rowyn: (Default)
Health/Fitness
[Content note: I actually talk about weight and calories and such in this one.]

This year, my health insurer started paying for a weight loss program called "RealAppeal".

I am, on the one hand, not much interested in weight loss anymore. Years ago, one of my friends described me as "smokin' hot", and whenever I think about my appearance, this is the line that comes to mind. It's a valuation that has become independent of objective reality in my head. "Everyone who I would be interested in already finds me attractive. My weight is irrelevant."

Beyond that, weight as a measure of overall fitness is highly suspect. I have been exercising regularly for about 15 years now, while generally gaining a few pounds a year. I am fitter now than I was when I was 60 pounds lighter back in the late 90s. Medical professionals tend to blame everything on "patient is overweight", and the accordingly lowered standard of care fat people get may contribute more to poor health outcomes for them than any actual weight-related issues.

On the other hand, my diet is terrible. I don't mean "I eat too much", I mean "I survive mostly on sugar and fat." And my health insurance company is not paying for this program out of charity or kindness. They are a business; they would not pay for RealAppeal if they did not believe, based on evidence, that RealAppeal would improve the insurer's bottom line by improving the health of their customers. (My insurer may well be wrong about this! They're run by humans with the same biases as all other humans. But they are definitely not doing it because they think I'd be pretty if I just lost a few pounds.)

So I signed up for it -- it's free, I can always quit, why not?

The emphasis on weight loss is just as annoying as I thought it would be. I feel like RealAppeal is negging me: "take a picture of yourself now so you can see how much better you look after losing weight!"

I am SMOKIN' HOT RIGHT NOW, RealAppeal, and nothing you or a camera says will change that.

SMOKIN' HOT.

However! Despite this, I actually like the program so far.

It has weekly online classes, which I thought was going to be super annoying ("ugh, stuck in front of a computer watching a video for 45 minutes?") But their mobile app can play the online classes, so I go for a walk while I watch/listen to the class. The classes are with the same people and the same coach every week (you are encouraged to stick with your time slot, although you can take a make-up class if you miss one). My coach, Cass, is adorable, fun to listen to, and very relatable. She has struggled with bad eating habits too. She was talking about one of the tactics for staying on track -- "write down your motivation somewhere that you'll see it" -- and that the motivation can be very personal. Hers had been a note on her fridge: "Are you hungry? :)" And I thought that was great: at once an invitation to eat if you ARE hungry, and a gentle reminder that if you're not hungry maybe food is not the fix for whatever problem you do have.

You can also schedule 1-on-1 time with your coach if you want to discuss specific issues or just for bonding. I am a big believer in the power of bonding to promote good habits, so I feel like the existence of a coach who is invested in me eating well and exercising is useful by itself.

The site has a tracker, which is much less annoying to use than the last few times I tried food trackers. With the exception of meals from restaurants that aren't chains, it's had all the food I eat already in it. Generally, I can just type part of a name, pick what I had off a picklist, and set the portion size, and I'm done.

Moreover, I love having data and graphs and charts, so it's something I get a kick out of having done.

So I've been tracking what I eat for a couple of weeks. I already tracked exercise through Google Fit. Tracking leads to me eating a little less junk food: there is the act of thinking "do I actually want this or am I just eating it out of habit?" which leads to the occasional "yeah, I don't actually want this" in response.

The program lets you set your own targets, and the competing information is deeply amusing to me.

Video on calorie targets: "Women should set a target between 1200-1500 depending on how active you are!"

Me: "Nopenopenope" *nopetopuses on out of here*

Website, looking at my specific height/weight/exercise levels: "How's 2000-2200 calories sound?"

Me: "Okay that's fine."

I guess the "guideline" targets are aimed at the "I need to see VISIBLE RESULTS IMMEDIATELY or I will give up." But the last time I set calorie targets like that, I (a) soon hated tracking (b) also having to think about what I was eating all the time and (c) didn't lose weight anyway.

So I set my calorie target at 2000, in case I get lazier about exercise, and told the site I wanted to lose 0.25 pounds a week (the smallest number it allows).

