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[Oh crap, I thought I had another week to get ready! o0! - ed.]

Main Quest: Become My Own Hero

In celebration of the recent completion of my first (and certainly not last) career in Mass Effect, I’m joining N7! I briefly considered going for one of the “pure†classes, but quickly thought better of it and rolled up a Vanguard - ME’s answer to the classic fighter/mage. My Shepard was a real sweetheart, friend to all living things, and a synthetic’s worst nightmare.

Naturally, I relied heavily on the assistance of my crack engineering team, Tali and Garrus, but this challenge is based on the Vanguard skills that got Shep the farthest in his mission.

tl;dnr

Throw -3min Kip Up practice, 5 days/week

Charm - 30 min/week creative writing practice

Unity - Loving-Kindness Meditation, 2x/week

Barrier - Stomach Vacuums, 4x15s 3x/week

Shotguns - All HabitRPG Dailies complete everyday.

Throw (STR+2 DEX+2)

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Gimme some room, sucka’!

The explosive impact of biotic attacks is what really drew me to the Vanguard, and remains a trait I strive to develop in myself. I’m downshifting to a maintenance plan for explosive pushups and jumps from Convict Conditioning 3 to free up some resources practicing that book’s Kip Up progressions for 3 min, 5 days/week.

Charm (WIS+1, CHA+2)

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Garrus Vakarian in “How NOT to Put on the Charmâ€

A charming Shepard can take control of almost any situation and end things however he wants. The situations that I need to take control of are all in my file of unfinished writing projects, which I will spend 30 minutes (minimum!) per week working on.

Unity (CON+2, WIS+2)

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Femshep has no love.

Shep shows his love for his squad by using Unity to get them back on their feet from a KO; I’m going to work on my ability to show some love by replacing my usual breath meditation with a guided Metta Meditation (“loving-kindnessâ€) 2 days per week.

Barrier (CHA+2)

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Also known as a “bullet sponge.â€

The up close and personal combat style of the Vanguard sometimes requires a thick outer layer to keep all your pieces together - Mine can’t do anything about repelling mass accelerator projectiles, it just keeps my innards from becoming “outardsâ€. Sadly, it hasn’t been doing a very good job lately as evidenced by the unnatural distention of my belly. I think I’ll reinforce it by practicing 4 sets of 15 second Stomach Vacuums 3 days per week.

Shotguns (STA+2)

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Truer words have never been said.

Life in the Traverse is dangerous and uncertain, so it’s important to have something you can always count on... like the sweet recoil of a shotgun. I can also always count on HabitRPG to keep me organized, so I’ll repay it by completing all of my Dailies every day. Chores at home, tasks at work, physical/mental training and anything else I can think of that needs doing gets put here; recently, I’ve added several new ones related to getting stuff done at work, and consolidated some old ones into single, check-listed Dailies to improve the organizational aspects (I may split those back up if I feel like I’m not getting as much XP as I’d like for my efforts).

Let’s get versatile!

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*Waves* Hi Phaze! Nice straightforward goals building your general awesomeness level as usual.

Subbed to watch you smash it out of the park again :-) thanks for the support too, mate

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T: You know, I had the idea for the tl;dnr to spare casual passersby from my rambling, but discovered pretty quickly that I needed a simple version, too.

--

Clem: Hi! ^^ Here's hoping I can produce some out-of-the-park-smashing for your enjoyment.

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UNCLE PHAYZE!!  

 

I'm right there with you on the writing projects - why are those so darn hard to wrap up?  Excited to see what heroic deeds are performed this time around, as well as park-smashing.  These "stomach vacuums" sound interesting - is it just breathing out and drawing in the abdominal muscles?  I try to do that sometimes when I meditate...

 

p.s. Garrus is the best B)

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Rowan: I know, right!? It's so easy to start writing something, but then there's that horrible point where you feel like you just can't bridge this immense chasm between where you are and where you know you need to go... it's awful! The rush of actually hitting a satisfying ending had better be worth all the pain it takes to get there...

Yeah, stomach vacuums looks like this:

m-mentzer-40404-209x300.jpg

The idea is to strengthen the transverse abdominus to better hold your squishy bits behind your belt. I know I have some belly fat, but when I tense my abs, I can feel that there isn't nearly as much there as it would seem just by looking, so I'm hoping this process will reduce the bulge, at least a little. It's also supposed to have posture and breathing benefits, so it's hard to go wrong. It doesn't even take any time - I just hold it in while I'm walking around at work. Multitasking!

