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  1. Tsune is a Japanese term which roughly translates as "Everyday habits." I read about it first in a martial arts/Budo book by Dave Lowrey, and kind of glossed over it for a bit. I re-read the essay recently, and felt a great deal more attached to it than I initially felt. The basic idea presented is that when trying to follow Budo, a practitioner will eventually reach a point where it has permeated their life so much, it becomes almost mundane. Something you don't think about. Something that even when you don't want to perform it, you do so anyway, because you almost feel lost without its presence. My training habits, by and large, are my tsune. Go a few days without some form of activity, and I get anxious, nervous, and grouchy. Make me miss time on the mat, and I go extra hay wire. Otherwise, my regular habits of lifting, November Project, and aikido have become so subsumed by me that I cannot imagine a moment without them now - a vast difference from two years ago when I started here. My habits are well established, and I have goals, but most of these are longer-term goals than a 6-week challenge would allow (besides an over arching Main Goal). So I'm creating this to document my tsune, and to help me see my progress in the long run, rather than a short snippet of time. Longer term goals, in no particular order: ~BW Squat (~210 pounds) Accomplished 01/31/15 ~2BW Dead lift (~420 pounds) ~Learn to properly Clean and Jerk and Front Squat ~Get below 200 pounds in weight Eh. Ish. Accomplished 09/24/2016 ~Run Harvard Stadium (37 sections) in under 40 minutes Accomplished 02/17/2016 ~Run 50 sections at Harvard Stadium Accomplished 05/9/2015 ~Run Harvard Stadium in under 36 minutes ~Ruck a full tour at Harvard Stadium ~Run a consistent 8 minute/mile pace ~Prepare to run a Spartan Super race ~Run 50 sections at Harvard Stadium in under an hour Accomplished 08/17/2016 To furthering my tsune and beyond.
  2. Alright. I'm bowing out of the challenges for a bit. Well, at least for this one. I've got the World Championship Spartan Beast this coming Saturday. After that, I've got about a week of easy training. And, then I'll be ramping it up once again with a new training plan. But, I don't feel that the confines of the challenge make sense for what I am doing right now. So, screw it. Here's a battle log.
  3. Name: Hammlin "Hammi" Race: Wood Elf | Class: Footpath Ranger Leader Level: 17 (STR):43.25 (DEX):36.25 (STA):29 (CON):30.25 (WIS):30.5 (CHA):24.25 Motivation: Pull myself out of the mud pit I feel stuck in and actually make progress on SOMETHING. Main Quest: I Wanna Get Better. (I didn’t know I was broken until I wanted to change) (July 28 to Sept 7) Missions: 1. Inches. I hate taking measurements. Hate it. But, I feel stalled, and I already don’t weigh myself, so I have no idea if I’m making progress. I will take measurements every other week and record gains or losses truthfully. Pass or Fail (+3 CHA) 2. Nutrition. I have spent the last year or so wandering between schools of thought for eating, some work well for me some don’t, but still I float along. Gluten free seems to be my minimum, dairy seems to jack with me (*with the exception of harder cheeses and Greek yogurt), and sugars before 2pm makes me cranky and ravenous. Each day will have 3 components: GF, DF*, SFB42 J 36-42 days = A 29-35 days = B 22-28 days = C 15-21 days = D 0-14 days = F (+4 WIS) 3. Clovers. My last PR of clovers, a November Project end of month workout (35 minutes doing as many loops as you can) I got 8 clovers. I would like to get at least 10 on August 27th. Progress will be made by regular attendance at NP, doing all the workouts, to get faster 10 Clovers = A 9 Clovers = B 8 Clovers = C 7 Clovers = D 6 Clovers = F (+4 STA) Life Quest: 4. Purge. It’s that time of year again- spring cleaning. Mr. Ham and I have accumulated more things, more than we should have, and so it is time to go through the house and clean it up. Zones include: my dresser, our master closet, small closet, guest closet, pantry. Final point for getting it all to the donation zone J 6 zones = A 5 zones = B 4 zones = C 3 zones = D 0-2 zones = F (+4 DEX) TRACKING My Story (challenge history): 1. Wandering across the mountain ranges of the west, I came upon another wood elf, who was running through the tree lined forest. I tried to keep up, because I knew he was waiting for me, but nothing I did would keep me at pace with him. Eventually I slowed, to catch my breath and I lost him. Dejected and worn out, I decided to dedicate my life to keeping up with this other elf... 2. Sneaking through the woods I can feel my senses getting sharper and I begin to wonder if the elf that I'm following, is actually following me... 3. Catching my breath I slow my run as I approach a clearing. Did I get lost? I don't know where I am and the elf I had been following has picked up the pace. My mind... it's jumbled up... my thoughts are foggy... I need to focus. I'll stay here for a while, find my center, and then continue on... 4. After pausing in the clearing to refocus, I see what looks like a beaten down path off to my right. Have I been here before? Walking up to the path, it looks familiar, but overgrown. I take out my sword and slowly start hacking away the brush that seems to have grown in over the years. Yes. THIS is my path. 5. Following the path for what seems like a lifetime I suddenly find myself at the tree lined edge of a beautiful meadow. The sun in the sky that is glaring down on me makes me realize something glorious- I have made it through the woods! Over the hill I see the elf that I have been tracking this whole time. He is napping… This is my chance!!! 