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  1. Hey fellow recruits! I started working out a little later in life than everyone else. I turned 35 and wanted to finally look like I had a grown-up body. After a successful "Biggest Gainer" competition at my gym (where you compete to gain the most lean body mass) and plenty of hard work after that, I went from 168 pounds to 206 in the height of my gaining phase. Now I'm looking for the next bit of motivation. Hopefully this community can keep me accountable to my next set of goals. Main Quest: Look better naked Get down to 13% body fat. I'm running about 17% according to the measurement device at the gym. Get my first visible abs ever. Keep on my cardiovascular health and get back to running up to 6 miles a day. Promises to myself Eat lean meat, vegetables, and good carbs for every meal. Prepare my meals for the week every Sunday. Keep on my supplements. Make sure I'm taking my supplements when they need to be taken. Do 20 minutes of cardio every day. The life quest Since I moved to Florida, I haven't really made my apartment an awesome, comfortable place to live. I'm going to get my apartment feeling like a home by the end of these six weeks. Motivation: It about time I start seeing some abs! I don't get to see my husband as he lives in Seattle and I live in Fort Lauderdale. (New job challenges.) When I do see every other week, I want him to be crazy impressed with my progress since he last saw me. I love the feeling of running fast and want to feel that power once again. Stats: Height: 6' 1" Current weight: 194 lbs Current body fat: 17.2% Current lean body mass: 160.6 lbs Goal lean body mass: 170.0 lbs
  2. A Hard Hat Towards Vanity My last two challenges were aborted, the last due to a crippling bout of depression combined with intense (for me personally and for the area in general) and unrelenting heat and humidity. But a new month brings the opportunity to meet my friends after a nearly nine month gap between visits. So I'm going to be very vain this challenge, but I'm going to hard hat it all the way. And focus on some other basics to deal with the depression and things, hence my bounce to the Adventurers Guild. Simple, tight and focussed. Challenge Goal: Thanks to my successful challenges I was down to a rather loose (UK) 16/tight (UK) 14 in trousers/bottoms in general; I am now a more or less perfect (UK) 16. So I want to get down to a UK 14 by the end of the month/end of the challenge. Ideally by the end of the month. Physical 1. I honestly can't do the pull ups or chin ups in the ABBW because if I did the table would actually tip over - I tried. But I'm going to do three full circuits of the ABBW by the end of this challenge. And four times a week. To be graded out of 24. 2. Yoga and/or hip/general flexibility work. I really enjoyed the yoga I did before, but I fell out of that and want to get back into it. It's only going here because I have other ideas for my other goals. Follow the DYWM Beginner's Programme. I believe it's a thrice weekly things. To be graded out of 18. Self-esteem challenges: - I can has splits? - One. Damn. Pull up. - No T'ai Chi because holidays, but practice at least once a week anyway so I don't fall out of practice. +2 STR, +1 STA, +2 DEX, +1 CHA Mental 1. My sleep is really, really, really out of whack. Heat, depression and some silly choices meant that I couldn't sleep until about five in the morning when it was finally cool, but I slept away most of the day. So I'm having a hard limit bedtime of two am. No excuses (unless it's a legitimate medical/other emergency). By the end of the challenge I want to get it to around midnight. This one will be hard as I share a room, and the sister is basically a hermit who never leaves it. And she is a bit of a night owl too. To be graded out of 42 (two am hard limit); progress towards daily midnight bedtime to be assessed weekly. 2. To facilitate the first goal I'm bringing back my sleep meditation. I'll also be spending ten minutes (minimum) daily writing about whatever pops into my mind regarding me as a person - mental, emotional, state of mind, that kind of thing. Can be done in one session or in dribs and drabs throughout the day. By getting a better handle on my thoughts and general non-physical state I can hopefully start noticing negative patterns, positive patterns and work towards negating any depressive issues before they become too serious. To be graded out of 42. Self-esteem challenge - This, though it's here and thus a bonus goal, is absolutely non-negotiable. The only reason it's here is because it's too 'small' to be a Life Quest and it relates to something mental. I have noticed that I have a problem meeting goals, even self-set goals, particularly when depressed. My procrastination issues aren't just dismissable as procrastination any longer. I have a dear friend whom I've never met and will likely never meet. She has a serious chronic illness (dysautonomia) that is basically chronic fatigue syndrome up to eleven. She also has another illness that has currently rendered her legally blind and the chances of her one day becoming totally blind are . . . about fifty/fifty or so. She loves writing stories and fanfic, it's one of the few things she can do because of her dysautonomia; and to cut a long story short