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  1. Well, howdy there, folks! Good to see you again, or for the first time. I'm Kishi, a monk prone to itineracy and general quietude. I hope you are well. I had a challenge last time and I disappeared. Unfortunately, I can't say it's because I was really doing my challenge, but fortunately I can say it wasn't for any dramatic reasons. Life just got busy, and instead of developing my meditation like I told myself to, I found myself falling back on a lot of other challenge habits like my cleaning and my writing. I'm pleased to say those are all doing better, and my own drilling/shadowboxing/chess and such are doing better too as I've been prioritizing mat time and responding to the input I get from people. Also, the reward I chose for myself came to make less sense, and I just didn't feel driven to press the reset button. I guess to continue the game metaphor, I got lost in the side quests, and by the time I cared about my main, the game was over. But you may notice I have a meditation tag again, along with some others, and I reckon that deserves some explanation. My reasons for meditation, beyond the mental health benefits, are also physiological: I have heart issues to worry about at the ripe old age of 36, and meditation is a useful practice for heart health. Fortunately, there's good science to say I need less of it than I've been trying for to get the benefits I want. Which is good news. More is not always better; sometimes it's just more, and in order for more to be better, sometimes it has to be less. Because less is more. Huh. Right. Cool. There's some other stuff going on too. I've finally returned to striking sparring, and it's proving to be a real shock to the system. The caliber of striking here is relatively high compared to what I've seen in a while, and it's Thai-Dutch style boxing, which means high volume striking at close range with the head as a viable target. It's a lot to work with, and this in a hot academy in the opening of an NC summer. It's not going to get colder. So I need to work on my conditioning; going back to the GST folk, the two recommendations they have are running and skipping rope. Running would take a lot of time and wouldn't come with the coordination benefits or the raw lightness of foot that comes from constant bouncing, so skipping rope it is. Another thing I need to work on is my recovery. I've been using glucosamine to help out with joint pain, and while I did find an effective brand, it's also pricey, and I'm getting real sick of having as little money on hand as I do at the end of the month. (especially since my job is just being icky with pay right now). So I'm looking into recovery methods and found the work of a Shaolin monk named Shi Yan Lei, which I'm finding fascinating on account of his pedagogical preferences. He has a book on qigong for longevity, which I'm willing to gamble would help with recovery, so I'mma do it. My goal with this is to deal with and prevent joint pain over time without having to go the supplement route. Between this and the mobility training in GST, I'm hopeful. The goals are as follows: Goal 1: Training The qigong routine calls for 3-4 times per week, but before I even get into that, I need to learn to breathe. Shi Yan Lei calls for a kind of "reverse breathing" in his method, which is a kind of chest breathing for energy. I need to practice that first before I even get into adding extra movement. Also, the skipping rope is going to be done 1-2 times per week to start with, per the recommendations of the Jump Rope Dudes and Crossrope. These will be very small practices: 5 breaths, and skipping for 1 minute, because what I need is consistency right now and something to build on. These are being lumped onto/into my general training as it stands, so this is really about making the logs simple. Goal 2: Meditation Meditate 10 minutes a day after whatever nightly stretching I'm doing. I've fallen into the evening routine of coming home from mat time, showering off, and stretching while warm. This is a really freaking nice way to end the day. Meditation afterward would suit, I think. Goal 3: Breathe So, out of left field: the Wim Hof Method, which is fantastic for grappling because it teaches you not to be afraid of time without air. I just grapple better when I'm doing this. I like grappling better. I like the lack of fear, and I'm already taking cold showers these days just as it is. Might as well complete the process. As to my reward? Well, if I get the breathing right, I'll be taking the next challenge to begin work on movement. But Shi Yan Lei isn't just talking about movement. He's also talking about massage, with a possible avenue toward Iron Shirt training. This would be incredibly useful and has been something I've tried to cultivate on my own without any success. The Shaolin method for this training involves the use of very specific brushes to massage the body. The first step would be a bamboo brush. This is used in conjunction with the qigong program anyway, so once I've demonstrated my seriousness to myself, I'll reward myself with the brush. These goals excite me. Can't wait to get started... so. Might as well.