6. Running up to the elf that I have been following for what seems like forever, I find myself out of breath. As I slow down and approach him, I see him slow down and turn to me. I don't know if he knows that I have been following him, but I can tell by the look in his eye that he's ok with this. As we start to wander the forest together we notice that things aren't quite as bright and cheery as they were months ago... something is wrong... 7. As we continue to approach the edge of the forest we can feel something bearing down on us. Picking up the pace we stay laser focused on getting out of here. The night has grown darker and the forest is eerily quiet. The wood elf and I look at each other and begin to run. I can tell that the time where we have to battle is near and we really need to stay focused... 8. Standing on the front line, victorious, I wonder "Now what?" I ponder with wise words of a foreigner who taught my people to stay motivated when they feel like they have arrived. The skills I have learned in the past keep me pushing forward. I move confidently north, to find new lands. And that other pesky elf can come with me… 9. On the north side of the valley I see something far away that I can’t take my eyes off of. It almost looks like the mountain side is glistening and the sun is dancing with the peaks. I fall into a trance, staring off into the distance, as if I'm under a spell. A few minutes later I am able to snap out of it, but the lingering desire to see who, or what, had a hold on me begins to push me forward. Is some powerful mage up in the hills, drawing people to him? Or is someone sending out a distress signal, begging for help. All I know is the allure of finding out what is in those hills is forcing me onward. We have mountains like these back home, but I am far from that place, and out of practice. It will take some time to traverse these mighty giants, but I have no choice but to start… 10. From the top of the mountain I can see everything. I have a level of clarity that I've not experienced before and it makes me take notice to my surroundings. I have an epiphany and realize that I need to race home to my family. They have no idea what’s in store! As quickly as I can I need to make my way back down the hill and back to my village… Part of the way down the hill I trip. When I catch myself I see that the sign in front of me has directions. I’m tired of being a follower in my own life. I need to go my own way. I turn on my heels and walk south. 11. Down in the city to the south I find myself in the camp and company of strangers. Although I’m not entirely sure that I can trust them, they seem safe enough. Maybe, I’ll hang back and just observe them and mind their ways. Something inside of me says that these people have information that may be valuable to me and my quest, and I am determined to get my hands on it. Knowledge is oddly alluring and very appealing to my senses… 12. As I spend weeks on end with these people, I start to sense a power coming over me. I am being changed from the inside out- is it sorcery? Magic? Am I evolving? All I know is that I need to stay the course. Over time, my memories start to fade. The days of running through the wilderness with the other elves feel miles away- as if they occurred a lifetime ago. Only the here and now makes sense. I have my plan. 13. The strangers have become less strange and more like family. It feels like I have finally returned to a place where I feel at home and at peace. When I look down I start to notice that my slender Elven legs have begun to take a form of something more resembling tree trunks. When I stand, I can't move quite as nimbly but I feel stronger than I ever was before. In the back of my mind I still remember that I am following something- the dragon... 14. As I wake with a start I feel strange. My heart is pounding out of my chest, and I can’t seem to calm myself down. I am in no condition to face the dragon. I need peace. 15. Relaxed and recharged I pull out my map. I haven’t looked at it in quite some time and it’s almost foreign to me. Over my shoulder I see that elf that I had chased so long. He’s back and there is a stranger comfort in knowing that. I turn back to the map and start down the trail. There is a point in the road where it splits off into three. I see on the map that all three get where I need to go, but one seems most logical. I start down that path… I must find the thing that haunts me. I run until I can't feel my legs and I burn all over. 16. The fire that consumed me begins to subside, but I am still feeling the after burn. I pull a map out of my pack and examine it for water. I tilt my head trying to make sense of the nearest body of water, but the letters suddenly look foreign to my elven eyes. I take some time to sit and focus- after a while it will come to me and I can find the cool liquid that will cool my legs and quench my thirst. I pick up my pack again and though it’s very heavy, I make towards my intended destination, swiftly and confidently. 17. All at once I am out of breath and lost. Again. I feel like I have been here before, if only I could figure out where “here” is. Things look familiar, but I still feel lost. Wildflowers, a stream, a beaten path. What the hell.