I promised to write her a story. Two months ago. Then it got out-of-hand (plot bunnies) so I also decided to write her a shorter, more self-contained fanfic set in her favourite 'verse because she's hit a bad spot in her life. Still not done. This story will be written, edited and sent to her within two weeks. The longer story will be finished by the end of the challenge (or at least fully drafted and broken into chapters so I can start sending it to her. My procrastination, problems with deadlines and other things are affecting a dear friend of mine; I hate this. I will see something through to the end even if I harbour doubts about whether or not she'll like it. - PvS LYBaYF and HOoRAY. +2 CON, +1 WIS Diet This one is really hard because the main shopper (read: dad) does it on the way home from work and I have basically no input on the week/fortnight's main food. And I'm cheap so I don't want to buy my own 'better' food when we have stuff at home that's filling and satisfying and mostly healthy. So let's work towards minimising some things and putting greater emphasis on others. 1. Snacks. I have fallen back into the 'evils' of snacking. And definitely veer into excesses and overeating at times. Defining 'snack' as 'sweets, crisps, desserts, biscuits etc. (or overly sugary drinks) eaten when it is not a meal time' I will hard limit snacks to one a day, working down to three a week by the end of the challenge. Things like fruits, nuts, dark chocolate and smoothies are to be snacked upon in preference and gain brownie points. If we have a surprise dessert that counts as a meal simply because they occur at most once a fortnight. 2. Progress towards minimal gluten Paeleo. So cut down on the bread products (probably once a week then), buy some gluten free spaghetti because spaghetti is now a guaranteed weekly meal. To be graded out of . . . I don't know, I'm terrible at sticking to regular meals - probably why I'm snacking more often because I'm missing all but one meal a day. To be assessed weekly. Self-esteem challenges: - Cook at least four meals a week - Three new recipes. +2 CON, + 1WIS Life Quest: Self-love I did say this was all about the vanity. I'm hard hatting the physical stuff because I feel the diet only needs refining and tweaking. So I kind of hate myself as a person. Not so much in appearance, but as a soul. The past month has been especially bad and I dearly want to avoid falling back into bad habits. Oddly enough, not the self-harm. In spite of my non-appearance in my last challenge and cessation of the one prior to that I . . . I've actually managed to stop my self-harm - that would be the biting, ripping, nipping, picking and eating of the flesh around the nails and fingertips - completely. Well, I'll rarely find myself 'slip-picking' (what I call running my nails down the side of other nails searching for weak areas that break 'on their own' so I can rip the flesh away), but I always stop it. Now the worst it gets to is that I run the pad of my right thumb (and sometimes the edge of it) up and down my index finger; enough that I'm getting a callus. But that's rambling. Boasting actually. I think that perhaps I've internalised the self-harm, or the heat or the depression or both have exacerbated my self-deprecation in ways I haven't felt in ages. So it's time for me to love myself and be shamelessly vain. While the overall goal is vain, and my goals are sort-of vain, I just want some nice indulgent self-love mixed in with some hard work that'll make me feel more confident. 1. Try out two-to-six new activities/things that I've wanted to do for ages but haven't because fear or money or not good enough or social anxieties/pressure or [reason]. These can be things like getting a massage, a manicure, an acupuncture session, try a new skill/resume an old one. Dye bits of my hair red, blue or purple. Though given I have fairly high hopes for a recent job application (college librarian) I may have to pass on this even though I've wanted this for basically a decade. Suggestions are welcome. 2. Stop judging. Stop judging myself and other people. Compassion and understanding is key. For this I will, to reference a Pratchett concept, I will have Second Thoughts, maybe even Third and Fourth ones. Write down at least one of these things a day. To be graded out of 42. 3. One of the best ways to feel more confident about yourself as a person is to change the way you present yourself to the world. I've been hanging onto old, ill-fitting for too long; I've been hanging onto things I've never worn; I've been hanging onto things for 'one day'. I am a smart, well-presented person almost all the time but I could be better. And when at home? The nighties and pyjamas I have are nigh-universally old or ill-fitting because no one else is going to see them, so why bother? But they're old and not-so-comfy any more. The nighties I was wearing when I was fifteen don't suit twenty-three year old me. Yeah, I haven't grown very much in those eight years so height/size wise they fit physically (ish), but they don't suit. In short: a thorough evaluation of my wardrobe/accessories and general presentation is required. Followed by a cull and then shopping. Flirt with makeup and hair styling. Get the pixie trimmed so it keeps its shape. Pass/fail. +2 CHA, +1 WIS Yay, late start!
