Monday, November 12, 2012

It's nice to finally not be such a fat ass

After literally years of struggling, I finally managed to shift the majority of the troublesome weight issues I've been struggling with. Since 2007 I'd seen a steady deterioration in my ability to lose weight and get fit, and the knock-on effect into my general feeling of well-being took hit after hit after hit. I felt like I was in an unstoppable downward spiral that no amount of diet or exercise could solve. I was exercising regularly, riding 150 miles a week or more, and my weight only seemed to increase, and my waistline only expanded. After seeing multiple doctors, nutritionists, and trainers in the past five years (all of whom basically gave up, saying "I just don't know what to tell you") I finally managed to break through the problem with the help of a fantastic naturopathic doctor. She did a fantastic job of analyzing the problem, and working out how all my…let's call them "issues" were interconnected. Together we picked apart my whole life and pieced it back together in a healthier way. The results have been unbelievable, and there have been numerous knock-on effects, which I'm going to attempt to list here, as a form of catharsis as much as anything.
  • My mood has changed pretty dramatically. Mrs D told me frequently that I seemed "down" or "moody" before. I didn't think I was being a particularly miserable arsehole, but I was aware of having a short fuse and feeling very much off-balance. My work/life balance was all off, too. This was primarily due to the general stress level at work, but since the big health-shift (and changing jobs,) I'm increasingly convinced that it was all part of a general physical and mental well-being thing. The two are clearly intertwined, and I'm honestly not sure what came first. I definitely think that switching jobs and working on really building something again was a big catalyst for change. That helped clear my head and helped me start to be healthier…but now that I'm lighter and fitter, I think my mood is generally better as well.
  • My energy levels are where I think they should be now, plus the swing from being awake to being asleep and back again seems much more acceptable. I don't spend ages and ages trying to fall asleep; I chill out, and I fall asleep, and then I stay asleep for at least seven hours. The way it should be.
  • Cycling is a completely different experience. Riding my regular weekend route with 30 less pounds hanging off my belly and arse feels like driving a Porsche after a lifetime in a crappy old pickup truck. While I'd been very conservative with my calorie intake during the hardcore part of the diet, I'd avoided going on long rides because I'd be burning two days worth of calories, and was afraid of bonking. On my first ride after getting back into a more "normal" groove, I logged a personal best on the hardest, longest hill of the route and felt completely different. Whaddya know? Climbing is much easier when you're not hauling as much chub around.
  • I got the words "bonking" and "chub" into one bullet point there, and neither had anything to do with the naughty interpretations of either word.
  • People pointing out how much better I look certainly doesn't hurt. It's also funny when they stumble on what's coming out of their mouths because they're worried that it sounds like they're saying I used to be a fat ass. It's OK, I don't mind…I was.
  • This is a weird one, but it's something my dental hygienist pointed out as well; my mouth is much healthier now, too. Until recently, the plaque build up on my teeth would hit fast. I'd go get a cleaning (or a deep-cleaning, as seemed to increasingly be the case) and within days afterwards, the build-up would return. I'd floss, scrape, use a Sonicare and a waterpick, but it didn't seem to slow the nasty stuff that would start to accumulate on my gum line. I wasn't eating lots of nasty sugary foods or anything, it just seemed to build up. Since the physical reboot, things have changed big time. My gums are healthier, and the plaque isn't appearing anywhere near as quickly.
  • I have a bunch of clothes that I can fit into again. Thankfully, not all of them have gone out of fashion yet.
  • Because of the reductive nature of the diet process I went through, I'm now even more acutely aware of how my body responds to just about everything I eat or drink. Consequently I can tell what will give me energy, what will make me feel lethargic, and even what will help out if I have a headache. My taste has changed dramatically too. Because I've not really had anything sweet or starchy for so long, my palate has a fairly extreme response to things at that end of the spectrum.
  • Mrs D looks at me differently. Which is nice.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Boy's First iPad

My oldest son, who turned nine this year, decided recently that what he wanted more than anything else was his own iPad. Not an Xbox, not a 3DS, or a Wii U…an iPad. There are three of the things kicking around the house already (a couple of first-gens and an iPad 2, along with several iPhones) but these are all shared with the rest of the family. What he really wanted was something that he didn't have to share with his little brother. Something that was exclusively his. When the iPad Mini was rumored earlier this year, he saw this as his opportunity; cheaper (though still not cheap,) smaller, and attainable. He saved his allowance each week, he encouraged gifts of cash for his birthday in September, and he even offered to do more chores for us. In return for cash, of course. I was impressed with his patience and tenacity, throughout. Even if it did occasionally feel like we (mean his mother and I) were being extorted. When the Mini wasn't announced alongside the iPhone 5 in September, he didn't freak out or get upset - he simply had faith in his dad's word that something would be revealed soon.

