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Shukar

Shukar's Daft Punk Challenge

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This will be the second time I've signed up for a 6-week challenge but the first time I'll actually have good clear goals and such setup for it. So let's get to this (I might have gone a little overboard with the character creation)

Shukar the Scout

Race: Dwarf

Height: 6' 5" (really tall dwarf.)

Weight: 204 lbs.

Resting Heart Rate: 55bpm

Strength: 2

Dexterity: 3

Stamina: 3

Constitution: 4

Wisdom: 1

Charisma: 2

Goals:

Harder: Run at least a 7 mile run, up from current 1.6 mile runs (2 Dex, 3 Sta)

Better: Clean up diet by removing processed foods, making most dinners at home, packing the leftovers for lunch, and keeping up the intermittent fasting (3 Con, 2 Cha)

Faster: Pay off at least half of one of our credit cards (2 Wis)

Stronger: Progress from being able to do 2 sets of 5 assisted pistols on each leg to a minimum single pistol on each leg (3 Str)

Backstory:

As a young child he was trained in many different fields, including a brief stint as a monk. Eventually he made the "wise" decision to become an Expert and devote his time to study. After having graduated from university he found that his scholastic ways had left him wiser perhaps, but heavy and lethargic. He resolved at this time to change things and took up the mantle of Adventurer! After some time spent wandering the wastes of the metaphorical world attempting to find his quest he eventually came across the way of the Scout. He trained in the ways of Scouting and completed a half marathon, in a somewhat reasonable time of 2:10:17. Though he kept up with the running for a while eventually his work got more troublesome than he could tolerate and he found himself unable to continue with the scouting he had come to love so much. But now he's back with determination and some schedule trickery to resume his pre-dawn adventures.

Plans for Achieving Goals:

Harder: Right now I'm doing 1.6 miles most days and a little longer on the weekends, schedule permitting, so this may be a bit of a stretch to pull off, but at only a mile a week I can probably make this happen as long as I keep getting myself up in the mornings to go for the runs.

Better: This one may be tricky for me, while the wife is on board for cleaning things up somewhat and cooking more scheduling can be a problem. There are times when the day ends late and I just don't feel like cooking anything, so hopefully the crock-pot can help with that. I'm also on the look-out for some options I can make in advance and just heat up when I get home to have something both hot and quick.

Faster: This one is probably the easiest of the challenges I've set for myself, run the numbers on the budget and then pay the bill, but with the likely impending purchase of a second car (straight cash on this one rather than a loan with payments) money may be a little tight.

Stronger: This will be the second time I've set this as a goal for myself, the first time I managed to get from weak attempts at pistols, awkward uneven squats, and decent close squats (doing workouts based on convict conditioning for those following along at home) to decent quality doorway assisted squats. Hoping this time around, through a little greasing the groove, to improve that to real pistol squats. I'll be happy if I can just improve my numbers on the assisted squats but that's no reason to slouch.

Originally I had built myself as a 5th level D&D style character (I seem to recall being told at some point that the average human walking around on the street is around 3rd to 5th level and I like to think of myself as being better than average) but after reading more of the stuff on the forums for the challenges it became apparent that the intention was for us to be first level or so at this stage, so I have shifted direction a bit and done this up as a Storyteller type point-buy instead. So here goes, by Traits (also a couple merits and flaws for good measure)

Traits:

Resilience: Dwarves are more resilient than the average humanoid, as such they receive a bonus to Constitution rolls to resist disease equal to their level, and one third level (round up) to resist injury.

Must Do Research: Your training as an academic means that in any discussion you've probably read something at least somewhat relevant, you get a bonus of half your level to Wisdom rolls to determine if you know a relevant fact to a discussion

Insatiable Curiosity: Once you get your teeth into a subject, or maybe it gets its' teeth into you, there's no letting go. Once you've set your sights on a subject your determination gives you a bonus equal to half your level to find relevant research for academic subjects.

Data Collector: Your Insatiable Curiosity allows you to study not only the wider world, but also yourself. Turning your focus inward you are able to collect and analyze information about yourself and your behaviors that other people might ignore, and synthesize it into useful data to improve upon said conditions.

Unquenchable Thirst: You may apply the bonus from your Insatiable Curiosity to physical skills instead of merely academic as your thirst for information allows you to find information in places that most would never think to look.

