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  1. The £100 challenge Last challenge I did a very simple thing, which was just to try and check in every day. I managed just over half (about 59.5%), which is better than disappearing for 6 weeks. This time I want to still have a simple challenge, but one with some goals. So here's the plan: I'm going to wager £100 on myself this challenge, and I'm going to have 100 things to do. For every thing I do, I get a quid to spend what I want. For every thing I miss, a bob goes to paying off my mortgage. Simple as that. Goal 1 - workout 10 times per week I'm pretty good at hitting about 7 workouts per week, but I want to focus on getting all of the little bits that I've not been so good at. An ideal week might look something like this: M: Crossfit T: Running drills, hangboarding W: Crossfit T: 5k run, handboarding/handstands/vanity workout F: Crossfit S: Long run - 10 miles or 2 hours S: Bouldering, 5k run I don't have to follow that plan though - any 10 workouts in the week will do. It might mean I end up doing yoga or general stretching/recovery stuff in the evenings to make up some workouts, or I might end up doing some skill focussed work, it's all good stuff. 10 workouts per week, 5 week challenge, £50 up for grabs. Goal 2 - brush my teeth twice per day I don't know why I don't do this when it isn't a challenge goal, but I don't, so here it is. It's a habit I can hold for a while, but it never seems to last without some accountability. £1 per day, 7 days per week, 5 week challenge, £35 up for grabs. Goal 3 - draw 3 times per week Week 1 of this challenge is the last week of Inktober, so that should put me on to a reasonable start. I like drawing, it's a good way to occupy me, and I think it's good for my mental health. I'm not fantastically good at it, but that's really neither here nor there. I'm getting better, and very much enjoying the process. 3 drawing sessions per week, 5 week challenge, £15 up for grabs.
  2. This is part three of a year that I am setting aside to try to heal from chronic exhaustion and demotivation. There are four aspects to lifestyle healing magic: food, stress, movement, and sleep. This module is for fine tuning the food aspect. Last challenge I started keto, and saw a massive reduction in anxiety, and some other mental benefits. This challenge I will experiment with different variations on the ketogenic diet to increase my knowledge about what works. I have some improved mental energy, and hope to spend it on writing and painting. But I won’t push it if I don’t feel like it. Motivation must come from an un-inflamed and adequately fuelled mind, not from desperate attempts to whip up willpower out of the watery gruel of fatigue. A loose sort of schedule does seem to be developing on its own, so I’m just going to let that continue. I haven’t really recovered my physical strength and energy since the last trip to Munich (now some weeks ago damnit) so exercise will be advised but optional. (We have proven to our satisfaction the inefficacy of forcing the lab mouse to run when exhausted). Lifestyle Healing Magic: Ketonics Module I Potions (food) Lesson One: Do Not Ingest Poison: no sugar, caffeine, or alcohol (Ke)Tonics general instructions: eat at or under 20g net carbohydrates per day. (Ke)tonics specific experiments: Zero week will be no chocolate and no live sauerkraut, to see if this helps with my current heartburn. I must also undergo the trial of the Silberhochzeit, in which I must endure some periods of foodlessness on the train, and evade all attempts to poison me with celebratory food. Weeks 1-5 I will adjust other parameters. Possible experiments could be increasing and decreasing the plant content of my diet, which will probably mean decreasing and increasing the dairy content, since those are my two sources of carbs, and they compete for space. I might also try cutting eggs and processed meats and really going all in on fresh meat, green things, and water. I might add fasting or save it for next challenge. Or maybe I will devise a diet inspired by Artio the bear goddess and eat salmon, berries, meat, and (*googles bears*) herbs, pine cones, hikers, and 20 000 calories worth of moths??? (*note to self: check carbs in moths*). Defence Against the Dark Arts (stress) Occlumency (meditation) is suspended so that its anxiety-lowering effects may be trialled separately from the ketonics. It shall be reintroduced next challenge. Enspiriting Runes: I shall aim to do a little art every other day. Sparking Sigils: I shall aim to write a little every other day. Transfiguration (movement) Hypertrophy Charm: any form of strength training, if energy allows. I seem to be losing weight from the keto, and I don’t really like what I see—my weightlifting over the last few years has added thickness to my legs, arms, and waist, but not to my chest, upper back, or glutes. I seem to be in a slightly longer term tired phase, so I will simply do some exercises for these areas whenever possible, until moderately tired, at home or at the gym. Recommendations for isolating the glutes without the hamstrings welcome. Current ideas include swings and single legged glute bridges. Recommendations for hitting the chest without the arms also welcome. So far, the barbell bench has added weight to my arms only. Spell of Ambulancy: at least one short walk daily. Charms (sleep) Somnolence Ritual: screens off at 9:30 Hmmm. This entry looks kind of dry without any gifs or pictures. Here, have an experimental scribble. And share gifs of mead, honey, and other beautiful liquids, please.
  3. Let the bulking continue! So I'm still on my bull$&#* I've tried numerous times to add a significant amount of muscle to my frame and I have never been able to. Last challenge went better than I expected and now it is time for Phase 2 of the bulking program which is more of the same but in the hypertrophy rep range with a muscular damage focus. Challenge Goal: Follow the program as written and complete the workouts. Eat like you mean it! Other than too much work and too little recovery I know that I usually fail in the kitchen. I have been powering down the food and it has been working. I did well minding the protein at first but it fell off and it became just a lot of calories, mostly junk. I've added some muscle and a good bit of body fat, back to dad bod and I'm good with it. Challenge Goal: Keep up the eating. High calories and make sure a good portion of it is protein. Work up a mental sweat too! My anxiety has been so much better lately. I don't know if the things I did last challenge helped or if this is just the natural swing down of the wave pattern before it comes around again. I read over and over that meditation is really supposed to help and offer other benefits as well. Going to try different types of meditation and see if I can find one that works for me. Challenge Goal: Establish a meditation routine. Target 5-10 minutes, 4 or so days a week.
