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Balsquith

Balsquith's second challenge!

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To be frank, my first challenge was not very successful, at least not in achieving the targets set. However, it was not completely without effect and it helped me on the way to developing 2 areas of my life, namely towards a paleo/primal diet and towards regular exercise. Neither of these were achieved perfectly but the foundations were set for this second challenge.

I realised during the first challenge that some element of routine is extremely useful for me to regularly achieve things, therefore I want to use this challenge to form some habits (even if they are only the basis for the finished article).

1. Morning routine: Getting up to the alarm

I have always had a problem with getting out of bed when my alarm goes off. This is not due to not getting enough sleep (I usually get between 7-8 hours each night), or the shock of the alarm (I am usually already awake and ready to turn it off when it goes off). This has become a seriously entrenched habit which doesn't manifest itself everyday, but sometimes means that I lie in for up to an hour or so after the alarm (I generally turn it off completely rather than pressing snooze). This has a knock-on effect that my day starts off unmotivated and generally continues in this fashion. I know that being able to leap out of bed when my alarm goes works better for me because I managed to have this habit for 2 months (when I was away in a different country working) and it was great, I felt more rested, I was more motivated and got more done. When I got back this habit was somehow lost and has been lost ever since, now I want to get it back.

I also want to use the extra time I have from getting up when I wanted to, to do some other things which I want to make routine. These are a walk (or run) and meditation.

The getting up to the alarm is the most important part of this goal so I shall grade it on the number of days I can get up to my alarm, any delay counts as a fail for that day.

40+/42 - A, 36+/42 - B, 32+/42 - C, 28+/42 - D, 27 and below - Fail (but will probably still be pleased with myself to some degree by anything over 20 days.)

Points awarded: Wis +2 Con +1 Cha +1 (+ 1 Wis bonus point if I can get a meditation habit attached to the waking up.) (Do these seem like reasonable points to give).

2. Evening routine: stretching and relaxation

I was thinking last week about developing healthy habits which I can sustain and it occurred to me that as well as a routine first thing in the morning, the only other time which I really have complete control over myself is just before I go to bed. A few years ago I got into a little bit of a habit of stretching before I went to bed, and this had the double benefit of great gains in flexibility (I'm generally not so flexible and often get muscle ache which I think could be avoided by stretching more) and also relaxation before going to bed. I want to get this habit back.

I want this to become a habit, therefore I don't really mind how much I do as long as I do it regularly. I will always aim to do at least 5 minutes stretching. Not stretching at all counts as a fail for that day (even if I stretched at other times during the day).

40+/42 - A, 36+/42 - B, 32+/42 - C, 28+/42 - D, 27 and below - Fail (but will probably still be pleased with myself to some degree by anything over 20 days.)

Points awarded: Dex +2

I should say that I started this challenge last week and have managed to do 5 days straight before the challenge proper begins

3. Exercise routine - 3x fitness per week

In my last challenge I set 2 goals for fitness (3x strength training and 3x running) so it in some ways this challenge seems like a step back. However, my expectations for the last challenge were somewhat unrealistic (going from an average of maybe 1 fitness session a week up to 6!). This time around I want to get an achievable fitness habit going. By the end of the last challenge I was generally getting up to 2 strength sessions and maybe 1 run a week, which would count as a pass for this goal. However, I want to make this regular and that will still be a challenge. Only a maximum of 3 sessions will count per week, although I will try to do more.

I find press-ups particularly hard and want to tackle this by doing them regularly as part of this challenge using the hundredpushups.com programm. I will award myself a bonus point at the end if I can do 50 straight normal press-ups (at the moment this is around 10 at a stretch).

