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  1. Part I There is no ignorance; there is knowledge I have a tournament coming up in November (a big multi-art shebang in MA), and last Friday, Sifu was talking about my white-sash test coming up in a couple of months. I'm hoping to impress him enough that he might test me before the tournament, so that I can proudly wear my sash to said destination. Part II In balance with chaos and harmony My second focus is going to be on food. I have problems with food. I need to find balance between chaos and harmony when it comes to my eating habits; I find them very easy to manage when in harmony (ie, when I have full control), but throw in a little chaos and it all goes out the window. Goals Part I I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I've decided that the best goal for knowledge this time is simply to attend as many classes as possible throughout the next six weeks. I need to expand and refine my knowledge of my arts, but given that I keep causing injury when I try to add extra sessions, I don't think it's wise to push, at least for now. There are 24 classes (3 kung fu & 1 lightsaber per week for 6 weeks) between now and the end of the challenge, and I'd like to hit as many of those as I can. The real focus of this challenge will be on Part II. Part II According to my food log from the last challenge, I am fairly sure that the biggest resistor to my weight loss is sugar. Not all kinds of sugar, just the empty kind of snack treats and desserts that I was raised on. I killed my soda habit years ago, and that's really the major factor that caused me to drop down from ~290 to ~230 the first time, way back when. I think it's time to perform an anti-sugar experiment to see if it is the cause of the inertia. To this end, for every day of the challenge in which my "empty" sugar intake is zero (that means no candy, cookies, cakes, or ice cream... how come all of those have keywords that start with 'c' anyway?) I will get one Galactic Credit. For an unbroken streak of 7 days, there will be a bonus of 5 Credits. At the end of the challenge, those Credits will convert into dollars, and I will have a maximum of $72 (42 challenge days plus 6 potential bonuses) to spend, guilt-free, on whatever I want.
  2. Welp, life has a way of happening. This was going to be my "getting back to the shape I want to be for my grading" challenge. Then I went to class and my master says to me, "Let's do your grading at the end of this month." Soooo... anyone want to visit me on August 4th? Cause that's when my grading is. This isn't super unexpected as this is 4 months later than my master wanted my grading to occur. He asked about it first in March. Then I got injured. Then I was better and then my grading partner was injured. Then he decided he wasn't coming back until September. Then some idiot wanted to come to Canada for my grading. And then this happened. Given that my grading is now imminent, I'm going to refocus this challenge on foundational fitness. And other things. Train for a second (degree) As always, I'm going to keep my training as a goal. I never want to lose sight of the fact that my great long term goal is to be in a position to self teach. Class twice a week as my wife's work schedule allows. Given that her schedule is going to improve dramatically in mid-August, I'm pretty content with that. Pause for a second I haven't been handling unemployment well. That's just a simple fact. There's a lot of stress in my home. We have a lot going on. I get lost in my head. These things are happening way too often. I'm going to try something different. At 11 o'clock and 3 o'clock each weekday, I'm going to stop whatever I'm doing (goofing off, teaching myself a new programming language, cleaning, whatever) and do some deep breathing for one minute. That's it. Something to recenter myself and get back on track. We'll see how that goes. Go for a second helping Man, why is food so hard? A number of challenges ago, I made it a goal to eat a good lunch every week day. It was a good goal and I felt I did well at it. Then I stopped eating lunch again. My food has become erratic and weird. Which is bad. Eat lunch! Food is important! Do a second set The only consistent exercise I have is my hapkido training. And that's great and all, but it neglects certain foundational strength issues. I am certainly guilty of not making that part of my fitness a priority, despite regularly coming home from class with strange pains that it shouldn't be possible to occur. They do, but they're not muscle exhaustion and rebuilding. This goal is going to be both fluid and measurable. I sit a lot. One might say all of the time. Each day, my goal is to get up and move with purpose twice. Walking to the grocery store and back. Mowing my lawn. Doing hill sprints with my wife. Do a body weight workout routine. Letting my nephew run me ragged. These are all ways that I can get up and move around. So do them. SUPER SECRET TRAVEL GOAL If you've read this far, then I admire your courage. I have flights booked for August 21st to go to Philadelphia. We'll be there until the 25th. Seems like a good way to help the mid- to end of challenge doldrums. Who's in the area? Who wants to meet up for a drink or more likely board games because I'm still unemployed and the flights came from visa points.