  4. This is part two of a year that I am setting aside to try to heal from chronic exhaustion and demotivation. There are four aspects to lifestyle healing magic: food, stress, movement, and sleep. I'm adding a little to the basics which I established last challenge, and testing a specific diet to see if it helps. Potions (food): Do Not Ingest Poison: no sugar, caffeine, alcohol, refined carbs, industrial seed oils (Ke)Tonics: eat a very low carb, very high fat diet. Leave out grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, low fat dairy, fruit, and honey. Focus on meat, fish, eggs, full fat dairy, above ground vegetables, and healthful fats. Defence Against the Dark Arts (stress) Occlumency: meditate 20 minutes daily, after first tea and before second tea Hydrotherapy: end all showers with cold water Defensive Gesture: book a massage and show up! Defensive Ward: schedule daily internet block from 8-10am Enspiriting Rune: one effortlessly bad and therapeutic scribble per day Transfiguration (movement) Barbellogy: continue with four lift split three days per week, if energy allows. Ambulancy: at least one short walk daily Charms (sleep) Somnolence ritual: screens off at 9:15, stretch, sleep at 9:45
  5. It is still too early to feel like fall weather yet, but it is also too late to be summer. The beautiful sunny day is in that nearly perfect place in between the two, the one that is warm and bright, but not so much that it is unpleasant. It feels like autumn wants to be in the air. The afternoon smells fresh, like a clean new beginning. And it's terrible. For as long as Scalyfreak can remember, every single time she has found a peaceful spot to relax and enjoy the sunshine, that has been the start of an ordeal, or a drawn-out fight with something large and powerful she barely understands. Most recently, that something has been Self -Sabotage, the silent, often invisible demon that whispers on the wind and hunts with endless patience. The road is empty. The sky is blue. There is not a single living thing in sight, and the landscape around Scaly Freak is peaceful and quiet. Too quiet... A combination of instinct and experience prompts Scalyfreak to draw her sword before she reaches the curve in the path up ahead, and to slow down and veer off the path enough so she can see around the bend, and look for an ambush. But there is nothing. Nothing to see, nothing to hear... and that only makes her more cautious, and she is not the least bit surprised when the air over the path begins to vibrate, darken, and take on a very familiar shape. “You again. Really. I am so surprised and astonished to see you here, waiting for me. It's so unusual for you.” Self-Sabotage tilts its large head and smiles, a familiar, sinister, and condescending smile. “Silly human, surprising you would be counter-productive. It would deprive you of the pleasure of anticipating my company.” Scalyfreak lowers her sword, but keeps a firm grip on it, and brings her shield up at the ready. “Feel free to give me lots of opportunities to anticipate, by staying far away from me for as long as possible.” The large beast begins hissing, a rhythmical hissing noise complete with shaking shoulders. It is laughing. Scalyfreak sighs, an exaggerated theatrical sigh, and shakes her head. “I guess that was too much to ask for.” “Not at all, silly human. It is very easy for you to avoid me for a long as you wish to.” The laughter has stopped and a smile that is neither warm or friendly curves dark monster lips and reveals sharp teeth. “All you have to do is go back to that bunker you like so much.” Scalyfreak frowns and takes a cautious step back. That sounds far too easy, and yet it makes perfect sense. Stay in the bunker, with its wards, and shields, and its ability to keep everyone away, including the demons that stalk her, and she will be safe. “That seems a little too easy. And too helpful, coming from you.” While she talks, Scalyfreak slowly lowers and turns her left arm and hand out, showing she is not hiding a weapon behind the shield. “You built the bunker to keep you safe... I am simply confirming that it's working.” The creature smiles. It is not a friendly smile. Scalyfreak contemplates this. Go back to the bunker and live in safety and isolation... she smiles. She nods. And she lifts her left hand in a tossing motion and sends a large sphere of thick red flames straight into Self-Sabotage's face. So here we are, at the start of Week 2, and I am finally posting my challenge. It is a simple and straight forward challenge. I need to find a way to go to my new gym and spend time with the barbells, while I also find a way to get enough sleep, somehow. I also really need to stay on top of my reading challenges, because I really want that book bag. And that is it. I will figure out the details as I go. Lastly, for those of you who don't know me very well yet:
  6. Let the bulking begin! So I'm back on my bull$&#* I've tried numerous times to add a significant amount of muscle to my frame and I have never been able to. Don't get me wrong, I am much more muscular than I was 2-3 years ago when I first started working out but if someone saw me on the street they would think: trim, takes care of himself, possibly athletic, but muscular is not one of the ways that I would be described. Going to give it another shot. I found a 12 week muscle building kettlebell workout program online that seems like something that I would enjoy. The only thing I don't like is that it's just three days a week. I like working out more frequently but perhaps that is part of my problem. As someone having a ectomoroh frame I probably should be doing less rather than more so I will follow the program as written. Eat like you mean it! Other than too much work and too little recovery I know that I usually fail in the kitchen. I see the bulking / muscle diets and I really just don't know how anyone can eat that much food but I'm going to try. Calories = 15 X bodyweight 30/40/30 macro split Looks like I am going to be eating a lot of chicken and multiple small meals a day. I will decide on a tracker later. My anxiety has been high lately. I go through cycles where it is low level and other times when honestly it feels out of control. Regardless of what phase it is currently in I know that it will eventually swing to the other side. Right now I am in a high phase where I feel anxious for no discernable reason whatsoever and I usually throw in some completely irrational fears and worries that I consciously know are not real but that my anxiety still loves to dwell on. I need some tools and strategies to help me when I am in these phases instead of silently suffering through them, pretending it's not happening, and waiting for the phase to pass as I usually do. Anxiety triggers for me are doom scrolling news and political sites. Lack of sleep which is a bad one since it makes me more prone to anxiety and then the anxiety causes insomnia which is a feedback loop. And too much isolation inside. Anxiety busters for me is consistent sleep, deeply feeling music, reading, certain kinds of video games surprisingly, and nature time / walks outside. So action plan is a news and Twitter fast. None during this challenge and see the difference. Daily outside time or music. Instead of doom scrolling spend that time catching up my book backlog. I have 3-4 downloaded I have been meaning to get to.