  4. So, we all caught up on Skin Game? No? Fine (slackers). I want to use my favorite Dresden Files book for motivation anyway. Why? Because holy crap, here's a challenge that's all vanity for me. It's the summer, and I want to look damned good for the (maybe two) times I hit the beach. Last challenge was a bit ho-hum, as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and challenges - and then I realized I'm actually at the point where I want to have the goal of "look purdy," rather than "get healthy." Vanity is a sin I'm okay with indulging in. So how am I becoming a Fit, less pudgy Knight of the Summer Court of Fae? Like this: 1) Devour the Chlorofiend. Goal: Eat Primal*. I need to try a different dieting technique. I eat pretty healthy, but noticed a lot of cheats happening because I could fit them in my calorie count and still be under. So no more of that. I'm going to put forth a lot of will to go mostly Primal, with a few caveats. Mainly, I'm allowing peanut butter (because I find the reasoning for not allowing it to be consumed bulled), and allow beans and lentils. I'm also going to allow my pita pocket which I use for lunch - because I realized I'm stressing way too much about trying to make carb/grain free lunches, and that thing is literally the only grain I have. And it's like 4g of Carbs. I can account for that. Hence Primal*. Biggest thing is I want to keep carbs lower than I've been eating (~175-200g/day), and get them around 100g/day. Lower is better, and I'll aim them as such, but definitely no more than 125g/day. Largest issue I foresee is my sudden lack of oatmeal for breakfast, which is a staple of mine. In the mean time, going to track how well this goes by tracking my weight, pictures, and measurements ONCE A WEEK. Photos you guys likely won't get, but the numerical metrics you'll get thrown. 2) Out Run the Blue Beatle. Goal: Finish and entire stadium tour (37 sections) at November Project by the end of the Challenge. I've been running with the November Project on Wednesdays regularly now for something like 6 months. Since we started doing full section sprints, I haven't made it from section 37 to section 1 at all. I usually stall out around 30-ish, and can push myself for a few more before time runs out. So I want to do a whole tour before the challenge ends. I'm currently maxing at 32, so if I just add one extra section per week... 3) A Correspondence Course in Latin Japanese. Goal: 1 Japanese lesson per week; save $100 per week for the Japan Trip in 2015. So May 2015 my dojo is "hosting" a trip to Japan for 2 weeks, where we would tour the country and also get to practice at the Honbu dojo. I want to go so bad, it's ridiculous. So I will. However, I'd like to have some understanding of the Japanese language (beyond noting if someone is asking me a question or suggesting we do something) and I need to save money. So I have a book to learn Japanese for at least a cursory start point. Given I know enough people who speak Japanese, finding someone to talk to later on shouldn't be too hard. But figuring out how to say hello and how are you should be first. Also money. I should have enough wiggle room in my personal budget to toss some extra cash into savings, especially since it looks like I'll be keeping my current gig full time come September - so I don't have to worry about saving money for another round of unemployment. Clearly things could change, but for now, lets go with this. 4) A Part of Camp Kaboom. Goal: 3 workouts per week. Foam roll every workout day. Okay, I have seriously been lacking motivation to do my lifting workouts. Between injuries, and guests, and just general malaise, I need to get my mind moving again. So this is the goal for now. Get back into things. Lift heavy things, and be happy doing it. I left it as a vague "3 workouts" because I may end up doing some running with a friend, which will take place of lifting workouts, just so I do have some time for, you know, myself. These workouts also don't include my regularly scheduled aikido classes (which is about 5-7 hours a week, so not an insignificant amount of time). With any luck this starts motivating my butt more (also because I need to do heavier workouts if I'm doing the Primal* eating plan, which has no specific calorie cap). So that's the goals this time around. I am so much more pumped for this challenge than last challenge. Lets do this.