  3. Zettai daijobu dayo! MAIN QUEST: Get to my goal weight and be able to defend myself in the (unlikely) event of an attack. QUEST 1: FIGHT (+3 WIS) I’ve been really lax in my jiu jitsu training since I started up with PT. I’m trying to step up how often I go, but I also have to be cognizant of my back - I don’t want to worsen my condition. At the same time, I don’t want to fall so far behind that I can never catch up. I think that I’ve found a solution to this. CHALLENGE: Watch 60mins of jiu jitsu technique videos A: 60 minutes B: 45 minutes C: 30 minutes QUEST 2: POWER (+2 STR, +2 DEX) My core sucks. Like, hardcore sucks. Like, I can barely do a straight arm plank for :45 seconds sucks. So, we really need to fix that. And while the PT stuff has been helping, it’s really basic and not really enough. Since your core is where your power comes from in martial arts, I can’t afford to not work on it. CHALLENGE: Do three core workouts a week A: 3 workouts B: 2 workouts C: 1 workout QUEST 3: DASH (+3 STA, +2 CON) In keeping with my non-monkly tradition of running, I have four races during this six week challenge. I’ve also recently moved, and there are really pretty places within running distance of my house that I’ve yet to explore. Besides, the weather is super nice and I just need to get into a real habit of doing this, especially since I’m considering a half marathon in November. CHALLENGE: Run outside 2x a week (races are included) A: 2 runs B: 1 run C: 0 runs LIFE QUEST: SWEET (+3 CHA) I have a big, new kitchen. It’s really pretty. And has a lot of light. And kind of makes me want to bake. Which is something that I keep meaning to do more of. So might as well get on that, right? Besides, starsapart keeps saying that I have all these baking things that I never use, so clearly I have to use them. CHALLENGE: Bake something once a week and post a picture PASS: Baked something FAIL: Did not bake BONUS CHALLENGE: Invite someone over to eat said baked thing (or starsapart will cry about her waistline) No grading for this since it’s a bonus Point breakdown: STR : DEX : STA : CON : WIS : CHA : REWARDS: Again, no rewards because this house buying thing is expensive as heck. MOTIVATION: Hit that goal weight! I’m so. Freaking. Close. Improve my 5K time! Train for that (theoretical) half marathon! Before pictures: (will be posted night before the challenge) Measurements: (will be posted night before the challenge) Neck: Chest: Waist: Hips: Thigh: R: L: Calf: R: L: Bicep: R: L: Weight: lbs Dress/pants size: 8
  4. First, let me put this here. I listened to perhaps half a dozen edits of this song before I found the one that's too my liking. It has the tone, the beat, and the message I'm looking for. I'm there for you You're there for me That's how it is When we believe that We are the ones we belong to I just lost my grandmother this past weekend and I didn't want to finish putting up a challenge. My mother was also extremely ill just the week before that. How much time did SFG want to spend on himself? None. Then I had an intense conversation with my sister before my grandma's wake and I was reminded how much more there is. We are the ones Who want to make a better place We are the ones Who do believe in the human race We are the ones Who want to shape their better days I'm going to keep this simple. I'm planning a trip to Philadelphia at the end of the month and I want to be able to transport my goals with me. Hapkido My grading partner had a moderate shoulder injury so he's out of commission for a time. This gives me more time to polish my 2nd degree techniques. I'm pretty happy with my sword and kicking techniques as those were not up to the quality that I had desired a year ago. With some dedicated effort, I feel confident about their condition now. I'm less confident about my joint locking techniques. Some jerkface reminded me of the roots of my art in our shared parentage. I spent so much time focusing on my striking that I have neglected my locks. 2nd degree test involves directional joint locks, basically being able to direct an opponent to any angle with any one of our joint locks up to and beyond 360 degrees. There are some harmonizing movements that I can do and my master is clearly happy enough with it that he wants me to grade, but I feel that I need some more polish. So let's do it! Continue attending class a minimum of 2 times per week. While in Philadelphia, this obviously isn't going to happen at my school, but I'm looking into visiting one of the local hapkido schools (there are 3!) to check them out while we're there. Body Weight work Once upon a time, I did a "push up every day" challenge. Got myself up to a steady 50 a day. That made me very happy to do. I felt stronger. It gave my days focus. And also made my shoulders pop a lot. So why not do that again as something simple that I can try to sustain. Week 1 and 2: 20 push ups and lunges per day Week 3 and 4: 35 push ups and lunges per day Week 5 and 6: Big ole 50 a day Meditate Does it look like I'm just lifting things directly out of sarakingdom's suggestions? I don't know what you're talking about. I have been sad at losing my habit of meditation. It used to be part of my routine. Well, I can make it part of it again. Meditate for five minutes every day. Happiness Ha! You thought this was going to be about food, didn't you! Ha! Am I happy? Right now, that's a definite no. It's not because of where my life is, or my relationship, or my family, or my friends. I'm just generally dissatisfied with "me". The big change I have is that I feel like I should be. So what am I happy about? What makes me feel grateful to have? Here's my accountability to myself and my nerds. I need to talk more about the things that make me happy. It's not just nerds and hapkido (but those are two things). All the little things piled together make a big thing. Write about my happiness. At minimum, once a week.
  5. Episode III: Kyellan Outruns the Horde I came to this deserted world to seek harmony, a place where I could find silence, peace and solitude. I found what I sought, but I did not know that this world is the farthest thing from deserted. I hear them now. Were they in some kind of hibernation? Some strange quiescence which my presence has disturbed? I am far from my ship. I hear their screams, the hunting cries. They hunger for flesh. Mine. My only choice is to trust in the Force and myself. I must run. ---------------------------- So, the plan for this challenge is to start running. I've decided that it would be a good thing to be able to run 5k, so that's my preliminary goal. However, I'm currently partially hobbled by a hip injury that's been plaguing me for a few weeks (seems to be tendonitis, according to Google Diagnosis [not really a thing]) which means that I need to be careful not to further injure myself in the process. I am considering Kung Fu 2x/week and Lightsaber 1x/week as my baseline, so this running is on top of my usual monk practice. That takes priority, which means if the injury becomes a problem, it's the running that gives way and not my martial arts training. I did a 'test run' today and managed a mile or so in about 16 minutes (very relaxed running pace, obv) without harming anything, which gives me hope that I might actually be able to do this, as long as I take it easy. And easy is how I shall take it! I'm not looking to become a marathon runner. I just want to be able to do it if I need to or want to. Given all of this, I'm going to keep the goals simple and easily attainable this time, because I really really want to avoid further injury. My original plan was to pick up a Couch to 5K app, but I'm worried that it might lead me to pressing too hard to keep up with it. If I were uninjured, that's what I would do, but given the circumstances, I'd rather work up to that. So, without further ado: Goal 1: Run 3 miles per week Goal 2: Stretch after every run, focusing on legs/ankles/etc That's it. As usual, I'll keep up my challenge thread with Kung Fu and lightsaber insights in addition to running stuff. If anyone has any suggestions for their favorite Android app for run tracking, I'm open to ideas. I have absolutely zero bias in the matter, so give me your best pitch!
