Tag Archives: SpecterFit

Journal of the Emerald Specter 59: Content is King

I’m not entirely sure what kind of banners I should use for this particular article. This is going to be another attempt at a full length article here, but I’ll be touching on different types of content (podcasts, articles, YouTube, storytelling, etc)… so, why don’t I do what I think I need to and just go ahead and make something custom?

I am all about making content. Content is the easiest thing I can produce without needing to be doing something for a living, somewhere specific, for someone else. Sometimes that content may seem erratic, sometimes that content may seem like a waste of time, but the content is always accomplishing the task of putting something on this site to keep people poking back to see what else I’m doing.

Last year, I started doing the ESPL (Emerald Specter Premier League) based on a project that I love from the Chris Creamer Sports Logos Concept forum, which is basically creating a league and developing the logos from their initial appearance until the modern day. In that thread, the AFA is in their 1987 year… the thread is HUGE. I bring this up because I had an epiphany the other day.

So, when I was running the ESPL, I had a big concentration on what was happening in the games (and the league) from week to week, with a passing “side enterprise” with the designing of logos (which was the whole reason I started the damn thing up in the first place). Veras (the creator of the AFA thread) runs some simulations in the background and gives some broader recap rather than an in-depth look “from game to game,” with a heavy concentration on what the whole point of the thread is: logo, uniform, and field designs.

Unless I wanted to go back in time and start doing the ESPL in some randomly selected year in the past and work my way forward, that approach won’t necessarily work for me. I do realize that the reason the interest waned somewhat was that I was being bogged down in the tedium of running a fictional league “in real time” rather than enjoying the process of creating concepts for the logos, uniforms, and whatever else… If I were to rebirth this concept, I’d be concentrating on the broader overviews of the ESPL and keeping the week to week format, but being far more general as I released the uniform and logo concepts throughout the year in a longer format (instead of a big logo reveal extravaganza followed by the tedium of details of the league).

Would you like to see a second attempt at the ESPL?

I have several podcasts at the moment that I’m enjoying producing with several others I’ve got in the “concept” stage. The Greatest Show, my long running YouTube (and our original channel) show that initially started out as a pre-produced show and turned into a live show (followed by a more produced version, so that I can release audio versions of the show again on a feed). The show was started with a forum for my best friend, Bob, and I to have conversations about “the good old days,” geeky topics, and whatever else crossed our minds.

The show developed into the conversations while watching my wife make wonderful food, which enjoyed a solid run of interest from all kinds of folks, and saw an uptick in our traffic. We developed into a later night show, moved away from the cooking segment, and added a whole slew of other hosts (as Bob was having a hard time making appearances). What we have going now is an attempt at running the show in seasons, rather than continuously, and we’ve only got experiments to run as we figure out what the next stage of the show is…

And speaking of that, we’ve added a regular rotation of guests into the mix. I got a good push of guests right up front and have since had an issue lining up more as the season progresses. I’m doing what I can but the effort is monumental in scope and I’m hoping to have a better process for the future.

I wanted to speak about this show specifically at length because there is an issue that has arisen where Saturday nights, while they work for the majority of the cast, don’t seem to be able to include everyone AND our viewership seems to have declined (in the live arena, anyway) because of the time slot. Metal Jesus has school, Rachel has a new job, Bob’s job is giant in scope, I have a fluctuating schedule, Kevin C. has activities from time to time, and Tricia doesn’t believe the time slot is convenient. All of these things make it hard to continue the show in the original vision and I’d be interested in getting some thoughts on the possible future of the show.

Options, before I move on, include returning to the “pre-produced” and uploaded version from way back, the cooking while talking version, and moving the recording time to a variable option to open up the possible guests that can be included in the future. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Specter Show is my personal show, which has only been me talking to the audience (save one episode that included me talking to my wife). In a conversation with my wife, I was told that I spend a lot of time talking about what I’m going to do rather than doing what I say I’m going to do. A good example of that is the BuJoRPG 2 beta, which hasn’t been touched at all in a month… more on that in a few paragraphs.

I originally wanted to keep the Specter Show “off the rails” so that I could talk about anything I wanted without worrying about sticking to a genre or topic. While that has worked in large part, there are episodes I’m not super pleased with because I’ve just sort of muted through and released a show to release a show.

One of the original intents of podcasting, for me, was to present myself as a viable radio personality that could carry a show for 30, 60, or 120 minutes (or maybe even longer). I’ve dropped my desire to be on the radio, not because I’ve lost interest, but because the radio isn’t going to allow me to accomplish the expansion that podcasting will… and that leads me to a history lesson of sorts.

