Monday, May 28, 2012

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation 

Parks and Recreation is the not-so-distant cousin of The Office. It follows a similar 'mockumentary' camera shtick with frequent 'breaking the fourth wall' moments.

Like the Office, it is set in an obscure small town. However, instead of dealing with paper sales, this show revolves around...well... the Parks and Recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana. If you like the Office, you'll enjoy Parks and Rec (as the cool kids call it). Honestly, there are moments where I enjoy Park and Rec (see?) more than the Office.

Some of the biggest draws of the show: The adorable, endearing main character, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler, pictured above). The mustachioed man that puts most other men to shame, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman, below). And, my personal favorite, Rashida Jones. The same thing about Ron Swanson but, you know, about women.

Ron Swanson approves.

Arrested Development

Arrested Development

If you don't know what Arrested Development is, I'd be highly surprised. Chances are you -have- heard of it time and time again, but it's one of those shows you 'have been meaning to check out' or are sick of hearing about. In either case, I say you stop procrastinating and watch the series on Netflix.

There really is no other show like Arrested Development. It has some of the smartest, wittiest writing I've ever come across in a television show. It also sports brilliant self-references, puns, and all-star cameos (Charlize Theron, Carl Weathers, Ben Stiller, Amy Poehler to name a few). Every character is hilarious in their own way and the show is instantly quotable. Highly recommended, highly fresh.

Workaholics Review

Workaholics (Series)

Best comparison: Always Sunny in Philadelphia / The League mixed with Office Space. 

Workaholics is a very fresh, very crude, and often times dumb series that runs on Comedy Central.

The story is simple, but classic: Three room mates / recent college grads that are simply living life day to day as telemarketers. It's often vulgar and handles scenarios like a 'shroom induced camping trip set in an American telemarketer office space, dating Juggalos, and the 'etiquette' of how to handle such faux pas as accidentally seeing another man's twig and berries. The show is hilarious, different, and highly recommended if you like this brand of comedy.

Memorial Day (Sorry for the Delay)

Hey there,

I just wanted to apologize for the delay on those reviews. I will be posting them definitely by Wednesday, I'm thinking, at the latest.

Work has been quite crazy. Worked a 12 hour shift, followed by a 13 hour shift. But as soon as I can, I'll be right back on the ball.

I hope everyone enjoys their Memorial Day (in the U.S, at the very least) and takes some time to be thankful for all those that have fallen serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Past, Present, and Future.

I'm not one for politics (or political discussion) of any flavor, and I know that there are many that have gripes with U.S. policy, but I think everyone, as human beings, can appreciate the sacrifices that soldiers make. I've got nothing but respect for them.

Update soon.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Upcoming Projects

As I'm sure some of you know, Steam has been around since before we all discovered the cake was a lie.

Well, if you have a PC capable of gaming (even simple, lower spec gaming), I highly recommend you get their free-to-download launcher: here. 

They constantly have great deals on many new-release popular and indie games. As well as some classics. A couple weeks ago I got the classic Fallout Collection on sale for like, 19.99. You can, too, right here: Boom..

It classifies itself as a post-apocalyptic role-playing game. Two hyphenated words have never sounded more perfect together. Maybe coffee-filled doughnut-surprise. Maybe.

Anyway, I picked up two games recently: Lone Survivor and Dear Esther. The former is a very stylized (read: pixelated, 'old school') side-scroller/ rpg / survival horror game. The latter is...well, honestly, I have no damn clue what it's about. Ive played both games a bit at the moment, but will hold off going into further detail until I complete them. Then I'll post my first set of reviews on here.

Lone Survivor: No, this is not a low resolution photo. It looks like this.

Dear Esther. The game looks gorgeous, to be sure. It's also quite mysterious. As in, I've played for an hour and still don't know what the shit is going on.


The second project I had in mind is one I've been trying to do since Freshman year of college (and wish to accomplish before I die):

... Play every Final Fantasy game.

You could say it's my....Final Fantasy. Yeahhhh! (My roommate actually said this to me, once. Sober.)
Caveat: No Final Fantasy spin offs. (What the hell does X-2 even mean? 10-2? I don't even...)

