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May 2017 Retrospective

May was a very give-and-take month. Progress was made on some resolutions while others regressed.

Health

My lack of motivation for exercising carried over from April. I managed to exercise every day for the first week of May but then fell completely off the wagon and proceeded to fail to exercise every weekday until the end of the month. Thanks to my colleague, Jan, I at least managed to get out running every weekend and even ran my first 15K in over 3 years.

With my interest in running on the upswing I am confident that I will be able to convince myself to run 3-4 times a week. It is the other 3-4 days that I am not so sure about. I should spend these days working on either my strength or flexibility. Strong app has been great for tracking workouts but not so great for motivation. I quickly saw my progress flatline and without proper knowledge of strength training it was unclear what I should change which killed my motivation. I definitely need to spend more time reading up on strength training and coming up with a more strict schedule so I am not paralyzed with decisions. I mentioned analysis paralysis last month with respect to building an app and it seems that it has seeped into my exercising routine as well.

I also still have my membership for Dogpatch Boulders. Setting a strict schedule (say every Tuesday and Thursday) like I used to do when I bouldered back in Toronto would be another good routine to get into that would help both my strength and flexibility.

Quick side note, I was using Strava to track my runs but I noticed that the GPS data it was recorded was off. There were lots of jagged segments that made it looked like I ran off the path and added distance to my run. I have a set 5km loop I run in the mornings and Strava routinely clocked them as over 6km. Without even trying I apparently broke my records for 5K, 1K, 1/2 mile and 400m all in the same run. After reporting this to Strava Support they proceeded to link me to this support article which tells you to force quit all of your apps to improve GPS data and if that doesn't work, download an app that hasn't been updated since 2011 and looks like malware from the 90s to help diagnose the issue. Needless to say I won't be using Strava anymore.

On the food side of things I am slightly improving. I would say I have gotten marginally better at not buying needless snacks and instead focus more on fruits and vegetables. I am still purchasing most of my dinners from the prepared section of the grocery store but have been diligent at ensuring they are healthy, well balanced and proportioned. There have been some minor exceptions where I was just so hungry or in a poor mood that some unhealthy food was just too appetizing.

My weight and body fat percentage have trended slightly downwards. Not the progress that I was hoping for but with my lack of exercising and sustained food intake things could have been much worse. Focusing on gaining muscle and eating better continue to be what I must do to make a dent in this.

I am going to attempt to be much more stringent about what I consume in the month of June. My tentative plans are as follows:

Avocado toast and orange juice for breakfast. I should take advantage of my geographic location and consume as many fresh avocados as I can. They contain a lot of the healthy monounsaturated fats as well as fiber and various essential nutrients and vitamins.

Lunch will be whatever is being served at work that day. I have been avoiding as many carbs as I can at lunch and instead been focusing on leafy greens, protein and fruit.

Dinner will be replaced by a bottle of Soylent. At 400 calories and 20% of your recommended daily nutritional requirements it sounds like an ideal replacement for the prepared meals from the grocery store I have been eating. I will also supplement it with more fruits and vegetables to help ensure I get all of the vitamins and minerals I need.

I am under no illusions that Soylent is some miracle food. I am simply looking to look for ways to combat my weak willpower when it comes it evening meals. This isn't an excuse to not cook or not go out and eat with friends. I am not going to say "I must come home and drink Soylent every night". This is a way to stop me from buying something from the grocery store or ordering something off Try Caviar because there will always be a bottle of meal replacement waiting for me at home. I am still looking forward to grilling up some steak and asparagus or frying some chicken wings but only when I am in the mood to cook, not just because I have to eat.

Read a book

I read Storm Front, the first book in The Dresden Files series. I had heard a lot of great things about The Dresden Files and was quite excited to finally read it. You can imagine my disappointment when I discovered it was more of a young adult novel than adult science fantasy. Don't get me wrong, I can enjoy a young adult novel such as The Hunger Games but I would put The Dresden Files far below that. From what I had heard I was expecting a deep and enthralling world of wizards and magic in the 21st century but what I got was an incredibly shallow novel whose plot barely dragged it along. I may have stopped reading the book if it was not so short.

