SGX C2W6D3: Serious September

September is to be my month of serious discipline on a number of fronts.

Financial: I am extremely close to being 100% debt-free. I’m talking about no student loans, no car payments, no credit card balances, nada. I am budgeted down to the last penny this coming month, and as long as I stay focused and within my planned income and expenses, I’ll emerge on October 1 free and clear of financial liabilities. Yay!

I may try out the saving spree idea from savvy saver’s blog. It would be an interesting experiment to see how many days I can go without buying anything not considered a living expense or necessity. I admit that I do budget a small but reasonable amount for entertainment, software, books, and such each month, but with no birthdays, weddings, or special events coming up in September, I think I can get away with not using very much (or ANY) of that fun money at all.

Let’s see how much entertainment I can squeeze out of $0 for September. I have the public library for movies, books, and audio, an existing collection of close to two dozen computer and video games I still need to play, three graphics programs I’ve been meaning to learn, and several outfits I can sew for myself with the fabric, thread, notions, and patterns I have in my closet.

I don’t think I’ll feel too deprived.

Diet and Exercise: It’s time to buckle down and refocus in this area. My membership at Gold’s will be officially cancelled on September 15, so I need to have a plan in place that uses only my home workout equipment (chin-up bar, bench, Powerblocks, yoga mat, stability ball, resistance bands, and a decent collection of exercise vids) and the small selection of workout equipment at my apartment complex’s fitness room (4 stationary bikes, 2 treadmills, 1 elliptical, 1 stair stepper, and 5-6 lever/cable machines of assorted type).

My issue over the past few months has been consistency. I need to get back to the daily morning workouts regardless of how harried my life becomes. To that end I’ve signed up for another fun 3 week Life’s Odyssey Challenge at eDiets. Perhaps I’ll even (finally) give the Eating for Life recipes at eDiets a real shot this time around, LOL. To get myself back into the right mindset, I’m going to do a nice, easy BFL challenge for a minimum of 8 weeks starting next Monday. My diet will be a hybrid of SGX and BFL, but I’m going to do only the BFL workouts as my core exercises, and add only the extras required by the Life’s Odyssey challenge.

Education: My NASM exam is coming up in October, so this is crunch month for studying. I’m scheduling 2 hours of study time each night M-F. Lunch may be devoted to it, too. It’s a good thing I’m actually interested in the subject matter. :slappy:

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Nutrition: BFL/SGX Training Day Menu
(SGX nutrition details omitted by request of trainer)

1: 3×1 omelette with 1/2 c. sauteed green beans and 3 WW pancakes
2: 3 oz. Thai street vendor’s chicken, 1/2 c. green beans, 3/4 c. rice
3: 1 c. FF yogurt, 1 pear, 1/2 scoop ATW chocolate whey
4: SGX Meal
5: SGX Meal
6: SGX Meal

Daily Supplements: multivitamin with iron, calcium 500 + D, 1 T. flaxseed oil or natural peanut butter, 1 t. GNC Creastack
Water: 16 cups minimum

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Workout:
7:00 PM SGX lower body workout
8:00 PM LISS Cardio – Stationary Bike (Level 3-4 / 45 minutes)

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The Awful Truth:
1. Stayed up too late last night. Might have to integrate some strategic morning caffeine into my daily routine.

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Brownie Points:
1. Cooked a huge bag of green beans.
2. Cleaned out fridge.
3. Finished laundry.
4. Called for Pap smear results–Good to go!!!

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Short-term Goals:
1. Do one chapter of character modeling book.
2. Read two chapters of NASM book.
3. Put some variety into cardio workouts this week.
4. Get Experian credit report corrected.
5. Do not let TOTM affect workout intensity.
6. Re-order multivitamins.
7. Pick up new nerd glasses.
8. Make deposit at bank.
9. Send out FSA direct deposit form so I won’t have to keep going to the bank!
10. Send care package to sister in Boston.

