Tag Archives: Fitness Specter

Emerald Specter 49: Storytelling

If you haven’t been paying attention, Emerald Specter.com is quickly shifting to telling stories. Stories about all kinds of wonderful things, some in “real time,” and some pre-written. With this focus, this branding, I’ll be moving things in directions that I hadn’t necessarily intended when I started moving the site in this direction.

In August, No Man’s Sky Update 1.3 will be released and that will (apparently) introduce all kinds of new little goodies to the game. There is an ARG, or alternate reality game, that is currently happening (entitled Waking Titan) which is leading to this update’s release. This is all important because I’ve decided to tell a narrative using No Man’s Sky but not using No Man’s Sky “narrative,” if that makes sense. I’m waiting for the update to come out to see what other things I’ll have access to in order to tell the narrative that I have in mind. I’ve come up with the basis of this narrative, now I wait to see what alterations I need to include with the release of this update. This IS happening and I’m going to be doing this a little differently than I initially intended (though included as an option everywhere I’ve talked about it).

There will be two narratives going on at the same time… the first is the narrative of the live stream of the game I’m playing, complete with audio commentary as I go and my “co-pilot” will join me at being somewhat “in character.” The reason I continue to put that term in quotations is that if something comes up in the real world while I am playing, I’ll break character and may even have some “dead gameplay” happening while we figure out what is happening. I’m planning on a schedule of when to follow along live but this is really just gathering the information for the other part of this narrative: the edited and “finished” product.

Ideally, the idea is to have a cohesive “season” of story told through several installments. When you watch one of these polished episodes, you’ll get some of the live in-game audio but you’ll also get a lot of voice over narration, telling the story that is harder to pick out from the live feed. Did you see me react a certain way on a planet and didn’t really understand format he live feed, even after watching the scene three times? Well, in the voice over polished episode, you’ll hear about the story beat that was intended to be included in the live feed but my “in character” perspective wouldn’t necessarily understand what was happening.

Yes, I am thinking deep on this one. I hope you’ll enjoy what I’ve got planned.

Moving along, I’ve mentioned on the Specter Show about writing serial fiction for this site. While I stalled slightly after writing “episode 1” of the series, I have started in on the first third of “episode 2” and I’m not looking back. I’ve gotten Kevin Couick (from the Greatest Show) interested in the writing of a serial, so we may have a second serial gracing the site that I am not directly involved with! I’d edit, as I have asked him to do for me, but I wouldn’t be writing anything about it.

With the series I’m working on, which I’ll call “Untitled: Series 1,” I want all 12 or 13 episodes completed, edited, and released in 12 or 13 consecutive weeks (as if I were HBO releasing one of their original series on their channel). Once I’m done with the editing and scheduled set up of the release, I intend to start working on another series. Will that be Untitled: Series 1, Season 2? Probable, though I don’t want to exclude the possibility of New Series Season 1. With Kevin in the mix, I wouldn’t feel the pressure to expand into another series right away, as there would be more content to release that would be interesting for you (the audience).

Keep strong if I decide to write a different series instead of season two of the first one… there are lots of stories I have to tell and some of them need to be out there before continuing with the already released “sequels.” Besides, if you like both series, THEN which one do I write third? Right?

All this talk of writing may also result in audio versions of these episodes. So, with the release of a season and then a release of the audio versions at a future date, I would essentially have a novel and an audiobook released within a relatively short span of time.

Also, I don’t know if Kevin intends to novelize his offering but I am intending to novelize mine. Some people like to hold a book when they read and I’d like to be able to sign something for those that really enjoy what I will write.

If you’ve been paying attention to some of the things I’ve talked about on past episodes of the Specter Show, you’ll note there are a couple of items that are completely missing from any sort of documentation in the last few columns or episodes… that would be the narration I was talking about doing for the Doctor Who synopsis readings that I’d promised. I haven’t forgotten about them, I have pushed them to the background because I am actively writing and do not want to interrupt the creative process. I may also discover that I don’t have time for that until a “lull” in the writing process, too, so perhaps saving it for later would be a better thing.

The final thing, which is sort of a storytelling topic, is the concept of columns. I have been writing multiple columns at one point, would liked to have gotten back to that for the sake of content, and I have failed to relaunch things like I’d promised. Well, I’m considering doing something a little different and that would mean an explanation of how and why I’m considering this.

I used to write a professional wrestling column waaaaaaay back in the 20th century (which ran for 350 weekly releases for a website that has since gone down in quality). That would be six years plus of writing about professional wrestling. How did I accomplish this feat? What made the column last that long?

First and foremost, I chose a single topic and talked the hell out of it. Sometimes it was about a match, sometimes it was about an angle (a storyline between two or more wrestlers), sometimes it was about history (lineage of a championship, progression of a specific character, or the rise/fall of a federation), and sometimes it was just about what was currently happening in the world of wrestling (at that time, it would have been between WWE and WCW… later being between WWE and TNA). After the first 50-75 columns, though, topics started to be a little tougher to fill out the entire column length (which was about 750-1500 words, depending on the topic). My audience was clamoring for more, so I did something unexpected…

I added sections to the column.

