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This is my first 4-week challenge!

Edit: I just wanted to add a little intro. One of the things I like about this site is that I'm in the company of other nerds, so I thought maybe I'd share some of the stuff I'm nerdy about. Firefly definitely far-and-away is my favorite thing in pop culture. Comics-wise, I really like Saga (and to a lesser extent other stuff by Brian K. Vaughan). For superheroes, Black Panther is my guy. I've read every issue of his solo titles, starting with Jungle Action (still working through team titles). I guess my work is also kind of nerdy. I'm a research scientist focusing on attitudes related to conservation. My big project last year was on what people think the criteria should be for a species to qualify as "endangered" and what kinds of factors informed those attitudes.

The Actual Challenge Stuff
I've been developing a pretty solid diet and fitness routine over the last few weeks. I want to strike a balance between sticking with it and allowing room for experimenting with new things. I'll definitely be making some changes between now and the 10th, and I'm sure I'll tweak some as I go, but I think this is a pretty good rough outline of the things I want to focus on most.


Diet

Spoiler

 

Goal: Stick to the plan (which includes experimenting). (so far so good)

Plan
1. Keep counting macros, as I have been.

2. Stick to calorie goal (currently 2,000, but I'll adjust based on experience/results)

3. Only order vegan groceries.

4. Only eat 1 meal/week that I didn’t prepare myself.

5. Mostly keep eating what I've been eating, but try at least two new healthy things each time I order groceries.


Running

Spoiler

 

Goal 1: Run the 3-mile loop around my block in 30 28 minutes or less. (currently at 33 31 30 29 28 minutes. Completed!)

Goal 2: Run 5 miles in under an hour. (Completed! About 55 minutes)

             Run 10k in 75 minutes. (Completed! About 71 minutes)

Goal 3: Run on 2 new trails or parks. (currently at 1)

Plan
1. Run at least 3 miles 5 times every 2 weeks.
2. Do HIIT sprints 1/week.


Pull-Ups

Spoiler

Goal: Five consecutive pull-ups in three hand positions (pull-up, chin-up, neutral). (Completed! Still working on perfecting form.)

Plan: Three times a week, do the following workout:
1. Fives negatives in each of three hand positions. Do a total of 10 pull-ups in each hand grip across 3 sets (4 if I really need to).
2. Ten scapular pull-ups.
3. Twenty-second hang, pulled up.


Push-Ups

Spoiler

Goal: Be able to do 40 consecutive push-ups (I'm allowing pausing to catch breath as long as I don't break form). (currently at 20 25 29 35 40 consecutive push-ups. Completed!)

Plan: Follow the One Hundred Pushups challenge schedule (three workouts a week).

 

Edit: I'm only following the plan very loosely because I think it's kind of ridiculous and unrealistic.


Core

Spoiler

Goal: Don't miss a day of core. (Missed one day, but I'm allowing it. Missed two more without a good reason.)

Plan: Do that 15-minute ab workout video I like every day. If it starts feeling easy (hard to imagine), switch to her harder video.

 

Edit: I allow myself to skip the video on days where I do a particularly core-heavy yoga session.


Unicycle

Spoiler

Goal: Be able to ride a unicycle. (currently at 0 minutes attempted)

PlanSpend a total of at least 2 hours outside practicing before June 1st. If I still can’t by then, watch more videos to see if I can figure out what I’m doing wrong and commit more time to it.


Get NerdFit

Spoiler

Goal: Hit level 18 19 20 on NerdFitness. (currently at 16 17 18 19)

Plan: I actually think this specifically shouldn’t have too much structure. The goal is to have some fun trying to see what kinds of fitness goals that I don’t normally think about might be reasonably within reach.


Yoga/Friendship

Spoiler

Goal: Be a good friend to Bob while learning a little about yoga. (so far so good)

Plan: Do yoga with Bob whenever Bob wants to do yoga.


Meditation

Spoiler

Goal 1: Be more compassionate. (unsure how to measure)

Goal 2: Explore what else I can get out of meditation. (so far attempted: self-forgiveness, reducing anxiety, focusing, physical awareness, gratitude)


Plan:

1. Do metta meditation at least twice a week, at least 30 minutes total.

2. Do some kind of meditation that isn't metta at least twice a week, ideally with a friend.

 

Leisure Reading/Sleep

Spoiler

Goal: Build a good leisure reading/sleep habit. (finished the Matt Fraction run of Hawkeye and Nimona. Started Usagi Yojimbo, X-Men Forever, and The Magnificent Nine)

 

Plan: At 10 o'clock, start reading. If I'm still up at midnight, lights out. This is going to take a while to work to, so as long as I'm making progress towards this every week, I'm going to call it a success.