When I originally launched the Lime Flavored Podcasting Network, I had the vision to create a lineup of shows that would give me a place to talk about a multitude of topics and build up a network like TWiT, which has blossomed into a viable podcasting business. The reason that TWiT works as well as it does is because they have a broad umbrella under which they operate: tech related podcasting.

The LFPN had an expanded topic lineup: the Greatest Show, the Lime Flavored Podcast (which made it to 50 episodes), Limelight on Apple (our tech news show), Echoes Darkly (our RPG centric podcast), and Comic Cast (our comic book industry show). When we (my wife and I) were into FitBit deeply, we also sort of launched a half hearted attempt at a fitness show, known as the FitBit Challenge… all of these shows collapsed for one reason or another except one, the Greatest Show. (In order listed above after the Greatest Show): one show stopped because the domain was sold, keeping up on tech was tough to maintain with busy lives, my co-hosts all became unavailable, and we just weren’t collecting or reading as much as we’d like to have been… that all led to the LFPN death, mainly with the loss of the domain, and a reevaluation of my dream.

I’ve currently got three podcasts running, with one in a concept phase. The Greatest Show, the Specter Show, and the PRO Chess League Podcast (new, concentrating on the PRO Chess League). Since the last one hasn’t been running (due to the season starting in January), I’m confident that keeping up with three shows is a distinct possibility. I’ve offered shows to Kevin C., Metal Jesus, Bob, and Rachel… all of them are in some stage of development, but we’ll see what develops there. This is a good start, but as the title of this column says: content is king. Only three of these are producing any content.

Now I come to my “bread and butter,” the BuJoRPG. Since launching my initial bullet journal roleplaying game, I have developed that as far as I felt it could go before bringing out the next concept for what I thought was possibly, namely BuJoRPG 2. I had promised to release the first “version” (a post-beta) as it was developed but I’ll be honest, I’ve not had the time. I also haven’t MADE the time, either.

This is where my wife’s comments about talking about something and not doing it come in.

I have a concept for what I want the BuJoRPG to ideally become. That requires a lot of work and with the release of the open beta, I’ve asked for help and feedback. Since releasing that open beta, I’ve received neither help nor feedback on the BuJoRPG 2, making me think the effort is being wasted. Without a drive of an audience to see the result, I can’t be faulted for not wanting to work on the product. Would you like to know what I envision for this in the future?

Ideally, you’d order something I’ll just call the “BuJo Box.” The box will be prepacked and contain (at least, but not limited to): a lore book (for the BuJoRPG world of the Jade Realm), a preformatted bullet journal (for the BuJoRPG), some bullet journal pens (in various colors), some dice (since they are part of the BuJoRPG 2), a wall map of the Jade Realm (it would unfold to include the “basic” map, which is everything before “expansions”), and maybe some stencils to aid in the creation of the BuJoRPG style graphical elements.

Doesn’t that sound nifty?

Finally, I’d like to talk about some of the things I’d planned on for the future but will decide whether or not they’ll make the cut. These each will be a “mini-paragraph” of information, just to explain enough to let you know what I was hoping to do but might not actually develop it (to shut the door on the “talk about doing what you should be doing but aren’t” conversation).

A podcast for each degree of the Freemason Scottish (and York) Rite, as I wanted to learn the lessons they teach but do not like the religious overtones within the brotherhood. I’ve got all the materials ready, I’ve read what I need to, now I just need to put fingers to keyboard to write up the material and start recording. This is a “monthly” podcast, rather than a weekly one.

Serial fiction has been written, not edited by any of the editors that I’ve enlisted, and sits collecting digital dust in the cloud. With the Greatest Show crew talking about running an RPG before the show, this is being converted into the game that I’ll be running (inside the Green Ronin Fantasy AGE system, although probably more closely related to Will Wheaton’s TitansGrave version). There are modifications that I’ve made to the story but the general theory is in tact.

A re-release of SpecterFit, my fitness centric blog/column/podcast that would help you along your own personal journey to getting more healthy. Since I’ve been injured, I can’t really do much other than eat healthier and I haven’t written or podcasted about this at any length, so it’s sitting in development hell.

Specter of the Galaxy, which I’d intended to play No Man’s Sky at least weekly with the release of their Waking Titan release, I’ve taken multiple weeks off between the second to last and last podcast that have made the future of this in doubt… I just haven’t had the time with everything else going on.