The first part of the column then became a brief “info dump” about what I thought about what was currently going on at the time. This was about 250-500 words, depending on how interesting the angles were at the time.

The second part was the “traditional” column, containing a focus on a single topic that was now reduced to 500-1000 words, depending on the specific topic. This was also an opportunity to revisit ideas I’d already written about and retell them in the shorter format.

The third part was a story I started developing as part of a series of fictional accounts. At first the story would be released to fantasy booking (setting up angles or shows with specific matches or whatnot). Once the fantasy booking started to see a lull, I created a fictional wrestler and ran him through entering the business and eventually becoming a Hall of Fame character in the twilight of his career.

That third part was, by far, my most popular feature. The third part was also another 500-1000 words, depending on the era of the wrestler’s life I was currently in (and whether he was involved in some random, small federation or one of the “big 2” at the time). There were random columns through the remainder of my run that were nothing but the third section, and those were the highest read columns I ever wrote.

Unfortunately, those columns are not available on that website any longer… not only have they drastically redesigned, they apparently dumped their historical information (I checked), so most of what is on that site now is either new or just plain “in the now.”

If you’ve been paying attention and haven’t gotten distracted by my recounting of my wrestling column, you may have figured out that I am thinking of doing that with this column (or a brand new one). I would write about a topic that relates to the website (like the Emerald Specter column you are currently reading), include the SpecterFit column that I have wanted to relaunch (which wouldn’t always be long enough to warrant a full column, so this new format would fit much nicer into what I’m looking to accomplish), and there are other columns that I wanted to resurrect as well (Storytelling Specter, Game Specter, UFC Specter, Footie Specter, Chess Specter, Ingress Intel, Fantasy Football Specter, and Specter Who) that can be included as pieces or rotating pieces in the final column.

Everything on this site is in a constant state of change. I am adapting as I go and rather than wipe the site and reboot, I want to show a progression of where I came from to where I am at, currently. This column will reflect that.

Starting with Emerald Specter 50, the column will be rebranded slightly with a name that will encompass more about what is going on with the site as a whole (including all the sections I mentioned). I don’t have a name picked out at the moment, but it’ll be something similar (and expanded)… something like Tales from the Emerald Specter, Wrath of the Emerald Specter, Welcome to the Specterverse, Journal of Emerald Specter.com, or something along those lines… the numbering won’t be reset and we will see if that works to move into the future.

I’d love to hear feedback… @EmeraldSpecter on both Instagram and Twitter, email me at emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com, or simply submit a comment on this column.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week for the grand opening of the new column.

SpecterFit 43: Um, What?

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The SpecterFit 1 event is out. I’m needing to start things over, in my personal life, and I’m going to stop treading water with this column and start writing more about things that will help. I don’t want to preach or act like I’m all “mightier than thou,” which I sometimes felt was what I was writing before…

Time to drop some knowledge.

I’ve lost 91 pounds within the last five years. I’ve regained almost all of that weight because I stopped doing the things that got me there. There’s something that I know because I’ve lived it. There is the number one reason why diets don’t work, as soon as you go off them you regain the weight. Change has to be a lifestyle change, not a “three week diet.” That doesn’t work.

Portion control used to be my only Achilles heel… but I’ve been eating out, a lot, lately and that makes me realize that I’ve stopped looking at what worked to get me thin. Making food at home, concentrating on the good proteins, low fats (the bad ones), controlling the portions, and eating more of the good foods in general (like fruits and vegetables).

Let me not forget the other part of the equation: exercise.

My wife and I used to walk 10,000 steps a day or more and when we moved out to Portland, that stopped happening as often. In fact, the walking we do doesn’t happen consistently and while we don’t often walk a lot while we are “off work,” my job changed drastically enough to where walking wasn’t much of an option. The bosses would tell you differently, but the percentage of office work to “being on the street” is easily 80/20. Twenty percent of walking or exercise to everything else was not really happening.

I’m going to be getting back to basics.

Eating out is “once in a while,” or less than everyday. Walking will be included in that, and since my sole focus at work currently involves lots of walking, I’m already started. My job will be changing soon, too, to mostly walking, therefore I shall be doing MUCH better. The weight will be coming off and if I just curb my terrible eating habits (that I’ve fallen back into), then the weight will be coming off much faster.

I’m aiming for 100,000 steps a week. I use the HealthKit on my iPhone, I use my Apple Watch, and I want to set some goals. With the 100,000 steps, I want to have my activity rings on my Apple Watch to be complete… every single day.

Who is with me?

SpecterFit 42: The SpecterFit January Event

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For those interested in the SpecterFit January event, this column is almost exclusively about that… if you’re not interested, I’ll see you next week. If you’re still reading, then let’s talk about January and SpecterFit 1.

Up to this point, I’ve been teasing the idea of subtitling the events. Just like the previous WAFFLE stuff, I did still want to keep SpecterFit numbered events around but I think that some subtitles would be nice to help kick things off AND hopefully motivate some folks into jumping on board. Then another idea struck me and I thought that maybe we can have both.

