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  1. So according to my notes, the last time I lurked on NF was during July 2015. Yikes! Time to change that. I don't sleep well or enough. And judging by the threads here (“The Sleeping Quarters”? Really?) I'm not alone. I figure it's the best place to start re-improving my life: it should solidify my timetable, which would solidify my mealtimes, which would solidify my work timetable, which will then be more amenable to structured exercise sessions… and not this haphazard mix of is-it-work-or-is-it-distraction and let's-do-a-few-pushups-here-and-a-squat-there-and-whatever-next-comes-to-mind. Since it's the middle of a running challenge, I will call this one a “mini-challenge” with only one… Goal: In bed by 11pm, ready to sleep. Up to ½h additional reading while in bed is permitted. “Structure. Use more of it.” I see NF has new forum software (relatively speaking). I already don't like it too much: it's more of a hassle for me to type into here than with the old one. I'll get used to it sooner or later, but I do wish to apologize in advance for the lower typographical quality of my posts. Good night. -- M
  2. There is neither darkness, nor light; there is only the Force. Zane Kahn did not know if he had been fighting for three hours or for three days. Once, long ago, it had mattered to him. Back when he had been young, nothing more than a Genin with something to prove, he would have secretly stolen glances at the clock to see how long was left. Time, however, had revealed itself to him - a mirage in the face of the eternal reality of the Force. There is passion, yet peace. Serenity, yet emotion. He met the gaze of his opponents - five other Gray Jedi. Their faces were unreadable behind their masks. They were masters, all in their own ways, one from each of the fighting orders and a fifth to speak for the Grays as a whole. Zane brought his lightsaber up to neutral guard. He wanted to laugh. He wanted His breath was slow, steady, even. His awareness floated in the Cloud, in the gray nothing between darkness and light. The fatigue of his muscles was contrasted with the Force stinging in his veins. He wanted to laugh, and he wanted to roar his defiance, and he wanted nothing at all. And then, he felt it. It was time. Chaos, yet order. He was one with the Force, and though there was a distance between he and they, Zane was on them in a single step. It would have been suicide to approach it that way for anyone else. Any advantage in coordination he would have had as a lone operator against multiple opponents was negated by the Force. The same thing that let him feel the incoming blows before they happened was telling them much the same thing. But to hell with it. So there wasn't a weak link in the chain. So any link was as good to hit as any other. He channeled the aggression into heavy, hammering blows against the smaller master of Wind. She tried to flow away, to take the flying leap backward. Zane had overextended himself, and there was no way to recover back in time to form a proper defense. So he didn't even bother. Instead, he gathered all his joyous fury into the palm of his off hand and pushed with the Force. It caught her square and sent her flying a good deal further than she'd meant to go. In the space of an instant, he reversed the push, cutting the roar of energy down to a single thread. He looped it around her lightsaber and yanked. It worked - the lightsaber released from her hand and landed in his. It would have been a waste of time to try to catch four different sabers at once, so he didn't bother. Instead, as he flicked the new one to life, Zane whirled like a dervish, catching their strikes in the patterns of his blades. He spun away. Four. They stayed on him, though, a wall of heat and light. Playing this game would end poorly, but the flash of fear happened on the outside. It did not pierce the Cloud. So Zane didn't miss feeling the opening in the defense, a slowness on the part of the Fire master. Zane could see the space in the down swing, and flicked his saber up and into the guard, catching his opponent's blade at the hilt and severing it in a flash of heat. The Fire master disengaged. Wise man. Three. The Earth master must have sensed the shift in the momentum. She stretched out her hand, and Zane felt a heaviness in his limbs. As if great chains had been looped about his wrists and his ankles. Deep breath in, and he roared this time, pushing his will out through his arms. The chains were still there, still heavy, but he could fight through them. He slashed at her head and she pulled back. He spun to catch the other two combatants before lifting his leg and stomping backward. The Force flowed through him and he felt his heel catch her square in the ribs. She flew and flew, and he knew that she wouldn't get back up again when the weight lifted off his limbs. The last two - Water and the Gray - paused in their assault. Zane stopped. He could feel it like an oncoming wave, something, something... and then they raised their arms. He could smell the burning in the air and cleared his mind. Lightning crackled in the air toward him. Zane let his blades fall to the ground and raised his hands. He felt the electricity slam into him, a hammer against his palms that tried to worm its way into him, to cripple him in agony as it lit up his nerves. But Zane had learned the truth of the lightning - that it wasn't just electricity, but intention. A last attempt to dominate him. He held the lightning, held the gaze, held the raw purposeful aggression. Time ceased. And then, it was over. They lowered their arms. Zane drew the electricity down, down, down into a ball that he clenched in each fist, down into nothing. He let his arms hang loose and permitted a half grin. The moment stretched. And then the other Masters extinguished their lightsabers and clipped them to their belts. The cloud parted, and it all came crashing in. It hadn't been three days, only most of one. And it had been enough. But even as he let the Force go, Zane found himself wrapped in a blanket of pure sound. By the Shadow, he thought, staring at the students cheering around him. The whole damned academy must have come out to watch. That's right. He remembered that sense of nervous excitement before his world had shrank to the arena and the five people trying to sort-of kill him. And it was over. It was blessedly over. He heaved one breath, and then another, and then another. He was Kage now. He was a shadow unto himself. He knew it would be regarded as a tacky, hamfisted thing to do, but to hell with it. Sometimes, you just had to live it up. Zane felt his lips curling into a wide smile as he lifted his hands wide. He gathered the Force into his belly, letting it roar up and out of him, his voice booming deeper than anything he would have managed alone. "I am the shadow cast by the sun! I am the candle burning in the night! AND THE FORCE ALONE SHALL GUIDE ME!"
  3. There is neither darkness, nor light; There is only the Force. There is passion, yet peace. Serenity, yet emotion. Chaos, yet order. I am the shadow cast by the sun, I am the candle burning in the night, And the Force alone shall guide me. I began the journey this year as someone who wanted to understand himself better. I wanted to know why I was the way I was, and I wanted to iron out what I considered to be some inconsistencies in who I was. I can't say that I finished it... because it's not the kind of work that is ever finished. It's an endless act of refinement, a constant struggle that can't be entered into with the idea of ever really being finished. I will say, however, that it's been a worthwhile struggle. I'm more peaceful than I was, and even when I get angry or sad, I usually can tell why now and I have an easier time returning to baseline. This has been tested hard this year. Between a busted computer, my father's heart attack, and the realization that my prospects are not what I thought they were, it's been a rough ride. But at the same time it feels like waking up from a nightmare - where I would have before hung my head and accepted it as my fate, I'm instead... quiet. Angry, in a cold way that makes me want to act and fix things rather than rail against the heavens. I want to say that it's time to finish this quest and become a whole and integrated person, but sadly I've found it doesn't work that way. Nevertheless. It is time to embrace the shadows, the slip and slide of darkness and light. What were the marks of a Master of the Gray Order? Feats Impossible to the Light or the Dark Sides of the Force Gray Masters were known for their ability to mix and match their feats from either side of the Force. Gray Masters could turn Force Lightning into a force for healing (though not sure how that would work... whoever came up with that bit of fanon should have thought that one out a bit more). What does this mean? Mixing and matching - strength and conditioning and yoga with the idea of getting to Boston in one piece, stronger and faster and ready for anything. However, instead of worrying about hitting specific numbers, my goal here is just to log on and track what I've done. My training habit is strong enough that I know I won't break anything if I miss a day here or there. And plus, it's an excuse for me to be here with you. The Combination of Forms to Create Unwinnable Situations There is no form of the Lightsaber that is perfect. All have their gaps, flaws in their concepts that can be exploited. So, naturally, you find the hole, and then you work to fill it with another form. What does this mean? I have Karate, and I have Judo to fill the gaps therein. I must train them both. And when I get my sticks back, I will have to begin to work what little Kali I've seen into the training again. Again, a thing to be logged daily. Cleansing Excessive Light and Dark Side Contamination from Worlds through Meditation I have a new thing to study in my meditations - relaxation. So the first practice was mindfulness, and the second was to concentrate through mental noise. The third is to learn the difference between tension and looseness - to induce both in a state of mindfulness and to become aware of the difference in a controlled setting. Once per day. Life Goal: Material Balance So, my landlord is working with me to get me out of the lease. He's asked that I clean out my room at the old apartment. This is more than fair. Which means I need to kick my efforts there up into high gear. I've been given a list of things I need to do. The goal is to have them done before the Challenge is over; ideally, I'll have them done before the end of the month. And with that, we wait...
