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  1. I've realized as I'm about to start writing some sort of intro to another challenge that I barely write about me and what's going on in my head. I used to journal once a week and when I was at my height on NF, I would post stuff I was thinking about and debating in my head 2 or 3 times each week for a couple years. Now though, there's just this....blankness. And I'm not sure if it's because I ran out of things to say and what I feel, or if I'm just really rusty with writing in this way. Maybe it's because writing out what's going on is too painful to even talk about. I don't want sympathy and a random thumbs up from some people I used to talk to years ago doesn't address what *is* happening. I feel like I'm spinning my wheels. I'm stagnant and I don't know how or what needs to happen to make things not feel this way. Being with my ladyfriend: it's not *bad* but it's not really *good*. It's just stagnant. My job. It's not *bad* but it's not *good*. It's just stagnant. My weight doesn't seem to budge - taking literal years of bouncing around the same 20ish pounds before I finally just snap and binge-eat; only to claw my way back to re-lose 20 pounds and trip again and again. My sister isn't doing well. I know she's not and the fact she isn't bringing up what her scan results say, means that she's terrified and at the same time, doesn't want me to worry about her (which I'm obviously doing regardless). There isn't a sense of looking forward to anything. I've really fallen into a wormhole of art and reading which has been a good comfort but it isn't really a challenge - it's not something where I'm growing and doing better and better. There's a lot of shit that I thought I resolved that hasn't truly been addressed. Case 1: My mom. She died 3 years ago now and while I've had to deal with it, at the same time; it's left an emptiness. I don't have her judging me and thinking less of me which emotionally is a good thing. But my life feels a little emptier with her not being around. Case 2: My sister. I already think I had my last christmas, thanksgiving, halloween with her and I'm in a weird position because she's not gone, but she's also not 100% here. When my mom died, my sister did too. She never recovered - slumping in to a massive depression and never giving a fuck about herself and her well-being since then. She's basically become what my mom was: glued to a couch, watching tv and passing out on it, eating random junkfood, and bitter. I can't blame her for this, obviously. But it's also like my sister hasn't been my sister for years. I don't know how to deal with this. I'm there for her as best as I can be and I talk to her all the time (I had to stay away for a couple weeks to detox from junk food but I'm ok with hanging out with her these days). It's like talking to a ghost; she's a shade of her former self. And I can't be like, "Hey get your shit together" - I mean, she's going to be gone soon. All I really can do is be supportive. Case 3: 'Failure'. I don't even want to speak the name of the woman that I was madly in love with some 5ish years ago. That was the most intense and serious emotional intimacy I ever had and then she disappeared. I grew desperate, then angry and bitter, resentful, and eventually I realized that anyone who would act like that to me doesn't deserve to take up space in my head. She doesn't deserve someone to miss her - not when she was an emotionally stunted failure. And I wrote out the entirety of the relationship one day and afterwards, I had a calmness. She doesn't lord over my thoughts at all. However, what should be said is that my emotional connection to *anyone* is now less intense. I don't feel those 'butterflies' of being in love. I don't have a strong pining for past relationships. They have all been put into perspective and I realize that the women that I had attachments to weren't emotionally there. I've been trying to make an intense connection to another person that truly wasn't there. In order to have that deep level of love, both people have to have a level of vulnerability and in the end, there hasn't been a single woman that has lowered their guard in the way that I so deeply wish would happen. Instead I get close....but not *that* close. There are feeling, but they aren't *that* strong. I've often thought that maybe that emotional part of me is broken: that having connected and lost so many times that I'm sort of indifferent to other people being in my life. All of these things happened in the past 3 years and having all my family (I don't consider my sister's doofus