  6. I'm more than alive: I'm actually doing very well, especially considering where I was six months ago. While work, school and training have been eating up a lot of energy. Especially good is that I've been on top of my fitness game and I'm approaching one of the best shapes of my life. I say "one of" because I was really happy with where I was 20 months ago, before the Catastrophe1. I was 10 kg heavier then, and had trainers to keep me in check/direct my workouts and I was doing some parkour training. However, if I were to take a guess, I would reckon that I'm at a similar body composition now that I was then, or at least my arms have started to look really nice. In general, I'm beginning to look more like Jamie Fraser and less like Black Jack Randall nude. That being said, I do have some abstract goals forming, that I need to put in concrete form: I've promised my wife that I'll go as Kraven the Hunter to NYCC in October, which I hope to spur me to better looking coreWhich will require that I get better at eating and mealingI've been told that I could possibly take my Companion test in the late SummerI need to work on not letting myself get distracted as frequentlyI need to step up my chore game at home, especially if I'm out of school for five short weeks beforeI have an intensive, five week summer session of school immediately after this challenge ends: four nights a week, three hours a night. Exactly like the usual ten week term, but in five.So onto this challenge's specific, concrete goals: Sword Fighting Skills I when I asked if I would be ready to take the Novice to Companion test in the fall, I was told by our dean that I will probably be ready by summer's end. So I am going to make sure I know how to perform every item on the Novice Curriculum. I've already most of them under my belt, but there are many there that need practice. Here are the skills on the curriculum, italics for known but needing practice, and bold for those known well, hidden behind spoiler to avoid a large waste of space: General: Safety skills: Grappling: Binds: Arm bars: Throws: The Sword in Two Hands: Cutting drills: Tactical drills: Set-Plays: Defenses from Below: Two points for each known well, and one point for each just known. An extra point for having all the skills in a category known well. A Total of 100: 87%87% S: 100, A: 90+ B: 85+ C: 80+ Start: 70 Nutrition I've done fairly well so far. I'm down in weight from where I was seven months ago, though I mostly attribute this to my ADHD medication, as improved focus means less boredom and less boredom eating. However, while I am down in weight, my consumption of sweets has increased quite a bit, probably also as a result of otherwise eating less and my body then reaches for a high calorie snack. I have also gotten much leaner too, and this I attribute to working out regularly. I would like to get leaner for NYCC, especially if I'll be wearing an open vest with no shirt as the presence of a six pack would cinch the whole Kraven cosplay in my favor. I stress leaner as I don't want any focus on losing weight, as I advocate for body positivity, as getting leaner by either losing fat, gaining muscle or both will have the same effect upon the texture of my belly. My goal for food is to get into a practice of creating meals in advance so that when my schedule becomes busy again I can be eating cleanly and without having to waste money going to restaurants before class every night. I'd like to aim for a 2300 kCal diet, with protein consisting of around a third of the food energy. I think the cornerstone of this diet will be chicken drumsticks as they're cheap and easy to portion. This goal will be taken pass/fail. A pass would be a plan to get five breakfasts, five lunches and four dinners as well as appropriate snacks for each work day. Other minor goals More of a to do list than anything else. In no particular order. I probably won't complete all of these, but accountability is nice. Practice stepping off line during a fightPractice better coverClean kitchen when possibleClean deskPut away comicsStore winter clothingGet body composition testDraw more (3/week, 15 minutes/time?)Write to my penpal
  7. Last challenge went pretty well and I mostly need to continue what I was doing and expand on it a bit. This time with Avatar: TLA and Legend of Korra gifs. Yawara is actually about Judo but I enjoy these two series far more. Possibly heresy, whatever. I also do not guarantee that gifs will be particularly relevant. Not feeling so fussed about gradings on these. It's just what I want to work on for the next while. Kata: We're switching to me as Tori in prep for my grading. Try and work on picking up Danny in Kata Guruma at least once each class and run through the kata at least once per week when possible. Randori: We don't always do Tachi Waza Randori but do not turn down an opportunity when we do. Bonus - Review videos and material on fighting larger opponents. Check out Machete's last challenge for some of his resources. Daily Training: Burpees worked out well last challenge, as did adding a few minutes of handstands. Keep doing that. Add one other thing in per day: Lunges, dips, planks, whatever. Bonus for multiple. Reading: I'm reading more regularly after last challenge but I'd like to continue it. Finish Thinking, Fast and Slow, The Miracle of Mindfulness, and read something fun, even if short. Guitar practice: Try and get to 60 chord switches/minute by the end of the challenge. I'm currently at 24 to 30. Bonus - set up a budget item and start saving to buy one. My friend is fine with my current use of his guitar but I should work on getting one. Less money going to my power bill will help with this. Stupid winter. Will be around to check on all of you soon :-) I had to use it. I love this gif.
  8. Hello Monks! After taking over a year off from Nerd Fitness, I realized that I need support as I face my greatest challenge yet: the Krav Maga level 2 test. My gym takes belt tests quite seriously. I wasn't ready for the most recent test in February, but that may have been a good thing. It was five hours long and the final drill was to bear-crawl through the snow while being attacked by Disturbers. What are Disturbers you might ask? Hang tight, I'll explain in due time. Back story: You may have heard about Krav Maga. It may have been something like this: Regardless of what you might think, it's an awesome workout and tons of fun. If you want to know more, we made a pretty sweet video (I'm the biker chick in the black jacket) demonstrating the awesomeness of Krav Maga last year. I feel like I can safely say 'awesomeness' since The Awesomer featured it... Over a year and a half ago, I completed my first NF challenge that was geared towards passing the Krav level 1 test. I blew it away, met my goals, and tested up successfully. Then life happened... graduate school got crazy and I started working 10-12 hour days rather than staying sane and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Consequently, NF and I grew apart. Since I tested up in Nov. 2013, I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't made any progress towards leveling up. Instead, I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water with my health and fitness goals; no where near the badass that I would like to be. Well, I will tread water no more! It's well past time that I leveled up. Join me as I prepare for to test up on May 30th. The Test: 3-5 hours total of good-natured hell with no more than the occasional 30-60 second break. Hour 1-2: Being driven to exhaustion with some combination of constant drills (hammer-fists as fast and hard as you can for 60 seconds, etc.), burpees, pushups, combative sit ups, sprints, holding plank position while being kicked in the abs, etc. Hour 2-4: Technique demonstrations, working through entire level 2 curriculum Hour 5: Final Drill... this always changes and is ALWAYS insane. One year, it was carry your partner while you swim/paddle across the Cape Fear river. As I mentioned for the most recent test, it was bear-crawling through snow while fending off attackers. You can't really prepare for this, you just have to keep moving and survive. I should also mention... at any time during the test, you can be attacked by Disturbers. These are senior students (at least one belt/rank higher than you) wearing masks (I prefer a purple lucha libre mask when I disturb for the level 1 tests) who can make you do situps/pushups/etc. and generally make your life hell at any moment. The bonus for the level 2 test is that they can try to black bag you, attack you, and/or pull you into an extended sparring session which you have to be able to fight off. The Challenge: After much thought, I've decided that to prepare for this boss battle, I really need to target 3 major areas: technique refinement, strength, and endurance. Goal #1: Technique Refinement Attend Krav classes 3x a week I know the entire level 2 curriculum, I just need to perfect things here and there. Goal #2: Strength 100 pushups, situps, or burpees every day I have no idea what crazy physical feats of strength will be required, but if I can bang out 100 pushups in a row I would definitely be in good shape for the test. I'll be starting out with 4 sets of 25 and ramp up the size of each set throughout the challenge. Goal #3: Endurance Run 4 miles a week I hate running. With a passion. Therefore, I should probably work on it a bit. I envision this as being a goal of running 4 miles total, so I could do 2 2 mile runs or a giant 4 mile run. If you'd like to follow along, I made a spreadsheet to track my progress.