I'm thinking FF Tactics is widely loved enough that it will make the cut. But Crystal Chronicles, X-2, XII-2, Chocobo Dungeon, and Chocobo Chess, etc will not. (I don't even think that last one is a real game).

I'll keep a journal/series of posts as I play them. And I'm not sure if it's going to be in order, unless I get strong preferences one way or another. If I'm not mistaken, I've already played 1-3, 7-12. But I'll  play them through again and keep my status updated.

Follow up soon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Addendum to Weight Loss for Dummies.

So, as promised, this is a more condensed 'guide' to my earlier post on simplified, elementary weight loss for dummies.

This is just how I cut about 20+ pounds in a few months with little to no exercise. There are better ways, this just worked for me. And I really do feel it can work for you, too.

1. Calculate your BMR.

You can do it quickly / easily by going here, here, or or here.

That last link is especially useful because it can help you identify your daily activity and therefore give you a more realistic number of calories you are actually burning a day.

2. Set an easy, realistic, and achievable goal for how much you would like to lose and the rate at which you'd like to lose it. 

If you are in a deficit of 500 calories a day, you burn 3,500 calories a week. That's the equivalent to a pound of body fat. That may seem slow to some people, but that's 4 pounds a month. And if you are in a greater deficit, you burn more (obviously).

If you ate a DEFICIT of (-)700 calories a day, you'd burn 5.6 pounds a month.

Do not make your goal unrealistic. If you are trying to CONSUME only 800 calories a day, your body will react negatively. It's not healthy. Plus, you'll be hungry and miserable.

3. Keep a food journal or food diary/log. Make sure you track the calories of everything you drink and eat for the day. Unless it's water, diet soda, tea, coffee, or any other beverage that does not contain calories.

Subtract the total amount of calories you've consumed for the day by your BMR. If you are in the negative, you're losing weight. 

-I find that a simple program like Excel works very well for this task. Obviously, you won't have your computer everywhere you go. For quick on-the-go detailing of food items you can write on post-it notes, paper or ... I don't need to tell you how to remember things or write them down, do I? Just do it.

Here is what my daily calorie tracker looks like:

As you can see, I keep more details than you actually need to. I'm on a specific diet plan now that takes more than just calories into account. At the most basic level, though, you can use Excel or a similar spreadsheet program to track calories and food items. My columns automatically add the totals. If you need help with this, lemme know. Also please note how loosely I detail my items. Some spaces aren't even filled because they are neglible. Don't be a stickler and burn yourself out. Keep it simple, sexy.


 4. Snack smart, or not at all.

Okay, you CAN snack. But only if you are being aware of it. By that I mean that you know exactly how much you are snacking on, and record it. Chances are, though, you'll be eating fifty chips and thinking it's 15. I've done it. Hell, I've eaten nearly 3/4 a bag of chips and thought I had only had 'a few'.

Not...quite what I was talking about.

Snacks can lead to additional calories that you aren't even aware of. It's easy to slip up.

So, unless you are meticulous, portion out your snack sizes, and are aware of what you're putting in your pie-hole, try to stick to actual meals for the majority of your calories. That brings us to step 5.

5. Use Tools for Success. 

The internet is a great thing. You can find the caloric content / value of nearly ANY food by simply searching Google. This includes take out places and specific restaurants. Here are my three favorite:

1. Calorie Count
2. Fat Secret
3. Live Strong

 Other tools to use:

Get yourself a nice, accurate scale.  This is the one I use: EatSmart Precision Scale but any accurate one will do. You can get some really good ones for 20-30 dollars.
Weigh yourself at the same time, every day. The best recommended time to weigh yourself is in the morning after you wake up, before you drink or eat anything, and after you ...ahem.. void yourself. (That means use the potty)

"I'm going to be super-model light, after this one"
***Important: While a scale is a very good way to track, monitor, and 'visualize' progress, please don't fully rely on the numbers. There can and WILL be fluctuations. I will explain in the "Key Tips" section, below. Generally speaking, however, you will see the overall numbers, from week to week, get lower and lower...***

 -Buy a food scale to weigh your food for those annoying-as-hell 'serving size' labels on your food products. "Oh, the serving size of smoked Kielbasa is two ounces? Go to hell, Hillshire Farms!" Just kidding, we love Hillshire Farms and your delicious smoked meats... but we're not robots. Or drug dealers. I don't know about you, but I can't eyeball ounces, grams, or even cup sizes (I'm talking about metric cups here, not bra sizes. Actually, you know what? Both). With a food scale you can now accurately weigh out any food item and know it's damn-near-exact calorie and nutrition content. Here is the one I use: EatSmart Kitchen Scale. Also, don't forget that you can use Google's conversion feature.

