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Alanna respawns and rebuilds her base


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Hello again Nerd Fitness. I completed many challenges from ~2014-2017, but have been struggling with fitness for the past year and a half due to health issues, PhD stress, and COVID.

 

W69OnJ.gif

My current fitness level

 

Historically my focus has been powerlifting and I spent most of my challenges in the Warrior guild, but I want to focus more on bodyweight exercises and ring work in particular moving forward. My long-term goal is to be able to do a ring muscle-up, but right now I am focusing on rebuilding my exercise habits, training volume, and baseline level of fitness.

 

Goals for this challenge:

 

1) Exercise: Walk or bike 3x/week, yoga or strength training 2x/week. For strength training, I'm currently doing bodyweight and dumbbell exercises, and I also have some dip bars that I want to use more. Longer-term plan is to start ring work again.

 

2) Diet: Overall my diet has been fairly good except for the fact that I've redeveloped a bit of a sweet tooth. No biscuits or sweets for this challenge.

 

3) Sleep: I have completely destroyed my sleep schedule this past year. This challenge I'll focus on getting that back on track by being in bed with lights out by 1 am (Week 0), 12:30 am (Week 1), 12 am (Week 2), 11:45 pm (Week 3), and 11:30 pm (Week 4). Grading-wise, I'll track how close I am to my bedtime, rather than just whether I was in bed in time - from past challenges, I know I otherwise have a tendency to just stay up even later if I miss the cut-off! I'll also say that 3 minutes early can make up for 1 minute late to encourage me to exceed my goal. 

 

My activity on here might be hit or miss because of upcoming deadlines, but I wanted to recommit to fitness sooner rather than later! 

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12 minutes ago, Klutch said:

I'm also focusing on sleep for this challenge. We've got this!

 

It is such an important part of health and fitness! Thankfully I usually get enough sleep, but my schedule is definitely really out of whack. I'll make sure to follow your challenge too for sleep hygiene ideas and accountability! 

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Week -1, Saturday

Technically outside of this challenge, but a notable day in that I got back on my bike for the first time in a while (thanks to my lovely partner replacing my inner tube and fixing my brakes for me). We went on a long bike ride/walk in a nearby neighbourhood to scope out potential places we might want to move to this summer/autumn. 

 

Week 0, Sunday

Went on a short walk to a local park in the evening, caught some Pokemon. I'm glad it's finally staying light in the evenings. 

No biscuits/sweets since I posted the challenge

Went to bed a little before 12 am! And then proceeded to sleep for about 10.5 hrs... I'll work on shifting my wake up time earlier too, but if I need the extra sleep right now I'll take it, especially as my body gets used to higher activity levels.

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On 3/21/2021 at 3:02 PM, Alanna said:

My activity on here might be hit or miss because of upcoming deadlines, but I wanted to recommit to fitness sooner rather than later! 

 

Good thinking, there is no such thing as too soon for that.

 

And welcome back!

Book Riot Challenge 2021

“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

Personal Challenges, a.k.a.The Saga of Scaly Freak: Tutorial; Ch 1; Ch 2; Ch 3; Ch 4; Ch 5; Ch 6; Intermission; Intermission II; Ch 7; Ch 8; Ch 9; Ch 10; Ch 11; Ch 12 ; Ch 13; Ch 14Ch 15; Ch 16; Ch 17; Intermission IIICh 18; Ch 19; Ch 20; Ch 21; Ch 22; Ch 23; Ch 24; Ch 25; Intermission IV; Ch 26; Ch 27; Ch 28; Ch 29; Ch 30; Ch 31; Ch 32

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17 hours ago, Rebel Pilot Gar said:

Oh I love how you structured your sleep goals for slight improvement each week.

 

Following!

 

Thanks! My body would be in for a nasty shock if I didn't adjust the time gradually. Hopefully the new schedule sticks better this way, and I can also feel like an overachiever in the early days when I manage to meet my later bedtime goals.

 

14 hours ago, Scaly Freak said:

 

Good thinking, there is no such thing as too soon for that.

