Category Archives: Goals

Goal Review: A Bouncy Month

So, May was a bit odd goal-wise. There were a couple of very rough patches that were mercifully short but still reduced the overall effectiveness at goal achievement. Overall:

Weight: This is where there was the most noise, with 10-pound swings within a single week. Overall, by the 7-day average method, I dropped a bit over 3 pounds. I think the reality is a bit better, since things were on a downward trend and the average incorporated unusually high numbers.

Pull-ups: My goal was to get 6, and my best was 5. And to be honest, the 5th wasn’t terribly good form. Better consistency would have helped—the week after Spartan/the road trip was particularly bad and set me back.

Crow pose: My goal was to hold it for 20 seconds, and my best was about 13. This one I feel a bit better about, though, since I was generally improving throughout the month.

Dips: If I count yesterday morning, then I got 8, which was my goal. But as yesterday morning was technically in June, I should only claim 7. Here’s one where I need to work on form, particularly depth of the dip—but it’s a weakness of bodyweight work that when you have enough bodyweight, getting quite deep may not be feasible.

Biking: I mostly made it around the county. I made it to nearly every one of the easily bikeable towns—Cedarville was my only omission, and I have biked there before. Losing two weekends to races and travel really hampered this one.

Running: One goal was to build my long run distance to an 8K, which I did, albeit with a poo break in the middle. (During which I discovered that I live closer to an auto race track than I do my primary grocery store.) The second was to run a timed 8-minute mile, which I made no attempt at. Also, as a side note, I did 5K training runs under 27 minutes twice, which is a nice threshold for me to meet.

Writing: My goal was to write outside of work every day. This didn’t happen. Output was far from nothing, though. I’ll give myself a low C.

Transitioning to living: This hasn’t really happened the way I’d hoped, and I’m still not sure exactly how to go about it. I’m considering getting back into improv just as a way to start it off. And because I’m addicted to being laughed at. We’ll see.

Goals for June:

Weight: A classic. My 7 day average yesterday was 248.14, so I’ll try to drop that to 240.14.

Community: I want to begin at least one regular activity. In addition, I want to find some kind of workout group—preferably one dedicated to OCR and other nontraditional workouts—or convince myself that such things do not currently exist in my area. Which is entirely possible.

Running: I want to build my long run at least to 10K.

Writing: In addition to writing here, I want to build my current main project (Uncle Greg’s Guide to Uncling) up by 15,000 words. That’s technically editing, but as the edits involve changing the authorial voice significantly, there’s a lot of re-writing involved.

Crow pose: 20 seconds again.

Pull-ups: Build to 8.

Handstand push-ups: This is something I’d like to be able to do with anything resembling range of motion. My current ability is to lower my head by maybe an inch; I’d like to get all the way to the ground, although that’s probably overly ambitious for just this month.

 

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May Goals: What, This Again?

It’s been a while since I’ve set some goals, for reasons that are fairly logical, but now that life is slightly settling it’s time to get back to it. They’re not super-well organized or thought-out, but I’ll use that old “I just moved states and I’m still trying to get everything sorted out” excuse. So with that in mind, here’s my goals for the month:

Weight: 243.428, as a 7-day average. The move, thus far, has been good for this particular metric, due mainly to diet: It takes a bit more of a commitment to eat junk here, and having a traditional office job takes away a fair amount of opportunity. Or maybe, it’s just the novelty of being in a new place that has helped. I hope it’s the former.

Pull-ups: 6. I technically managed this once before—In February, my Chicago gym had a month-long pull-up challenge. I haven’t hit those heights since, but if the weight comes down and I work consistently, I think it’s broadly feasible.

Crow pose: 20 seconds. I haven’t worked on the crow pose consistently in several months, ever since I figured out how to kick-up into a wall handstand. But the crow pose was something that really helped me to do that, so I’m hoping it will also help me to do an unsupported handstand. My previous best was about 15 seconds.

Dips: 8. My new gym does have a quasi-dedicated set of bars for dips. OK, not really; it’s one of those angled things with a foot rest and a cushion for back extensions, but it’s got parallel bars sticking out of it. I’ve only done 4 so far, but it’s early days.

Biking: Bike the county. As I’ve noted, the county that I now live in is criss-crossed by bike paths. Next month, I want to do the whole county: basically, biking to Jamestown, Spring Valley, Fairborn, Yellow Springs, and Cedarville. (And Beavercreek, but as I can’t really get to Fairborn without passing through, we can take that as read.) That may be slightly over-ambitious, as it’s five rides and I’m only in town for three and a half weekends this month. We’ll see.

Running: Two goals here: First off, build up to an 8K long run. I really only started running for the year in April, but I’m doing 5Ks consistently, so I’m ready to build. The second is an 8-minute mile. I have no idea how that will go: I haven’t done a timed mile since about junior high. I have no idea how a mile pace would be different for me from a 5K pace.