Born to Run: The Scout is a natural runner and in tune with his surroundings. He receives a bonus to perceive his surroundings equal to half his level (plus 2 if he happens to be in the Barefoot condition), in addition if he does his running in either no footwear or minimal enough footwear to qualify for the Barefoot condition he receives a bonus equal to (half his level)+2 to rolls to prevent running/walking related injuries.

Merits/Flaws:

Large: The character is an abnormally large representative of his species, he gains a bonus to reaching high things equal to his level, and an additional hp per level.

Diminished Sense(Scent): The characters sense of smell does not function as well as the majority of his species. He takes a penalty to Wisdom checks equal to his level when making checks related to perceiving odors that are not classified as Strong unless he applies expensive or exotic remedies in advance of the check.

Feats:

Perennial Parry:Basic levels of Monk training have ingrained into your head the knack for deflecting blows or objects moving at you, at the expense of your ability to catch said objects. Character gains a bonus equal to his level to his AC to represent his ability to deflect, but takes a penalty equal to his level to Dexterity checks to catch moving objects.

I'll try and update this with some pictures, better formatting, and the rest of the work I did on my "character sheet" when I have some more time in the next couple days. But for now I've got squatting to do.

Edited by Shukar
Added remaining character sheet info to page, still want to add some pictures.

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Took me a second to figure out the Daft Punk angle, ha. But I love the theme!! I'm curious to see how the intermittent fasting goes, since that's something I've never tried before. How is it working so far?

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Everybody else had cool names for their challenges and it just kinda came to me as being appropriate.

As to the fasting, it's been going alright for the most part. Hunger has been easily managed with drinking some more water, though today I found that if I nibble on anything toward the end of the fast I better be prepared to get some food in fairly short order. Haven't noticed much change in my weight or body composition yet, if anything my weight has gone up slightly in recent days. Honestly I' haven't been expecting much improvement on those fronts without cleaning up the quality of the food I'm eating, which is why that was my main goal for this challenge in terms of my nutrition. I'm also tracking when I start/end the fast and how much food and water I'm consuming over the course of the day so that I can help try and figure out what best to tweak for optimal results. I've been doing the fasting informally for the last week or two but now that I'm tracking the stats on it hopefully I can come up with some answer.

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So time for my Reference day update. I'll start off with the numbers, in the last week I ran 7.3 miles, biked 1 mile, slept a decent average of 6.6 hours a night (an average of 2 hours each of REM and Deep during said time), my weight went up by .1 pounds, my resting heart rate dropped by .9bpm, and while I managed an average of 17 hours fasted each day (max 21.5, min 13) my daily calories were lower than I had been shooting for (average 1580, min 1296, max 2092) that's likely due to a combination of me adjusting to the change in schedule and I feel like I've been underestimating by more than normal (I'm aware I underestimate in general).

Now for the more subjective things. I managed to push myself to get out running most days this week, not very far at a stretch but further than not at all and that's progress. Longest run for the week was 1.97 miles, which is 2/7 of the way to my target for the challenge so should be on track, even if it's a bit of a stretch. I did pretty well with food this week, make good choices when my schedule shoved me into back situations and ate better food if not the ideals I'd been after. Cooked a crockpot of baked potato soup which I spread through the week for lunches and that helped a bit, as did the $.5/lb clearance chicken thighs and drumsticks I found at Fresh and Easy. :) Clearance choices like that have been helping to keep the budget in check, as has more frequent entry of the receipts into the big budget spreadsheet, so should be on track to make the credit card goal in the next week or two.

Been slacking a bit on the Stronger goal sadly, had been meaning to get off the couch every day to do pushups and squats to try and build up the strength needed for my pushup goals (next challenge most likely) and my pistol squat goal. I managed to keep it up 3 days this week. Even still I feel like the strength is most of the way there, if I can manage to bump to 5-6 days a week I can probably get the strength I need. I think my real sticking point is going to be the balance so I may start throwing in some simple standing on one leg for time to my routine to try and help improve that. My other concern is that I think I'm relying too heavily on the support post I'm using than I should be. Anybody have experience trying to work up from assisted pistols to freestanding pistols that might be handy?

Overall I'd say I'm cruising my way to a B in Harder and Better, an A in Better, and a high C in Stronger if I keep things up the way I've been headed, a B average isn't bad and all but I think I can do better than that.

