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  1. Hi, Druids! Still hanging out here because I'm still working on more of an inner discipline/self-improvement challenge! Last challenge I managed to create and stick with a regular schedule for the first time in my adult life. After living that for a month, I have a few tweaks to add to it, and some things I want to flesh out a bit. This is the schedule I want to keep for this challenge: 7:30 AM: Wake up. Turn on sun lamp. 8:15 AM: Exercise with wife (yoga or weight lifting) 9:00 AM: Breakfast, then leave for work. 1:00 PM: Lunch (30 min) - Do DuoLingo. 6:30 PM: Head home (arrive ~7:15). 7:30 PM: Eat dinner. 8:00 PM: Go for a walk with wife. 8:20 PM: Free time (TV, hobbies, art, gaming) - use blue light blocking glasses 9:45 PM: Take melatonin. Get ready for bed. 10:30 PM: Bed time. The biggest change here is that I'm going to try to work out in the morning, and walk in the evening. It seems to take me about 45 minutes to get ready from waking up to ready to walk out the door. I also want to leave 45 minutes for exercising and then showering/whatever afterward. Since I need to leave for work at 9 AM, that means waking up at 7:30 AM, half an hour earlier than I am now. Which means the end of the day has to shift a little to compensate. I think the sense of accomplishment and physical benefits of regularly doing yoga and lifting will make the earlier bed time worth it! I should also mention that I'm not going to start lifting until I start taking testosterone. I've been told that once I start, I will quickly see some major changes re: energy and hunger. So I'm going to need to adapt to that once I do start, which should be in 2-3 weeks. So the latter half of the challenge should be... interesting. There's an order of priority in keeping my schedule, with the highest priority being "stuff that has to happen every day no matter what": 1. Wake with sun lamp at 7:30 AM; take melatonin and get ready for bed by 10:00 PM 2. Eat breakfast before leaving home; eat lunch by 1:00 PM 3. Some form of exercise in the morning 4. Nightly walk; use free time constructively A change in focus this time around is on eating in a regular schedule. With sleep more generally managed than before, I became aware that my eating habits are all over the place. And I'm developing a worrying habit of skipping breakfast and then "putting off" lunch as late as possible - usually after 2pm. The worst part about that is that when I finally do eat, I can't seem to get properly full unless I eat something very heavy in fat and carbs. Also, I just feel terrible, with headaches and lightheadedness. Why am I doing this to myself? So eating regularly is priority 2 now, almost as important as book-ending my sleep time with rhythm-resetting light/hormone cues. Because food also resets the rhythm, and because this quasi "intermittent fasting" thing isn't doing me any favors. (And skipping meals is going to be a LOT worse on me once I start adjusting to a male metabolism! So I gotta nip this in the bud now.) EDIT: And I forgot to add the other important challenge I need to do: Hydration! For now, I am making it a goal to fill and then drink my entire 1.5 liter water bottle every day (including weekends!!) I think part of my low energy/feeling like crap issues are coming from chronic dehydration. I don't look forward to peeing 20 times a day, but it needs to happen. And another, "softer" focus is on using my free time in a more constructive manner. I have about an hour and a half every evening to do whatever, but it mostly gets used to watching TV or YouTube videos. So I've created a loose weekly schedule of what to do each day during that evening time. TV time is still on there, but so is painting with my wife (one of her favorite hobbies) and days where I play video games (a hobby I miss). My hope is that I'll appreciate my free time more if I actually use it for hobbies I like.
  2. Weeeell, the inter-challenge challenge NAXIUS ASCENDING (Part 1.5) was a complete fail. This probably happened for two reasons: 1) it was my birthday week, and 2) let's pretend that I was getting all the fail out of the way before NAXIUS ASCENDING (Part 2) This challenge will have a heavy focus on time management. As a result, the initial post is mostly a copy/paste job from the last challenge, because I'm lazy efficient. I'm usually more on the ball when there are cosplay-related things at stake. Is it a bad thing that the act of pretending to be a (usually terrible) fictional character gives me greater motivation to be healthy than my own well-being does? Don't answer that. It turns out that my only successful challenge so far, the one from the newbie area where I needed the body of a God had similar cosplay motivations. I wanted to lose 10 lb of fat so that I