Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

March in Review

I should download my Google Fit data and look at it but meh. I forgot to add a few workouts into it until just now, which means they won't be in the export. I'll do that later. I was pretty good about doing some form of activity on almost every day this month. Mostly walking. Walking is low-effort. Not just low physical effort, but low mental effort. I don't have to psych myself up to doing it, I can just go "well, I'm already wearing clothes, I might as well go for a walk."

RealAppeal sent me a blender in March. It's this adorable 24 ounce tumbler with the blender blades in the top of the vessel instead of on the bottom. I bet all blenders do that now, it's a good design choice. Anyway, I dug up some smoothie recipes online and bought some fruits and vegetables, mostly frozen, to put into smoothies. And then I actually made some. The only one I like so far is blueberry/banana/spinach. I cut up a little of a yellow bell pepper to add in and that worked all right. It mostly tastes like banana and yogurt rather than spinach or pepper, which is all to the good. The biggest downside of the recipe is that it uses a whole banana and the resulting smoothie is ginormous and effectively a meal, so I have to pick a meal to replace with it. At some point, I need to try sticking half of it in the fridge and drinking the rest of it the next day. Anyway, this is a good strategy for sneaking some Actual Fruits and Vegetables into my other produce-free diet. The nice thing about smoothies is that I can use frozen stuff for it and it doesn't matter because I was going to drink it cold anyway.

I'm down to 178 pounds now, so since I started RealAppeal about 10-11 weeks ago, I've lost six pounds. The RealAppeal thing is no trouble to maintain and I plan to stick with it. This has been an interesting contrast with my last attempt at tracking diet & exercise, in 2014. In 2014, I lasted through about 10-11 weeks of tracking app before I found it too annoying to keep doing. During that time, I lost a total of two pounds.

The most fascinating thing about this to me is that in 2014, I was eating significantly less than I am now. It's one of the reasons I gave up; it took willpower to stick with it and I ran out of willpower.

The differences that I think matter:

~ I am not trying to lose weight. So if I weigh in at the end of a week and I've gained two pounds, I don't go "WHY AM I EVEN BOTHERING???" I go "meh. Didn't care anyway."
~ I refused to let the program set a calorie goal for me. Like the fitness app I used in 2014, the RealAppeal diet program thinks my calorie goal should be between 1200 and 1550 calories. To which I say NOPE. I tried that goal in 2014 and I hated it and burned out after less than three months. I set my calorie goal in RA at 2000.
~ The RealAppeal tracking app is much easier to use than the last one I tried. It has a huge database of existing foods, including most items from chain restaurants. I can start to type and then pick from the list of matches. It remembers the things I've eaten before and offers those matches first. I can add new recipes to the database. I can use the app on my phone or open it in a web browser. I have done daily quests for games that were more inconvenient than this. It's not a hassle.
~ RealAppeal has coaches: actual human beings. I liked my coach, Cass, immediately. Having an Actual Human Coach that I can email or talk to is of both practical and psychological value. I scheduled a one-on-one with my coach (you can do this! As often as you like! Because fortunately not everyone wants to) to talk to her about sneaking veggies into my diet (yeah, I'm basically a toddler, I have to trick myself into eating them.) This was not just so I could get suggestions (which she provided, and some of them were helpful) but to give me MOTIVATION. I told myself three weeks in a row that I would find a way to eat more veggies THIS WEEK FOR SURE but it wasn't until I had to talk to an actual person about it that I persuaded myself to DO IT. I am sure the coaches are the most expensive part of the program, and I don't know that they're the most effective. But they are certainly add considerable value. And the fact that I know how expensive this is makes me value it more, I think, than I would if I treated it as if it had no cost. Even though I have no out-of-pocket costs for the program.
~ The coach and the class doesn't push the nutritional guide. The class is structured around the idea of gradual improvement and giving you a few new things to consider each week. Cass emphasizes the importance of tracking much more than the idea of avoiding specific unhealthy foods or eating healthy ones.

Things that do not make difference:

~ The instructional videos. Every week, there's a thirty-minute class, of which 10-20 minutes is instructional video. They do their best with these, but I find them tedious and mostly uninformative. The rest of the class is discussion between the coach and students, and that part is more engaging. I don't mind the class; I exercise through it and I don't generally do anything very interesting while I'm exercising, so it's no worse than usual.
~ The nutritional guide. RealAppeal has astonishingly inconsistent messaging. Its app tells me that my baseline calories used (assuming no exercise) is 1935. To lose ten pounds in a year, you only need to eat, I don't know, 70 calories fewer than you burn per day. Given that I usually get some exercise in a day, 2000 calories is a perfectly reasonable target for me. But despite this, the nutrition guide programs top out at 1800 and those are supposed to be for large active men. So it's like the app was set up with the idea of "we want you to do this for the rest of your life so you can make your goals ones you can easily maintain" and the nutrition guide is "we think you will quit unless you see instant results so here's some super-stringent requirements that will require all of your willpower." The RealAppeal nutrition guide also wants me to pick one of its meal plans and eat only its recipes and I'm like ARE YOU KIDDING ME. I am not going to prepare 21 new and unfamiliar meals in a single week. Why would you even think that was reasonable. It's so far out there that I haven't even tried to incorporate anything from it into my diet. I don't even use its smoothie recipes because I wanted recipes with veggies and it doesn't have any.
~ The commitment contract: they want you to sign a contract every week that says you will stick with your chosen plan from the nutritional guide. NOPETOPUS ON OUTTA HERE.
~ I want to re-emphasize that point about the nutritional guide, because the last time I tried a diet plan of 1800 calories or less I DIDN'T LOSE WEIGHT. So not only is it a sacrifice, but it's a sacrifice that doesn't even work.