  3. Lately my life goal has been to become a Wizard, or a mentalist, which is probably as close as one can get to becoming a Wizard in RL. After obtaining, ehh, less than stellar results during recent challenges, I had to do some thinking in order to figure out why my performance at the game of life is so sub-optimal. It turns out that I may have been trying to embark on the Wizard path without having the proper pre-reqs. To re-iterate what I've been complaining about for just about every challenge: I am way too quick to anger, can't focus worth a damn, stress out because of everything, am anxious as all hell, cry at the drop of a hat...you get the idea. This is the opposite of being a Wizard, and I've been trying to change things, but so far nothing has worked. I'll be feeling all good and fine, but then one encounter with, say, some random dumbfuck driver in the campus parking lot will ruin my whole day. Little things. I've also recently admitted it to myself (and most people close to me) that I'm dealing with depression. Something about checking off fourteen items off the list when one only needs five in order to qualify for a diagnosis. This is mostly due to being in school for too long combined with the fact that academia isn't really a good fit for me. Did I realize this seven years too late? Oh yes. This, coupled with the inability to find a decent job or career and essentially starting back at square one with 30k of debt is, well, pretty damned depressing. I do realize that none of this is my fault, and is more the result of a shitty economy and job market, and listening to the advice of "grown ups" saying that a degree and hard work equals a good career. Goddamn lies. Even though I do enjoy learning moar science and taking classes just for the sake of learning, all the bonuses granted by leveling up "Science Degree" skills in the Game of Life were broken when the Harper Government update went live some years ago. Back to the challenge. I don't have any documentation or supporting information for this, but I'm preeeetty sure that mental stability is a prerequisite for becoming a Wizard. It sure as hell is a pre-req for becoming a mentalist, as the book states. This challenge will therefore be dedicated to getting myself, my mind, and my life back on track. Or on a track in the first place. Main quest: to level up the prerequisite skills that will allow me to unlock the Wizard class later on. 1.1, Lumosity: This one stays, for two reasons. One, I’m paying for it, and not using it would be a waste of money. Two, it keeps track of my progress, daily moods, and hours I’ve slept, meaning that I don’t have to keep track of these things myself. It’s also not very time-consuming. Speaking of sleep… 1.2, SLEEP! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgfhGMnw0PI I have only been sleeping for roughly 4.5 hours on average since December. This is clearly not enough, and it shows more and more with each passing week. For example, here is a list of mindless shit I’ve done this week so far: - Forget how to turn the radio on in my car. - SO MANY TYPOS! It keeps getting worse. - Turned on the wrong stove burner, made a mental note to turn it off and turn on the correct one, forgot said mental note, deposited breakfast eggs on the wrong (and hot) stove, burning my hands and dropping the eggs in the process. At least the cats were happy. - Forgot about my coffee, re-heated it, forgot about coffee in the microwave, re-heated it again…repeat 4x. This happened more than once. - Constant brain fog, inability to think, and general lack of productivity that leads to increased stress. - Hitting the brakes way too slowly while driving. In other words, My goal here is to get at least six hours of sleep per night. I know that most web sites suggest seven to nine hours, but I figure I should start small. Baby steps! If my alarm goes off at 5:30, it means I need to fall asleep before 11:30. So I need to be in bed by 11 just to be on the safe side. I probably won’t go to bed before 11 on Friday and Saturday nights, but I’ll just sleep a bit longer the next morning. Still, it’s pretty much impossible for me to stay up past 1:30 now anyway, so my sleep time won’t get shifted by any more than a few hours. Tuesday nights are also variable, since I don’t have to be up at 5:30 on Wednesday mornings. Grading: daily Pass/Fail 1.3, vanity: Several little things can be done in order to improve my appearance and my life in general. Or should I say improve my life first and my appearance second? Either way, many books I’ve read have made mention that good-looking people make more of an impression, or at least have an easier time making a good impression. Even the mentalist book says so! To maximize my chances at getting a job—and to generally feel better about myself—I’ve come up with a checklist of little things that will give me +CHA: 1.3.1: Not picking at my face Why: this has been a challenge item before, and I had done well at reducing the amount of face-picking at the time. The bad habit has recently returned due to recent stress, and has to be dropped again. Grading: based on how many pickings. 