Slow Reader – Episode 2

Still going somewhat strong! I have a few adjustments I need to make to the content…this was still one of the early episodes I recorded when I first started the idea, so things aren’t really going to take shape until probably Episode 3.

Book two of The Slow Reader: Erebos, written by Ursula Poznanski and translated by Judith Pattinson.

“It’s a game. It watches you.” Intriguing tag line that lead to another fun, quick read from the library.

Also discussed the podcast “Wild Thing”, which you can find at https://www.foxtopus.ink/wildthing

I recorded episode 3 already – I have some notes of where/how I want to improve, so hopefully I can stick to those notes and make a better show.

Weight Loss Update

I wish I could come up with more creative titles for these; but as it stands this is what it is: a weight loss update.

Recap

My goal for March 5th 2019 was to lose 22 pounds and weigh in at 154 pounds. I forget exactly how many weeks I gave myself but I started in November. That should have been plenty of time to reach the goal.

Reality

But I didn’t quite make it. The long and short of it is that I couldn’t get the scale to budge and as I got closer to the March 5th date, I ran out of weeks in order to lose the weight I wanted to. In total I lost 5.5 pounds, 16.5 pounds off from my actual goal weight.

Solution

Well…I don’t know really what my solution is. I’m just going to keep doing what I started back in February, which was to be stricter with logging my calories (both in and out).

I came up with a method originally of tracking my net calories, and it worked overall, so I think I’m going to continue with that. I just need to tweak my setup and try better not to falter.

According to Happy Scale, if I stick to 2 pounds per week, I’ll hit my goal (still 254) by April 24th; on my current overall rate it won’t be until January 2020. What I deemed my “realistic” goal (average of 2, 0.34, and 1 pound per week), it looks like June is my target date.

I think I’ll be happy if I can hit 254 pounds by May 1st. That gives me 8 weeks to hit my goal.

The Slow Reader Podcast

I have been talking this year about finally starting and following through with a project; at first that was going to be a writing project, but I ended up deciding on starting a new podcast.

I present to you: The Slow Reader – A Podcast About Books. It’s basically an audio version of my GoodReads updates. Right now the first two episodes are scheduled, and should be a bi-weekly podcast. They’re short, but I think eventually I’ll get into a groove and expand on the length a little bit. I know that I rushed my delivery a lot in these first two episodes.

The trailer is available today; the first episode will be out tomorrow (Thursday). Right now the podcast is only live on Google Play, but it should be available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify as well. I’ll probably submit it to Stitcher soon.

Enjoy the trailer for now!

Listen on Google Play Music

Managing my Podcast Lists

For the last year and a half I’ve found it very difficult to keep up with my podcast listening; for quite a while now I’ve been “behind” my list for many shows – in most cases, by several months’ worth of content.

What I find difficult is that the shows that are current – which means, based on either sports or current events or current TV shows – tend to get priority when I choose to listen to something. This pushes ‘evergreen’ content – that is, it’s relevant no matter when I listen – further down the list.

This is completely a “me” problem and at first, it did bother me; but I’ve come up with a new approach to listening that really takes care of the perceived problem.

Culling Shows

The first thing I’ve taken to doing is to simply stop listening to shows that don’t hold my attention anymore. If I haven’t listened to it in 3 months, is it likely that I’m going to listen to it anytime soon? Still, there are shows I consider to be “high value” that I’m staying subscribed to. I know that I’ll get to those episodes one day soon.

But I have become a little more ruthless in the process. I’ve cut shows that I used to listen to regularly. I used to feel a little guilty when unsubscribing, but that’s not the case anymore. If I want to make the time to listen to podcasts, sometimes that means cutting out the stuff that is either A) too long or B) uninteresting. Or a combination of both.

Dropping Individual Episodes

The other thing I’ve started doing is dropping individual episodes if they don’t look appealing based on the description. Since I don’t have the same amount of listening time as I used to, I don’t need to worry about “running out” of episodes to listen to (this used to be an issue for me).

This is actually a pretty major change for me. I used to be pretty compulsive about listening to every single episode of a show, but as I’ve learned recently, it’s not always important to catch each one. It’s sort of like the old days of TV – sometimes you missed recording on your VCR, so you didn’t catch that week’s show. In episodic times, not the end of the world.

It’s not perfect – I still have ~100 episodes to listen to – but it helps my peace of mind.

On Writing

Not referring to Stephen King’s book here (a book I plan on coming back to this year, actually). A few weeks ago I had this great idea pop into my head for a short story. Then a few things in life happened, and I haven’t really thought about it much.

The idea is still there – I haven’t given up on it exactly. I actually transformed it from one idea into something else in my little notes, I’m just not writing it. I find that I’m back into a reading & podcast groove that is taking me away from the writing head space.