And yes, Garrus is awesome. ^^

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Rowan C: Gah! Two Rowans!? o0

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Welcome to the Traverse! Watch out for Geth, and if you have any questions just ask Avena. ^^

---

SL: Thanks for stopping by! ^^

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Everything's better with shotguns.

---

Damn you, Dragondoor! Damn you for releasing yet ANOTHER book that looks as though it were specifically written just for me, and that will make me question every fitness choice I've ever made, and probably result in a system-wide reboot of my entire workout scheme!! ><

On a side note, can anybody spot me tenner until payday? ^^;

Oh, and speaking of my workout scheme, here's a long winded explanation of my current experimental system:

It's taken a lot of introspection to decide what I want/need from my training right now, but I think I've got the start of something good. At least for now, I want to focus my attention on building strength for more advanced BW moves and gaining some flexibility in my hips/hamstrings, so in order to accomplish that I have dialed everything else back quite a bit.

I thought about dropping explosives and grip training completely, but I don't want to lose the gains that I've already made, so instead I'm testing out a simple maintenance plan. I'm hoping that the consequent neural adaptations from that will make it easier to progress with those moves when I get back to training them more earnestly.

Skills training is still an important part of my plan, but it's getting harder and harder to find new moves to add to my Rope Dart repertoire and it's really hard to self-teach acro so I've decided to ease up a little and let myself really consolidate what I can already do and explore new applications for it. I may also try teaching myself to swing dance, which is only going to be mentally taxing, not physically.

Strength training is based on the tried and true "Big 6" of Convict Conditioning fame (supplemented occasionally with additional progressions from Startbodyweight.com), but I'll be using a further modified version of the sub-max protocol that I love so well for its ability to jack my reps with minimal effort.

Series A:

Myofacial Release

Strength: Pushups, Leg Raises, Squats

Grip Training: FT Planks

Stretches: Pigeon L, pigeon R, Child's Pose

Series B:

Strength: Pullups, Bridges, HS Press,

Explosives: Tuck Jumps and Clap Pushups

Stretches: Plow Pose, Camel Pose, Frog Pose

Alternate A and B, 5 days/week.

These will be done daily:

-Mobility Warmup: 5 min of any combination of dynamic/prasara style stretches, joint circles, qi gong, etc.

-Confusion Fu: 15 min of Skills practice that will include any combination of Freestyle, Playtime, Blindfold/Target Practice, and/or training new tech. No pressure, just play and experiment.

The Schedule

Sunday-Wednesday are "Work Days", Thursday is "Testing Day."

Testing Day: 1 AMRAP set of each move, rest as needed. AMRAP = As Many Reps As Possible, with the caveat that I stop a rep or two before failure. NO REDLINING!!!! Ever. Because of the alternating schedule,

Work Days: 3 sets of 30% AMRAP, rest as needed. (subject to change and experimentation) As before, the goal is to avoid muscular exhaustion and manage fatigue by "practicing" the moves rather than trying to assassinate myself with them.

Progression Standards: AMRAP of 20+ for two tests in a row. (subject to change and experimentation)

Myofacial Release: 5 min (or so) of deep tissue assault using balls, rollers, sticks, whips, chains, spiked clubs and/or whatever else it takes to work the gristle out of my back.

Explosives: 3x3 Tuck Jumps and Clap Pushups, dispersed through the day - any progression/regression is permitted, the important thing is to practice, not to kill myself striving for a new PR. This is a maintenance protocol. There is no effort to advance.

Grip: 2x30s Fingertip Plank, dispersed through the day. This is a maintenance protocol. There is no effort to advance. Hanging strength will be trained well enough for now while working pullups and leg raises.

Stretching: Practice each pose for 1min, then move to the next. Experiment with different stretching methods.

If all goes well with this system I intend to add Dips and Horizontal Pulls, but really I'm in no rush to do that. Once I've reached some arbitrary point where I feel "strong enough" or just need a change of pace, I will modify this basic format to refocus on something else, and then reduce strength training to maintenance levels.

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WHUH....Eh?  Oh wow.  Hi other Rowan!  I feel like we should...fight?  High five?  Switch places and see who notices?  I KNEW that the Assassin's Guild had alternate versions of all of us Rangers....

 

 

DANCE MAGIC DANCE!  Oooh!  Is Mrs. Phayze on board with the swing dancing/ know any swing dancing lore?  This could be a way to speed up the learning process...

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Damn you, Dragondoor! Damn you for releasing yet ANOTHER book that looks as though it were specifically written just for me, and that will make me question every fitness choice I've ever made, and probably result in a system-wide reboot of my entire workout scheme!! ><

 

 

Resist the urge! Stay the course! Trust your training!

 

I didn't even know you were into suspended training.  Do you have rings?