He waited, and waited, and eventually his patience was rewarded. He'd saved up almost enough money for a 16GB device, and I have to be honest - I was impressed that he'd stuck with it. He'd not broken down at trips to Toys R Us, he'd not given up and bought Trash Packs or Skylanders figures. I'm not sure I could have been so patient at his age. Or my age, for that matter. So impressed with his tenacity, I told him I'd pay the difference and throw in a cover for him too. This, as you can probably imagine, went down very well.

Next step…getting the thing. I asked him if he wanted to try and go into a store to pick one up, or pre-order one, and he opted for the latter. So I stayed up until 1am to try and snatch one when they first went on-sale online. I managed to, and got it engraved with his name, but there was some bad news for him; more waiting. The pre-order was secured, but delivery was still two weeks out. This didn't phase him either though; he was, and remains, excited but patient.

At the last minute, Apple sent a shipment notification that revealed the Mini would be arriving a week earlier than anticipated. I didn't tell him about this - so when I handed the thing over on Saturday morning, he was incredibly excited. To make the morning a little more special, I filled the thing up with some of his favorite games and entertainment software, so he was all set up and ready to go. Here's what we have on the thing...

Minecraft Pocket Edition

Download numero uno; his favorite game…ever, I think. It's all both he and his brother want to talk about, based on the Xbox and PC versions. He's been dying to try the iOS version for months now, and having his own device means he can play Minecraft from the car, in bed, and everywhere else. Assuming it's during designated gaming times, of course. Or mom and dad aren't looking.

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Arc Squadron

Excellent Unreal-powered Starfox-like 3D shooter. Simple, elegant controls and gorgeous graphics. Plus, it's only $0.99. An instant iOS classic, I think.

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Plants vs. Zombies

Since we first started playing it on iPad on a vacation a couple of years ago, he has never tired of this. Plus, they keep updating it with new content. Huge value for money.

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Jetpack Joyride

Still one of his default, go-to games when he just wants to kill a few minutes. Like PvZ, it just keeps getting better and better, too.

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Fieldrunners 2

Like the original Fieldrunners, only even better. Beautiful presentation, and a ton of content that keeps the game fresh for a long time.

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Great Big War Game

Honestly, I was kind of surprised that he was so taken with both this, and it's prequel Great Little War Game. In part, I think it was encouraged by his fascination with watching me play XCOM. He wanted to try something similar that he could play on his own, so he could test his strategic and tactical mettle.

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Where's My Water

This, along with its still-great-but-not-quite-as-awesome Phineas and Ferb sibling, Where's My Perry are perennial favorites with everyone in the Davison household. 

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Jumping Finn Turbo: Adventure Time

We love Adventure Time. Mrs D claims to not understand it in any way, shape, or form, but the male population of the household adores it. The game is basically all about kicking Finn in the butt and making him fly as far as you possibly can. How could you not enjoy that?

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Angry Birds Star Wars

A new addition to the list of favorites, but very popular already with both of my boys. The best bits of Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space, but with appropriate Star Warsiness. And a wry sense of humor. We are hooked.

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Spy Mouse

Quietly the best thing to come out of EA's acquisition of Firemint. Sure, the Real Racing stuff is good - but this cute mix of Metal Gear and line-drawing is truly wonderful. Plus it has over 80 challenging levels that are tuned just right. Often overlooked in "best iOS games" lists…it's definitely worth checking out. Plus, it's good for all ages and perfect for my boy.

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Tiny Tower

Personally, I've never really seen the attraction of Tiny Tower, but plenty of people do, and my boy is one of them. So is his grandma, so they get competitive with how tall they can build their respective towers.

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It's a whopper of a download but it's a wonderful tool for getting kids into making music. Especially now that he's nine, and he's starting to develop his own musical tastes. The design of the iOS version is superb, and he didn't need any coaching at all to start making music.

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