Writing: I need to write (outside of my job) daily. I may make an exception for the travel weekend (especially the day when I’ll be driving from Long Island to southwest Ohio) and the other race day I have.

Transition from transitioning to living: Basically, this entails starting to build the connections that humans have when they live in a place. (It’s also been strongly encouraged by my employer, which should help.) I’ve actually started the process of volunteering at a place, although that hasn’t yet gone well; their website has a volunteer application form, but no information about how to turn it in. We shall see how that goes.

 

 

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Ohio Goals

The purpose of this post is sort of to process the impending change and the potential things that can come out of it. Normally my goals are hyper-specific, and I like that approach, but this is going to be much more general. More sort of guiding principles that I should be living by, now that some of the barriers or crutches that I’ve had will be gone.

Fundamentally, it’s about taking better control of things. Fitness-wise, in the past several years, I’ve used several unhealthy things as a crutch to overcome the job-hunting despair and be able to function. It’s kind of worked; I haven’t gotten worse, healthwise, and there’s even been some progress in a few areas, but those things have to be relegated to special occasions rather than things to get me through the day. Diet is the biggest area for improvement here. (Working out, honestly, was the best part of nearly every day for me, and the single biggest contributor to my mental health, to the point where it may have been a crutch. It’s not the worst problem to have.)

Probably more important is to have better control over my career. This has hurt me a lot. There was one position that I was over-devoted to; I thought that I would spend my entire career there. And when it went bad, I didn’t have a lot of options, which splurted me into the job-hunt despair and desperation. In this job… well, I’d love for it to be a lifelong fit, but I also want to have alternatives. That means better professional connections (which the job will be supporting as a matter of course, because they’re beneficial within the position), a stronger devotion to my personal writing, and taking responsibility for making sure that what I’m doing at the new job will be beneficial for both the job and for me.

I also want to have stronger connections to the community. I didn’t have those for the past several years, and with some logic—I knew that relocation was in the cards, so building those connections wasn’t a big priority. But it contributed to isolation, which contributed to unhappiness, which contributed to aforementioned crutch usage. This is an area that should be easier; my new employer even commented that being active in the community is, if not required, strongly encouraged as a practice.

Is there more? Maybe, but nothing I can think of now that needs to be shared here.

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The End of a Comfortable Unhappiness

There’s been huge news in my life.
I’ve gotten a new job and will be moving to Ohio in the very near future.
This is simultaneously great and terrifying, although the great is much more rational than the terrifying.
The biggest thing is that I’m optimistic about the job. Obviously, you can’t know until you start, but there’s some reason to believe that it will be a good fit, in terms of the field that I want to be in and the skills I have or can develop and the people I’ll be working with and all of that. It’s been a long time since I could say that; my immediate past job was a really good one in most respects, but it also wasn’t right for me in some big ways. And the one before? We don’t need to go into that.
It also means that I don’t have to job-hunt, which I’m very excited about. I’ve been doing so almost continually for six years, and it’s terrible. It’s time-consuming, and time-consuming in really stupid ways, as anyone who’s ever uploaded a resume and copied the contents of the resume into the same application system will attest. It’s also demoralizing at the best of times, and dehumanizing at most times. A rant about that is forthcoming, as I have Stories.
The terror includes all sorts of irrational stuff (do they have running water there? What about a gym that’s not Planet Fitness?) that always happens with the unknown. The more unsettling bit is, that it’s kind of put up or shut up time. I don’t know, I don’t like that phrasing—it suggests that life is a binary, either good or bad kind of thing. But with this, a couple of the big weights that have been hampering me for several years are off my shoulders. I’m hoping that will make it easier to do more and better things that I want to do with my life—with racing and fitness in general, and with writing, and with being a more fully engaged human. But now it’s time to make sure that happens, and prevent other, equally heavy weights from falling on me.
I don’t want to be too negative about that possibility. Even though my situation hasn’t been particularly good for many years, there has been progress in lots of areas, so I don’t think the issue is entirely that I’m a lazy whiner who is more concerned about making excuses than doing things. But it’s weirdly frightening to have those weight lifted.
There’s a lot that I don’t like about my current life, but I understand it and my place in it. I’m losing that understanding and that’s hard.

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Goals review, I won a contest edition

As expected, January was mega busy. February is shaping up to be that, which is good and not good in various ways. In particular, I was hoping to have a weekend off at some point, but that won’t be happening for at least a couple weeks.

But a quick update on goals:

Stay sane: I’m going to give myself a clear pass on this one. I made all my deadlines in my job, and all my deadlines in my freelance work, and didn’t trash my diet or exercise to do it.

Weight of 260: Not quite; my Jan. 31 weight was 260.5. I didn’t have the data necessary to compare 7-day averages the way I like to. But while I didn’t technically meet this goal, the spirit of the goal was met: there was a clear downward trend in weight that is much more important than the specific number. I’m pleased with it.