18+/18 - A, 16/18 - B, 14/18 - C, 12/18 - D, 11 or less - Fail

Points awarded: Main goal Str +2, sta +1 (Bonus challenge Str +0.5, Sta+0.5)

4. 100% Primal

Last challenge my most successful goal by far was aiming to eat an 80% paleo/primal diet. I aimed for 80% and got around 70% most of the time. I've already seen and felt some benefits even with this level of imperfection (I did manage to keep away from wheat products almost entirely and my failures were largely of a white rice and potatoes nature), therefore I want to aim for 100% adherence to the diet and maybe then I sit happily at an average of above 80%, because I will need to make some more changes and not take the line of least resistance. I will be following a primal-type diet (although to be honest I don't really eat much dairy at all).

95-100% = A, 90-95% = B, 85-90% = C, 80-85% = D. Less than 80% = Fail.

I will generally grade this daily around my 3 main meals therefore potential daily percentages are 0, 33, 66 and 100. I will be strict on the grading of meals therefore a canteen meal will likely result in 33% being lost. I will need to start bringing meals in for lunch.

Points awarded: Con +3, Wis +1

Any advice on the goals, or grading, or points awarded would be greatly appreciated. Cheers

Edited by Balsquith

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Thanks Raven. It's good to know that it is not just me that has a problem with alarm clocks ;) These challenges look deceptively easy on paper, but I know this is going to be tough.

I like my evening routine challenge too :) A bit more flexibility would be a great thing to have.

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Hi Jimmie,

To be quite honest, I think with this goal I am somewhat setting myself up to fail, but I figured that if I aim for 100% then I might be so disappointed by the difference between that and where I am, that I start to make some changes and maybe end up in the 90%+ range which is where I want to be. If I apply my current marking system to my last challenge I come out with 63% when I was aiming for 80%, so I clearly need to make some tough changes. Thanks for the support.

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Day 3 update:

Morning routine: 3/3 (2/3 walk + meditation bonus)

Evening routine: 2/2

Exercise: 1/3

Paleo: 55%

My routines are moving along nicely. I'm not sure I would say that I am leaping out of bed, but at least I am getting up shortly after the alarm goes off. Strangely, and I don't know if it is related in some way to this challenge, I have slept badly every night since starting this challenge. I'm not sure if other people experience this, but if I have to get up at for example 4am to catch a flight (normal getting up time 7am), then no matter what time I go to bed I always sleep badly. It is as if my body is preparing itself to get up early and doesn't want to risk oversleeping. I'm also pleases to say that getting up when I intend to has allowed me to start putting together a morning routine afterwards, although I will need to work out exactly what I want this to be in future.

The evening routine has been going for 7 days now and is very pleasant. I don't know many stretches, so I was wondering if other people have general stretching routines?

My diet challenge has taken a bit of a beating over these first few days. I need to start making myself lunches to bring in (otherwise my daily maximum is going to stay at 66%. Yesterday we went out after going to the gym and the restaurant did not have many options so I went with Kürbisspätzle (pumpkin with fresh egg pasta), which was delicious but not paleo. My percentage is looking worrying low now! I have just bought myself some food storage boxes, so I don't have any excuse not to start bringing things in, other than not being sociable at lunch times!

Edited by Balsquith

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I think the food part is the hardest part. Like Steve said, it's 80-90% of your success. But you only have to work out, clean, stretch, meditate, etc once a day. You have to eat all throughout the day! That makes it so much harder. I think you're smart to start planning your food at work. I'm glad the other stuff is going well for you!

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I'm in the same case as you when I have something important in the morning, especially when I have to wake up earlier than usual ! I don't know what you can do to avoid bad night, maybe it would regulate itself in a few nights? I hope so !

And yup, I understand what you mean with your difficulties to reach a decent level of paleo diet... I don't eat paleo but I try to eat as best as I can, and it's often hard to find good things to eat for lunch... When I can, I try to bring my own meal at work ! ^^ So, yeah the planning meals are definitly a good idea ! :)

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I'm also not sure why I am sleeping so badly at the moment, but the added pressure to get up could be part of it. That will hopefully disappear when it becomes normal. I've also got a bit of a cold lurking around which could be a reason too.