husband who doesn't care about her to be family) and the strongest emotional connection either disappear abruptly or fade away makes me feel less, overall. There's a dulling to how I feel and that bleeds over to being passionate about anything or anyone. Like when I get a message from a woman on a dating site and I leaf through their profile and see stuff like 'morbidly obese', 'I know my worth', 'working a dead-end job', 'has two kids and is divorced last year', 'interests are shitty canned laughter comedy', 'drinks on the weekends and does pot', 'looking for something serious, no fuckboys'; all I can muster is a 'eww, no'. I have no desire to be some woman's golden parachute after they made a lifetime of mistakes and bring literally nothing to the table, who wants something serious after they had their years of fun, and there isn't a single attribute that they have that I don't and could look up to. It's basically a wasteland and I find myself going a month or two without even looking at the site. These days, I'm not even checking. I just couldn't care less. The above cases of loss for me, has made it extremely hard for me to care about anything. I hear about the covid shit night and day despite not even clicking on articles or reading any news about it. There's that trucker strike that is getting censored and I see various content creators that I watch starting to get copyright strikes and legal battles to even stay around. I see no brightness at the end of the tunnel in regards to serious relationships. Everything seems dim and pointless. And don't get me wrong, I'm trying. I've tried to have some convos with people at work, I talk with the owner at the warhammer store (Jimmy). I spend time with a ladyfriend. I come on here and try to post on a somewhat regular tempo. But it feels like I'm treading water. I'm going through the motions. I'm surviving, NOT thriving. I'm not sure what needs to happen, what I need to do, to get that kick in the ass to do anything more than maintain. I don't see weight loss progress despite hitting the gym multiple times a week and cutting out all the trash food. I mean, I physically feel better. I'm not getting constant headaches, stomach aches, and serious suicidal thoughts and huge bouts of anxiety. But NOT gaining weight isn't the same as losing weight. NOT being an emotional wreck isn't the same as being happy and fulfilled. I'm kinda just here. I don't know where I'm supposed to find joy and happiness. Like, let's do a thought experiment and I get this huge burst of adrenaline and go all david goggins or some shit. Let's say, theoretically, that my sister will be gone by June. I'm worried that when she is gone, my bro-in-law will inherit the house and there is no love loss between us and he'll kick me out so I'll be homeless. I have enough money in the bank that I won't need to sleep in my car but I'll have a ticking clock. So to avoid that, I need to talk to my sister first to see about what assurances are that things won't end up with the jackass that literally has a song on his phone of 'I married for money' inherits the house my mom broke her back to buy in cash like 40 years ago. Say I talk to her and I end up getting half the house and pay for utilities and my bro-in-law stays in one house, while I'm in the other. Do I ACTUALLY want to be there? Well, I don't want him to have the house. Maybe I could buy his half off with the money I have saved up. Then I have a duplex all to myself and literally no one there. Let's work backwards: In order to either 1) Have my own place or 2) Own my family's house, I need $. That means I need to get the therapist job. In order to do that, I need to address this mental block I have. In order to address the mental block I have, I need to lose weight and build my confidence back up (because it's currently utter shit confidence). In order to do that, it seems I can't lift 3x week and eat healthy: I need to go full-on gym rat and do more cardio, get more strict with measuring food, weigh myself more often to make sure I'm on top of shit, etc. So theoretically, I go beast-mode and Feb+March I lose the weight. I get the job in April and start making some decent money. In June, shit hits the fan and the saved money+the new money gets used..... THEN what? Like, am I happy then? What do I do in, say, August of 2022? October of 2022? I lost some weight and I have a better job. Does that mean I'm fulfilled? I don't think I will be but I don't know for sure. Like, what would an average week look like in October 2022? Monday - Go to work. Monday night - Gym, eat, ???? Tuesday - Go to work. Tuesday night - Gym, eat, ??? Wed/Thur/Fri- same shit. Weekend - Batch cook, do some art. Is that it? I need social connections. Is life worth living if you are all by yourself? What happens when you 'solve' things and life is working a few hours to maintain your life. Like, what ELSE is life? I used to come on here and say that life is the 1/3 of the day you are free. If in 24 hours you sleep 8 (yeah right...), you work 8, then there is 8 leftover. Less because travel time but you get what I'm saying. What the fuck is that 1/3 of the leftover supposed to be? I mean, let's say I won the lottery today and I never had to work. Would that even make me happy? Then I would have 16 hours a day instead of 8. Sure, doing this art stuff is nice and all, but that still doesn't feel like *thriving*. What else should I be doing? I guess the three cases have me questioning how to feel fulfilled when those 3 are all gone. I mean, I didn't feel fulfilled when my mom was alive, or when 'traitor' was texting me all the time. Is life just about filling up your time until you have none left? My sister said two or three months ago that she wanted to know that 'this all meant something', 'this' referring to life and what she has done up to this point. The thing is, I don't really think it has. I don't think there has been a meaning and with her being like this, it's making me reflect more and more on myself. Who else is there to lose? Let's say she is gone, bro-in-law takes the house. I have a bed, tv, chair, loveseat, punching bag, weight bench, and 7 bug-out bags. Back when I had the great purge, I consolidated everything of importance to me into just 7 backpacks. Two were important papers, two were clothes, two were items, one was electronics. I still have those backpacks ready to go, if say, the apocalypse happens. This means that besides a couple pieces of furniture, I could fit everything of value in my car today. So what do I value? What do I want? And will getting those things actually make me happy or will the goalpost towards happiness just be pushed further back? Perhaps the treadmill is a state of mind. You know, I think a lot about the dating scene and about people's likes, wants, and needs and it's a laundry list. All I wanted in my teens was to be with a woman. Now that I've had that several times....whatever? I wanted random toys and crap. I got them and then.....whatever? When I was trying to eat healthy, all I wanted was junk food and then once I had it....whatever? Happiness may not be a state of mind but a constant suffering and longing for what we think we want. A sense of this is also part of how I dealt with case #3, the traitor. If I run through the theoretical life choices and consequences, and I act out reaching that finish line to happiness; is it a reality or just a projection to keep me running on that treadmill? Am I just coming up with more and more carrots on a stick? I mean, when you think about it, that's capitalism: it's the manufacturing of happiness depending on the wanting of things. If I won the lottery and had that bag of money, would I even spend it on shit I wanted? We have these uber trillionaires that accrue more and more but do you really think that the owner of facebook, youtube, various fortune 500 companies etc is truly happy when they can buy a boat or skyscraper and then never even use the damn thing? Should I spend that 1/3 of my life chasing shadows or am I going about this all wrong? What do I actually want and why? This challenge, I'm going to try something different. For frigging years, I've had the same goals over and over and maybe that's me just on the treadmill. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, so I should change. I'm not going to posting how I ticked some boxes that I set for myself. If that works for you, more power to you; but I'm not seeing the benefits these days. This challenge, the only goal is to write. I'll still do workouts and stuff but the more important thing is to keep writing. Just posting this made things feel a little bit clearer so this might be the piece that I'm missing so I'll go from here.