  9. You know, sometimes you just need a training montage. It may come from being a child of the 80s, but there is something that moves me about training montages set to awesome power ballads. Of course, finding the right media to go along with it, you end up with a lot of same-y results. I've gotten the heads-up from my master that it's time for me to be setting a date for my second degree black belt grading. The timing is apropos as the challenge is just beginning and I need to get some semblance of order back into my life. So lets do some order. I also started typing this at 8 am this morning and it's now almost 2 pm. I keep trying to find some interesting words and I need to accept that I'm letting me be the one to stop myself. The thing about that is that I am also the one that can get myself moving. Train for dat belt I have directional joint locks, sword techniques and kicking techniques on my grading. I have been kicking a lot and my legs have definitely shown the improvement. I'll be investing some time in my locks and sword work over the next six weeks. So we're back to a twice a week schedule. Lift dat thing Strong SFG is strong. When I actually train, that is. I love barbells, but I get derailed easily because of an inherent acceptance of the status quo. And that is my problem. I love lifting, but I too easily make excuses. Given the craziness of the next month, I am going to aim for twice a week at the gym. Eat dat food Hey, how about that regular meal schedule? Yeah, that hasn't been happening. The very first thing that I fall off the wagon with is food when I'm in a bad place. And I have a month of essentially living alone ahead of me. My wife is working her already full schedule plus picking up shifts in another region for three days a week. I need to eat my meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sleep in dat bed Sleep, as we know, is critical for good recovery and overall health. The second thing that breaks down when I am not doing well. And I'm really not doing well, so my sleep schedule is waaaaaay off kilter. My goal, then, is to be in bed by 11 for the first two weeks, 10:30 in weeks 3 and 4, and finally 10 o'clock in 5 and 6. This is going to be one of those challenges that I really need to pay attention to myself. I'm going to be alone for much of the next month and I do poorly under those conditions. I will also have extremely limited access to a vehicle. My exercise and training goals are going to require that I suck it up and do something about it to meet them. Now let's get this going. I've wasted enough time as it is.
  10. Still the same things to work on, but I really want to keep it simple this time, so I get rid of the established good habit. I will still track them, since tracking is a good habit in itself, but not as part of the challenge. Again I am focusing on building habits, so what I list is to be done every day (unless otherwise noted). As usual, scoring will be based on the done vs missed ratio. For the challenge itself I'll do the following: Sleep: at least 6 hours each day and 50 hours/week STR +2, CON +2, WIS +1Monk's stuff: I am using the figther's codex as a template to work on my basics (plus some endurance and strength as side effects) DEX +2, STR +1, STA +1Assassin's stuff: the usual 15 minutes of balance&stretching work DEX +2, STR +1Clean table and counter. This is the thing that my wife does always, no matter what. I under estimated it in the previous challenges CHA +2, WIS +1Last August I started tracking my weight every day. I was hesitant in the beginning, but now I consider it a good habit that helps me in staying on track with my long term goal. From the beginning of the year I lost 2 Kg, which is nothing and easily lost in the noise. I know that some rice/potatoes at dinner makes me 0.6-0.8 Kg heavier the day after, for example, but as long as the long term trend is kept, the small gain is ok. All the rest just followed. A nice scattered plot keeps me motivated. So, out of the challenge, but still tracked: weightweekly house choresmeditationeating according to scheduledaily walkFinal note: on 9-16 May I will have some family time. On those days the goals will be: walk at least one hour every daydon't go for seconds (but no limits to veggies)Not part of the challenge, more a rule to survive a week of my mother feeding the "prodigal son who returned home"
  11. I'm in, guys. There's a metaphor in my head about letting progress flow along natural channels, with ease and grace rather than a ton of force. Still working on slight improvements over time for strength, TKD, and nutrition. Will post structure here soon!
  12. I'm going to switch gears on this one. I nerded out pretty hard writing the last challenge and it did the job for me. This time around, I need to express myself a little more creatively. This time, it's all about the beat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sotMr3NZ35A We will stand All that we have is all that we are We will stand All the hearts together apart Since the moment I first heard this song, this has been my anthem. If you've been around after there's been a nerd meetup, you understand. If you haven't, well... I love my nerds. They are my tribe and my people. My brothers and sisters from all over the world. They are my heart. Okay, so I'm a giant mushbag. But the lesson here is to pay attention to my people. In lieu of my nerds, I have my club. As always, I'm holding myself accountable to be present, to be an example and to teach. I have my 2nd degree grading hanging over my head. I must be prepared. This is not new. Class twice a week, at minimum. Work it harder, make it better Do it faster, make us stronger For anyone that does not get the impetus of this song, I am sorry, but we can no longer be friends. Daft Punk is magic and that is all there is to it. I have had a lot of trouble getting to the gym due to scheduling issues and lack of car and holy-fuck-it's-cold-itis. I had a think, and the fact is that I made this fancy circuit to test my fellow monks. A fairly simple circuit one can do at home. So, I'ma do that three times a week, trying to improve my position on the charts.