Still, I have it tucked away for future use. It’s part of my 2019 goals to start and complete a piece of writing, so this falls under the “started” pile.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a writing prompt I found earlier in the year that I’m no longer going to use. It comes from the Writing Excuses podcast:

You are about to cut into a cake…and it speaks.

Have fun with that!

Quick Weight Loss Update

Back in November I wrote out a goal – that I wanted to lose ~20 pounds by March 5th 2019 (my 35th birthday). The only reason I picked my birthday was because 5 years ago, I had a huge weight loss goal for my 30th birthday, and I mostly attained it.

Anyway, suffice it to say it has not been going well. I started at 276 lbs November 28th. January 28th, I was at 275.8. Between then and now, I’ve flirted with reaching 270 but have gone back up. I know the reason: inconsistent food journalling / calorie tracking.

This week I gave myself a wake-up call and readjusted my calorie goals to aim for a 2 lb / week goal. I’m fine with 1 lb / week but this way, I aim high and won’t be disappointed if I get less than that.

I started the week at a really low weekly weight loss rate, but with my re-focused efforts have improved to a 0.40 lbs / week rate. I’ve started using Happy Scale to take some of the math away from me (I feel my own math is at times suspect), and it’s telling me that at this current rate, I’ll reach 270.1 lbs by March 3rd. That’s not ideal but better news than when I started the week.

Oh, I should mention what I’ve been doing to realize this change. I found a post on reddit on /r/LoseIt that gave me a different way of tracking my progress; to save you a click, I’m subtracting my daily calorie burn as measured by my Gear S3 from my calorie intake. The difference is either a calorie deficit (good thing) or a surplus (bad thing).

To lose 2 lbs / week I need to hit a 1000 calorie deficit weekly – 500 for 1 lb. As long as I’m in that range I’ll be in good shape! Now…to stay disciplined on weekends. That’s the real challenge.

Adding to the Cultural Landscape

I’m well aware I’m not going to be famous on TV in the immediate future – that’s never been a goal for me. I know I’m also not going to be “Internet Famous” either. I don’t have the follow through to make it happen.

All I want is just a small following of people that every now and then tell me, “Hey, I really like what you’re doing. Keep it up!” To that end I always have something swirling in my head to create something for the cultural landscape online.

All I know is what I don’t want to do: a recap show or a review show where I spend my time watching a TV show (new or old) and talk about it. I would much rather talk about that kind of thing with family and friends, and I don’t think my “takes” are interesting enough to put them online en masse.

What I want to do is offer up something that is more or less unique, find a way to contribute that hasn’t been done before (or at least hasn’t been done often). That’s one of the reasons I put Alternative Airwaves together. So I look to archive.org to see if there’s anything interesting I can use there.

Bottom line – I like to produce things, but I don’t know what I like producing. I rely too much on a personal filter that says, “Nope, that’s not worth completing, don’t bother starting this project”. Somehow Alternative Airwaves gets through that filter, I think because it’s something I just do.

Everything else – I just leave festering for too long and it doesn’t make it past the filter. I think that’s my new writing goal for 2019: create something and just put it out there. The point is no longer about whether it’s good enough or people like it, the point is picking a project (or multiple projects) and finishing it.

What about Breakfast?

I’ve seen plenty of things said about breakfast; the most popular is that it’s “the most important meal of the day“. In my experience, this is simply not true. I rarely eat breakfast, and I don’t suffer for it. Unfortunately, I do not have empirical evidence; I can’t tell you whether I’ve been negatively affected by it (are my insides rotting because I’m not eating breakfast?), and I also can’t tell you that my positive weight loss results can be directly attributed to not eating breakfast (it’s not – it’s tied to my calorie deficit that I try my best to maintain).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/vauvau/11855393546
Not a typical breakfast for me. Photo credit:
Clemens v. Vogelsang

I thought I would do a bit of research for this instead. I performed two different searches:

  1. “Is breakfast really necessary?”
  2. “Why should you eat breakfast?”

I wanted to word each search to try to get a tailored result; with the first search term, I expected to see articles that either support skipping breakfast or at least tell you that it’s a personal decision about whether or not you need to eat breakfast.

The second I purposefully worded it “pro” breakfast, to see if I would get something that supported the idea of eating breakfast. I was also curious with this search term to see if the articles I got were backed by anyone with an agenda (i.e. food companies). So here’s what I found out.

Is breakfast really necessary?

I found this article from the BBC: “Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?” Go ahead and read it, I’ll wait.