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Sunday again so time for another reference day update. Starting with the numbers again.

Ran: 12.8mi (+5.5 over last week, max 4.05)

Walked: 26.3mi (started logging again thanks to gift of fitbit)

Slept: 6.1 hours (-.5 from last week)

Sleep Parts: REM and Deep of 1.9 (-.1 from last week)

Weight: 204.2 (+.4 from last week)

RHR: 53.8 (-.6 from last week)

Fasting: 17.5 hours (+.5 hours from last week, a tad long)

Calories: 1,741 Cal (+161 from last week, estimates feel closer this week but probably still low)

Water: 17.5c (-1 from last week)

So how'd I do in terms of performance on my goals? Didn't get out to run as much as I wanted, but when do I ever? When I did get out I decided to run a time trial on a 5k, something I have apparently not done in recent history. Finished the 5k in under 30 minutes which was my target, 29:59 actually but under my goal regardless. Followed it up today with a 4 mile run so I think I'm still on track for my 7 mile goal.

It was not easy eating well this week with the crazy hours I was keeping at work, which was part of the reason my fasts were longer, sometimes I'd rather just not eat rather than eat crap. When I did eat I did a fairly good job of eating well, the pack of chicken thighs and drumsticks from the end of last week carried over favorably.

Great news to report on the budget goal, paid off half of the balance on the card I key'd to the goal, and got the balance on the other card with a balance down to below 80% of the limit. This goal came together faster and better than expected and I'll have to see what I can manage for some extra credit on this one. I've been doing a lot of reading this week about credit scores, savings and retirement accounts and various other financial things so hopefully I can get some good ideas.

While I did do some work on the pistols goal I've really been terrible with it. I'm not confident I'll make this one but dammit I'm going to try. In fact, I think I'm going to get up right now and do some pistols, side lunges, and balance on one foot... Alright well that was actually useful data for this post. Tried actively to avoid over reliance on my support and found that I'm better at this than I thought I was, so unsurprisingly there is still hope. I think the lunges and standing on one leg are useful, and the increases in my running and the ancillary pushing my car half a mile down the road this week probably help build up the strength I'm going to need to do this one.

Alright, so time for this week's report card. A for the Harder goal, B for the Better goal (shouldn't let myself skip eating as long as I do as often as I do, need to get some decent nuts to carry around for work or something), A on the Faster goal for sure, and probably still a C on the Stronger goal but it seems to be coming up. Also got a bonus point for the Week 1 challenge which I'm assigning to Wisdom, because the main thing I gained from the mile trial was experience and knowledge about how to better pace myself, though I also gained some confidence in my running ability and such which made Charisma a close second. So that's it for this week, see you guys next week with an update, or sooner if something compelling comes up.

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Tuesday this week so a late update with Sundays data.

Ran: 9mi (+3.8 from last week, max 5.5)

Walked: 41mi (up ~20 from last week)

Slept: 6.1 hours (same as last week)

Sleep Parts: REM and Deep of 2.0 (+.1 from last week)

Weight: 205.1 (+.9 from last week, worrying me slightly since I'd been holding pretty steady)

RHR: 53.6 (-.2 from last week)

Fasting: 17 hours (-.5 hours from last week, better length)

Calories: 2,209 Cal (~+300 from last week, estimates feel good this week)

Water: 16.3c (-1.2 from last week)

Quick updates on my goals this week, schedule at work as become insane of late.

Managed a 5+ mile run this week that I'm rather happy with, feel like I'd be able to do the 7 miler this weekend but I'm going to Disneyland with the wife instead, suffering I know. Should still be able to get in a couple shorter runs but probably not an attempt at the goal.

Food goals have been doing alright, though I'm finding weaknesses in my planning are leading to habit issues I'll work on resolving and probably turn into a goal for the next 6-week challenge. In the meantime my fasting has been quite successful at reprogramming my eating patterns if not visible recomposition.

Finances are in way better shape than they have been, and I'm on top of them now. Setup GNU Cash to help track things and opened an account with ING Direct for better opportunity for my money to make money. Also started investing in my employer matched 401k plan.

While I really slacked on my strength training this week a couple quick check-ups suggest that I've still made decent progress and am actually moving toward achieving my goal despite myself, maybe low volume training is where it's at for me (says my lazy tendency).