  13. So, I stumbled in the last challenge; I aimed too high and faced (minor) injury and didn't complete any of my fitness goals. However, I did complete a life goal: I got an entry-level IT position. Over the last challenge, I was unemployed and therefore actually had gobs of time with which to go to the gym and my sword play studio. Now, however, since I am working full time (on top of a single class of graduate school), I have considerably less time. Therefore, I must use the time I have better, which is what two of the three of my goals for this challenge are. Included in the new job comes with better mood, as I really like this job and I feel that my life is finally going somewhere, which have been major contributors to my poor mental health over the past year. I've decided to take three different aspects of my physical self for my goals: Fitness, Health, Art. Thus: 1. Develop habits of going to work out: My current schedule is a little crazy, and it's only going to get crazier. For work (in River North, if you know anything about Chicago) MW is 10–18 and TTW, 8.30–16.30. And then I have class Tuesday from 18:00 to 21:15 in Lincoln Park, at least for the first four weeks of the challenge. Week five is spring break and then on week six, I'll have class in the Loop, Mondays and Tuesdays from 17:45 to 21:00 (Office hours may have to change then too). Otherwise, sword (and grappling) classes are offered Monday, 19:30–20:30; Wednesday, 19:30–22:00 and Saturday, 11–13. I also am hoping to get to the gym Mondays and Wednesdays before I have to be in at the office, since I have a little extra time there. So, now for the goal: Work out several times a week (up to five): S Work out a total of 30 times (five times a week) A Work out at least 26 times B Work out at least 22 times C Work out at least 18 times (three times a week) 100%100% 2. Practice better sleep hygiene: Staying up too late and not having a regular sleep schedule is probably one of the contributors to the weakness in my mental health and the irregularity of my exercise schedule. So, I need to work at having screens off around 21:30 and to be in bed by 22:30. Doing so should give my sleep better regularity, which means that I should sleep more and better and therefore be able to manage my time better. My biggest enemies to this are my graduate school courses in the evening and those late Wednesday Armizare Foundations. Hopefully, if I get the rest of the week in line, those will follow. (I know I'm thwarting this tonight by staying up late to make this post, but the challenge doesn't start until tomorrow, so technicality.) S Screens off at 21:30 and in bed by 22:30 a total of 30 times A Screens off at 21:30 and in bed by 22:30 at least 26 times B Screens off at 21:30 and in bed by 22:30 at least 22 times C Screens off at 21:30 and in bed by 22:30 at least 18 times 11.11%11.11% 3. Develop better sparring confidence: Every first Friday, the Chicago Sword Play Guild has their fight night. I've participated with one match each of the previous two. However, all the skills that I practice in class fall out of my head as soon as I don the gambizon. I tense up and have a harder time reacting. So I need learn how to relax and how to keep a hold on at least the basics. My biggest foes here are internal, both directly and indirectly, and probably both stem from my ADHD. Firstly, I've never had good twitch skills: I am terrible at FPS type games as the number of things I have to maintain awareness of usually is overwhelming and then my instincts are horrid. Being tense also makes one jumpy, and the flow and grace that gives one control is lost.Secondly, I am on an amphetamine derived stimulant as a treatment for my ADHD; one of the side effects is a reduced reaction time, which is essential for combat. My dosage of this drug when up just before the last fight night and I think that it may have adversely effected my performance. Hopefully I will get used to this dosage and be able to perform better at the following fight nights. Also, if I get my sleep hygiene in check, I should be able to spar with greater skill. Pass: Fight in two spars at the April Fight Night, one against an instructor, and once against one of my novice peers. In the peer fight, win at least three exchanges. PASSED I still don't have a grasp on the ability points. If anyone wants to recommend some distributions, please go ahead. I also may need a lot of cheering, especially as the busyness increases, to keep me here and to keep me on track.
  14. There's a saying in Zen: In order to learn, you must first empty your cup. And boy, do I need it. The goal of this challenge is to condition myself to become better at taekwondo, tea, and being a human being. Mind, Body, and Spirit. Mind: Pass the NASM exam with at least 90%. 1 textbook chapter/day, 1 studyguide chapter/day, go over flashcards every day. Two years ago on NF, I said I would be going for the certification after graduating college. It's now or never--if I'm going to be establishing a career that blends fitness and leafy good stuff, then it helps to know what I'm talking about. Body: Develop solid core and hamstrings, marked by the completion of 5x20 hanging leg raises and 1 unassisted glute-ham raise. MWF conditioning workouts supersetting assisted GHRs during the push section (fist PUs, fingertip pseudo-planche PUs, and OAPUs), and 5 sets of front HLRs, 5 sets of side hanging knee tucks, and 1 RPOD to failure at the end. All the better to roundhouse kick you with, my dear. Spirit: Be less selfie. Listen to people. Shut up, sit down, and pay attention when they are talking. When tempted to interject or react sharply under stress, mentally recite the 5 tenets of Taekwondo + 1 tenet of Tieguanyin*: Respect, Integrity, Self-Control, Perseverance, Indomitable Will, and Compassion. Doing a blog and Youtube channel leads to the temptation to constantly crow about everything--or complain loudly to a public audience. Thus, ego conditioning. This one can't be quantified, not like tracking weight or measurements. Just going on gut and hoping for the best. The irony is posting about being less selfie in a thread about myself. How the heck to resolve this? *The 1 Tenet of Tieguanyin comes from a type of oolong tea served at work, named after Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of compassion and mercy. Not an official credo, like the TKD code, but comforting nonetheless.
