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  1. As dust gets swept away by footsteps of the newly arrived, a few pick pen and ink to dribble on recent developments. Many have perished on this path, many might never attempt it. “A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war: wide-awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance. Going to knowledge or going to war in any other manner is a mistake, and whoever makes it might never live to regret it†-- Carlos Castañeda, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge You have accessed Aeri's battle log, and are welcome to give input or press for oath keeping. Much love, - Aeri
  2. Last challenge–while the Empress and I were strategizing our path to world domination over tea and crumpets– we decided that I needed to focus on some very specific things to be my truest self in 2019. Definition: (1) (adjective) ruthless in competition; ( 2) (adjective) violently agitated and turbulent; (3) (adjective) marked by extreme and violent energy; (4) (adjective) marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions; inclined to react violently; fervid; "FIERCE" is the acronym designed to support this quest, which I am intensely committed to achieving, in ruthless competition with myself, through the following means: FOCUS - Attend to one thing at a time, the most important thing. IMPACT - Choose the most important thing on the basis of its impact, and where its effects will accumulate and compound over time. ENERGY - Trust the Universe and my intuition. Follow the path of positive energy. Invite feedback. RESILIENCE - Proactively seek to become stronger and more resilient by regularly going outside my comfort zone. Balance stretching my limits with adequate rest, recovery and social support. CREATIVITY - Fuel the fire. Nurture my creative spirit. Make cool stuff that energizes me and helps others. EXECUTION - The time for planning and strategizing is done. Execute the plan! 12/31/2018 - My accountability partner and I are meeting later today, New Year's Eve, to wrap up our respective end of year retreats and have a focused work session on our plans for the coming year. I'll report back here with the results and my challenge goals, on New Year's day. The results of the New Year's Eve Accountability Buddy session: We didn't get as far on concrete goal setting as we had planned. We realized in our initial checkin that we were both still a bit scattered and conflicted on some of our goals. We shifted gears after discussing possible solutions, and ended up doing a "Draw Your Future" exercise. and worked with our respective Tarot cards for the day. Mine, of course, was the Empress. I used this particular version, chosen intuitively from a page image search results: Once we had more clarity on our "whys", we adjourned to do some individual work on goal setting and prioritizing during the week, with the agreement to have a followup accountability session next Saturday after our hike. We had planned a hike as part of our session, but it was cold (46 degrees Fahrenheit! ) and rainy yesterday in Phoenix and we were wimps. (Had not prepared adequately.) We made a pact that there would be no more bailing for weather in the future–beyond adapting time or location based on actual hazards like lightning or flash flooding–as we are going to be FIERCE in our training. To be continued. I am getting ready to go back to work tomorrow, so I'm interspersing writing this update with household chores.
  3. Shadowlion haS TEA and CruMpetS with the Empress Yes, it is another Shadowlion ACRONYM Challenge… Tarot challenge... and a Fire Fit challenge... with Truck Porn, Tai Chi, Tuxedo Cats, a little alliteration, and all lot of other stuff I threw into my tags As per usual, I am a little bit late getting my challenge together. It was a bit of a hectic zero week that included much craziness at work, stitches to my left index finger, and a cold. Typing is still a bit slow, so in lieu of a lot of words, so I will leave you with several pictures that I will weave together into a challenge over the next few days. https://www.wired.com/story/sanfrancisco-smaller-firetrucks/
  4. After too many challenges away, I'm back. It's been a long, strange trip which has, hopefully, made me a wiser shadow lion... I am building my challenge out of several other small challenges, sort of like challenge "lego bricks." Tiny Habits First, I am using the the five day "Tiny Habits' challenge starting tomorrow to kick things off. I expect to roll these over and build on them as I progress through the four weeks of this challenge. They are tiny, and that's the point. If you aren't already familiar with the concept, you can read more about the theory and method of tiny habits here. I will be following these 3 rules the first week of this challenge. After I turn off my morning alarm, I will do one visualization After I brush my teeth in the evening, I will floss one tooth After I lay down in bed, I will recall one happy memory Vegetarian Challenge Second, I have a goal of eating a vegetarian diet at least 90% of the time by Jan. 1, 2019. I've come to the conclusion that my previous efforts failed because of not really understanding how to keep my macros in healthy balance and get enough of the other nutrients I needed so that I did not crave meat. I'm giving this effort another shot, using this 30 day challenge as a more gradual 60ish day plan. That will overlap nicely with this challenge and next. Just What the Doctor Ordered Third. Recently diagnosed with sleep apnea, I need to use a pressurized airway device at night while I sleep. This condition carries a "compliance" requirement with my health insurance. I am still in the "adaptation" window and doing well, but my competitive streak wants to do REALLY WELL. That, and the doctor put the fear into me with what untreated or poorly treated OSA can lead to. Luckily, they have a "coaching" app that assigns points and let's me see ALL THE DATA! My nerdish side is very motivated by that. This photo of Lion and Safari Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor Photo of a sleeping (and snoring) lioness. Sleeping good; snoring, not. Preparing for the Adventure of a Lifetime Finally, I am easing into a more active exercise routine using some of the ideas from "Tiny Habits' grafted onto some things I was already doing to decrease the amount of sitting I do at work–stretches at my desk, breaks of stair laps or walking or a few bodyweight exercises. I will track these on my spreadsheet and summarize weekly here. This is part of a larger, secret plan I am hatching with a good friend of mine (with whom I have another 30 day health and happiness challenge going). I will gradually reveal details as they coalesce... Hmmm, not such a tiny challenge after all, but neither is it one of the overwhelming Shadowlion challenges of old. Finding my balance with four smallish mini challenges rolled into one larger one. I am still finalizing my point system for the above and will update that in my next post here. Woot! New Nerd Fitness challenge, and my first one as a 60-year-old!!!