  7. Hello. I am Stronkey Kong. I've been on NF for over eight years . I'm still fat and making the best of it. learning from my mistakes. 🤔 GOALS: MEDITATION+: Still practicing the Buddhism. Still on a meditation streak since March 21st. That's all fine and good, and is habit. Now I need to step it up and memorize the "King of Aspiration Prayers: Samantabhadra's Aspiration to Good Actions." The prayer/mantra itself is a guide to the essential meditation preliminary practices we do. It is also 259 lines long. But for the benefit of all sentient beings I will memorize it... in English at least. Then I'll start on the Tibetan. Settle in to the WIZARD TOWER: As some of you saw last challenge, I bought a house and moved in. While I'm almost done upacking, now is not the time to stop. So definitely want to get all that finished up this challenge. This weekend I got the bedroom in order by unpacking all the clothes, doing ALL THE LAUNDRY EVAR, and putting clothes away. There's one more box in there, then I need to get the office and kitchen done. MOVEMENT: Now that the house moving and all is tapering off to just regular chores, I need to start working out again. So I'll be lifting weights and following the Greyskull LP... M, W, F or S. It'd be great to get a little cardio and yoga on top of that, but that'll be a bonus. NOOM: Just showing up and getting it done. Weigh in, log food, read articles. I think that's all. I thought briefly about a writing goal, but maybe I'll add one when the office gets settled. And there will be pictures of and stories about this idiot...
  8. So after taking it easy last challenge (not to mention hammering out an identity shakeup), I think it's time to get back into the game this go-round. Stuff's starting to get a little slack around here, and it's showing. And since people farting around with long, pointless introductions and other pleasantries is a personal pet peeve of mine, let's get to the damn challenge already. The (Agile) Routine Sprint Planning and Daily Stand Ups: 1. One-week sprints that shall be planned on Sundays with a retrospective on Saturdays. 2. Daily NF Stand-Up each day. What did I work on yesterday, what am I working on today, what are my impediments? 3. Daily planner checks. The Workout: 3 X per week. Inverted Rows and squats. -Still trying to get to the point where I can do a full pull up. Still can't do one yet, and after taking off the last challenge, I've fallen behind somewhat, but that's okay. I'll pick up with where I'm at. -I was doing Stronglifts 5X5, but the problem with Stronglifts is that it takes me almost an hour and a half from start to finish each session. That's fine on the weekends, but on the weekdays, given that I'm also doing things like preparing meals, doing CPE, doing all this planning stuff, and taking care of my sanity, it simply isn't sustainable. The Piano: 4. Sprints will include updates on my piano progress each day. Rather than spell all that out here, I'll say just keep an eye out for the "daily stand-ups." Alcohol: 5. Not gonna do it. Full year or bust, baby.
  9. I joined NFR in Fall of 2019 and have failed every challenge. Every. Single. One. The last two challenges, I didn't even bother setting up because I knew it would be one two more fails. Nevertheless, I did attempt to lose weight during both. I've seesawed between 165 and 172 for over a year and a half. 2019: My lowest was 159 in May 2019, right before I went on vacation. I joined NFR in the fall at 178. 2020: My highest was 183. My lowest was 16 2021. In March, I was at my lowest at 162. Then I went on vacation. June 2021 began at 168, had two binges, and ended at 165.4. July 2021 began at 165.4, had one 5-day binge, and ended at 163.6. August began with an 8-day binge. POSSIBLE SOLUTION I wasn't even going to do this challenge, but I think I have finally found a solution to my problem. The reason I binge so often is because I haven't allowed carbs since 2021 when I actually hit my goal of 129 (from normal weight of 150) and maintained 134 on a low carb diet for a year and a half. (I gained 15+ pounds after binge eating carbs all summer). Then I got pregnant back-to-back, gained 60 and kept it on for 4 years. I need a diet that allows all foods, including whatever carbs there are. 2 months/challenges ago, I discovered Intermittent Fasting allows as much. I never would have considered fasting before, but I was desperate. The first I heard of was 5:2, which I thought sounded amazing for maintenance but seemed too slow for someone who is used to losing 10 pounds a month with Keto (if I don't binge, which I haven't successfully accomplished since 2012). So in June, I tried 16:8. It was hard. I can NOT cut out my first thing in the morning coffee and I can NOT not have creamer. So that meant I had to close my window at 6 pm. That cut out 6 hours of habitual snacking. I pushed through (except for weekends, and still ended up binging and only losing .6 a week even on weeks and weekends that I adhered perfectly. Because the loss was sooooooo slow, and I'm tired of dieting/deprivation AND being fat (come on, at least if I'm deprived always dieting I should be thin), I tried Keto AND 16:8 in July. That's what ended up triggering the 8-day binge last week. On Sunday, I ate half a doughnut, then a couple slices of cheesecake after church and then later went to the store for a slice of tuxedo cake. Really? Even on a typical binge, I only have one dessert on a day. Even if I have several helpings of the same dessert (which is why I almost NEVER buy more than a slice), I've never had several helpings and then, oh, let's go get something else too. So Sunday night (while eating the tuxedo cake), I read a book on Alternate Day Fasting which allows for eating bread and not counting calories every other day. But as I looked over a typical week, I knew I could never do it. One, the routine is always different -- 4 days one week, 3 days the next. Also, a Friday and Sunday or Saturday is always part of the mix. Not realistic. Not maintainable for life. The best I could tweak was fasting (500 calories) on Mon and Wed and allowing 500 on a Friday night but 100% that would feel like a diet and something that I could (and would) cheat on. But obviously, fasting 2x a day (4 times in a 14-day period) is NOT Alternate Day Fasting (7 fast days in a 14-day period). It's barely more than half. And even if I count both half-fast Fridays, that only 5x in a 14-day period. That can't possibly be enough to eat whatever I want every other day. So then I had to create calorie limits for the other days, which once again means it is not Alternate Day Fasting. That's when I realized that basically what I had created was the 5:2 plan. The one that inspired me to try IF in the first place. The one that I knew instinctively I could do for life to maintain. 2 days @ 500 calories 5 days @ Maintenance Calories - 500 (for me, that's 1400) for weight loss or Maintenance Calories (1900). It's probably the slowest of all the IF's, which is why I wasn't going to attempt it for weight loss. I want/wanted to lose 10 pounds a month, or at least 8. But looking back over the last several months, and realizing I am miserable/deprived all the time (or bingeing) and only losing 2-3 pounds a month, I may as well be happy/not deprived and not binging (because all foods are allowed in moderation) and lose 2-3 pounds a month (maybe/praying/hoping) 4 pounds a month. I wasn't going to come back to NFR until I could report a success, but I logged in today to check the challenge dates and realized it just started and that I would basically be skipping an entire challenge again. So I've decided to log my progress after all. CHALLENGE GOALS My goals are EXTREMELY modest. 1) Stick to 5:2 (eat mostly 500 / 1400 and NEVER more than 500 / 1900) 2) Yoga on Fast Days 3) Weights on Non-Fasting Days 4) Weight loss: Of course I would love to end this challenge at 159 (as I've wanted to end nearly every challenge I've ever done). And I don't really know my starting weight (due to the binge). So, I will consider this challenge / 5:2 a success if Sept 3rd's weight is 1.5 pounds less than this Friday's (8/14) weight.
