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Mistr aims for focus


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Challenge 11


You'd think by now, after 10 challenges, that I would be on top of things. My life is certainly better than it was a year and a half ago. I've lost about half the weight I wanted to lose and my knees don't hurt anymore.That said, I still have a ways to go.


Life goal

I've been having an awful time focusing at work. When I'm at home I can pick from a long list of tasks. If I don't feel like cooking, I can clean or sort things or work on projects. I've gotten better at taking breaks to do fun things between tedious chores. At work I tend to find excuses to surf the net when I want to avoid a task. Knowing better is not helping me change the behavior. The really idiotic part is that most of the "dreaded tasks" aren't that bad. Once I get going I can get them done and feel good about it.


I don't know what approach is going to help me here, so I'm trying several things.


1) Sleep 8 hours a night.

The evidence keeps mounting that I am more productive with more sleep. And getting to bed is where I get in trouble.

Target: Stop doing tasks by 9:30pm on work nights. In bed before 10:00pm. In bed by 11:00pm on weekends unless at a special event.


Tally by week: A = 9:30 or earlier, B = 9:31-9:45, C = 9:46-10:00, D = 10:01-10:15, F = 10:16 or later for stopping activities (shifted one hour later on Friday and Saturday). Bonus points for going to bed early on weekends.


2) Avoid junk food

I suspect that some of the things I am eating are making it harder to concentrate. Not sure which ones are the problem, but processed food is a likely suspect. Most of the time my eating habits are pretty good. I had to send a package of blonde Oreos to gaming with my partner on Saturday because I have no control when I start eating them. I will ask him to cooperate by not bringing home treats for me. I am allowed to make sweets from scratch if I want. In my world time limitations work well as calorie limitations. ;)


Target: no packaged processed food, limited sugar and white flour.


Tally by day: good - meh - bad


I'll add more later. I have to sign off now to make my first goal for tonight.


Exercise - a little of everything

I'm happy with my exercise plan as it is. In brief, rotate through different types of exercises:

  • knee physical therapy
  • shoulder physical therapy (now with extra core exercises!)
  • HIIT
  • upper body strength training (split into bodyweight and freeweight sessions)
  • aikido and dancing

The aikido and dancing count more as fun than as exercise. Both are skill-based with an aerobic component, but have breaks too often to actually count as aerobic exercise. For challenge purposes they count as not being a complete couch potato. Teaching days do not count. Chores such as shoveling snow and vacuuming count.


Target: 6 days exercise per week on average = 36 sessions over the challenge. Not to have two rest days in a row unless forced by extenuating circumstances.


I'll tally this but not score it because it is maintenance, not a new goal.



My ongoing challenge goal. I have learned that to-do lists make me crazy. I never manage to get to all the things and I get stressed out. Instead of a to-do list I am going to have a pick list. I will choose tasks based on the time available and my priority order at the moment.


One of the pick lists will be my creative projects. The list of cooking and cleaning chores is never-ending. An important aspect of balance is making time for the fun stuff. Also social things, but those tend to get scheduled for me.


Target: Pick at least two tasks from different categories on evenings I am home. Weekend days when I am home pick from at least three categories, including a creative project and a dreaded task. I can skip either on the weekend if I made significant progress during the week.


Tally by week: number of sessions in each category. These should come out roughly even when adjusted for time.


Bonus goal

I have been having a lot of fun playing Minecraft. Historically I've spent way too much time playing video games when I get hooked. I want to keep playing but not to the exclusion of other things I want (or need) to do. Another practice I want to keep under control is using sweets as a reward.


I can play Minecraft only on days I don't eat any sweets. Fruit does not count. Chocolate with sugar and desserts count. I need to do at least one other task before I get to play. Bonus playing time if it is a dreaded task.


Vanity goal

Ending weight <155 lbs.  I started the challenge at 159 lbs. The previous challenge I was at 156. I want to get back to where I was at the beginning of November or better.


Prize for goals - fiber or fiber-related books.


Edited to add exercise, balance and additional goals

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Level 62  Viking paladin

My current challenge   Battle log 

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I'm doing a similar sleep challenge.  It makes a huge, huge difference.


If I can think of a way to do the task avoidance, I will join you in that, because I have tasks where I do the same thing.

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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Sleep and food:  the most important things you can take care of :-)


Do you take a break from Aikido over Christmas?


If standard blonde oreos are anywhere near as delicious as GF ones, that makes perfect sense.  There is no "one."


I was not able to practice from 12/20 to 12/28 because of travel. I made it to three classes last week. I miss the general working out more than the aikido. All the car time and minimal exercise makes me stiff.


I chose to go home instead of to practice last night because I had too many things to do. I was not focused at work and left late because of it (hence the goal). Once I got home I was better.


I cooked cabbage with mushrooms and bacon (from Nom Nom Paleo), using up a Napa cabbage that has been in my fridge since, um, October (maybe September. It was from the CSA). Good thing cabbage keeps well. I also cooked a pork steak that has been marinating since the weekend. Yay for using up food! My partner liked the cabbage dish.


I washed a sinkful of cooking dishes and got my challenge started.