  2. Well, okay, see, look. After the last challenge, things were good. Things were really good. So I just shifted gears and got onto the next thing that I wanted to work on like it was nothing. And it was so smooth that I pretty much just blended into it without ever really coming back here. I kept telling myself I would, but part of blending into things has been staying busy, so I kept breaking my word to myself that I would come back, and then a whole week was gone. It's been eventful! Among other things: I finally read all of Berserk. For those who don't know, Berserk is the quintessential dark fantasy and has been a major influence on a lot of games and media, most recently Elden Ring. It is a deeply dark and disturbing story, and it's not for everybody, but it's not cheap or schlocky in being so and I find it to be a genuinely profound and moving story. Had my job performance review for the last quarter and I've basically made huge improvements all over the place. In fact, I did so well that I've been removed from remedial supervision and, if I keep this up, I'll be on track for a promotion in the next year. My boss is super-proud of me; I think she wanted me to be surprised and pleased, but I'd kept such close track of my stats that when she said she was proud of me, I thought, "Damn right you are." Still not good enough for me to return to work from home, though. Like I said, I'm out from remedial supervision, but my improvement in my stats happened after the quarter numbers were in. So me being released from supervision was actually my boss going out on a limb for me (although I know she doesn't care for the paperwork, so it's not like she didn't want me out from under her thumb either); I won't be under consideration for working from home until the end of this quarter, and that assumes I stay on top of things. The future is not set in stone. Managed to finish building a magic system and now know it well enough to know what is and isn't a good idea at a given time. Sweet. Now I have to do it again for another system, because. So. At this point, with all cylinders firing, the goal is to make sure they keep doing so. That's going to mean self care, which means meditation and sleep. Meditation is the one I have the more direct control over ATM, so that's what I'll be focusing. I'm up to 14 minutes at a stretch, and I'm finding so far that weekdays are easy. Weekends are hard. No particular reason for it. I've been tracking the number all along as if I was in challenge mode, so I'll just jump in if that's cool with you. Goal: 6/9 As to a reward, I actually think I'm looking at some tube-style exercises bands for grappling work. Need to look into that more, but that's what I find compelling at this point, so. Sorry for being late! I'll be around to y'all just as quick as I can. Hope you've been well.
  3. So sorry for the delay! I've been doing my homework. And I'll be going back to it just as soon as I'm done here. Took all week to figure out what my challenge was going to be. I knew it was going to be a writing challenge, but I didn't know how precisely. Then I knew it was going to be related to doing homework of some kind, like what my brother advised, but I didn't know what that looked like either. And to TBF? I still don't! But I'm not going to let this challenge pass me by. We're back on the Doing One Thing and Seeing What Happens part of the show. That one thing is study. My brother gave me a bunch of things to study over and to work out, and so every day I'm going to do at least one study activity. This study activity may lead to world building and it may not. Doing the One Thing has all manner of strange effects; who knows where I'll wind up? As to rewards? Hmm, I dunno yet. I think this time I might be content with a Job Well Done, although I think for the moment I'll leave open the possibility that something come along that I want to earn. Anyway, on that note: Goal: 1/2
  4. Growing up, I wasn't very active. I never understood the rules well enough to actually play well in ballgames, I have a lazy eye so my depth perception was bad, I wasn't on a sports team like a lot of other kids, and I was terrible at running. Those were the stories I told myself. I would DREAD the "1 mile run" fitness test in school for WEEKS leading up to the event. And it wasn't just baseless dread - after the mile, I would have crazy DOMS for days afterwards, because running a mile was just so much more exertion than I was used to. I would always finish late and miserable, and any time anyone tried to encourage me I was certain they were making fun of me. All in all, not a fun experience. It was a great relief when high school Fitness class came around, because it meant strength training on machines instead of ballgames. 