SGX C2W5D4: The Joys of Container Veggie Gardening

It’s been 8 weeks since I first sowed my first batch of vegetable seeds from Park’s, and I am happy to report that I have THREE little soy bean pods to show for my time and effort. Yes! I have finally managed not to kill off my plants!

Okay, okay, so the 20 strawberry plants I got from Park’s didn’t make it, but I blame that mostly on Neville the Plant Killer, who thought that the bareroot plants were his personal playthings.

However, the plants I started from seed have all sprouted with varying degrees of success:

1 green Beauty Bell pepper
4 yellow Early Sunsation bell peppers
4 orange Bulgarian “carrot” hot peppers
1 Thai giant hot pepper
3 Fairy Tale hybrid eggplants
2 regular size container hybrid tomatoes
2 Tumbling Tom container cherry tomatoes
2 Soy beans
3 Strawberries (still dinky)

I think I’m going to be a bit overextended on peppers and tomatoes, to be honest, but oh well.
I also bought two dinky lil’ fruit trees, a dwarf banana ($7.48) and a dwarf black fig ($6.50). The fig is still alive, but is about as robust as Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. I’m hoping it will perk up once I move it outside. The 75 degree temperature in my apartment may be too chilly for it. The banana tree…um…is thriving. When it arrived it was a sad little thing that looked like a 10″ tall coleus. Now it is at least 18″ tall with huge leaves. This thing is going to be several feet tall in a year at this rate, possibly even halfway to its maximum height of 10 feet. I wonder if I can possibly eat 90 bananas in a season?

I have a dwarf blueberry bush that is due to ship in September as well. I’m a bit concerned about that one since berries usually don’t do well in Florida’s nasty hot weather, but it’s worth a shot for $8.95.

The only non-edible plant I have in the apartment is, amazingly enough, also still alive. The orchid my father gave me last year has managed to come back from the Egregious Balcony Closet Incident of last year when the poor thing was shoved into my outdoor storage closet by some workmen hired by the apartment complex to resurface and paint every balcony. Since I was told that anything left on the balcony when the workmen arrived would be thrown away, I assumed that the orchid had been tossed into the nearest dumpster when I got home from my morning workout to find the balcony completely empty.

I suffered all kinds of guilt. Not only had I managed to neglect the poor plant until all the flowers fell off, I failed to bring it inside before the Awful Plant-hating Workmen arrived!

Imagine my horror when, one month later, I opened my storage closet to chuck in a few cardboard boxes and saw the orchid on the floor inside! 😯

I saw a bit of green amidst all the dried brown leaves, so I brought it indoors and gave the sad thing some water. Now, several months and a few strategic prunings of dead limbs later, I have a living orchid again, albeit sans flowers.

If I manage to get it blooming again, I’ll finally be able to remove the “brown thumb” label from my profile.

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Nutrition: SGX Non-Training Day Menu
(Details omitted by request of trainer)

Daily Supplements: multivitamin with iron, calcium 500 + D, 1 T. flaxseed oil or natural peanut butter, 1 t. GNC Creastack
Water: 16 cups minimum

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Workout:
Rest

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The Awful Truth:
1. Need to take today as a rest day due to work schedule and plans to have dinner with visiting relatives from Washington tonight.

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Brownie Points:
1. Did the laundry.
2. Swept and mopped kitchen.
3. Balanced accounts in Money and scheduled bill payments for the end of the month.

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Short-term Goals:
1. Do one chapter of character modeling book.
2. Read two chapters of NASM book.
3. Do the dishes.

SGX C2W5D2: 80s Karaoke Forever!

I scored 114 on this 80s Lyrics Quiz:

There were a couple of questions that sounded familiar, but I just couldn’t quite remember the right lyrics and Googling them would be cheating. I didn’t get any bonuses to my score based on age since I grew up in that decade. Boo.