The failure of the nutritional guide to offer any guidance on "ways to gradually improve your diet" is probably my biggest disappointment in the plan. But I am taking a mix-and-match approach and just ignoring anything that doesn't work for me, so it's in the category of "missed opportunity" rather than something that's actively making the service less useful. Overall, I am pleased with the experience.

I worked on outlines for two new books in March:
The Twin Etheriums: set two hundred years before The Moon Etherium, this novel is a polyamorous romance between three fey who seek the key to immortality: an asexual/alloromantic trans man from the Sun Etherium, a demigirl barbarian, and a cis woman from the Moon Etherium. The outline for this book is complete and in pretty good shape.
Untitled sequel to Frost and Desire: a four-person polyamorous romance. From a marketing perspective, this is a mistake (Frost is my worst-selling series.) I don't particularly want to write this and consider it vaporware. On the other hand, I do want to read it. So it might happen. I have about 2/3rds of an outline for it, so it'll need more work before I can start.

>The Business of Writing
I also outlined the most significant changes I want to make to the final version of Princess. I wrote another eight thousand words or so to add to the novel.

I started work on an illustration of Frost and Thistle, but it's unfinished.

I had some drama on Flight Rising. In an effort to make the recap less tedious, the following is not actual quotes. It's pretty similar to the events, though.

Flight Rising moderators: "We deleted a bunch of the bios in your lair for obscenity and we are giving you a warning for having posted obscenity."
Me: "But ... there wasn't anything explicit or pornographic or obscene in any of the bios you deleted. Can you give me copies of the material you deleted?"
FR Mods: "No, we don't keep copies. Or have site backups, apparently. But that stuff was all porn."
Me: "Then how do you know it was obscene?"
FR mods: "Because we deleted it!"
Me: "... so ... do you mean that you consider saying 'some dragons enjoy consensual BDSM activities' to be obscene, even if there is no depiction of sex, sexual activity, or BDSM scenes?"
FR Mods: "Yes."
Me: "The actual site lore is that dragons are sapient beings. Lairs buy and sell them. On an auction house. To breed."
FR Mods: "Yes, well, slavery and forced breeding is fine, obviously, but dragons who enjoy the role of a slave? Having discussions about consent? HOW DARE."
Me: "This bio you deleted was about the rescue of a lost dragon. What was obscene about it?"
FR Mods: "That one is fine."
Me: "... then why did you delete it?"
FR Mods: "Because."

I am vaguely annoyed about their decision that "saying consensual BDSM exists is obscene", given the site lore. But I would have shrugged it off if they hadn't been completely ham-handed and arbitrary in their enforcement of it. This wasn't material on the front page of their site; these were bios buried in my lair. You had to dig to find them. The mods could've told me "Please remove any bios that reference BDSM within X days or we will delete them" and I would have deleted the actual material they cared about and not, like, random bios of the dragons sitting next to them.

Anyway, I have not been much involved with Flight Rising for the last couple of years, and this kerfluffle killed what interest remained. I decided to take an indefinite hiatus from the site. Maybe someday I will want to go back, although it seems unlikely.

After this, a couple of people suggested trying

On the plus side, I love the art for the ponies. There's like 15 different breeds and I like almost all of them.

However, there isn't a whole lot of game to the site. You get enough in-game currency to buy a few ponies. After that, you go to the site now and then, click around a bit to take care of the ponies and do the things that cost money but will eventually make, hopefully, more money. Then you leave the site and do something else until your next window in which to click around a bit opens. After you make more money, you can buy more ponies and dress them up. And use them to make more money. That's pretty much the whole site. Probably the worst thing about it is that your ponies eventually die if you don't take care of them, so taking a few months off would mean your herd would be dead when you got back.

Despite my ambivalence about the gameplay or lack thereof, I bought a year's subscription and have dutifully been building up my herd and trying to make enough money that I can eventually dress them up. They are pretty cute. We'll see if I find this worth it long-term. I do not expect to get involved in the community on PonyIsland, because by the sound of it their moderation system is even more ham-handed and arbitrary than FR's.

One of the things that had kept me coming back to FR for so long was the monthly writers' chat Maggie and I hosted on their forums. I decided to make a writers' chat community on Dreamwidth to see if I could lure some of the FR folks away from the site. And also in case any of my writer friends off-site were interested. It's not a feedback group: it's just a chat group for talking to other writers about writer stuff. Check it out if you're interested:

I felt pretty beat up at the end of February, and honestly, March was worse. (Not because of the FR kerfluffle. Or cancer. Stuff I don't want to talk about.) But I got some stuff done that I wanted to do, so that's good. It'll be all right.

But I do want to take a moment here to thank Past Rowyn for her rabid determination to save money for an early retirement. She could've gotten a car fifteen years earlier, or a bigger house, or traveled more lavishly, or eaten restaurant food for lunch every workday instead of bringing food from home, or spent her money on any number of other things that she wanted at the time. But she saved it all instead, so that Present Rowyn wouldn't have to worry as much about money as Past Rowyn did. Thank you, past me. That was kind of you, and I appreciate it.

Goals for coming month
~ Finish the final version of The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince and send it to Alinsa for layout.
~ Stretch goal: start work on my next draft
~ Other stretch goal: start edits on the Etherium novelette that I inadvertently wrote while drafting Princess, or on editing The Twilight Etherium

I do want to get The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince wrapped up this month, and that may take all month but seems pretty doable. I feel pretty flexible about what I do apart from that. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Tags: nyr, nyr 2019
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