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  1. Some of you are aware that I’ve had some pretty dire struggles with mental health. It’s a battle I feel that I cannot win going on as I am. The catalyst was getting passed over for promotion. But after a day of feeling worthless, I realised something. I do not love my job anymore. I downright detest some of the people I have to work with. And I just saw my whole life stretching out ahead of me, a grey and miserable road, continuing on this path of drudging. Maybe I’d shift to another job, maybe I’d eventually make a promotion. But my spark is gone. My performance at work has suffered because I simply cannot concentrate. My day is split between trying to work, trying to ignore the immaturity of the office and trying not to let my mind wander to the places I cannot afford to let it go. My home life is a mess. And I am never going to get myself healthy in this environment. My headspace can hardly heal and flourish when I feel trapped in my physical life. So I quit. I handed in my notice with no job lined up, no real ‘adult’ contingency. And I booked a retreat and some flight tickets to Bali. And then that morphed, after a week or so, into this little flame of hope and strength. So I booked more plane tickets. To Middle Earth. Some people call it New Zealand. My intention is to get some distance and hopefully, some perspective. In Bali, I am staying at an ashram, with twice daily yoga classes and cultural experiences in the nearby village. I am not going to use my phone, I won’t be online much. I will ‘retreat’ in most senses of the word. Then, I will cross the biggest thing off my bucket list and spend five weeks exploring New Zealand, splitting my time between both Islands. I have already booked my Hobbiton tours. Yes, plural. I’m going twice. One is an early morning tour with lunch in the party marquee. The other is an evening tour followed by a banquet in the Green Dragon and I honestly think I may pass out from excitement. I want to return stronger, mentally (physically will be a nice bonus too with all the hiking and CrossFit tourism I’m hoping to do). With a clearer head and without the crippling social anxiety and depression which has, I’m afraid to say, spiralled to suicidal thoughts a fair amount. But one thing I did not expect, was that in planning this trip, I already feel stronger and more assertive. I am having to book things alone, and contact AirBnB hosts and decide things solo, book car hires and at the same time, I'm taking delight in those choices and working out my routes. It’s empowering and terrifying and exhilarating. And it’s so so good to feel that. I am not my past and I sure as heck am not my mental illnesses. I know I will find myself in Middle Earth because for once, I am not going with a to-do list of things I want to change about myself. It’s not about a ‘new me’. It’s about exploring, growing, pushing my boundaries out, and accepting that progress isn’t linear. I don’t expect to be transformed by the trip. I just think I will be healthier for it, and if nothing else, it will be a bank of positive memories and a time of empowerment to look back on and use when the darkness draws in. That said, my goals this round are only up to the 1st February, when I embark on my crazy adventure. I won’t be back in the UK until March 31st. Week One: 13th – 19th January 2020 - Have everything I will not need (summer dresses, hiking shoes, etc) packed - Finish buying the stuff I need (suntan lotion, etc) Week Two: 20th – 26th January 2020 - Decide on the books to take and pack them ( a very important decision that cannot be rushed!) - Have route through Middle Earth (ahem, New Zealand) mapped out and all accommodation booked Week Three: 27th – 1st February 2020 - Finish all packing, check I have everything. Check again - CHECK YOU HAVE EVERYTHING BECAUSE I KNOW YOU ALEX - Have passport scanned and printed, all passes and such printed and in a folder IN YOUR BAG - Check bags again. - Tidy bedroom and living room so I come home to a neat house! - Seriously though, do you have everything you need packed? ( (I may have a history of forgetting things... a lot ) A Also, thank you to @Tanktimus the Encourager and @WolfDreamer for checking up on me and nudging me to not give up and to keep giving challenges a go. I really do appreciate it
  2. So, I'm currently not lifting. But, I have no time. I have things to get done, and I don't think I'm going to get it done in time. It's absolutely crunch time, and shit has just got to get sorted or I'm screwed. So, I have a list of goals that are not lifting/fitness related, and I have two that are. And I'm once again motivating myself with money towards some future coaching. So here goes nothing. Goal 1: Get the nursery ready - Paint the nursery ($3.5) - Move in the furniture ($3.5) - Add curtains ($3.5) - Add a light cover ($3.5) - Transfer baby stuff from lounge to nursery ($3.5) - Get nursing chair covered ($3.5) Max for goal $21 Goal 2: Get the house baby ready - clean lounge room ($3.5) - clean hallway ($3.5) - clean kitchen ($3.5) - clean laundry ($3.5) - clean bathroom ($3.5) - Setup cleaning schedule to keep it that way ($3.5) Max for goal $21 Goal 3: Start tracking some meals - Track at least one meal each day - $1 for each day I manage this Max for goal $28 Goal 4: Return to fitness Ger back into things in the last two weeks of the challenge. By then everything should be far enough along that I have time to get to the gym again. - 3 strength sessions per week while rebuilding ($1 per session) - 3 conditioning sessions per week while rebuilding ($1 per session) Max for goal $12 Goal 5: It's NaNoWriMo already! - 1667 words per day for every day in November ($1) Max for goal $18 Once again, $100 worth of goals for the challenge, each broken up into small manageable chunks. And I can start to earn dollars during zero week, although, now that it's Thursday morning already, I'm not so sure I'm going to manage that one.