  10. A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by One after one; the sound of rain, and bees Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas, Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky — I've thought of all by turns, and still I lie Sleepless; and soon the small birds' melodies Must hear, first utter'd from my orchard trees, And the first cuckoo's melancholy cry. Even thus last night, and two nights more I lay, And could not win thee, Sleep, by any stealth: So do not let me wear to-night away. Without thee what is all the morning's wealth? Come, blessed barrier between day and day, Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health! - To Sleep, by William Wordsworth As hinted by the title of this thread, I am carrying over my goals from the previous challenge period, and continuing my quest for better sleep, and more of it. Thanks to insights and pointed questions from my therapist, insights and snark from various members of this community, and some introspection of my own, I've managed to identify the two biggest obstacles to meeting my sleep goals: 1. Sleeping is not enjoyable. With exercise or other activities there's often some kind of joy or pleasure to be had just from the activity itself (walking or barbell lifting comes to mind), but if sleeping is enjoyable to do I haven't noticed, and it's unlikely I ever will, since I'm sleeping while it happens. Reading a book or watching my current favorite show, or playing more of my video game, that on the other hand is very enjoyable. 2. I have an established evening routine that is informal and super-easy to maintain. Any little change at all, be it setting up the coffee pot for tomorrow morning, or picking out pieces of my outfit for tomorrow, takes a lot more effort than to simply float along with the existing routine. The reason this is an issue is because I don't have a lot of energy in the evenings these days. More often then not I max out my mental energy bandwidth by making dinner. So I need to figure out how to overcome these. The first obstacle is the most difficult one. Thankfully I already started making some progress in my last challenge, and I have noticed that when I get more sleep at night, the following day is easier. This will be my focus: Sleep is a means to an end. Another hurdle for overcoming the first obstacle is that the universe has decided that there was not enough stress in our life this summer, and arranged to have a couple of things break around the house, along with the sprinklers watering our lawn, right in time for someone to back their car into my car while I was out picking up a grocery order. This is relevant because stress give me bad dreams, everything from merely uncanny valley levels of weird, to full-on nightmares. This makes sleep even more Not Enjoyable. Strategies for managing the stress are under development. The second obstacle is easier. I need to start small by building my new routine one thing at a time, and the parts of it that use up more energy simply need to be done earlier in the evening. For as long as mental bandwidth is scarce, I will try to avoid becoming too ambitious with this goal, and simply continue to do what I was doing in the previous challenge period. We can branch out later. And that is it. Onward! Lastly, those of you who don't know me very well yet:
  11. Finally getting back into a routine with the arrival of baby #2! It was recommended by @Sloth the Enduring to consolidate threads so I’m going to be posting my challenge and daily logs all right here. Still a bit sleep deprived but will be posting more soon. Thanks for all the well wishes!
  12. This is a throwback! My very first challenge I posted on NF was in February 2013. I had just started lifting and was living that Stronglifts 5x5 life. It is crazy to think I'm still in love with throwing heavy things around 8 years later. And still doing NF challenges! The previous challenge was my first one back in a long time. I focused on rebuilding some basic healthy habits, this challenge will be to solidify and expand on those habits. I am working on a longterm weight loss plan so I can show off all these muscles I've built over the years. So far this year I have lost 16 pounds (239 lb -> 223). My ultimate goal is to lose 25-30 more so I can walk around in the 198 lb (90kg) class. It will take the time that it takes. So I will do as many NF challenges as I can along the way! Trial the First: Feats of Strength! Follow training program (4 sessions per week) which is 5/3/1-ish. I will include more details at the bottom of the post for those interested. +1 EXP for each session completed (20 possible) Trial the Second: Feats of Sustenance! Eat at least 120g of protein per day. +1 EXP for each day goal is hit (35 possible) Trial the Third: Feats of Endurance! Walk >9,000 steps daily +1 EXP for each day goal is hit (35 possible) If I am able to get at least 80/90 points I will do something nice for myself. I haven't decided what yet. My training program: - 4 sessions per week focusing on a main lift (OHP, SQ, BP, DL) - Following 5/3/1 percentages (Week 1 3x5 65/75/85; Week 2 3x3 70/80/90; Week 3 75/85/95; Week 4 deload) - Instead of doing the 3rd set as AMRAP, I do a 4th set for AMRAP in the 60-70% range - On the third week (5/3/1) instead of AMRAP I do top singles - 3-4 accessories per lift, usually in the 8-20 range and using double progression (8-12 for things like compound DB movements, 15-20 for isolation work) - Also I change/omit/add things when needed, but this is the nuts and bolts - I don't expect to hit any lifetime PRs or build new muscle while training in a deficit, but I have a lot of previously built strength I can recover along the way!