4 days a week, we would work 2 muscle groups + abs and cardio. But even then, the cardio was up to us so I got cozy with the stairclimber. Soon I found myself proudly walking up hills and stairs next to people who were out of breath. But that mile run still happened, and I still dreaded it even as my times improved. I was still not passing the test by any means. One day as the mile was approaching, I was out on the track with a few of my friends during Fitness, and I whined to my soccer-playing friend that I was "just not very athletic." She scrunched up her face at me and said something like "Of course you're athletic! You work harder than almost anyone else in this class. Everyone else is always trying to find ways to slack off. And you're really strong. Just because you're not that fast doesn't mean you're not athletic." !?!?!?!? Just like that, my story changed. It was obvious that she was right. Suddenly, my bad mile time didn't mean that I was unathletic. It just meant that I didn't do a lot of running. My lack of success in sports didn't mean I was unathletic; it just meant that I didn't play a lot of sports. It didn't mean I suddenly became a workout machine or anything, but that comment from my friend set me on a different path. As a person who was athletic, I chose to voluntarily take Fitness after I had filled the requirements, even waking up an hour early to go to school. As a person who was athletic, I got to do workout videos with my school principal when he showed up on those mornings. As a person who was athletic, I continued finding ways to exercise as I entered college, doing things like going on 45 minute walks around the hilly campus, taking pilates classes, doing 45 consecutive pushups, and trying different workout videos. I'm not sure that I would have done ANY of those things if my friend hadn't made that comment that day in high school. Slowly but surely, she set me on the path to where I am today, doing so much athletic stuff that I'm running out of time to do it all! I wasn't always working out super consistently or anything, but I was always trying to do SOMETHING to work on that athletic side of me. Slowly but surely, that road let me here. And so I need to remind myself that if I'm patient and I stay on the road, I will get to where I'm heading. If I can't do every single thing I want to do right now, it doesn't mean I won't get there. If I can't fit everything into the week, it's ok because I'm still on the road. It's all about the story you tell yourself. Challenge Details A lot of this will be continued from my last challenge. Or at least to be expected based on my last challenge. I'll be traveling for a lot of this week, and maybe even next week, so some of it might not launch fully until Week 2. PILLAR 1: Flexibility If I do yoga or other flexibility work, I feel about 60% better even if I do nothing else. I feel good in my body. I don't feel stiff. I feel more in tune with my needs. GST stretch sessions - 3 sessions, 45 minutes each. NEW Mobility mornings - every morning, I want to do some sort of movement. It can be yoga, MWOD, GST-based, or something else entirely. If I hit at least 14 sessions over the course of the challenge, I can pick up some kind of cool mobility tool or yoga classes or comfy pants or something like that as a reward. Ideally I also want to do some stretching before bed too, but I'm not making that a goal this time. NEW Standing - I got myself a standing desk a while back to try to force myself to stand while I work, but now I just end up working on the couch. Which is murdering my back much worse than a sitting desk would. So my goal is to just try to accumulate a measly 3 hours at the standing desk each day. PILLAR 2: Walking I work from home and don't have a very active social life. If I don't deliberately take the time to walk, I do not walk. Ever. And I really like walking and hiking. It's also just really important for basic health because people are meant to walk. Walk 16 miles per week (2 miles weekdays, 3 miles weekends) - this only counts deliberate walks and not overall steps/distance, although TBH there's not a huge difference. PASS: 12 miles. EXTRA CREDIT: 20 miles. For each week I do extra credit, I can put $10 towards hiking/backpacking gear goals. ROADMAP: Start rucking again now that I have a better backpack for it, begin exploring local hiking trails more. PILLAR 3: Strength Pretty self explanatory. I seem to naturally be pretty strong and I like doing strength work, but I have a lot of