So letter grades, A for running, B- for food, A for finances, and a B- for strength. Overall a solid B+ that I'm rather happy with my progress on. Hopefully even better progress next weekend from Disneyland.

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Oh yes, almost forgot, +1 Wis for the Splits this weekend, and +1 Sta from the previous weeks challenge. Which bumps my stats from the starting:

Strength: 2

Dexterity: 3

Stamina: 3

Constitution: 4

Wisdom: 1

Charisma: 2

to the improved:

Strength: 2

Dexterity: 3

Stamina: 4

Constitution: 4

Wisdom: 3

Charisma: 2

Go me!

Edited by Shukar
Emboldening

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Tuesday this week so a late update with Sundays data.

Ran: 4.1mi (-4.9 from last week)

Walked: 38.2mi (-3 from last week)

Slept: 6.7 hours (+.6 from week)

Sleep Parts: REM and Deep of 1.7 (-.3 from last week)

Weight: 204.2 (-.8 from last week, much better motion here)

RHR: 51.7 (-1.9 from last week)

Fasting: 17 hours (same as last week)

Calories: 1,649 Cal (~-600 from last week, helps explain the weight)

Water: 14.6c (-1.7 from last week, probably not drinking enough most days)

So how'd I actually do on the goals?

No progress on the Running goal, food goal I did better on both the food quality and on the fasting aspects, finances goal I did better about saving (learned that if I don't carry cash it helps me prevent small purchases because I feel bad putting a couple bucks on my card) and narrowed down the plan on the debt, strength plan saw some gains due to stretching and the intermittent practice I did at places like Disneyland but not all that much progress.

So overall I did alright, but not as good as I'd wanted to or probably should have. Here's to putting the past behind me and making this week the best one yet.

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Alright, last day time for the Challenge Wrap-Up!

Ran: 11.2mi

Walked: 29.6mi

Slept: 6.5 hours

Sleep Parts: REM and Deep of 2.1 hours

Weight: 204.8 (+.8 from start of challenge)

RHR: 53.4 (-1.6 from start of challenge)

Fasting: 15.6 hour fast (About what I was pulling at start of challenge)

Calories: 2108 (more than at the start but better quality overall)

Water: 16.8 cups (more water overall than I was getting before)

Alright so let's get some prose in here and then the summary by the points.

The past couple weeks have been crazy for me. Crashed my car on the freeway and totaled it out at work a week and a half ago and things just kept up that level of stress for a while. Finally settling back into a decent pattern thankfully. Running took a hit for a while as a result of both time issues and also the fact that the airbag bruised my sternum making deep breathing rather difficult for a while. That's mostly gone away, and with the side effect of helping me focus more on my form as I was forced to run more slowly. Also got the wife out running with me twice in the last week, which is something I've wanted to do since I started running myself a year and a half ago.

While I haven't been cooking as much as I'd like I've been cooking more than when things started. Working out some recipes to start trying to do batch cooking for fill the freezer with items I can cook in short time and have ready to eat for those days when work keeps me busy until after my normal eating periods. The fasting got a lot easier over the interval of the challenge to the point that I barely notice how long it is anymore, I just eat when I become hungry or when it is socially compelled (usually by coworkers during the week close to my window anyway thanks to similar work schedules, though on weekends by family) and have been feeling pretty good as a result.

Picked up my strength training as best I could during the last couple weeks, pushups were out of the question for a while due to the aforementioned chest bruising causing too much pain, with some great results in my pistol work. I wasn't very good about it this challenge to my own detriment, but I'm getting better adjusted to trying to do small amounts of work often (ala GTG) which has helped me see results anyway. I'm hoping to dedicate some more time in the next challenge to this.

My finances had been clearing up amazingly well in the challenge window until the accident, which luckily won't be costing me much but will require the purchase of a new vehicle. Did a lot of reading from a lot of financial sources and talking with a couple of wise friends and got a good plan in place that I think should help keep us on the right track as time goes on. Got great progress on the credit cards, figured out what our priorities should be more clearly for the other debt, and started investing in my 401(k) from work (finally). For the first time in a long time the wife isn't stressing about our finances (I rarely stress much about anything so me not stressing isn't news) and I'm confident that things are moving in the right direction at a good pace.

So, how about the goals themselves?