  5. I'm improving... Only about a week and a half late this challenge. I had an elaborate, old style Shadowlion challenge nearly ready to post at the end of the zero week, then realized that it just didn't fit the current reality. The work crazy hit and, well, here we are. This challenge is focused on continuing what was working from the last one, and adding just a little bit more. I will also do some theming, as I have time. That should help fill in some of the gaps in my challenge history over the past few months, as a way to gain some perspective for myself and in the hope that there might be something of value in it for others. Some of you might remember the series of challenges I did last year that were Tarot themed. I am picking that back up where I left off, at the High Priestess. Why will become clear later. The High Priestess is an archetypal image of a wise woman and spiritual guide. Whether she is seen as the traditional figure of a woman in blue, seated between two pillars and holding a scroll: Or in her wilder shamanic form Or in a multitude of other artists' concepts She offers the seeker a glimpse through the veil that hangs between this life and the mysteries, and acts as a conductor of souls into and out of the depths of the unconscious. Not a bad energy to have on your side when you're working your way out of a depression, shuffling your way out of the Underworld! With the aim of applying a little wisdom in my life, here are my goals for this challenge: Food shakeup - Try one new recipe per week. Bonus if it uses a new or unusual fruit or vegetable, or uses an old favorite in a new or unexpected way. Move that body - Take active breaks at work, stretch, move around hourly. Take a daily walk, preferably for at least 15 minutes. Leave the cave - Spend at least 15 minutes daily outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. Get out of the dark cave that is my workplace. Get stronger - 3 or more bodyweight strength sessions per week, consisting of at least wall or counter pushups, ring rows, and triceps extensions; 2 or more sets each basic exercise, 8 - 10 reps. Explore how to modify BW squats without irritating right knee. Try some kettlebell exercises? Dream, explore, observe - Take time to read, journal, do art or music. Minimum of 10 minutes daily.
  6. Keeping it very simple. From March 3 - 11, I will lay the groundwork for the next challenge by: Daily - Track all food intake in a food diary to use in setting next challenge's food goal Daily - Take a walk, preferably for at least 15 minutes. May be combined with #3, if necessary, to defuse excuses, rationalizations, or other extraneous, self-defeating B.S. Daily - Spend at least 15 minutes daily outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. (Or whatever weather... It's Phoenix, Arizona, after all.) May be combined with #2, same reasoning as above. Complete three or more bodyweight strength sessions consisting of at least wall or counter pushups, BW squats, ring rows, and triceps extensions; 1-2 sets each basic exercise, 8 or more reps. Document totals for use in establishing a strength training baseline for next challenge Daily - Report back here. "If it isn't documented, it didn't happen." ~ Old EMT saying
  7. Continuing... 10/28/2017 Addition Overview Based on my goals, evolving Epic Quest, and tight time constraints, I am building a multi-challenge system, one that will most likely span the better part of a year, while still maintaining a basic challenge during this construction phase. I just don’t have time to sit down and master plan like I used to. That’s actually been the reality for more than a year, but I kept trying to do things the old way and failing. Silly Shadowlion… New situation; new constraints. New constraints; new methods. “Adapt and overcome,” as we used to say in fire academy. Changed Methods I’m building and modifying my challenge airplane while in the air! While I know that patience, small steps, and building keystone habits are critical to long-term success, temperamentally I like to plan big and then hit it hard. That approach has caused me injury in the past and I don’t have the time right now for the old-style extravaganzas. So, I am experimenting with new ways to apply challenge objectives and principles. These center on: Altering my challenge timeframes to better fit my particular situation Modeling people who have successfully achieved the results I want (my “dinner party” guests) Manipulating my schedule and environment to make old, bad habits harder and new, good ones easier More details on how I am doing that in the next installment...
  8. This write up is going to be done in installments, but at least I'm getting posted closer to the real start of the challenge this time! Note: The following will span multiple challenges. 09/23/2017 First Installment A chef, a fighter pilot and a surgeon walk into ShadowLion’s dinner party, where she serves a mashup of “Meeting of Minds”, a personal mastermind group, and interactive TED Talk. “What? ShadowLion, whatever have you been drinking?” you might ask. Well… Way back when, when I was a spring chicken, there was a show on PBS called “Meeting of Minds.” Hosted by Steve Allen, each episode placed actors portraying historical persons - thinkers and doers who had major impact on the world - in a relaxed round table setting where they would discuss their lives and times. Nerd girl that I am, I loved it. As part of updating my Epic Quest, I realized that I have not been giving enough time to non-technical subjects and that I rarely have time to read or just sit and think any more. I also realized I have a lack of mentors and have not been utilizing my imagination as much as I might. This could lead to a shadow lion becoming less creative and inspired, and possibly burning out. So, I decided to use my nerdimagination to remedy the problem, with the idea that I would populate my dinner party (parties?) with a mix of historical and contemporary figures that had/have skills, knowledge, experiences, and/or qualities that would help me in my quests, and use these exercises in imagination to spur me to read their works and apply what I learn from their biographies to my own life. I’m still working out how to pull it all together into some learning projects, but figure that may be something that works itself out by doing. At this stage, I plan to do some brief writeups, not even “scripts” so much as notes and then do some active imagination exercises followed up with additional notes about the insights and ideas I gain. The chef, fighter pilot and surgeon are three people who relate to goals directly from my Epic Quest. Learn to cook. I’ve realized that part of why I don’t eat healthier is that I really don’t know how to cook. Julia Child to the rescue. Doesn’t hurt that she was a badass that worked for the OSS during World War II and that when asked to “solve the problem of too many OSS underwater explosives being set off by curious sharks,” she cooked up a shark repellent that is still in use today. Second Installment 09/25/2017 Improve my business acumen, creativity, and inventiveness. I made some errors in the last couple of years on my business strategies. In taking a nice, stable job working for a company I like and in a great team, I’ve bought some time to dream up another venture (or not). I’ve given myself at least the next six months to find an idea and think it through. (Have made a commitment to myself to stay at current job at least one year - can't believe I am nearly at 90 days already!) I want to not only reflect on and learn from my previous mistakes during that time, I want to study the masters of strategy, game theory, leadership, and innovation. Chief among those is master strategist Lt. Col. John Boyd, the fighter pilot in my title and dinner guest at my first meeting of Minds. Future “guests” Elon Musk, Sun Tzu, John Nash, Leonardo da Vinci Improve my productivity, workflows and accuracy I read “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande several years ago and always meant to go back and reread it and implement more of the ideas from it. This year, I will. And, read this eminent surgeon’s other works, including “Being Mortal.” Still more to come...