I was hoping for a Harry Potter type of series where I could get lost in the world and the characters but after reading Storm Front all I know of is a single character called Harry Dresden who seems to be an insanely powerful wizard that is severely depressed and lucks out of all of the trouble he is in. Not exactly the type of character I want to invest more time in.

This was Jim Butcher's first novel so perhaps they get better but unfortunately I have such a backlog of books to read that I just can't give him another shot. Reddit threads like this do not give me much faith that the books improve enough to be worth my time.

In June I plan to read Hyperion, the first book of the Hyperion Cantos series. I have heard a lot of good things about this science fiction series and after The Dresden Files I am looking for a good palette cleanser.

Play a video game

After 90+ hours I finally beat Persona 5. I can all but guarantee it will be in my top three games of 2017. The only games that have been announced that could supplant it are either Middle-Earth: Shadow of War or Dauntless. But with E3 less than a month away who knows what the hell is going to be announced and released in 2017. Microsoft could have an ace up its sleeve for the Xbox Scorpio. The Final Fantasy 7 remake could be released in 2017. Detroit: Become Human could get a release date. The sky is the limit and all we can do is wait.

But back to Persona 5. It is undoubtedly one of the best JRPGs I have ever played. I would put Persona 4 in front of it because of the characters and story but I still loved the characters and story of Persona 5 more than 95% of the RPGs I have ever played.

The only major problem I had with Persona 5 was the final two dungeons. They dragged on 15 more hours than they needed to. The last 20 or so hours of this game is a real slog. I liked the combat of Persona 5 because it was fairly sporadic. I never found myself going through a dungeon for more than 90 minutes and that was a good amount of time before I got tired and wanted to get back into the story. I literally wasted 90 minutes of my time in the final dungeon because the game had save rooms so far apart that I advanced 30 minutes died and then redid that section four times before finally beating it. I was dangerously close to just putting down my controller and watching the ending on YouTube but because I was so invested in the characters and the story I soldiered on and managed to beat it.

The last 20 hours of Persona 5 are why I think it won't be my game of the year. I am fairly certain another game is going to come along that will give me more consistent enjoyment compared to what I experienced with Persona 5. Every time I think back to Persona 5 I get a sour taste in my mouth because of those final dungeons.

I also beat Injustice 1 and 2 in the final 10 days of May. NetherRealm Studios look to have fighting game stories down to an art. In fact I have become so engrossed with Injustice 2 that I am actually considering buying an arcade stick. I've already spent 20+ hours in these two games and with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite coming out this fall it feels like I would get ample use out of this stick.

Superhot VR was also finally released for the HTC Vive and I played about an hour of it. It is another prime example of the amazing potential of room-scale VR.

Release an app

I started to build out my logging framework when I realized that I did not have any Xcode project templates for frameworks. After poking deeper into Xcode's templating system I realized it was not designed for the multi-platform approach I take with my frameworks (e.g. FDKeychain) so I started looking into building a script that would generate the necessary Xcode workspace/project and folder structure for me. Unfortunately I did not manage to finish it by the end of May so I am sure that this script, my logging framework and any other frameworks I will need will keep me busy well into June.

Do not indulge in time killing activities

May was pretty much the exact same as April with respect to time killing activities. I seemed to do a decent job of keeping myself busy with either a game or a book or programming but I still did spend too much time on Reddit or watching YouTube/Netflix. I noticed that a couple of times it was just easier to say to myself "I am so tired there is no point starting a game or programming" and kill time rather than being productive. I am hoping that if I start being more strict with my schedule it will be easier to do something because of how little free time I should have.

Also fuck Magikarp Jump. I do not want to know how many hours I have wasted on this addicting iOS game.

Conclusions

Like I said at the beginning May was a very give-and-take month. It feels like a lost month in some ways but I am taking solace in the fact that my weight did not increase, I started programming and writing a bit more, and I played a number of excellent video games that I thoroughly enjoyed.

#MonthlyRetrospective

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