  4. One has not been as active in the Monk's section lately. The madness drives one to solitude, the solitude drives one to madness; and one neglects an entire community of supporters who are willing to keep me accountable. And we all have a meeting place. THE QUEST One With The Universe Declare a schedule at the beginning of the week. Even if I don't follow the schedule to a T, having a schedule gives me a reason to not sit around wallowing in misery (or at least limit the time that I spend doing it). And declaring said schedule, I suppose, would keep me honest, or at least make me work hard to be otherwise. (+2 CON, +2 WIS) The Middle Way Despite keeping to myself, I spend too much time on Facebook. But I cannot just delete Facebook, since it also deals with my work, so I have resolved to follow Intermittent Facebook Fasting. No Facebook from dawn to dusk. (+2 CON, +2 WIS) Embrace The Madness I have a blog, but it remains relatively empty. I have words running around in my head but I never write them down. I shall spend at least two hours a week reflecting and writing on my notebook. (+3 WIS) SIDE QUEST Basic Review A rather overdue belt test is coming up, and I am going to take part in it. No more sandbagging [albeit honest]. Review techniques from the Gracie University's Blue Belt requirements. (+2 DEX, +2 WIS)
  5. I think you all remember but if not, my name is BlackTezca, known for generally insanity and clogging up your computer or mobile phone with GIFS, GIFS, AND MORE GIFS. You will also remember me from my titanic introduction From Lurker to (Newb) Rebel!, the colossal continuous war known as BlackTezca's Daily Battle Towards Feline Greatness, and the absolutely villainous and bloody previous challenge known as BlackTezcas' 5th Trial: An Artsy, Geeky Amazon Takes A Walk on the Dark Side! From that last thread, I have decided on an awesome theme for this challenge! The fantabulous anime known as Attack on Titan. I know this maybe a little late but the forums were hidden from me this time! Oh man I totally didn't find them until now! But now that I have found them it's time to party hard and start a brand new challenge! Now this anime is perfect for this new challenge as well as for my epically TITANIC main quest! A quest to become all powerful! To become larger than life! To crush down all the walls that stand before and become a truly colossal and deadly being! To fight with agility and strength despite being larger than life and to kick away any small thing that could possible think to stop me! My Main Quest is to be as POWERFUL and BATTLE READY as Wonder Woman Now this challenge is gonna be set up a little differently from the previous ones. This challenge is in a different grab bag format inspired by StillSkies previous challenge. The reason I chose this type of format is...well...because it looked fun and different and I wanted to check it out and see how it would fit! Not only that, but it allows me to have different options for each day in order to get the most points! And those points will start out pretty heavily but will be adjusted if I happen to make the total points! Here are the points I need to make for each possible grade for this challenge: REVAMPED 10/12/2015: 8500 to 7650 Pts - A 7649 to 6800 Pts - B 6799 to 5950 Pts - C 5949 to 5100 Pts - D Quite a heavy order! At least...it might be...not sure...but let's move onto the challenge side quests themselves: COLOSSAL TITAN: Representing Strength Training, the Largest Titan is the strongest titan. The Colossal titan kicks off the horror and action of the series. Details: All strength based activities are the only activities that can get me points for this side quest! Tracking: I'll be tracking using MyFitnessPal ( username BlackTezca ) this lovely thread will be updated as well with the activities that count for points Grading: up to 2 Str ARMORED TITAN: The armored titan dashed any hope of saving the outer ring by crashing through the inner gate. He is the fastest titan. Details: All cardio and stamina/endurance based activities are the only activities that can get me points for this side quest! Tracking: I'll be tracking using MyFitnessPal ( username BlackTezca ) this lovely thread will be updated as well with the activities that count for points Grading: up to 2 Sta FEMALE TITAN: The best fighter and the one more in control and seemingly the most intelligent, she is the most agile of the main titans. Details: All dexterity (martial arts, balance/yoga) based activities are the only activities that can get me points for this side quest! Tracking: I'll be tracking using MyFitnessPal ( username BlackTezca ) this lovely thread will be updated as well with the activities that count for points Grading: up to 3 Dex EREN TITAN: The Art Quest. Representing that Eren is the odd titan out and has to be creative versus the Female titan who is the far better fighter. Details: Art, gaming, and other activities meant to work my creative juices count for points here! Tracking: I have an art Tumblr and I also have a DeviantArt (WATCH ME FOR ACCOUNTABILITY). I'll use those for tracking and on a weekly basis...like a weekly update or something, I'll post art on this thread. Also! Check out Renaissance Rebels which is my accountability group! I shall post art and do some challenges there too . Grading: up to 1 Wis and 2 Cha Armin Arlert: A stabilizing force, Armin may not be the bravest, nor the strongest, but he is the heart of the main trio and often provides comfort in a very dark world. He's the puppy. Please don't hurt the puppy. Details: Cleaning, tidying and all other home stuff here! Need to keep up and happy home life Tracking: This thread will be tracked and notice I have a extra BONUS challenge in there for MEGA points! This BONUS is a minimalist type challenge to get rid of things I no longer need and it's called 30 Days to Less Stuff. I shall be tracking the stuff I get rid off in there and hopefully I made the full days! Woo! Grading: up to 2 Wis and 1 Cha Sasha Blouse: Potato Girl. Poor thing is only known as Potato Girl. She also steals food. She is all about eating a lot and eating it all well. Details: All diet, sleeping, and cooking activities belong here for points! Tracking: I'll be tracking what I make (and eat) via MyFitnessPal ( username BlackTezca ) and also this thread! MyFitnessPal will be updated with recipes too since those can save the recipe. Expect some pictures as well! Grading: up to 2 Con Of course, what challenge would it be without some starting measurements to track! I ended the last challenge pretty good and though I don't know if I can get these measurements any different, it's always awesome to see progress! Starting Measurements: Date: 09/04/2015 @ 6 am Weight: 125.6 ***Body Fat***: 23% (I haven't checked this) Waist: 23 Waist @ Navel: 24 Hips: 35 Neck: 12 Chest: 32 Left Bicep: 10 Right Thigh: 16 Wrist: 5.5 Forearm: 9 I'm gonna be interested in seeing how this grab bag format turns out! This looks like it might be one of tough challengers yet, but all of these side quests are building up on what I have done before and what I would be continuing on anyways! This encourages me to do all sorts of things and I can also be flexible with it so much so that even on rest days I can get up to so many points. The number of points I'm starting out with seems a little daunting, but if I keep up momentum, it shouldn't be too hard to accomplish! I think so anyways. That's gonna be the actual challenge. That and remember what I did and how many points I have earned. Man that's gonna be a lot to count up each day and week and MATH IS HARD YA'LL! Edited 09/11: Also I just realized that I'm not going to be in town at all during the final week. I;'m gonna be in a MAGICAL place where dreams come true So this challenge is a 5 WEEK challenge instead of 6 weeks. I know a few people are making their challenges 5 weeks for Camp so I find it very interesting that the stars aligned and I have the same issue. So this will need to be an EPIC FIVE WEEK CHALLENGE!!! Fuck it! Let's DO THIS!!! NOW! For humanity sakes onward Survey Corps! Show those snobbish, cowardly morons in the Military Police Bridage, and those merely average Garrison folks what we are made of! JUST DON'T GET KILLED (easier said than done...)
