Geek Fit: When You Just Don’t Wanna

I can tell you with complete honesty that, as much as I look forward to the day I am back to being sleek and fit, some days I just do not want to work out.  I’m sure you’re familiar with the litany of excuses: I’m too tired, I’m too busy, I don’t think this is getting me anywhere, what if I skip it today and do twice as much tomorrow…and so on.  It happens to all of us at one point or another on the road to Geek Fitness.  Heck it’s happening to me right now as I write this.

So what can you do, when you reeeeeally don’t want to work out?  I do one of three things:

Suck it Up! – I don’t want to work out?  Boo hoo, cry me a river fat boy.  Not wanting to work out and get fit means I do want to die of obesity related complications.  It means I do want be uncomfortable when I go to restaurants and movie theatres and sit in chairs too narrow for my broad ass.  It means I want to pay more from a speciality store for clothing other people can buy from a department store.  It means I want to doubt myself.  It means I…what’s that?  I don’t want all those things?  Then I had best pick up the free weights and get to work.  Because despite what late night infommercials promise, only exercise and eating right will get me what I do want.

Change it Up! – Okay, maybe the same old work outs just aren’t doing it for me.  Maybe the problem isn’t that I don’t want to work out, I just don’t want to do that work out.  Easy fix; the internet has a plethora of sites that will help me find new work out plans.  As a matter of fact I keep two in my bookmarks: Men’s Health Magazine and, for a geekier touch, Nerd Fitness.  Both sites are packed with tips and work out suggestions, and if I can’t find what I’m looking for between the two of them…then I’m just making excuses and I should refer myself back to point one.

Give it Up! – Sometimes I just need to admit that it’s a matter of can’t, not won’t.  I have the flu, a migraine or I threw out my back shovelling the walk.  The point is, my body is a little stressed trying to get over it and I need to acknowledge that and let it do its thing.  So I’m not going to work out…well, not a full work out, anyway.  I’m going to pick one exercise, bicep curls or dead lifts, say, and I’m going to do my full normal sets of that exercise.  That way I haven’t really skipped a work out, and my body gets a little boost of blood flow which can only help the healing.  And then I’m going to curl up on the couch with my blanket and watch my Stargate SG-1 DVDs.  Because I’m sick, dammit.

Obviously, I’m speaking from the point of view of my work outs which are based around muscle building.  But the point still remains if yours are built around cardio.  What’s important here is that you’re honest about what is keeping you from your workout.  Just don’t wanna? See point one.  Bored, point two.  And if you lying in bed with a fever and a throat that feels like it lost a fight with a belt sander…you get the picture.

One last point.  Say you do skip a work out, just because.  Don’t beat yourself up over it.  It happens; it has certainly happened with me.  What’s important is that you admit to yourself that you chose to skip it, and re-affirm that you won’t skip the next one.  Guilt doesn’t get you fit, so don’t wast time on it.  Keep working at it because in the end, you’re worth it.

Anything that gets you especially motivated when you just don’t want to work out?  Share it in the comments.

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Humpday Links for April 18

Another Wednesday, another week come and almost gone.  If only there were some way to pass the time until the inevitable slide into the weekend.  Some listing of amusing and/or thought-provoking links, perhaps…

– I’ve posted this here before, but it bears repeating: you’re all going to see Knights of Badassdom, right? RIGHT!?

– If you think that lava is all you have to worry about with volcanoes, you are sadly mistaken, my friend…

– It should come as no surprise, but I am a firm supporter of CCOKC.  So should you be.

– Somewhere there exists an R-rated version of Galaxy Quest AND IT MUST BE MINE!

– I won’t say these nerdy bathrooms gave me home renovation ideas…but I won’t say they didn’t, either.

– Need a pictoral map of four-thousand years of history?  Got you covered.

– Are you a self-hating genre fan?  If you have done any of these things you might be…and verily, thou must needs check thyself ere thou wreck’st thyself.

– For Game of Thrones fans, a most prodigious unboxing video.  HBO really went all out on this one.

– Like painting your gaming minis, but don’t like the cost of metal figs?  Paizo has you covered with Bones

– Charlene Rooke shares some tips on getting back to the roots of editing (from the Alberta Magazines Conference)

So this guy walked across Australia in his Stormtrooper armour for charity.  Yeah, I feel like a slacker, too.

This article should be a wake up call for anyone who thinks Facebook privacy isn’t a real issue.

– While I’ve brought the mood down, we may as well look at 5 Ways Modern Men are Trained to Hate Women.  Agree or not, there is something to talk about here.

– Staying in this vein, Ashley Judd had a few choice words for the media recently

– Okay, lets lighten things up a bit: Specimen B-28 is a Canadian-created webcomic about a guy abducted by aliens.  A lot.  There is also a short film you should watch first.

And that’s it for this Wenesday!  Join us tomorrow for <redacted>.