 

And welcome back!

 

Thank you! 

 

1 hour ago, Harriet said:

A ring muscle up sounds like a awesome goal. Good luck getting back into it!

 

Thank you - I would love to reach that goal over the next year or two. I definitely have some rebuilding to do - I have the feeling I'm going to have to work back up to pull-ups, especially on rings.

 

----------------------

Week 0, Monday

  • Long 1 hr walk - unfortunately we missed the sunlight thanks to our cloudy English weather.
  • Strength training
    • very very brief crow practice with my head on the ground and, usually, one or both of my feet too. I've lost a lot of balance and strength here.
    • inverted rows on dip bars with bent knees: bw x 8 x 3
    • one arm DB press: 8 kg x 10 x 3
    • single leg DB RDL: 13 kg x 10 x 2
  • No biscuits/sweets.
  • Went to bed at 12 am, so early again. Unfortunately I think I overdid my activity and didn't sleep that well, so I'm struggling a bit today. 

I'm not following a specific strength training programme right now - I'm just staying in hypertrophy rep ranges, gradually increasing weights and volume, and balancing types of exercises (push vs pull, knee vs hip dominant movements). As time allows, I'll also do some skill work like the crow practice. I found some interesting mobility and balance exercises for pistol squats that I'd like to try this challenge, too.

 

Yesterday and today I also

  • Found an app to help me track my goals 
  • Charged my Garmin so I can see my step count go up with my new activity levels, track my sleep, and track my stress/energy levels. The last part is most the important for this challenge - my tracker has a heart rate monitor and uses things like heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep, and activity to compute a sort of "battery" level. It's been pretty accurate historically (even catching physical stressors like unknown food intolerances before I physically felt ill/tired) and will help me make sure I'm recovering in between walks and workouts.
  • Downloaded Libra to track my weight and make sure I maintain the same weight or so - I want to  make sure I don't gain much as my appetite increases due to moving more, and I also don't want to start losing rapidly due to said activity. Recomp is the goal for now.

 

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46 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

Oooh a muscle up, that's a very shiny goal! 😍 

 

What's your PhD thesis on?

 

 

Me seeing someone do a muscle up: 

tenor.gif

 

The general field is computational neuroscience - I analyse abnormal brain activity, which involves a lot of maths, stats, and data visualisation. I don't want to get into the specifics since there aren't too many people working on exactly what I do, but I'm happy to answer more detailed questions over private messages!

 

16 minutes ago, LIGHTH0USE said:

Also doing sleep this challenge by with the twist of going biphasic over monophasic. The plan times currently are 22:40 - 04:40 and again at 09:40-12:40. This should be sufficient with the crazy amount of exercise I planning for.

 

That's an interesting approach - I remember hearing somewhere that natural sleep cycles used to be biphasic. Do you naturally settle into that rhythm, or do you need to set alarms?

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1 minute ago, Alanna said:

The general field is computational neuroscience - I analyse abnormal brain activity, which involves a lot of maths, stats, and data visualisation. I don't want to get into the specifics since there aren't too many people working on exactly what I do, but I'm happy to answer more detailed questions over private messages!

Fun topic! How are you finding it? Or are you too deep in the stress pit to answer that right now? 😄 (I've been around enough PhD students, all I can say is 1. kudos to you! and 2. I'm so glad I got out in the nick of time haha.)

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6 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

Fun topic! How are you finding it? Or are you too deep in the stress pit to answer that right now? 😄 (I've been around enough PhD students, all I can say is 1. kudos to you! and 2. I'm so glad I got out in the nick of time haha.)

 

I love the data visualisation aspect - I would like to narrow my focus to that over the next few years. I hate the faff around academic writing and changing how my work is presented over and over and over again due to supervisor/collaborator/reviewer feedback. Unfortunately that's the stage that I'm at, and I'm also trying to wrap up some bits of my analysis at the same time. Luckily I have a good supervisor and team, and computational work is also a lot more flexible - I did wet lab work during my undergrad and the long lab days could be tedious and torturous. Work/life balance for grad students and postdocs tends to be better in the UK than the US, too. 

