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Conquius Seeks the Cloud Giants Pt. 2


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Conquius Seeks the Cloud Giants Pt. 2

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For my last 5-Week Challenge, Conquius Seeks the Cloud Giants, I started on the path to Certification in Google Cloud Platform. Along the way, I established my regular lifting habit. For this challenge, I'm completing my Certification, and expanding on my lifting routine.

 

#1. Complete my Google Cloud Platform Course and Pass my Certification Exam   |   Reward: Level-Up!

  • Complete Sections 21-25 of my Google Cloud Platform Course on Udemy (Weeks 1 and 2)
  • Prepare for my Certification Exam by taking daily Whizlabs GCP Practice Tests (Weeks 3 and 4)
  • Schedule my Certification Exam, and pass on the first try (Week 5).

 

#2. Even Sicker Lifts   |   Reward: +1 STR

Last challenge, I established my habit of lifting 2x/week. Bench and Squat on Mondays, OHP and Deadlift on Thursdays. The plan was get in, do my Core Lifts, get out. No warm-up, no cool-down, no accessory work. This Challenge, that changes. I'm introducing warm-ups, cool-downs, and accessory work, but with the caveat that a workout with none of those things is better than no workout at all. Thus, I'm introducing the following point scheme per workout:

  • 2 Points - Core Lifts
  • 3 Points - Warm-Up, Core Lifts, Cool-Down.
  • 5 Points - Warm-Up, Core Lifts, Accessory Work, Cool-Down.

The goal is 30 points over 5 weeks. Going above and beyond may (may) include rewards.

 

#3. No New Stuff   |   Reward: +1 WIS

The goal itself is self-explanatory, but I want to talk about the impetus for this challenge, give some caveats, and lay down some rules.

 

Before I left on my bike trip last year, I moved out of my city apartment, and stored all of my earthly possessions (other than what I carried on my bike) in my parents' house. When I got back, I knew another move was on the horizon. I bought the audiobook version of Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, listened to it over a few days, and reduced said possessions by at least half. I spent the rest of the year very cognizant of my spending, because (a) I had just discarded most of my possessions, and had found myself in the mindset of buying only what I needed, and (b) I was unemployed. No income.

 

When I moved at the start of this year, I had to buy a lot of stuff. Not re-buying stuff I got rid of, mind you, but I had to furnish an entire home office / guest room, build out my home gym (really just had to buy floormats), and various bits and bobs like rugs and decor to make my new place livable to the standards of my roommates. Once I was re-employed with a well-paying job, that spending continued. I bought new computer peripherals, fidget toys, office clothes I hate, bike clothes, bike accessories, et cetera. I wasn't buying myself out of house and home, but I felt like I had reverted somehow. I feel that I am more susceptible to advertising, and more prone to seeking gratification through buying things.

 

On top of this, I like to think of myself as a conscious consumer. I understand that what we buy doesn't define our identity, but giving my money to an industry (when I have a meaningful alternative) is tacit approval for that industry and what it does. I disapprove of animal agriculture for how it turns animals into faceless commodities and destroys the environment; I disapprove of fast fashion for exploitative labor practices and mass-producing clothes that shed microplastics; I disapprove of Amazon for the mistreatment of their workers, union busting, and profiting off of immediate gratification. The list goes on. As such, I want to align my purchasing habits with my personal ethics as close as humanly possible. There are some areas in my life where I'm really good at this, and there are some areas in my life where I have room to improve, namely clothes, electronics, and bike gear.

 

Whenever I talk about "ethical consumption" with one of my roommates, she returns to her adage, "You have to draw the line somewhere", and she's right. Unfortunately, she usually follows it up with "I don't have the time or money to risk spending $150 on jeans that might not fit, just because they're ethically made. I need jeans now, so I'm going to buy the $30 stretch jeans off Amazon." I don't love her decision, but I don't begrudge her for it, either. She and I are in different financial positions. I do have the money, so over the next five weeks, I'm going to give myself the time, and push up where I draw my line. Additionally, I'll be looking into online resources for purchasing secondhand clothes and gear (looking at you, Patagonia Worn Wear and REI Used Gear), and in-person resources such as local thrift stores.