Mongolian

Spoiler

Goal: Make progress with my Mongolian. (Read chapter 1. Scheduled weekly lessons throughout the rest of the challenge)

Plan
1. Start taking iTalki classes again.

2. Get to chapter 4 in my textbook (a chapter a week).

3. Practice flashcards or do some other kind of language exercise for at least an hour a week.

 

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Thanks! Yeah, not much here is brand new.

The diet stuff, the running, the pull ups, the yoga, and Mongolian are all things I've been working on for at least three weeks (some things for a few months). Meditation, the core exercises, push ups, and collecting random NerdFitness XP I only started about a week ago. I haven't started with unicycling yet.

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You, sir, are an ambitious man. Following!

 

Is meta meditation where you cross your legs, sit, and think about how interesting meditation is?

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57 minutes ago, PaulG said:

You, sir, are an ambitious man. Following!

 

Is meta meditation where you cross your legs, sit, and think about how interesting meditation is?

Thanks!

Metta meditations are about actively cultivating benevolence. So far I'm most frequently seeing it translated as "loving kindness" meditation. I'm using them to try to help me be a more compassionate, empathetic person. I only first tried it about a week ago, so I'm definitely no expert, but you can read a little more about them here. I just did a half hour guided one tonight, and so far this is definitely the kind of meditation I think I get the most out of (though I'm still experimenting). Maybe I should try meta-meditation next! ;)

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9 hours ago, annyshay said:

Hi Mudd! Many goals! Good luck with everything.

Thanks, fellow Adventurer! I like your goals too!

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First update!

Diet
I've been intermittent fasting for 3-ish weeks. Honestly, I'm not totally sure why, other than just to see what it was like. I'm not sure I actually think it helps with the body recomposition I'm trying to do. I do think it's curbed my hunger pretty severely. Maybe even too much? I've been shooting for 2,000 calories a day, and on average I come up about 100-150 short, even though I often feel pretty stuffed after my last meal. Also, when I initially set my calorie goal, it was when I was less active. Now that I'm working out more, I probably should bump up my calorie goal. Maybe as much as 200 calories? I'm going to try to eat more consistently throughout the day, so I don't have to cram as many calories into my last meal. If it's still a struggle, I see myself either dropping intermittent fasting pretty soon or at least extending my eating window to 10 hours.


Running

I ran the 3-mile loop around my block this morning. My initial goal was to be able to do it in under 30 minutes. When I set the goal, just a few days ago, my record was 33 minutes. This morning I did it in 31, and it didn't even feel like I was pushing especially hard. I think a lot of it is because I ate better yesterday. More calories in general and especially more carbs (which I think I've weirdly been too low on, despite our historically very close relationship). It was also just a perfect day weather-wise. I'm probably going to have to adjust this goal. Is 27 minutes crazy?

Everything Else
Everything else is fine and going according to plan. I need to set some dates for Mongolian practice though. Tentatively Friday.
 

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Update!

10 summers ago, a buddy and I canoed the entire Mississippi River. He called me last night, and we spent more than 3 hours catching up and reminiscing. It was absolutely totally worth it, but as a result, I didn't get to my core or pull-up exercises until after midnight. I haven't listed it officially as a goal, but I've been trying to go to bed earlier than I have been. Ideally, I'd like to be done exercising by 10pm at the latest, at which point I'd read, and have lights off by midnight. I need to officially set a sleep goal, and ideally get in the habit of getting my exercising out of the way earlier in the day. I work from home and have pretty phenomenal flexibility with my schedule (especially during quarantine), so there's no reason I can't take a 20 minute break to do some exercising a couple times during the workday.

 

Other than that, things have been good. I've been doing the exercises and sticking to the diet. I ran the 3-mile loop in 31 minutes again, tying my personal best. It was harder today, but I think a lot of that is that there was a pretty decent wind. Ideally I would have done yoga with my friend Bob today, but I ended up playing a pen & paper RPG with some other friends, so Bob and I rescheduled to tomorrow morning, which I think is fine.

The one thing I think I'm coming up short on is Mongolian. I really just need to dive into that textbook for a bit, but I don't have any habits around doing that yet. It's one of those things that I'm certain I'll enjoy once I get started, but for some reason it's really hard to get started.

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On 5/8/2020 at 10:01 PM, Mudd said:

10 summers ago, a buddy and I canoed the entire Mississippi River. He called me last night, and we spent more than 3 hours catching up and reminiscing. It was absolutely totally worth it, but as a result, I didn't get to my core or pull-up exercises until after midnight. I haven't listed it officially as a goal, but I've been trying to go to bed earlier than I have been. Ideally, I'd like to be done exercising by 10pm at the latest, at which point I'd read, and have lights off by midnight. I need to officially set a sleep goal, and ideally get in the habit of getting my exercising out of the way earlier in the day. I work from home and have pretty phenomenal flexibility with my schedule (especially during quarantine), so there's no reason I can't take a 20 minute break to do some exercising a couple times during the workday.

