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  1. On the agenda for this challenge: Dog sitting three lovely dogs from Feb. 19 - March 9 Continue preparing for my return to England for a PhD Hopefully get my passport and visa back so I can schedule my flight Goal 1: Sleep hygiene Screen curfew at 8 pm (7:30 pm if I still need to shower before bed) all the nights. Meditate for 10+ minutes before bed 6x/week. Exception: *After* I get ready for bed, I can Skype my boyfriend for a total of three hours past my curfew, summed over the week. Watching a show/movie with him during this time is allowed, but other internet browsing is not unless it's something that needs to be done for my return (e.g., paperwork for our flat). Each curfew infringement past 15 min --> I have to subtract one hour from that extra time with my boyfriend. Goal 2: Food prep Prep my food for each day the day before at least 6x/week. Bonus: prep for 2-3 days at once so I only have to meal prep 2-3 times/week. For me this means 1. Portion out my meat (and cook more meat if I need to). 2. Weigh and microwave sweet potatoes. 3. Cook free-choice veggies. 4. Optional: portion out some coconut oil. 5. Bonus: add food to MFP once it's portioned out. Goal 3: Mobility Mobility? What's that? Recently I haven't been doing any mobility outside of my gym sessions, which is suboptimal. Spend a total of 1.5 hrs/week on mobility (yoga, stretching, foam rolling, lax ball work, etc…) outside of gym sessions. I'm allowed to multi-task when working on mobility (what do you mean it's weird to foam roll while Skyping?) LUYL Goal Work 15+ hrs/week. Work = finishing school paperwork, reading the literature in my field, working online courses, learning maths, organizing my research-related papers and notes, conversations with my supervisor, etc. Ideally I'll work up to 20 hrs/work, but I'm not going to stress about hitting that number since I'll also have the dog care as a job (+ house sitting for my mom who is also on holiday until March 1). It's been a while since I've completely aced a challenge, so it's past time to break my streak of mediocrity. Towards this end, I also have an unofficial goal to post my workouts and regular updates this time around! And maybe one day I'll be properly active on the forums again...
  2. Brief backstory: NF Rebel and powerlifter since April 2014. Currently on leave from my graduate program to focus on some health issues before continuing the get-my-PhD saga. The past couple of challenges I’ve solidified the basic, keep-me-functional habits and gathered data to aid in troubleshooting some lingering issues. Now that that foundation is set, it’s time to take on some dragons: I need to take a critical look at my lifting form, especially for deadlifts and bench. After a recent conversation with a friend about bench form, I filmed my bench for the second time ever (yeah, should have done this much more often) and discovered that I’m tucking my elbows too much, putting my elbows ahead of my wrists at the bottom of the lift (à less efficient transfer of force and less pec involvement in the lift). That might explain why my bench lags behind my other lifts so much. Deadlifts, meanwhile, are still feeling awkward after several weeks of mobility issues from a bad mattress, and I really need to keep an eye on my back position. Meditation practice is becoming a habit, but longer meditations are still intimidating. I’ve gotten a bit lazy about batch cooking since returning home, besides cooking-all-the-meat type batch cooking. My cooking is also getting somewhat monotonous, and I want to add more techniques/dishes to my toolkit. Eventually I need to start working again, for a variety of reasons: learning what habits work best for me, establishing productive practices, and making use of my time now to gain skills that will be helpful during my PhD. I also want to give myself plenty of time to rebuild my work tolerance. Plus I enjoy the work and leveling up in this sphere. However, getting better is still the priority. Since slaying dragons is so last millennium, I’ll train dragons this challenge. GOAL 0: Don’t neglect the essentials Food: Stick to AIP paleo, minus the few foods I’ve reintroduced. Track on MFP. Eat enough. Sleep: 8 pm screen curfew. Track sleep quality. Exercise: Lifting ~3x/week, excluding deload weeks. Walk several times a week. Mobility: Yoga and foam rolling/SMR a few times a week, especially on rest days. I’m not tracking or scoring these closely – mostly I just need to write these down so I don’t start slipping on that screen curfew! GOAL 1: Scrutinize my form Record, at the minimum My top two 5/3/1 work sets for the Big Four lifts, plus any joker sets My heaviest front squat sets (at least two from the session) At least twice, to check form: RDLs and good mornings Re-read the Starting Strength chapters on the Big Four One or two misses/partial misses is fine, as long as the misses aren’t on the same lift. GOAL 2: Meditate Meditate daily Have a longer meditation session at least 1x/week (minimum length = 20 min. + (week #)*5 min.) Read Full Catastrophe Living GOAL 3: Escape the cooking rut Try five new recipes over the course of the challenge. GOAL 4: Devote time each week to focused work, because I can’t be a professional recreational powerlifter forever. Work = Reading literature in my field Working on data analysis or modeling from one of my Master’s or PhD projects Learning a skill that will help me down the road, such as Python (can use non-work related projects for this), machine learning, or dynamical systems theory Working on a Coursera course Focused = Work for at least 30 min. at a time before taking a break No non-work related internet or phone use (e.g., Facebook, email) Foam rolling/stretching is fine as long as it doesn’t distract from the task Listening to music is fine as long as I pick my selection beforehand/limit jumping around between tracks and playlists I’ll start with 5 hr/week and then add 0-1 hr to the weekly goal each week depending on how I do/feel. The goals started yesterday since I’m skipping Zero Week this time around for a 5 week challenge (even if MATLAB doesn’t count from zero…).
