, your mentor insisted that you were ready to undertake this program, and she personally vouched for your success. Therefore I am willing to let you undertake this program." "Thank you, Grandmaster.", I said, half-automatically, even though I was having a very weird feeling about this. Years of martial arts training however had given me some practice at giving automatic respectful affirmative or negative answers despite being perplexed by the question or statement. "Your mentor has been absent from the Dojo during the holidays, as I am sure you have already noticed, so I will explain the program a bit further. It's called the 'multiplexer', though here at the Dojo it is also known as the 'mux'. The 13th disciple, you are a computer scientist, so surely you have come across the concept of multiplexing, have you not?" "Yes, Grandmaster, I have." I did not have the heart to tell her I was a mathematician, not a computer scientist. "In your own words, how would you explain multiplexing?" "Well… in engineering, multiplexing means that multiple signals share the same transport channel. So… in computer science, an example of multiplexing would be… say… having a video file that contains both an audio track and a video track. The file contains different signals, namely the audio and video data, and the transport channel is the stream of bytes the file is made of." "Correct. Now, sticking to your example, what possible ways can you think of for arranging the audio and video data within the video file?" "Uh… well, one method might be to store the audio data at the beginning of the file and the video data afterward, if that is what you mean by arranging the data." "Yes, that is what I mean. Can you think of other arrangements? One that might be more conductive to starting the video mid-way, not just at the beginning?" "Well, if the audio and video data is split into chunks, say, where each chunk contains one second's worth of audio or video, then the chunks can be arranged so that the first second of audio is followed by the first second of video, then by the second second of audio and then the second second of video, and then the third second, and so on." "Correct again. You also mentioned chunks. That is the essence of our multiplexer program. Your program's goals are signals, your program's tasks are the chunks." "Then… do you mean that I should break my overall goals into chunks and then interleave those chunks, tackling all goals at the same time by first concentrating on the goal of the first chunk, and then on the goal of the second chunk, etc.?" "Yes." "Then… am I correct in assuming that the chunks are sized based on time? A task is broken into multiple chunks if it needs longer than a certain time to complete?" "Correct again. You are to break your tasks into chunks of roughly 25 minutes of work, with breaks between each of them." "Okay… But that setup is sort of like a meta-program, isn't it? It still doesn't seem to have underlying goals of its own, only guidance on how to work towards any." "A keen observation. And yes, I will give you another set of goals to work on within the multiplexer. In your last challenge, your work focused on the two rituals of preparation, your martial arts classes, our philosophy teachings and our introductory strength training program. In this challenge you will work on multiple areas simultaneously, multiplexing between tasks. Your first area is the 'traditions' area. This area deals with extensions of the goals from previous semesters, namely your morning and evening ritual of preparation. You are to extend the morning ritual by adding a short session of meditation first thing in the morning, and you are to re-schedule the evening ritual to 11pm. The halls will be patrolled at 11.30pm, and you are expected to have finished by then. Any questions so far?" "No, Grandmaster." "Your next area is the 'body'. This area deals with physical exercise and skill building. You are allowed to take part in any of the following classes: tri-weekly bodyweight strength training, as you have already practiced in the last semester; free-form martial arts practice without instruction; beginner Tai Chi practice, in any of the first-semester druid classes, and beginner Ukemi practice—that is, learning how to fall correctly—in any of the first-semester assassin classes. And if the weather permits you may of course use our outdoor running track for running. Try them out and see which ones of those you like. There are no restrictions on how many classes you take in each of these disciplines, as long as you mix them up regularly. However, I trust that you know strength training is ineffective if done irregularly. Any questions now?" "No, Grandmaster." "Your final area is the 'future'. This area deals with preparations for your life outside the dojo. I do not know your plans, but you have free access to whatever you need in the Dojo that can help you prepare. I will be regularly checking in with your mentor on your progress. Any final questions?" "Yes, Grandmaster. I'm not sure if I understand this correctly. But if I were to take up writing a blog, then is assigning myself a 25-minute chunk to either write or promote a post while working in the Dojo's library in accordance with my program? Or if I were to search for a Ph.D. position in mathematics, then I may research on available positions with the help of the Dojo's informants and write my application papers in the Dojo's library, all in 25-minute chunks?" "Correct on both counts. Though I wonder, would you not instead be looking for a Ph.D. in computer science?" "…I can work in either position, Grandmaster." "Interesting. Well, yes, your suggestions are 100% accurate." "Then I have no further questions, Grandmaster." "Excellent. Then I wish you all the best for this semester. See you soon." "Goodbye, and thank you, Grandmaster." I said, and left the room. Once I was outside, I let out a huge sigh. "Oh Emma… Just what kind of mess have you gotten me into here…?" End of prologue TL;DR version: challenge goals 'traditional' area (mandatory):Lights out by 11pm, asleep by 11.30pm. (last challenge: "12pm" and "not tracked")Meditate, then get ready, then start work. (last challenge: no meditation)'body' area (mandatory):Do bodyweight strength training 3× per week. (2 chunks per session) (last challenge: identical)'body' area (optional, subject to availability):Free-form martial arts practice.Tai Chi practice.Parkour roll practice.Kip-up practice.Outdoor run.'future' area (mandatory, subject to availability)write for or promote my blog (yet to be setup)search for or apply for Ph.D. positions1 chunk lasts 25 minutes, except goal #1.2, which lasts longer. All tasks are tackled one chunk at a time, except goal #2.1, which is tackled in a block of 2 or 3 chunks. Grading and rationale to come in a follow-up post.