 

Nice job sticking to the exercise plan, I'm not sure I could do it if I weren't let out of the gate until 10 PM. How many pull-ups are you able to do right now?

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Thanks! I can only do one pull-up with decent form for now. I get like 75% of the way on the 2nd but can't quite make it unless I kick. My pull-up exercises for now are just negatives, scapular pull-ups, and hanging while pulled up.

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Hi Mudd! 

 

Languages are hard, but I'm sure you can do it! 

 

One thing that's helped me go to bed earlier (on my goal list), is that I no longer keep my phone on my bedside table. I plug it in across the room now. The two things that this does for me is keeps me from tinkering away on it while in bed, and it forces me to get up in the morning to turn off my alarm. This one thing has been a game changer for me. I hope you can find something that works for you. 

 

Keep up the good work on your goals.  

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Awesome set of goals here! I dig your meditation goal and your leisure reading goal - it's reminded me of what I used to do as a kid, instead of having page number goals, I think I might use that in the next set of challenges. Definitely following along! 😊

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Update!

 

Diet

The last few days I've been hitting more like 2000-2150 instead of 1850-2000 calories, and it's a small thing, but I think I actually do feel a little better. When I initially calculated my maintenance calories, I was considering myself to have "light exercise," but I think I've picked it up enough now that I can consider myself to be doing "moderate exercise." It's hard to know for sure though, since I'm not seeing a solid definition. I think for now I'm going to keep the 2,000 calorie target but allow myself to go over a little if I need to to hit my protein target.


Running
I did hill sprints for the first time on Sunday for about 20 minutes. It was tiring, but it actually felt really good. I've been running a lot, but I haven't really been doing any sprinting until now. I just got back from a 3-mile run, and it was my best time yet - 30 minutes. When I first posted this thread, that was my goal; I only changed it because I made so much improvement last week. I think I'm going to just keep all goals and times listed, and whenever my time improves, I'll strike through the last one and add a new one.

Pull-ups

I got two good pull-ups for the first time yesterday. That feels great, but I'm only just realizing that I basically need to increase my max pull-ups by 1/week to hit my goal, which feels pretty ambitious. Even having done 2 yesterday, 3 feels pretty far away.

Get NerdFit
I hit level 17 last night. I scooped up a bunch of xp from doing tree pose. I also got the hill sprints, 60-second wall handstand, and a couple other things over the last few days. I'm currently working on a bunch of quests that are about habit forming, and as long as I keep those up, I should hit level 18 easy. I might need to extend this goal to level 19 (or even 20?).

Everything Else
For the most part, my other goals are moving along fine. I'm sticking to schedules for core, push-ups, yoga, and meditation. Mongolian is basically the one goal I'm really dragging on. How do I make myself start?

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You're doing awesome! For the Mongolian, have you thought about setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to practice at a certain time everyday?

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On 5/12/2020 at 10:56 AM, Mudd said:

Pull-ups

I got two good pull-ups for the first time yesterday. That feels great, but I'm only just realizing that I basically need to increase my max pull-ups by 1/week to hit my goal, which feels pretty ambitious. Even having done 2 yesterday, 3 feels pretty far away.

 

You're closer than you think.

 

You didn't mention which grip you got the second rep on, but chin-up grip is usually the easiest to progress at because your biceps can contract more strongly with your forearms in that position. If you were to focus on that grip you could almost certainly have your five reps in a couple weeks.

 

I was actually in the same position as you just a couple weeks ago -- I used to be able to do pullups, but I had to build the strength back up after not strength training at all for a couple of years. I got them back just before I posted my challenge thread. The key to getting more pullups is to do a lot of pullups, more than you probably think you need.

 

I'm not sure how many sets of pullups you're doing per workout -- most folks do 3 sets. If that's the case, adding an extra set or two will probably get you where you want. When you can only do 2 reps, it's hard to get enough practice at the movement to progress quickly. When you have a 2-rep max, you usually need to get about 7-10 reps done in a single workout to see a big strength adaptation.* That usually means you're doing 4-5 sets to hit that target. But if you set that target and do the extra set or two you will see progress much more quickly.

 

You might notice in some of my recent workout logs I'm also using this principle (because my pullup numbers are not what they once were). When I started my challenge thread I had literally just achieved my first good set of pullups -- prior to that I had been working negatives for almost two months, then on 4/30 I finally managed 4 sets of 3 real pulls. The reason I did 4 sets was for the extra volume I needed. Because of that extra volume, they built very quickly from there, on 5/7 I pulled a set of 5 for the first time since I restarted.