1 to 15 = A, 16 to 30 = B, etc. (GRADING SCHEME MAY CHANGE) Result: clearer skin, healthier skin, not looking like an anxious wreck. 1.3.2: Staying hydrated Why: the fluids I ingest usually consist of coffee or alcohol, and never water. My blood likely has the consistency of syrup, which can’t be good. I’m aiming for 6 glasses of water per day for a passing grade. Grading: pass/fail. Result: better-looking skin, hopefully more energy, increased possibility of getting on the goddamned leaderboard at the gym when it’s shuttle-run day. 1.3.3: No more than two drunken nights per week Why: So I don’t become a real alcoholic. I need to re-post the list of what alcohol does to one’s skin…and liver and everything else. Even though dry red wine or spirits contain fewer calories and sugars and probably won’t make me fat, they certainly won’t help me lose fat, either. So whenever I feel a drink craving, I’ll just think of the fat that still clings desperately to my ass. BE GONE! Grading: pass/fail, with two fails allowed only if I make it a point to eat well during those days. Result: clearer skin, probable fat loss, overall increased appearance. 1.3.4: Take care of my nails daily (I can’t believe I just wrote this) Why: my fingernails have been getting quite filthy lately, and it looks unprofessional. I’m not only thinking of job interviews here, but also every day interactions and general networking. I think the filth is mostly due to me putting coconut oil or hemp seed oil on my face as a moisturizer, and then the oil gets under my nails and collects dirt more easily throughout the day. Grading: pass/fail, automatic pass if no filth is detected. Result: not feeling gross, not looking like a hobo. 1.3.5: Brushing and flossing every night before bed Why: so I don’t wake up with a gross taste in my mouth the next morning. I usually have no problems brushing and flossing once daily, but I wake up with an icky feeling when I don’t do this just before sleeping. Grading: pass/fail. Result: not feeling gross, whiter teeth. 1.3.6: Take cold(er) showers Why: because hot showers dry my skin right out, making it all flaky. In turn, flaky skin 1) makes me look older, 2) gives me the urge to pick at my face more, and 3) turns my black coat sleeve grey when I wipe it across my face. Yes. It’s THAT bad. Grading: % will depend on how many showers were taken. Result: dry skin, be gone! 1.3.7: Relax my face Why: I’ve noticed lately that my face muscles tend to be tense all the time, for no good reason. This probably makes me look awkward and ugly. Unacceptable! In fact, I’ve caught myself doing this so many times just writing this post that I’ve lost count. I’m pretty sure it’s over 40. Grading: ????? Result: less wrinkles, not looking constipated during everyday life. 1.3.8: Cook quinoa once per week Why: because quinoa is awesome and I want to have it more often, but the pre-made quinoa salads are freaking expensive, even at Costco. The dietitian on campus also stated that they were a great source of carbs (along with fruits and potatoes) and that my carb intake was way too low since I had greatly restricted bread from my diet. I used to cook Kraft Dinner like a boss, and I’m pretty sure that cooking quinoa is similar, and involves soaking the quinoa in water, and then doing…something, followed by something else. How hard can it possibly be? Grading: pass/fail. Result: reduced chance of getting fat. 1.3.9: Wear that ugly retainer Why: so I can stop chewing on the insides of my lips and cheeks, which is a habit that’s become even worse than the face-picking. Having the retainer in my mouth for a few hours per day will also force me to enunciate more, lest I sound like I have a speech impediment. Grading: pass/fail (will have to elaborate on this a little. I clearly won't wear it ALL the time). Result: passive speaking practice bonus, not making random and unattractive duck faces. 1.3.10: Coffee cap: three cups Why: having five or more cups of coffee per day can't be good for my system. Think of those poor adrenal glands Grading: pass/fail. Result: better-looking skin, reduced anxiety, increased savings. Life Quest: get a job! I need a job. Like, now. Preferably something I can tolerate and involves opportunities for advancement. Every day I will do one thing (or more) that will increase my chances of finding employment, be it send a resume and cover letter somewhere, make a new cover letter, update my LinkedIn profile, follow up on an application, check out job web sites, etc. I will be keeping track of this job seeking adventure on my tumblr. The good thing about tumblr is that it does not require one to use their real name in order to make an account (yet), and thus my rants will not be found by potential employers like how they would be on Facebook I'll probably post these here too, actually. If I can ace this challenge, I’ll have my life in order, and I will be able to work on becoming a wizard/mentalist again.
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