  13. I am happy to be able to claim that I have overcome some fears in my life by taking them head-on. This is precisely what I am going to do between now and next spring. I want to conquer two of my biggest fears….. Main Quest - Stay on the Master Plan Nutritional Goals Hit my planned macros within +/-5g of each every day with exception of refeed days (CON: +1)Continue the reverse dieting into a lean gain cycle ( STA +1)I plan on doing this in a very smooth and methodical fashion.I am not suddenly going to start eating 4000 calories a day.Training Goals Continue the war on gravity and try to get stronger….but more importantly…bigger. Having finished my intensity cycle, I am going back to my strength routine until the end of the year. (STR: +1)Continue to strengthen and rehab my right knee and safely work around all of my nicks and dings: (DEX: +2)destroyed my right knee 2 years ago….multiple surgeries etc…old rotator cuff tearhot elbowbeing old…lolOptional: Not sure if I will be on enough of a caloric surplus to do so within the next 6 weeks, but I have made some significant strength gains this summer and I want to test some of my 1-RMs. Record Good Data (WIS: +2) This is a huge regret of mine. Six years ago, I was at all-time strength levels….and I have some memories of the more epic reps and misses…..but I have no record of how I was training or what I was eating. Sad. I want to record every rep in the gym, every calorie I eat, weekly weight and bodyfat, and full body measurements at least monthlyTake more pictures, put dates on the file names! Level Up My Life Goal #1 - Build My Personal Blog (WIS: +3 , CHA: +3) I am going to do this project for a multitude of reasons: I have always been a bit of an introvert and I think this project will help with that. The hope is to share a lot more about myself personally so that everyone can see….I am just a regular fella…and naturally, everyone can laugh at my eccentricities. I have friends and family who are wondering how I am doing. I have this love….total-rage-hate relationship with Facebook….and I am taking a break. Initially, I want to create a detailed chronicle of what I did this year to reconstruct my body from the ground up….physically and mentally. The hope is to inspire others in that there is not some triple-top-secret methodology….and there was anything but perfection along the way…lol…and most importantly: anybody can do it.Begin chronicling my path to the stage. I plan on competing in a natural bodybuilding competition next spring. I played footsie with this all through my early 30’s…..but always chickened out. Well, I destroyed my knee, got fat, depressed, got on the road back and started thinking about what its all about….it is something I need to do. I will go much further into these details in my blog. This, BTW, scares me to the core of my being. Stage....lights.....audience....banana hammock... A lot of folks are curious about what I do on a typical day. I will open up more about what I do on a daily basis and there will probably be a mountain of philosophical discussion…..as well as educational items.I need to learn basically every single detail that goes into this…from starting a domain to writing HTML, CSS and PHP….my knowledge is near zero on this stuff….and I am self-teaching myself everything. The brain is a muscle that needs exercise too! Level Up My Life Goal #2 - Be a good community member (WIS: +1, CHA: +1) Continued from last challenge: Not only am I looking forward to discussing all things blogging , it is an open letter to all and an invitation to use my thread as an open forum to ask questions about and discuss all things nutrition and supplements….and I am especially talking those lurkers who are shy and afraid to ask the "dumb question." There are no dumb questions in my thread. I have learned many things over the years through trial, error, success and failure. I feel like I have a lot to share with others….and especially the message: NOTHING can change your body and your well-being like nutrition can. You can do endless reps in the weight room…..you can run every marathon in your region…..but the true cornerstone in reaching your goals (whether it is to get bigger, stronger or faster) is going to be the execution of a good nutritional plan. Now, I am not saying that I can create custom nutritional plans for everyone…..there just isn't enough time…..but I really hope to give people the tools they need to make the right decisions in building a great plan. Additionally, I see it every day…..people throwing their hard-earned money away on useless supplements. Don't get me wrong…..there are absolute must have supplements that I use on a daily basis…..I am not trying to ram some homeopathic message down your throat. But I do want you to avoid spending $80 on a magic fat burning pill when you could have bought a weeks' worth the groceries with it instead.
  14. Ok inspired by the bloggers unite thread and the IronBlogger group in my old hometown I propose the following PvP Challenge: IronBlogger Rebellion Rules: At least one blog post a week. Weeks will be defined as starting on Monday 0:00 (midnight) and ending Sunday 23:59 in Berlin. You’re welcome to post more than once in any given week, but it doesn’t count for the next week. You participate with up to two blogs. Not allowed into the mix are commercial blogs (you are paid to blog by a client) or blogs of the Tumblr variety where you simply post a picture or reblog other people’s pictures, because… there shouldn’t be a need to explain this one, obviously. Also, don’t think your Delicious-link-posts count. They… drum roll… don’t. Any topic or length of blog post is acceptable. Of course, discrimination or harassment of any kind are not tolerated. Blogging about joining Iron Blogger Rebellion is acceptable. If it’s obviously filler, we may laugh at you, but it still counts. Droppin in grading can be a bummer, but a crap blog is probably worse. It’s up to you. You’re allowed to leave the Iron Blogger Rebellion at any time by notifying us. There is no set end date. We’ll end Iron Blogger Rebellion by group agreement. Anyone participating in the current Challenge may join. We will, on occasion, and using our discretion, grant people skips for a week under exceptional circumstances (e.g. extreme sickness). You will get an A for posting in all 6 weeks, B for posting in 5 weeks and so on.These rules are an adaption from http://ironbloggerhamburg.de/rules/ and http://ironbloggerberlin.com/rules/ please discuss
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