Weekly Training Summary


  • Reading – This week I finished reading Book of Sith, started and finished the Imperial Handbook, and just started The Bounty Hunter Code today.  I finished Aftermath: Empire’s End.  Keeping up with Star Wars and Philosophy (on Chapter 14), The Beginner’s Guide to Insight Meditation (on Chapter 9), Scourge (should finish tomorrow), and Dune (up to date with book club schedule…about 43% of the way through the book).
  • Crash Course – I watched three episodes of World History: 13-Islam, the Quran, and the Five Pillars; 14-The Dark Ages…How Dark Were They, Really?; and 15-The Crusades – Pilgrimage or Holy War?.
  • Language – I watched four episodes of La Pimpa, and read two chapters (six pages) of Pinocchio.  I am starting to memorize the song for La Pimpa too…it’s just a short little children’s song, but it never hurts to start a habit of singing along to Italian songs.

♫Quando il sole sale su
Alto in cima al cielo blu
L’orologio fa cucù
E nessuno dorme più

E la Pimpa corre e va
In campagna o in città
E di certo scopirà
Qualche nuova novità♫


  • Calories in/out:  8400/15775 – 7,375 Deficit…honestly the calories in are probably a little off, but because I have been coming up short most days this week, and I really need to adjust for that.  I am only eating one big meal per day right now, but I need to squeeze more protein into one or more of the small meals.  I keep munching on pepperoni at night after working out…which is not the best thing.
  • Weight Loss – 0….grrrrrr…scale does not matter….scale does not matter…scale does not matter……
  • Workout – Thursday marked the end of the fourth week of doing the arm exercises I have been doing, so I decided to add an alternating set.  The original set focused primarily on the anterior delts, so I created a set to focus on the biceps (in and out curls), triceps (overhead tricep extensions), and more on the posterior delts (bent over row) (my anterior delts are solid right now, I definitely need some balance).  I figure I can alternate between the two arm sets on different days.  I am also going to switch up lower body exercises on those days.  I have not been doing a lot on legs, cause cardio does a good deal (I actually have a few Zumba songs that I call calf  or thigh songs because the respective areas are burning by the time I finish them), but I still do a little.  So instead of squats on Bicep/Tricep/P.Delts day, I will do calf raises in three positions.  This week I did three days of each set.  Also, on my chest presses, I think this is the last week I am going to be able to use my current weights, but I do not have a weight above them…I might have to raid my father’s weight room.  As of Saturday I am in the fourth week since I started doing Zumba again.  I am really hoping the four week rule holds true and I start seeing some results, cause so far my size has not been doing much budging.  I found a few of my missing Zumba songs from the video games, so I have done some rearranging and swapping of songs in my routine.  I should be good with the current line up for a couple weeks, but I will continue to change the routine as I become to comfortable with it.
  • Diet – I did really good most of the week…but on Thursday my father offered me Portillos…it made me feel sick the rest of the day.  That is the problem with eating really clean, when you indulge in some not so clean favorites, you tend to regret it.  People think I am crazy for not eating steak or most fast foods anymore, but honestly, I really do not want to feel the way I know I will feel after eating it.


  • Meditation – Still averaging two times a day, I just shifted from doing one before bed to doing a headspace meditation after my shower.  What I really need is to work in a morning/afternoon meditation.
  • I have also been watching youtube videos of the Dali Lama this week.  I wanted to watch one a day, but some of them are ridiculously long, between the length and listening through him struggling with the language, I tend to lose focus.  I may have to just set myself a time limit per day and watch a little of each video each day.

Weekly Training Summary

A new addition to my posting, I intend to post this every Sunday night/Monday morning as a way of keeping myself accountable.


  • Reading – I have been doing SO much ready lately.  In the past week I read Kenobi, Bloodlines, and I have started Empire’s End; and I am gradually making my way through Star Wars and Philosophy (for California Jedi Book Club), Dune (for another online book club), Book of the Sith, The Beginner’s Guide to Insight Meditation, Le Avventure di Pinocchio (in Italian), and Scourge.  I am making small progressions in most of these, but cumulatively I am reading at least 100 pages per day.
  • Mental Floss – I have done three lessons in World History this week.
  • Language – I have not done as well with my Italian as I did last week.  This week I only watched two episodes of La Pimpa and only read one chapter/four pages of Pinocchio.  It has been a busy week though, I was booked on set twice and had an audition.