  2. Stagnation is Death Annals of a Bladesinger A haunting melody weaves its way through the quiet forest. An alien in her homeland with a mind touched by the hand of darkness, the elven wizard hones her dangerous dance, ever vigilant, ever mindful. She practices her art not just for the protection of her people, but to soothe her tormented soul with the meditative, otherworldly whistle of bladesong. Journey to Bladesinger Master 2020 Stats: STR 10 || DEX 11 || CON 11 || INT 15 || WIS 16 || CHA 12 2020 Level: Bladesinger Apprentice Goal Stats: STR 14 || DEX 17+ || CON 14 || INT 18+ || WIS 18+ || CHA 14 Goal Level: Bladesinger Master Bladesinger Apprentice - Trains under a Master. Must demonstrate above-average intelligence, and wisdom to be accepted into training for a wizard, must show some promise in dexterity to be accepted by a bladesinger master. STR 8 || DEX 10 || CON 8 || INT 14 || WIS 14 || CHA 8 Bladesinger Knight - Able to train and fight independently. Must demonstrate above-average mastery of dexterity, and very high intelligence, and wisdom. Strength, constitution, and charisma must be high enough as to not impede progress. STR 12 || DEX 14 || CON 12 || INT 16 || WIS 16 || CHA 11 Bladesinger Master - Can train an Apprentice. Demonstrates exceptional abilities in dexterity, intelligence, and wisdom. Above-average abilities in strength, constitution, and charisma are required to perform at this level. Goal Stats: STR 14 || DEX 17+ || CON 14 || INT 18+ || WIS 18+ || CHA 14 Bladesinger Leader - Can serve as leader to other Master roles. Demonstrates all the abilities of a Bladesinger Master, with higher charisma for leadership qualities. Goal Stats: STR 14 || DEX 17+ || CON 14 || INT 18+ || WIS 18+ || CHA 17 How to Level Scores based on max 20 system, current list only filled to requirements for mastery from current stats, does not include information prior to or past current and master stats Strength (STR) - Calisthenics and Iron STR 11: Plank 1min, 4x13 Pushups, 4x25 Crunches, 30/20 bodyweight squats, 2x20 tricep dips, 2x30 one-leg calf-raises STR 12: Plank 2min, 3x15 Pushups, 3x30 Crunches, 2x40 15lbs one-leg calf-raises, DB Bench 30lbs, DB Squat 50lbs, Deadlift 40lbs STR 13: Plank 3min, 3x20 Pushups, DB Bench 40, DB Squat 60lbs , Plank 3min, DB Deadlift 60 STR 14: DB Bench 60, DB Squat 75lbs , Plank 4min, DB Deadlift 80 STR 15: DB Bench 90lbs, DB Squat 100lbs, Plank 5min, DB Deadlift 100 Dexterity (DEX) - Flexibility, Agility, Balance, Coordination DEX 12: Eagle pose, Warrior III, Hands flat on floor in waist bend, Baby Crow pose DEX 13: Front and side splits, Crow pose, complete NF Yoga DEX 14: Crane pose, Wall handstand (1min), start martial art or agility training DEX: 15: Flying crow pose, 8-angle pose, dragonfly pose, unassisted handstand (1min+), 1 year of martial arts training DEX 16: Level 5: Dophin Push Up Challenge DEX 17: Black belt in a martial art DEX 18: 3rd degree black belt in martial art AND first degree black belt is second martial art Constitution (CON) - Stamina, Endurance CON 12: Complete a 5k in under 45 min CON 13: Complete a 5k in under 35 min CON 14: Complete a 5 mile run in under 60 min CON 15: Complete a 10k run in under 60 min Intelligence (INT) - Academia and Language INT 16: Personal Trainer Cert AND Health Coach Cert INT 17: Complete a Master's Degree program AND reading intermediate reading level for 2 forgeign languages INT 18: Complete a PhD INT 19: Research published in 5+ academic journals INT 20: Research published in textbooks and taught in classrooms Wisdom (WIS) - Generativity, Activism, Social/Environmental Awareness +Be a founding member or leader in a non-profit organization +1 Teach a skill to at least 10 people (OR) mentor at least 10 people +Teach a college course +Create a college or arts scholarship fund +Convert >90% of Beauty, Cleaning, and Meal Prep products to reusable/recycleable/eco-friendly Charisma (CHA) - Leadership, Social, Performance, Confidence CHA 13: Perform a leading role in a community/unpaid show (OR) 1k sub on social (OR) Manager 1+ employees (OR) Promote to SR/Lead position CHA 14: Perform as a supporting role in a paid performance (OR) direct a community show (OR) Manage 10+ employee team CHA 15: Perform as a leading role in a paid performance (OR) release a music album (OR) 10k subs on social (OR) Manage 50+ employee team CHA 16: Publish best-seller (OR) 10k subs to a blog (OR) 100k subs to social (OR) Run a business of 100+ employees CHA 17: Performance award (OR) 100k subs to personal blog (OR) 1mil subs to social (OR) CEO of 1,000+ employee business