  15. This really should have been a theme for my last challenge, but whatever. Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl was a very long running manga series in Japan from 1986 to 1993. It was also adapted into an anime. I've read the first 20ish issues (~3 volumes) of the manga and it's funny. I should finish the rest (see below). Compete in the Kata Competition This one is pass/fail, though if for whatever reason my partner ends up bowing out and I can't go with anyone else, I will void the goal. He's pretty motivated so that shouldn't be a problem. I am wary of goals that depend on someone else. The tournament is in March so we're spending March break working on kata until we dream about it. Try to do some randori with someone significantly stronger/larger than me at least once per week x/5 I'm excepting March Break from this. There are no formal classes over March Break and we'll be working on Kata only. This one perhaps requires explanation. I tend to either work with the younger ones closer to my size or shy away from working with the big guys in Randori. I'll go in for ne waza with the big guys anytime but I really don't work with the bigger guys in Randori. People bigger than me force me to use technique instead of muscling them around like I can with some of the people closer to my size. Burpee Challenge with the Judo Guys (x/2015) 4 of them have signed on so far :-) Read at least 3 times per week (x/18) The last challenge has demonstrated that I really do not make the time to read anymore. I'm not even putting a time limit on this. Suggested reading: Kodokan Judo, Mind Over Muscle, Yawara Manga for something lighter. Bonus goal: Practice Guitar 4x/week for 15 min. Decide whether to continue and look into getting my own. The course I'm taking recommends this for beginners. Had to borrow Yui from K-On! For this one.
  16. Makes me feel naughty, just saying it. I wrote this whole thing up at work yesterday, and then promptly forgot to email it to myself. *facepalm* Content coming soon. The essence of it is that, since I'm not sure which shifts are really going to drive me to the next level, I'm going to try a bit of everything and see what clicks for me. Scientifically, I realize it's flawed to change more than one variable at a time....but I'm going to have to shake things up a bit in order to cut off this final 10% of excess weight, and I don't know which of them will be the right psychological "hook." Looking forward to another 6-week party with all the Monks! OMG didn't see his amazing JAZZ HANDS OF SCIENCE before I posted this. Ha!
  17. Born in the Earth Kingdoms in a time of peace and prosperity, Avatar Kyellan never had a reason to awaken to his calling and master the four elements. The world seemed to have no need for the Avatar in his time, and the elite of the Earthbending masters did nothing to search for him. In fact, Avatar Kyellan only had the faintest idea that he was even a bender at all until he reached his twenty-ninth birthday. He awoke on that day, and with a strange sense of clarity, suddenly began to understand his role in the world. Still with no idea that he was in fact the Avatar, Kyellan realized--in what he would later understand to be a spiritual vision--that the earth itself was calling him. Now, in his life of peace, Kyellan had never even begun martial training. He was overweight, rather clumsy, and had little to no endurance in any physical task. He did, however, have an indomitable will and a mind bright enough to carry him to understanding of scholarly concepts in a very short amount of time. When he first felt the calling, Kyellan thought to ignore it. After all, most benders discovered their power at a very young age and began training early! Still, despite how much he tried to resist, the earth continued to call him. At last, as the weight of it grew to unbearable within him, Avatar Kyellan sought out his first Sifu. ---------------------------- This challenge marks the beginning of my new Epic Quest. After discovering precisely how perfect martial arts is for my mind, spirit and body, I am setting on the path to become the Avatar, and master the four elements. These are: Earth: Hung Gar Kung Fu Fire: Northern Shaolin Kung Fu Water: Tai Chi Air: Baguazhang My first long-term goal is to learn a traditional form from each of these four martial arts. This may well take years. ------------------------------ As many of you may already know, I have been studying Hung Gar for approximately three months. Sometimes it would be nice if real life were more like TV and I could just do a training montage, but as it turns out, things don't work that way. This is going to be a very long Epic Quest, not something that easily fits into six weeks. I will likely vary my challenge themes along the way for variety, even though my true goal is thematically based on the four elements of A:tLA. My original considerations for this challenge were going to be calisthenic exercises, but I realized after some thought that my Hung Gar fundamentals basically work as calisthenics, so I decided to focus on those fundamentals and build strength and endurance through them. Shaping the Stone Hung Gar--and by extension, earthbending--is all about stance and endurance. It was developed in Southern China, where the uneven ground and high-population cities required its fighters to be able to work their art in close quarters and with the utmost stability. For Goal 1, I will be working on my horse-riding stance twice-daily, five days a week, in addition to anything done in class. Since the time increase method worked so well for my meditation last challenge, I'll be applying a similar principle here. Week 1: 2 minutes Week 2: 2 minutes 30 seconds Week 3: 2 minutes 45 seconds Week 4: 3 minutes Week 5: 3 minutes 15 seconds Week 6: 3 minutes 30 seconds These are minimum times in order to count it for the challenge. If I can go longer, I will. A: (60 stance training) +4 STA, +2 CON B: (50 stance training) +3 STA, +1 CON C: (45 stance training) +2 STA For Goal 2, I will practice my forms. Right now I have one complete introductory Hung Gar form, and the beginning of a Shaolin Broadsword form (as lightsaber). In order to get any benefit out of this, I will need to do these at least a few times each in order to count them. Again, all of this should be outside of regular scheduled class in order to get benefits out of it. In order to count a success, I will need to do everything I know of a single chosen form three times: once slow, with a focus on perfect form; once fast, with a focus on speed to increase coordination and agility; and finally once with dynamic tension to build strength and power. A: (30 form practice) +3 STR, +3 DEX B: (25 form practice) +2 STR, +2 DEX C: (20 form practice) +1 STR, +1 DEX Lastly, my final goal is very simple. I need to wake up before 6AM. Over the past few weeks I have not been exercising my will enough, and have been resetting the alarm for 6:30 or even later sometimes, which needs to stop. This is going to get even harder once we Spring Forward in a couple of weeks, but it is absolutely crucial to my well-being. I need to wake up with my alarm set to anytime prior to 6AM (even 5:59 counts, but only if I put my feet on the floor before 6AM rolls around) seven days a week, and retrain my sleep schedule back to what it should be. A: 42 days up before 6AM (+3 WIS) B: 36 days up before 6AM (+2 WIS) C: 30 days up before 6AM (+1 WIS) ---------------------------- This is only the first chapter of what will be a long road, but I'm looking at it with an odd kind of serenity. This is something I want to do, and I don't care how long it takes!