  • Calories in/out – 8,935/16,845 (Burned a total of 7,910 calories more than consumed)
  • Weight Loss – 1.5lbs – They weight has been up, down, and all around this week, but the trend is still going down (which is the goal).  As frustrating as it is that I am not losing my goal of 2lbs per week, the fact that I am burning more than 2lbs per week (based on 3,500 calories=1lb) means I am also putting on muscle, which is also the goal.
  • Workout – I am still doing really well on my workout.  I did not workout three days this week, the three days I had class and was on set (but I still hit my daily goal of burning 1k calories more than I ate, otherwise I would have pushed myself to workout those days too).  The other four days I did my full Zumba Routine, stretched, and did strength training (skipped strength training tonight because neck was hurting and had well surpassed calorie goal for the day, so I did strength training three of the seven days, which is still acceptable).
  • Diet – My diet has been a little odd this week, but I have still kept pretty much to healthier foods.  Usually the most difficult time is when on set, but I managed to not snack on any Kraft Services this week.  I actually have been finding myself a little short at the end of most days (like today…I need to go find 351 more calories to consume).
  • I also began researching a new Martial Arts school this week.  I cannot afford classes at the moment, but I am hoping that will change soon.  It has been far to long since I have taken classes, and I am eager to learn new skills.  I have a few possibilities on my list, but I will do more research when living and financial situations settle.  I am still on the hunt for a good Ba Gua Zhang school, also considering Kung Fu, Aikido, Jujitsu (if I can find a good school teaching the Japanese version as opposed to Brazilian), or even returning to Capoeira…maybe (it has always been my favorite, but I like to try different forms).


  • Meditation – I have meditated at least twice a day this week.  I did not manage to squeeze in a third time, aside from using my Mala bracelet while out and about, until Saturday.  I have the entire old version of Headspace to try out now…and there are at least 650 guided meditations there (granted…some are focused on things I have no need of…like pregnancy…if I still had my tumor I would totally use the pregnancy meditations for that :D), so I have plenty of meat there.  Plus the meditations from the book I am reading, and I will probably pick up a few other similar type books next time I stop at the library.

Summer of Self-Improvement – AKA Summer of Unemploment

During this past spring, I gave my notice at my full time job, as I intended to move to Los Angeles in May.  Well, things happened, and the move was postponed indefinitely, but my replacement had been hired before the change in plans and so I found myself still living in Chicago and unemployed.

Rather than jump into another full time job immediately, as several have been placed in front of me, I decided to take a Monologue class that I have been trying to take for several years, which is only offered Monday afternoons.  I am searching for a part-time job and working as an extra to supplement my savings, but my days have been filled mostly with focusing on my own improvement and studies.  The goal is to focus on improving myself before I deal with the outside influences.