:slappy:

Now I have all kinds of Duran Duran and INXS tunes running through my head…

I got my workouts (UBWO and cardio) done this morning before work at Gold’s, and I must say that I am pretty chipper about the accomplishment. I’ve been doing a lot of mixed morning/afternoon/evening workouts recently because of my messed up sleep pattern, and it’s been affecting my consistency and results. I’m sticking with morning workouts and will just restructure my SGX eating patterns to work around the change.

On the diet front, I am browsing my various cookbooks and the big fat In2nutrition recipe file for some new meals. I’m in the mood for some new recipes again, particularly since I just bought around 10 lbs of chicken from Albertsons last night. The sooner I get Chris’s ice cream cake out of my freezer the better. I need the space for my 79 cent/pound chicken!

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Nutrition: SGX Training Day Menu
(Details omitted by request of trainer)

Daily Supplements: multivitamin with iron, calcium 500 + D, 1 T. flaxseed oil or natural peanut butter, 1 t. GNC Creastack
Water: 16 cups minimum

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Workout:
8:00 SGX UBWO
8:45 LISS Cardio – Run (6-7 mph / 0% incline / 15 min)
8:55 LISS Cardio – Walk (3.5 mph / 10% incline / 30 min)

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The Awful Truth:
1. Couldn’t squeeze in UBWO last night as I was called to the other side of town to provide on-site installation and tech support for my mother’s new Dell 700M notebook.

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Brownie Points:
1. Made up UBWO this morning.
2. Got grocery shopping done.
3. Picked up ice cream cake.
4. Read a chapter of NASM book.
5. Set up Mom’s new computer.

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Short-term Goals:
1. Do one chapter of character modeling book.
2. Read two chapters of NASM book.
3. Do laundry.
4. Sweep and mop kitchen.
5. Do a load of dishes.

SGX C2W5D1: Rocking the Rollercoasters

This past Saturday I headed out to Tampa with Chris and a couple of friends for a day at Busch Gardens, home of the brand new 200 ft. vertical drop rollercoaster, the Sheikra. If anyone is coming to Florida for vacation this year, I heartily recommend ditching the overcrowded Disney and Universal Studios parks in Orlando for a day and heading over to Tampa about two hours to the west for a much better time at Busch Gardens. They have several very good deals on tickets right now, including a two-day park pass for the price of one regular admission ($55.95). You can use the second day anytime in 2005; you don’t have to go on two consecutive days. There’s also a $61.95 Fun Card pass that lets you visit an unlimited number of times through Dec. 31, 2005, but that may be a better deal for locals than out-of-state tourists.

We got there during peak hours just after noon, and we still had a tough time finding a ride that we couldn’t get on within 15 minutes. Compare that to the 45-60 minute wait times at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and you’ll quickly understand why I prefer BG.

The atmosphere at the park is different, too. It’s as if the focus is on things to DO versus things to BUY. The Orlando attractions are the exact opposite, especially the merchandise-laden Disney properties. When I visit the local Orlando theme parks, I invariably have a headache within three hours because of all the tedious waiting in dark lines surrounded by thousands of noisy people. In contrast, I left Busch Gardens after 7 hours of riding one neck-snapping rollercoaster after another feeling perfectly fine despite the hot weather. I am a thrill-ride junkie, not a waiting-line addict. :biggrin:

Speaking of headaches, though, I have one now after chugging down a scoop of All the Whey Chocolate Mint whey blend with water. I don’t think I’ll be getting any more of this flavor. The more I have of it, the more it reminds me of thickened mint Mylanta antacid because the chocolate flavor is completely obscured by the heavy artificial mint flavoring. BLEAH!!!!!! I’m sticking with the ATW chocolate, vanilla, and orange flavors. All three of those are tasty without being too cloying.