First, without further dancing around the damn tease, here’s the SpecterFit 1 “cover” photo:SpecterFit1

The first idea I had was to name SpecterFit 1 “Genesis,” but I decided to go a different direction and use the word “Origin.” Genesis has a more epic ring to it, but Origin is still the beginning. There will be more epic titles to these events, and that’s where I want to go next. Subtitles and numbered SpecterFit events.

Let’s say that we get through 2017 with 12 SpecterFit events and we’ve subtitled about half of them. Other than Origin for 1, I’ll invent Fitacular for 3, Fitnado for 5, and FitForce for 7. Anymore than that, I’m stretching myself to come up with dummy names. Anyway, let’s look at the lineup.

We’d have 12 SpecterFit events with (in my example) four that have subtitles. We’ll say that 2017 is over and for 2018, we go with SpecterFits 13-24 and add the extra four events that no longer are subtitles but actually named events. So, Fitacular with either be Fitacular 2 or Fitacular 2018. The idea would be to grow the SpecterFit events to keep people moving and getting fit. Interesting?

Anyway, SpecterFit 1: Origin will be from January 1, 2017 to January 31, 2017 and I’ve mentioned that you can get a badge for participating in the event, but you can also get badges for accomplishing your goals. An example of this would be:Origin_Badge

Is this the actual badge for walking? It could be… I’m working on concepts and I whipped this one up in order to show you what kind of badge designs I was toying with. The SpecterFit 1: Origin badge will have a unique design and can only be earned by participating in the event. In fact, all SpecterFit events will have a unique badge.

So, I need some feedback. What kinds of badges do you want? Weight lifted? Walking? Running? I can make all of those, and they will be progressive (win it the first time, it’s bronze, second time it’s silver, third time it’s gold, for example). Those three will be created, and probably flights climbed will be in there for the stair steppers… so, what else do you want to see? Post the ideas in the new SpecterFit forum.

Get fit.

SpecterFit 41: Cardio

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If you’re paying attention, SpecterFit 41 has skipped a week and now I’m setting a precedent of only having three columns per month… or perhaps, one column short of the full month. Time will tell, but I say all that to say it’s time to talk about the next step of getting fit and moving forward: cardio.

The myth about cardio is that you have to run. Bullshit. Running, while a cardiovascular activity, is not the only method of cardio. In fact, as long as you’re doing something that gets your heart rate up for over 20 minutes counts as cardio. If that is dancing, running, walking, karate, parkour, or whatever, as long as the heart rate is up for at least 20 minutes, you’ve attained cardio goodness.

End of column.

Okay, just kidding.

Nothing you do with your health, short of the eating portion, will be highly effective without cardio. None of your workouts should be considered complete without cardio. Hell, you should both start and end your workout sessions with cardio, something I used to do a lot and now almost never do. Yes, do as I say and not as I do because I’m about to start doing these things again to make my point.

Oh, and I’m 306 as I write this. You’re hopefully starting to notice the downward trend in the number, even though that number isn’t rocketing to the bottom of the scale as fast as everyone would like to see. Why don’t I show you something?HealthBar

This is a screenshot of my actual Health Kit from my iPhone today. I weigh myself every day, which doesn’t mean you should also do this, but because I do I get to observe trends in how I lose weight over long periods of time. Note: there is almost no cardio at all in this trend here, I posted this to show you a little something to talk about before returning to cardio.

My weight does this when I’m losing weight. I’ll have a few “peaks and valleys,” then I’ll have a stiff dip before a slight rise and the peaks and valleys will return. All of this happens on the downward trend.

I can tell you which days I didn’t eat like I should have been eating. You’d think all of those would be the peaks but they aren’t. The body needs a random, unhealthy meal now and again to jump start things. The last unhealthy meal I had on this chart is the third to last dot. Before that, the last peak before the big valley was a cheat meal day. I concentrated on walking a higher number of steps each of the days afterwards and despite my best efforts, the weight will rebound every time before a new trend begins.

Let me get off on a slight tangent.

The experts in fitness say you shouldn’t weight yourself every day. I ignore those experts because I realize that no matter how hard I try, unless I stop eating entirely, I’m going to have peaks and valleys. I weigh myself every day in order to establish these patterns and trends so I can use them to my advantage. When is the next time I should have a cheat meal to keep moving in the right direction? If you look at my chart, you’ll see when I start coming out of that big valley because it will help reestablish the next trend. After today’s dot, I should see another downward slide for a few days before a rebound will occur and I should consider another cheat meal.

I am not discouraged by weight gain because I know that what you see above will happen all the time. If you can understand that about yourself, then you should weigh yourself daily, too. I weigh myself before I eat, drink, shower… I want to get out of bed, hop on the scale, and get my number. If you get into that habit, watch the trends, and you can start moving in the right direction, too.

Thus endeth my tangent.

My knees aren’t in the best shape in the world. I use walking as my primary source of cardio because at my current weight, running just isn’t plausible. I don’t really do a lot of dancing, I don’t want to do aerobics in my living room, and that leaves walking. When I walk, I try to walk to get my heart rate up (and I usually succeed). If you’re bigger, walking is your key to jump start your cardio.