One of the very first things I noticed is that this article tries very hard to remain neutral, and even links to some interesting stuff about the food industry pushing studies that support eating breakfast. The most interesting thing I took out of the article was this section about trying to determine a relationship between breakfast and obesity:

What they found was that it wasn’t breakfast itself that caused the participants to lose weight: it was changing their normal routine. The women who said before the study that they usually ate breakfast lost 8.9kg when they stopped having breakfast, compared to 6.2kg in the breakfast group. Meanwhile, those who usually skipped breakfast lost 7.7kg when they started eating it – and 6kg when they continued to skip it.

Jessica Brown – Nov 28 2018

And, of course, this line here:

A 2016 review of 10 studies looking into the relationship between breakfast and weight management concluded there is “limited evidence” supporting or refuting the argument that breakfast influences weight or food intake, and more evidence is required before breakfast recommendations can be used to help prevent obesity.


Jessica Brown – Nov 28 2018

The entire article goes back and forth between whether or not breakfast is good or bad. One study says yes, another says no. One scientist says simply “don’t have a late dinner if you skip breakfast”. It goes on.

The final conclusion seems to be: nobody agrees, so just pay attention to your body (in other words, eat when you’re hungry). OK, let me circle back to this after the next section.

Why should you eat breakfast?

The very first search result was definitely pro-Breakfast: “5 Reasons Why You Should Eat Breakfast“. Again, I’ll be here.

Once again, first impressions: what the search result doesn’t tell you is that this is a sponsored post. From the article: “This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of belVita for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.” OK, so immediately I know that this is supported by the food industry; but perhaps there’s more substance here.

Breakfast is a must for all of us.  It is the most important meal of the day.  A nutritious breakfast is very important for our health and weight management, but not having it at all is the worst option.  5 Reasons why you should eat breakfast: burns fat, keeps blood sugar even through the day, helps to fight daytime cravings, lower incident of heart disease, keeps our brains sharp, helps with concentration and productivity.

Amy, A Healthy Life For Me

This is the opening paragraph. It goes on, but I’ll reflect a bit here. First, there are no indications that there’s any sourcing for these claims. The author just states them as fact. I just finished reading in the BBC article that many of these reasons provided are contentious and studies both prove and disprove them. I’m a little disappointed in the effort here.

But the article does go on, as I said; it provides some basic information about protein and fiber – still not sourcing anything – and repeats the 5 basic reasons from the opening paragraph.

In general this article is not very helpful and even though it is sponsored content, I think more care should have been given to find sources for the information given.

So, what about breakfast?

As I mentioned at the start of this post, and found out from the BBC article, it ultimately depends on your own body and your needs. But what I think you should pull from this article is more about how careful you should be when searching for answers about something.

The positive or negative spin you put on a search term will definitely influence your results, and you need to be careful about what you’re reading. There are a lot more sponsored content pieces out there these days, so it can be difficult to determine what’s fact and what’s not.

Either way, this was a fun little exercise that supported my own personal viewpoint.

How I Learned to Stop Drinking Pop and Love Flavoured Soda Water

When I was younger I used to drink regular pop all the time – usually Coca Cola. I long since switched to diet pop and never looked back.

But recently on a whim I decided to try President’s Choice Blue Menu sparkling water. It was 89 cents for a tall bottle, so I figured I would give it a try. I’ve never been a fan of soda water – for some reason, I just find the carbonation negatively affects the taste.

But this PC sparkling water was flavoured – watermelon, to be specific. Probably not the first flavour I’d normally choose, but I thought I’d give it a try; the flavour really helped. At first, it took me a bit to get used to. The carbonation was still a bit overpowering, but after getting through the bottle, I enjoyed it.

From the watermelon flavour, I branched out to a few different ones. They have lime, lemon, orange – quite a range. I liked them all. So far from the PC line of sparkling water my favourite of theirs is the Blueberry Pomegranate. You can smell the blueberry flavour as soon as you open the can, and it tastes really good.

I find that I drink the sparkling water a lot slower than pop; I think the carbonation is a a bit harsher than traditional soft drinks. I did some very brief research (read: one google search and glance over a wikipedia article) but I can’t find anything that seems to substantiate this. Whatever the case is, I find that I enjoy these drinks more because they take longer to drink, and it’s a good thing that they last longer. Sometimes it kind of just sucks when you run out of a nice drink too soon.

Since discovering my affinity for flavoured sparkling water I’ve branched out a bit and tried some different flavours. Perrier has a really great-tasting strawberry flavour, and I recently tried a Montellier lemon-flavoured drink. I’m happy to stick with the store brand because it’s much cheaper than these “premium” brands of drinks.

I highly recommend switching the flavoured sparkling water, if soda/pop/soft drinks are an issue for you. Nothing beats regular water, but when you want something different – these fit the bill.