On the nutrition and fitness front, I am going to go into a hybrid of SGX and BFL nutrition over the next two to three weeks to transition to full BFL again. My first three meals of the day will be in the 40/40/20 to 50/30/20 macronutrient range, while my last three meals will follow SGX principles. I’m also switching up my workouts a bit again, substituting P90X or BFL style resistance training for the SGX workouts periodically on M/W/F mornings. Cardio will be the same for the time being, with afternoon or evening LISS on M/W/F and a combination of fasted morning HIIT and LISS on T/Th/Sa. Mornings really are my preferred workout times, and even though it isn’t optimal to lift in a fasted state, I just need the motivational mental checkmark of knowing that my core program is done each day by the time I go to work. The M/W/F LISS cardio is a lot easier for me to handle after work if necessary since I can choose between bike, treadmill, elliptical, outdoor run in the cooler temperature of the evening, or one of the P90X cardio workouts.

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Nutrition: SGX Training Day Menu
(Details omitted by request of trainer)

Daily Supplements: multivitamin with iron, calcium 500 + D, 1 T. flaxseed oil or natural peanut butter, 1 t. GNC Creastack
Water: 16 cups minimum

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Workout:
12:00 PM Steady-State Run (6-7 mph / 0% incline / 20 minutes)
12:20 PM LISS Walk (3.5-4 mph / 10-15% incline / 25 minutes)
8:00 PM BFL UBWO

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The Awful Truth:
1. Didn’t drink enough water this weekend. Must work on this more when I’m away from the office or my own home.

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Brownie Points:
1. Tested Move edition of Mandriva Linux.
2. Cooked a ton of napa cabbage.
3. Ate a ton of napa cabbage. 😛
4. Installed and tested some scripts locally on my own Apache server. :prop:

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Short-term Goals:
1. Do one chapter of character modeling book.
2. Read two chapters of NASM book.
3. Pick up ice cream birthday cake for Chris.
4. Go grocery shopping for peanut butter, raisins, spinach, lettuce, turkey burgers, eggs, celery, and beef.

SGX C2W4D5: Geeky Friday

The computer gods are conspiring against me this week.

First my sites get hacked on the 16th, forcing me to squander hours of precious Jade Empire time restoring backups, downloading and installing updates and security patches, and bugging the hell out of all of my web coder buddies for advice, then lightning blows out my cable Internet connection Thursday evening, making it impossible for me to update my blog, continue with script testing at the Illuminators’ Guild site, or even check on the weather for tomorrow’s outing to Busch Gardens Tampa with Chris for his birthday.

Now Firefox just crashed on me with 630 MB of 716 MB of CD 2 of the Mandriva 2005 LE ISO package downloaded and a 95% completed blog post unsaved to my database.

RAWWWWWWWRRRRR!

BRB…must go do some push-ups to vent this frustration.

Okay, I feel better now. Nothing like 50 quick push-ups to put things into perspective. I had a roommate once who liked to scream into her pillow when she was frustrated, but that doesn’t do anything for me. I need to run really fast, hit and kick things, or do a lot of pointless Army calisthenics to calm myself down–hard physical activity and subsequent exhaustion are my preferred forms of catharsis. My friend Jason tells me that I respond like a male would to stress.

Anyhow, in my lost post I was waxing poetical about the latest nerdy bee in my bonnet: installing Linux on my desktop system in the second boot partition. It all started when I woke up this morning with the unshakable urge to put Apache, PHP, and MySQL back onto my laptop computer so I could test out and personalize about half a dozen PHP scripts locally before I put them out on the web. Since I was still denied Internet when I woke up, I had to put off downloading the latest and greatest installation packages of said software until at least lunch time, assuming that Brighthouse Networks got the connection up and running again by noon. This gave my brain plenty of time to expand the “Why don’t I set up my own local testing environment using free open source software?” brainstorm into the periodically recurring “Why don’t I set up my own non-Microsoft-dependent box using free, open source Linux?” idea.

So here I am in front of a computer monitor on Friday night installing Apache2Triad on my notebook, downloading the 2005 Limited Edition release ISOs of Mandriva Linux to my desktop system for burning , searching for Linux drivers for my hardware and reading a library copy of Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves instead of joining the rest of the spendy, trendy Friday night herd downtown.

