Tag Archives: Flexibility

June 2016 Month in Review

June has been a rollercoaster, mostly in the up and down sense.  It started with grim determination … and then I immediately got sick and had all my plans thrown into chaos.  I spent two weeks getting back to normal, and once normal I resumed my grim determination to make myself the best person I can be … and so far it’s working.

I briefly experimented with using ‘themed days’ throughout the week, so one day devoted entirely to fitness, another entirely to chess, etc etc.  This lasted for about a week before I hated it and went back to my old standard of doing a little bit of everything every day, and I’m much happier for it.

Still, it’s been strange, as I’ve spent half the month basically recovering from sickness and other half trying to go full speed ahead, which is a strange dichotomy.  I don’t know if it affected me in any way, but it’s been a mental grind at times. Continue reading

May 2016 Month in Review

May has been an interesting month.  Really, it’s a tale of two half-months.  The first two weeks I was unhappy, cranky and borderline depressed … though I don’t know why.  The world just didn’t look as bright.  Then a thunderstorm rolled in, seemingly blasting me out of my funk, and May has rocketed forward ever since.

For the last six weeks or so I had been mostly existing, not really progressing.  I managed to put effort into my workouts and not much else.  That changed halfway through this month, when I got a burst of energy and have been riding it every since.  Let’s take a look.

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April 2016 Updates

April’s over.  Cool.  April wasn’t as kind to me as March.  Honestly, I think a big reason was simply the weather: it snowed in April, and then it rained and got very cold and never really warmed up.  That doesn’t make for a good month, and it more or less mimicked my mental state.  I never really got going.

More accurately, about halfway through I took a break from most of my things.  I did less chess, less poi, less of everything.  Now that the month is ending, though, I feel recharged and ready to take on the world in May.  I’m getting ahead of myself, though.  First let’s look at what happened the last 30 days.

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Three Wishes

Anyone who has ever watched Disney’s Aladdin has dreamed about finding a magic lamp of his or hers own. What could you do with three wishes? It could be anything you wanted, and so the question becomes simple: what do you want?

Also, there’s a good chance you’ve had ‘A Whole New World’ stuck in your head at some point. Probably right now, in fact.

This question is actually deeper than it first appears. Many people don’t know what they want. Some people are so bad at making decisions that they can’t even decide what to have for lunch. Not me. I’m planning ahead. If I ever find a magic lamp, I’m wasting no time on my three wishes. I’ll have them all figured out, exactly. Well, maybe. Let’s brainstorm at least, shall we? Continue reading

My Ultimate Fitness End Goal

I wrote the other day about my love-affair with fitness. Workout out, stretching, gaining strength, I love all of it. Most people don’t. Most people just want the final product. If there were a way to six-pack abs without stepping foot in a gym, most people jump on it. Take a pill and have a sculpted body? Yes please, for most people at least. Well, in all honesty I’d probably do that too, but I’d still do my workouts after.

Yeah, I’m tempted to go for this …

I’m a crazy nut that enjoys the workout as a workout, not just for the results they bring. The challenge of doing 100 pushups or 100 burpees or a 5k run in 20min seems enjoyable in itself. I embrace that challenge, even if it sucks at times. Overcoming these challenges is what makes fitness in general so interesting, I think. You can always set new challenges. You can always raise the bar.

For myself, I’ve set that bar pretty high. Continue reading

Why I Value Fitness

If you asked me to name my life goals, I could give you a pretty decent list. There’s a lot I want to accomplish. If you asked me to narrow it down, say to a top five, I could do that fairly easily. I might quibble on what to include for the fifth spot, but the top three or so are pretty set. And if you pressed me even further, if you asked me to name just one life goal, if I could only accomplish one major life goal, I would still reply without hesitation.

Being shirtless. And holding an awesome bodyweight position.

It’s health fitness. No question. I desire, more than anything, to be the healthiest, fittest specimen I can be. This has been my quest for the last few years or so. I’m on a mission to master my body, to be both strong and flexible, agile and dynamic, powerful and graceful. If it’s possible for the human body to do something, I want to be able to do that. Continue reading

March 2016 Updates

March was … how do I put this … a fantastic month, and I’m not just saying that because it’s my birthday.  Everything that did could go right did go right.  It was like an inverse Murphy’s Law.

My workouts got better, my flexibility got better, my chess rating got better, my writing got better, everything got better.  More importantly, I’m happy.  Last week, we had an ice storm.  Roads closed, schools cancelled, power flickering off and on: it wasn’t good.  The next morning, I go for a walk, and as I see the frozen trees and sidewalks lined with icy debris, I’m smiling.  Not because I’m the Joker and like to see destruction, but just because I’m always smiling.  I’ve been smiling the whole month, and not even an ice storm could dent my spirits.

That’s pretty awesome.  Anyway, let’s take a look at what I did in detail. Continue reading

February 2016 Updates

February was a MUCH better month for me, in virtually every area.

I took a fundamentally different approach this month.  In January, I bit off more than I could chew, trying to do everything at the same time.  That just led to burnout.  In February, by contrast, I started small, just doing one thing, and then the next week I added another thing, and in this way I’m building sustainable habits.

More importantly, I feel the momentum on my side now.  Last week, for instance, I added chess training to do my daily habit list, and it went off incredibly.  A huge success, and it leaves me wanting to do even more.  This week, I’m adding a small morning meditation session.  I usually meditate anyway, but now I have a set time every day, which will keep me consistent and start every day the same.  It’s simple, it’s clear, it’s easy, and life is just rolling along right now.