Way back when I started my initial weight loss, I was 328 pounds and I used FitBit to track my steps, weight loss, and caloric intake. Now that I know how to eat, I don’t need to watch my calories so much. I use Argus as my step counter now, and FitBit doesn’t work with Apple’s Health Kit, so I don’t use FitBit nearly as much as I used to… and my goal for steps each day is a minimum of 7,000. Ideally, I’d get at least 10,000 but I’m satisfied with 7,000 per day. The last three days I’ve gotten 8,000+, though I can tell you I’ll have less than that today (unless I go for a walk). I’m wanting to walk because I want the trend to return and cardio helps that.

Cardio gets the blood pumping and gets your body burning calories because your metabolism is heightened. If you want to lose weight, diet is import (diet, not A diet, but your lifestyle of eating), but cardio is second in line. Get moving. Walk a few steps every day. Set yourself a goal and beat that goal. Get more steps. Set a new goal. Beat that goal. Keep moving. You’ll melt off the weight without killing any part of your body. If you sit around on the couch all the time, you aren’t getting cardio done. Cardio is an important key.

I’ll talk more about fitness (and cardio) next time. Hopefully I’ve inspired you to get up and walk. Start with 5,000 step goals and move upward from that. Don’t try to go from 5,000 to 10,000, but at least start with 5,000 and beat that consistently before moving up 1,000-1,500 steps. You’ll love the results.

Get fit.

SpecterFit 40: A Look At Calories

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Welcome back to SpecterFit, the 40th Edition. This is the first edition where I’m going to state that the “weekly” part of this column may not always mean that there will be a column every week. Having said that, though, I’ll be putting together as many of these without a break as I can because I’d like to have a weekly column rather than a sporadic one.

This will also be the first column I don’t drone on about SpecterFit 1.

There is a lot of people who will look at a food, or even go so far as to look at the nutritional information, and think that what they’re eating isn’t that many calories. Well, more often than not, those people are wrong and more often than not, those people are overeating in a big way.

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The image above is what 200 calories looks like, depending on the food in question. If you click on the image, you’ll get a fuller sized image to look at but why I wanted to include this was to give you an idea what 200 calories, JUST 200 calories, looks like. You can see the tiny burger, the Hersey’s Kisses, the M&Ms, and french fries… compare that to what I’m actively choosing as snacks for myself (the broccoli, for example). If you haven’t eaten three eggs, that’s a lot of eggs. What about the overflowing plate full of celery.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I have a healthy thousand island I dip my broccoli into, and that means I don’t gob the stuff on the broccoli, either. I lightly dip the broccoli, just enough to make it “wet.” I’d do the same if I ate celery on a regular basis. I’m a person with a healthy bent on what I eat (most of the time), so I need help with the portion control. A picture like this helps.

Am I still talking about food?

If you look back at my columns, I give a percentage of kitchen to working out… that percentage is where weight loss comes from, and I’ve probably even used different percentages for that illustration. The point is, you’re going to be far more effective at losing weight using your kitchen than you are lifting weights, running, or whatever. Don’t get me wrong, those things will definitely help, but if you’re running five miles a day but eating terribly, you’ll only lose as long as you’re still running. Change your eating habits, you’ll continue to lose weight as long as you don’t stray from your habits.

This is a shorter column, one that will probably be the last talking about food for a while. I wanted to stay on the subject before moving on but you should never forget that the kitchen is the place where weight loss occurs most, not the gym. Be active, but eat better.

Get fit.

SpecterFit 39: Drinking the Calories

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There is a deep meaning to the title of this one as I want to address several things that most people do not pay attention to, so I wanted to concentrate on food once again as we enter into the 39th Edition of SpecterFit Weekly.

The title is the concentration here: drinking the calories. When you read that, what immediately comes to mind? Alcohol? Sugary drinks? Sodas? Orange juice? Lemonade? Some combination of them?

I am actually referring to all of that. Unless you are a highly active individual (working out six to seven times a week, once or twice a day, etc), then drinking calories is a stupid, stupid thing to do. A can of Coke is about 140 calories per can, to say nothing of the sugar that the soda is made out of being a terrible choice. That is 140 calories less that you shouldn’t be eating if you’re trying to lose weight.

Juices that are from concentrate are also terrible to be drinking, from a “get healthy” standpoint. If you think that Kool-Aid, Hawaiian Punch, Gatorade, or anything like that are better, you’re probably reading this blog at the right time. While Gatorade is better than the rest of what I mentioned, water is the beverage you should be partaking in the most. If you’re drinking sugary drinks, then you’re drinking calories that you need to eliminate from what you are eating.

Have an app or a website that tells you how many calories you need to stay under in order to lose weight? Well, if you look at what the calorie count is (let’s just use 2000 per day as a good, even number) then if you drink three cans of Coke a day, that’s 420 calories already off the top of your 2000, leaving you only 1580 calories left for your day. Eat a Big Mac with one of those Cokes and you’re looking at only about 1000 calories left to eat for a day… that’s JUST the Coke (can) and a Big Mac. If you eat the french fries, or alter the size of your Coke (to be a large fountain version), then you’re looking at far less calories for the rest of the day.

Stop making terrible choices.

