Portion Control

I’ve been on my diet for a week so far. Not impressive, I know, but I’m surprised I’m doing it at all. I’ve gotten used to being hungry (I’ve read you’re not supposed to eat to get full), and I use water to stave off the hunger to avoid eating too much. To my surprise, junk food wasn’t hard at all to give up. I haven’t had so much as a piece of chocolate, my all-time favorite sweet.

What is hard, however, is eating less when I do eat. As I mentioned in another post, I count the calories in everything to avoid going over my set limit, especially I visit the gym only once a week (and even then, eating too much would ruin my workout). It’s actually easier to not eat at all than to eat less.

It’s not only junk food I’ve had to drop, however. There are even some healthy foods I can’t eat anymore for the time-being because they have too many calories, and I can’t measure out a reasonable portion. Pasta is the biggest example, which sucks, because I like a lot of pasta dishes. One of my relatives cooked rigatoni a week ago, and I ate only eight of the noodles because I could have only five tablespoons to avoid going over my limit. Unfortunately, spaghetti, my most favorite, can’t be measured that way, so I simply to avoid it.

Heck, I’d say I avoid some healthy foods almost as much as junk food due to stay to within my limit. I keep being shocked by how many calories even healthy food has. I have a can of orange juice from school that has 170, and since I can’t have any spaghetti (same relative cooked), I’ve been mentally debating whether or not to drink it to have something for dinner when I do get hungry. The problem is I don’t like to eat or drink anything close to 200 calories, and I already did that during my lunch break (I ate it because it had less than the orange juice). I may just save it for tomorrow or drink it when I get closer to bedtime, so I’m not too close for comfort to my limit with several hours to spare.

I plan to keep this diet up for six months to give any potential results time to show, so I’m hoping keeping my portions small will get easier as time goes on. I would drink only half the can, but I don’t want to throw out the other half (my family throws open cans away if they remain in the fridge for too long).

I think I’m going to have to do a Google search for low-calorie foods. And no, 220 calories is not low! If it’s over 100, it’s not low! I really find it weird some junk food is lower in calories than some healthy food. Isn’t the junk supposed to cause weight gain?

Food, and weight, is weird.

Positivity: Real vs Fake

There’s something about I’ve noticed about self-proclaimed “positive” people. Actually, any person who screams “if you don’t like your life, change it, don’t complain!”

They will scream this, even if you are doing that.

For some reason I will never understand, it seems these types of people believe complaining and working to change your life can’t be done simultaneously. Weird. Like people.

I’m currently in school. That’s considered by most people to be a step in changing your life. But if I had a dime for every time I complained about school – having to wake up early, balancing work and a job (two jobs at one point), running on little sleep, studying, the $200+ I must pay monthly to attend school, the lessons I struggle with, the boring days, keeping up with my grades – I could probably pay off my student loans in a month.

But I still attend school, so I’m still changing my life like these people scream I should be doing. And it’s still not good enough for them. And honestly, school is just still one thing.

If nothing else, I’ve learned most people who scream “change your life” don’t really care what you do. It just makes them feel better to look at someone as negative or a poor example for feeling bad for a day, no matter how much effort they’re putting in to improve their life. Because everyone knows if you really were making a change, it’d be instant and you’d never have a bad day again. Yes, that’s sarcasm. I hope it was obvious.

Real positive people don’t look down on others, don’t preach about how positive they are, and actually understand feeling bad is human instead of shaming people for it. They also practice what they preach instead of giving out advice they themselves don’t follow (assuming it’s applicable to their life at the moment). And this might be a stretch, but I imagine positive people also don’t join certain communities and single out a person for the content of those communities when they knew it ahead of time. Or have spies in that community, for that matter.

In short, real positive people aren’t bullies under the guise of “positivity”. If you’re going to scream at someone to “change their life”, the very least you can do is know beforehand if they’re already doing that. If you don’t care to know that, you’re blowing smoke and nothing more. And since this is the internet, the latter is the most likely scenario. In which case, I say to your “facts”…

Return to the Past… Again!

Have I mentioned I’m really bad at keeping promises to myself? I’m sure I have.

Way back in 2013, I talked about rejoining Neopets, a game I played a lot in my childhood, and being “determined” to stick around. As I’m sure you can guess from the first sentence, that didn’t happen. Six years later, I’m on there again! This time, I didn’t lose my passwords because I kept them in a Word document. I confess it’s name to see so much age on my accounts. Of course, with the site being twenty years old, there are much older accounts than mine. Too bad I didn’t discover it when I was five. I started when I was around ten, so my very first account would be 14 or 15 years old by now. Darn it! Then again, ten-year-old me had very bad taste in usernames.