 

Haha, I don't blame you for avoiding a PhD! What field are/were you in? 

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I did physics in a previous life. I was verrry close to continuing down the academic path, but, in a nutshell, I was very picky about supervisors* and didn't find a position before I ran out of money and needed to get a job. 😆 And there was also the small thing of not wanting to be in a field where 99% of the demographic is a 65+ white male haha. And the other factors you mentioned weren't selling points either.

 

*This was after doing a short research project with a supervisor who was HOURS late to everything, ignored email and phone calls, missed deadlines and was impossible to work with. He was however fantastic to drink wine and discuss books and culture with and we even had a little book club of two. It wasn't a problem for this project, but when he asked me to do a PhD with him I had to run for the hills!

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11 hours ago, Alanna said:

That's an interesting approach - I remember hearing somewhere that natural sleep cycles used to be biphasic. Do you naturally settle into that rhythm, or do you need to set alarms?

 

Ideally the goal is to achieve it without an alarm, but like with any new sleep schedule, an alarm is advised in the beginning. Funnily enough I need an alarm for the day portion over the night portion.

 

Currently I kind of do/did fall into a biphasic schedule, where I become tired around noon, especially when waking up at 05:00.

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14 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

I did physics in a previous life. I was verrry close to continuing down the academic path, but, in a nutshell, I was very picky about supervisors* and didn't find a position before I ran out of money and needed to get a job. 😆 And there was also the small thing of not wanting to be in a field where 99% of the demographic is a 65+ white male haha. And the other factors you mentioned weren't selling points either.

 

*This was after doing a short research project with a supervisor who was HOURS late to everything, ignored email and phone calls, missed deadlines and was impossible to work with. He was however fantastic to drink wine and discuss books and culture with and we even had a little book club of two. It wasn't a problem for this project, but when he asked me to do a PhD with him I had to run for the hills!

 

Oh yes, supervisors make big difference - I had some interesting undergrad research experiences as well. It sounds like you dodged a bullet with that supervisor! 

 

3 hours ago, LIGHTH0USE said:

 

Ideally the goal is to achieve it without an alarm, but like with any new sleep schedule, an alarm is advised in the beginning. Funnily enough I need an alarm for the day portion over the night portion.

 

Currently I kind of do/did fall into a biphasic schedule, where I become tired around noon, especially when waking up at 05:00.

 

That's interesting that you wake up naturally after a few hours. I hope the schedule you're trialing this challenge works well for you.

 

----------------------

Week 0, Tuesday-Wednesday

 

I have been really tired the past couple of days - my body doesn't know when to wake up. I think my body is in a bit of shock from the early bedtimes, even though it seems like I'm getting plenty of sleep.

 

Still going to bed around midnight, +/- 10 minutes. 

 

Went for a walk on Wednesday. Otherwise, my activity has been lower because of my energy levels, but I expected I would need plenty of recovery time and factored that in to my challenge goals.

 

No biscuits/sweets. I intentionally didn't rule out small amounts of  honey for this challenge, so I've been having some homemade hot chocolate (plain cocoa, oat milk, and a little bit of honey) - it helps satisfy my sweet tooth without giving me crazy blood sugar swings. 

 

 

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On 3/25/2021 at 2:30 PM, Rookie said:

Ohhhh sweets and biscuits are hard ones 😧 Let us conquer our snack squirrels and get our bodies moving this challenge! 

 

 

 

On 3/26/2021 at 12:36 AM, Atrytone said:

Also working on a sweet tooth. Following for inspiration.

 

Thank you! Sweets is at least one of the few things the pandemic has actually made easier - it's not worth going into a local corner shop for snacks/sugar, so I just need to monitor what comes into the house in our weekly grocery delivery and Amazon orders. And my partner is on board, too, since he has similar goals. 

 

----------------------

Week 0, Thursday-Saturday

 

I was even more tired at the end of the week, but I did some blood work and hopefully have an easy fix to improve my energy levels. I'm feeling somewhat better today, but I might just be running on thesis stress...