  6. MAIN QUEST: Keep on keeping on. Re-establish habits to make me a happier, well-balanced person. Break necks with my thighs. As of the last challenge, I hit my weight goal. Now it's all about maintaining and focusing on my mental well-being. Also, keeping up with jiu jitsu. Those three months of no bjj really show, and I need to re-learn the things I've lost, and continue to work on the things that I'm learning. Everything is shades of progress. THE CHALLENGE: Collect hearts to fill my crystal bottle. I mentioned in the last challenge that I was starting to feel burned out - not just in life, but on challenges. Building habits takes work and commitment, but with only a week or so between challenges, it's easy to burn out. Add in that I have a vacation coming up where my usual routine will be disrupted (yay Mexico!), I really need a break. However, I also recognize that, for me, a break will likely signify not coming back (at least I'm honest). So I'm going to do something a little different from what I've been doing. Instead of the usual 3 habit quests + life quest, I'm going to do one challenge, grab bag style. In order to complete this challenge, I have to collect 400 hearts by the end of the challenge, which averages out to about 67 hearts a week. The 'hearts' are points, and points are earned by completing activities. Of the 400 total points, I have to have at least 50 in each activity category. I've grouped out the activities into the four general categories I usually do for quests: Exercise, Food, Mental Health, and Fun. Some of the activities can only be achieved once (it's hard to, say, get multiple 3rd stripes on my belt, or hit 25 books read more than once), while others can be reaped daily if I so choose (I likely won't choose, because the whole point of this is to be fun and relaxing). Some activities have really high points because of the difficulty (3rd stripe, race PR, hitting 50 books read, etc) while others have relatively low points because it's feasible for me to do them daily/they're habits (taking my pre-natal, getting 8 hours of sleep, etc). So, without further ado, here's my crystal bottle! THE BONUS CHALLENGE: Participate on the forums & Ioryogi's special challenges As the type of challenge suggests, this is a BONUS, not a requirement. I used to do a good job of keeping up on the forums, participating in the Courtyard, keeping up with my challenge log, etc, and then I fell off the wagon. Hard. Part of it was feeling overwhelmed with everything that was going on. Part of it was just pure laziness. So, when I'm not feeling overwhelmed and I have free time, I'm going to try to improve upon the following: Updating: I've been trying not to use the internet at home - I'd rather spend my time playing video games or reading, or cuddling with my wife - and I used to do the bulk of my updates at home before bed. But that was when I had set goals. This goal is set up so that I really just have to keep a weekly total, so updating at work will make it a little easier. Other People's Threads: I had this habit of following ALL THE PEOPLE! and wanting to give ALL THE SUPPORT!, but that's a sure fire way to have me feel overwhelmed and trail off a few weeks in. This challenge, I'm going to be mindful of who I follow, and I'm going to try to comment every so often to show support. The Courtyard/Minis: I've just been lazy. Really going to just try to be around more. THE BONUS CHALLENGE PART 2: Ioryogi's special challenges In addition to the being around thing, I'm also adding in the following bonus minis, but these ones will net points! Study Spanish: I'll be going to Mexico during week 4 of the challenge, and since I will inevitably have someone speak Spanish to me (I look mixed, but Spanish speakers tend to see me and start talking to me in Spanish during the summer, curse you tan!), I'd rather not stare blankly at them. I was decent as Spanish before moving to Colorado, so it's really just a matter of reviewing. +5 points for every hour studied (Fun Category) Let Maaya Pick My Food: I'm crap at eating lately, and I have to be completely and say that I've never even bothered to look at macros (not since the Great Sugar Challenge, anyway). So, in an attempt to get back on the eating well bandwagon (and see what balanced macros feels like), I'm going to let starsapart pick my food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. If she doesn't choose it (or okay it within my macros), it doesn't go in my mouth. +25 points for every week she picks my food (Food Category) Watch BJJ Videos: As last challenge showed, I'm really bad at this. I recognize the positive impact/potential of it, but I'm just lazy, and let's be honest - watching these videos is boring. +5 points for every video watched - max of 10 points per day (Fitness Category) THE POINTS Because my grab bag kind of addresses everything, I'm just going to go with a nice easy point system for this challenge (are you sensing a theme here, yet? dumb down my challenge enough that even Kobato could achieve it): STR : 2 DEX : 2 STA : 2 CON : 3 WIS : 3 CHA : 3 THE WISH aka the rewards So, since I'll be running my very first half marathon in November, I'm going to make my reward be this: if I can pass this challenge, I will buy myself a brand new running costume/outfit for the race - including accessories (but not including shoes). THE STARTING LINE to come night before/day of challenge The Pictures The Measurements Neck: Chest: Waist: Hips: Thigh: R: L: Bicep: R: L: Weight: 158.8lbs Dress/pants size: 8
  7. Episode IV Revenge of the Rogue Jedi Yup, that's right, folks--that's me in that picture, about to get my butt handed to me by my Sifu, who is wielding two lightsabers. If you're curious to see that duel in full, it starts here. Y'know, watching my Nerd Fitness challenges, one would think that I'm a serious Star Wars nut. I'm really not. I've always been a Trek kid, in fact, with fond memories of watching TNG with my dad at a very young age. However, the fact is that while much of the actual Star Wars media isn't that great (guys, two/two-and-a-half/maaaaybe three movies out of six being good is not a good record) my affection for it isn't about the media. It's about the hope, the vision, of all the things that Star Wars can be. Much of it is exemplified in the fiction, in the Old Republic lore, and in side projects like the Clone Wars series, if not in the "core" films themselves. Plus, lightsabers. Y'know. Because they are freakin' awesome. I've had a bit of trouble the past few challenges when trying to add exercise on top of what I'm already doing. Right now I attend Kung Fu classes two or three times per week, lightsaber once a week, with a lightsaber dueling day once per month. Additional exercise only seems to be causing me problems in my current bodily state, so we're going to stay away from that this time. In my last challenge, I ended up writing something of a short story. I'm not sure whether I'll actually keep writing (I may) but I'm going to pick up thematically where that story left off. My character confronted an ancient Sith Jedi (yup, I mean that) in his quest to find balance in the Force, and ended up with more than he bargained for. So now, supercharged with the hatred and rage which had kept a dead Jedi alive in the force for centuries, he must try to sort out the changes which have come over him, and his newfound affinity for the Dark Side. So, goals! ----------------------------- Kiu Sao: This is the closest thing I will be doing for "exercise" in this challenge. The kiu sao is a Southern Chinese martial arts technique for many things, but my particular application will be building chi and strengthening the arms. When performed with dynamic tension, it engages the entire arm, from the hand to the shoulder. Goal: 1 set of 5 kiu sao per day Meditation: Bringing back a goal from two challenges ago, I got lax on my meditation while I was focused on running. I've found that just 9-10 quiet minutes before I start my day can make a very big difference in productivity and how I feel, which means it's time to really make this a priority. Goal: 9 minutes (minimum) of meditation per day Food Tracking: So, my weight has stayed steady for the past several months, hovering right around 230 (give or take a few). I'd like to figure out why. For the duration of this challenge, I'm going to log everything I eat. I'm not necessarily counting calories here, because I do enough of my own cooking that calorie estimation is basically worthless. I just want a record of everything that goes into me, so that I can maybe figure out what the problem is. I'll be using a custom mobile database to do this. Goal: Track all intake 7 days/week Other than that, my plan is to keep going to classes and keep training my muscles and connective tissue for strength. I've come a pretty long way in the last eight months since I started taking Kung Fu, and I still enjoy every minute. Wish me luck, because Sifu likes to do "fun" things for a person's birthday, and tonight will be my first class since turning 30 two days ago...