10 Laches, or “jumping bar thingies”: Yep. I made this goal, getting up from 5 to 10 consecutive. In fact, that happened about halfway through the month, so now I’m working on doing them quicker. My current technique is to swing, jump, catch, then rebuild momentum so I can jump again. But there are people who can do it without all that momentum. Some of it’s strength, some of it’s technique, and I don’t currently have enough of either, but I was able to start working on it before I expected to.

Freestanding handstand: I still can’t do this exactly, although I think I’m closer. There have been times when I’ve kicked up and held one near the wall but not touching for a couple seconds. But I still don’t have control to do that consistently, and I’m still super-nervous to do it completely freestanding.

Writing: This one didn’t work at all; I did essentially nothing that wasn’t work-related. Already this month, though, I’ve started movement on the higher-priority project, though, so it’s certainly not dead.

Bonus goal: This wasn’t one that I planned at the beginning of the month. But then a couple days into January, my gym started a contest: row 500 meters for time.

I’ve got, in fact, a long list of fitness goals that go way beyond my monthly focuses, and one of those has been to do a 500 meter row in 1:30. The last time I timed one, back in March, I was at 1:32.6. I had three goes at it as part of this contest.

The first time I fell off the rower. I was over-exuberant in the start, and pushed off super-powerfully, and my butt got some air, and the seat didn’t move, and then gravity took over. It was a beautiful and glorious thing, although I didn’t finish the row.

The second time immediately followed the fall, and resulted in a time of 1:30.2. Which, spoiler alert, was enough to win the contest. But that 0.2 (or, as I described it, “that fucking .2”) bothered me. So the next week, I tried again, and:

Rowing machine display

Yep, 1:30 flat.

(And yes, that 1:39 was my ending pace. I was actually fairly steady through about 400 meters and then crashed. I was also shaking for about an hour after I did this.)

So that was cool, although it bears remembering: Rowing time is but one indicator of fitness, and in my case, a particularly skewed one—my weight gives me a major advantage against smaller people.

While I’m here, and since I might not be again for a while, let’s knock out some goals for February:

Weight: I’ve got my 7-day averages being calculated, so I’ll say dropping 8 pounds from the 262.142 figure would be great.

Freestanding handstand: Continue working in hopes of making it happen.

5 pull-ups: Pull-ups are my gym’s contest this month, and I am quite certain that I won’t be winning this one. (There’s already a 28 on the board, and my best is 4, maybe 5 if I sort-of cheat.) My goal is 5 consecutive real ones, although I suspect if the weight continues dropping and I continue working, I should do a bit better than that.

Monkey bars: I’ve been working on doing monkey bars backwards with some success, so this month I’m hoping to get to where I can do my gym’s full rig backwards.

L-pose: This is a tricky one that is a staple of a couple of classes at my gym. As I’m using the term, it’s actually an upside-down L: hands on the ground, feet at the wall, body making a right angle. Our standard hold is ten seconds, which I can’t do, but I’m working on it and that will be my goal for the month.

Writing: Same as last month, with a strong focus on starting the process of setting up interviews and researching agents for the kid’s non-fiction idea, which is higher priority. The comedy for adults realistically is going to stay on hold for this month.

Sanity: I’m gonna need this one again. I don’t have the huge freelance commitments, but my regular job is continuing to be super-busy, and I’ll be working at least the next two weekends. I hope to get an actual day off before long, and in fact I might get a bit early next week, but no guarantees.

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Good Things in Bad Times

It’s been a rough few months for me. There’s been a lot of asshattery that I’ve had to deal with, none of which it would be wise for me to detail here. I haven’t exactly dealt with it well, or at least they’ve had some impact on the rest of my life, and particularly, my mental and physical health. Things like diet are under my control, but that control is way harder when there’s constant stress, anxiety, isolation, and artificially boosted hopes followed by crushing disappointment.

This post isn’t to whine (much) about that, though. Instead, it’s to brag about a couple good things that have happened in that time.

First, the handstand kick-up that I’ve been working for, on-and-off, for several years has happened. Here’s proof:

 


Why, yes, those are my Extremely Blue Pants, thanks for noticing.

That video is actually a couple months old. Since then the handstand has improved: My ratio of kicking-up-but-not-getting-all-the-way to kicking-up-and-getting-all-the-way has improved a lot, and I’m able to do it while looking at my hands rather than staring out, and I’m even starting to get some control at the top which suggests that a freestanding handstand won’t be impossible.

Second, I have now submitted my second-ever book query to a publisher. Yes, Dad’s Little Book of Rage, the piece of fiction thingy that gave the world this image:

bondage-carnival

It’s the underage bondage carnival!

is now out in the wild.

