Tag Archives: Fitness

Sinister Sevens: Resolutions 2014



Right, it’s that time of year; that time when people reflect on the past and vow to make positive changes for the future. A day late and a dollar short, I don’t usually go in for New Year’s resolutions; but since I managed to nudge The Thesis into touch at the end of 2013 and I’m keen to put in place a robust post-Thesis regime, I’m determined to make the start to 2014 a positive one and this means that it’s time for some challenges.

So, in the spirit of coming up with a bunch of things I’ve like to get done in 2014, here I’ve come up with a short, seven-heavy shortlist of the major challenges I’d like to overcome in the coming year. Let’s do this!


1. Get Fit.

The importance of this first resolution cannot be underestimated. It’s not so much about getting fit per se, but at least getting my mis-shapen body back to something resembling slimness: I’ve got a ton of clothes that my tummy has grown too large to fit in properly (including an awesome assassin/pirate coat) that I would like to wear more often, which therefore means application of the following sub-resolutions:

1 (a). Go out inline skating more often.
1 (b). Do more skanking to ska-punk songs (skankercise).
1 (c). Eat less crap.

Of course, these remain fairly vague and without any particular time constraints or individual goals, so I will qualify my resolution by aiming to do each of them at least once a week, with a more permanent focus on maintaining resolution (c) at something approximating 100 % of the time. Looking at the wider picture, I’d like to be able to fit (and look good in, though that’s a far more ambitious/impossible task) my new assassin/pirate coat by, say, March, and to still be able to wear it on Xmas Day 2014 without it feeling very much like a whale that’s been squeezed into a corset. Game on.

2. Play More Point-and-Click Adventure Games (at least one per month) and Blog About Them.


3. Read More Books (at least one per month) and Blog About Them.

By no means a surprise, Resolutions Two and Three are a natural response to the sudden increase in free time (and motivation) that I anticipate will come my way now that I don’t spend every waking – and unwaking – moment either fretting about The Thesis or busily doing it. When I first realised that I couldn’t do all the leisure activities I wanted to do when I entered the world of academia, ‘books’ and ‘point-and-click adventure games’ were among the first things to be abandoned, much to my sadness. As such, the number of books I’ve not read, and adventure games I’ve not played, have been steadily increasing and the time to stop the tide is now.

To guarantee my commitment to both causes, I’m vowing to write reviews and thoughts about both here: an adventure game review once per month, and a bi-monthly post describing my thoughts on two books. Even if no-one reads them, I hope they’ll encourage me to look at storytelling media in a more academic light and to contribute my own thoughts to literature and video game criticism.

4. Make a Gordon Freeman Costume.

This. This is happening.

There’s no particular reason why; only that I’ve kept meaning to do it for years and years and years, and that I’ve got the right beard and the right glasses to justify cosplaying as video games’ most famous silent protagonist. Since there’s no better motivator for making a costume than needing a costume for a convention, I’m also resolving to have it ready and made by May in order to head to either to the London Film and Comic Con or the MCM London Comic Con dressed in Dr. Freeman’s HEV suit from Half-Life; made even more poignant given that (hopefully) I will also be a fully-qualified PhD scientist by that point as well. It’s ambitious and achievable, and my enthusiasm for getting this done is remarkably high right now. To the workshop!

5. Properly Give up Coffee and Alcohol.

I think most people now are aware that I don’t drink alcohol because of the bad effects it seems to have on my body (specifically bad effects meaning ‘having an intolerance to digesting/assimilating it’ bad effects, not ‘holy shit I drank so much last night’ bad effects) but, disappointingly, I appear to be developing similar problems with respect to drinking highly-caffeinated beverages as well. So, in the interests of trying to keep myself just about as healthy and not making myself really ill from just one cup of coffee or one pint of cider, I’m hitting the nail on the head and removing them from my diet (and conscience) altogether. I’d love to inbibe both, but it’s just a sad fact that my body won’t handle it anymore so I have to stop 😦

6. Watch at Least 52 Movies from my Project 500 list (one for each week of 2014).

A few of you may be aware of my ongoing Project 500 film challenge to watch every one of the five-hundred greatest movies as selected by Empire magazine in a special feature that they published a few years back. 2011 and 2012 were prolific years for film-watching, but 2013 was comparatively fruitless and little progress was made. For 2014, I’d like to kick that back into gear by watching at least as many ‘great’ movies as there are weeks in the year: I’m currently on 360/500, so I’m aiming for 52 more movies from the list which will take me to 412/500. Of course, I’m still not closing in my 500 target just yet, but hopefully the process will once again reveal more of cinema’s treasures that I’ve managed to miss in my film-watching career thus far; it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

7. Be Happy 100% of the Time, No Compromises.

This is an obvious one, really. Too often in 2013 was I feeling down, depressed or lonely; feeling adrift in the world and yet not making positive steps to change that. Well, I’m aiming for 2014 to be one of happiness, contentment and satisfaction, and not one of regret or self-pity: no dwelling on mistakes, no having regrets, no moping around; just a positive outlook and a willingness to make changes in areas I’m not happy. It sounds like a small thing, but to me it’s a big thing; probably the most challenging thing on this list altogether.