 

Went to bed between 12 and 12:30 am both nights, Saturday night TBA. I forgot when planning my challenge that the UK time change is this weekend, but I think I can meet my goals regardless since I'm already ahead of schedule. 12:30 am next week is just going to feel like 11:30 pm at first.

 

2x very short lifting sessions on Thursday (a couple of sets of the first two mobility/balance pistol squat progression exercises here) and Saturday (3 sets of push-ups and DB rows). Not my ideal workouts, but it's what I have the spoons for right now and it's more than I've been doing most weeks.

 

2x walks, about 20-30 min each (Friday and Saturday).

 

No biscuits/sweets. I missed getting some with our Thursday grocery delivery - I was tired and craving sugar - but I'm feeling a lot better without blood sugar swings, which tend to make me more anxious too. 

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2 hours ago, Alanna said:

Thank you! Sweets is at least one of the few things the pandemic has actually made easier - it's not worth going into a local corner shop for snacks/sugar, so I just need to monitor what comes into the house in our weekly grocery delivery and Amazon orders. And my partner is on board, too, since he has similar goals. 

 

I made the same discovery early in the pandemic, and as a result I eat much less sugar than I used to, because we never remember to put it on grocery orders. When the craving becomes too much, I remind myself that I am perfectly capable of baking cookies. I never actually do, but somehow just knowing that I could if I really wanted to, makes the cravings go away.

  • Like 1

Book Riot Challenge 2021

“I've always believed that failure is non-existent. What is failure? You go to the end of the season, then you lose the Super Bowl. Is that failing? To most people, maybe. But when you're picking apart why you failed, and now you're learning from that, then is that really failing? I don't think so." - Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020. Rest in peace, great warrior.

Personal Challenges, a.k.a.The Saga of Scaly Freak: Tutorial; Ch 1; Ch 2; Ch 3; Ch 4; Ch 5; Ch 6; Intermission; Intermission II; Ch 7; Ch 8; Ch 9; Ch 10; Ch 11; Ch 12 ; Ch 13; Ch 14Ch 15; Ch 16; Ch 17; Intermission IIICh 18; Ch 19; Ch 20; Ch 21; Ch 22; Ch 23; Ch 24; Ch 25; Intermission IV; Ch 26; Ch 27; Ch 28; Ch 29; Ch 30; Ch 31; Ch 32

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3 hours ago, Scaly Freak said:

I made the same discovery early in the pandemic, and as a result I eat much less sugar than I used to, because we never remember to put it on grocery orders. When the craving becomes too much, I remind myself that I am perfectly capable of baking cookies. I never actually do, but somehow just knowing that I could if I really wanted to, makes the cravings go away.

 

It's kind of the opposite for me, I think. So long as macro-breaking things were available on demand with a short walk, I felt no impulse to put them on the shopping list and no real impulse to avail myself of them. If I needed to, there's hot cocoa at the coffee shop, or I can grab a packet of chocolate almonds with my coffee. But I often can talk myself out of that impulse, or talk myself into delaying a visit to the coffee shop until I have time to really relax. If I can't, a controlled single serving that comes at the end of a little extra walking is not the worst. Ditto meals that break my macros. I know where to get them occasionally, so I don't often need to, and there's a little bonus walk involved. In lockdown, that option isn't available and there's more lead time and more limited hours of availability, so it's much harder not to add stuff to the grocery order "just in case" or whatever. And then they're in the house, multiple servings at a time, without a nice bonus walk.

I felt like I could run forever, like I could smell the wind and feel the grass under my feet, and just run forever.

Current Challenge: #24 - Mrs. Cosmopolite Challenge

Past: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6,  #7#8, #9#10, #11a & #11b, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23

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12 hours ago, Alanna said:

Thank you! Sweets is at least one of the few things the pandemic has actually made easier - it's not worth going into a local corner shop for snacks/sugar, so I just need to monitor what comes into the house in our weekly grocery delivery and Amazon orders. And my partner is on board, too, since he has similar goals. 