  8. There is neither darkness, nor light; There is only the Force. There is passion, yet peace. Serenity, yet emotion. Chaos, yet order. I am the shadow cast by the sun, I am the candle burning in the night, And the Force alone shall guide me. The theme of this challenge is to return. A Silver Knight is someone who has mastered the things of his youth - those practices which he took upon as a Genin, way back in the beginning. It is understood, of course, that the concept of mastery is an illusion. Mastery implies that you stop trying to be better. The truth is that you never stop trying to be better. This is what makes a Silver Knight distinct from a Genin - a Silver Knight is just a Genin who never gave up. So, what was I up to back at the beginning? Well, in those days, I took up a bunch of mental disciplines and laid a foundation for further work. I was cleaning and I was meditating and I was Bibling (I think that's how you parse that verb. Not sure), and I was writing. It's time to go back and build on those things. I don't know that I could necessarily build on the reading habit - I wanted to get used to spending time in there every day, and I have that victory now. So... that's going to build in another direction, I think. But beyond that, everything else should be in line. Goal 1: Meditate The goal is about practicing mindfulness meditation. About sitting in the stillness and practicing your awareness of things. For me, this means being grounded in my own physicality and listening to what my body tells me. To build on this, I want to start adding a minute per week until I hit ten minutes per day. Since we've got some downtime the next couple weeks, I'll consider this a sort of shakedown/practice time. I'm starting at about 2-3 minutes per day. Assuming all goes smoothly, I should hit 10 minutes by the final week. But since I'm more about process, the idea is to just show up continuously no matter how it turns out. Goal 2: Clean Yeah, so, my lease is up in a couple of months, and I still have a lot more stuff than I want to carry with me. Think it's time to take a page out of the ol' NF Playbook. Put a song on my iPod and go to work for the next however long that is. Do this every day. Goal 3: Write I have spent the past few challenges refining and refining and refining this. Now I just have to show up and do it. 250 words per day. Now that I know how to skip the parts that slow me down, I just don't think I have a good excuse to not do this anymore. Goal 4: Read I have a Kindle Fire. It is awesome. I love it. But it's an e-reader and unfortunately, I, uh. I tend to use it for games more than anything else. In my defense, Puzzles and Dragons is pretty awesome, but as it is I have a mode of self-improvement that I'm not using, and my library of unread books is growing. I don't want that. I've told myself that I would switch between fiction and non-fiction as necessary. Now it's time to see if formalizing it into a challenge will make it stick. * And, that's it. I'll be logging workouts and progress photos and all that stuff here because I'm greedy for attention. Let's take these next couple weeks and hit it, monks!
  9. This is my second challenge, and my very first with the Monks. I'll be facing this challenge AIRBENDER STYLE! "Air is the element of freedom" - Iroh #1 Meditation So meditation is really important to airbenders and I'm going to give it a go. I'm aiming for about 5 minutes a day because I've never even tried this before. If I feel like it's going well, I might try for longer but we'll see, it seems like a good starting point. Measurement: A = 42 days (every single day!) B = 4-6 times a week C = 1-3 times a week Reward: A = +3 WIS B = +2 WIS C = +1 WIS #2 Fitness I don't think I'll be doing push ups like that any time soon, but I was getting on really well with the BBW in my last challenge. I had been skipping the dumb bell lifts due to not having anything to lift, but I figure that's a poor excuse and I need to get creative! I'd like to do the BBW at the very least twice a week, but maybe this time push it up to three times a week. Measurement: A = 2-3 times a week B = 1-2 times a week C = less than once a week Reward: A = +3 STR +3 STA B = +2 STR +2 STA C = +1 STR +1 STA #3 Diet Airbenders are vegetarians, I'm not that dedicated to the cause. I don't have a problem with meat, I have a problem with sugar. I need to stop snacking on chocolate and sweets all day and drinking sugary drinks. No more snacks while I'm working and I can drink water in the office too (we have a water cooler for gods sake!) I also need to be careful that I don't just follow this and then get home in the evenings and eat loads of crap. Measurement: A = Absolutely no snacking and only water every single day B = 1-2 snacks/sugary drinks a week C = 3 or more snacks/sugary drinks a week Reward: A = +3 CON B = +2 CON C = +1 CON #4 Life Even real monks traditionally have very few possessions. I'm not about to go and throw out all my stuff, but I recently moved house and I have considerably less storage space here than I did before. Over a month later and I still have boxes everywhere, I need to unpack and de-clutter. I'm aiming to unpack at least one box a week. I don't care whether I find a home for the stuff, sell it, bin it or give it away. It all needs to go somewhere and I want to be completely unpacked by the end of this challenge. Measurement: A = 1 box a week B = half a box a week C = 2-3 boxes over the whole challenge Reward: A = +3 WIS B = +2 WIS C = +1 WIS This will be fun ...
  10. It’s Happy Hour! Happy “Bedtime†Hour: 10–11pm. Time to be in bed within that hour.Happy “Career†Hour: 10am–12pm. Time to work on advancing my career during those hours.Happy “Fitness†Hour: 7–8pm. Time to exercise during that hour.Any career work/exercise that furthers the goal is game.We’re mostly through Week 2 already, so it’s high time for this! Go!