  18. Hello Monks! Can't believe this will be my THIRD challenge, but I'm pumped to start! My challenge is going to be pretty similar to my last one, as I need a little bit more work building up these good habits. I did pretty well overall, but I know there's room for improvement—particularly in keeping myself disciplined and focused. The main difference this time is I'm going to start adding some real live classes to my schedule! I found a good intro class, though I'm not sure if I will do all six weeks at the same place or move on once I feel comfortable. We shall see. Main Quest: Cultivate a healthy level of self-confidence and appreciation! (aka Learn to love reflective surfaces.) --To me right now, this means getting fitter, getting stronger, and dropping extra weight. Mission 1: Track food in MFP every day AND stay within calorie goals for majority of days +4 CON --Food tracking >90% and calorie goal met >60% = A --Food tracking >80% and calorie goal met >50% = B --Food tracking >70% and calorie goal met >40% = C (will receive the lower grade if goal percentages are split) Mission 2: Complete some sort of strength-focused workout three days per week +3 STR, +1 STA --18 workouts = A --14 workouts = B --10 workouts = C (still figuring out if this will be my BBWW/ABWW combo circuits from last challenge, a Neila Ray something or other, something else entirely, or will change depending on my WHIMS) Mission 3: Complete boxing style cardio workout at home twice a week AND one class per week +3 DEX, +1 STA --12 at home + 6 classes = A --9 at home + 3 classes = B --6 at home + 1 class = C
  19. WELCOME TO OPERATION IMPENDING DOOM III In which I continue to focus on mostly the same goals (taking care of my diet, my bookending rituals and the habits in it, my ninja way and my life as a dark scholar). this time with a particular theme celebrating the comeback of Invader Zim, the greatest and most appropriate for children show ever. Also, because all of the goals deal with things that sort of feel like impending and inevitable dooms Feel free to sing the Doom Song with me FOR THE ENTIRE DURATION OF THE CHALLENGE. Doom doom do doom doo doom doom. UNO Food & Finances Invader's blood marches through my veins like giant radioactive rubber pants! The pants command me! Do not ignore my veins! My mother was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and she’s suffering from a neuropathy in her legs which keep her awake most nights. I can not ignore my veins and what could be an impending doom for me. My diet goal for this challenge is simple, give sugar the same treatment I gave to cigarettes, cut out them from my life forever. I’ve attempted (and failed) this before, so it might not be as easy as it sound. I’m using Cheechoe’s cheat jar idea for everytime I eat sugar (on coffee, fruit juices, sweets, etc) because money is really tight now and I simply can’t afford to lose any money. It’ll actually affect my other goals. I’m using that money to buy sugar-free things to my mother, because she gave birth to a legend. I’m still allowed honey and maybe other organic sweetener (have you heard from stevia? is it good?) and dark chocolate to keep the dementors at bay —trust me... in my current living situations, it helps. DOS Bookend your days You expect me to pay to ride this filthy machine? Have you the brain worms?! I haven’t seen as much progress as I have seen in the past, when I was training regularly in a gym. I still keep my workouts limited to my bookending rituals but I’ve been failing at consistency and tracking. I don’t have and endgame, a way to keep track of my progress and a way to keep me motivated at the same time. A little voice tells me I should sign up for a gym membership near my work but a big part of me stills raises his fist in rebellion to that thought. So for my fitness goals I’m focusing on taking really seriously my training, keeping consistency on my bookending rituals, incorporating two challenge/programs (30 Day Yoga Challenge and Hero’s Journey) in my workouts as a way to keep me motivated and track my progress, as well as taking the process of thinking what do I have to do every day, which was basically was I was making progress when I was in a gym, I had a sensei, a trainer and a yoga instructor who told me what to do every time. I want to demonstrate myself that I don’t need a stinky gym. I might not have the resources to pay a gym membership in the near future. * cough * operation: save the shogun * cough, cough *. Yes, a challenge inside a challenge. It’s challengeption in here. Also, I’m putting money in the cheat jar every time I skip a workout two times in a row. TRES The Black Belt Test I'm gonna roll around on the floor for a while. KAY? My Martial Arts Goal is simple: Visit my master somewhere during the challenge. Last time I went there, I was told I need to focus on taihenjutsu, a lot. Taihenjutsu is this. I’ll still focus on my training program, but I want to show improvement in this part of the program during my impending test doom, mostly because my sensei will focus on the ryu-ha (ancient schools) that make the whole martial art, and it might be a long time before I get to receive any assistance in this basic stuff. My success here depends basically on how much I train — like it has always been. CUATRO A scholar’s life Someone said she's existed from time immemorial and they just built the school around her. Besides my reading challenge —two books a month, I’m currently on book four— I want to focus on my studies. For those who don’t know, I’m getting my second degree (modern languages the first) on Education, and Ms. Bitters is one of my idols. I want to be a teacher like her. The next semester is coming and I want to get ahead of this impending doom, so I’m breaking the unspoken rule I’ve set myself of “If you get the morning and evening rituals right, the rest of the day is yours” and committing to at least ONE hour of daily study. Wish me luck Let’s hope I don’t make the fires worse. I know; I'm scared too.
