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New Year 2018: Reflections & Goals

by Brian Rigby, MS, CISSN

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Happy New Years 2018!

Here we are once again: another trip around the sun, another thirteen orbits of the moon, another year. Last year went by fast. I suppose that just happens as you get older, but having half of any year dominated by appointments vis-a-vis your health doesn’t do much to slow it down! At any rate, 2017 is gone, 2018 is ahead, and I have some reflections on the past 365 days and goals for the upcoming ones.

Reflections on Climbing Nutrition in 2017

In 2017, I set three goals for this blog:

  1. Increase Patreon support to $250 per month.
  2. Write at least one post every other week.
  3. Put out two new Supplement Guides.

How did I do?

Well, I did ensure to get two new Supplement Guides out: Caffeine (in March) and Siberian Ginseng (in December). So that goal was accomplished! There are still more supplements out there to review, but they’re starting to enter the more “fringe” territory of products (much like Siberian Ginseng, which I reviewed in large part because I know it’s out there associated with climbing already), so these guides may become less frequent. I’m happy with the progress I made here in the past year, though, so check.

Post-wise, I was not quite as on the ball. In 2017, I wrote 18 “normal” posts (depending on how you define them; I defined them as making the “main page”) and another 27 “quick posts”—the type that shows up only on the sidebar—for a total of 45 posts. Many of those quick posts were simple updates on my health, so probably shouldn’t count, but the rest were mini-articles so I think there’s merit to including them, even if I would rather be slightly more prolific and able to write more, longer articles.

To be true to the wording on this goal, I did say I wanted at least one article to be read every two weeks in absolute, not on average, and I didn’t quite accomplish that. And, while I’d like to say my health issues in the latter part of the year were the reason, I can unfortunately find gaps as early as February, essentially immediately after the resolution! If anything, I got better as the year went on, but there’s progress to be made either way. That may mean working on numerous articles simultaneously—which could help me avoid avoiding work when I’m finding it hard to focus on a particular topic (which happens)—or perhaps there are other strategies I can employ to just get words on the page so I can come back and edit them later. At the very least, I know I’m part of a large guild of writers who struggle with the same problem, so I’m not alone haha. Perhaps the change will be as simple as learning how to write on my phone, something I’ve always tried to avoid but have given into recently; it’s not as satisfying as clicking on the keyboard, but it does help me tame wild thoughts as they come and lay them down for later work.

My final goal—the financial Patreon goal—fell flat. This one I do give myself a little leeway on, as I was prepared to follow through. In early July, I updated my Patreon page with new tiers, goals, rewards, etc., and only had to film some videos to make my case to future patrons before I found out I had a chondrosarcoma growing at the base of my skull. At that point, everything else fell a bit by the wayside, and the idea of filming myself wasn’t something I was ready for, so I delayed the relaunch.

I am disappointed I didn’t tackle that goal earlier; I could have easily started in March, or even January for that matter. And in the end, that’s the main reflection I have on this goal: start sooner.

Personal Reflections from 2017

My personal goal last year was to slow down and take the time to build a solid base. Overall, and considering the limitations that I incurred post-surgery, I think I succeeded. I focused more on the “basics”, and I think they paid off. By the time I was surgically limited in September, I was consistently holding 30-second handstands and had held several 60+ second handstands. I’ll have to build back up there again, but knowing I’ve already built that base will make it that much faster to restore the second time around.

In the climbing world, I had success with my “back to the basics” approach as well. I had realized from filming myself doing front levers that my middle back—the rhomboids specifically—were extremely weak. This isn’t exactly an uncommon problem with climbers (in fact, it is well-documented and studied), but I had never noticed it myself or had it pointed out (aside from general “posture”). Changing my training to focus more on that part of the chain and less on already strong and dominant parts (like the lats) allowed me to significantly increase the strength of my middle back and improve my climbing.

Climbing Nutrition Goals for 2018

I have only one major goal this year for Climbing Nutrition: increase funding, primarily through Patreon. Most of the other goals I have set for myself in the past all ride on the overall goal of being able to support myself (at least somewhat) with this site; there’s a direct correlation between how much time I can spend writing articles here and how much time I need to spend “elsewhere” making money. When I tell myself to “just write more”, it doesn’t change the reality that I have limited time to divide between the work I do for money, the work I do for free, and the times I’m climbing. I can’t make time in one pool without shrinking another, and I’d rather continue climbing!

In the coming month, I’m going to finish the reboot of the Patreon campaign, and I’ll share a little bit about how it’s going to work here and now. Essentially, instead of having static goals that incrementally improve the site, I’m going to have “project goals”, where I announce a major project I’d like to do and how much funding I would need to accomplish it in various aspects. Then, when that goal has been funded, I’ll begin work on it while also developing a new goal project.

My first project goal is a survey of climbers and nutrition. There have been surveys in the past, but I what I’d really like is to make a more comprehensive, more openly available survey that any scientists or climbers in general can easily access all the raw data from and gain insight. The funding goals all have to do with making this project better—with more funds, I can hire better people to help me, I can increase the reach of the survey (and therefore the amount of data gathered), and I can potentially even get the survey published in a journal, lending it a bit more prestige. Subsequent project goals will depend on how well this initial goal does, but range from other scientific research ventures to more guide-like features on the site.

If this goal falls into line this year, then all the other smaller goals I have for this site—guest authors, more articles, more features, etc.—will all fall in line as well.

Personal Goals for 2018

I’m still sticking with the basics, but with perhaps a bit more focus. I’m trying to find the right divide between time spent training—mostly bodyweight training, gymnastics-style—and climbing. In the past year and a half, I had edged a bit more dominantly into bodyweight training with climbing as a sort of side activity I did regularly, but wasn’t really devoted to improving at. This was partially experimental to see if I could gain an edge by improving my shoulder strength, and partially just because doing bodyweight progressions is fun. However, after all this time, I haven’t improved at climbing (though I don’t experience any shoulder tweaks ever anymore, either, and I haven’t gotten worse), and I’m ready to re-balance that divide again.

One big change I anticipate this year is to cut down on the repertoire of bodyweight movements I’ve been engaging in. My previous goals meant three solid days of training in addition to climbing, and while that worked great when I had the time, I didn’t always have the time (see Climbing Nutrition Goals for 2018 section above!). By cutting back on a few “movements” to focus in on the most important ones—and perhaps the ones most directly relevant to my other goals—I think I can devote a lot more time to just being on the wall (the most important part of improving at climbing) and still make progress with my bodyweight goals like handstands, muscle-ups, planches, and front levers.

Thus, my goal this year is to climb more, better target my training, and continue to work the weaknesses.

Hope Your 2018 Is Amazing

Next week, I have a whole slew of new content coming your way, and that’s in addition to what I’ll be doing with Patreon over the coming month. If you’ve got some goals you’d like to share with others here, we’d love to hear them. Otherwise, have a great 2018!

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