We also don’t need to calorie count, if you’re eating smart. But there is another bane to weight loss, getting fit, that no one pays attention to that contains boat loads of calories (and empty calories, at that): alcohol.

A can of beer (I’ve chosen Bud Light) contains 110 calories. If you can drink just one, that isn’t so bad, but I don’t personally know anyone that doesn’t have at least four, putting them at 440 calories. At a bar, the glass is bigger than a can, so that means you’re drinking more than 110 calories. There isn’t anything beneficial in those calories, either. They’re wasted, intoxicate you so you don’t really want to be active, and generally cause you to want to drink more (so, you can literally drink your entire caloric intake in our example above in a single drinking event).

That’s insane. Why drink your calories?

Water is what you should focus on when you’re drinking liquids. Sure, the occasional drink isn’t harmful, but in places where the weather makes working out and being fit prohibitive, drinking tends to be the extracurricular event of choice. This is a reason I chose to move somewhere the weather is nice 90% of the time.

Drinking calories is never a smart choice, but if you’re going to drink them, at least make them nutritional. Drop the soda. If you point back to my last column and say “but you drink sodas,” you missed my point in that column. I drink them occasionally, and then only the diet variety. I’m conscious of how many calories I’ve drank and monitor myself to keep the calories for the day at a somewhat reasonable level. I don’t drink my calories. If you can’t also do this, then you shouldn’t be trying to justify your bad behavior.

There’s another thing I’d like to tangent on for just a brief moment. If you point to someone else’s bad behavior as justification for your own, you aren’t making a solid case… you’re making excuses. This blog is about getting fit and getting rid of excuses. One person’s terrible choices are not a justification for you to make terrible choices. Let that other person lounge in their squalor and rise above it. Thus endeth the sermon.

Fruit juices, especially the kind you squeeze yourself from that actual fruit, are the best non-water options you have. In fact, if you’re eating right, the sweetness of (for instance) a strawberry should actually be a little too sweet. I once found strawberries a little on the sweet side, meaning that my sugar intake was exactly where it should have been… and I was happy about that. I’m working back towards that. Water is still better, though.

The whole reason for what I wrote here was to get you thinking about the crap you’re putting into your body. If your body is a temple and you shovel chips, beer, and sugar in by the handful, then your temple is definitely in a state of disrepair. Why be broken down when all it takes is a little self control?

SpecterFit 1 will have badges, as I’ve mentioned last week. In the next month or two, I’ll reveal what those badges will look like but I wanted to mention them again because EmeraldSpecter.com is the place that will hold which badges you’ve “officially” won. I’d like to personally see some participation and that’s why I’m choosing to keep the official records here. I’m doing this in the hopes I can feature someone in future SpecterFit events.

Speaking of future SpecterFit events, I’d like to hint that the February event will be another SpecterFit title event… yes, SpecterFit 2 will be February 2017 and there will be a chance to earn another event specific badge, possibly even two. There may also be a “title” to the event, like something catchy to reference (i.e. SpecterFit 1: Genesis). Time will tell and look to this column to hear the announcements.

Get fit.

SpecterFit Weekly 38: The Beginning

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Welcome to the new and improved “Fitness Specter,” now known as SpecterFit. The numbering remains, but the the focus is now on solid and consistent improvement. SpecterFit Weekly is going to be about motivation, tips, tricks, and ideas to help get yourself fit. Welcome to the 38th Edition.

As stated in Fitness Specter 37, there is a SpecterFit event on the horizon. SpecterFit 1 is slated for January 2017 (the whole month) for you to accomplish a fitness goal that you, yourself set. In addition to this fitness goal (which will earn you a medal if you complete the challenge), you can participate in the SpecterFit 1 event medal: StepMaster. This is a medal that will be specialized and will be unique to this event. So, if you’re keeping score, you can earn two medals in January 2017. Medal designs will be revealed later this year, but prior to the event itself.

Now, on to the column…

I’ve written about this before but I need to reiterate the point because of just how important the point is: 75% of your weight goals can be achieved by doing nothing more than eating correctly. If you eat right, you’ll lose weight. Fitness isn’t just about losing weight but for those of us (myself included) who are looking to lose weight while getting fit, this is an important factor. Thus, diet is important.

Not a diet. Diet. The act of eating correctly. The act of changing your lifestyle. Sustainable weight loss is only achievable through lifestyle change.

Have you tried jumping on fad diets and seeing success, only to regain all that weight once you’re off the diet? Cutting out certain foods to lose weight means you can’t go back to those foods (at least not in a regular basis situation). Atkins, for instance, puts the body into ketosis by eliminating most carbohydrates from your meals… which works, no doubt about it. However, if you want to keep that weight off, you can’t just jump back into the carbs when you’re at your target weight. You have to avoid those carbs forever.

Lose 50 pounds by avoiding McDonalds for a year? Awesome. If you go right back to eating McDonalds on a regular basis again you’ll just gain the weight back. Juice diet to lose 15 pounds? Once you return to solids you’ll gain the weight back.

Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Most people out there are kidding themselves into believing that this or that diet will work and keep them lighter. They’re insane. Stop thinking that you only have to fast, juice, or cleanse for a little while to get those pounds off… its a bandaid for the bigger problem that is your food choices (and portions).