Researching the submission process took longer than I expected, and it sucked. There’s a lot of information out there, but most of it takes the form of “Here are the 18 million things you ABSOLUTELY MUST DO WITHOUT THE TINIEST ERROR OR YOU WILL BE REJECTED FOREVER, and also, even if you do them all perfectly you still won’t get published because YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!”

Of course, knowing how stupid that is doesn’t exactly help me, because as proud as I am of DLBOR (as I call it), it’s got some challenges to get published. Its form is atypical: It’s illustrated but not a graphic novel, and it’s not even exactly a novel at all—more a collection of loosely connected stories. Subject-wise? Well, it’s about child abuse, but it’s a comedy. (On the surface, at least. Taken as a whole, I think it’s appropriately dark for the subject matter. And the abuse part is never treated as something funny or amusing.)

The net impact is, not every editor is going to love it, and even if they do, not every publisher is going to want to publish it, so I needed to find ones in the right niche.

Nevertheless, I’m eager to move that project into another phase so I can get going in earnest on some other ones, even if it means reading books by noted sack of crap Laura Schlessinger. See, one of the projects is, to put it modestly, the Hot Fuzz of parenting books: A parody that takes all of the absurdities in the genre’s tropes and rolls them into one incredible thing. But that requires reading a bunch of crappy parenting books, even if they have creepy smiles on the front.

The other project, if it comes off, is about turtles.

 

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Monthly Goal Review: Hmm

This was a weird, absolutely-nothing-was-standard month.

There were the two athletic events, the Spartan Super and the DRX-Games, which affected my schedule a bit, especially the Spartan—I was recovering hard-core until about Wednesday the week after, and not 100% for a week at least.

There were a couple of professional stressors as well, including a giant twice-a-year freelance gig that’s nice in that it will result in a nice chunk of spending money and horrible in that it involves working for an organization that’s surprisingly triggering for me.

There was almost no progress on my formal goals. I did add two recipes to my repertoire: Southwest Zucchini Patties and a Crockpot Turkey Breast with butternut squash. Both were decent, although the zucchini patties were a bit more successful. I’ve really never done patties like that before; they were a bit loose so I probably should have added a bit more bread crumbs, but it was certainly not disastrous. The turkey breast was fine, although it’s not really the right season for it. I couldn’t find fresh cranberries and used dried, and it’s a bit over-onioned for my preference. I don’t like it enough for the amount of leftovers; I had the third meal of it today and I’m dreading tomorrow when I’ll polish the last one off.

Weight loss was quite bad this month—my 7-day average increased by six pounds. And yet it doesn’t feel like that. The chaos of this month has meant that my weight has done a bunch of rapid 10-pound swings, which sounds worse than it is (it’s far from unprecedented for me). So the end of the month hit me at the top of one of those swings, which is probably a bit exaggerated.

Despite that, given the good things at the Spartan (Yay monkey bars! Yay Z-Wall! Yay rope traverse thingy! Yay spear throw!) and DRX-Games (Yay tire dragging!) I’m willing to give this month the thumbs-up.

I do, however, want to go back to a bit more formal set of monthly goals. They include:

Running: I did almost no running in June, and I’m feeling it now. By the end of the month, I want to rebuild my endurance up to at least an 8K run.

Skin the cats: This is something from the weird shit workout. I’ve been able to sort of do it from the beginning, but I’ve had to have a lot of support—I needed to pull my legs up to the bar to push myself over, and then I needed a spotter to support my legs once I was over. Since then, I’ve gotten to the point where I can get upside down without the leg support (at least, sometimes; it’s not 100%) and I can get my legs partway over, though I’m still nervous about my shoulders which prevents me from getting all the way over. I’d like to get over that and get all the way down.

Pull-ups: I haven’t given much thought to pull-ups this year; I had some shoulder problems earlier this year that made that a bad idea. But the shoulder is (knock on wood) feeling better, so maybe it’s time to go for it again. I’m doing about three sort-of-suspicious pull-ups at a time now; I’d like to get up to five real solid ones by the end of the month.

Cooking: 1 new recipe to keep me on pace for the year-long goal.

Crow pose: I haven’t been working these consistently and yet one random try I did a couple days ago was my best yet—holding it under control for maybe five or six minutes. My goal is a 15-second hold, and I’m not sure what’s practical, but maybe an appropriate goal will be to do a bit of practice every day on it and see what kind of stability I can manage. At least, after today, since I’m two days into the month. Although I guess I did practice a little tiny bit today and yesterday, so maybe I’m technically okay. I mean, there’s not really a blog goal authority to report me to.

Dad’s Little Book of Rage: I’ve gotten some reviews of my draft and I’ve cataloged the edits I’d like to make. So by the end of the month I want to finish those. And, as a stretch goal, to research the process for submitting to agents with the idea of starting that process in August.

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