Today I did HIIT on the exercise bike for the first time in over two weeks. It felt pretty much the same. My plan for tonight was supposed to start with grocery shopping. That won't happen because my partner's car is in the shop. His car is having a bad week. Last week he cracked a rim and had to replace a tire. Yesterday it didn't want to start, made a popping noise and the 'check engine' light came on. $$$. I'm just glad it waited until we were home from traveling before breaking down.


I have a number of dreaded tasks to choose from for tonight. Having options takes some of the dread out for me. I can choose the second-worst task and still be virtuous.

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Level 62  Viking paladin

My current challenge   Battle log 

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Yesterday I was avoiding this task I had to do, and thought about this and how I was going to come up with a challenge to stop doing that, and did twenty minutes on it, just so I could report back that I had.  The challenge is on.  Your turn. :)

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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Hahaha. A sleep challenge too?



Looks like we BOTH are going to have to focus on getting to bed as soon as possible. :D



Uggggh, check engine lights are the WORST!!!! Was the damage too bad?


I'm up for it!  I was paying attention to the clock last night but still didn't manage to put down my project until 9:31pm. B for the night. I got to bed before 10. Then things went south.


10:45pm  phone rings


Mistr: groggy "Hello?"


Partner: "Hi, I'm on my way home"


M: "Uh, okay"  now why did he have to wake me up to tell me that? Not worth worrying about. I can sleep for at least 45 minutes before he gets home. zzzzzz




M: rolls over and finds bed empty. Looks at phone to see the time. Freaks out. Fumbles with phone to make call without putting on glasses. No answer on first set of rings. Freaks out more. Calls again.


P: "Hello?"




P: confused "I'm in the basement".


M: "Okay, you are not dead in a ditch. The least you can do for scaring me is come kiss me goodnight".


P: "I'll be up to bed in a minute"


M: There is no point in trying to sleep when he will be making noise in a minute. Pets cat who came in to see what the fuss was about. Purring is soothing, but not enough to go back to sleep




M: stomps downstairs to find out what is going on.


P: turning off lights and coming up stairs "Really, I was on my way to bed!  I'm sorry!!!"


Apologies ensue. I got mostly enough sleep. I plan on milking this for days.


Yesterday I was avoiding this task I had to do, and thought about this and how I was going to come up with a challenge to stop doing that, and did twenty minutes on it, just so I could report back that I had.  The challenge is on.  Your turn. :)


Last night I had 20 minutes and decided to do a small task instead of goof off or wash more dishes. I cleaned and polished my work shoes. I've been thinking since summer that I should make time to polish my leather shoes (not just this pair). I don't mind doing it, but it never makes it to the top of the list. Not a big thing, but I got something done.


I also did cooking and laundry which count as background noise at this point. Chores are not dreaded tasks. And played Minecraft :)  I am happy with my choices on the balance front.


Today I was more productive at work. I did not tackle either of my current dreaded tasks, but I did a bunch of other things that were time dependent. Now I have to run off and teach aikido. I hope to get caught up on everyone's challenges over the next couple days.

Level 62  Viking paladin

My current challenge   Battle log 

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Sleep and food seems to be a pattern this time around. I am sure you can get a handle on it. You seem to be one of the most focused and in control people I know. I am sure you can do this challenge easily. 


<blushes> I certainly hope there are plenty of other people around more focused than me. I do have the benefit of a head start. Lots of nerds here are in their 20s and 30s.


Found you! I smiled that your thread seems to take vacuuming more seriously as exercise than aikido. But I know you get a lot of exercise in all different forms.


Done properly, all the exercise in aikido comes from falling down and getting up. And chasing the other person when trying to attack them. Nage, the person responding to the attack, is supposed to use as little energy as possible. Uke, the attacker, provides all the energy.


The normal way we practice is for one person to attack four times (right-left-right-left), then the partners trade roles. Some techniques are aerobic for both partners but most aren't. Then after a few minutes (3-10) the instructor claps and everyone sits and watches her demonstrate the next technique. Classes are usually challenging, but not in an aerobic endurance sense. Too many breaks.


Uggggh, check engine lights are the WORST!!!! Was the damage too bad?


Not good. $650 of not good. Something with the air intake sensor and housing. These problems come with driving a 2003 car.

Level 62  Viking paladin

My current challenge   Battle log 

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I really like your Minecraft/sweets balance! 


Aikido sounds much more mentally challenging and focused on the mind-body connection?


The idea of trading off computer games and sweets seems good. In practice, I found myself saying "I don't have time to play computer games today so I will eat all the chocolate". Not a win.


I have encountered the same problem before when I tried other "no sweets" restrictions. I get very contrary about it. I do much better with other types of behavior manipulation. Like "I have to eat veggies first". 


In this case, I'm leaning towards I must do a tedious chore or dreaded task first. I did pretty well on those this weekend.