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WHUH....Eh?  Oh wow.  Hi other Rowan!  I feel like we should...fight?  High five?  Switch places and see who notices?  I KNEW that the Assassin's Guild had alternate versions of all of us Rangers....

 

 

We should have a team-up adventure, obvs.

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Rowans: There's only one way to settle this: Whichever one of you has a beard is clearly the Evil Twin.

5ac5db8cdd417bb5f60d1d150dec2e13.jpg

Mrs. Phayze is actually a rather accomplished dancer (swing, among several others), though I am naught but a hapless clod on the dance floor. For some reason, my mojo only works when I'm armed with something potentially deadly (swords, staves, ropes with rice-filled socks tied to the end, etc.). She's tried to train this failing out of me, but it never ends well so I've decided to take on this swing dancing challenge alone and surprise her by being slightly less pathetic at a party we're going to next month.

We'll see how well I succeed...

kaidan_can_t_dance_by_mcomommy-d5xbk87.g

---

T: Yes and no, I guess. I made my own rings from a set of adjustable nylon tie-down straps I wasn't using for anything and cheap playground rings from Amazon (total cost: $3!). I was using them heavily until I went minimalist last fall, and then just never got them out again after getting into convict conditioning - too lazy to set them up all the time, I guess. ^^;

Besides that, I got frustrated with them, because I had such a hard time finding good info on progressions that weren't aimed at gymnasts. That's a level of technical prowess that I'm just not into. I'd always hoped to get back on them once I'd built up my upper body strength a bit, so if this book is as good as it sounds, I may consider integrating ring progressions for some moves as I go along. Baby steps!

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ROWAN vs. ROWAN!  THE BATTLE OF THE AGES!

 

kaidan_can_t_dance_by_mcomommy-d5xbk87.g

 

Dancing in the future - it is the best.

 

Clearly the solution to your problem is to have dance lessons in your secret underground Danger Room, or to somehow figure out a way to dance while armed.  WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG

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Garrus begs to differ

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Wow, busy weekend! Spent Friday getting lights/outlets wired in my basement (really needed those!) in preparation for moving the laundry facilities down there, then we spent the rest of the day at Ikea and Costco. Saturday, I spent the morning working an extra shift to cover for a guy who just retired, and while it's great to make extra dinero, it was a really crappy day - I had more technical issues in that one shift than I've had in the last 6 months combined... -_- After that, I got a nap, and while I was dozing Mrs. Phayze and the boy tripped onto a rescue dog adoption thing at Petsmart, which never ends well.

Spent the rest of Saturday building Ikea furniture (new dinner table, yay!) and trying to clear all of the flat packs and what-not so that we could rearrange stuff and make room for our new foster dog that we picked up Sunday. The little puggle is settling in slowly, but she came from a foster home with 24 other dogs (!!!), she's had a big weekend of being displayed at Petsmart, and to make things worse for her, she had a sister that got adopted first, so she can take her time.

I'm waiting around at the doctors office now, finally ready to have a serious conversion about why I feel so damn tied all the time and what I can do about it. More later.

Busy, busy, busy....

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I'm waiting around at the doctors office now, finally ready to have a serious conversion about why I feel so damn tied all the time and what I can do about it. More later.

Busy, busy, busy....

 

Good luck, dude! I hope you get/got some answers!

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Man I love building flat pack furniture. Does that make me weird?

Hope the doc has some answers for you, Phayzey. Unexplained tiredness is the pits (heck so is explained tiredness when you can't do anything about it!)

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Clem: if it does, then you're in good company because I kind of dig it, too! ^^

---

Thanks, guys! You're the best bunch of squadies a galaxy-treking paramilitary commando leader could ask for. ^^ <3

The reward for your love? INFO-DUMP!

6dd55fe32c3d37f6e20ea1908ec87d8e05d09dd5

Mission #1

Throw - 5/5 (3min Kip Up practice)

Charm - 10/30 (30 min/week creative writing

Unity - 2/2 (Loving-Kindness Meditation)

Barrier - 3/3 (Stomach Vacuums, 4x15s)

Shotguns - 7/7 (Complete all HabitRPG Dailies)

All in all, a pretty solid start, however I completely failed at my Charm goal for the week by falling into the classic “I’ll do it later†trap.  I know better, and I often chide others by reminding them that there is no such thing as “later†- it’s just an excuse for being lazy, and not even a very good one!  Much like previous attempts at establishing a writing habit, I’ve agreed to give myself opportunities for extra credit by making any time over the weekly minimum count for half - so I’ll need to spent an extra 40 minutes working on something in order to make up for the 20 that I didn’t do last week.