In a few months, or within a few months, the Fire Pro Wrestling World game will be released on PS4 and I had intended to run a new eFed (electronic federation) on Emerald Specter.com, which I haven’t run anything like this since 2002! The original eFeds from “back in the day” were all angle or RP feds, the FPW World fed would be a CAW (create-a-wrestler) style fed… but that requires a little bit of time.

With the declining interest in the “Greatest Show Fight Series,” I thought that running a two division UFC fighting league might be a possibility without centering around the hosts of the Greatest Show… but I’d likely wait for the next release of the UFC (UFC 3) before doing anything like this, leaving this dormant.

Spawning from the aforementioned “serial fiction” paragraph (since I have the planet’s entire history mapped out), I was going to launch a SIM (similar to those run on Obsidian Fleet) within this story’s universe… my server died, was resurrected, and requires lengthy work to get this to where it would allow me to do this, and I’d need a lot of help getting the flagship SIM working so that expansion into other “ships” would be possible.

Quite a list, huh?

Well, I’m hoping to get things moving in a generally positive direction. With the end of 2017 comes the “behind the scenes” development of a new look for Emerald Specter.com, which has been planned for some time. I’m running through some concepts and will have something to launch whenever that is ready… but it is actively being worked on. With this new release, I would conceivably use that refresh as a way to relaunch things that went dormant, launch new things I’ve talked about here, or just freshen up the graphics on the site as a whole.

I’m done talking about doing things and not doing them… I’m going to do things, now.

Right now.

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.

Emerald Specter 48: We Are Still Here

A new graphic for a new era. Welcome back to the Emerald Specter column on Emerald Specter.com!

With the release of the BuJoRPG to the world through bulletjournal.com, I received an uptick in traffic. One would expect such things, especially through a charged creative community like bullet journaling. That said, I had gotten a ping on Patreon, which I’d all but given up on, and I have decided to update the Patreon page and keep that going, now, meaning we’ll be re-adding the link to the Patreon page again to the side bar.

There is a lot I wanted to mention in a lot of different places. Primarily, I was looking to get some writing done and one of the things I hadn’t initially considered was writing a column. Sometimes I forget to write a column, which is funny, since I had a plan on writing this column up to edition 50 and then resurrecting the SpecterFit column anew. That has not fallen by the wayside, as I am going to renew my dedication to getting this site back to where I had it going in the first place… forward.

I will be talking more about my own personal fandoms. YouTube will become a more important part of Emerald Specter.com, as well. I have both the “old” Emerald Specter Channel (hereafter referred to as Channel 2), as well as the new Emerald Specter Channel (hereafter referred to as Channel 1). Those who are observant will note that Channel 1 is completely empty as of this post… that’s because we’re getting ready to content the hell out of it… be patient, Channel 2 is still there.

SpecterFit will return as promised. If you’re just joining us, the column is about getting fit, doing more fitness, learning about nutrition, and all that to include weightlifting or bodybuilding. I’m jumping back on my fitness bandwagon and that will result in all kinds of wonderful content.

Maybe this website will turn into a “digital bullet journal” for the site? I doubt there is a plugin for WordPress that would accommodate that, so let’s not speculate down that road too far.

I’ve mentioned on the Specter Show about my intent to create a story around No Man’s Sky (the game). There is a nice little story in there, but I wanted to expand on the options I had by creating a bigger narrative that I thought would be interesting to follow. Some of the content would be live streamed, with my wife and I being “pseudo-in character” for the broadcast, but another tale can be told in a far more edited fashion as well. I can either tell the same story or tell two different stories, but I think the same story would be easier to go with for my inaugural venture into this type of storytelling. There is a big update coming (in the form of Waking Titan), so I’ll be holding off on developing this until that comes out… knowing what new options I’ll have may take the story in a special direction. Time will tell, of course.

Where is the content that was promised from the other hosts of the Greatest Show? Great question, because I am also wondering about that. Kevin is apparently still waiting on others to join his group, Metal Jesus hasn’t gotten to where he wants to be for a show, Bob is working most of the time (I’ve got an idea for Bob that I’ll be sharing with him in the next couple of days), Rachel said she’d be podcasting on her own channel (and that hasn’t happened at all), and that’s where I am at the moment. Who knows when any of that will start, since I’m the only one creating content actively at the moment, I guess I’ll worry about myself.