So, here are my daily tasks:
*Acting – I have lots to do with the monologues I am assigned in my class.  In addition, I am reading other plays in order to further build my knowledge of theater.
*Fitness – I am really cracking down on burning 1k calories more than I consume each day, and on building my strength back up.   I have a number of exercises I do throughout the day (cross jacks, torso twists, chest presses, shoulder flies, planks, plank with knee taps, Russian twists, leg raises, mountain climbers, squats, grips, and a few others I work in), plus walking/biking/hula hooping, and soccer on various days, and each night now I have been doing 30-90 minutes of cardio (Zumba mainly…my current full routine burns about 800 calories) depending on how many calories I have left to burn, and rotating through the four sections of my stretching routine.
*Reading – I am reading two books at once right now, one is Dune, as I am participating in an online Dune Reading Club, but it is only 5-10 pages a day.  The other book is up to me.  Last week I read four books and started on a fifth, generally reading 50 or so pages a night.
*Crash Course – I have posted before about Crash Course on YouTube, a channel that does short lessons on various subjects.  I am trying to do at least one lesson a week right now, but I want to work up to two to three.
*Italian – I am watching one Italian show per day (currently children’s cartoons), and reading a chapter a day in an Italian book (currently Pinocchio).  As I rebuild my vocabulary, I will work my way up to more difficult shows and texts.  I might start working on DuoLingo again, though I have finished the Italian course once, so I needed more.  Perhaps I will reinstall Rosetta Stone and see how far that gets me.
*Cleaning – All of my belongings were staged in the garage for my move, so now I need to start moving them back down to the basement.  At my current rate, I should be done by mid-September, though I am going faster than scheduled.  I also need to go through things, reorganize, pack loose items, sort through my to sell/donate pile, and generally condense everything.
*Meditation – I am meditating at least twice a day right now, but I would like to get back up to three or four as I was doing before last summer.
*Blogs – I am trying to get back on schedule with this blog, as well as two of my other blogs: Death by Chocolate (a chocolate blog), and Deciphering Lolita (a Lolita blog).  I currently have blog ideas into October for DbC and this blog, I just need to do that for DL now.  The biggest thing for this blog is choosing a new name, as I would like to change things over with the one year anniversary coming up in two weeks.  I have a few ideas, though nothing that I really love.  I might have to find someone to bounce my ideas off of for an impartial opinion.

So there is what I have been up to this summer.  I apologize for lack of posts, but I have needed to do a lot of soul searching.  I also had to remind myself that ultimately, I am writing this blog for me, and that people are not always going to agree with my opinions.  More on that later though.

100 Days – Mental Health with Josh Sundquist

I really enjoyed this video in the series.  If you have not followed along, John hates meditation, so this video brings in Josh Sundquist, a Paralympian, who discusses his practice with fitness, and focuses a lot on the M in his fitness acronym (JERM).  It is also just inspiring to see how this person rose above his physical limitations, even at such a young age.  It makes me feel lazy…I need to go workout…crap…I am at work.



I never assigned myself an acronym, but this is really the core of my daily practice.  I do not always write everyday, but I rely on it heavily when my mind is feeling full and jumbled (I should really do it everyday).  I exercise daily.  I have a reading schedule and try to read a little bit every day, even if it is just 20 pages or so.  And I meditation daily, generally twice a day.

I think I am going to check out Josh Sundquist’s channel as well.


“I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.”

We have all heard it, we have all said it by now.  Many of us have giggled at them as someone throws them out as a joke, not out of disrespect, just because the context was amusing.  Chirrut Imwe’s words echo in our heads in repetition as they did throughout the movie.  I think most, if not all Jedi out there connected with his character, a character who believed strongly in the Force and could feel it, but could not harness it and use it as the Jedi did, yet still chose to live by their ideals.

His words have since become a mantra for many Jedi, and of course many are working them into meditations or looking for ways to do so.  Thus far, my favorite use has been with Mala Beads.

I bought my mala beads several years ago, I had wanted some for a while, and this particular string called to me.  It is an amethyst set (purple IS my favorite color), and only has 106 beads to the standard 108 (six is my lucky number).  They usually sit wrapped around my bedpost, and I use them for various mantras as needed.

The idea is, that you hold the string of beads in your hands, and you gradually move your fingers on one hand from bead to bead, reciting your mantra for each bead, focusing on the words and the meaning as a form of meditation.  There is one bead that where the string is tied off, on my string it has a tassel on the end, so you can begin or end with that one.  I like to end with it personally.  The beads make for a nice focusing point, as well as a good way of tracking yourself without consciously counting.

Some other mantras I have used are the recitation of the Jedi Code (sometimes only one line, sometimes the entire code per bead, sometimes one line per bead with the last bead being the entire code (as I use the five line).  I have also used various quotes from the fiction.

Recently I wrote a line for myself to remind myself of my worth in something…as I begun, the words did not mean much, but as I neared the end, I found myself in tears as I began to fully realize the meaning and truth behind the simple words.  Mantras can be powerful things, and only in the act of repeating them can we fully digest and understand the wisdom in the words.  So, get on board with Chirrut and start repeating your mantras.