Anyway, as I do with most things, I did a little bit of research on what’s happened with the site lately. It still has a good user base, but I also found some things that were very unsettling, to say the least. Specifically, incidents of fraud and horrible customer service, some incidents dating back to when I was still a child. However, as I said in my last post about reviews, those kind of complaints are to be taken with a grain of salt.

There’s something in one particular review about Neopets on a website called Site Jabber that stuck out to me and prompted me to create this post.

Getting a million Neopoints is a difficult task on its own, and by just playing a few games, it could take well over a year to get that. If that’s the case, can anyone imagine trying to earn 50 million NP or 100 million NP for those Battledome weapons and other useful paintbrushes and potions? No. It was out of reach for probably 90% of players. Basically, anything that can make the game more useful or interesting for you is impossible to achieve so why bother?

That was why cheating was rampage.. because no one could make that many Neopoints legitimately.

This. Is. False!

Unlike our very depressing world, Neopets really is an equal opportunity place. In fact, new users have a much better head start now than new users when I was a kid. It is time-consuming, but that goes for any game you want to make a lot of progress in. Now, I never reached millions, but I did reach one million on Neopets some years with zero cheating done. In an unrelated game, I also made a million in that currency without cheating. It may not be possible to do everything a game has to offer, but it is possible to become “rich” in any virtual setting if you put in the time and effort. And if you don’t want to, no judgment. It’s a game. It’s supposed to be fun, not a struggle. But that’s not a reason to violate the site’s rules and complain when you’re rightfully banned for it.

This person is correct that getting a million neopoints (the currency of the website’s virtual world) is difficult, and it would take a long time if you relied solely on games. But games are not the only way to make neopoints. There are actually many guides written about this, one of the best by a user I admire named Jenesis. Her guide is old, but it’s still relevant, as it’s very informative and probably my favorite guide on the subject.

Basically, anything that can make the game more useful or interesting for you is impossible to achieve so why bother?

This particular part is the next thing that bothers me so much. First of all, if everything that would make the site better for you involves striking rich in virtual currency, that’s a personal problem, not the staff’s fault. I was “poor” for most of my time on Neopets, yet I never had a problem having fun with the site before other things took more of my interest. Years ago, there was website dedicated to stories of how players became so addicted to the site, it bordered on being akin to a drug to them (video game addiction). Even if everything that improve personal experience does require being rich, it’s not impossible. Again, it takes a lot of time and effort. It irritates me to hell when people insist because they can’t, or won’t, do something, it’s not possible for anybody.

This untrue review continues:

This once “free” game with some advertising became a massive bloat of ads and then started to ask you to pay for Neopets Premium. Then you had to pay for items and then Neopet clothes. Now, you probably have to pay for everything.

This review is from 2016, and the bold word makes it more evident this person is exaggerating. For starters, the game is still ultimately free. Neopets does have a premium subscription and while they do advertise it (like every site ever with a premium service!), it’s not mandatory. You don’t have to pay for items and clothing. Spending any amount of real money for Neopets is purely optional. It’s no different than free games with in-app purchases. Spending real money gives you an advantage, but it’s not necessary to play the game. There is nothing users playing for free can’t achieve that users who pay for the premium subscription can. And while ads are annoying (again, this applies to any site, not just Neopets), you don’t need their premium service to block the ads. An ad blocker will do just fine. I use AdBlock Plus in Firefox.

There is a feature called the NC (NeoCash) Mall, which only uses real currency, but again, it’s optional. There’s no need to spend your real money.

Some other complaints are about being banned for legitimate offenses, like buying NeoCash or Neopoints from outside sources. Their virtual currency is not allowed to be sold! Buying their currency outside of their website is on the user, not the staff, and they state in their rules it isn’t allowed. The only exception is their own merchandise, for obvious reasons.

I don’t doubt there are legitimate complaints because no company is perfect and there are cold people out there. But a lot of ban complaints seem to be about cheating or falling for scams. While I have some sympathy for the latter, most common scams on the site won’t get you banned so much as inconvenience you for a while if you fall for them. To get banned for falling for a scam rather than being the perpetrator of one, my best guess is the scam took place outside of Neopets and involved something along the lines of selling their currency or items, which, again, is not allowed. Perhaps this is where I’m being judgmental, but that seems like an easy scam to avoid falling for. If it’s outside of Neopets, don’t buy it.