 

So the challenge is this: No New Stuff. I'm drawing my line in the sand, and holding my ground against hyper-consumerism and immediate gratification. I can purchase obvious things like food and household goods. I can purchase anything needed for the continued regular function of my bicycle (e.g. new tubes). In the case of the catastrophic failure or destruction of any of my possessions, (e.g. my tent bursts into flames), I can replace it, so long there is an immediate need for it, and I try to find a used or secondhand replacement first.

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Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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I expanded on Goal #3: No New Stuff. It's a bit of a read, so TL;DR my purchasing habits have fallen out of line with my values. The goal is to take some time to realign, and do the research necessary to make better decisions.

Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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In addition to adding warm-ups, cool-downs, and assistance exercises to my routine, I'm also tweaking my overload scheme on Bench and Deadlift to a Starting Strength-esque progressive overload scheme. 3x5 Bench, 1x5 Deadlift. Working Set weight progressively increases by +5lb for Bench, and +10lb for Deadlift. Bench will eventually change to +2.5lb, Deadlift will eventually change to +5lb. Both of these lifts feel far too easy right now, and are significantly behind compared to OHP and Squat. I intend to close the gap.

 

With that being said, here's my routine. Squat and OHP actually change week to week based off of a 4-week cycle. Below, I'm showing the set/rep/weight scheme for Volume Week.

 

Monday

Warm-Up: Jump Rope for 2min or until warm

 

Core Lifts

  • Bench: Work up to 3 x 5
  • Squat: Work up to 3-5 x 3-5 @ 94% 5RM

Assistance

  • Front Plank: 3x(30s plank / 1min rest)
  • Right Plank: 3x (15s plank / 30s rest)
  • Left Plank: 3x (15s plank, 30s rest)
  • BSSQ: 2-4x5-8@30lb
  • Leg Curl: 3x10/leg w/ 35lb resistance band

Cool-Down

  • Single-Leg Straddle Stretch
  • Butterfly Stretch
  • Pretzel Stretch
  • Pigeon Pose
  • Pectoral Doorway Stretch

 

Thursday

Warm-Up: Jump Rope for 2 min or until warm

 

Core Lifts

  • Overhead Press: Work up to 3-5 x 3-5 @ 94% 5RM
  • Deadlift: Work up to 1x5

Assistance

  • Lying Leg Raises: 4x10 (I intend to do a Convict-Conditioning style progression scheme for these, eventually moving on to Hanging Leg Raises)
  • Chin-Ups: 3-5x10 w/ 100lb resistance band. (See above, but instead of manipulating leverage to increase load, I'll be using lighter resistance bands.)

Cool-Down

  • Single-Leg Straddle Stretch
  • Butterfly Stretch
  • Pretzel Stretch
  • Pigeon Pose
  • (I'm taking recommendations on delt stretches)
  • Like 5

Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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Weekend Bike Trip got cancelled this weekend due to bad weather 😑 Next weekend we're all free isn't until June.

 

That's ok, I'm getting in plenty of cycling now as it is. I brought my old bike, Cerberus, back from my parents' house, and gave him some TLC. Cerberus is a 2011 Surly Cross Check that I built back when I was like 16 (fun fact, I was on NF at that time), and was built as a steel road bike. Jormungandr, on the other hand, is a heavy, bombproof steel touring bike, which I've been riding almost exclusively for the past year, often loaded down with panniers stuffed with camping gear.

 

You can imagine how much faster I was hopping on Cerberus 😅

 

Anyway, Week One Progress is going well. It's astounding how much less is demanded of my time when one of my goals is to not do something. One of the pitfalls of doing research online about clothes, however, is that your algorithms just start feeding you ads about clothes to buy. I might take a page from Atomic Habits and Make it Invisible, aka cut down how many ads I see at all by uninstalling Instagram. Might be good not only for reducing advertisements, but also for WFH focus reasons.

 

I'll update at the end of the week, as per usual.

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Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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Sections 21 and 22 of GCP are complete! The finish line is within sight. Sections 23-25 are paltry in length, comparatively. I should make short work of them next week.