In general, I've been either walking or dancing every day for 45-60 minutes, and eating between 1600-1900 calories. I have chosen not to eat food that I would have otherwise had, because it would put me over my target. Like yesterday I got a "pick two" and a frozen mocha from Panera, and then realized this is Too Much Food, so I took the soup and roll home as leftovers instead of eating them.

I have not, at any point, thought "I'm hungry and this takes too much willpower."

I've lost three pounds, much to my surprise. I'm not sure how that happened? This may just be the initial "oh it's a diet you're allowed to lose a couple pounds" before my body adjusts to the new normal and stops losing weight.

But since my actual goal is "exercise and eat better": as long as those things are happening, I don't care about the scale. 95% of why I am weighing myself is that the program asks me to, and since I don't care, I might as well make them happy.

Oh, for anyone curious: I started at 183 lbs and am currently 180 lbs.

Writing
I finished the initial draft of The Twilight Etherium! My belief that "the second half will be shorter" was way more accurate than I thought it would be. First half: 74,400 words. Second half: 28,500. Total word count: 102,900.

So the book ended up right in the 100-120k range, same as the other Etherium books. AW YEAH. I am pleased. Also glad to have the first draft done. And also thinking next book I will try to estimate word count per bullet point instead of "eh, historically each bullet point is around 1500ish words" because while that was still right ON AVERAGE, it was wackily far off when it came to estimating how much book was left on this one.

The Business of Writing
NEW BOOK RELEASE WOOOO! Frost and Desire is now out in the wild. I love this book, y'all. ❤️

I also did some more revisions on The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince. I crossed of another 12 items on the planned changes list. 23 more to go!

Gaming
As predicted last month, Pokemon Go play remains way down. I'm still level 38. I will probably make 39 sometime in February; I have one last friend who regularly opens gifts to get to Best Friends status, and that'll pretty much push me over. But I suspect I won't make level 40 until late this year, assuming I don't just quit entirely. On the other hand, spring and summer weather may make playing more appealing.

Happiness
I was pretty glum for a week or so this month, but my mood turned around a couple of weeks ago and I've been upbeat since then. It's nice.

Report Card for January Goals
* Care for Lut: yup, did that
* Finish 17 more bullet points on The Twilight Etherium: finished 37 points and the whole draft. CRUSHED IT.
* And/or finish 17 bullet points on the editing list for The Princess, Her Dragon and Their Prince, or some combination of these two: only did 12, but this was an "in combination with the above" so this is all gravy.
* Release Frost and Desire: done!
* Spend 15 hours reading stuff that I didn't write. Books, graphic novels, blog posts, articles, and short stories all count. Twitter, Discord, and Tootplanet do not. Lol nope. I caught up on my Dreamwidth feed, which is nice, and I tried reading some books without making much progress. But I didn't even try to track my time spent reading and I'm confident it didn't make it to half an hour a day. This should be easy. I don't know why it isn't anymore. MEH.

Goals for February
* Care for Lut
* Finish revisions on Princess and send to first readers
* Think about next book(s)

I haven't solidified what I'm writing next yet. I am most inclined to write an EXTREMELY QUEER prequel to The Moon Etherium, but since I don't have a solid concept for it yet, I'm not committed. I am farther along on my year's work than I expected to be at this point, so I'm not concerned, either.
rowyn: (smile)
 Published
January: Golden Coils
June: Demon's Lure
August: Angel's Sigil
 
Edited
Demon's Lure: complete
Angel's Sigil: complete
Frost and Desire: complete
The Princess Her Dragon, and Their Prince: Started initial edits (very little done).
 
Written
Angel's Sigil: 8,000 (draft begun 2017, completed 2018)
Frost and Desire: 120,380
The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince: 134,928
The Twilight Etherium: 74,400 (draft incomplete)
 
That's 337,000 words. This is not quite my all-time high of 347,000 in 2016, but in 2016 I only edited one book and this year I edited three. Also, cancer. I am happy with my word count total.
 
Promotions
Purchased four international-only Bookbub ads, for Silver Scales, Demon's Lure, The Moon Etherium, and The Sun Etherium
 
Other Business-of-Writing items
I commissioned Anthony Avon to do the Demon's Lure and Angel's Sigil covers. I've also commissioned a different artist to do the cover for The Princess, Her Dragon, and Their Prince.
 