  13. Hello! I'm Bigm. I wander in and out of challenges from time to time. Because I just can't quit you nerds. I've tried, but I am always pulled back here. This time I come back because this challenge conveniently starts on the same day that I start my new powerlifting program. And thus, I wish to share my misery with you all. It'll run for 12 weeks so the challenge will run through the horrible volume prep phase. It's not an easy program, and I have a feeling it's gonna get me strong but also make me want to die. Fun! It's been a few months since I was last here, so let me catch y'all up: The year long goals: For my vanity - I want to grow my arms, shoulders and chest This is going okay. I've lost most of my COVID weight and I'm back down to my usual range. Which is a little on the skinny side for big arms/shoulders/chest. I am working on the nutrition recomp aspect right now which is weird after cutting weight for so long. It's so much food. I had a minor setback about 2 months ago and tweaked my shoulder working on my ring dips. It was a combination of fiddling with my bench position and the dips that finally did my left shoulder in. It's better now and I am almost back to full ROM ring dips without a band. Almost. The plus side is I've finally fixed most of my bench positioning issues. All the bicep curls have paid off by adding a whopping 1/3in to each of my arms XD Chest and shoulders are doing better, more definition with the weight loss and the benching I've put in. Which leads me to...... For my strength - This is the year I train for a 2/4/6 plate bench/squat/deadlift. This is still the goal! From about mid March to the end of June or so, I did a lot of volume for squats and bench. Basically is was 4-5 days a week of alternating days of 5x5 and 5x10 for each of these lifts with weekly increases. I needed the volume for form work, and for general fitness. I wasn't close to being able to handle a peaking program in my condition. And the month of July I did a 4 week cycle to test my new maxes in preparation for the upcoming mesocycle. And that culminated this past week with powerlifting max day. My bench, I am proud to say IS AMAZING! I set an all time PR of 235lbs (107kg). And I still have 5 months left ot make it go higher! I was stoked, even if the lift was grindy and turtle slow, the bar still went up. My squat is basically where it was last year. I did triples at 325lbs (147kg) flat footed, which is the most I've squatted without squat shoes in a very long time. So with my shoes I calculate I am about 355 (161kg). Which isn't a bad place to start the next program. Why the flat footed squats you ask? 1) Laziness 2) I've been working on ankle mobility. My deadlift has not been getting much attention over the last few months. I only really started pulling heavy again in the last 5 weeks. A lot of volume was in the 50% range and I worked on form more than anything else. During max week I ended pulling 455lbs (206kg) which is way lower than last year. The next program is more squat and bench specific and DLs are done not to peak, but as maintenance work. But if my squat goes up, then the DL will too. After this program I'll transition to a DL specific program to up my numbers. It'll be close as to whether I hit a 6 plate DL by the end of the year, but I am mostly confident on the 4 plate squat. The current max also puts me back into the 1,000lbs total club which I am excited about. Okay so that brings us to this evening. Tomorrow I am starting the program which is 4 days a week. So here are the goals: Follow the program Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Do the damn accessories Stick to the nutrition I had ice cream to celebrate today, but other than that, my foods will be boring and repetitive and I am 100% okay with that. Rest and recover like it's your dang job. On rest days, actually take care of your body. Stay tuned for the updates and the whining.
  14. Hi! last challenge I focused on physical activity and it was good to have a single focus like that, so I'm going for another focused challenge. Fixing my living spaces edition. I will of course continue training/daily miles and report on those too. ETA: I'm going to subjectively give myself points for everything and then every 100 points I'm getting myself something nice. Like ice cream. Declutter / Find a home / put away The title says it all. I'm going to report on what I did and I'm going to brainstorm things I'd like to get done and how I'm going to make that happen. Deep cleaning Last week I did the bathroom walls and that was kinda nice. There are more projects like that- let's see how many I can do. Can't remember the last time I vacuumed under the mattresses or the couch! Routine I'll draw up a weekly chores list in my bujo and get that done.. and I'll track the daily routine things I have (starting the day with a load of laundry and emptying the dishwasher, kitchen and toy clean up when the kids are in bed, tidying up while cooking, gym kitchen+toilet before I go home) and maybe I can add to those.. and I'm giving myself points for random chores like I dunno, emptying the diaper bin. Bonus: bed time Jaap says he's going to go to bed at 22:30 at the latest starting Monday, might as well see if I can join him
  15. I am dropping the written year because I feel as though my priority needs to be the energy/fatigue. With energy, I will do my writing and painting. Without it, I won’t. I must see to the stability of the base of the pyramid before carving rampant phoenixes and curlicues upon the peak. Self realization and meaningful work rest upon the foundation stones of health and energy. My challenges will therefore be geared toward treating the fatigue seriously. From now on, all challenges will be focused on the four pillars of Healing Magic: diet, sleep, stress and movement. Given that many treatments and approaches are unproven, I need to start with a baseline of habits of whose wholesomeness I am already reasonably certain. Noviciate Healing Magic Potions 101: Avoid Poison The first lesson is simple: Do not take poison. Do not ingest alcohol, sugar, caffeine, or novel, heavily processed food mimics. Eat whole foods or lightly processed traditional foods from all food groups. Do not neglect leafy greens, fish, organ meat, or fermented foods. Do not consume honey in excess. See textbook for further details. This basic potions protocol should reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, stabilise blood sugar and energy, and provide a range of nutrients to support health. Further experimentation may be needed, however, to determine the ideal protocol for the individual. Also begin preparing for Potions 102: Fasting by gradually delaying and cutting down meals eaten on Sundays. For extra potions credit, begin learning the uses of common herbs and design two simple teas or infusions for relaxation and invigoration, and a turmeric brew for fasting. Defence Against the Dark Arts 101: Countering the Stress Hex To block the malignant stress hex, meditate for ten minutes daily in the morning hours. This practice has beneficial effects that are only beginning to be documented, but which may include reduction of inflammation and oxidative stress, and enhancement of immune function, cognition and mood. It also reduces the cognitive draining effect of all other activities, which is particularly important for those who are easily fatigued. All forms of meditation, mindfulness or prayer are acceptable. See textbook for base invocation to Hecate and an elemental alignment chant. In week 3, add a five minute practice in the evening. For extra defence credit, research two additional counters to the stress hex, such as massage and hydrotherapy, and determine how best to work them into the next module. Transfiguration 101: Ambulatory, Might, and Suppleness Spells A powerful form of healing magic, transfiguration can also be used to excess. Pair with adequate rest and stop in case of joint pain, unrelenting fatigue, misery, or high pitched keening noises. Walk daily in the morning for general healing effects and to absorb ambient nature magic. Perform short, low rep strength training in any configuration that involves 3 to 6 sets each per week, of the six main movement patterns (I trust there is no need to enumerate the magical benefits of strength work!) Engage in gentle stretching before sleep to promote calm and reduce any pain that could interrupt the somnolence enchantment. For extra transfiguration credit, visit the gymnasium (and research local virus status) to determine its suitability for transfiguration practice. Charms 101: The Somnolence Enchantment The somnolence enchantment is a powerful force for good health. There is scarcely any statistic that it does not buff, nor curse whose effects it does not ameliorate. But it has a lengthy casting time, requiring eight hours to complete. Prepare for sleep at 9pm and be in the casting circle by 9:30pm every night. Begin designing a preparation routine. Experiment to see what works. For extra charms credit, find smaller sized earplugs to block noise without hurting the ears.