would make a better Loki. This involved eating more fruits and veggies, and greatly limiting bread and beer. Limiting bread and beer made me sad, but I got some freaking results! And by "limiting beer" I really meant that I switched from beer to whisky. Those of you who've seen my tumblr (or know me in RL) are probably aware of my newest obsession: Jupiter Ascending. This movie was filled with action, cheesiness, amazing costumes, and The Mary Sue describes it in the following manner: "This movie is like if [The Matrix, Dune, Star Wars, and The Fifth Element] plus the music video for the Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life†and the really weird parts of the Mass Effect trilogy all got really drunk at a party and had a massive orgy while H.P. Lovecraft filmed it." Epic, no? Unfortunately, the critics wrecked Jupiter Ascending before it even came out, the marketing for the movie was done wrong, and the movie was considered a failure as far as money goes. I bet it'll make enough money back by the end of the year to break even, but whatever. My obsession with this movie specifically centres on one glorious, twisted, entitled space asshole of a character: Balem Abrasax. I can haz money, power, and ripped abs? (Never fear, the Loki obsession has not gone away. I just can't wear the Loki cosplay for a while because of a recent surgery and associated looooong recovery time. My Loki game will end up much greater in a few months, though! I'll also be making an Agent of Asgard Loki costime for Animaritime this year (JUNE 26! DEADLINE! PANIC!) because fuck wearing several layers of leather in a summer heat wave. Personality-wise, Balem will be much harder to roleplay than Loki, whose character pretty much came naturally to me. Both characters have some psycho in them, but Loki actually has a sense of humor and makes frequent use of snide remarks. Balem, on the other hand, is typically serious ALL. THE. TIME. Oh, and he whispers everything he says...when he's not hysterically rage-shouting, anyway. (Pic 1) (Pic 2) Top: calmly threatening someone. Bottom: FFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU EDIT: IT'S NOT LETTING ME USE GIFS AND I AM RAGE-SHOUTING RIGHT NOOOOOOOOOOOWWWW!!!!11!111 I am not very good at being serious, so I will need to get some practice with that before November, which is when I want to have this costume done. The hysterical rage-shouting I can definitely do well, because I do it all the time when 1) the internet is slow, 2) this video is not available in my country, 3) I get stuck behind a dumbfuck driver in traffic, and 4) I attempt to prepare an under-ripe avocado. The bottom line is that, besides wanting to become a wizard, I also seem to have a desire to become an evil space lord who wears awesome clothes. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. First came Darth Maul, then there was Loki, and now there's Balem. (There will eventually be a Ronan, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.) So, what will I be doing to overlordify myself over the course of the next six weeks? 1: Regeneration/rejuvenation! Because I'm vain. I've had a vanity-based challenge goal before, which I stuck to moderately well because priorities. Now I'm going to do it again, except better, and for a different reason: I want to be as healthy as possible for surgical healing purposes. Then I can hopefully hit the gym again sooner and start working on getting ripped abs. The rejuvenation aspect and associated good looks is merely a nice bonus. I'm not sure if I want the abs for cosplay or just for the sake of having them. Why not both? In Jupiter Ascending, the entitled take baths in a substance called RegenEX. One tube (seen below) is refined from about 100 people. If I can get my hands on a long, hexagonal bottle like this, I'm pretty sure that 4 parts vodka to 1 parts Hypnotiq will make a liquid with the same color. Unfortunately, I am 1) not an entitled or a royal being in real life (yet!) and 2) RegenEX doesn't exist in real life. Oh, and 3) the whole thing about RegenEX being made of people would probably not fly in real life, either. So I need to get a similar (but lesser, obviously) rejuvenation effect by using more mundane methods. 1.1: Minimal coffee use. Pass/fail. I will have no more than one cup per day. Coffee interferes with collagen production, and apparently that's important during healing. I'll post more on this later, but I'm not sure how much later. Probably toward the tail end of the challenge. 1.2: HYDRATE! Grade from 0.0 to 1.0 5L of water per day, or more. Simple enough, right? Especially if there's less room for coffee. My addiction to having a drink in my hand should make this doable. This was done successfully last challenge with 3L, now I'm upping it. I considered making this pass/fail, but I've noticed rather quickly that getting 5L of water in me in one day is not that easy. I don't want to fail if I only manage to drink 4.5L because that would be demoralizing, so I'll give myself 0.2 points for every litre I drink. Max in one day is 1 point. 