The Greatest Show will be returning on September 9 and I’m pretty certain we have our first guest locked and loaded for that broadcast. After that, I’m still working on other guests to come on board… my initial idea was to get other podcasts, YouTube shows hosts, and bloggers to come on to “cross pollinate” our audiences a bit. That has resulted in zero responses, even to people who initially said “we’ll get back to you.”

Really, when?

So, I’ve decided to spread the options out a bit (of which I discuss on the 25th Specter Show)… with luck, we’ll get some hits and see where we can go with the show.

Lastly, I’m going to start scheduling things. I want to start working out again, I want to set up a regular writing schedule, I want to make sure this/these columns come out on a regular basis again, and I want the podcasts to continue being a regular thing at a regular time on a regular basis. Since I have a bullet journal, I think that I need to get my act together a lot more than I already have to get things moving forward on this site…

Welcome to the new age of Emerald Specter.com… we are still here.

Emerald Specter 25: Round Up

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I embark on the 25th Emerald Specter column without a specific topic, but I’ll be doing a lot of writing… so strap yourself in, this ride is going to be all over the place.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought, lately, to covering topics on a regular basis on the site. I have seriously toyed with doing a political column/show on the site and it was only this morning that I have decided that would consume an enormous amount of my time to produce, so I’ve decided not to cover that. However, I will be posting a political thing here before Trump’s inauguration… specifically dealing with the promises he made on the campaign trail and we’ll revisit those when his term as President is over. Everyone who supported him supported those things, as well as his misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, and racism… we’ll see if the ultimate liar holds up to his promises or buckles under the weight of actually being the President.

Along with that topic, I’ve also been considering covering the sports that I enjoy watching as a reporter… specifically the UFC, One Championship, the NFL, sumo, the Barclays Premier League, MLS, and professional chess. Once again, that would eat up an enormous amount of my time but that is still on the table. I don’t need to report all the injuries, the play by play, or anything like that… covering sports is different than, say, politics, but I’m still not committed to doing that, yet. Starting out small would be the preferred way to do that, obviously.

Dude, you’ve talked a lot about nothing so far and you’re already almost 300 words into this column. 

Yes, I am, but I’m far from done.

My SpecterFit column went into the 40s for numbering and then just suddenly stopped. There are a couple of reasons for that but I’ll concentrate on the real barrier first: free time. SpecterFit requires that I put a little more effort into it than just a regular column and since I’ve gone back to delivering mail rather than supervising, I am finding it hard to squeeze all the things in I want to do in a day. This column, the Emerald Specter column, has been written ahead of time for the past month or so and as I write this I’m only a single column ahead (where I was four ahead when I initially got this thing back up and running). The other thing that stalled out the SpecterFit was my attempt to resurrect WAFFLE in the SpecterFit form… something I just don’t have time to organize and run like I did before. SpecterFit will return with less soul crushing “dictating from on high” and will morph more into a “tips and tricks” type thing. I’m also probably going to go with the “Nerd Fitness” type thing where I relate fitness to something you can geek out about in the process. Time will tell.

In the world of comics, I collect myself some titles. Spider-Man (the Miles Morales one), Moon Knight, Harbinger: Renegades, and I’m looking into a few others. Yes, that’s two Marvel comics and a Valiant. I really, really want to review comics and whatnot but with me only having three titles, and DC not really having anything that interests me at the moment, I don’t think I’d be doing the medium a service. I also don’t believe that many people would follow that, so I’m going to hold that on the back burner… the WAY back burner.

Where does all that “I’m not doing this” leave us? Well, it lets me cover the items I am doing and explain what is probably coming down the pipe in the near future.

Obviously, the Emerald Specter column is living and still breathing, so I’m going to go ahead and say this is safe to stick around for the future. This would be the only column that is currently running regularly and I’ll surpass the SpecterFit column in numbering before I pick that one back up. I think the self titled stuff should all be higher numbered than the other stuff, don’t you?

The three year running Greatest Show is doing just fine, too. We’ve just finished episode 102 as I write this and we’re going to be entering some non-typical shows into the mix so that we aren’t exhausting our discussion topics weekly. Episode 103 will be a Greatest Show Fight Series event (GSFS), which will be all of us in the UFC 2 game simulating a fighting event. I’m talking about this in the “coming soon” tense but you’ll have already seen it because we needed to take a week off for Thanksgiving. We will have more shows like that, some that are different in nature, some that will happen between discussion episodes, and then there is what we discussed on our last episode that will be likely helping us through the next 100-150 episodes (at least).

We are going to start roleplaying on the air.