  3. With the changes happening, I cannot pinpoint what is my main quest. I have never been one to work on just one life goal. For example, I am currently working on two (FBI and PHD) and doing the preliminary research of a third (Teaching Aboard). So I foresee this challenge being a bit harder than others as I've enjoyed working on both and now three. However, because this is a fitness forum, I will stick to a fitness adventure quest for this challenge. Main Quest - By the end of the year I would like to be able to pass two out of the four FBI fitness requirements. Goal #1 – Strength Configuration Part 2 (45 Push Ups, Non-Stop)! How and Why: Continue with my pushups. In my last challenge I was able to finally do 60 push ups from the tabletop. In this challenge I will be going down a bit more. This time my pushups will be from a height that is around my mid-thigh. My grade will be based on how I do the Monday morning that I am supposed to report in: Week 1 – 1 min, 30 seconds rest for 3 reps Week 2 – 1 min, 20 seconds rest for 3 reps Week 3 – 1 min, 10 seconds rest for 3 reps Week 4 – 2 mins, 30 seconds rest for 3 reps Week 5 – 2 mins, 20 seconds rest for 3 reps Week 6 – 2 mins, 10 seconds rest for 3 reps Grade: A = 45 B = 40 C = 36 D = 31 F = 27 Stats: +1 Sta, +2 Str Goal #2 – Stamina Configuration Part 2 (45 Sit Ups, Non Stop!). How and Why: Again another FBI fitness test is based off of the sit-ups but in one minute (I need 57). In my last challenge I was able to finally do 31 sit ups. In this challenge I will be going faster and often. The only way to keep going is to do them as often as possible which is where I get in trouble. Week 1: 3 reps twice a week Week 2: 3 reps twice a week Week 3: 3 reps three a week Week 4: 3 reps three a week Week 5: 3 reps four a week Week 6: 3 reps four a week Grade: A = 45 B = 40 C = 36 D = 31 F = 27 Stats: +1 Str, +2 Sta Goal #3 - Defeat round two boss, Coke Cola! How and Why: So I was able to start drinking 6 cups of water BUT the caffeine still has a hold of me. In the last challenge I was able to remove myself off Starbucks. I went 31 days without Starbucks. I have the following cheats (as in going drinking coke): Cheats: Week 1: 3 Week 2: 2 Week 3: 2 Week 4: 1 Week 5: 1 Week 6: 0 Grades: A = 33 Days B = 30 Days C = 27 Days D = 24 Days F = Below 21 Stats: +1 Sta, +2 Con Life Quest: One Does Not Simply Step Into Their Doctorate Program Part 2 - Read a book every two weeks. (+.5 WIS for each book) <- 1. - Practice for the GRE Test every two weeks (+.5 WIS for each test) <-- 1st test completed on 8/11/2013, - Start Internship (+.33 CHA) <-- Completed on 8/27/2013 - Save $200 for transcripts (+1 CON), Update: $132.00 - Sign Up for Russian Language Classes (+.33 CHA) <-- Completed on 8/5/2013 - Visit Formal Professor (+.34 CHA) <-- Completed on 8/30 - Write Personal Statement (+.5 CON) - Write Statement of Purpose (+.5 CON) Stats: +2 Con, +1 Cha, +3 Wis
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