  3. Wow, what a journey we have been on, Dear Readers. The process all began in 2015, but we never know it at the time. I realized I was on some sort of soul journey in mid-2016, then really ramped up through 2017. By the beginning of the year in 2018, I had a name for this path. I can confirm: the past two years have been crucible-level intense. The name "nightmare of the soul" is apt. I even got cocky this time last year, celebrating my new vantage point. I think I might have even said something along the lines of: FOR THE RECORD: DO NOT DO THIS. This was ill-advised. Confession: I kept this attitude through most of the crap that came my way all last year. I don't think the attitude can be beaten out of me, because this year the Universe gave me every reason and opportunity to quit. It would have been easier, for certain, to stop. To take my wounds and call it all a good fight, but over. No. This new land will be mine, and yet I have no idea what it is or what it will look like. For all I know, it's a barren potato field that not even sheep will graze in. I have this vision of cresting a ridge only to see this notice tacked to a tree: There were brilliant moments this year. Real watershed events one after the other (full list) January I wrote a song it went in a tv movie! February I went to a philosophy rave; I went to a Philosophy group; I got a Fellowship to do philosophy all the time; I had a head injury that crippled me; and even through the sidewaysness of it all: the legal situation is a protracted mess that doesn't seem to get better the healing of the head injury is so slow I don't even recognize what I was before intellectually I still can't drive I haven't been to the gym since September. I managed to find my way through by feeling for the next centered thing: I founded a local Philosophy Roundtable I signed up people to vote, raised the roof, amplified messages for causes using my digital life to be active when I had no voice or mobility physically. I am the lead for Philosophers for Sustainability's Public Philosophy team I am a member of the Philosophers for Sustainability Outreach & Social Media team I developed a topic and presented it at a national-level (international?) conference I am presenting a piece on Authenticity, Connectedness, and Hope at the APAPhil Division Conference in Chicago (any Chicago Nerds who want to join the 5e D&D game that is going to happen, or who want to meet RealLivePhilosophers™ drop me a line! It's at the Palmer House Feb 26-29. I'll be in town on March 1, too, mostly because I want to see the Art Institute and because I present on Saturday afternoon, so I wanted extra recovery time). I took my writing to the Thesis Level, and my advisor now refers to it as The Book. I developed the conference presentation into a structure for a book and am working on the proposal and article for submission (see #Goals2020). And now we are here. 2020. I'm not certain how this last part of the Hero's Journey will play out, but I know I'm capable and up for the challenges, whatever they might happen to be. There's a cool lunar eclipse that just happened with the December new moon, and a solar eclipse that is happening at the new moon in January. This challenge is "between the eclipses," so to speak, and I think that has some nice poetry to it. I know that there is a lot of possibility and potential swirling about -- sort of a liquid electricity looking for a channel of expression as it seeks the ground. I think that any number of opportunities await; I have the chance to bring my new sense of self (attitude is everything!) to focus and claim my path forward. I am grateful that you have been part of this with me. I have no idea what I will grasp from the air. Have you guys read the Kingkiller series (by Patrick Rothfuss, first is Name of the Wind) yet? This feels like the moment in the second book, The Wise Man's Fear, when our hero has to go through the willow tree to get the Thing at the center. In ways, it's almost like starting all over again. Thanks for being part of my Fellowship. I can't wait to see what we get up to.
  4. Who here is familiar with Stoicism? The three most familiar are Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. These philosophers have inspired warriors, soldiers, commanders, kings, emperors, teachers, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, and many more for a few thousand years. The essence of stoicism is accepting life as it comes and not complaining about any circumstances. So, basically, you are content with life "as is" rather than longing for something better or complaining when things are bad. I'm reading Marcus Aurelius's Meditations right now and...wow: “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” “You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” “Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together,but do so with all your heart.” “When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ...” “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.” I am amazed by how relevant these words are, even though removed by over almost 2000 years. Have you read any of the Stoics? Who is your favorite? What do you think?