For those who don't wish to scroll,

Harder: Run at least a 7 mile run, up from current 1.6 mile runs (2 Dex, 3 Sta)

Better: Clean up diet by removing processed foods, making most dinners at home, packing the leftovers for lunch, and keeping up the intermittent fasting (3 Con, 2 Cha)

Faster: Pay off at least half of one of our credit cards (2 Wis)

Stronger: Progress from being able to do 2 sets of 5 assisted pistols on each leg to a minimum single pistol on each leg (3 Str)

So let's take them one at a time.

Harder: Today I went out planning to run 7 miles on my usual route of a series of loops through the neighborhood. About a mile in I decided to be adventurous and went a different way I'd never gone before. Ended up seeing some cool scenery I didn't know was near my apartment, finding some trails and running those, and seeing a lot of really nice properties in my area I wouldn't normally come across. I also ended up running 8.35 miles instead of just the planned 7. So this goal is a great success. This one gets 119% which is still only an A, just a better one. So I get all 5 points here.

Better: This is the goal I struggled with the most, and I think part of that is because I was foolish enough to pick a poorly quantifiable goal on top of probably stretching a bit far. I did great on the fasting portion, fasted good hours, had very little hunger, kept hydrated while doing it. When I had leftovers they were packed for lunch, and there were some times I pulled out the crock pot to make dinner just so there would be leftovers to cover lunches. When I didn't pack lunch I was smarter about my choices of where I got lunch and that helped too. The contents of my diet improved overall in beneficial ways as well, more fruit and veggies and better quality to boot. Tried out some really nice new recipes that I will be keeping in the rotation. The part I fell down on the most was the "most" part of cooking the dinners at home. I did pretty well, but I'm not sure I'd say most. So I'd give this goal an 80-85% or so, which gives me a firm B. Only 1.75 points to Con and 2 to Cha for this one, finally dropping my shirt size to a Medium when it started at 2-3XL will do that to a guy.

Faster: This one is probably the one I'm most proud of. Not only did we pay half of one of the 2 credit cards with a balance, we paid a third of the other one as well and started taking out money for the future (with employer matching). Not much else to say about this one but it got it's 100%+ so A for me, and 2 points of Wis

Stronger: This one I made great progress on but I'm still not quite happy with it. Technically I fulfilled the requirements of my goal, I can now squat on one leg without assistance. Trouble is when I was picturing it in my head I was imagining full out ass-to-ground pistol squats. What I got was less glamourous but still impressive, parallel to the ground when before the option was not at all. I'm less pleased than I should be with that progress and unsure whether I should count this as an A or not. What say you all, does squatting to parallel count as a pistol squat, or must one make it to the floor? Either an A with all 3 points, or a B with 2.25 points.

Also worth noting are the challenges from within the 6-weeks. I got +1 Wis from the first challenge for learning how better to pace myself for a time trial, +1 Stamina from the second challenge for running further than I might otherwise have done, +1 Wisdom for having the foresight to not only track splits but manage to have the laters ones faster than the early ones, +1 Strength for having the strength to resist gravity, and +1 Dex and +1 Sta for having the perseverance to reach the evac point. So adding that to my starting spread gives me:

Strength: 2+1+2.25(+.75?)=5.25(6?)

Dexterity: 3+2+1=6

Stamina: 3+3+1+1=8

Constitution: 4+1.75=5.75

Wisdom: 1+2+1+1=5

Charisma: 2+2=4

So there you have it, an increase to my overall points of 13(.75?) from goals, and 6 from challenges. Let me know what you think about the pistols if you don't mind.

Edited by Shukar
Emboldening the smallest text.

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Nice work! Huge congrats on your progress, especially towards paying off your credit cards. Getting rid of debt is a subject near and dear to my heart, and it always makes me so happy to see people kicking their debt to the curb!

My opinion on the pistols would be to count it as an A. I think you'll get lower to the ground in time, but for this challenge your goal was to do it without assistance - and you did! Also, pistol squats are ridiculously hard for me (I use a broom handle to support myself, or else I fall over) so I am very impressed by anyone who can do them unassisted, whether it's "full out ass-to-ground" or not.

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I decided to count it as a B in the name of not letting good enough be good enough. It's awesome and I'm proud of it, but I could have done better. So basically I didn't get an A because I didn't do better than expected? I'm a terrible grader. :P

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