There’s another point I’d like to touch on: cleansing. So many diets talk about “cleansing” and about getting rid of the ick in the body in preparation for an actual diet. Most of these are paid programs you have to sink cash into in order to even know what to do to cleanse in the first place. Cleansing does nothing for you (long term) unless you always “cleanse.” It’s ridiculous to believe that drinking a special juice for a couple of weeks will rid your body of the bad you’ve been inflicting upon it for years.

Bodybuilders are the smartest nutrition and diet specialists on the planet, yet most of the world makes fun of them for being stupid because they have muscles. Think about what they do, every day, every week, and every year to obtain all those muscles. There is food preparation that happens, portion control, they closely monitor what they eat, they work out specific muscles in specific groups to grow them in specific sizes. The foods they eat contain no unnatural substances, they are low in the wrong kinds of fats, there is very little “sugar” in them, and they avoid condiments that will add calories because of the very same things they are avoiding in actual foods. How many bodybuilders eat high fructose corn syrup on a daily basis? I’d say that the answer would be “none.” Bodybuilders know you need a “cheat” meal now and then, but they are disciplined, very meticulous, and they are smart about what they eat.

Now who’s the meathead? The bodybuilder competing at the highest level of “human sculpting” or your fat ass?

Nutrition starts in the kitchen. Stop eating steak six days a week. Stop eating processed ketchup with your “potato side.” Stop eating the “potato side” more than once a week. Stop eating junk food. Stop binging on the couch with that bag of chips. Stop eating dessert as if it were a separate meal. Stop drinking soda (regular OR diet).

Start eating vegetables… lots of vegetables. Start eating fruits (fresh, not the canned stuff). Start eating super foods like almonds, fish, and chicken. Start drinking water, regularly, and with the intent of making sure you stay hydrated. Start snacking with portion control in mind and with foods that are healthier than what you’ve been eating.

I’d like to finish this column off with a little anecdote about me, personally.

In 2013, my wife and I started to completely change our diet and start moving because I woke up one day and literally told myself I’m tired of being fat. I started at 328 pounds (the morning I made that statement) and lost a total of 91 pounds by walking, eating better, and lifting weights. I got all the way down to 237 pounds. Then life hit me with some hard challenges and things started to slide.

First, I stopped going to the gym on a regular basis (from six days a week to once or twice). Next, food stopped being as accessible (we were prepping for a move, so meals became a lot more about convenience and less about nutrition). The weather hit and so that took out my primary source of exercise: walking. Once we moved in 2015, we were in a place where food (although tons healthier) is in abundance, so I ate myself back up to 322.

As of the morning I write this column I am 309, which is a steady decline for the past two months of not snacking uncontrollably, allowing my wife to prepare the meals we know are healthier for us, and making sure I’m walking as often as I can as far as I can.

That’s where SpecterFit comes in. When WAFFLE was in full swing, I was working out and losing weight like a madman. I had goals to shoot for, I could “train” to conquer my challenges and advance. Without that, I’m just sort of gliding through this weight loss journey without a clear goal of anything other than losing weight.

My progress starts in the kitchen, though. The very beginning is the kitchen.

I don’t have HFCS in our kitchen at all. I don’t drink sodas more than a couple times a week, and only then with the diet variety to eliminate the HFCS in the regular ones. If there is a soda made with real sugar instead, I’d definitely choose that over the HFCS variety. I eat chicken nearly every meal, and as a result, my wife and I have found plenty of recipes that allow us to mix things up with the tastes so we don’t enter a meal going “dear lord, chicken again?”

Where can you find most of the recipes? My wife’s site: food.madebytricia.com. If we eat it, it’s up there. We don’t post stuff we don’t like and everything we make eliminates a bunch processed and “bad for you” ingredients.

Shop smarter, cook smarter, lose weight, get healthy.

I started ramping up my walking in the last couple of months and the weight is slowly coming off. I am plotting a 4 to 5 mile walk daily soon, to a course near where I live and back. When my weight gets down to a better and more healthy level, I’ll start poking around for gyms in my area. The home workouts will begin well before that but my size makes working out (at the moment) difficult. That won’t be a problem soon.

Check back for more information on SpecterFit 1, the next SpecterFit Weekly, and motivation and support for attaining your own healthy goals.

Get fit.

Fitness Specter 37: The Dawn of the New Age

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This is a different Fitness Specter, this is a new age. I’m here to let you know a little history, that changes are on the horizon, and that this is the move towards the future.

In 2014, I founded an organization called WAFFLE. The “pun” acronym stands for World Association of Fitness Fanatics Love Exercise and it was designed to be the “UFC of self improvement.” The logo was this:

waffle

The idea was that you signed up for a fitness goal (conquer a certain number of steps, run a mile in a certain time, walk up a certain number of flights of stairs, etc) and you’d get a “win.” There were weight classes, championships were on the horizon, and everyone was on an even playing field… leading to eventual “person vs person” competitions, all promoting the health of everyone involved.