  5. So initially, I was debating do this challenge over at the Ranger’s guild, since I could get a lot more people to look at my form to get it corrected there. Then I realized I should stop being lazy and just use the “Form” subforum, and that really I love you guys all way too much to leave. And after reading a Budo-centered book recently that talked about how a martial artist should do a strength training program, it pretty much cemented the fact that I really don’t have to leave the guild confines any time soon. Which is good, because I’m really horribly antisocial and don’t like dealing with people. So this challenge is really the start of a New Goal for me. The first half of the year I really focused on weight loss, really just to see what would happen (since I had spent years as a fat guy who never could keep weight off). The back half of the year had me trying to prepare for the Spartan Race and figure out if I could hit my initial goals. For the most part, I succeeded on both of these goals. The Spartan, while I could have done better with my time, I survived. That’s all I wanted. For the weight loss, I did, at one point, hit the 50 pounds lost number (that was obliterated by getting laid off, but I’ll get there in a moment). Not only that, more importantly I went down from a size 42-ish waist to a size 34 waist. So, I hit my goals, and then went “Now what?” I’ve been realizing that while I thought I’d want to stop after hitting my goals (mind you, this is literally the smallest I’ve ever been in my adult life, and probably the last time I wore the size 34 pants/ Large shirt combination I was in middle school. Early middle school). But I’m finding that I’m interested in doing more fitness/physical things. Not just so I get in shape, but because I want to just see if I can do them and how my body reacts. So I want to rebuild myself so that I’m faster, stronger, and more capable of dealing with adversity (mental and physical) than I have ever been. So, I present my new main goal: More Strength. More Stamina. More Centered. So for this challenge, I’ve got a few things lined up. 1 ) Strength in Wisdom, +3 STR, +2 WIS a ) Get health insurance b ) Read all of Starting Strength c ) Find a gym d ) Perform 3 strength workouts per week So I want to build strength, but safely. So first order of business… I need health insurance. After getting laid off, I lost my health insurance, and I was banking a bit heavily on getting back to work within the 3-month grace period with an employer who’d cover that. Or at least give me an income that would allow me to pay the $200+ that insurance companies want me to pay. Needless to say, my plan didn’t work out, and I’ve been putting off dropping the cash to get the insurance. When I finally sat down to get the insurance before January 1, the website I have to go through wouldn’t accept my existence. So it’s probably going to require a very long, very annoying phone call to the state to get into their damned exchange, because all of the reasonably priced insurance places require me to go through the state. Secondly, I was told to get and read Starting Strength by Mark Ripptoe. So I bought it on my Kindle for $10 bucks and started to read through it. I’ve had it for like a week, but I’ve really only picked it up twice. I should finish it fairly quickly, but a bit of extra motivation here doesn’t hurt. I just finished reading the section on Squats, and now I’m 110% certain I’ve been doing them all wrong when doing bodyweight work. But in order to use the book, I need to find a place to do the lifting. There’s a Workout World down the street from me, that I need to go look at to see if they’ll allow squats and deadlifts. I meant to investigate it last week…. And then 14 inches of snow happened. So early in the challenge I want to check that out. If they won’t allow it, there’s a Gold’s gym also down the road that I can look into. Then we have to start doing heavy shopping for price in the area. Boston Sport’s clubs are right out, because they only seem to offer one cost: First born child. And to keep my going, I’m better off stating that I’m going to do 3 strength workouts each week. Body weight initially, then moving to the SS program that’s in the book. That should cover the strength part for the time being. 