1.3: Tweak my diet, have one BIG-ASS SALAD every day, or LOTS OF VEGETABLES. Not graded. I did well with the salads in the last challenge, so now I'm going to make this work for every type of vegetable. I enjoyed having the salads, but ever since I got sick during the week between challenges (wheeee, Norovirus!) I haven't wanted salad AT ALL. Opening this part of the challenge to all vegetables should still be easy because there is no cooking involved. I've also figured out that if all I bring to work are veggies and nuts, I actually eat my vegetables. As an aside, it was mentioned to me that the optimal diet for healing was a raw vegan diet. I have no problems with the raw part since it involves less effort, but the vegan part makes me a bit sad because I rather enjoy eating dead animal pieces. When it comes to cruelty, ingesting dead animal pieces pales in comparison to bathing in a pool filled with liquid refined from tens of thousands of people, so all is good. The protein powder I normally use is labeled raw vegan, so that should work. It's also the elitist, pricey type of protein powder, which is good for two reasons. First, it fits well with the "I am going to cosplay an elitist jackass" theme. Second, the higher price ensures that I won't be over-indulging with it because I am not that much of a rich elite in real life. YET! I also have to look ripped in order to fully complete the Balem Abrasax look, but that'll be tough since my workouts are a bit limited right now. Next challenge, fo' sho'! tl;dr version: EAT GOOD FOOD, BECAUSE SPACE LORDS DO NOT EAT TRASH. 2. I can business! Seriously, I know NOTHING about anything even remotely finance-related, or business-related. I hate being ignorant, especially when it comes to something like money. Money sort of makes the world go 'round these days, and not knowing anything about it seems counter-productive to, well, everything I want. How does this fit with the cosplay theme? Well, it turns out that Balem Abrasax is an epic businessman, or at least that's what the movie hints at near the beginning. Unfortunately, he seems to be more and more mentally unstable as the movie progresses, so we poor viewers don't actually get to witness his l33t busine55 sk1llz--although I suspect it involves a lot of coercion, harsh negotiating, and threats. And probably murder. All fictional character shenanigans aside, though, I really do want to have more of a clue about how to deal with money in several aspects of life. Disclaimer: the Earth will not be harvested in the course of this challenge. 2.1: Basic financial literacy: watch (and UNDERSTAND) at least one video per night. Pass/fail. I signed up for am "Introduction to Finance" class on coursera. It started on June 1st, and I don't meet some of the pre-reqs (how do I economy? I can haz accounting? Derp? Very statistics!) so I'll have to read up on things. The professor who gives the video lectures has mentioned several times that the course will be hard work, especially for an introductory course. 2.2: Number cruncher! Pass/fail. This will involve Lumosity Raindrops. I know that Lumosity was a spectacular fail last time, but maybe if I focus on just ONE GAME (Raindrops) then maybe I can succeed. This isn't totally related to finance or business, but being able to work with numbers more efficiently certainly can't hurt. Being better at math might also help me get rid of the feeling that I'm a fucking idiot. Knowing more financial things and being better with numbers may result in me having more money in the future, and/or result in me obtaining money faster. Filthy rich space royals need to have money, otherwise they wouldn't be space royals. Life is a game, and the game is pay2win. I want to fucking win. And when I have a lot of money, I can pay someone else to prepare my vegetables for me Won't have time for Raindrops this round, unfortunately. Will add it back in the next challenge. The Intro to Finance course involves math and stats, so I'll be doing my number crunching there instead. 3. Mindfulness. Again. 3.1: Five minutes of mindfulness, every day. Pass/fail. I'll just keep this in my challenges until I stop failing at it. It's got to happen at some point. 