Art
4 finished
2 Flight Rising adopts
6 sketches
Composited one cover out of my existing art
 
Support Lut
He's still alive!  *\o/*  Actually doing pretty well at the moment, as he recovers from the cold and has not been pushed back down by cancer treatment yet. His oncologist will try tapering down on one of his drugs next month, which may help with his general brain fog.
 
General Adulting
I have done pretty well at this, with one exception -- I broke the front wall of my garage back in, like, October? And never got it fixed.  I made some very desultory attempts at it, and then it was winter and of course I can't hire someone in winter which gave me an excuse not to try.  I should really do something about this, though.
 
Also, the house needs painting and some general exterior repairs. Meh.
 
Points
In 2011, I started an activity log to track all of my creative efforts.  Then in 2012, I made a "unified productivity scoring" system kind of thing, that gave me points for writing/editing/completing fiction, and also for blog posts and for art. It was more than slightly ridiculous. For 2012, I scored 27,000 points.  For 2013 I set what I considered an extremely ambitious goal of 30,000. My actual 2013 score -- the year I began and finished the first draft of A Rational Arrangement -- was 45,780. My 2014 and 2015 levels of creative output were overall much lower. (In fairness to my past self, in 2014 and 2015 I was trying to sort out editing and self-publishing and this was extremely stressful for me at the time.)
 
I stopped using the activity log in the middle of 2014, because it had become much too cumbersome.  But for fun this year, I decided to try to calculate what my 2018 score would've been.
 
108,000.
 
That's not even counting a bunch of stuff that I would have scored points for if I was still using the log -- time spent (or words written) on blog posts and art would've counted as well, for instance.
 
Anyway, that amused me.
 
2018 Goal Recap:
I hit all of my stated goals:
 
* Support Lut through the cancer treatment process
* Continue general adulting as necessary.
* Publish Golden Coils
* Edit and publish the two Demon books.
* Post monthly updates on whatever I did.
 
I also reached my stretch goal:
* finish some other book and/or stories.
 
My ideal was "write and publish a fourth book and have two more books drafted."  I did not accomplish this. I drafted 2.5 books this year instead of the hoped-for three, and I didn't publish a fourth book.
 
I am vaguely dissatisfied about this, and also think that dissatisfaction here is ridiculous and unreasonable.  Yes, I could've spent December working instead of relaxing and maybe finished the draft of The Twilight Etherium. (Probably not; it would've taken another 50k month at a minimum and that still might not have been enough.)  
 
But I averaged over 900 words per day this year -- not just work-week days, every day! -- and I edited three books to completion and I got three books published and I hired contractors and at some point I just need to admit that this is Good Enough.  I'm not ready to be a four-books-a-year author yet.
 
Honestly, three books is quite a lot.
 
Also, they are all good books that I am proud of and enjoy re-reading, which is important too.
 
2019 Goals
* Support Lut through cancer treatment process
* Do something about the broken garage wall
* Publish three books
* Finish drafting three books
* Write a book in the 55,000-85,000 word range and which covers the entire original outline for the book.
* Post monthly updates
 
Technically, I've written one book under 85,000 words already, but this was accomplished by splitting Demon's Lure and Angel's Sigil into two books. I am content with them as two books, but I have gotten some complaints about the break and I am just not a fan of this approach. It's part of why I don't want to split The Twilight Etherium.  The Twilight Etherium splits very well in one sense: there's one major plot arc that wraps up the first half, and the second half of the book has a new plot arc that resolves during it. But I want the Etherium books to all be in the same genre: standalone fantasy romances. If I split TTE in half, then it becomes a two-part romance instead of a standalone. From a marketing perspective, this is confusing.
 
Anyway, I feel as if I am much better at estimating book length than I was four years ago, and that figuring out in advance how long an outline will be and then MAKING IT SHORTER -- or doing a different outline -- is no longer beyond my skillset. Also, I don't want another year where I write 337,000 words but that's somehow only 2.5 books.
 

February 2019

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