2 ) November Winter +2 DEX, +2 STA a ) Run with the November Project 4 times (either Stadium Stairs or Summit Hills) b ) Weeks with no NP runs do a run around the neighborhood (at least 2 miles) So AgentSka and Tin Man would not stop talking about this awesome group called the November Project who meet up at amazingly early hours of the morning to do workouts around Boston when I first met them after the Spartan Race. I wake up early for an unemployed guy (7:30-8AM), but they were talking early even for me. However, when AKLulu visited, I begrudgingly said I’d go (because Lulu said she was doing it, and she was on vacation. How can you argue with that?!?!). And they were a freaking awesome group of people. While snow borked up the initial plans, I still had a blast – even if the WOD did involve an obnoxious amount of burpees. So I want to go again. Stadium Stairs are Wednesday, and they run hills Friday. I’m concerned about the Friday runs because parking scares the crap outta me right now in Boston (see: 14 inches of snow and poor snow removal) and poorly cared for roads can lead to a heavy amount of injury (see: no health insurance). Oh, and they run FOUR MILES UP A HILL (see: RisePhoenix almost dying after hill sprints with Tin Man). But Stairs? I can survive stairs. Probably. 3 ) A Small Change +2 CON, +1 WIS a ) Eat no more than 2,000 calories per day b ) Cook 1 different green vegetable each week Fairly self-explanatory. I’ve gained a bit of weight since getting laid off due to stress, followed by a bunch of travel, holiday food, and general apathy when it comes to tracking food. My BMR says that for my size, I should eat around 2400 calories a day (assuming I’m an inactive lout). So but capping my calories at ~2,000, I should meet the 500 calories/day deficit with no problem. Really, if I’m strict with myself, I won’t even come close to that number. Projecting my meals for the rest of today, and I’m looking at maybe 1700 calories. Granted, when I start lifting heavy things, this may have to change. While overall I’d like to get down to 190#, I’m okay with eating more to help my strength-training goals. Speaking of food… I have a confession to make. I live on steamer vegetable bags. While not a horrible thing to deal with (they are extremely convenient after getting home at 8PM from the dojo), it does mean that my knowledge on what to do with vegetables besides “eat them raw” or “sauté with butter and garlic” is really limited. So I want to try and expand my base. So today I bought collard greens. I have no idea what to do with them, but I know you can eat them. Somehow. But you got to start somewhere, right? 4 ) Stretching the Wings +2 DEX a ) Stretch for 5-10 minutes before and AFTER each workout I am really good about stretching before I exercise. However, I’m really, REALLY bad at stretching after I work out. It’s horrible. Part of it comes from since I’m working out at home, when I’m done I can just jump right into the shower. So even when I actively think “stretch afterwards,” the shower just calls to me and wins that fight. This might change when I’m at a gym lifting. I at least then, I will likely walk past the stretching area and it’ll trigger in my brain. I also want to start doing this after aikido, as well. Again, I’m usually really good about stretching before class (even though we have a stretching segment before we start throwing people), but after I tend to not do anything. Less bad after aikido, since class limbers you up a lot and stretches you out anyway but it’s still a good habit to get into. I have so many ideas for this coming year, I’m trying to not overload myself with things that I want to do and accomplish. Too much, too early and I could burn out in the worst way possible. So I want to avoid that, at all costs. I want to build something sustainable, especially for once I get employed again. I have pretty low energy, in the grand scheme of things, so anything crazy and I won't be able to keep it going during the week. And to wrap this up, here are my starting stats, as of today. Weight – 209 pounds Neck – 16.25” Chest – 43” Gut at navel – 38” Waist – 37.5” Hips (wrap around) – 39” Thigh – 23 - 25” (depending on placement) Calf – 17”
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