  3. For this last 2016 challenge, I've got two goals. 1. Keep a journal. I really like the set up I had during Whole 30. I would write about my sleep, what I ate, track my exercise and water, and then reflect on the day. I felt like I was on top of things, and it was a great way to build habits I still do today. It was just a nice way to see what was going on, make decisions and just stay calm and focused on goals. 2. Make goals and an action plan for 2017. I have a wishlist of things I'd like to accomplish in 2017, but I think where I went wrong in 2016 was that I lacked a plan of action. For next year, I'm going to really get SMART about it, and set myself up for success, instead of making more work for myself with vague and lofty wishlists. This next month will be challenging for me. There's going to be some personal stuff going on, and this month will be great practice in keeping a good mindset when chaos is swirling around. Because I don't think things will ever calm down or settle. So I'm learning to not wait for the opportune moment, but just take ANY moment to get something accomplished. Right now, I'm taking this moment to take a nap. THE POWER OF NAPS!!! Okay guys, have a great challenge!!
  4. Even before her eyes fluttered open, she could tell she was in a new, strange place. The pools of light and dark behind her eyelids were much paler than what she was used to, and a gentle warmth pressed lightly on her face. She opened her eyes to shapes that slowly coalesced into the outlines of people, people she didn't quite recognize but who seemed somehow familiar. They smiled gently at her. "You are awake at last," one of of them murmured, her voice like a honeyed zephyr. Dantilla's eyes darted between the figures, but with the overwhelming brightness of the sun behind them, could not make out details of their features. "Don't try to get up. Rest," the voice bid her. "No," she rasped, surprised at the pain that accompanied the utterance, and the new harshness of her voice. She tried to move, but her limbs seemed heavy, the mere act of trying to get up an unattainable coordination. The figure put a gentle hand on Dantilla's forehead, using the tiniest bit of pressure to keep her from trying to move again. "You must. You have been through a lot. More than you will remember. But you are safe, and that must be enough for you for now." I am recovering from a minor abdominal surgery. My focus for this challenge is going to be on recovery and making sure I don't try to jump back into my old habits of pushing myself before I can realistically manage that and injure myself. My goals will all be towards building health and making sure that I am in a good place to continue healing. 1. Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. Eat fruit AND veggies every day. In the past, I have generaly followed the South Beach Diet, but I noticed that althought I tended to get vegetables in, I didn't always eat my fruit. The veggies and fruit should be fresh ideally, but frozen is also allowable. Dried fruit and juices do not count, but smoothies that contain whole fruit DO count. 2. Rock and Roll. Once I have been cleared to do so by the doctors, I will foam roll at home three times a week. I am really good at foam rolling while at the gym, but I never seem to do it at home anymore. My running injuries from last year REALLY need it. 3. Only the Penitent Man will Pass.... It is now the penitential season of Lent. Oddly enough, my favorite season in the church calendar, and not just because it is purple. I have a book of daily meditations and of Lenten meditations. I am going to read through the the assigned paragraphs in each every day. Life Challenge: Punctuality is the politeness of kings. Confession....time is a little more relative for me than it should be, especially when it comes to being somewhere I'm not thrilled to be. Unfortunately, tardiness is becoming more the rule than the exception in certain areas of my life, and it's well past time that I fixed that. I am going to aim to be 5 minutes early to everywhere I go. This means that I will need to better plan when to leave to get somewhere on time. I'm not going to beat myself up over extenuating circumstances, but when it is realistically within my power, I will be 5 minutes early. I have decided not to put any exercise goals here for this challenge, although once I have been cleared to do so by the docs, I will probably start doing some swimming, and slowly add in other activities.