  11. Hi Monks! I'm glad I didn't enter the last challenge. Life got so damn stressful! I will spare you the details but I feel the broad strokes are necessary to set the stage. My team was hit by a crunch, not an unexpected one but a backlog of problems and delayed work all due at once - Bad stuff! But one of our specialists stepped up to the role of acting supervisor for a few months and gave us a plan - Great stuff! The plan didn't sit too well with a couple of people, though, as it forced a set of priorities on them they weren't too keen on, and it resulted in ~*drama*~. I don't know how to make that word sparkly. Pretend it's rainbow flashy sparkly, but with a sinister gleam to it. I hate drama, and it and the work took their toll on me (as evidenced by my failed challenge at the opening of 2015). But I pushed through! I rode the waves of drama to a (relatively) happy place; I chewed through almost all of my backlog (3 dozen cases, that is a HUGE deal), I kinda kept up with my exercise routine! I also competed in my karate club's annual tournament and did really well! Men's Adult Intermediate Karate Kata - Gold Medal! Adult Intermediate Kobodu Kata - Silver Medal! Adult Intermediate Sparring - Silver Medal! This is an astounding showing for me and I came very close to getting gold in those silver categories. In the last year, I have improved in both karate and general fitness by leaps and bounds and it feels great. I still walk to work almost every day and it's finally nice enough out to run in the park and on the trails. Alas, the full force of that sinister gleam has yet to be erased from my mind, and this is where my challenge lies. I have been allowing my emotions to dictate my diet, and it's threatening to undo a lot of the progress I have made. Not that I was really very diet focussed in the first place - I don't give a flying frontkick about eating a specific diet like paleo, but I have at least worked on shifting the broad staples of my diet, like cooking more often at home (I love to cook, this is easy when I have time!) and using fresh, unprocessed foods (support local farmers and eat healthy, sign me up!). Sadly, when I'm stressed out and lonely and down-in-the-dumps, I'm more likely to order pizza and pop while binging on Netflix or video games at 3 AM. This would be a good place for a GIF. I need to start looking for good GIFs. Anyway, my discipline is slipping and we all know willpower isn't enough (just look at all this whining I'm doing, it's total proof!), so my challenge is geared toward regaining that focus with a few simple but hopefully powerful changes. Challenge 1 - Drink water every morning! I'm pretty lazy in the morning. I hardly get up in a timely manner, and I usually rush through a shower and dash out the door to get to work. I don't eat breakfast, not so much for time but because my stomach gets kind of upset if I eat too much just after waking. Several of my family members are the same way, so I know it's not just me! But it's become painfully apparent that skipping water first thing in the morning is an awful idea - it impacts my mood and productivity, my ability to recover muscle strength, my ability to push my limits while running or practicing karate... pretty much everything! So I want to focus on making a morning ritual out of drinking a big glass of water upon getting out of bed. My biggest bottle is 750 mL, this should be more than enough to get started. Challenge 2 - Log my food! I'm fairly certain I've mentioned a few times (too many?) that I'm a scientist. I've never said why I'm a scientist though. It's partly because I'm naturally curious, and partly because I have a gift for understanding abstract concepts, but it's mostly because I was a terribly fearful child. I was scared of anything and everything. The best way to combat fear is to embrace it, look into it, then past it, and understand the source of what caused the fear; it's very hard to be afraid of something you can understand. The technique has worked for all sorts of other unsavory emotional responses, and it's high time I stopped letting my nasty feelings rule my fuel intake. The first task when assessing any new problem is to gather data - no judgements, no changes, no cheating or fudging, just find out what's going on. This needs to be done every day to establish the habit, so that optimization can begin once trends emerge. Challenge 3 - Meditate! At karate class this year, we've had two classes where we took 30-45 minutes to discuss and practice meditation. Since then, I have heard from other disparate and diverse sources that they also meditate every day. All people who have talked about it have said the same things about its benefits and the scientist in me can't deny that kind of coincidence, even if it is anecdotal. So I want to try meditating daily, to see if I can improve my attitude and emotional resilience. If I do it before bed, I suppose at the very least I can see if it helps me get to sleep more quickly. Life Challenge - Goal setting! Notice my lack of a main goal? Notice I'm speaking in terms of challenges rather than goals? That's because I've already been doing some soul searching and have uncovered a root (not necessarily the root) of many of my perceived problems. I have no major goals, no grand plans, no epic quest. Thus my life challenge is, by the end of these six weeks, to have created an 'Epic Quest' and defined some big goals. Working on small goals without feeding them into a larger one is a potentially wasted effort. It's time to move out of the tutorial zone. Insert appropriate GIF here.
  12. It's probably almost time to give up the Avatar gifs, but I just can't do it on a waterbending challenge. The last challenge was the thing I needed to do at the time. And mostly, it worked out well. So I need to continue that and level up. I have some signs that physical and mental stress are taking a bit of a toll, so this challenge is about lowering those, while working on my fitness and monkery goals. So I have reasons to think that high physical stress levels are part of my fitness issues, and the mental stress levels, not helping anything. The last challenge helped a bit on the mental side, which is good. I'm thinking about a challenge that is more difficult, while also bringing down that stress. So something like this: Get rid of the scale for a challenge. Weekly measurements.8 hours of sleep. Measured weekly, taking a percentage off my activity tracker. An average under 6 hours is a fail.Three hard strength days. This is actually a reduction in my formal workouts. I'm trying to find a balance between making progress and reducing physical stress.Active rest days. This is where I want my tai chi forms to come in. Good on the mental and physical stress reduction, a mix of gentle cardio, stretching, and strength... a pretty reasonable all-arounder for healthy movement on a rest day. Let's make this measurable: since I'm new to it, three days a week is the goal. We'll see how it goes from there.Ten or twenty minutes a day on something aikido-y, five times a week.Daily meditation. Find a habit trigger for my meditation, so it gets done regularly and early. Reviving the one bit of my challenge I didn't do so well on last time: do a small amount of a stressful task three times a week.That's a lot of points. I should probably distil it down a little. I'm trying some new stuff with my diet this time around. I'm working brown rice and potatoes back in, taking a look at my supplements. (I've been reading some scientific papers on gut flora and weight loss, and I'm curious, so I'm experimenting. It's not too far from my standard diet, just moves some things from "allowed less-harmful cheat" to "allowed".)
  13. My thoughts are clouded, the path ahead is no longer clear. The Force is discordant within and without. I set out now on a long and lonely road. With only my wits and my lightsaber I must find the way to harmony Before the Dark Side's grasp becomes too strong. ------------------------ I've found myself feeling pretty scattered for a while now. It's harming my concentration, my work, and my home life, because instead of being able to focus and get things done, I've been getting nothing done instead. Every spare minute is spent zoning out, just trying to recover for the next thing to come along. A lot of it has been the recent surge in my busy-ness at work, but that's not really a good enough reason. I've also been fighting migraines for the first time in five years, which only come to me in time of very high stress. As I discovered during the last challenge, my body is under pretty high levels of physical stress thanks to my two- to four-times weekly attendance at my Kung Fu and Lightsaber classes. When I tried adding significant physical challenge outside of my regular sessions, I ended up injured instead of improving. I also thought that I could grab a little more day by waking up early, but with the changes in my schedule lately, that ended up being counterproductive as well. I'm an introvert by nature, and instead of spending most nights home relaxing and unwinding, I'm now spending them at high-energy martial arts classes, which I think is part of the mental stress. I don't want to stop going to class, though, which means I need to explore other ways of getting my stress in line. To wit, I'm going to let my Sifu and my classes handle the physical side for this challenge, while I focus on the mental side, before I end up spending every night taking 1000mg of ibuprofen and hiding in a dark room just to stay sane. --------------------------- I Harmonize the Mind The dark and the light are lost in the mist. Only within my own mind can the path back to the light become clear. I'm bringing meditation back, baby. However, since I don't want it to be overwhelming and put myself off right away, I'm going to back off my usual self-requirement of 10 minute meditation sessions and just drop back to 9, at least to start. I'll probably increase it again later as the habit comes back. Goal: 4 9-minute Meditation Sessions Per Week (Total of 24) -------------------------------- II Harmonize the Space One's chamber is a reflection of one's mind. Bring the outward into alignment, and thus, align the inward. I've been living in the same space for three and a half years now. My office is a room above our garage, which is very nice and quiet and peaceful, for the most part. However, it's lit by one lamp on an ugly lighting track that I hate (came with the house) and a second floor lamp with an LED bulb that I like much better. Unfortunately, I've always been kind of terrible at keeping up a space. I tend to hold onto things way past when I need them, especially things like boxes and small knickknacks. I honestly think that even though my space is nice and quiet, the constant chaos that it lives in is probably subconsciously contributing to my stress. Though the space in the room is limited, I think that it could be put to much better use if I actually spent some time and cleaned it up. Goal: Spend 5 minutes a day, at least five times per week, cleaning my office. (Total of 150 minutes) Space re-purposing can come later. -------------------------------- III Harmonize the Spirit As the Force flows through me, I must also flow through it. With my spirit aligned, I may yet wrest myself free of the Dark Side's grasping hand. I'm not really a religious or spiritual guy. I don't subscribe to any religion nor mystical beliefs, though I have often felt that Buddhism and Daoism both hold some value beyond their more 'religious' aspects. I do, however, love philosophy and enjoy a good debate on the subject. So, this goal is going to be a bit more relaxed than the others. I recently read Living the Martial Way by Forrest E. Morgan and really enjoyed it. I feel like there's a lot more that I'll get out of it as I continue to learn and grow in my martial arts as well. For now, I'd like to pick up a few more books in this same vein during the challenge and read more about martial ethics and bushido as a living system. I might even pick up a volume on Zen while I'm at it. ---------------------- In the meantime, I'll keep attending Kung Fu class as often as I can and let my physical development progress naturally through that path. Naturally I'll also keep talking Kung Fu and Lightsaber here as much as possible, because we get to have some awesome discussions! =)