  20. Step 1. Change Username (Regeneration!). Step 2. Write Goals Step 3: RAWR! Step 4. ???????? Step 6. PROFIT
  21. Hi Monks, I'm Blair, I study Karate (Shito-Ryu Itosu-Kai), and I've been getting lazy. I completed my first challenge last May and then kinda lurked away for the rest of the year. I didn't go totally off the rails, though - I still walk to work almost every weekday, I still go to my karate classes twice a week, I still do bodyweight exercises, and I even took up running and stair climbing in the summer with a group of co-workers. The problem now is, living in the frozen north, no one wants to go running and stair climbing indoors can get boring, so many of our group members bail often. Besides, I have some specific personal goals that the others don't, so it's up to me to find other ways to motivate myself and stay accountable... hence, I am posting again. Main Goal I currently hold a brown belt but I may have an opportunity in June to rank for my Shodan-Ho. In addition to Karate I also study Kobudo, and have been taught everything I need to know for my Shodan... I just need to get good enough at it all. What I really need to do is start fine-tuning everything, to take it from "good enough" to "good," and hopefully even "better" someday. The part of my main goal achievable in the challenge time frame is to set up some daily habits and build some discipline. Goal #1 - Practice Karate and/or Kobudo every day This isn't intended as a workout so much as building a steady habit. Even if it's just running through basic waza for 20-30 minutes in the morning, it's something! What I really need to work on is remembering some of my newer kata (I had the incredibly embarrassing incident of blanking on a kata just before Christmas!) so I want to focus on that most days. Goal #2 - Increase my flexibility I wanted this to be food related but work plans have conspired against me. I know I can eat healthy while traveling, but I specifically wanted to push myself to cook more often - part of the 'daily habits' and 'discipline' idea. Anyway, now I am substituting it with a flexibility goal - Every day I'm going to do the hip mobility routine I saw linked in the Courtyard thread today. I anticipate agony for the first little while, but my left hip flexor is bothering me enough now that it's impeding my ability to kick or hold a proper shiko dachi, so I have to do something about it. Goal #3 - Get out of bed in the morning! The long dark winters are not kind to me. I just want to stay snuggled in the warm blankets forever, and by the time it gets light out I should already have been up for at least an hour. I need to earn money and get on with my life, and this morning battle with laziness usually ends with me having to dash out of bed, half-ass my morning routine, and rush to work with no exercise or food. So my goal is to get out of bed by 7:30 AM at the latest every weekday, and 9 AM on weekends. I know this is still considered late to some, but I live within a 15 minute walk of my office for a reason. Life Goal - Turn my apartment into something livable I have let my apartment turn into a quasi-stereotypical bachelor mess. It's not dirty - I do have standards - but there's too much clutter and not enough personal touches. It's not a warm and inviting place right now; I can't always relax and I certainly can't have people over. So my goal here is to make the place I inhabit a place in which I can live. I know this sounds kind of nebulous, but I do have some specific tasks in mind (this list is non-exhaustive): Replace my crappy vacuum with a more modern one that hopefully works betterBuy more shelving, specifically for my kitchen and storage room.Buy a couch (I know, how ridiculous to not have a couch for company...)Shred the piles of old papers I no longer needFile or scan the ones I do need Tomorrow is going to be a rough morning... Oh well, nothing worth doing is easy!
  22. So, I don't really have a choice for my challenge theme this time. As those of you who hung out on my last challenge thread might know, I'm taking a Lightsaber Dueling class with my Hung Gar Sifu... and it starts tomorrow! While part of me wishes that I could be a good Jedi and follow the path of peace and harmony, the truth is, I know myself too well for that. There is no strength in chaos, but strength can be found in both peace and passion, wisdom in both ignorance and knowledge--for who is wiser, he who claims knowledge where none is found, or he who admits to himself and others that he simply does not know? Attachment may help or hinder--when one is attached to trivial things, the truth is clouded, but when one reserves attachment for the things which truly matter, the purest light is found. Perhaps it is arrogant of me to believe that I can find a better way, but in my eyes, the Sith are selfish and the Jedi blind to the harshness of reality. I shall walk the Third Way: balance, combined with good judgment, to achieve true harmony. So, past the philosophy and on to the challenge! Goal 1: Spirit Meditate daily to gain insight into self and the world. Minimum meditation will increase week-over-week to drive improvement. Meditation at kung fu and/or lightsaber class DOES NOT COUNT--this should be quiet morning or evening introspection. Week 1: 5 minutes Week 2: 6 minutes Week 3: 7 minutes Week 4: 8 minutes Week 5: 9 minutes Week 6: 10 minutes A: 42 meditation sessions (WIS +3); B: 40 meditation sessions (WIS +2); C: 38 meditation sessions (WIS +1) BONUS: Extra +1 WIS if 50 meditation sessions (meeting minimum requirements) is reached. ---------------- Goal 2: Skill I am already committed to twice-weekly Kung Fu sessions, and for January, I am also committing to once-weekly Lightsaber Dueling sessions. This means that I have three classes per week to attend to increase my strength, speed and skill. I am doing the lightsaber class with my wife--if she decides not to continue into February, I may not be able to continue that, so I am not going to count that as part of the challenge. If I end up going into Feb with lightsaber, I will consider it a bonus. A: 3 classes/week (Jan), 2 classes/week (Feb) [16 total] -- (+2 STR, +2 DEX) B: 2 classes/week (Jan), 1 class/week (Feb) -- [10 total] (+1 STR, +1 DEX) C: 1 class/week (Jan), 1 class/week (Feb) -- [6 total] (+0.5 STR, +0.5 DEX) ---------------- Goal 3: Discipline Returning to a goal from my very first challenge. My body feels better when I fast regularly. I do better without breakfast, but sometimes I find that it's easier to slide into eating something than it is to wait until lunchtime, and I want to break this habit. Going straight from where I am to fasting every day is likely asking too much of myself, but I will do more than the three times a week that I accomplished in my first challenge. I am aiming for five per week for the duration of the challenge. A: 30 16-hour fasts (+3 CON) B: 24 16-hour fasts (+2 CON) C: 18 16-hour fasts (+1 CON) ----------------- Life Goal: Judgment, Strategy, Knowledge I've started to learn the game of Go with a fellow Hung Gar student. I don't really want to quantify this goal, but I'd like to make this a reminder to keep playing games against my phone and iPad. I may also use this space to sort of journal my learning process with the game. ------------------ I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's progress with this new challenge!
  23. Being late seems to become a second nature for me . I'm not sure that I like this... Anyway, here are my targets. Actually I have started at the right time last monday, but no online free-time until now. Earth, the place where the foundations should be. Earth is solid, is stable, it does not change and it it at the base of every thing else. For me earth is my "long life" routine: meditate 15-30 minuteskarate outdoor (30 minutes) or walk (2 hours)sleep 50 hours per week (7 hours/day, but I use the average per week to give me some room)eat daily according to plan (2 meals per week are free)CON +2, STA +2, WIS +1 Fire is the destroyer, the bringer of emptiness and new order. Decluttering is the key word decluttering 15 minutes every dayCHA +3 Water is always moving, always changing, always adapting. It is something that takes always new forms. I need the agility to move like water follow GMB F1 progressionDEX +2. STR +2 Air is freedom, it is growing and expanding. As should my knowledge as a martial artist have at least 3 sessions with my Sensei or a more experience studentWIS +2, DEX+1 Edit: the mighty tracker
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