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  1. I first want to thank all my friends here who stuck with me along my past challenges. I also want to apologize for not being the most consistent person when it comes to replying to all of your challenges and updates. I want to share something with many of you that I normally do not share in public. Last year was a total toilet flush for me. For every good thing that happened, I feel that there were 5 bad things that came into my life. It all started when my full time position was dissolved in February of last year. When that happened, I had big dreams of making it as full time freelance writer and IT consultant but sadly, after 11 months, I am only a little farther ahead than when I started. I researched and studied everything that I could get my hands on but I wasn't able to gain any traction except for a few side jobs doing consulting. Needless to say, that put a great deal of stress on my mind and not only did it make my mind cloudy, it took a toll on my workouts and training. My main goal was to do things that help others. The main reason that I have volunteered teaching Karate for the past 8 years is because it feels good to help others without expecting anything in return. I was hoping that my writing would be another way to do this but I am lucky to get a handful of readers each time I publish a blog post and it's hard to sell services or affiliate programs when no one is listening. The biggest kick in the pants was having the Typhoon go back to full time work after 20 years of being a stay at home mom. This is one thing that I never wanted to have happen but it was either that or end up loosing the house and everything that I worked for over the 30+ years. This was also the first year that we had holidays without some close relatives that passed away and that too was heavy on mind. I understand that things change but I also realized that somethings will never be the same again. There were a few good things that happened, one of them is the Typhoon and I getting our 1st Kyu rank in Iaido and my son finally found a job that he likes. I am also grateful to have my parents and the Typhoon and my son but I feel that I haven't been towing the line like I should be and have done for in the past. When I get in this state of mind, I have tendency to find other areas to keep my mind off the bad stuff and my workouts do a great job of that but they also take me into a state of over-training that ends up making my body shutdown and lets my mind get flooded with all the crap that it normally keeps in check. The last few weeks of last challenge was proof that I was pushing my body too hard and it made me shut it down for almost three weeks. With that said, 2015 is going to be different. I need to use fitness to it's fullest and dig deeper into yoga and meditation to clear my mind while still getting into the best shape of my life without burning out. 1. Get simple with complexes by doing some form of barbell complex at least 3 times a week. I need to improve my fitness and mobility levels and I am thinking that barbell complexes might be the key. I dabbled with barbell complexes in the past but I never really got into them. For some reason, I started doing them the other day with the 45 pound bar and it felt really good. My son happened to be around when I was doing them and I talked him into doing them with me so I hopefully have my favorite training partner working out with me every time I do them. The complex that I am doing is 6 sets of decreasing reps down to 1 rep with 8 different movements consisting of deadlift, stiff leg deadlift, clean, push press, front squat, bent over row, barbell curl (switching grip after bent row) and push ups. For those who haven't done these before, you start with 6 reps of each movement on the first set, then 5 on the second set and continue dropping the reps until your last set is 1 rep of each movement. It only takes a short time to do them but it really gets the heart and muscles pumped. 2. Karate and Iaido is still a priority. My Karate has improved a great deal over the last few challenges, especially my kicks (thanks to CheeChoe!), but I still need more improvement. This time around, I am going to set the bar higher by doing CheeChoe's kicking routine 4 times a week. I also want to continue doing the Tabata static stance training 4 times a week. My at home Karate class has gone a long way at helping me when I am in my formal, weekly Karate class and I still want to continue doing it at least once a week. 3. Rest the body and the mind. Even though I am still going to be doing a good amount of training, I wanted to come up with a way to keep moving while resting. My thought is to do some Yoga at least three days a week. I never really got anywhere with Yoga in the past, because it was really painful, so I found a book called Remedial Yoga that is supposed to give the benefits of Yoga without doing the advanced moves that I cannot do yet. Life goal: Free my mind. I tried to do the mediation during the last challenge but I really didn't do it enough because the mental chatter kept getting in the way. This time, I want to meditate at least 5 minutes a day 5 times a week with hopes that it will clear my mind and allow me to focus on improving, instead of focusing on what will happen if I don't improve. As always, everything is subject to change as the weeks go along.
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