  9. AAAARGGGHH! I missed the cn3wton's Return of NERDHAMMER!!!!!!!! I knew I'd been away too long, but oh that hurts... Soooo, I thought I'd be back in mid-April. Best laid plans of mice and shadowlions... A lot has changed. In mid-May, I left both businesses I was involved in, for several reasons, but foremost among them was the fact that the stress was doing bad things to my health. It was a really hard thing to walk away. However, I couldn't keep going the way I was going. I've spent the last month looking for a "real job" and start at one I am really excited about this coming Monday. I'll be working the full stack of a web-based healthcare product, on everything from what a user interacts with in the browser on the front end, to the database and cloud server on the back end, plus doing associated data visualization and reporting. It's something that I wouldn't have been able to do a year ago, not at that level, anyway. It will be a great opportunity to use and expand my existing skill set and I'm really looking forward to working on the team they have in place! That is the frame around this challenge. I'll be adapting to a regular, M-F, 8-5, commuter schedule and to working in a mid-sized corporation at the same time I am coming back to Nerd Fitness. I plan to ease back in with some modest goals and, well, NerdHammer!!!! Four goals: (I'll be filling in the remaining details later tonight, 7/5) Walking - lots of it. I will know more next week on whether I will have a treadmill desk or not! It's one of the listed options/benefits, but I don't know if that will happen immediately or not and I will need to ramp up my efforts as I see how I respond to it. Goal is to go from at least 10 miles of walking in Week One to 15 miles of walking by Week Four. BW strength training - ease back in... Goal from Week One break in week of two light, easy workouts of one set of 2 - 4 exercises each, to Week Four, three workouts of one plus set of 4 to 6 exercises each. Food - Eat healthy lunches all through the work week. Plan to pack lunches at least 4, preferably five, times per week. Not sure what team culture will be at new job, though. Hoping I can eat in all the time, but may need to adapt that. Will count a carefully chosen, health-conscious meal out as a win. Keep food log to verify. Classes - I have a Python programming course and a nature illustration course that I am taking online. Python deadline is July 21. I have until August 9 on the art class. Going to aim for Aug. 5 to coincide with challenge.
  10. I'm sticking with smaller and simpler, while still keeping my sights on the big goals. The Race to Reveal the Red Scorpion 1. Strength - Bodyweight or other strength training (With amounts and types TBD during Zero Week, then posted here) A - 3x/week B - 2x/week C - 1x/week F - 0x/week 2. Supple Leopard - Work with fitness evaluations and fitness routines from the book "Supple Leopard" for at least 20 minutes per session A - 5x/week B - 4x/week C - 3x/week D - 2x/week F - < 2x/week 3. Sleep - I usually wake naturally at between 7 - 7.5 hours of sleep. I also often short myself on sleep and my attention and energy suffer if I get less than 6 hours. I am aiming to train myself to regularly get around 7 hours per night. A - 7+ hrs/night B - 6.5+ hrs/night C - 6+ hrs/night D - 5.5+ hrs/night F - > 6 hrs/night 4. Study/Cyber/Data Visualization - These are for specific learning projects and portfolio pieces that are currently in progress A - All 3 Coursera courses currently enrolled in completed, on time on subsequent courses, AND 4 portfolio pieces finished B - All 3 Coursera courses currently enrolled in completed, on time on subsequent courses, AND 3 portfolio pieces finished C - All 3 Coursera courses currently enrolled in completed, on time on subsequent courses, AND 2 portfolio pieces finished D - All 3 Coursera courses currently enrolled in completed, on time on subsequent courses, AND 1 portfolio pieces finished F - < All 3 Coursera courses currently enrolled in completed, on time on subsequent courses, AND 1 portfolio pieces finished Simple. Focused. Steady as she goes...
  11. Welcome to my brand new, daily(ish) battle log! I’m your host, SkiBlue. I’m glad that you’re here; thank you for your support and interest in my quest to level up my life. This is where I’ll be sharing my progress on what I like to call my life improvements; things that I’d like to work toward, build habits around, and will level up my life. This won’t really be taking away from me participating in six week challenges; on the contrary, the challenges will allow me the chance to hone in on specific priorities and trouble areas, while this log will give me a central place to update my progress for accountability and pursue other things outside of the challenges. I’m greatly excited for this; I’ve always struggled with enjoying the process, and now that I do, that will be the focus of this log, since sharing it with the Rebellion in the first place allowed me to make that final leap. Here is the most recent, comprehensive list of life improvements that I’m either currently working toward or in the process of planning to: reach and maintain a healthy body composition improve my relationship with food develop a regular sleep routine to build a regular sleep cycle become more active; get stronger and more flexible improve posture and reverse sitting damage develop money management habits develop habitual home management (improve adulting skills) develop time management skills at work and home include more socialization and appreciation include more hobby-work and skill-building As I work down this list, I'll update the log with the specific steps I'll be taking to make these changes possible. I’m hoping that with the Rebellion’s help, I’ll make those habits transition from daily checks to ways of life. If you’re still curious, head over to my list of concrete goals for leveling up my life, the things that this log is working toward, slowly but surely.