Due to popular request, I was busy creating “term events” that would last longer (a month, a week, etc) and would reflect an “iron man” style event… becoming WAFFLE Iron… yes, another pun. There were 4 events (all WAFFLE events) with a 5th on the horizon… and the beginnings of a WAFFLE Iron event…

What happened? Well, that’s the funny thing. There were two regulars competing with WAFFLE events: myself and my wife. We added two friends to the mix, and they both competed exactly once before there formed a rift. One of them moved. The other said something that can only be called stupid, and then there was work that started to get unruly. The WAFFLE events were going to be continued but as with my own personal fitness, things started to slide because of moving across the country and work stress.

The biggest problems with WAFFLE, at least from the perspective of recruiting, were multiple. No one wanted their weight out there in the open (the weight classes had a range, they weren’t exact… but there was a roof and using that roof you could guess about how heavy someone was). The idea of “competing” against a goal in a single, specific day became difficult for some to participate in (and thus making competing at all something they couldn’t do on those specific days). The joke title seemed to create animosity for the endeavor, thus making participating in WAFFLE something to be avoided. Those were the major reasons, and those were the reasons that I let WAFFLE lapse… intending to restart the organization again but then I started to think about other things.

That leads me into the writing of Fitness Specter, of which you are reading the 37th edition, that has been my “here’s what I’ve done, here’s ideas for you” style column. I will not be dropping the writing of the column, but the column will be changing slightly. Let me not let the cat out of the bag, just yet.

It’s no secret that I’ve gotten into the UFC. I’m a long time (former) professional wrestling fan and since that form of entertainment has been leaving me behind (as each generation gets left behind by the “new shiny” version that follows it) I started looking to “real sports” as an outlet. I followed boxing for a long time, too, but because the fights started getting less interesting while the “belt” of the trunks kept rising (I believe it is currently just under the nipple), I needed something else. From a personal tragedy, I started watching the UFC and started enjoying it…

The UFC has the storylines like the WWE, but they’re less manufactured. The WWE held pay per views to “end the storyline” in my day, and because the UFC doesn’t have that many rematches, that is essentially what happens when a UFC event ends. The parallels are there and I, as a wrestling fan only, didn’t see the close connection. As a UFC fan, no longer a WWE fan, I absolutely see the parallels and also see that the UFC is doing a better job of what the WWE has been doing for decades. I like the UFC and the presentation. I wanted to do something that had that style of showmanship.

Thus I created WAFFLE. WAFFLE is dead, though, but I still want to pair fitness with an event like atmosphere. Since I’m already writing a fitness column, I’d like to roll everything into one…

I’m now officially announcing SpecterFit. Instead of a pun acronym and joke aura, I’m creating the same vibe without the tight restrictions but still promoting fitness in a semi-competitive manner. As an extension of the column, which will also take the name SpecterFit (numbering to continue from this point on), the events will be entire months in length and be goals for personal improvement rather than ┬ápromoting a competitive atmosphere.

Starting with the next column, you will be reading SpecterFit 38. I’m intending to write a weekly column again, but I won’t rope myself into stating the exact date that will start. I will rope myself into announcing the first event of the SpecterFit series: January 2017.

SpecterFit_Promo

To participate in SpecterFit 1, all you need to do is email a personal goal to emeraldspecter (dot) com (at) gmail (dot) com. The goal can be a step count in a day, week, or month. The goal can be running a distance in a day, week, or month. The goal can be lifting a certain amount of weight, biking, climbing flights of stairs, in a day, week, or month. What will accomplishing this goal get you? Badges. Instead of championships, instead of weight classes, you’ll earn badges. The most important part of what you’ll get is healthy. Lose weight, get fit, join others.

SpecterFit is a revolution. SpecterFit seeks to glamorize fitness, health, and nutrition, and the column will reinforce the lessons I’ve learned that I can pass along to everyone else out there. SpecterFit the event will help you accomplish and set goals, along with others who will achieve their own milestones. Interested in learning more? Email me, I’ll tell you about it

Win.

Fitness Specter 36: Dance With the Girl That Brought You

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Dance with the girl that brought you… it means you should always do what you were supposed to do to achieve your goal by doing the things that helped you get where you were at in the first place. In the case of my own personal fitness, that means I need to go back to doing the thing that got me thinner before: walking.

I know how to lose weight. I know how to keep that weight off. Yet, here I sit writing this with the belly that is nearly the full size it was when I started my journey over a year ago… almost two years, now. I’m eight pounds shy of being where I was at when I said aloud that I was tired of being fat. I’m writing it here: I’m tired of being fat.

My diet is healthy and I just need to keep up with what I’m doing on that front in order to get things moving. I need to really jump back on the street and start walking again.

When I got here, I was diligent in getting between 10,000 and 15,000 steps a day. That slowly waned and slowly got lower until I’m not overjoyed when I get 5,000 steps in a day… I haven’t had to work at going over 5,000 steps in a day since I started this moons ago.

I live in a place without a true winter… it’s a “rainy season.” During the rainy season, I’ve not done a lot of walking… most of my walking gets done at work. When its raining, I won’t walk the parking lot. Well, that isn’t true, I *haven’t* walked the parking lot… but I’m going to start doing that again because I want to see 10,000 steps a day, then eventually start working towards 15,000 steps a day.