In many ways, Resolution Seven is just a commitment to Be Better At Stuff and Not Being Sad. It’s essentially the ultimate trump card, but also the easiest pitfall to fall down and the simplest resolution to dismiss or break. Hence, by writing it down here I therefore commit myself to keeping it through a written contract and through the rule of New Year’s resolutions that if other people know about them then it’s harder to just ignore them and pretend you never made them in the first place. So, with that in mind, I wish both you and I a happy, prosperous and glory-filled 2014; may we all be carried upon the backs of soaring dragons to a magical world of merriment, success and inexhaustable supplies of Toblerone. Godspeed!


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That’s No Moon

I need to lose some weight. I’m not saying I’m like some kind of Small Moon or anything like that, but the PhD lifestyle (sitting at desk all day, eating all day to keep alertness levels up, not getting time for exercise) has hardly been kind to my figure. This will not do.

So, I’m starting a new regime which consists of the following details:

1. Stop Putting So Much Stuff in my Face ~ Yes, I eat far too much. It’s not necessarily what I put in my face (being a vegetarian, I eat a fair amount of fruit and vegetables so it’s easy to tick off my Five a Day), but just the sheer quantity. For a start, being located in the exact same spot for nine hours a day means that there’s an obvious temptation to eat whatever food you’ve brought in for snacking (mainly fruit), and the proximity of a chocolate bar vending machine is hardly helpful. Even out of my office hours, I often find I snack even when not hugely hungry; perhaps there’s something psychological going on there. Either way, cutting down on the quantity I eat is a necessity, because I sure as hell don’t use up all the energy I consume (nor need to consume to replace expended energy) and I could get away with eating a lot less.

2. Be Better About What I Put in my Face ~ Despite the above, I do still have treats and snacks of fatty stuffs a bit too often for my liking. I’ve got a hella sweet tooth and often crave chocolate-y things, and will pick sweet stuff over savoury every time. Also, when I’m left to my own devices and have to fend for myself and find food, I generally go for the easy option of heating up some bread and spreading something on top, or just eating something out of a packet. If I ate more ‘proper’ food, then I’d be filled up for longer and not continually snack on small (and maybe sweet) things.

3. Get Up and Do Stuff More ~ I’m pretty lazy. There’s plenty of opportunity to go do fitness-type things, but somehow I never bother; it’s easier to sit around the house eating toast and watching Top Gear. I should just go out of the door and sodding do something. The only regular exercise is the 20-minute walk to and from work each day.  I certainly haven’t done as much inline as I’d’ve liked this year – I should just bloody well grab my mp3 player, stick my protective gear on and jump on my skates for a blat around the Common or somewhere inline-safe. Why the hell not?

4. Never Take the Easy Option ~ I’m guilty of a number of things which reflect my general laziness: Taking the lift when I have only a handful of flights of steps to climb. Driving into work on the weekend when I could walk like I do the rest of the week. Eating easy, unhealthy food when I could construct a healthy meal with some home-cookery if I’d only input a modicum of effort. Of course, it’s going to take some thinking to get me into new routines, but it won’t take long to adapt to new ways of doing things.

5. Sweeten the Pot ~ Of course, the idea of being fitter and leaner and sexier is enough of a motivation to get in shape, but sometimes I’m forgetful and need extra bonuses to get me to do things. So the question is how to reward me when I’m doing things which are good for me: the problem is finding rewards which aren’t counterproductive (e.g. ice cream, chocolate, chips). Coming up with Rewards is going to be a tough battle, but targeting what appeals to me is pretty key to its success: fr’instance, I recently got back up to speed with JRPGs on the DS by buying a second-hand copy of Pokemon SoulSilver complete with the Pokewalker accessory. So now, in an effort to gain both gaming and real-life EXP, I’m making conscious effort to walk everywhere with a Tentacruel in my pocket. It doesn’t make me feel any more like a grown-up, but at least it massages my necessity to turn everything in normal life into some sort of game.

6. Remove the Misery of Exercise ~ One of the main problems I find with organised exercise is that it’s so damned boring. I can’t think of anything less appealing than going to a busy, grey-walled room full of ungodly machines of torture and sweaty, boring fitness freaks. I’d much rather get my kicks from the great outdoors where I can look at the scenery or laugh at the general public, or perhaps some sort of home-gym set up where I have aforementioned ungodly machines of torture positioned in front of a TV, games console and I can level-grind my way through Xenoblade Chronicles or watch The Rock while I pedal away on a cycle machine for a while.

I guess my main reason in defining things is that, now I’ve said all these words, I’m now committed to doing something about it. This is by no means a guarantee that I will do something about it, but it certainly means that I can’t go the other way and get fatter, lazier and an even more close resemblance to Jabba the Hutt. If I start now, then that gives me a head start on New Year’s resolutions, and might mean that I’m in good stead by the 1st January to actually maintain the regime for the whole of 2013. We shall see.  Wish me luck.


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