  16. So I am just done. Returning to the office has been more stressful and good mood killing than it has any right to be. Combine this with Delta anxiety and a nagging back injury that doesn't seem to fully want to go away and I am done. I just don't have the time or the energy to go all out with anything. Instead of doing nothing I have decided to just practice everything. Just a little bit, small doses, mostly daily and just let accumulated skills build. Zaryadka Reading some of Pavel's work, I ran across a fun concept Zaryadka. It translates into English as Charge or Recharge but basically it is a short duration exercise routine done first thing in the morning, not to exhaustion but intended to invigorate for the day. I intend to follow the spirit of this and last challenge was more or less already doing so with Dan John's 40 Day workout. This challenge I will practice morning zaryadka with pullups, Getups, Swings, loaded carries, etc. Just practice. Diet Practice I tend to eat the same things over and over. Not much variety and most not the best choices. Keeping my practice mentally intact I am not going to stress about it but instead just try new food items. Practice adding them to my regular routine. See what sticks. That's it. Just two challenge goals. It's all I have the mental bandwidth to do right now. That being said I think that it's going to be fun to try different things without a schedule or end goal or stress. Happy challenges everyone.
  17. Continuing the theme from last challenge because, frankly, I still have more work to do. "Civilize The Mind, but Make Savage The Body" Plan 1) Civilize The Mind a. Tai Chi Practice twice weekly (at least 15 minute session) b. Daily meditation (at least 10 minutes) 2) Make Savage The Body a. Eat healthy, whole foods at least 80% of the time b. Track ALL food c. Weight Training session 3X weekly (at least 20 minute session) d. Movement EVERY day (break a sweat)
  18. Hey everyone! Looking forward to another 5 week challenge! The first one didn’t go too bad and I learned a lot. This one I hope to be a bit more concise Goal 1: Working on strength gains. For my 39th birthday I bought more dumbbells and a subscription to Booty by Bret. Chasing down those booty goals (among other things). This subscription comes with 3 workouts per week plus two glute days. Average time to do the main workouts is about 30-45 minutes. This is doable for me. The weak point here is staying consistent and putting in the work. Goal 2: Lunch I need to fuel these workouts. I am nailing breakfast and dinner meals. But lunch is off the rails. I have tried preparing lunches on Sunday but I don’t consistently eat them. I have tried keeping easy things around the house to fix. I have to eat a high protein lunch in order to avoid a carb crash but I am struggling here to find a habit that will stick. Even eating leftovers for lunch is hard. Open to ideas on how to make this work better. I work full time from Home so access to a kitchen isn’t the problem. I am struggling I think to change gears between work and lunch. Goal 3: Put in hours towards some personal programming projects. I have two personal programming projects that I have started and need to make more progress on. Committing to 10 hours per week towards these. Goal 4: Bedtime routine. The last few weeks I have found it hard to fall asleep. Once asleep I am fine but dozing off has been hard. I don’t drink caffeine after 11 am and I am not napping too much so I am unsure why I am struggling. I need to come up with a routine that works. So 4 goals should be plenty. Hoping to make some progress in all of them. Happy Questing!
  19. Tired and thoroughly fed up with trying to follow vague direction from a supposedly magical compass, Scalyfreak tucks the obnoxious thing into her backpack and activates the transportation artifact that will teleport her back home to her bunker. The temple sages are confident they can lift the curse that has been plaguing the land for over six seasons now, but the bunker has become a comfortable home, and familiar. Since Scalyfreak moved into the bunker and sealed it off in order to hide from the curse that brought the plague, she has discovered that her demons can join her in there only if they are invited, and she can't think of a better reason to stay in the bunker after the curse is lifted. Especially now that Self Indulgence is no longer there, whining, demanding attention, and insisting on being entertained no matter how badly Scalyfreak needed to sleep. After materializing inside the teleportation circle Scalyfreak takes great care to ensure the circle is not smudged or any candles or artifacts tapped out of place, and heads straight over to the corner that has been designated as The Armory. She removes every part of her road gear, from backpack to armor, to weapons and ammunition for them, and spends an inordinate amount of time cleaning and straightening them out and putting each item in its designated spot, before moving on to bathing, dinner, and eventually going to bed in peace and quiet. It really is so much nicer in the bunker now that the annoying little imp is no longer around demanding to be entertained. Since the vaccination rates in my state remain below 50%, closer to 40% in my county, I am still not comfortable returning to the gym, so I'm not going to. Instead, I am going to re-learn how to go to bed at night. In an effort to learn from what worked and what did not work in the Massive Cluster Fuckery more commonly known as “2020”, I've decided that I need to create a routine for my evenings. I have routines for my mornings, for preparing for work, and for leaving work, and they have really helped me adjust to working from home, while maintaining and even improving my overall mental health. So we need an evening routine. We also presumably need a bed time, but because we're pretending to be adults we're going to call it something that sounds less toddlerish, like “routine end time”. Since the routine is supposed to end with me laying in my bed and ready to sleep, that should meet the need for a bed time quite nicely. (I'm also already considering the possibility that an end time will not work and that we may need a routine start time instead, so we'll see what happens with this.) @Alanna, ready when you are! As for the socializing part... fully vaccinated members of the volunteer gang can now do in-person events again! I am looking forward to see everyone in person, especially the volunteers who joined during the pandemic and have only been to virtual events, so I have signed up for one event per weekend for the month of July. The first one was last weekend, on the 19th, and was a great deal of fun and awesome. And that is that. EDIT: Adding my routine draft here to make it easier for me to find and reference. Updated evening routine draft: Prepare the coffee pot for the next morning and set the brew timer for 15 minutes before alarm is set to go off Set out clothes for next day (on weekends too!) Brush teeth and apply sleep/night moisturizer and massage the jaw tension for a little while Start the fan (for white noise) and the humidifier in the bedroom Go to bed and read for a while Get all cozy and comfortable in bed and actively relax. Hopefully sleep....