I now have lunch boxes so I shall go home and cook a lot tonight, then it can do me for the next couple of days at work. That is the plan anyway :) I normally go with my group to the canteen so this is the only time I really talk to them socially, but eating poor food is a poor trade for 20 minutes of idle conversation, so I shall become antisocial ;)

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One day, they will see the meals you prepare for yourself and they would do the same... :P I bring home made soup today in a Thermos, it's the first time I did it, and it really stayed warm ! Hot soup at lunch, a nice way to eat veggies during the cold days of winter !

You should post your recipes here, I'm sure it could give some nice ideas to all the people who bring their own lunch ! :)

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Home-made soup sounds like a great idea, but that is quite hard to make isn't it? I am not a very good cook, but starting to eat paleo/primal has got me started, and practice makes perfect. Last night I made bolognese sauce and then used thinly cut courgette instead of pasta. It tasted okay (more practice needed!), but my girlfriend would have preferred pasta with it, that is easy to change for next time. I have brought the left overs to work for lunch today, but with broccoli instead of courgette :)

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Exactly ! When I cook soup, I always do it in big quantity, and I put almost half of it in the freezer... And so, even when I come back from work really tired with no wish to cook, I still can it well !

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Day 4 update:

Morning routine: 4/4 (3/4 walk + meditation bonus)

Evening routine: 3/3

Exercise: 1/3

Paleo: 57.75%

I'm still not sleeping well, but have decided that that is probably due to a lurking cold (which is just making me feel a little under the weather but nothing worse). It was extremely hard to get out of bed this morning (leaping out of bed is probably phase 2 of the challenge!).

I'm not sure I should start tinkering with things at this early stage, but I'm thinking of moving my meditation side-challenge into my evening routine as it is somewhat dampening my motivation and drive in the morning (there is not a lot, so I don't want to lose it!). However, I'm not sure I will be able to find the time to do it in the evening. We'll see.

Paleo is hopefully going to start looking better after today as I have brought my own lunch into work.

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Nope, homemade soup is really easy to do !

All you have to do is prepare and cook the veggies, and the mixes it ! I use a cooker, but you can also use a simple pan. And for the recipes, you don't need to do complicated things. For example, the pumpkin soup is made of : pumpkin, a few potatoes and onions! And then, some cream or cheese and that's it ! :)

Edited by Raven

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Bolognese is one of those sauces that gets better the next day. And I think Raven's right about the soups. My wife always cooks a huge batch and we eat off of it for a week sometimes.

I'm finding soups and stews are one of the easiest ways to cook without grains.

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Thanks Raven. It's good to know that it is not just me that has a problem with alarm clocks ;) These challenges look deceptively easy on paper, but I know this is going to be tough.

I had to change my alarm... I now use an ap on my cell phone that makes me do math problems in order to quiet it... and it adds more problems with every snooze... because I don't always WAKE up before hitting snooze ;)

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I had to change my alarm... I now use an ap on my cell phone that makes me do math problems in order to quiet it... and it adds more problems with every snooze... because I don't always WAKE up before hitting snooze ;)

Haha, that is hilarious and terrible at the same time ;) I have heard about these math problem snoozes before, it sounds like a good idea (assuming you are ok at math!!). Unfortunately my phone is also paleo and doesn't have these functions ;)

Good to see a fellow wood elf in these parts...

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Thanks for all the encouragement on this thread to start soup and stew making, I'm going to have to look into this at the weekend. Can anyone suggest any good soups or stews I should start with?

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Haha, that is hilarious and terrible at the same time ;) I have heard about these math problem snoozes before, it sounds like a good idea (assuming you are ok at math!!). Unfortunately my phone is also paleo and doesn't have these functions ;)

Good to see a fellow wood elf in these parts...

I really wasn't sure what to pick... but I love the woods... and feel most at home out there... and I always considered myself more elvish (even though I am shaped more dwarvish ;) LOL)

I was so happy when I switched to a smart phone... I don't know what I would do without it!!

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