In episode 102, I ran Bob and Metal Jesus through character creation for a game called Green Team, which is utilizing the White Wolf Storyteller system and is a story of my own design. Metal Jesus and Bob will also be running stories but mine will be the first one. The likely format of this bad boy is probably going to be a three hour show, beginning with a half hour (or solid hour) or witty banter, followed by two hours of roleplaying, then either just ending the show or finishing with another half hour of witty banter as a “wrap up.” While my story will be the one pushing the first few episodes like this, I’m hoping a rotation of games will fall into line so that if I don’t feel like running the game, I can certainly play instead.

Moving right along… the Specter Show.

I’ve been talking about doing this damn show for over a year now. I was going to launch the show in January of 2016 and as I write this in late November of 2016, you can see not one episode has been produced. I am going to launch this show, I am just trying to figure out when would be a good time. The topic will be whatever the hell I want to talk about, some will be longer, some will be shorter, but I’m aiming for a 30-60 minute weekly show to start things off, with the intention of running five episodes a week (Monday through Friday) as if I was on the actual radio. I’d like to be on the actual radio, too, so that is part of why I’m angling the show to be what I’ve just said. Wouldn’t that be fun?

And now for something completely different: the ESPL. I’m going to run the ESPL, expanding the depth of the league, for at least 10 years. That will be 10 seasons of the characters gaining specifically assigned positions, the league growing to be at least the two tiers I’ve already announced, and hopefully attracting others that want to be involved. Ideally, I am interested in knowing if anyone out there wants to jump in and take the reigns at some point in the future. I’m not depending on this, I’ll certainly just close the place down when I’m done running the thing, but I am enjoying the logo design (kits are coming in the future, too, kids) and running the simulations. Running this has also encouraged me to run something else I’ve been interested in running for some time…

An MMA simulated league. Unlike the ESPL, though, which is designed to basically be a simulation of realistic teams in a realistic scenario that is completely plausible… and the ESPL was specifically designed to be a way for me to create logos and practice my graphic design skills, the MMA league would be different. I’m going to change the MMA simulation to be more embracing of the digital nature of what I’m doing. That means instead of Heavyweight, Middleweight, Lightweight, etc for weight classes, I’m going to base them more off of digital denotations like Gigaweight, Megaweight, and Kiloweight. These will be “digital fighters” and I’ve already been setting up the framework for what is about to blast onto the scene here at Emerald Specter.com. As with the ESPL, the digital MMA will be an outlet for my graphic designing in the form of the “fight posters” for the events. The ESPL limits me to logos for specific clubs, where the MMA league will be about drawing attention to a more general design for posters and whatnot. If you saw some of my WAFFLE posters, you saw that I was heading into a beautiful era of graphic design… unfortunately, I’ve not had the outlet that I did before.

I want to simulate sumo, too, though I don’t have a graphically specific reason for doing so. As I write this, I realize that the other two leagues were for a specific reason (as would an American Football league, if I decided to launch one of those). I’ve also toyed with another racing league (NASCAR-esq, I have the groundwork laid but I haven’t been driven to design anything for it yet) but that is on the back burner.

Finally (what, finally?), I’d like to talk about the writing that I’ve been trying to get to forever. I really want to write novels, short stories, comic scripts, movie scripts, television scripts, and whatever else but I’ve stalled out consistently and that has left me in a bit of a scenario where I’m not really sure how to accomplish what I’m after.

NaNoWriMo is almost over and I’ve written a grand total of just under 6,000 words, which is 44,000 short of the 50,000 word goal. I need to set up a time and place to write and I need to write a specific amount of words or pages in that time in order to be allowed to move on. If I took a Sunday, for example, and woke up at 8 AM, wrote until I got 5,000 words done and then shifted into the Specter Show, after which I went into simulating the ESPL and the MMA leagues (or designing that which needs to be designed, as that is mostly the point of why I’m doing them), and then finished the day with whatever else I wanted to do, that would be a nice schedule. It shoots one entire day out of the water for doing much of anything else, but with NFL season running right now I’ve not really got a lot planned on a Sunday other than watching a game or two and staying home. No harm, no foul… I just schedule a bunch of other stuff in there and make it a productive day.

If you’ve read this far, then you’re a trooper or you really wanted to know what the hell I was going to write about. Thanks for sticking with this as long as you have and I’d like to tell you that I’m almost double my normal column word count… I try to write about 1,000 words and this sentence is in the 1,800 range, which is pretty sweet. I won’t keep writing, though, I’ve got more to do and writing isn’t going to help get that done.

Until next time, think on it.

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.