Kip-ups are going well.  I’m up to Step 4: Bridge Kips, which basically involve rolling back, then kipping up into a bridge (hence the name...).  The next step is Butt Kips, which require one to land upon their posterior, so I’ll need to work out some kind of cushioning before I try that one.

I’ve tried a couple of Metta meditations that I found on YouTube, but I still haven’t hit on one that I really like, so I’ve got some different ones queued up for this week.  I don’t know if I can see much of a difference in my belly yet, but the vacuums are definitely prompting a change that I can feel!  I read something the other day that defined “tone†as the “resting firmness of a muscleâ€, so going by that description I am undoubtedly “toning my core†- even though that sounds so much like a headline on a sleazy fitness rag that I’m embarrassed to type it.  ^^;

ScaleItchMotiv3.jpg

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I really, really hate getting blood drawn. Lots of people say they're afraid of needles, but I wouldn't say that about me. The feeling I have is more of an intense disgust. I explained this to the vampire my phlebotomist yesterday, and quickly added that if she noticed me twitching or squirming during the process to just ignore it. I'll be fine. Once she was done biting my neck collecting the sample she asked if I was all right.

"I think so," I said, apparently unconvincingly.

"Are you going to pass out?"

"I'm thinkin' about it."

"Would you like some juice?"

"That'd be awesome!"

Ultimately, I decided that it would be undignified to faint, and there were other people waiting for the chair, so I pounded the juice and got to my car as quickly as I could.

Results: Vitamin D insufficiency! I'm not full-on deficient, but my levels are low enough to warrant supplements, so I'll be starting on those ASAP. Mrs. Phayze thinks I should buy a speedo and take up sun-bathing as well, but I think that would be a cruel thing to do my neighbors.

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Fish oil high in DHA is meant to be good for vitamin D. It's what my naturopath gave me while pregnant because I stopped eating seafood all together (for a different issue, not just pregnancy) and needed more D at the same time because the end of my pregnancy was autumn here, plus I work an office job and sun is sometimes in short supply!

Going out in the sun wearing as little as possible with no sunscreen for 10 min works too though ;-)

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Solar-powered Phayze!  Vitamin D deficiency is pretty brutal - I'm glad the doc caught it though!  As undignified as it may be, Mrs. Phayze gives good advice - you gotta absorb those life-giving energy beams through your epidermis!

 

Now we just have to figure out how to hack our biology so we can photosynthesize...

 

Also I am glad you escaped the vampires.  Who are, I'm sure, lovely people who perform a vital role in out society.  But still.  Vampires.

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I don't care if they turn me green, I would totally sign up for photosynthetic body-mods.

In the mean time, the vitamin D thing seems to be working wonders for me!  I’m still feeling a little slow and tired, but it’s more like that tired you get when you’re recovering from being sick, and not the drained-out deathly tiredness of actually having the flu.  It turns out that my mom (a big sun-worshiper) and my sister are both on vitamin D supplements as well, so it’s likely that I have a genetic inclination toward that problem.  Not exactly “good newsâ€, but it’s a problem that’s easily managed so I’ll take it.

Lets all drink a toast to medical science! ^^

AVeryModelMordin.jpg

Mission #2

Throw - 9/9 (3min Kip Up practice)

Charm - 40/60 (30 min/week creative writing

Unity - 4/4 (Loving-Kindness Meditation)

Barrier - 6/6 (Stomach Vacuums, 4x15s)

Shotguns - 14/14 (Complete all HabitRPG Dailies)

I gave myself an excused absence from kip-up practice the other day because they've been grinding on a bony thing sticking off of my hip.  I remember beating that spot to pieces doing rolls in a fight scene on a concrete floor many years ago, so before I proceed much farther here, I need to get myself a mat, or a rug or something.  The hard part is going to be finding a place at work to stash it where it will be easily reachable for me, but not easily discoverable by anyone else.  Hmmmm...  >.>

Anyway, all else is going well.  I got in my full 30 min of writing, though I haven’t done any extra credit work yet.  Still trying to find that perfect guided Metta meditation, though it has been interesting experimenting with different ones.  I haven’t noticed any further improvement in my belly firmness, though it’s still early to make any judgements.  Managing my Habitica stuff has felt surprisingly easy lately, which is good.  I’ve even gotten a few To-do’s knocked out!

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Hooray for Genetics!

 

What guided meditations have you found helpful?  I'm looking for some to add to my repertoire...

 

Does your workplace have those foam panels in the ceiling?  Cause you can hide all sorts of crap up there.

 

Nice Week 2 numbers, also!  

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