Example: You can convert 5 ounces to grams by just typing...uh... "5 ounces to grams" in Google's search bar. Yes, I feel retarded for writing that sentence. But, you know, just in case you didn't know.

 In summary:

1. Calculate your BMR
2. Set up a realistic goal / calorie limit for the day.
3. Keep a hard-copy log of EVERYTHING you eat / drink that has calories. (Deduct BMR from this sum at the end of the day)
4. Snack smart. Or don't snack at all.
5. Use tools to help you out.

BONUS: Eat healthy and varied food items. Since you are eating less calories everyday (most likely less food) on a deficit, it is important to get proper nutrients with what you ARE eating.

That's all it really takes, as far as I'm concerned. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Again, this is all elementary stuff. It's very basic, very simple. If you want to get more in depth about a specific topic or question, gimme a holler in the comment section.

**** Key tips****

-If you notice strange fluctuations in your weight from day to day (like you 'gained three pounds') it is most likely water weight. Do. Not. Stress. It will pass if you continue as scheduled. Chill out, drink some coffee (diuretic). And, counter-intuitively (But VERY important), drink plenty of water. Your body is very good at monitoring itself. If you aren't drinking enough water, it will hold on to water. Check out this fantastic article on water weight / stress during a diet: water weight article. .

-Contrasty, please realize that not all weight loss is created equal. Sometimes you are losing (or as stated above, gaining) water weight along with fat loss. Sometimes, if you starve yourself of the proper macronutrients (example: protein) your lean body mass (muscles) will be used for fuel along with your body fat. Also, lean body mass weighs more than fat, as I'm sure you've heard. So if you are 'stuck' with your weight for days and days, it could be very well due to gains in muscle (if you're exercising on the regular). It could simply be water. But it is most likely NOT fat if you are sticking to your proverbial diet guns.

Pictured: Diet gun. Pew Pew.

And back to seriousness:

-You are going to have crappy days. Days where you feel / look bloated. This is most likely in your head. Stick with the above and I swear you will see results. You'll see the pounds lower on the scale. Even if you don't, see above (above the diet gun picture). Clothes will fit better. You'll see changes in your face and waist. Don't give up.

-Don't beat yourself up. So you had a Twinkie, big whoop. I ate a double meat, double cheeseburger today and I'm still in 600 calorie deficit. You have to allow yourself a LIFE when you're trying to diet. Just track the calories (as best you can) and keep going. I bet your net calorie deficit for the week is still way beyond whatever little slips you might have along the way. Enjoy your life. 

- I can't remember where I've read this, but always remember: If you are overweight, it did not happen in a matter of days. So don't expect to get skinny in a matter of days. This takes time. I know you've probably heard this, and it should be obvious by now, but losing weight and staying in shape is a LIFE STYLE change not a fad diet or protocol. Everything I've written above is just a simplified way to lose weight. You have to keep up with it to make a permanent change. Eat smarter. Be vigilant and determined.

Again, direct any questions to the comments area. I'll be sure to respond.

Weight Loss for Dummies: A No B.S. Elementary Approach.

I know I said that I would review games and all that jazz, but I want to kick this blog off in a way that might help the common (fatass) masses. Fatass Mass, if you will.

This is a lonnnnng post. Much longer than I meant it to be. If you want the quick list / summary click here.

First of all, I'm not judging anyone. I grew up a chubby Asian kid, lost a bunch of weight (the wrong way), gained it all back (hence, the 'wrong way') and then lost it all again. And then some. Now, I'm keeping it off.