  12. Miw-Sher looked up from her diary and scratched her head. Geez, this was hard. She had been training solo for about a month now, trying to build enough discipline to finally join the Academy. Past experiences in training with the Rebels had ended up with her getting distracted, or trying too much too soon in eagerness to be able to keep up with the group. So, after leaving her home in Riverock due to being unable to practice her trade and once her broken foot had healed, she had decided to train alone, one step at a time, until she was ready. Then the winter had taken its toll, she had fallen ill, and only managed to pull through thanks to a couple of Members of the Rebellion, who found her and helped her work her way back to health. Once again, going alone had proved to be a horrible idea. So when it came down to taking a decision on whether to hang around or go off solo again, Miw decided to stay put. There was one condition, however, that applied to all members who wanted to stay long-term in the Rebellion: Miw-Sher had to keep a battle log and report in every day. She had to keep track of her progress, her adventures and her achievements in her trade. And damn, was this hard. * * * I am starting a battle log to keep myself accountable on a day to day basis. The challenges as great for setting short-term, SMART goals, but they do not help me with my biggest issue: daily accountability and constancy. Thing is, while in life I am very successful at sprints, I fail at playing it like a marathon. This is also why I chose The Neverending Story as a title* - aside from it possibly being the book I hold dearest from my childhood - because it is a reminder that a story does not end just because a chapter is closed, and that one tale will spawn others that must be pursued as well. It is also a great metaphor in keeping what really matters in sight, and not getting lost or distracted by things that may make you happy now, but destroy you on the long term. Also, it provides me a great template for the Role Play/Real Life parallel. Hoping I got the colours right (I haven't opened to book in years): green is the colour Miw-Sher's story will be told in, red is my own daily update. I am hoping for this to not become a way of keeping accountability, but also a way to reflect on my day in a more distant, impartial way. How was Miw-Sher's day, in which ways did she act well, and in which ways should she have acted differently? There is obviously more to write in here, more details to put, an introduction to be made. Those will come. Consider this the "Front Page", "Prologue" or "Summary" that will be regularly updated as time passes. You can also find my current workout routine and a summary of my goals here. *hoping nobody picked it yet... * * * Goal: establishing a constant, daily rythm that balances work and fitness to attain mental and physical health. - Current Workout Routine (TBA)
  13. I'm going smaller this challenge, but still keeping my sights on the big goals. 4S - Swim, Sleep, Study, Cyber Security (& Data Visualization) 1. Swim - Get the body in the pool and do as much as I safely can as my back continues to heal A - 3x/week B - 2x/week C - 1x/week F - 0x/week 2. Sleep - Keep with the early to bed, early to rise schedule. Maintain electronics curfew and use red light/screen dimming app. A - 7+ hrs/night B - 6+ hrs/night C - 5+ hrs/night F - > 5 hrs/night 3. Study - Weeks 1 and 2: Exam Prep and Conference, Coursera, and Khan Academy classes A - 6+ hrs/day (average for the week) B - 5+ hrs/day (average for the week) C - 4+ hrs/day (average for the week) D - < 3hrs/day (average for the week) F - < 2hrs/day (average for the week) Weeks 3 and 4: Coursera, Khan Academy, Cybrary, & Udemy classes A - 4+hrs/day (average for the week) B - 3+hrs/day (average for the week) C - 2+hrs/day (average for the week) D - < 1hrs/day (average for the week) F - 0hrs/day (average for the week) 4. Cyber Security and Data Visualization "portfolio" pieces A - 4 pieces/projects B - 3 pieces/projects C - 2 pieces/projects D - 1 piece/project F - 0 projects Simple. Focused. Steady as she goes...
  14. Ready to Hack... On the surface, this won't look that much different than my last challenge. (Don't let appearances fool you.) This challenge, I will still be stretching... Swimming... Getting enough Zzzzzz... Eating my vegetables... Coding... Meditating... Keeping my journal... and taroting. However, some major family dysfunction that went down last challenge has caused me to look far more deeply into my current life situation. This challenge will be about hacking my depression through the above methods and setting up a better system to get me through the rough times. There are some life events that are also be factored into this challenge. We have a new addition to the family - an injured stray tuxedo cat who is a delight and quite the character - but is causing some disruptions to life as we have known it. (Pictures soon!) And, I am studying for an exam to certify in a particular data visualization software the first part of November. It is going to be a real stretch to get ready in time, but I have a plan... Next couple of challenges - Some of the changes I have chosen to make will take a couple of challenges to put into place. Between now and the end of the year, I will: Revamp my Epic Quest Move my challenges back to my more gamified, storified, and creative model of yore Move to a more visual model of challenge tracking. My budding skills as a data analyst/engineer have bumped into to my previous nerdy, rangery desire to create the perfect spreadsheet. The result is a goal to "Viz All the Things!" That should keep me busy. I will be continuing to use an adaptive change model over the course of this challenge. It was a bit bumpy last time, but I think I have worked out a better tracking model and have learned where things went off the rails. More musings on that later...
  15. I'm back... ...after a bout of depression caught me off guard and derailed all but my most basic activities. I've been clawing my way back, using the old "SISU" routines from a year ago. That got me back on track, though it has taken almost three months to get things together enough that I feel like I can be active here again. This challenge, I will be stretching... Swimming... Getting enough Zzzzzz... Eating my vegetables... Coding... Meditating... Keeping my journal... and taroting. I will be adjusting my goals on a weekly basis in the four posts immediately below this one. I am wary of setting out too much for myself at this point; I also know that all of these things contribute to recovery and staying physically and mentally healthy. Right now, I need to keep flexibility and accountability, and to set myself up for a string of successes with as few setbacks as possible. Thus, a string of very short challenges set in the context of one larger one.
  16. Despite my year goal of planting my "stake in the ground," I became unmoored. Even though there are only a couple days left in the challenge, I needed to act and not wait. Battling the black dog with everything I've got. Stake planted in the ground. SISU.