Splits and Flexibility

I continue to do light stretching virtually every day plus two hard sessions each week, with one day off.  It feels like it’s working, even if I mostly look the same.  At the same time, at my current range of motion, a gain of an inch would be a massive improvement.  I mean, I’m only a few inches from the floor.

Feb 2016

Jan 2016

Hmm.  I think I was lower last month, even though, judging by my expression, I’m feeling much happier this month.  It doesn’t help that my webcam decided to become super blurry today for some reason.  My hands appear as talons, devoid of form.

Feb 2016

Jan 2016

Wow!  I’m square and much lower on this, my weaker side.  It’s amazing, because that hamstring felt very tight for this photo session.

Feb 2016

Jan 2016

Even better!  Just look at the desk chair in the background.  In January, the bottom of my neck was flush with the top of the chair, while today it’s past my chin.  It’s hard to tell because of the blurriness, the shadows and the dark-pants (I won’t wear those again for photos), but I look damn close to the full splits here.  Oh glorious day!  I’m progressing again!

Nutrition

Not bad, but not great.  I’m still eating healthy meals but drowning them down with unhealthy snacks.  I imagine in the near future I’ll just use my willpower again to stomp this out, but for now it’s par for the course.

Chess

I did it!  I got my rating over 2000!  That’s another one of my 2016 goals down!  Well, maybe not ‘another,’ as it’s technically my first one, but progressing in the splits felt like a goal.

This month I completed five games, winning all five.  One, though, was due to a timeout because my opponent got his account banned for cheating.  I invested time into that game, so I’m going to still count that for my chess countdown.  I want to finish 100 games this year, and that’s five down.

One game was against someone rated 2007, but when he resigned his rating dropped to 1992, meaning I still haven’t beat anyone over 2000 rating.  That’s slightly frustrating.  My own rating, though, is 2031 right now, and I have winning positions against two high rated opponents, so maybe in March!

Also, this month I’ve begun to study GM Smirnov‘s course Calculate Till Mate.  If you read my original chess plan, I said I’d study this course later, but I changed my mind.  Calculation is perhaps my biggest weakness, so let’s try to address that now.  It’s massive, and I expect it will take me months, not weeks, to get through all the practical exercises.  I’ll have a review after I see the results.

Writing and Blogging

Another month, another month of writing.  I felt better this month, and my output showed.  I beat last month’s word total despite having two fewer days.

Crossing off another milestone: I have accumulated over 400,000 words since I started writing every day.  That’s mind-boggling.  I read somewhere once that you need to write one million words to truly get competence as a writer, to go from beginner to professional.  It’s probably even more, to be honest, but it’s right there.  As it currently stands, I’m on pace to hit that mark in less than two years, and that’s not even counting any of my school or pre-blog writing.

My blog is rolling along because of this.  February was my highest visited month, beating out both January and December.  Granted, it was by a very slim margin, and all three months were very close, but considering I’m doing absolutely no advertising, I’m pretty happy with that.

In two months of 2016, my blog has already reached halfway to my total in all of 2015.  I’m going to crush that.  I also got two comments!  Holy cow!  They were in this post, about toilets, and this post, about my cat SmithyQ, the inspiration for my blog’s name.  Hey, that’s another goal!

Skills

I said at the beginning of the year I wanted to become a speed cuber.  Well, that appears to have just been a fad, because I haven’t even touched my cube in February.  I mean, I still might do it, but it’s not on the horizon.

Similarly, computer coding is way on the backburner.  In fact, it’s so far in the rearview mirror that it’s safe to say I’m just going to forget about that.

The flow arts, by contrast, are going great.  I spent every single day practicing, at least a little, and I feel it paying off.  My planes have better control and my transitions seem smoother.  My butterfly moves, in particular, I have far more confidence in, and I’m even exploring some behind-the-back stuff.  I still have a ways to go, but it’s nice.

I also took advantage of a sale to pick up two poi DVDs.  They are advanced … and they really mean it.  I won’t be trying any of that stuff for quite some time, but if nothing else, it’s inspiring to see what is possible with this art form.

Conclusions

I really liked February, despite some of the weather, and March promises to keep going in the same way.  My commitment to doing little habits each week and building them up has been a great success so far, and I’m excited to see where it will all lead.

On the whole, I’m perhaps not exactly where I want to be but I’m definitely heading in the right direction.  I feel I’m on the right path, and that’s everything.  Now I just need to take one step at a time.  Onwards to March!

January 2016 Update

One month in, and 2016 is not off to the best start.

In a word, I bit off more than I could chew.  I tried to do too much, filling my days with task after task only to be left with no time, no energy and no motivation to do it again tomorrow.  Within just a few days I basically abandoned everything I set out to do.

I’m perhaps being overly dramatic, but in general, this month has been a failure.  Better luck in February.  Here, let me categorize in depth each one of my failings. Continue reading

A Closer Look at My 2016 Physical Fitness Goals

On New Year’s Day I outlined all my goals for the New Year. Due to space constraints, I had to be rather brief, as I had a lot of goals to discuss. Instead of writing a 5,000 word epic post, I decided to create a mini-series detailing all my plans.

This is actually doubly excellent, as it forces me to actually write this stuff down and see if it makes sense. A lot of times something can seem completely plausible or normal until you get a good look at it, and then all the faults appear. I’ll be covering all four of my major area, and today we start with my physical fitness goals. Continue reading