Second of all, there are many people out there that know a lot more about nutrition, exercise, anatomy, physiology, etc, etc, than I ever will. I don't doubt that could include someone reading this right now. That is why I said this is a very elementary approach. I'm hoping to open some people's eyes and show them how losing weight is simple math and science. It is a certainty, and a natural law. You don't need to bust your ass with cardio or exercise (you SHOULD still do these), or even deprivation of certain foods. Let me explain.

To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume. I'm betting I've already lost most of everyone's attention. Stick with it: "Burn more calories than you consume" is an overused statement that causes people's eyes to glaze over. Like when you read 'abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy and STDs'. It's a "no shit" fact, but it's been preached and beaten into our minds so many times that we ignore it or forget the meaning behind the phrase. Plus eating (and sexing) is awesome. Why would we deprive ourselves of it? Well, I'm here to say that you don't have to give ANYTHING up when you 'diet'. You just have to be aware of how many calories are in what you are about to eat and how MUCH you're shoving in your face. Let me put it this way. If you ate enough spinach, you could gain weight. If you ate only 1 BigMac a day, you would lose weight.

Due to word of mouth and dietician mythos, people believe a lot of fallacies about food. People think that carbs turn into fat if you don't use it or eat them late at night. Or when you ingest fat it becomes stored as adipose (body fat) tissue like you just reverse-liposuctioned yourself. That's not how it goes. Let's look at the math.

1 gram of Carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram of Protein = 4 calories
1  gram of fat = 9 calories.

That's it. That's how food works. Calories don't come out of thin air. Companies that package food don't pump them into your food items. They come from the Macronutrients listed above. Different forms of energy. If you look at the nutritional value (the label listed on your food products) you can calculate the calories in any, all of your food by applying the above numbers.

The good news: we, as human beings, require energy (calories) to EXIST. By doing nothing more than simply being ALIVE you are burning calories. Better news: you actually burn quite a lot of calories a day by simply existing. Go, you.

The number of calories you burn a day by your basal metabolic rate (BMR). It's easy to calculate. By simply typing "BMR Calculator" into Google, you will be met with many, many sites that can calculate yours. That's step one of pretty much a two-step process of 'losing weight'. Second part? EAT LESS CALORIES THAN THIS NUMBER (BMR). That. Is. It.

So, the next question that people seem to always ask, then, is how many calories do I need to eat. Usually, people want to know how many calories are in a pound of body fat (3,500) or how quickly they can  burn a pound of fat. We are obsessed with pounds.

 Well, to answer the above, that's up to you and your goals. If you ate, say, 200 calories less than your BMR every day, you would burn 1,400 calories a week. (7x200= 1,400). That means in two and a half weeks, you'd lose a pound of body fat, more or less (I'll explain the 'more or less' part, later).

You can cut even more calories (eat less) to speed up the process, but a lot of people (that is to say, people far more professional than I) say that males should eat a MINIMUM of 1,500-1,800 calories a day. Females should eat a minimum of 1,200-1,500. I don't know the reason for these numbers. But let me show you simple math of losing pound(s).

Using my fatass as an example.

I weigh 180, I am 6 foot nothing. I am 25. I have a penis. BMR Calculator says that I burn 1931.8 calories a day. Some BMR calculators take your activity level (sedentary, lightly active, active) into account. They will multiply a small number with your BMR to get a more accurate estimate of how many calories you ACTUALLY burn a day. For this example, I'm going to pretend I don't walk or move, I just hover like the fatasses from Wall-E. That is to say, my activity level is negligible.

Please note: not a 100% accurate depiction of me. 

So, remember if I want to lose weight, I have to create a calorie DEFICIT (less).

It doesn't matter what I eat, or how much I eat: SO LONG AS IT'S LESS THAN 1931.8 Calories.

Let me just say this right here and now before I get flamed hardcore. You should eat a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables have vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that keep you healthy.You should also have a balanced diet. Protein, healthy fats, and slow digesting and/or fibrous carbs. 

...Buuuuuut we are talking about solely losing weight. Not being healthy. AGAIN: I strongly urge you to eat healthy! But you don't have to, when talking scientifically and objectively, about losing weight. You could, in theory, lose weight while eating just BigMacs or Oreos. But it will catch up to you and you will feel like shit. And then probably die an early death, full of health complications. Also, when you eat high-calorie crap food, you get to eat less food in general. Plus, you don't feel satiated and will more likely overeat (or feel starved all day long). And, oh yeah, it's really, really bad for you. Your body will hate you. I will hate you.