  17. It's May, and unfortunately, I'm still up on that damn plateau. 164 pounds. Yes, my jeans are getting loose. (Go me!!!) Yes, I'm finding that I can trot up the stairs (with a pack on) instead of crawl up them (really, I never crawled .... just wanted to). Yes, I am attacking days with more energy and resolve than I have in oh, about 10 years. (And I warn people in my office that I AM A SHARK. They think I'm cute and energetic.....what do they know???) But sooner or later, that scale IS going to reflect the new reality. Or else!!! So, I need to exert discipline - train harder and sacrifice things that are holding me back. (Yes, I'm looking at you, wine and pizza. Don't think I didn't notice that you account for the majority of my calories each week.) I really need a big, solid goal to work toward that puts me back into the "training for" mindset: Warrior Dash 2017!!!! Soon enough to be serious, but far enough away to be feasible. I'm taking Margaret Schlachter (from Dirt in Your Skirt) as my Jedi Master. Her book is an easy introduction that is getting me started. There's probably better, more in-depth books out there, but I don't want to become an underpants gnome. I've got enough to get started and a year to work on upper body strength and agility. And mental toughness. Getting off the plateau (Get down to 162 lbs or less) It can be difficult to find your way down if you've lost the trail. Trust me, I get lost fairly often on hikes, and I know this to be true from experience. So, what's the plan????? 1) Use your body!!! 28 days of OCR fitness training, based on Schlacter's example workout .... which is mostly bodyweight training. That schedule includes rest days, and I've already planned out how to gradually increase the challenge over the coming year. Plus, it also involves preparing to run 5K, which will keep me in training to do fun runs, like the Color Run and a Zombie Run. 2) Embrace the obstacles in front (or below) you. Do obstacle-specific training. Every non-rest day. I'd randomize them, but I'll have to allow for passing on exercises that require equipment that isn't readily available on that day ... like the bouldering wall at the campus gym. 3) Keep moving!!! It's one of my favorite ways to tackle a dungeon. It's not efficient, but it eventually you will get out. Or die, which is another way of finding the way out on the corpse run. In this case, increase step count to 11K per day. And don't die. 4) Travel light. (That's what I'm trying to do here .... Didn't you see the goal above? Oh yea, I did see that. But do you realize that you're talking to yourself???? Must be the heat and dehydration. You better get off this plateau. Yea, like I'm not trying .....) Keep net calories at 1375 per day BUT distribute over 5 or 6 smaller meals each day. 5) Live off the land!! (Cuz there ain't much cake and ice cream up on that there plateau.) Increase protein. It's at 75 grams average right now, which is low for trying to build muscle. Aiming for 82 grams. I think protein powder is going to be my new friend. And low sugar jerky. And salad greens and carrot sticks. Cut out the wine, eat less pizza even on Friday, and fill up on fruits and veggies.
  18. After planning comes... Action! Trigger warning: I post pictures of food and tempting stuff. @Naxius So yeah, I am going to start swimming this month and hopefully keep at it all summer. Since my knee is not showing any sign of getting better, I had to find and alternative to running and high impact sport, so obviously, like every recovering athlete in the making, I went for swimming. In addition, I have decided to start trying something new. NerdFitness might be a fitness-based website, but I don't think I am the only one that has found the community amazingly supporting in all areas for life. It is truly amazing to get to see the "behind-the-scenes" of people's progress, when normally you only get to hear the success stories. It really makes you realise that in the end, everyone is just doing their best to try and balance busy lives while staying healthy. Anyhow, I don't just want to level-up my fitness level, but level up all areas of my life - Emotional, Physical, Spiritual and Mental. Now as all Nerds know, it is not a good idea to try and do too many things at once, so every month I will focus mostly on one aspect, with one week . The last challenge was mostly a mental one - I focused mostly on self-discipline, study and overall setting the ground for what is coming now, which is the physical practice. Aside from the holistic approach, there is also a bit of non-formal learning theory applied here that I might get into a further post. So, what does this challenge concretely look like? Well - here it goes: Health - Physical 1) Get your cardio Go swimming 2x a week The number is dictated by my budget, unfortunately, as I have quite a few things to pay for this month. I am going back home for the holidays though so I will be able to go more often then. 2) Nourish your body I have started to suspect that one of the reasons my knee is not healing is that the time of injury (whatever it may be) also coincides with the time I decided to try and go on a diet because I had started spotting my abs. This period was, however, also combined with what I suspect is a real underestimation of my current physical activity, which lead to a cycle of binges as well as one week in between where I was constantly eating - but eating junk. Which in turn was followed by a week where I barely ate anything because I felt so sick... sooo... yeah... Because of this, I figured I should try eating instead. Eat between 1600 and 1800 calories Get at least 103g of protein 5x a week 3) Fight mindless snacking This has been a problem lately... it has always been, really, in my life. I had managed to curb it at the beginning of the year thanks to, um, having barely enough budget to eat, but it has come back with a vengeance lately. So, yeah, that needs to stop. No mindless snacking: if I want to snack, I need to take prepare the snack, like our moms and grandmothers did for us when we were children. So, let's say I feel like a slice of bread with nutella on it. This is what I would have to do: take out the bio-nutella equivalent and the orange juice and put it on the table together with cutlery, plates and glasses. Take out the bread, toast the bread, put it on a plate. Sit down, serve myself, then put everything back. I am pretty sure that should be