  20. Hullo! Short catch-up blurb since I missed two challenges; recovery from ppd/covid/whateverthehelliswrongwithme is going with ups and downs but mostly in the right direction! it has helped IMMENSELY that our un-locking-down finally reached reopening of our gym. It has also helped a lot that my mom had her first vaccin shot and will get her second next week.. and me and most of my friends+family have at least booked appointments. I think the good weather is also helping, even though the pollen are definitely trying to kill me I very nearly bailed on joining this challenge because the introspection still turns gloomy, well worn brain path I guess? So F that, I'll use this challenge as a way to re-train my brain. Think coachy thoughts to myself; No, I'm not where I thought and hoped I would be, but I bleeping survived! Yes I get that there are a million things to fix in this chaos of rebuilding and that it is hard to know where to start, so just pick something! In fact, how about instead of trying to fix the hard things, your weak points.. how about we double down on what's going well already? No matter how bad things were, I've been training. Lets level that up! Main lifts (at least) twice a week For me that's deadlift, squat, pull-ups and jerks. They can take many forms, but track and make sure you're adding weight/reps/whatever. I've been doing these, but really half the time I'm just putting in some reps, just maintaining, not making a conscious effort to improve. Time to get STRONGER! 100 kettlebell snatches everyday If I'm ever going to not suck at snatch then I just need to put in the reps. So let's lower all barriers and remove all perfectionism. Low weight, 100 reps, takes 5-6 minutes. (I'm not going to make every single day, but shoot for the stars 'n all that yknow) Daily miles Cycling or walking/hiking, I don't care. Sun and green is good for me. It can be just a stroll around the park or cycling into town for an ice cream or 3 hour hikes, it's all good. This one I should really be able to get every day. Do some woo-ing The title I came up with made this pop in my head- and why not right? It's spring. It makes us happy. And it could use a boost. First year of a baby's life isn't a great time in your sex life anyway, but all the stress and blaahhhh hasn't helped AT ALL. I'll make a plan. Get the other party in the mood. Slow woo-ing. I'll actually update on this, but I'll avoid tmi in fact it'll probably be more about small acts of service, y'know, doing some laundry, making sure he has lunch to go, making us a cup of tea after the kids have gone to sleep x) maybe even make some effort with my hair xD
  21. The Year: I have three core goals. Warcraft: I will attend to my mental and physical strength. Weaving: I will do the work I have identified as my own. Witchery: I will continue my spiritual path. And two auxiliary goals. Willowy: I will master sustainable, lifelong good eating habits. Writ: I will track and journal like my glorious victory depends upon it. Chapter Five: Simply Freedom Well, I have just had another slug phase and I am tired of being out of control, out of motivation, out of energy. I have a theory, and I have a plan. The Theory: Supernormal rewards that spike our dopamine abnormally high or abnormally often cause our baseline dopamine levels or sensitivity to adjust downward. Low dopamine levels or sensitivity crush our motivation, while abnormal spikes create addiction to the abnormal rewards. So the rewards that we think are making us feel better are actually the things making us feel bad in the first place. For me, junk food, wine, and the internet are tempting because they soothe anxiety and are very low effort rewards—both appealing for a fatigued, unmotivated, anxious person. But what if they are causing, or dramatically worsening, the fatigue, anxiety, and lack of motivation? Junk food prevents me from optimising my health, and leads to energy crashes. Wine is a poison that is known to exacerbate anxiety and depression and cause insomnia. Excessive internet and computer use crowds out the activities I need to get better, as well as possibly causing anxiety and lack of motivation in and of itself. Conclusion: seeking low effort, low value rewards to medicate my feelings and tiredness may be what’s causing the feelings and tiredness. I need an escape plan. The Plan: I am embarking on a moderate reward lifestyle focusing on substances and activities that contribute to my health, not detract from it. I hope to become more sensitive to normal rewards and less intolerant of effortful activity. I hope my motivation will return and my anxiety will subside. That means: No alcohol. We’re done here. A simple diet with no sugar or hyperpalatable foods at home. One dessert outside the home per week. Lots of fruit, veg, starchy veg, meat, tofu, beans, plain yoghurt, cottage cheese. Okay, and some toasties with butter and vegemite. No computer-based entertainment outside 6-9pm. I can watch one episode of a show per day. I may not do other things like knitting at the same time, because that’s an attempt to layer stimuli in order to get more reward/not feel agitated. Exceptions whenever it’s a social activity. I can still use the computer for typing and necessary boring stuff. Meditation (or ‘just sit’) twice a day at least, and whenever I feel agitated. Lots of movement. Walk or cycle first thing in the morning when it’s still cool (6am!). Integral strength or household chores mid morning. Another walk in the evening after dinner. Standing, walking, or dancing while waiting for each of my many teas to brew. Journal. No doubt it will be valuable to me to keep a record of how I feel as I quit alcohol and drastically reduce junk food and junk computer time. I can look back on it if I’m ever confused about whether I wish to poison myself again. … I will share more on each of the big items (food, alcohol, computer) and the reading I’ve done on each topic. You’ll note I haven't put writing, painting or spirit work in as requirements, because I’m hoping they will happen spontaneously from desire rather than needing to be dragged out of me with willpower. I will be focusing on the unblocking the wellspring of motivation during this challenge. There’s a bicycle, a lot of string, some other unidentifiable junk and a lot of sludge blocking the pure waters from reaching the surface. And here's a song. Progressive rock, no growl.