 So for my example, I'm going to use imaginary food items because it doesn't matter what you eat, so long as you have the calorie numbers.

So, I wake up today and ate a nice Unicorn steak. It is 500 calories.
During my lunch break at work, I stopped at a gas station and ate the Egg Salad sandwich Fry had in that one Futurama episode. It was 400 calories (and full of worms).

Mmn, I love my food "Fresh"

For dinner at home, I ate a baby dingo. It was 300 calories. I also drank a Nuka Cola. It was 180 calories.
Then I hovered my fat ass outside and ate bark for some reason. It was 200 calories. I ate a lot of it.

That's all I had the whole day. Like I said, it's simple math:

(Unicorn+Egg Salad Sandwich+Dingo Baby+Nuka Cola+bark) - 1931.8 

(500+400+300+180+200) - 1931.8 

1580 - 1931.8 = -351.8

I burned a total of 351.8 calories. That means if I ate the exact same meal for that whole week, I would burn 2,462.6 calories that week (351.8x7 days in a week).  9850.4 calories that month, which is close to three pounds (2,462x4 weeks in a month...usually). And I did no exercise. I ate no vegetables (eat your vegetables, I'm serious). I didn't have to do anything but be aware of how many calories I consumed vs my BMR.

If you eat more calories than your BMR, the opposite happens. You are in caloric surplus/excess, and over time, you will gain weight and/or fat. Forget about all the micro-managing and science behind it. Eat too many carbs a day, you'll get fat. Eat too much protein a day, you'll get fat. Eat too much fat a day, you'll get skinny. Just kidding, you'll get fat. Eat 'too few' of all these things, you will lose weight.

Please stop worrying about what time you ate your last meal, not eating carbs (ever), or thinking you can eat all the nuts (super high in fat), sweet potato fries (super high in carbs and fat), or chug olive oil (pretty much is straight up fat) salad dressing because it is 'healthy' or the 'good kind of fat' (respectively). Sure, it might be 'healthy / healthier' than other alternatives, but you're still  ingesting serious amounts of calories.

 Look at the calories. Be mindful. Keep a journal or log and you will soon get a feel for how many calories are in what kind of food item. Do it just for one day. I bet you'll be surprised.

I provided the macronutrient numbers earlier because I want you to realize protein, fat, and carbs... they are all calories. Doesn't matter which you ingest. Excess = fat, deficit = fat LOSS. 

Things to note: I know exercise is what people always hear when they ask how to lose weight. No, it's not necessary. However, it DOES help. You can burn more calories a week or increase your caloric intake with less consequence. Not to mention, it makes your body operate better, as does any exercise. You increase your cardiovascular endurance and blood flow. You raise your metabolism for a short period of time. For the specifics, you're going to have to Google. But, just like with the calories we are ingesting, we have to calculate how many calories we are burning.  Do not make the mistake of thinking if you run for a mile you can have a BigMac and not suffer some set backs.

There are 576 calories in a BigMac. And that's without cheese. Who the hell gets a big mac without cheese?

If you jog for about a mile, you would probably burn about 100-150 calories. For the pain and strain it takes to go running (for me) it's a lot easier to just not eat another 100 calories than it is to get dressed (60 percent of my life is in the buff, I swear), stretch, and go running for a mile. What you eat, your diet, is the first step to your health and weight (loss).

Further things to note: Nutrients and moderation matter. If you ate just fat, your liver would eventually fail. Your muscles would deteriorate. You need protein for muscle (and muscle maintenance). You need fat for nutrient absorption as well as proper body function. You need carbs for energy. Yes, all Macronutrients are energy, but the way the body breaks them down and uses them is different. No carbs and you go into ketosis from the byproducts of protein metabolism.

Simply put: Moderation in all that you do. Balance your diet. Eat healthy. Keep track of the calories of what you're eating. You will lose weight if you have the will power and the dedication. All it takes is calorie tracking. Simple math. Like I said earlier, it's a certainty.

Be sure to check out the simplified version. It's got tips that I didn't get into on this post: Addendum to Weight Loss for Dummies