too much effort 9/10. Once a week, fast till the 9th hour This is a fasting method I have found where you don't eat anything until 9 hours after you wake up, then break the fast with a light meal, and have a hearty meal later on for dinner. This is to teach myself to be patient with food - part of the snacking issue comes from just not being able to wait until the next meal. This should train it. This is also why I have a calorie range - I should be eating around 1650 calories a day form what I gathered, so going over on certain days will ensure I make up for the deficit I will certainly have on fasting days. So those are my health goals for the physical aspect of my life. Social - Emotional Blogging practice I really want a blog one day. Check in daily into NF Post a daily animation on my Tumblr (here, for those interested, though it's mostly a collection of mind blurbs and some of those are in French) Art - Spiritual Draw I haven't drawn anything in weeks and it's starting to get closer to months Set aside at least 1h per week to draw. Post progress picture. Learn - Mental Finish the edX Nutrition Course Nutrition and Health Part 1: Macronutrients and Overnutrition It's excellent, approaches the whole question of nutrition from a biological and medical standpoint while being very honest about the limitations of research. It anybody has the time to audit it or wish to get a certificate, they will re-run it this month. I have been on and off it for months, no thanks to the "self-paced" format. I really, really want to wrap it up over the next couple weeks and move on to Part 2. Work on the assignments of the course at least 4 hrs every week. That is it. I think you can see how this works - there is a "main area" for development, and then small goals for all the rest. They rotate. Side Quest: Monkey Level 2. I have not forgotten, no. ^^
  19. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Back again with my basic challenge structure and its Mando theme. Because I WANT TO BE A MANDO MERC! As previously mentioned, I will be adding a co-op element to this challenge. I’ve listed the ways in which I can earn points this challenge (the same way I was grading before in the same structure), but with the goal points already calculated, the co-op elements will help earn points toward the goal (like in @Wild Wolf's previous challenge). The co-op players’ goals will stem from whatever mercenary job is running that week. Four weeks, four jobs. See you around the galaxy! Main Goal: To decrease body fat percentage by 5% through good habits and to build up a Ranger attitude of self-love and confidence. Haili cetare (Eat Well): GOAL 100 POINTS Clean Meal Eat breakfast in the AM Stick to packed lunches during the week When eating office candy, break off ¼ to toss, eat rest; increase to ½ at 2 week mark Nuhoyir (Sleep Well) : GOAL 60 POINTS Bedtime window of 10pm to 10:15pm Do NOT return to bed after alarm is shut off Verd ori'shya beskar'gam (Move Daily): GOAL 80 POINTS Pomodoros movement during extended sitting periods Capoeira class Acrobatics class Stretching/Yoga Bodyweight REPs Weight lifting Shereshoy (Love Daily): GOAL 60 POINTS Mando kit work Self-love/Confidence Meditation Journal/Tracking Food/Sleep/Mood Spread the Love Open Gym/Instrument Practice There's still time to sign up! Name: Species: Appearance: Primary Skills: Weapons & Equipment: Going Rate: Short Bio:
  20. It's been sort of a whirlwind lately... And I've felt the need to tame the clutter and focus more narrowly. So, I will be concentrating on the Magician's Path this challenge, Instead of running in circles trying to do ALL THE THINGS! (ALL THE PATHS!) The Four Paths The Four Paths - as used in the epic fantasy novel that I have been writing, lo, these many years - is a system of training used by the members of a mysterious order. The paths are: Warrior Scholar Magician Healer Hmmm, sounds kind of like an RPG... I am continuing to use cards from the Tarot for focus and as visual aids and inspiration for my challenges. (Toga Party!) As established last challenge, I am working with the transforming the Fool's energy into that of the Magician. That overlaps nicely with the system of the Four Paths and thus, my challenge title. I like using the Tarot for my challenge themes so far. It helps me focus and to approach things in a more fun and intuitive way. That works well for me, especially since I simply haven't had the time to do the more imaginative gamified things I've wanted to do. I have come up with a multi-challenge sequence that should address all of the major areas I want to improve over the course of the year. It also provides a good framework for gamification and a storyline if I can make the time for that. We shall see. I am also continuing my years theme of "planting my stake in the ground" - commitment and persistence being qualities that I see as needed in my life right now. My Main Goal is to put more MAGIC and FUN into my life 1. MAINTAIN average sleep amount of 7 hours per night. IMPROVE the quality of my sleep through a wiser bedtime routine 2. AUTOMATE more of my systems: a revised set of daily routines, a system of modular "kits" for my more mobile lifestyle to help me organize the stuff I need to cart around for work, lessons, working out, and traveling. 3. GROW my creativity, making more time for fun in my life, things like juggling, drawing, Digital Storytellers group, fiddle. 45 minutes minimum per day. 4. INCREASE my physical fitness - Continue walking, stretching, working on posture. Move more at work - utilize standing desk, do quick bursts of exercise in small breaks to counteract the effects of so much sitting. Add in more bodyweight strength training and increase walking pace. 5. CONTINUE my cyber security training - 2+ half-day visits to the AZCWR (Arizona Cyber Warfare Range) for training; At least six hours of security study and training exercises the other two weeks. The above are a little vague on specific amounts. I plan is to make a spreadsheet with my current baselines and then just aim for hitting the goal numbers for #1 & #3; establish at the beginning of each week what kit I am going to make for #2, go for ~3% increases in mileage, reps, pace as appropriate for #4. #5 is already fairly specific. A few other goals that I am tracking: I will lose at least three pounds this challenge. I will continue my cleaning habits to keep clutter and home chaos at bay. And of course, cats...