I chose to spend some real money for the site (back when I was a regular player) because I liked it that much and I could. Heck, now that I’m returning again, I spent some real money. I paid for one month of their premium service, though I cancelled automatic renewal because I don’t yet know if I’ll want to continue with it. Spending money for Neopets isn’t different than spending money on other games. Look at The Sims! Their current iteration has twenty-six packs. Including the base game, that would total $560, and that’s just the PC version. At least, you don’t have to download Neopets on every computer you want to play it on! I can play Neopets on break at school!

Oh, So That’s The Burn

I mentioned briefly in my last post I started dieting in an attempt to lose weight. Part of dieting is counting calories, so I count the calories in everything, no matter how small. Well, they say small things come in big packages, and counting calories makes me agree!

How many calories are in that apple?! Wait, that banana has how many?? The amount varies by size, which makes sense, but it still surprises me how many calories are small foods. Even if they are healthy, I limit them, so I’m not eating six bananas (630 calories) in one day unless I intend to burn off four of them.

One of my housemates made turkey sandwiches for me to eat later. After a few of counting calories, I knew there would be more in those sandwiches than I expected, so of course, I searched it. 22 (one slice of turkey) plus 158 (two slices of white bread) plus 104 (one slice of American cheese) equals 284 calories total. Yeah, those sandwiches didn’t enter my mouth when I read that. I’ll eat half of one when I return from work, and that’s my sandwich-limit for the day. I’d rather eat the turkey slices single they have the lowest amount and a vast difference to the others.

I went a step further and made a small list of how much of certain nutrients (carbs, fat, sugars, and sodium) is recommended per day and set the limit there. So, I count that in addition to calories. If it’ll put me over one of my limits, it won’t go in my mouth. Water has zero calories, so if I don’t want to eat at the moment, I use that to stave off the hunger until I’m ready to eat. Downside is it makes me want to use the bathroom more than once in a few hours, but they say water is good for you.

So, where’s the silver lining in all of this? The “burn” I reference in the title of this post. Yesterday, I went to the gym. All I did was walk on one of the treadmills for an hour, but in that hour, I burned 340 calories. Before I went to gym, I consumed 365, so burning off 340 left me with 25. According to every weight loss preacher everywhere, you’re supposed to burn more than you eat, so I didn’t do that. But if it means I consumed only 25 calories for the day, I consider that close enough. Of course, I ate when I got home, but I didn’t ruin it by eating 340 calories again. I ate 105, so that left 235 still burned, and 130 consumed for the day. Lovely!

I’ve been at this diet for only five days. I definitely miss soda and chocolate, but I love fruit, so that helps. And it turns out a healthy diet doesn’t mean a lifetime ban of treats and eating out. I love going to restaurants with my boyfriend for holidays, so I’m very glad I don’t have to give that up. Going to have research the calories like crazy, though.

Exercise Myths

I learned something interesting today: If you want to lose weight, exercise is almost useless.

That explains a lot, really. Unfortunately, a lot of the comments on the Reddit post are conflicting, with some claiming there’s such a thing as “starvation mode” and others claiming that as long as you eat less, even next to nothing, you will lose weight. That doesn’t shock me either. I’ve never gotten straight answers from people about this subject.

Since I don’t give two cents about being “bulk” and my end goal is having my bathroom scale read a lower number when I step on it, I’m not someone exercise is any good for. I only wish I knew that before I went to the gym. That’s time and money I could save. Some comments say “lose weight in the kitchen”. That’s easy. Outside of school and work, I spend most of my time in bed. If all I have to do is cut my (already small) diet in half, my bedroom is close enough (literally; my bedroom is next door to the kitchen).

Basically, diet is for weight loss and exercise is for fitness. I’m not interested in the latter, only the former, so my previously mentioned goal of joining the gym (which I erased from the post after learning this) is a farce. The upside is I paid only a dollar to join due to a promotional offer the gym has going until the 15th of this month, so I lost very little.

That said, I give this diet idea six months. If that darn scale reads in June what it’s reading in January, there will be a lot of rage.

EDIT: According to another doctor (even doctors don’t agree?), this “busted myth” is a bust. Myth six. Apparently, exercise helps you not regain the weight you lose from dieting. Now, how is that not a significant contribution to weight loss and why didn’t someone say that to begin with?!