  14. So in less than a year and a half, I've lost 2 of my uncles and my grandmother. Both of my uncles were on my mom's side, and both were in their early 50s. Both died of heart issues. I'm going to operate under the assumption that there's a little bit of genetic predisposition there! (Even though their father is about to turn 90...) I don't know much about heart health and I feel the need to learn. So for this challenge, I'm going to learn and share something new about heart health, especially preventative measures, each week. Just one new thing each week. I think that's totally doable and beneficial for me. I also took a heart risk assessment a few months ago at an EMS conference. The only risk factor was my weight. I scored really well on everything else. Because this is the only knowledge I have (for now!) and I'm already trying to lose weight, I need to focus on it harder and do better. I have been hitting my macro goal almost every day and haven't had any fat loss. I'm going to track everything religiously and stick to the macs as much as possible for 2 more weeks. If I still feel like my ship is sinking, I'm going to rethink things. Maybe drop my calories or cut down on some carbs. My great-great grandma, my great grandma, and my grandma all suffered from Alzheimer's before they died. I have a Lumosity account. I originally got it to help me with delaying Alzheimer's. I haven't been using it much lately. I need to go back to using it at least 3x a week this challenge. I've also read research that learning new things helps slow the progress. So I think I'm going to work on learning guitar. At least 1 online lesson a week 20 minutes at least. I need to think some more. I've felt very negative and kinda down on myself lately. I feel stressed & closed in. I know part of it is that my house needs cleaning, but I'm never home. The workouts from my online fitness class that I have done have been too hard. I have to modify or bring down at least half the exercises every time, either because I can't do them or because of my tailbone. It's getting really frustrating. I have been sick, both my stomach and some kind of congestion crap. Between the coughing and the stomach issues, on top of work and life, I feel exhausted. So part of my challenge may be to clean house and take care of me for a little bit. I did some more thinking! I am going to limit myself to 2 episodes on Netflix a day on days that I work. If I'm home, 3-4 episodes or 2 & a movie a day if I'm off. I used to never watch it and now I even work out & eat in front of it. I did some serious thinking on it, and I developed that habit this winter. I was really lonely and so I'd put on series I'd seen before just for the noise. Self care got me thinking: "how do i do that?" I'm spending most of my time working, doing a workout that makes me feel stupid, or traveling. 1. I can change my attitude about the workout. 2. Structure my time at home a little better. 3. Stay home more. I think I'm going to work on structuring my time at home better. It used to be fairly routine. I came home from work, ate a snack, made dinner, cleaned some, went for a run/workout, showered, then ate dinner. But when I had to quit running and working out for a while, I got all thrown out of whack.
  15. Eating clean, exercising, drinking water, meditating. Most of us work on habits like these, habits that need to be developed continuously over time. But sometimes it’s hard to find the time to do these things, specially if we lose that initial motivation we had at the beginning of the challenge, we lose the momentum that made us fit those habits into our routines. If you're trying to drink more water, exercise, read more every day, we're going to create a system of triggers that can help us stay on top of our goals and habits this challenge. How? Uno.- Link your habit to different triggers throughout your day. Example: I use this primarily for reading and for drinking water. I used my mindful meditation skillz to reflect on my days and find some moments where I could read or drink water, a sort of IF THIS THEN THAT system. Think of it as a video game, when music changes or they give you lots of health kits... you know shit is gonna get real something is going to happen. Reading: 1.- As soon as I wake up, I read my personal manifesto and a poem. 2.- Once I get on the bus, I start an audiobook. 3.- Waiting for the subway/in the subway, I read a paperback book. 4.- Whenever I’m waiting for something to load, I try to read a poem or two. Drinking Water: 1.- As soon as I wake up, I keep a bottle of water by my bed. (Then I read, can you see a pattern here?). 2.- Whenever I’m waiting for something, the bus, the subway, the other bus (I have a very long commute); the elevator, etc 3.- Whenever I assign an activity to my students. 4.- Every time I finish marking a notebook or an specific activity on my administrative hours. The beauty of it is that, with time you no longer have to focus on doing these things. You already build a chain of events, a snowball effect with a momentum as unstoppable as a T-Rex with long grappling hooks. Am I finishing a book every day? Am I drinking the "required" amount every day? No, but I'm making progress and thanks to my triggers I keep moving forward at a good pace. That's, essentially, what's up. So create triggers that work for you. And please, share your experience with the rest of the Monastery.
  16. Challenge 12 – Mistr stays on target My goals were good for the last challenge but my execution was spotty at best. This time I am going for consistency. Life goal I've been inconsistent about focusing at work. When I'm at home I can pick from a long list of tasks. If I don't feel like cooking, I can clean or sort things or work on projects. I've gotten better at taking breaks to do fun things between tedious chores. At work I tend to find excuses to surf the net when I want to avoid a task. Knowing better is not helping me change the behavior. The really idiotic part is that most of the "dreaded tasks" aren't that bad. Once I get going I can get them done and feel good about it. Goal: Sleep 8 hours a night. The evidence keeps mounting that I am more productive with more sleep. And getting to bed is where I get in trouble. Target: Stop doing tasks by 9:30pm on work nights. In bed before 10:00pm. In bed by 11:00pm on weekends unless at a special event. Tally by week: A = 9:30 or earlier, B = 9:31-9:45, C = 9:46-10:00, D = 10:01-10:15, F = 10:16 or later for stopping activities (shifted one hour later on Friday and Saturday). Bonus points for going to bed early on weekends. Balance Balance is my ongoing multi-challenge goal. I have learned that to-do lists make me crazy. I never manage to get to all the things and I get stressed out. Instead of a to-do list I am going to have a pick list. I will choose tasks based on the time available and my priority order at the moment. One of the pick lists will be my creative projects. The list of cooking and cleaning chores is never-ending. An important aspect of balance is making time for the fun stuff. I need to make enough time for fun things during the week so that I don’t feel the need to stay up until all hours on Friday night to unwind. Followed by feeling behind when I need to sleep in on Saturday morning. Been there. Done that. Doing fun things is a much healthier option than eating chocolate to deal with stress or boredom. In any case, I can’t eat while I am spinning or knitting. Target: Pick at least two tasks from different categories on evenings I am home. Weekend days when I am home pick from at least three categories, including a creative project and a dreaded task. I can skip either on the weekend if I made significant progress during the week. Tally by week: number of sessions in each category. These should come out roughly even when adjusted for time. Log at least once a week, preferably more. Post for accountability. Food Last challenge I managed to lose 1 pound. Really I found and lost several with a net of -1.0. My weight has fluctuated around the same point since September. This time I want to blow this goal out of the water. My goal is 6 pounds lost to get to 152. That would match my low end weight in my early 30s. I am going to an event at the end of the challenge where I will see old friends and acquaintances who I have not seen for 10+ years. I want to be in my best possible shape. My exercise program is already where I want it. That means any change has to be 100% diet. Targets: No white sugar No white flour No snacks between breakfast and lunch No food after 8:00pm This means I need to plan ahead on days when I go straight from work to aikido. I will make granola bars, pack hummus and veggies, apples and cheese or actual meals to eat in the late afternoon. Additionally, cooking ahead helps on regular evenings. I am a much happier camper if I can reheat something for dinner and relax for half an hour when I get home. Having to go straight from work to cooking uses up my willpower for the evening. Last challenge I started keeping an idea list of things to cook. This turns out to work well for me. I have trouble thinking of things to cook when I am hungry or tired. Writing down the ideas reassures me that I can make things that I will like eat. I have been keeping up fairly well on batch cooking for the week. I can turn this up a notch and have plenty of tasty food. I will allow exceptions for special events. Going out to eat because of poor planning does not constitute a special event. Going out to eat with friends counts, but I will stick to the plan as closely as possible. Left-over pizza that the guys bring home from gaming is right out. I will allow good quality chocolate with sugar on one day each weekend. Good quality = Lindt, Callebaut, Godiva, local artisan chocolate. Log every day, accountability at least once a week. No stat points this challenge. There may be photos if things go well.