  5. So I'm going to make this easy on myself, and literally copy and paste from one of my previous challenges, what I would consider my most successful challenge. *** [The following content copied from here] Goals: Diet- Nothing is drastically changing here. I have a chart of foods to choose from, and each meal and snack is a combination of different foods from different groups. Simply put, I get a point for each food that falls under my plan, and a negative point for anything that is outside of the plan, as in extra food, sweets or alcohol. Unlimited non-starchy vegetables are allowed, so no worries about going hungry. My point goal for each day is between 11.5 - 12. The total points for the entire challenge will be 483-504 for a perfect score. Now, as long as I follow the plan 80% of the time, I will still pass the challenge. (CON 2 STA 1 WIS 1) Like I said, I've made up note cards and have the points all broken out so it will be easy to keep track of. And it's not that different from how I eat most of the time now anyway. Point goal for each day = 10. Total points for perfect challenge = 390. Fitness- Focus on strength training, while continuing my cardio to show results. As far as which workouts I will do, that I will not be including as part of the challenge, only because I plan on trying some new things soon. For the purpose of the challenge though, just making sure I do include strength training 3 times per week is what I want to focus on. I also plan on keeping a journal to track progress. (CHA 1) Strength training – 3x per week = 18 workouts (STR 2) If I manage 2x per week = 12 workouts (STR 1) Convict Conditioning Cardio – 5x per week goal, 3x per week pass = 18-30 cardio workouts (DEX 1, STA 2, CHA 1) Preparation – Planning is everything. I’ve found that how well my day goes, at least weekdays, depends almost entirely on how well I prepared for it the day before. So, point for every day that I make all necessary preparations for the next day. Total points = 42 39. (STA 1, CON 2, WIS 1) Life goal: Update more, and include more detail in my posts. *** *** I'm dealing with a different set of challenges this time around though. Well, I possibly am. Let me explain. I work a job, Monday - Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm. That was what I was doing earlier this year when my challenges went fairly well and I was focused. Now, I work that job, but I have another job. Typically I work second job Wednesday - Saturdays, 5 or 6pm to anywhere from 10pm-2am. It's at a bar, hence the undetermined schedule. Suffice to say, this is difficult, even when I'm not trying to work out and eat well. I had decided on Saturday that I would quit, that the little bit of extra money I've been making has not been worth the physical and emotional exhaustion I feel almost constantly. But I'm not sure yet, and I'm still trying to make up my mind on that. I'd like to give this challenge a go either way, and I feel like whichever choice I make will definitely affect how well I do. I've been thinking non-stop about this today and yesterday and will continue to do so.
  6. MAIN QUEST: 25% BODY FAT BY 28.12.2014 Ok, time to get specific. I want to be at 25% body fat by my 25th birthday, exactly 5 months away. I've been a member of NF for a year and a half now. The same time period since I started on my fitness journey (cringe, cheesy!) I've learnt a lot in that time, and seen some great results and some frustrating plateaus. I'm on my annual month long break from work now, and I want to take advantage of the time off, and nail this challenge. My plan is threefold: FOOD SLEEP EXERCISE Record it. Log it. Do it. #1. Put it in the book. I now have a dedicated Ems book, where I can log all my foods and sleeps and exercisey shenanigans. All I'm going to ask of myself is that it makes it into the book, every damn day, and is as accurate as possible. If it makes it to MFP, then great, but not essential. 42 (days) - 37: A 36 - 31: B 30 - 25: C 20 or less: F #2. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Time off work means more time to prepare food. Preparation means planning, buying, cooking/assembling. I want to improve my batcave by having yummy Ems-friendly foodstuffs on hand all the time. I'll post on here as I go, and measure it by week: Eg. Week 1: What did I plan to eat/buy/cook etc. #3. Be a grown up. I've been thinking a lot lately about the future, and I have a good idea about things I'd like to do. I want to become qualified as a gym instructor, and maybe eventually a PT or a strength & conditioning coach. There's a course near me I would LOVE to do, but it will take some delicate work schedule negotiation. I also want to go on a proper holiday next year, snowboarding in Canada. I don't know why exactly, it just really appeals to me . So, time to get specific. Things to do (these will be ticked off when completed): Email my bosses and request a meeting. Done 20.08.2014 Have said meeting, and deal with the outcome. Done 30.08.2014 Make a new account/direct debit to save money for Canada. Side quest: Work through NF Academy. I'm going to pretty this up with gifs and all that malarkey over the next few days but that's the basic plan Can someone please tell me how to put a progress bar in please? I know where the progress bar button is, but have no idea how to make it say what I want (I want it to track my bodyfat). Thank you sexy nerds!
  7. Yay, my first battle log! Since my last challenge wasn't a very great success, I'm going to start this challenge early - but since the forums for it aren't up yet and it's not officially time, I'll start by preparing myself for the next challenge. Not gonna give away my goals just yet, but will use this thread to keep track of what I do. Starting with the first thing I did today - a load of laundry! Huge accomplishment, I know.
  8. Hello, NF. Pretty simple question: Are there any tutorials for picking and moving dumbbells around the gym without risk of hurting one's back? I find that, once everything is in place, I can do a lot of stuff with dumbbells, but I sometimes get scary pangs in my back when taking or putting the weights back on the dumbbell rack. I've found that making sure my abs and glutes are clenched helps a long way towards avoiding said scary pangs, but I was wondering if there's a "proper" way to manipulate dumbbells that I just haven't learned. This had gotten a bit worrying because, as I progress and need heavier dumbbells, I'm getting closer and closer to the edge of the upper rack. This means that soon I'll have to squat if I actually want to pick up a heavy dumbbell, and I'm quite honestly terrified of hurting my back in such a silly way. Thanks!
  9. Has anyone completed a Spartan race or anything similar? I've got a Spartan Sprint coming up in a week and I'm getting pretty pumped! This is immediately after an ankle sprain so I'm also pretty nervous because I haven't been able to train as intensively as I would have liked... Any recommendations on: What to wear? Running vs. crosstrainers? Loose vs. Baggy? Less vs. more? What to expect? Am I legitimately going to get destroyed? Did you love it? Hate it?! What to eat? I've never competed in anything so intense for such a long duration. What should I eat beforehand if my race is at 10am?
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