  5. I was recently taking a gander at the "Elements of Martial Arts". I thought it was really interesting that there use to be a traditional system used to represent the different Movements/Agents/Phases/Elements in Martial Arts. However, as I was looking into it I found there isn't a widely agreed idea of what the all the elements were. Depending on the culture, the number of elements used and the element types differ. There seemed to be at least three widely agree elements for each philosophy: Water - Flowing and redirection Fire - Fast movements and rapid attacks Earth - Slow and heavy, use of grabbing and sedation Then the rest of the elements differ from here: Metal - Rigid thrust attacks (Chinese Philosophy) Wood - Large and expansive, uses push-type attacks (Chinese Philosophy) Wind - Freedom and evasiveness (Japanese Philosophy) Void(ether) - Spontaneity and inventiveness. Act without thinking (Japanese Philosophy) What do you guys think about the element theory in martial arts? Do you guys think there is a different philosophy that better represents the elemental structure?
  6. I've noticed a couple of people scattered throughout this forum mention minimalism and the minimalist lifestyle in passing, for various reasons. Sometimes because of an upcoming move, or sometimes from a desire to slim down the amount of chaos material stuff tends to bring into their lives. I've flirted with the idea quite often - often from necessity, and most recently from an expected move. It took the looming threat of a move to realize that, push come to shove, I could load a backpack and be gone, but holy carp - where did all this stuff come from? To that end, I wanted to start a thread and share some references for others who want to do some reading, do some research, or just stick a toe into the philosophical waters and see how it feels. There is a fair amount of similarity to Buddhism in regard to viewing how possessions influence our lives and our happiness. I mention that out of a sense of full disclosure, but one need not adopt Buddhism or Zen philosophy to appreciate the tenets presented in the minimalist lifestyle. Certain principles like: if you haven't worn it in a year, why is it in your closet? That's a tough one to answer objectively. Emotionally, there are a variety of answers to be had - some good, some not so much. The flip side of minimalism, which is one possible goal - is understanding how and why we got here. That is an entirely separate post, but speaking for myself, I find impulse shopping as a means of staying entertained at work to be a major contributor, followed closely by "wow, that's a really good deal!" syndrome, and "huh, I bet that would be really useful and it's on sale!" disorder. I mention this only because while minimalism may be the answer to some problems in your life (most notably, too much stuff), it is exceedingly helpful to understand how and why we ended up where we are now. All that said: of this list - there are many books, but I'm only listing the two I have read, or am reading, and recommend them: Books: Websites, blogs, oh my: These are websites I've found from idle Googling (wow, it's a verb), as well as referrals from other sites, authors, links, and so on. I haven't vetted them and as such, some may be more helpful than others - although what may be helpful for me, may not be so for you. And vice versa. Articles of Interest Minimalist, "one bag" traveling Forums: Reddit: Minimalism Cleaning, Organizing, and other costs of stuff: Unfreak your Habitat -some cussing involved, you have been warned. EtA: True to form, I had an idea and I scrambled to get it out there without taking time to revise it, or critique it for improvement. As time passes and more ideas occur to me, I will be changing the first post to reflect a better presentation and delivery format, rather than just throwing out an entire mass of information from a fire hose. Hence, the addition of spoiler tags to help pare down (in the minimalism thread, natch) the amount of material you're being doused with. EtA: And I may be abusing the hell out of spoiler tags. Sorry.
  7. *Trigger warning: this post contains imagery and concepts that can be disturbing to heavy lifters – calorie deficits, sets with more than five reps, and cultivating inner calm. Care – with the holidays doubling down on normal stress and getting settled into a routine after all the moving; self care is a priority this season. I’ll be yammering about daily care activities like meditation, quality sleep, and mobility; weekly chiropractic visits and the occasional leisurely smoke. There may be high handed criticism of the odd novel or two that I’m reading. Who can know? Cultivation (of the self) – instead of being an awkward synonym for self-development, chosen to allow an alliteration of c-words (okay, mostly that), I’ll be posting about my efforts to cultivate and explore some fledgling interests including dog training (I have a tiny dog with massive dreams), German practice, creative writing, and a non-fiction reading list that’s been kicking my butt lately with the move these past weeks. Wendler’s 5-3-1 is first on the list, but some fun historical criticism theology, and post-structuralist philosophy is in there too. Conditioning – short on time, as always, I’d barely managed to make room for main lifts + accessories this last month, but now with a more stable schedule, I’m chasing the golden snitch of conditioning again. Circuits, sprints and other non-warrior stuff will get talked about here; and any lucky followers get to hear me complain about it. Daily MFP logging (same username as here) with initial CI target of 2000/2200 gross for rest day/gym day, 200g of protein and <=100g carbs. A few parties are on the schedule and I’ll aim for moderation, but we all know it’ll be a caloric reenactment of the red wedding - I’m okay with that.