  17. There is neither darkness, nor light; There is only the Force. There is passion, yet peace. Serenity, yet emotion. Chaos, yet order. I am the shadow cast by the sun, I am the candle burning in the night, And the Force alone shall guide me. Well, the first challenge saw a lot of good things happen. I'm meditating on the regular now, and I read my Bible just about every day now. I'm even writing more now. Yeah, my room isn't very clean, but nothing's perfect. In any case, this is as good a time of the year as any to have a mentality-based challenge. We are entering into the Lenten season, or if I may be permitted some Gray poetry, the Time of Ashes. If ever there was a time to be disciplined, this would be it. As I have begun to court discipline in earnest, I'm finding that there are undisciplined places in my mind. And sure, fine, it's okay to not be perfect. Nevertheless, there are bits and pieces of myself that are holding me back from being my best self. I spent last challenge stoking the Light into a fire. Now it's time to take that fire and walk into the Dark of paranoia and bitterness and self-loathing. But these things can't be beaten in six weeks alone. That's an on-going thing. So I must work in my body to transcend my limits, in my mind to learn a new story, in my soul as a man of love. If this all sounds vague and ranty as you read it, well, it feels vague and ranty to write it. I don't have a good way to take the concrete physical things and apply them to the abstract. It's all too big, and even if I succeed, new challenges will arise. I know that. But maybe that's the whole point of being a Gray Jedi - to be comfortable on that razor's edge of succor and struggle, to fall to neither side but refine oneself endlessly. Sure, I may not have any clue what I'm doing, but I'll be honest with you about it. Process 1: AthleanXero Well, we got six weeks of challenge. The Xero program is six weeks. I figure, me coming off a deload and having done well with it, it's as good a time as any to get back into it. So, I'mma grapple with that for the next six weeks. We'll see how she goes. Process 2: Pull Up Xero is a no-equipment program (no bench, no bar, no band, no bull!). The thing is, I want to get better at pull ups. 7FG challenged me to get to a one-arm-pullup by the year's end, so I'm progressing toward it. Currently, I'm practicing by doing pull ups in sets and reps rather than doing the banded method just yet. I'm adding one rep daily, basically. Goal is to miss no days. I can grease the groove for my reps, or I can do them as their own workout, or whatever. The idea's just to not miss a day. Process 3: Cleaning Okay, so. This failed nastily last challenge. We need to change the approach on this if we want to make this work. Basically, I let myself get overwhelmed with the idea of all the stuff being gone. The big boxes are what need to be gone, but really, everything needs to be gone. So, we start with low bar. Clean up the tiniest box I can find. Once per week. No excuses. Process 4: Lent This thing. I've decided to address a particularly negative habit for the season. And the thing is, I don't mind talking about it. I'm actually fairly comfortable talking about it. But I seem to be alone in my comfort with addressing it, and I don't know how to talk about it in a way that edifies anyone. So, in a rare move, this is something I'm going to keep on the downlow here. So why bring it up? Because I want/need some accountability. And if you ask me, I have no problem talking to you about it, but understand it's probably going to be something that needs to be kept to PMs. * And so it begins. I'm sure I've used this before, but to hell with it. Let's rock.
  18. Neila Rey Fighter's Codex (30 days)Another nerd (klaymates) found this program so I will be going through it with her for the whole month. I can't buy a gym membership right now so it's pretty perfect to get me back into a routine.After the 30 days, I'll either repeat the program or find a new one to continue with Sugar DragonMade a small challenge with emcee that I will be doing for the 6 weeksMaximum intake: 20g of natural sugar + 2 whole fruitsI'm not going paleo, I will probably still eat toast in the morning or have a couple nights of weekend drinking. Main idea here is that I'm staying away from desserts.If emcee breaks before I do, I get to eat one dessert Graduation PrepAt some point this challenge, go consult a career advisorMinimum 3 job applications per week Work and StudyComplete to-do list (post below) and have all exam notes prepared by April The Deal (made with Catspaw) 1. For each week that I do not complete my goals, I will donate 10$ to a non-profit wildlife sanctuary. 2. If I do not complete this challenge (ie. if I bail on any of my goals), then I will post a video of myself singing Wind Beneath My Wings.
  19. HERMIT TRAINING Well, I'm back where I was years ago; need to start all over again. I should not let that stop me like it did last time and just turn into a lazy slob. Ryu never let not having training partners prevent him from being the best. In the meantime, I'll do what I can with what I have. THE QUEST Rise (+4 CON): Get up from the bed before 0730 every day. Visualize (+1 DEX +2 CON): Perform at least 15 minutes of meditation / visualization practice 6 days a week. Small Person Jiu-Jitsu (+4 WIS): Watch instructional videos by smaller individuals. Week 1 - How To Defeat Bigger, Stronger Opponents with Stephan Kesting and Emily Kwok Week 2 - Back Attacks with Ryan Hall Week 3 - Mastering the Rubber Guard with Eddie Bravo Week 4 - Marcelo Garcia Series 1 Week 5 - Marcelo Garcia Series 2 Week 6 - Marcelo Garcia Series 3 SIDE QUEST 5/3/1 (+4 STR): Perform the 4 main lifts every week. Can't be neglecting those biceps. THE MOTIVATION
  20. (i.e. “if you still don’t feel like doin’ it, raise the stakesâ€) The stuff I don’t feel like doing Working out: Going to martial arts class is second nature, but working out at home in my room? Eh. Workout goals: Convict Conditioning "Veterano" program, minus the rest day and handstand pushups, with at least one set at my current exercise level. Eat well: I'm already scrawny, and I tend to skip breakfast. Eating goals: Eat at least three meals per day. Also, gather recipes while watching my parents cook. Sleep: All those prejudices about gamers and TV watchers and sleep… they’re all true. And once I then oversleep and wake up at 1pm, I miss breakfast, adding to that sore point as well. Sleeping goals: Rise by 7:30am, sleep by 10:30pm; if I’m out at 10:30pm, sleep as soon as I’m back. The stakes My “student lifeâ€: I’ve been unemployed since Jan 2014, living at home with my parents. My parents agreed to support my search for a Ph.D. position through 2014, and afterwards, I had agreed to look into the (non-academic) job market. During Dec 2014, they agreed to extend this support until the then-recent application in Austria came through. (Which it did, earlier today: “no.â€) Once my parents remember that my student “lease†has expired, my student life as I know it is probably over. My “savingsâ€: I have upcoming expenses to pay by April, which I can only barely cover. And without an income, I’m pretty much stuck being broke. My “innocenceâ€: I’ve never baked a cake before. And I’d rather not try. Which makes it a perfect punishment. So, I pledge that if I don’t follow through with my goals, I’m going to bake two cakes, without asking for help: one for my family, and one for the Courier. The thing that’s different this time so that I don’t repeat the same mistakes This search for Ph.D. positions and my applications to those? I’m making it a proper job. Complete with scheduled work/break hours, dedicated time tracking, and reports to my CEO (i.e. my parents). I have sequencing rules for my activities, both to help turn some of them into a ritual and to otherwise make sure everything is considered. Those rules are: No shower before working out. No breakfast before shower. No “screens†before breakfast. No email before the first Ph.D. position search. No lunch before the first email check. No “soft†work before lunch. (“Hard†work is either searching for or writing an application for a Ph.D. position. “Soft†work is any other work that will indirectly help me get such a position, e.g. preparing a portfolio of projects, or rearranging my C.V.) No “clock out†without posting on the NF forums. (That’s still a major flaw of mine.) As a programmer, I can write tools to help me with my compliance. One such tool would be an automatic shutdown at 10:15pm. It’s currently in development. And I have ideas for how to technologically enforce rules #4–6.