3.2: Hand control. Not graded. Being able to look like an aloof, arrogant space lord while walking around on a convention floor is only going to be a side benefit of this. The main reason for controlling what I do with my hands is to keep my hands away from my face. I've tried to tackle this terrible habit in the past, and failed every freaking time. There are obviously some psychological factors at stake that I am completely unaware of, and it's a shitty habit I've been doing since I was in elementary school. Right NOW is the time to give breaking this habit another shot, though, for two reasons: - I will begin taking hormone injections during week 2 of this challenge, which will increase the likelihood of me having shitty skin. It's like second puberty, and I fucking swear if I end up getting acne I'm going to hate my face so much... Having my hands on my face all the time will greatly increase the chance of me developing skin problems, and thus DO NOT WANT. I won't be able to cosplay anything with a half-red, pus-oozing, crater-filled face. - I had a surgery last month, which left me unable to raise my arms (or hands) much for several weeks. This was the perfect power-up to begin this quest. I've been doing great at not picking at my face so far, and I want this to continue. Right. Hand control. While in the midst of enlightening research (read, while fucking around on Tumblr) I've stumbled upon these things called Mudras, which are basically like hand yoga and apparently there's benefits to doing this. I'm still rather clueless about it all, so I'll just paste a thing that came up when I typed "mudras" on tumblr: Goggle also showed me this web site for mudras. And then it showed me other sites with the same hand gestures and different effects that they're supposed to give and...??? I'll figure this out as I go along, but so far I've memorized the all the one-handed ones on the Kundalini site (the one with the link at the beginning of this paragraph). I'm not sure how much I buy into the part about the energy flow and purported benefits, but those will be an added bonus if they do happen to work. I don't have anything to lose by trying the mudras out, anyway. Also, if anyone wonders how this part of the challenge fits with the pretend-to-be-a-finctional-character and cosplay theme, see for yourself: I don't know if he's actually mudra'ing, but close enough. Won't I look foolish steepling my hands like an evil villain in real life, doing day-to-day activities? Nope! Because unless it's gym time, I hardly ever leave the computer's side and thus nobody will see me. Other activities involve driving, or watching TV at friends' places, in which case nobody pays attention to where my hands are anyway. I can be a dramatic evil villain in a stealthy manner. UPDATE, Part 2: Since I cannot use my arms at the gym for a while, I've been finding myself steepling my hands like an evil villain while on the stationary bike and while doing core work. It happens without me noticing it, and...it's awesome and a bit creepy. 3.3: Epic fingernails. Not graded. LOOK AT THE PERFECTLY DONE FINGERNAILS, and not at the Backstreet Boys-like hair disaster! Bonus quest: maintain long and perfect fingernails. This will deter me even further from face picking, mainly because picking at my face with pseudo-claws will probably cause damage and be a little painful. If I pick at my face with long nails, I'll have to clean my nails, too. Effort. Ugh! This isn't being graded because long and perfectly manicured fingernails aren't quite compatible with my workout and crafting habits, so it's inevitable that some of the nails will get smashed, chipped, or broken. UPDATE, Part 2: I DID NOT BREAK ANY NAILS DURING PART 1. NOT EVEN WHILE GOING TO THE GYM REGULARLY. Wait, wasn't this challenge about time management? 4. Time Management I was hoping to do the Intro to Finance course after my current degree was all done, but sadly this did not happen and now I'm doing this on top of the final preparation for my thesis defense. I will therefore be a hermit until June 22nd, which is the day of the defense. Did I mention that I also have to make a new cosplay before June 26 also? Yeah. Fun times. 4.1 - Thesis defense prep. 6h per week. 4.2 - Cosplay prep. 4h per week. ^ I'll make goal #4 more interesting to read later. For now it's fairly self-explanatory. Besides, I'm saving time by not writing! To reiterate: 1.1 - Cut down on coffee 1.2 - Hydrate 1.3 - Vegetables 2.1 - Basic financial literacy 2.2 - Number cruncher 3.1 - Five minutes of mindfulness 3.2 - Hand control 3.3 - Epic fingernails 4.1 - Thesis defense prep 4.1 - Cosplay prep Now, for the ones that are actually being graded: 1.1 - Cut down on coffee: 1.2 - Hydrate EVEN MORE: 2.1 - Basic financial literacy: 3.1 - Five minutes of mindfulness: 4.1 - Thesis defense prep: 4.2 - Cosplay prep: Re-writing this here is mainly to encourage further laziness, because then I can just copy/paste this entire list for update posts. I realize that I have several goals that aren't being graded, but it's kind of tough to grade something like hand control :\
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