  22. My body is so awesome. Last year it created life! Part of taking care of myself and surviving the pandemic included not going to the gym or touching a barbell for about 13 months. After everything was said and done, about 6 months after her arrival I was 25 lb heavier than before. I decided to return to my pre-baby weight because I feel healthier and more mobile at that weight. I started making some small changes at the beginning of May and as of today have lost 11 lb. Prior to THE HAPPENING I regularly competed in strongman, powerlifting, and even a few Highland games - I'm going to consider everything prior to 2020 to be Act 1 of my lifting career. I'm interested in doing those things again and reclaiming my prior strength, but my first priority is achieving and maintaining the weight range I feel best at. This is the start of Act 2. I love the compound barbell movements but I will have to take it slow and make sure my technique and form are on point. This will be a moving target while losing weight because leverages will keep changing. So I will probably have to repeatedly remind myself - I'm not training for a competition, there is no need to be grinding reps or maxing out! This challenge is all about re-establishing healthy eating and activity patterns.... getting back in the habit! 1. Lift weights 3x per week I am purposefully not going to pursue a particular training program. This is about re-learning movements and getting comfortable with them, moving around and getting my heart rate up, and trying to skew my weight loss more toward body fat and retain some of that lean muscle mass I worked so hard for. Reward: +1 experience for every workout completed 2. Track calories every day Using My Fitness Pal. I'm currently eating at around 2200 calories a day. I will keeping eating around this, give or take 100 cal, until I hit an isocaloric balance (i.e. plateau) and then reassess from there. I'm also using the Purple Carrot meal service to make sure I'm eating a variety of vegetables throughout the week. Sub goal: at least 84g of protein daily (0.8 g/kg). Reward: +1 experience for every day tracked completely 3. Hit 8,000 steps per day I'm trying to maintain a fairly constant activity level day to day to help track my weight loss and minimize variables. I've been averaging closer to 10,000 steps per day these last 2 weeks, however 8k will be the minimum. Reward: +1 experience for every day >8k steps Over the 5 week challenge my total possible experience points is 85. If I score over 60 points I'm buying myself some new workout clothes. If I score over 75 points I'm buying new workout clothes AND the 3DMJ lifting pyramid PDF!
  23. Hello everyone! These challenges have been phenomenal and I'm very happy to be able to participate. Main Events since challenge #1 The first challenge was a little bit of a false start and I've had several binge-eating episodes and emotional turmoil. The warm welcome and positive feedback of this awesome community made me push through though. I decided to find help in online forums and support groups for my eating disorder and am happy to report to be binge-free since the begin of challenge #2 which is now 11 weeks ago. 77 days no bingeing made me drop 7kg and has lead to the best physical shape of my life. Been struggling to meet all the goals in challenge #3 as low emotional states held me back from doing the inconvenient work, such as stretching and preparing properly for my long distance hike coming up. Current struggles Mentally, I've been dealing with the isolation of having moved to a new city at the start of the lockdown, renting an expensive 2 person apartment to have the gf break up on the first day of moving in and thus have occasional depressive episodes where I find it really difficult to speak to anyone around me. Recently, it's been helping to talk to people at the gym and go bouldering with friends and if the sport facilities remain open, life will be better. Big goals Have a 53km hike coming up this Saturday, for which I've trained 12 weeks and walked about 300km. The last 2 times my legs walked above 30km, I suffered overuse injuries, so this will be an interesting hike, especially considering I probably have lyme disease and will likely get prescribed antibiotics this week. Saving money and trying to be responsible (cut down on those 25€ food deliveries) for a 20hour tattoo appointment. I'll be getting my entire quad tattooed with a dark souls motif by a dream artist (Praise the Sun!). Want to drop another 2kg and get to 15% bodyfat and maintain there. Want to break the weighted-chin up record in my gym, which is bodyweight + 70kg (154 lbs) of added weight Tired of the conventional gym, machines and pumping. Will transition to more acrobatics, skill-based movement, bouldering and maybe circus/silks after dropping more weight. Currently still a bit heavy for those exercises. Challenge 4 tracking: Physical: 2x stretching per week 2x skill based mobility work per week 2x core exercise per week 2hr+ standing desk on workdays burn at least 500kcal with low-impact movement 6x a week Mindset: 1x daily talk to friend or family, ideally in person. try making more eye contact, I've been avoiding it my entire life Nutrition: 1x daily anti-inflammation smoothie avoid binge-eating at all costs, this is the prime objective no milk products as they have been proven to be terrible for my skin genetics no beer as it upsets my stomach and affects mood negatively. Dry wine , or clear liquor is fine. Tracking of the last and current challenge in spoilers.
  24. The path of this challenge was inspired by a phrase I saw: "Civilize the mind, but make savage the body." So this quest will involve some sort of meditative martial arts practice, weight training and dialing in nutrition to focus on whole foods, and less processed. It won't be perfect, of course, but I'll try my very best.
  25. A new challenge. I am back on the steel and I am ready to take back my life after this last year. With everyone's schedules upended, quarantine, work from home I have had a amazing amount of free time on my hands and instead of being productive, using that time to do things that I never had time for, I sunk into a fog of days and months now a year later and finding it hard to remember exactly what I was doing all that time. Strangely I have learned that I can get a lot more done if I have less free time. You have to get it done when you don't have time to waste. This challenge will be themed by one of my favorite movies and warrior archetype Conan the Barbarian. It seems appropriate with going back to the barbell. Goals this challenge: THE RIDDLE OF STEEL Is there anything better than a heavy barbell workout? Following 5/3/1 as outlined in forever with leader cycles of 5's Pro. (basically 3x5 every week with several sets of FSL) Currently on the second week of the first leader cycle. THE WHEEL OF PAIN I have gotten the word that it is time to return to the office. I hated working from home at first but then I got used to it and really didn't want to go back but I guess it is time to get back. The goal is to transition smoothly back into that routine and learning my lesson from the last year haze to do so in a conscious manner. Make it mine, make it fit me instead of conforming myself to it, and do not go through the motions and sink into a haze. THE TREE OF WOE Sleep! A consistent sleep pattern is going to be even more important with heavy early morning workouts, commuting to work, and being mentally sharp enough to not drift through my day. Go to bed by 10pm or earlier. KING CONAN Set aside 10 minutes every Monday through Thursday to to think about what I am doing and what I want to be doing. Make my life a conscious choice. On Friday spend 30 minutes checking the results and planning the following week
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