  21. Challenge 11 You'd think by now, after 10 challenges, that I would be on top of things. My life is certainly better than it was a year and a half ago. I've lost about half the weight I wanted to lose and my knees don't hurt anymore.That said, I still have a ways to go. Life goal I've been having an awful time focusing at work. When I'm at home I can pick from a long list of tasks. If I don't feel like cooking, I can clean or sort things or work on projects. I've gotten better at taking breaks to do fun things between tedious chores. At work I tend to find excuses to surf the net when I want to avoid a task. Knowing better is not helping me change the behavior. The really idiotic part is that most of the "dreaded tasks" aren't that bad. Once I get going I can get them done and feel good about it. I don't know what approach is going to help me here, so I'm trying several things. 1) Sleep 8 hours a night. The evidence keeps mounting that I am more productive with more sleep. And getting to bed is where I get in trouble. Target: Stop doing tasks by 9:30pm on work nights. In bed before 10:00pm. In bed by 11:00pm on weekends unless at a special event. Tally by week: A = 9:30 or earlier, B = 9:31-9:45, C = 9:46-10:00, D = 10:01-10:15, F = 10:16 or later for stopping activities (shifted one hour later on Friday and Saturday). Bonus points for going to bed early on weekends. 2) Avoid junk food I suspect that some of the things I am eating are making it harder to concentrate. Not sure which ones are the problem, but processed food is a likely suspect. Most of the time my eating habits are pretty good. I had to send a package of blonde Oreos to gaming with my partner on Saturday because I have no control when I start eating them. I will ask him to cooperate by not bringing home treats for me. I am allowed to make sweets from scratch if I want. In my world time limitations work well as calorie limitations. Target: no packaged processed food, limited sugar and white flour. Tally by day: good - meh - bad I'll add more later. I have to sign off now to make my first goal for tonight. Exercise - a little of everything I'm happy with my exercise plan as it is. In brief, rotate through different types of exercises: knee physical therapyshoulder physical therapy (now with extra core exercises!)HIITupper body strength training (split into bodyweight and freeweight sessions)aikido and dancingThe aikido and dancing count more as fun than as exercise. Both are skill-based with an aerobic component, but have breaks too often to actually count as aerobic exercise. For challenge purposes they count as not being a complete couch potato. Teaching days do not count. Chores such as shoveling snow and vacuuming count. Target: 6 days exercise per week on average = 36 sessions over the challenge. Not to have two rest days in a row unless forced by extenuating circumstances. I'll tally this but not score it because it is maintenance, not a new goal. Balance My ongoing challenge goal. I have learned that to-do lists make me crazy. I never manage to get to all the things and I get stressed out. Instead of a to-do list I am going to have a pick list. I will choose tasks based on the time available and my priority order at the moment. One of the pick lists will be my creative projects. The list of cooking and cleaning chores is never-ending. An important aspect of balance is making time for the fun stuff. Also social things, but those tend to get scheduled for me. Target: Pick at least two tasks from different categories on evenings I am home. Weekend days when I am home pick from at least three categories, including a creative project and a dreaded task. I can skip either on the weekend if I made significant progress during the week. Tally by week: number of sessions in each category. These should come out roughly even when adjusted for time. Bonus goal I have been having a lot of fun playing Minecraft. Historically I've spent way too much time playing video games when I get hooked. I want to keep playing but not to the exclusion of other things I want (or need) to do. Another practice I want to keep under control is using sweets as a reward. I can play Minecraft only on days I don't eat any sweets. Fruit does not count. Chocolate with sugar and desserts count. I need to do at least one other task before I get to play. Bonus playing time if it is a dreaded task. Vanity goal Ending weight <155 lbs. I started the challenge at 159 lbs. The previous challenge I was at 156. I want to get back to where I was at the beginning of November or better. Prize for goals - fiber or fiber-related books. Edited to add exercise, balance and additional goals
  22. It’s been long enough. Now it’s time for all-out war! Same old same old, but different. Still need to think about the “howâ€, though.
  23. This is based on John Maxwell's Take 5 speech. I've seen the guy talk 3 times. It's awesome! Anyway, here we go. These are all to be done every day. This is going to be my hardest Challenge yet by far. 1. Read a motivational/inspirational book at least 15 minutes 2. Listen to a business related CD/audio at least 15 minutes. I'd like this to be the whole CD/audio, but I've fell off the train on this one, so I just want to re-establish the habit at this point. 3. Talk to one (or more) person(s) about a product or service I offer every day. This is going to be easily the hardest of my 5 goals. 4. Workout every day. AT LEAST 2 days per week MUST be at the gym. Other days can be anything: Tabata, running, Lightsaber practice, whatever. 5. Learn something from 1-4. I also have 2 bonus goals. I'm not specifically tracking these, and I'm not too worried about how they work out, but I'll list them anyway. Bonus #1: Call a friend in my phone 2x per week just to chat. Bonus #2: Follow one thread from each Guild. I have a limited amount of time to read NF, so I can't just follow every thread in every guild. Hopefully this will expand my horizons with the other guilds. So there it is! Challenge #8! Sheesh. Is it really number 8 for me already? Craziness I tell you.
  24. Well, hi folks. It's been quite a while since I stalked the NF rebellion. Well, let me give you a short overview of my glorious deeds ... It's really short: None. Maybe some of you guys remember that I had to restart my engineering studies ... well, that restart was a disaster. I only passed three of 10 exams - I'm still in, I can continue, but it's pathetic. That totally dismantled me ... well, I spare you the details. I had to stop my TKD classes, and of course the workload is so immense that it's THE perfect excuse for skipping exercise and drowning in misery. Well, good news is: I pulled myself together, I even found friends at college [sic!] and studying is finally as natural as it was in High School. The bad news: Sedentary lifestyle, bad nutrition, BC pill (I will stop taking that crap very soon, switching to a hormone-free method), so I put on about 10 kg. Which sucks. But not as much as the loss of the little strength and endurance I crammed together so painfully. And now also my mind starts messing around with me again. Freaking out over everything, making an elephant out of a fly ... My soul too isn't in best shape, therefore the tag uncertainty. Now, what to do: I'll be honest: I don't have the slightest idea. I don't think I have the willpower to reset now, but I hate my life as it is now - I could make so much more of it than just being reactive and being afraid and anxious about everyrhing all the time. It's not that I have biiig problems or feeling like shit all the time, don't get me wrong, all in all, I'm fine. I ... just kinda hit a dead end and don't know how to get past it. So forgive me that I don't have a good plan for this challenge, maybe I just need a place to share my thoughts to get them in order - to kick some butts again.
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