  • I found the cable for my portable hard drive and backed up all the data from my laptop. (it needs an operating system upgrade)
  • I brought in the chicken stock from the garage. Turns out I left it too long so I threw it out. (suspected but still no fun)


  • Cleaned the laundry room, did laundry
  • Grocery shopping
  • Chopped celery and peppers for eating fresh
  • Dishes

Saturday went pretty well up until I played Minecraft for two hours when I should have been cooking dinner. By the time I stopped I was hungry and headachy. My decisions continued downhill from there. I had hot dogs for supper because nothing sounded good. There was good food in the fridge but it didn't appeal to me. I read news for a while and decided to go grocery shopping even though it was 9:15pm. I suspected that the grocery would be picked over on Saturday evening. It was nearly empty which is a good thing. I did not realize that they send the cashiers home at 10pm and everyone has to scan their own groceries. That added an extra 20 minutes. It was 10:55 by the time I got my car loaded.


I was glad to have fresh food in the house the next morning. The bad decisions threw off all my timing, as well as trashing my sleep timing goal for the week. Sunday went better. No computer games. I got quite a bit done.

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Level 62  Viking paladin

My current challenge   Battle log 

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Week 1


Sleep - I did great on going to bed on time except for Saturday night, which was a FAIL. Average B for the week.


The habit of stopping things by 9:30pm is working for me so far. That gives me 15-20 minutes to brush my teeth, set out clothes for the next day and take care of other small tasks before going to bed. I got an average of 7.9 hours of sleep a night and the worst night was more than 7 hours.


Food - not great. Three days were good. Three were meh where I had more flour and sugar than I would like. The quality was okay, but I ate more starch and less veggies than ideal. One day was poor. Chips and salsa at work. The chips were sweet potato or multigrain, but chips still count as junk food. The real issue is that I have not set aside time to cook. Our food reserves are low.


Exercise - Missed two days. I will try to make that up this week.


Balance - Good at home except for Saturday evening. I have been much more productive and less stressed. On the fun side I started spinning the next batch of fiber that I prepped last fall. I also finished a section of my big embroidery project. It was just a small area but completing part of the picture was really satisfying.


Focus - I finished one dreaded task at work and made good progress on the second one. I talked to my boss about it and she is fine with me taking more time. I can get it done next week.


I made the right choices for my goals. I was working on the project I've had trouble with and realized just how much brain power it takes. I have to be wide awake and not distracted to work on it. Getting more sleep and avoiding carbs at lunch are key. So far this week has gone better at work and the one evening I had at home. Motivation to keep it up. :)

Level 62  Viking paladin

My current challenge   Battle log 

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One of the tasks on my to-do list is to empty and defrost the fridge. My partner cleaned it the last time. He did the one shelf at a time method so that he didn't have to move everything out to the garage. We were going to do this on New Year's day when we both had time off, but we worked on other projects. Because we were going to empty it out, I have been trying to cook stuff from the freezer and not buy too much.


The combination of less grocery shopping and less cooking means the fridge is looking pretty bare. While I could clean it this weekend, part of the plan is to have all three of us home so that we can identify the mystery containers. My partner is gone this weekend and our housemate is gone next week. Far too long to go without cooking. With that in mind, I bought a lot of veggies on Saturday. Tonight is the first time this week I have time to cook. Here are all the things I might make:

  • Swiss chard with pine nuts
  • cheesy polenta (goes well with veggies)
  • brown rice (to go with the leftover Chinese food that appeared and potential other meals)
  • roasted root veggies
  • *steak (intended for steak salads)
  • baked potatos and sweet potatos
  • peanut sauce
  • chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips
  • apple pie or apple crisp (I bought apples in September)
  • truffles (delayed holiday gifts)
  • chicken or pork chops (for lunches next week)

* Must cook the steak tonight or throw it out tomorrow 


Clearly I need to pick a couple things for tonight, a couple for Saturday, and maybe more for Sunday.


My partner has been talking a lot about eating healthy and losing weight. He is in the position a lot of nerds would relate to - about 60 lbs overweight with accumulated bad habits. He is working on changing his attitudes and choices around food. At this point he will make the healthy choice when it is easy. If it is too much work he will eat convenience food. Adding cooking time to his schedule will eventually happen, but not for months. My part in being supportive is doing far more than my share of cooking. This means that cooking outranks all the other chores on my list for this weekend.


On the exercise side, I saw the sports medicine doc again today. He asked me how the new exercises were going. I said that the planks with reaching one arm overhead was getting easy very quickly. He looked at his intern and said "could you show me what you are doing?". As I might have guessed, I was doing it wrong. Seems that I don't have the muscle coordination in my back to do it right yet. I have a new exercise to mobilize my shoulder blades and associated muscles in my back.

Level 62  Viking paladin

My current challenge   Battle log 

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Here you are! I'm afraid I would be the same way about sweets if I tried to bargain with myself like that :) 

I admire your sleep goal, I need to do something similar, would probably help if I quit bringing work home and telling myself that I'll go to bed "after I finish this one thing"

RES...and I want to live days worth dying for

Current: RES: CUTE isn't cutting it!


Magickal, Eclectic, Goddess, Level 69


|My Character Page | Tracking Spreadsheet | My Blog |

Growth happens when you care more about the well being of your future self than the comfort of your present self!

"Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is." -Yoda


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