  8. My significant other and I have a very different views on fitness. I've learned and think that the fitness is fundamental to well being. I changed diet, incorporated body weight training. As a result, I lost a lot of weight and gained some strength. My body looks pretty good for an old guy. When I suggest/ask her to exercise and eat for better body, she says "it's superficial. You are only caring your look". She is not overweight, but she is kind of weak from my point of view. She is content with her body. When I asked to use my Omron fat monitor, her body fat % is about 32%. I guess the fitness level is a personal choice. I play a lot of tennis, so leaner and stronger body really helps me. She doesn't do a lot of sports. If you are happy with the way you are, you don't need to improve your body?
  9. Hopefully, this won't be tl;dr. I've had this idea percolating for a while, because I haven't read it thusfar on the NF blog or forums, and a conversation with Sytherz the Spartan (Ha-ROO!) last night caused the whole thing to kind of "come together", so to speak. I have two tools to offer, that will help with life decisions in general, and your motivations for PT/diet, etc specifically, the 2nd to help with actual performance and confidence, in life in general, and specifically PTs as well. 1. "What Does This 'Buy' Me?" Our Modern Lives of Convenience are just that: designed to divorce us from critical thought about ourselves, our actions, our surroundings -- the Modern First World is pretty much specifically tailored to allow us to spend our day to day existences on mental autopilot. There are just certain things that "we do", without questioning much, if at all. I've been doing a lot of reading on Stoicism (you may recognize the name Marcus Aurelius, he was one of the last Great Rulers of the Roman Empire, and perhaps best-known of the Stoics), and Cynicism (the philosophical doctrine is NOT how we use the word today), and a common theme for both is: "Who cares what the mass populace does unthinkingly? Think, and do, what is right and good." (see also: the latter half of my 2nd signature quote, Ezio Auditore's explanation of the Assassin's motto) Most here, already do that to a degree, we've stepped away from the Masses and formed the Rebellion. But take it a step further: next time you're tempted to have that sweet, soda, etc, or skip a workout, ask yourself: "What does this buy me? What gain will I receive from this, what benefit will I derive? And what consequences will come of it?" Well, other than the temporal enjoyment of a sweet tasty drink, that soda/mocha/etc "buys" you nothing, and comes with the consequences of sugar, empty calories, etc. Maybe skipping your workout "buys" you some extra time for a nap, or playing a game, etc -- and maybe that's worth it to you. It also brings the consequence of not improving your health, and possibly starting you down the slippery slope to NOT PTing at all, losing your shape, and having to work all the way back up from Level 0 again. So next time your friends ask you to skip a workout and go hit the bar for a bender, or your family wants to have hot dogs and beans, or fast food for dinner every night, or you just want to sit and veg playing GTA V or AC IV all night -- remember, other people and influences can distract you from your goals and direction, but you are the one who solely must live with the consequences. "'Everything is permitted', is to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and that we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic." 2. Reach out with your mind, young Jedi Visualization is an extremely powerful tool, highly recommended by various religious and even scientific communities (from Wiccans to Buddhists, from Taoists to Therapists, even a powerfully imagined and specific prayer can fit the category). Why do it? Positive visualization has been proven, by both anecdata, and new peer-reviewed articles, to increase one's ability and confidence at performing things which have been positively visualized for a period of time. What it is: sorta like meditation or prayer, the first step is to calm and direct your conscious mind, then imagine yourself doing a task -- whatever it may be, successfully. Visualize it as richly as you can: the sight, smell, feel, anything that would help "immerse" you in the visualization. Whether it's doing a Kong Vault over a picnic table, or saying hi to that hawt girl in your Bio class, doing the Perfect Pullup, or even getting an A on a hard test you know is coming up, it'll help. Why's it work? Turns out, life really IS a question of "mind over matter" -- the latest psychological gobbledeygook