 

Completed Section 21 earlier this week, on Wednesday, I think?

Tried completing Section 22 last night, but I just didn't have the energy for it at the end of the work week. On top of that, the Section's subject matter (Identity & Access Management) is dry as hell. My partner agreed to do some body-doubling today. I'd work on my course, they'd work on a class they're also taking for work. Got it knocked out :D

 

Lifting is also complete for the week. May as well do a Week Re-cap since I'm done with everything, even though my weeks usually restart on Mondays.

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Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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Week One Progress

 

⛈️ Google Cloud Platform - Complete

Sections 21 and 22 are complete. Only about 90 minutes of content total, but certainly some of the driest material of the whole course. Wrapping up the Course Material next week, and moving on to Practice Tests.

 

🏋️‍♂️ Even Sicker Lifts - Complete. Monday: 5pts   |   Thursday: 5pts.   |   Challenge Total: 10pts

Started each workout with a warm-up: a 2 minute jump rope session, or until I was warm, then of course doing warm-up sets for each of my Main Lifts. I used to spend a lot of time warming up doing foam rolling and stretching, and I didn't find it particularly useful, so my warm-up is going to be getting my body warm as simply as possible.

 

Main Lifts feel good. I'm going to start calling them my Main Lifts instead of my Core Lifts. I'm excited to put weight on my Bench and DL.

 

After Main Lifts, I followed up with my Assistance. My Assistance includes some core work - planks and leg raises - which is rn the most challenging, and leaves me with the most soreness. BSSQ and Leg Curls on Bench/Squat days help with any imbalances, I'm just getting used to Leg Curls. I'm using a 35# resistance band with one end wrapped around my power cage, and the other around my ankle. Chin-Ups on OHP/DL days are interesting. I'm still getting used to using Resistance Bands for Assisted Chin-Ups. I can do maybe 3-5 unassisted in one set, and that number sharply declines in subsequent sets, so I'm using Resistance Bands to help grease the groove, as it were.

 

Cooldowns are lower-body stretches. Nothing new under this sun.

 

🛡️ No New Stuff - Complete

Interesting phenomenon here - I thought that this was going to be a challenge about resisting temptation. I thought that I would have to uninstall Instagram just so I could see less ads. I haven't uninstalled Instagram, I haven't even stopped looking at ads. I'll even click on them and check out the products on the page, I just feel no desire or compulsion to buy anything. I can't remember where I read it, but I'm reminded of the difference between saying "No" and saying "Not Yet", namely that it is far easier to say "Not Yet" than "Not at All". I think the fact that this challenge is time-boxed is making it easier for me to casually browse stuff online without feeling the need to actually buy anything. I haven't decided whether this is good or not.

 

On the one hand, I'm satisfying the requirements of the challenge by not buying anything. On the other hand, am I stretching a piece of proverbial elastic that's going to snap back into place once the Challenge is over, causing me to just do a bunch of online shopping?

 

I think as long as I'm using this time to define not only my buying ethics, but also what kinds of clothes and gear I want for the foreseeable future, then I'm going in the right direction.

 

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Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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On 5/14/2022 at 6:02 PM, Conquius said:

I'll even click on them and check out the products on the page, I just feel no desire or compulsion to buy anything.

This is great. I did something similar with candy bars. I just kept saying, let's wait 2 hours and if I still want it, I'll get it. It was a good stepping stone for me. Now, I don't eat candy bars at all.

Keep it up!

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The Way

Better Now than Back Then

Better Now than Later On

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On 5/14/2022 at 11:02 PM, Conquius said:

am I stretching a piece of proverbial elastic that's going to snap back into place once the Challenge is over

 

Well the point of a 5 week challenge is to build a habit so hopefully not, however I'd see how you feel throughout the next few weeks - if you're finding yourself more thinking 'not yet but oo soon' then maybe it's not doing what you're wanting! If you're 'not yet and maybe sometime' then it may be working.

Level 22 Rogue Ranger

Welcome to the Dungeons of Doom; locate the Amulet of Yendor ♀ on Level 26

Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 1415, 16, 17, 18, 1920, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

 

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