You know you’ve reached the pinnacle of geeky self-acceptance when you can openly admit to the world at large that you’re perfectly happy spending your Friday night at home installing Linux, reading a book about proper punctuation, and kicking virtual ass on the Xbox.

Good night, and I hope you’ve all found your own pieces of happiness, even if no one else around you seems to get it, whether its your devotion to a healthy diet and workout regimen, your views on spending (or not spending), or your non-standard interests. Life is truly too short to waste on worrying about how others might perceive your every move. Do your own thing as long as it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anyone else, and forget about fitting into the popular norm.

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Nutrition: SGX Non-Training Day Menu
(Details omitted by request of trainer)

Daily Supplements: multivitamin with iron, calcium 500 + D, 1 T. flaxseed oil or natural peanut butter, 1 t. GNC Creastack
Water: 16 cups minimum

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Workout:
11:00 PM Steady-State Run (6-7 mph / 0% incline / 45 minutes)

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The Awful Truth:
1. Had a DD French Cruller doughnut this morning. I’d like to say that it was horrible and gave me a tummy ache, but then I’d be lying. It was scrumptious.

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Brownie Points:
1. Cleaned the kitchen.
2. Sorted through all paperwork on desk.
3. Installed Apache, PHP and MySQL on laptop computer.

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Short-term Goals:
1. Do one chapter of character modeling book.
2. Read two chapters of NASM book.
3. Install Linux on desktop computer.
4. Set up test environment for PHP scripts on laptop.
5. Make portable snacks for Busch Gardens trip tomorrow.

SGX C2W4D4: Adversity Is A Good Thing

As annoying as the defacement attack two nights ago on my various web sites was, I’m kind of happy it happened. Sure, I had to give up Jade Empire for a day, but cleaning up the mess left by the hacker got me to update my scripts and patch up various security holes in my PHP-based sites, so some good came out of it. I’ve refreshed my memory of basic script editing, re-learned some UNIX commands while working through my SSH shell connection, and have enjoyed one of my favorite geekette activities: troubleshooting. I honestly haven’t had this much fun since the last time I had to format my home-built desktop system and re-install Win XP.

(No, I’m not being sarcastic. I do the backup/format/reinstall on my systems twice a year just to keep my computers nice and uncluttered. Optimization is fun!)

Apparently I’m one of those types who needs some degree of challenge or adversity in my life to keep me on my toes and push me beyond my normal state of comfortable inertia.

Maybe I need to start taking the leverage chapter of the Leanness Lifestyle a bit more seriously. 🙂

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Nutrition: SGX Non-Training Day Menu
(Details omitted by request of trainer)

Daily Supplements: multivitamin with iron, calcium 500 + D, 1 T. flaxseed oil or natural peanut butter, 1 t. GNC Creastack
Water: 16 cups minimum

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Workout:
8:00 PM Cardio – HIIT Run (4.5-9 mph / 0% incline / 20 minutes)
8:20 PM Cardio – LISS Walk (3.5 mph/ 10% incline /40 minutes)

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The Awful Truth:
1. Had a brownie. It had caramel swirls and walnuts.
2. Do not feel at all bad about #1. Just wished I’d had a second one.

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Brownie Points:
1. Repaired web sites after hacker attack.
2. Backed up all data.
3. Installed updated scripts and security fixes.
4. Cooked more food.
5. Picked up groceries at the house.

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Short-term Goals:
1. Do one chapter of character modeling book.
2. Read two chapters of NASM book.
3. Play Jade Empire for only 2 hours.
4. Cook napa cabbage.
5. Toss out old, scary stuff in fridge.

Server Worm Issues

My blog will likely be going on and offline a bit today due to a malicious worm that is periodically attacking all of the index.* files in my hosting account and replacing them with the oh-so-pithy “spykids ownz you” page.