articles reveal that your mind cannot easily distinguish vividly visualized events from real memories, and internalizes the visualizations almost as well as if the events really happened. So that's why I bombed talking to the hawt girl in Bio class, cuz I was thinking about how flustered I'd be and how awkward I'd sound!!! Yep, pretty much. If you'd focused your mind on being cool, having a good, positive conversation, with positive feedback from her, you probably would've made a much better impression. What about workouts? I think I sabotage myself sometimes.... If you're thinking about how much it's going to hurt, or how you really "don't wanna today", or any other negative-vibe sorta stuff, yeah, you probably did screw yourself before you even started. Worse yet, your mind/body will do its best to meet your "lowered expectations", which just reinforces that "Man, I suck," vibe, which causes you to feel down about your next workout, which creates what's known as a "feedback loop". True story, bro -- Google it up. Generally, feedback loops are bad: they'll lead you to depression or mania, one of the two, and neither state is really helpful in living a healthy, balanced life. So how do I cure that?!?! Simple. First, take realistic stock of where you're at. What your strengths and weaknesses are. Make a plan for how to support and continue your strengths, and a plan for how you're going to address and mitigate your weaknesses. Next, take a break in a nice, quiet, calm place. You're going to do something that's basically meditation, though a little more "focused" than the "clear your mind, be still as a pond"-type stuff. You're going to create a "holo-deck" in your mind... Imagine yourself in a place where you feel safe and powerful -- the gym, a dojo, the forest, wherever. Put some thought into it: what does the ground feel like, what's the air smell like, what ambient sounds are present? Add yourself, the "yourself" you (realistically) want to be. See yourself as strong, lean, fast, agile, a martial-arts badass, whatever your goal is -- MAKE SURE it is a vision of you that you can relate to! If you subconsciously reject the version of you in your mind as 'incompatible', this will not work! Now, step into that version of you. Become that "you". And start doing what you want to accomplish for the session. Kong Vaults, pull-ups, fighting off bad-guys without taking a hit, whatever. Feel yourself doing the action with perfect form, and feeling good about it. Do this "mental work-out" for 5-10 mins, then relax and mentally "cool-down" before stepping "out" to the real world again. But this sounds like a bunch of New Age namby-pamby mumbo-jumbo, Hong, wtf? It is a bunch of New Age mumbo-jumbo.... but it's New Age mumbo-jumbo that works. Try it seriously, and you'll see. Bonus credit: apply the "What's This Buy Me?" test to it: well, it might buy you increased confidence in something you feel less-than-confident about, it may help you increase your ability, coordination, and strength (there's actually a peer-reviewed study out that says those who just imagined working out hard for 15-20 mins a day showed gains in strength and endurance). What's the consequence? 10-15 mins of your time, and you can count it as "meditation" time, if you have that as a daily goal. So, it might buy you something, in fact probably will, and if not, then you're out 15-20 mins and can call it "meditation" time. Sounds to me like something you should at least try. ;-)
  10. I often read books on "how to live", how to be more effective, how to change your habits, how to live a simple life and so forth. The books i like the most often have references to different anecdotes which makes the "lesson" easier to understand. So, come on, share your best anecdotes! I´ll start with: The Fisherman - Author unknown A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them. "Not very long," answered the Mexican. "But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family. The American asked, "But what do you do with all your time?" "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs...I have a full life." The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant." "You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise." "How long would that take?" asked the Mexican. "Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American. "And after that?" "Afterwards? That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stock and make millions!" "Millions? Really? And after that?" "After that -- and this is the best part -- you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends!"
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