This should help me lose the weight to the point where my clothes start fitting better or start getting too big. This should help me get the energy to start working out again and since we’re in a place with many, many more options for “gyms,” I’m guessing I can find one really close to home. Then I start working on the weightlifting again… but small steps.

Everything I’m doing is a small step forward. First I need to start with the 10,000 steps a day… and then I can start thinking about the future, when I get back to the point I want to be at…

Who’d like to see the return of WAFFLE? I would… it’s a fitness goal competition (with yourself) to attain realistic, yet challenging, fitness goals. I’ll explain more when we get there… and maybe I’ll rename it and maybe I won’t.

Let’s get healthy again… let’s get to stepping. Today, I’m going to walk as much as I can and get closer to 10,000 than I have been in the past few weeks. One doesn’t go from zero to 10,000 without some small advances… or, small steps. See what I did there? Heh…

Let’s get healthy again… see you next time.

Fitness Specter 35: Life Specter

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I sit here, at 7 AM on a Sunday, wide awake since 4 AM this morning thinking: what should I do to pass the time while I wait for everyone else to wake up so I can do something more productive than sitting here in front of my computer typing? Well, that’s what I can do.

It also occurs to me that this column should also be called “Life Specter,” because I don’t even know how much of this contains information from my actual day to day…

The reason I named the column Life Specter is because that sometimes life gets in the way. You have a job that suddenly wants you to work more hours, complain about the hours that you work, and then say you’re a piece of garbage for working so many hours because you shouldn’t have done it in the first place… when they asked you to. Sometimes you can’t just sit at home and not think about work, or that asshole that cut you off in traffic, so you’re distracted and your focus is all over the place. What I’m saying is that mental health is as much a part of physical health as the proper diet is to effective exercise.

Damn… that sounds philosophical.

Sleep is one of the biggest components to healthy living. Ideally, for those of us wishing to lose some weight, sleep is the best time to do that because guess what you aren’t doing while you’re sleeping: eating calories. You can’t sleep too much, otherwise the body goes into some weird “hibernation mode” and then it starts storing fat because you’re not eating. It’s a delicate balance.

As you can imagine, sleep is foremost on my mind at the moment. Hint: it’s because on the sole day that I have to sleep in, I’m wide awake and typing up a column before the NFL playoff game I am interested in seeing starts. Talking about sleep, now that I’m not getting it, makes me realize that I am going to be suffering from other issues today, hindering any progress I was planning to make.

Let’s talk about what I was expecting to do today.

First, I was going to have the NFL game on in the background and be cleaning up the kitchen from the wonderful meal my wife made the night before… I was also going to tidy up the living room because that’s where I planned on doing some weight training while the game was on. While I still have a niggling little back issue, I was planning on doing weight movements that didn’t require a lot of my lower back (or would help strengthen it without sending me back to bed with a strained muscle). I was highly motivated to start getting that done and then the mental issues started, which lead to me being up at a stupid hour, which leads me to being tired (fatigued), which will probably lead to me not doing as much (or as correctly, if I still do these things… which I’m still planning to do) as I was going to do.

In short: my mental state is not where it should be and that is why I’m writing.

You have to be honest with yourself. I tend to dwell on things, I just can’t help myself, and that leads me to end up getting angry about possible (or past) events that I have zero control over. Let’s say I have a confrontation at work with someone, for however long I’m bothered by that incident I’ll mentally dwell on what happened and what could have happened until I’m so exhausted that I can’t even think anymore… that isn’t healthy. Distraction becomes an important part of getting through these things and believe me I’m trying to distract that crap outta myself but it isn’t working. That’s why I started writing.

I need an outlet for my mental state and since the normal distractions aren’t working, I’m going to try doing something different today than I have in the past: I’m going to use the workout AS the distraction. I’ll let you know how that goes.

As an update, since the last column I wrote, I am down 4 pounds. I was 316 this morning and it’s time to start locking into the eating pattern that got me down so many pounds before… which means that I’m going to be eating a lot of home cooking and that also means that my wife has motivation to start coming up with new and interesting combinations of food that will keep things on track. Her idea, not mine… though I’ll take it.

We have not eaten out since Tuesday (today is Sunday, as I said), and there is no plan to eat out before this coming Tuesday. I have cravings now and then and when we eat out, I normally need to fill that craving instead of making the smart choice (like having a salad like I should). I’m working on that but first I need to get back into the swing of working out again… that starts today.

I leave you now letting you know I am about to eat my first food of the day. I have a Peanut Toffee Buzz Cliff bar and a banana. I’d just eat the Cliff bar but the bananas are sitting there calling out to me, so I figured they’re healthy enough to be listened to… and I’m probably going to be a lot happier for the choice, too. I am also taking some supplements from GNC, supplements that helped me lose all the weight before. Since taking them, I’ve been consistently lower in weight (the fluctuations don’t go as high, either) than I was before I was taking them. My current goal is to be under 300 before the end of February. I’d like to say January but I want to set some realistic goals, and ones that don’t require a lot of stress to achieve. I have enough stress at work.

Until next time…