  21. ShadowLion keeps her stake planted in the ground... Shadow Lion Walks the Circle (Whaddya expect when you've tied your foot to a rope attached to a stake in the ground?) Transforming from the Fool... To the Magician... (This card I chose, rather than drew, to use as a meditation device in the coming weeks.) Last challenge - when I drew The Fool for my theme - was definitely an adventure, full of fresh starts, false starts, exploration, new ideas, taking chances and chasing dreams. A leap of faith. Now, it's time to focus that energy and balance it. To utilize will and discipline to become the Magician, specifically a Technomancer. This continues my year theme of "planting my stake in the ground" - focus, commitment, determination - in a general way. It is also directly linked to what I perceive as a great need to balance out the various "elemental energies" in my life, the very things that the Magician has mastered. I have have been out of balance with too much work and stress lately and need to correct that. From there, I am using the element of chance and drawing cards to guide my "walk around the circle" and determine my challenge goals. I thought it was pretty cool how there are circles in every card I drew, especially Wheel of Fortune, given the challenge title I chose a week ago! I used my Druidcraft Tarot deck to draw from, but used the internet for digital versions. Time is at a premium, these days. VII The Chariot Queen of Cups Oddly enough, I drew all female cards, though the deck is evenly balanced. And I am struggling as to how to fit a couple of these with my challenge goals. Challenge Focus & Schedule This is a transitional challenge, where the Fool begins to transform into the Magician. I want to keep and continue to enhance the positive qualities of the Fool - the creativity, joy, fresh outlook, and positivity - but mitigate some of the more chaotic ones with the discipline and focus of the Magician. I learned a lot from last challenge, where the Fool showed me that I have been over-emphasizing work at the expense of fun and just about everything else in life. I found out just how much I need more balance. It has taken me the first week of the challenge to get my act together enough to get my goals lined out, even with having the zero week this time. I expect to use the remaining 3 weeks, plus the next zero week, as transition time and pick up with a full-fledged Magician challenge in May. My focus will be in balancing out the various activities in my life as I clear some long-standing projects and create a (somewhat) less hectic schedule for myself. I have been over-working, under-playing, and neglecting relationships and personal growth in favor of getting my business off the ground. That only works for a short time and I have pushed it pretty far. This is the month where I get balance back, as symbolized by the circle motif in my challenge title, avatar, and mirrored in the cards. I am applying the cards to the weeks of the challenge: Week 1 is Two of Pentacles - I have been shifting my focus to the things I can control and where I can make a difference, rather than dwelling on those things that stress me out. Making plans as to how to better address the stressors and take concrete action over the next few weeks to make those more manageable. And, I have actually taken up juggling... It's a good break at work, works my hands and eyes and gets me away from the computer with something completely different. Staying foolish. Week 2 is The Chariot - Here is where I get down to earnest on the plans made in Week 1. Schedule changes. Drawing clearer boundaries on time and energy use. Adding new exercises. Dynamic balance. Week 3 is The Wheel of Fortune - Even more balancing and adjustment. More about internal balance, reflection on cycles of life, getting my inner house in order. Week 4 is the Queen of Cups - This is another card of internal adjustment, and of tapping into emotions and the unconscious. I expect that it will start to set the tone of the next challenge. A card with strong associations with nurturing home life, relationships and creativity. Goals 1. Ward Off the EVIL EYE My posture and my eyes are suffering from constantly being under the gaze of the EVIL EYE (being in front of a computer for so many hours of the day). Stretching, using my adjustable/standing desk, breaks, eye yoga are my defenses. The sedentary nature of my work is another concern. Daily stretch/squat/stand sessions and eye yoga. No more than 45 minutes without getting up and walking around or switching to at least 15 minutes of standing work. Eyes - 20 sec breaks every 20 minutes, a longer eye yoga session (5 mins) for every four hours on the computer. Specific checks of my posture, and especially head and neck positions on the same schedule as eyes and do a few quick stretches as needed at the same time. Hand/wrist stretches included, too. Daily (or more frequent) walks of at least 1K, to break up the sitting. 2. Create Sacred Space My minimalism progress from the fall has not held up to the chaos of the last few months. The Fool does not seem to do well with the structure required with home maintenance! Clear the clutter. The 15 minutes a day clutter patrol returns. I also have several short projects of: Rearranging furniture Office spring cleaning Work on a better setup for my drawing area, so I can sit down and do short sessions easily, without taking a bunch of time to set up each time 3. Make Time for Foolishness Last challenge's fun/relaxation/creativity goal helped me see how little time I was myself for play and recreation. It was a struggle most days to carve out 30 minutes for that. I am continuing that goal, but with upgrades this time. More art and writing, less reading and internet in that time. And more time overall. 45 minutes. 4. Sleep I need more sleep and a better sleep schedule. (And a lot of other things that aren't going to make it into this challenge.) I will start with sleep. 6 hours bare minimum, 7 hours goal. Log it, and see how I can make this work better. Once I have that in better shape, I plan to re-introduce lucid dreaming experiments again. 5. Whole Brain Balance I am experimenting with physical activities that will help me increase physical and mental balance in my life. Juggling on breaks at work, non-dominant hand mirror writing, using my non-dominant hand for everyday tasks, bi-lateral strength and agility training to increase muscle symmetry and help with Goal 1. I am using the parts of "Whole Brain Power" by Michael Lavery that make sense to me and ignoring what doesn't. I have a lot of other goals that I wanted to add, but I am restricting myself to the above to establish a stronger base to my balancing. I am leaving room for adjustments and possible additions upon each week's finish, as needed. Let the intuition and the cats (and the circles!) begin...