recovery to do after wrist surgery set me back. 3-4 sessions/week - 2 Crossfit and 1-2 Startbodyweight (I'll be joining the Crossfit box I visited last challenge once I'm done traveling) PILLAR 4: Food Kind of a mess, tbh. I don't even know where to begin here. But my belly is doing things that I do not like. Paleo-ish works, but it sends me into that diet mindset that eventually backfires?? But also it really works?? Last challenge I tried aiming for 5 freggies/day and didn't do so well at it. I'm trying a nutrition program that gives you 1 task per week. If you do it 6 days in a row, you get the next task. If you don't, you have to repeat it and succeed before you move on. So I'll just focus on that for now. I miiiight still count freggies though. We'll see. Each successful task = $10 towards a kitchen gadget. I've got a measly $10 accumulated from my goals last challenge. Triathaloning I can't really swim or ride a bike competently, and shin issues keep setting me back in my running. So I want to work on upskilling these three areas. Run at least weekly - I'll be testing out a new custom orthotic as soon as I get the call saying it's ready, so I'm hoping that will help deal with some of my leg issues and let me increase my running towards a more standard program. Swimming - Travel week(s) excluded, I'll continue trying to flail swim once/week while somehow also breathing. At the end of the challenge, I'll evaluate whether I should just sign up for lessons. Cycling - I don't think the reclining bike work is doing me any good, so I'm thinking of dropping it. I still need to get my bike tuned up. After that, I just want to get out on it at least 2x this challenge. Simple. Other Do 1 thing/week to connect with my father. It has to require actual effort on my part. Take 1 hr/week to work on some form of personal development (non-fitness skill, etc.) I'll be starting up at the Aikido place I found last challenge, but it's not actually a goal Prioritization This is a lot of things and it's very likely I won't be able to do everything every week. Priority #1 will be the things I'm paying for - so, Crossfit and aikido. Beyond that, a lot of things are kind of equal. I think I'll generally prioritize hitting at least 3 strength sessions/week. Followed by getting in all of my GST sessions. Walking is easy right now because it's only 1x/week, but if (FINGERS CROSSED) I can start to increase my frequency, I'll probably prioritize above walking. And doing some sort of walking for the day is more important than covering a specific distance. But it's also about listening to my body, so if I feel stiff, I might prioritize flexibility above walking. Etc.
  5. I HAVE SO MANY THINGS TO SHARE Overview Since I first started doing challenges, I've known there are sort of "4 pillars" of fitness that I thrive under - walking, eating primalish, yoga/mobility work, and strength training. Every one of my challenges includes these in some way or another, although the eating is a big question mark right now. Last challenge, I was overall pretty good. I did a ton of work on reducing stiffness and increasing mobility, and I was overall very active. Last challenge, I also confessed my secret dream of doing a triathalon despite wobbly cycling, an inability to breathe while I swim, and constant running injuries. I made less progress in these areas. So like any good ranger, I am working on goals related to these three areas on top of my 4 pillars. I also had wrist surgery last October after struggling with wrist pain for a little over a year. That whole process really forced me to cut back on pushups / dips and I've seen a huge reduction in overall strength, which is frustrating. On top of that, I'm also trying to get back into Aikido, which I stopped doing after I moved in August / had to have wrist surgery. And of course I might as well throw some sort of non-fitness goal in there too, right??? Is this way more things than is reasonable? Yes. But a baby's gotta do what a baby's gotta do. Honestly, I'm frustrated with how weak I feel. And I'm waaaaay overly scared of trying new things (like going to a pool I've never used before). So I'm going to try to embrace the baby mindset and accept that I am where I am, but I've gotta do the things anyway. PILLAR 1: Flexibility If I do yoga or other flexibility work, I feel about 60% better even if I do nothing else. I feel good in my body. I don't feel stiff. I feel more in tune with my needs. I've done 18/30 days of this year's Yoga With Adrienne Challenge. I want to finish the remaining 12 videos this month. Continue slowly integrating MWOD stuff into my routine and reading Becoming