 

Delivery definitely eliminates spontaneous sugar raids. But not premeditated sugar crimes.

 

12 hours ago, Alanna said:

2x very short lifting sessions on Thursday (a couple of sets of the first two mobility/balance pistol squat progression exercises here) and Saturday (3 sets of push-ups and DB rows). Not my ideal workouts, but it's what I have the spoons for right now and it's more than I've been doing most weeks.

 

2x walks, about 20-30 min each (Friday and Saturday).

 

No biscuits/sweets. I missed getting some with our Thursday grocery delivery - I was tired and craving sugar - but I'm feeling a lot better without blood sugar swings, which tend to make me more anxious too. 

 

Looking good! I hope you get some more energy next week.

Let cheese and oxen and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination - Harriet the viking

Just be bold, fluid and unapologetic, not small, hairy and indecisive - Harriet the artist

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16 hours ago, Scaly Freak said:

 

I made the same discovery early in the pandemic, and as a result I eat much less sugar than I used to, because we never remember to put it on grocery orders. When the craving becomes too much, I remind myself that I am perfectly capable of baking cookies. I never actually do, but somehow just knowing that I could if I really wanted to, makes the cravings go away.

 

12 hours ago, sarakingdom said:

 

It's kind of the opposite for me, I think. So long as macro-breaking things were available on demand with a short walk, I felt no impulse to put them on the shopping list and no real impulse to avail myself of them. If I needed to, there's hot cocoa at the coffee shop, or I can grab a packet of chocolate almonds with my coffee. But I often can talk myself out of that impulse, or talk myself into delaying a visit to the coffee shop until I have time to really relax. If I can't, a controlled single serving that comes at the end of a little extra walking is not the worst. Ditto meals that break my macros. I know where to get them occasionally, so I don't often need to, and there's a little bonus walk involved. In lockdown, that option isn't available and there's more lead time and more limited hours of availability, so it's much harder not to add stuff to the grocery order "just in case" or whatever. And then they're in the house, multiple servings at a time, without a nice bonus walk.

 

5 hours ago, Harriet said:

 

Delivery definitely eliminates spontaneous sugar raids. But not premeditated sugar crimes.

 

 

Unfortunately I think I'm susceptible to both spontaneous and premeditated sugar raids, as Harriet aptly described them, so taking away any temptation helps. And at least the premeditated temptation is ~once/week instead of near daily. It also doesn't help that the corner shop is really accessible in non-COVID times - it's visible from the end of my not-very-long street and we usually pass very close to it on our walks. In the US, however, I'd probably have had to walk at least 1-3 miles from my previous homes or driven to reach sugar. It's one of the few disadvantages of things being so close together in the UK vs US!

 

I'd also prefer to an "occasional treat" rather than "no treats at all" person, but I think sweets really mess with my blood sugar which can cause a vicious cycle. Not to mention that seems to elevate my anxiety, too. I'm still satisfying my sweet tooth with some honey in ways that don't lead to massive blood sugar spikes or sugar binges, though, so that helps me feel like I'm not severely restricting myself.

 

6 hours ago, Harriet said:

 

Looking good! I hope you get some more energy next week.

 

Thank you! I seem to be improving - hopefully the trend continues.

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An exchange with my partner from earlier this week that some of you might enjoy:

Quote

Me: Do you want to watch a movie tonight?

My partner: Nah, I'd rather do something low-key.

Me: Isn't watching a movie low-key? What's low-key?

My partner:

Spoiler

Thor's brother :D

 

tenor.gif?itemid=11895636

 

(We have been going through Mavel's Avenger movies and seeing many of them for the first time, but he still caught me off-guard with that pun...)

 

 

----------------------

Week 0 Recap

 

Overall a good start to my challenge, even with the fluctuating energy levels.

 

My sleep schedule is getting a lot better, and I was always in bed with lights out before 12:30 am this week (and a couple times before 12 am). Now I just need to make sure that the time change doesn't throw me off track... 

No biscuits/sweets since I started the challenge.

3x strength training sessions.

5 walks, including one longer one.

 

 

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