 

Hopefully this makes some degree of sense. I don't know what your workouts look like so it's hard to say 100% that this is the answer to hitting your goal, but I hope it's of some help.

 

*

Spoiler

If you're interested in the data and principles behind some of these numbers, I encourage you to search for Prilepin's tables for strength adaptations. The chart expresses how much volume most people need for any given level of difficulty to progress. Prilepin was an interesting guy and had a number of influences on exercise science, but his tables are probably one of his most prominent contributions just because they're so useful. Most workout routines you'll find, including very famous ones, are based on those concepts.

 

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18 hours ago, wolfgirl said:

You're doing awesome! For the Mongolian, have you thought about setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to practice at a certain time everyday?

I'll give it a shot! 11am tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

 

15 hours ago, PaulG said:

I'm not sure how many sets of pullups you're doing per workout -- most folks do 3 sets. If that's the case, adding an extra set or two will probably get you where you want. When you can only do 2 reps, it's hard to get enough practice at the movement to progress quickly. When you have a 2-rep max, you usually need to get about 7-10 reps done in a single workout to see a big strength adaptation.* That usually means you're doing 4-5 sets to hit that target. But if you set that target and do the extra set or two you will see progress much more quickly.

When I started training a month ago, I couldn't do one pull-up. My sets have been of exercises that would help make getting to one pull-up possible (negatives, scapula pulls, etc). Now that I can do 2, maybe I'll take your advice here and switch to doing (very small) sets of pull-ups. Thanks!

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Welcome, Mudd! I love your challenge set up with your goal and your plan. I'm a procrastinator at heart and creating/adhering the "plan" is difficult for me. You've made such great progress too!

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Update.

 

Mongolian
@wolfgirl! Thanks for checking in! I didn't do it yesterday. Normally my work is flexible enough that I can take a break almost whenever, but yesterday I just had too much to do. I did do it today though finally. Read chapter 1 in my textbook. It was mostly review, but that's actually probably good.


Running
I ran 5 miles yesterday. The last two miles were more of a walk/run, but I still squeaked in at an hour, which was my goal. I'm counting it. It was a warm one with high humidity, and it totally wiped me out. I want to up my goal to 6, but I need to wait for a cool day (in a couple weeks...) to try it.

 

Diet
I had pizza with a friend last night. It's the most I've strayed from my calorie and macro goals in a while, but it actually wasn't that bad. Especially with the 5-mile run, I definitely still burned more calories than I consumed. I think I'm in a good place right now where I can eat for fun occasionally and still stay on target with my diet goals.

Pull-ups
I sort of did 3. I don't think the form was quite good enough that I'm ready to count it, but at any rate, 3 consecutive isn't as far away as I thought. I'm now more confident that I'll hit my goal of 5 by the end of the challenge. I guess @PaulG was right. I did switch to doing (small) sets of pull-ups, instead of just the exercises that would prepare me for pull-ups.


Push-ups

My max on Wednesday was 25 (up from 20). I slept weirdly last night, and my upper back hurts. I could still hit 25 today, but I'm sure I could have gotten more without today's new pain.

 

Sleep/Leisure Reading
Normally there's a night or two each week where I stay up until 2am for no reason, which hasn't happened this week. Average lights-out time is earlier (though only by 10 minutes) and average reading time is longer. I finished the Matt Fraction run of Hawkeye, and I've started both Usagi Yojimbo and X-Men Forever.

Get NerdFit
I got less xp from random quests this week than last week, but I did hit "Complete 3 weeks of your workout plan" today, which is worth 200xp (I actually started a little more than 3 weeks ago, but that's when I started a semi-consistent plan that I've been logging in Excel). There were also a few small ones, like 25xp for trying a vegetable in a new way (first time making couscous-stuffed baked eggplant). This keeps working out fun, so I think I want to focus on this a little more next week.

Everything Else
Core and yoga are still going fine. I've kept trying new kinds of meditation, though I'm still not finding anything I like half as much as metta. I still haven't gotten on the unicycle, but there should still be plenty of time.

Overall, I'm feeling really great. I've been sticking to the plan, and I feel like I'm already seeing results both in terms of performance and what I see in the mirror.
 

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8 hours ago, Mudd said:

Pull-ups
I sort of did 3. I don't think the form was quite good enough that I'm ready to count it, but at any rate, 3 consecutive isn't as far away as I thought. I'm now more confident that I'll hit my goal of 5 by the end of the challenge. I guess @PaulG was right. I did switch to doing (small) sets of pull-ups, instead of just the exercises that would prepare me for pull-ups.

 

Glad it's working out so far. The prep movements can definitely be kept in the back pocket if there's a specific part of the movement you're having trouble with (like the top). But even a crappy third pullup is a big step forward. Rooting for you on these!

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