a Supple Leopard. No specific goal here other than to keep trying to do the sessions regularly. Continue doing GST videos 2x/week (45 minutes each), skipping yoga on GST days ROADMAP: At the end of the month when these things are done, I can: A - pick up the third and final GST stretching video, B - Sign up for some in person yoga classes, and/or C - Do a 14 day mobility challenge using either Becoming a Supple Leopard or Ready to Run. PILLAR 2: Walking I work from home and don't have a very active social life. If I don't deliberately take the time to walk, I do not walk. Ever. And I really like walking and hiking. It's also just really important for basic health because people are meant to walk. Walk 16 miles per week (2 miles weekdays, 3 miles weekends) - this only counts deliberate walks and not overall steps/distance, although TBH there's not a huge difference. PASS: 12 miles. EXTRA CREDIT: 20 miles. For each week I do extra credit, I can put $10 towards hiking/backpacking gear goals. ROADMAP: Start rucking again now that I have a better backpack for it, begin exploring local hiking trails more. PILLAR 3: Strength Pretty self explanatory. I seem to naturally be pretty strong and I like doing strength work, but I have a lot of recovery to do after surgery, etc. Do at least 2 startbodyweight sessions per week, and do at least pullups and pushups in a 3rd session (exception - for Zero week I'll just do 2 sessions and an OCR workout without the extra push/pull work) ROADMAP: After a month or so of consistency, re-evaluate whether I want to push forward or switch tactics. Options include: Keep going until I feel stuck on startbodyweight (aiming for 3x/week?) Redo/finally complete GMB Elements program Look into actual lifting at a real gym Look into GST foundations program Look into GMB integral strength program Intro class at local crossfit place (there's one where the coach is also a certified running coach) PILLAR 4: Food Kind of a mess, tbh. I don't even know where to begin here. I'm doing a lot of slow and mindful exploration right now, so it's hard to set a concrete goal. Eat 5 servings of freggies/day. PASS: 3 veggies specifically. EXTRA CREDIT: 3 consecutive days. For any 3 consecutive days, I accumulate $10 towards a kitchen gadget or fancy food of some sort. I may need to recalibrate this as I go. Triathaloning The big challenge here is just getting out and doing a couple things that make me nervous. Once I've done them I'll be fine, but that initial 20s of courage keeps stopping me up. From there, it's a matter of establishing the basic skills. It may require lessons - tbd. Take my bike in for that tuneup and go on at least one real outdoor ride (I've been delaying because it's winter, but it's not actually really snowy at all here so I can go out.) Weekly cycling session, increasing by 5 minutes total time each week Go swimming. Just get there and figure out how to use the swimming facility. It doesn't even matter what I do. Just do it at least one time. Continue trying to run without injuring myself Get running gait analysis on the 12th to help diagnose form issues ROADMAP: Start working towards 2.5 hours of aerobic work per week to establish a good base Aikido Visit the 2 closest dojos and observe sessions - either sign up for one of those or explore the other dojos in the area. By the end of the challenge, my goal is to know where I want to practice and to sign up somewhere. Non-Fitness I already meditate/practice Japanese through duolingo daily, but I feel like I don't spend enough time on self improvement / learning outside of fitness. FRUGAL FEBRUARY. I do this every year and have already started for the month. No extra purchases at all allowed for the month. Exceptions: Book I already preordered that comes out on Feb 6th & 1 REI purchase since I have a $20 gift card that is going to expire and I want to use it Spend 2 hours/week on some sort of personal development - I have a bunch of things it can be and for now I'll just choose freely based on what I feel like doing - whittling or other creative exploration, work related reading, python, harmonica practice, etc. Do 1 thing/week to connect with my father Prioritization This is a lot of things, so there will be times when I can't do them all. I definitely want to make strength work priority #1. If it's a choice between that and something else, I'll prioritize the workout. Everything else is about even. Flexibility work is even with walking. Aikido is even with swimming and getting a bike tuneup. Running is a slight priority over cycling, but they're about the same.
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