I’ve sent in a support ticket to Dreamhost, but there’s no telling when they’ll get to me, so be prepared for some downtime. I will be posting in my Muscletank account until this is cleared up.
http://causticmuse.muscletank.net

SGX C2W4D1: Brilliant NPC Wisdom

Last night while playing through the first chapter and a half of Jade Empire for the third or fourth time–I couldn’t decide which character/martial art style combination I wanted to play with, so I made several character combinations and played through to chapter 2 with each of them–I was given a pretty funny reality check by one Sagacious Zu, a scarred, bad boy ally with a shady past as a former Imperial Lotus Assassin.

As is usual in the RPG genre, my character was an orphaned child of destiny trained in combat and magical arts and earmarked for great things. Like Neo in The Matrix, I was The One.

Anyhow, I enter the town of Tien’s Landing and run into Hui, a female soldier loyal to my character’s old martial arts teacher and surrogate father, Master Li. She and Sagacious Zu apparently know each other and make some cryptic remarks about a baby that Zu rescued many years ago and gave to Hui to take to safety.

When I finally get to make a conversation choice, I chose, “I was that baby, wasn’t I?” just to be cheeky, even though I knew from a previous revelation from Master Li that my character was rescued from the slaughter of her people and taken to the Two Rivers School of Martial Arts by Master Li himself, not by Zu, so I couldn’t be the baby of which they were speaking.

Zu, taking me at my word, turns to me and says in a snarky voice, “No, it wasn’t. Not EVERYTHING is about YOU.”

Ouch! Totally smacked down by an NPC! 😆

Zu is indeed sagacious. When you spend an hour a day working out, several hours a week preparing enough food to fuel your six-meal-a-day habit, and many untold minutes explaining to the rest of the world why you persist in saying no to doughnuts, pizza, and soft drinks when you aren’t even overweight, it’s natural to become a little self-focused. Every once in a while it’s good to be reminded that the preponderance of junk food in the supermarket aisles, the oversized portions of fast-food at the local drive-through, and the lack of workout facilities at your vacation hotel are not cosmically-ordained attempts to sabotage your personal physique transformation efforts.

Like any other specialized interest group, we bodybuilding nutrition freaks with daily exercise fetishes are often guilty of taking ourselves too seriously. We measure every percentage of body fat that slides on or off our bodies, obsess about how much more we have to lose or gain to reach our goals, and lock down our diets so tightly that we almost have to have an “authorized” free meal or day just to keep ourselves from going nuts.

Wouldn’t it be nice (and probably more productive) if those of us who are NOT training for a competition could all step back, take the focus off the food and exercise so they are just background activities like brushing our teeth and combing our hair, and just let the results happen when they happen? Sometimes I think that the heavy focus on self in terms of “What am I allowed to eat today?”, “How much can I have?”, “How much weight have I lost this week?”, “Did I do enough/too much cardio?” and “Why can’t I chill out and have cake like everyone else?” just works against us and makes us think in terms of “punishment” and “deprivation” instead of “permanent lifestyle” and “healthy, smart way to live”.

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Nutrition: SGX Training Day Menu
(Details omitted by request of trainer)

Daily Supplements: multivitamin with iron, calcium 500 + D, 1 T. flaxseed oil or natural peanut butter, 1 t. GNC Creastack
Water: 16 cups minimum

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Workout:
7:00 PM SGX Upper Body/Back workout
7:40 PM P90X Plyometrics

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The Awful Truth:
1. Went to bed at 2:43 am.

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Brownie Points:
1. Got 6.5 hours of sleep.
2. Did the dishes.
3. Tidied living room.
4. Tidied bed room.
5. Plants are still alive after almost 7 weeks.

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Short-term Goals:
1. File papers on drafting table.
2. Get through next three chapters of NASM manual.
3. Work on paper doll body templates.
4. Vacuum the apartment.
5. Take pictures of low-budget home gym set up and write up reviews of everything.
6. Send out FSA forms for reimbursement.