  22. The base goal for the year remains to lose weight!!! Goal weight is still 146 pounds by the end of 2016. During March, I pretty much maintained on my plateau. I don't like it up there, and I want to come down and play with all the rest of the nerds. Process goals: 1) Reduce Net Calorie Intake by 10% The good news is that I tracked my calorie intake pretty well in March. It hurt sometimes to record a monster caramel roll at 800 calories (!) or a big bowl of Kemps premium chocolate and peanut butter ice cream. But I've established my actual maintenance calorie intake rather than a calculated estimate: 1538 net calories average per day. So .... new target calorie goal (net) for the April challenge is ...... 1384 calories. That's going to take some work and discipline!!! So ..... 2) Increase Movement by 10% My FitBit is my friend. I probably need to develop more friendships and get out a lot more, but this device is a constant data gathering wonder that tells me that I'm not very consistent in my daily activity. In March, my average step count has fallen to 9K. In April, I'm increasing my goal to a daily 10K. I should be able to fit in walking around campus and stair climbing, but I will also work at programmed fitness activities (running and weight lifting), which the FitBit tracks pretty well. 3) Weekend Food Preparation Saturday or Sunday needs to be cook-ahead day so that I have healthy lunches in easy reach at the office. This builds on the February Bento Baby challenge and incorporates Staci's article on meal prep. This makes it easier to avoid fries and chips and goopy mayonnaise-laden sandwiches .... plus, it also usually lets me get out for that noon walk ....... 4) Training Never Stops (Flexible Discipline) No, flexible discipline isn't some new sadistic type of yoga. It means that I will commit to working out every day, but that I will have a variety of workouts from which to choose. I'll set them up and then select from options based on how I feel, the weather, and Mr. Wizard's desire (or lack thereof) to participate. AND ..... I will be soliciting votes from the audience as I continue to write my RP story. A little randomness keeps it interesting. Finally ..... 5) Advance Planning for Missions!!! Sunday is a day to clean up and get ready for the coming week. I may not be able to do all 21 of the Easy Things to Do On Sunday That Will Make Monday Suck Less, but I will do as many as I can. Grading .... Well, I track calories on LoseIt and steps on FitBit, but I'll put a summary up in Google docs, unless we get progress bars working again. And, I'm going to averages really, rather than try to be perfect every day. If I can hold calories and steps to a good average each week, I'll count that as a major win!!!
  23. *Mandokarla: having the *right stuff*; showing guts and spirit; the state of being the epitome of Mando virtue - a blend of aggression, tenacity, loyalty and a lust for life If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results. This made such a huge difference in every aspect of leveling up my life last challenge, so it's here to stay. For good. I'm keeping the general format and grading scale the same for this challenge (grading will start next week). General goals will stay the same, but I'm upping the ante for a few of them. Hopefully, they're small enough changes that it won't push me back. Gotta keep that Rangerbrain in check. Oh, and in light of the recent development on my quest to become a member of the Mandalorian Mercs, I'm sure you can guess this challenge's theme. Main Goal: Reach 35% body fat through love and awesome. Haili cetare (lit: Fill your boots/Bon appetit): Eat well. Bring prepared lunches to work every day. Continue to minimize consumption of heavily processed foods and maximize consumption of whole foods. Nuhoyir (lit: slumber): Sleep well. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep and GET UP when the alarm goes off, not a half hour later. Verd ori'shya beskar'gam (proverb: A warrior is more than his armor): Move daily. Whenever I'm sitting still for longer periods of time, use movement Pomodoros (25:5). Don't forget to take care of problem areas (stretching hips and wrists). Train outside of regular classes. Shereshoy (lit: Lust for life - uniquely a Mandalorian word, meaning the enjoyment of each day and the determination to seek and grab every possible experience, as well as surviving to see the next day): Love daily, myself and others. Continue working through my sewing projects and begin work on my Mando kit pieces. Spend time with the Husband. And don't forget to reach out to friends and family every now and then. Haat, Ijaa, Haa'it (lit: Truth, Honor, Vision; said when sealing a pact)
  24. Slow down. Breathe. Take your time. Use discipline to make that time. While I succeeded the last challenge, I did so flying through it without a minute to reflect upon my process, my goals, my achievements. I was also never able to check in here because of how busy my days were. I can't say I was stressed, but I regret not making time to check in with the people supporting me here and my friends in real life. I also found myself falling into the old pattern again of not being able to sustain routines. Mostly because as I added building stones to my fitness, these became more and more complicated/ Then came the question of - I have a knee routine, but if my current daily challenge also includes a leg routine, do I do both? The solution then, was to sit down, break down my goals into even smaller pieces, until I could determine the single elements that were important to me, and from there, build a new challenge. I also want to make my life goals my priority over fitness, meaning that I won't add anything to my physical practice this month. I will just work on solidifying existing habits. Fitness Goal: Make fitness an integral part of my daily life to ensure better health and well-being. Goal 1: Morning routine: Wake up at 6h30 Meditate 5 Minute Mobility Drills 5 Minute Balancing Practice Intermediate Knee Routine + 1 of the following: Strength, Cardio, Yoga Do not start any daily task until scheduled. Use any leftover time for yourself. Goal 2: Evening routine: + 1 of the following: Foundation Work, Yoga Intermediate Knee Routine 30 Day Meditation Challenge Go to bed by 22h30 Goal 3: Lunch Break: +1 of the following: Walk, Foundation Work Life goal: Master self-discipline without neglecting the people I love Goal 1: Battling the Monkey Level 2 Goal 2: Do not isolate yourself Update Daily Log Check into challenge forums once a week Call home once a week Goal 3: Walk towards success Work on main project daily Apply to at least five internships and jobs Goal 4: Leisure One evening per week will be dedicated to reading only Sunday is a rest day.
  25. Get a helmet and strap yourself in. This will be a long and, hopefully, exciting journey, and I’m glad that you’re here along for the ride. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do. Below is a living list of my goals in life; they are constantly adapting and evolving as I level up my life, complete these goals, discover more concrete steps for each, and find new goals to work toward. Fitness Goals reach 30% body fat live without added sugar do a full, dead-hang pull-up reverse my anterior pelvic tilt deadlift 250lb/bench press 200lb/row 150lb Hobby/Skill Goals re-learn and become fluent in Russian complete writing my (fictional) stories complete costumes (list in process) join the 501st Legion/Rebel Legion/Mandalorian Mercs re-learn and become proficient in Physics/concepts learn and become proficient in Electronics get involved in the local Makerspace learn to align and use my telescope Capoeira Goals attend first ten classes achieve first cord level Life Goals get married (currently engaged, need plan of action) live off last month’s income (budget goal) live without social media (except the Rebellion) minimalize clutter (physical and digital) host weekly/bi-weekly game nights with friends train the huskamute Travel Goals Camp Ranger Fitness 2017 take the husband to Otakon take the husband to GenCon Feel free to join me in my daily grind to reach these goals. However, you will know when significant progress has been made along these goals and when they have been completed.
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