100 Days

A couple of YouTube personalities I follow (you may have heard of the one, John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars) are going to spend 100 days, starting on January 1st, to make “lasting, meaningful, healthy changes in their lives.”  It looks really interesting.  In this intro video, John mentions meeting with a dietitian, a trainer, and a psychologist, as well as doing meditation, obstacle courses, rock climbing, ecc.  I might post a few videos if I find them really helpful, but otherwise it might be good to follow and watch (no, I am in no way affiliated, I just think it looks really helpful and interesting) for inspiration and information.

Coursea Course on Buddhist Meditation

This course just began yesterday, free to audit.


About this Course:
Tibetan Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World explores the immense variety of meditation practices past and present. We present their histories, their philosophical underpinnings, their transformations in the modern global world, and we give you a chance to reflect upon meditation practices through secular contemplations designed just for this course. We use a traditional, if overly simplistic, way of grouping Buddhist philosophical systems and ritual-contemplative practices into “three vehicles”, three programs of theory and practice supporting the personal journey from suffering to enlightenment. This scheme became normative in India and Tibet: (i) the Lesser Vehicle (Hīnayāna), (ii) the Great Vehicle (Mahāyāna), and (iii) the Adamantine Vehicle (Vajrayāna), also referred to as “esoteric Buddhism” or “Buddhist tantra”. To this, we will add a fourth Vehicle which is explicit in many Tibetan materials, though no standard term ever emerged that was accepted by all sectarian traditions – we will thus term it as the “Natural Vehicle” or “Post Tantra”. We follow an indigenous Tibetan tradition in terms of characterizing each with a specific orientational paradigm – repression, refinement, transformation, and natural freedom. These twelve meditative traditions constitute the framework for the course’s discussion of the main streams of Tibetan Buddhist meditation. The five modules of the present course, dedicated to “Lesser Vehicle” practices and perspectives, treat the first five of these twelve types. Each module in turn has four components: (i) the specific Buddhist meditation in its traditional presentation and practice; (ii) modern scientific research into its efficacy and dynamics, or on practices, principles, and processes related to this type of meditation in our analysis; (iii) the fact, problems, and opportunities of modern secular adaptations in a variety of educational, professional, and personal settings; and (iv) secular practices for experimentation, which are either direct adaptations or new practices designed to give an experiential sense of some of the principles underlying the Buddhist meditative practice.

Be More Centered

An updated version of this post can be found in the drop down menu at the top of the page under “Be More Series.”  It will continue to be updated as information is uncovered in that location, but will remain the same here.


Something you will see pretty much all Jedi agree on is meditation.  Meditation comes in various forms, sitting vs. moving, solo vs. guided, focused vs. emptying, ecc.  The key is to find the method that works best for you.  This is not about me teaching you how to meditate, just giving you the resources, so lets get right to it.


  • Holosync – The full program is ridiculously expensive, and the website looks like a cheap infomercial product, but the free demo has some nice ambient sounds.
  • UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center – A variety of guided meditations, including a few in Spanish.
  • A Soft Murmur – A website with various ambient sounds to play in the background, and you can adjust the volume of each.
  • Ambient Mixer – I have only just begun to explore this site, but I especially love the “Movies and Series” themes.  Plus you can adjust the levels of various sounds to tune out something that you do not really like.
  • 7 Cups of Tea – You can complete daily wellness challenges, or connect with a live “listener” for free.  Completely anonymous.

YouTube Channels 


  • Buddhify – Eighty different guided meditations tailored to what you are doing, ranging from five-thirty minutes, and a timer for non-guided meditations.  Great program, $3 though. Android | iOS
  • Calm – Has a seven day program, and choices of sound and length of time as well as scenes to focus on visualy.  Multpile guided and unguided sessions.  Subscription for 21-day prgram. Android | iOS
  • Headspace – Free ten day program, great for learning meditation and has a buddy system. Android | iOS
  • Daylio – This app asks you each day how your day went so that you can track your moods over time.  Android | iOS not yet available, see website
  • Zen Koi – Part smartphone game, part zen.  It is like having a zen garden on your phone, except you are a Koi fish trying to become a dragon.  Android | iOS


(I am adding this as a late edit (12/12/2016) after a conversation with Opie last night.  Art can be a great visual focus for meditation, and Escher’s is some of the best)