Yesterday I introduced our latest challenge, learning fluent Korean in 6 months. Today, I’ll share the method we’re going to follow to try and accomplish that goal.
We’ve had a lot of experience with language learning (I even have a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics) and so far I think the most effect method for language learning we have found so far is to just start using that language.
After all, while our stated goal is to reach fluency, in the end learning fluent Korean isn’t really an end goal in and of itself. It’s a tool, and it should be treated the same way when you’re learning. A lot of people seem to make the mistake of treating the language they’re learning like it is the goal itself. They study and pour over textbooks and slave away in classes or listening to and repeating after recordings of native speakers as if they’ll eventually hit some finish line where someone officially declares they know the language. They may say they want to speak the language, but they go about it like all they care about is ‘knowing’ the language.
While I’m just barely at the end of my third week into my first challenge, losing 56 lbs. in under 4 months, Caroline and I were talking and decided that today we would like to start a second challenge:
Become able to speak fluent Korean in only 6 months.
Why Korean? Why in 6 months? How does this help us on the way to being epic? One question at a time.
We chose Korean for two main reasons. The first is that we’ve been wanting to learn it for a long while now, but have never really committed to it. We already speak some Japanese, Mandarin, German and Russian (though not nearly as well as we’d like) so it seems right to pick a language we know almost nothing in that we’ve wanted to learn for a while. The second reason is that right now we’re working on the side at a Korean restaurant, so we have tons and tons of access to native speakers to practice with, which is really important.
t has been pretty well established that the Pareto principle, or 80/20 rule, holds true for most things in life. Basically, the 80/20 rule states that in most cases 80% of the results come from only 20% of the causes. For example, 80% of sales come from 20% of customers, 80% of daily speech comes from 20% of vocab, 80% of the world’s money is in the hands of 20% of the population, etc.
The point of this principle isn’t to genuinely suggest that all things are arranged in 80/20 distributions, the end percentages aren’t really that important. The point is to get across the fact that things are almost never perfectly distributed. If things aren’t distributed evenly, than that brings us to a more important point.
There exist both high return and low return variables in every situation.
Why is this important? A person who wastes all their time with low return variables will not progress nearly as much (or as quickly) as a person who identifies and focuses on the high return variables. If you can figure out which things are high return and which are low return than you have just given yourself the best advantage you can in reaching whatever goal you’re pursuing.
As encouraging as the first week was, this week was every bit as disheartening.
To start with, at the beginning of the week I was stricken with a particularly nasty cold. I would say flu, since I did have a fever, but there was no nausea – just fun things like constant chronic coughing, loss of my voice, sinuses more congested than the Cross Bronx Expressway and an unstoppable crew of cranial jackhammer operators.
As of today few of these symptoms have abated. Needless to say, I have had no interest in working out this week and have not only not started my daily high intensity interval training as I had originally planned, but I didn’t even do a single strength workout this week.
When it comes to losing weight, one of the best things one can do is pack on more lean muscle. This is an obvious thing, in my opinion, but given the number of weight loss programs I see advocating what seems like nothing but incessant, mindless cardio I think it needs to be stated. To put it simply, all that additional lean muscle requires energy to stay around, the more energy those muscles take up the less there is hanging around to become adipose tissue (that jiggly stuff hanging off your gut).
Since I’m under the deadline of a challenge I’m interested in pursuing the most efficient method for putting on muscle and losing fat. Since my concern is ultimately utilitarian (i.e., I want to be fit to increase my ability to do things, not just to have big showy muscles) I’m also interested in a method that builds strength with as little overall mass increase as possible. The solution?
Lift very heavy things.
Or, rather, lift very heavy things in compound exercises. Why? Three main reasons – Testosterone, Human Growth Hormone and Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1.
The first week is over and, so far, it’s going particularly well. I stuck to the plan as far as my workouts go and completed all three throughout the week. In addition to that, I was able to mostly stick to a diet of primarily protein and fat and avoid grains all week long. Surprisingly, I was rewarded for my efforts this morning with the scale telling me I am now 198 lbs. That means, in this week alone, I managed to lose 8 pounds. Considering my goal requires roughly 3 pounds lost per week, that’s a really great first step.
That being said, it may have been mostly water weight or some other factor which will either be quickly replaced or not reflected in the rate of the rest of my progress throughout the challenge. Regardless, it also gives me a little bit of leeway. Assuming I don’t put any of that weight back on, my weekly target has now dropped from around 3 lbs lost per week to just above 2 lbs lost per week.
Barely over a week has passed in our polyphasic sleep experiment and already it looks like we’re going to have to call it quits. We’ve both accepted new jobs and, while we tried to work around it, have found the two schedules just refuse to play nice together.
In my opinion, in the short-term it was a huge success. By the end of this past week we had adapted fully to the schedule, and both were really loving the few extra hours. It doesn’t seem like an hour or two extra would be worth much, but it felt like a ton of extra productive time.
Because of that, we definitely intend to pick this experiment back up once our schedules fall back under our own control. So far, we’ve had no issues adjusting back to monophasic sleep, so we’ve also been contemplating an on-off version.
Keep checking in for when we can pick things back up, as well as a more in-depth review of our short time experimenting with our sleep patterns. Do you have any experience with it? Let us know in the comments!
Yesterday I introduced the first challenge I’m going to undertake as a part of our Road to Epic project, losing 56 pounds in 141 days (20 weeks and 1 day). Today I’m going to outline my plan for how to accomplish my goal.
Boiled down to its essentials, losing fat and building muscle is a process determined entirely by two variables – how you use your body and what you put into it. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, it’s diet and exercise.
For my first challenge, I have decided to tackle something that I’ve struggled with for quite some time now – fitness. After all, being fat bars me from performing as well as I would like in a variety of skills which I’m currently pursuing such as parkour, martial arts and b-boying. Being fat is, in almost every way, a direct obstacle to being epic.
As I mentioned, this is an old fight for me. Back when I was a teenager I was a self-described butter-sucking eat beast topping out at one point at around 300 pounds. I fought hard to fix a whole lot of bad habits and, at 23 years old, am now a slightly more respectable 206 pounds.
Something happened though, after that final transition from monstrous to just plain chubby. I’m not sure if it’s just an issue of complacency, or other things in my life (college, work etc.) getting in the way but I’ve never been able to break that 200 pound line. I fight for a little while, and then I just kind of fall out of it and bounce back to where I was.
That is precisely why I have chosen it as my first Road to Epic challenge.
Caroline and I are two very ambitious people. This site, and it’s dedication to paving the way to being epic, is proof positive of that. We have a list of martial arts we want to learn longer than I can count, we both have around 10 instruments we want to learn, we’re currently studying Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Russian, German and French. We want to get in shape, and to get as good as possible at Parkour, breakdancing and acrobatics.
On top of all this, we’re renovating our house and working on starting two businesses, Viking Design and MoveFree Shoes. We’re writing several blogs and I write on the side as the Cincinnati Martial Arts Examiner. We’re also both working on our own novels. Oh, right, we have to eat too. Forgot about that.
Frankly – there’s just not enough time in a day.
Pondering this perplexing problem I remembered something I had read about a few years ago while still in college called ‘polyphasic sleep’. As it turns out, it may be just the solution we’ve been looking for.