Great News and Graphic Content

We’ll get to an upcoming nerd event in a second, but first I wanted to share something.  I posted a little while back about Spider Robinson’s daughter Terri Luanna and her fight against cancer.  Last week Spider took the time to drop by the site and pass on some great news:

Since you were kind enough to mention my daughter Terri da Silva’s breast cancer here, I wanted you to be among the first to hear the good news we got today. After her first round of chemo, her oncologist reports that all the metastases, the tumours in her lymph nodes and leg bones, ARE GONE, and that the original tumours in her breast have all shrunk by at least 50%, and the largest one shrank by more than 75%. She is still, and will always be, a Stage 4 cancer patient…but for the moment, she has kicked cancer’s ass. She will not, after all, need mastectomy or radiation, just a lifetime of very careful chemo. She and her husband attribute all this change (which stunned her doctors) to her positive attitude and lifestyle: to saying “Yes” rather than “No” as you say above. See her splendid bloghttp://www.gracefulwomanwarrior.com for details. Thank you very much for helping to bring attention to Terri and her blog: I’m quite sure it helped. And thanks to all who took a moment to throw Terri a prayer or a few bucks for her huge medical bills.
Shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased. Please share my joy!

I am truly happy to share this joy!  I’ll add my meagre thanks to anyone reading this blog that took the time to donate or send good wishes.  You guys and dolls are the best!

*     *     *

On that happy note, let’s look at the one and only nerd event on my radar.  Despite the weather’s attempt to force snow on us, it is way too beautiful out there to miss out on this….

Graphic Content: Ghost World

 The latest and greatest in the Graphic Content series at The Metro!  Starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson, Ghost World is one of the most highly regarded comic book movies ever made.  Screening is this Tuesday, April 17th at 9pm.  Looking at the Metro site this looks to be the last film in the current series, so I’ll be keen to see what the next series holds for us.  Update: There is a Graphic Content for both May and June, and then they take a break, starting the second series in September.  In the meantime, come check out a great movie with great people!

…and that’s it for now.  If there is a nerdy event happening that you aren’t telling me about, shame on you!  Let me know so I can let other folks know.  In general, if you are a comic book nerd you should keep your eyes open for Free Comic Book Day, coming up on May 5 (yes, the day after The Avengers opens).  I know for sure that Wizard’s Comics & Collectibles and Happy Harbor have events planned for FCBD, and I suspect other comic shops might as well.  So nose around…

That’s it for now.  Join me tomorrow for a bit of geek fitness wisdom.  Because spring is a good time to work on that “Dorito spread”…

GM Advice: Letting Go of “No”

If you’ve been game mastering for a while, the word “no” can start to feel like a comfortable old friend.  After all, you spend your sessions riding herd on players, who often have the impulse control of Ritalin-deprived, sugar-soaked 10-year-olds…or maybe that’s just my group.  In any case, it is easy to just say no when players ask for some seemingly outlandish thing: “No, you can’t kill all those goblins with a bench.” “No, the sword you found  is not a fabulous relic.” “No, you can’t eat the last slice of pizza.”  Fine, that last one can stay.  But otherwise, as GMs we need to stop relying on “no” and start working with “yes”.

This doesn’t mean we let the players do whatever they want, because that way madness lies.  But we can harness the power of “yes” for our own nefarious purposes with the addition of two simple words:

Yes, and…” – “Yes, and…” is probably one of the few rules of improv acting.  Basically its function is to stop actors from blocking the ideas of fellow actors.  So if an actor makes a suggestion, instead of countering that suggestions, you would accept it (yes) and build on it (and).  The same thing can be done when you are GMing.  If a player offers an idea (“Can I tip this soup cauldron on the goblin cook?” for example), instead of saying no you say, “Yes, and not only do you scald the goblin cook with his own soup, but the rest of the goblins are infuriated by the loss of their delicious dog soup.”  Whether that means anything in game terms is up to you.  It could just be a nice bit of flavour, or the goblins could have some sort of attack bonus for a round because they are so angry.  As well, there is now soup everywhere; maybe that makes the floor slippery, and some checks are needed for both goblins and adventurers to keep their footing.  Either way, saying yes and building on it leads to a more exciting scenario compared to saying “no” (“Can I tip this soup cauldron on the goblin cook?” “No.” “Oh. Okay, I guess I’ll swing my sword at him.  Does a 16 hit?”).  And wouldn’t you rather have your players excited? (Yes, and…)

Yes, but…” – “But” serves much the same function as “and”, but allows you to control the direction things take.  Whereas “and” takes the player right where he/she wants to go and then some, “but” allows you to give the player what they want, but with a twist or consequence they didn’t anticipate. So continuing with our example, “Yes, but…whatever is in the soup isn’t quite dead yet, and it takes a bite at you as you tip over the cauldron.”  The player still gets to do what they want, but there is a consequence they couldn’t foresee.

Used that way, “yes, and…” and “yes, but…” are fairly interchangeable.  Where “but” really comes into its own is when the player fails at something, which is essentially the dice saying  “no”.  Instead of that, let the dice say “yes, but…” instead.  Consider the following:

Player: “My fighter is going to jump off the roof onto the fleeing carriage!” *rolls* Does a 12  make it?

GM: (Option 1) “No, you needed a 15.  Your fighter hits the ground and takes 8 points of damage.  The carriage speeds off.”

GM: (Option 2) “Yes, but just barely. Instead of landing safely on the roof, you slide off the other side and are hanging from a luggage strap.  You can see the ground rushing by beneath your feet, and over your shoulder you hear the familiar ‘click’ of a crossbow cocking…”

Which of those two options is more exciting?  Which would you rather hear, as a player?  “Yes, but…” allowed the player to get the result that he/she wanted, but still suffer a consequence for a failure on the dice.  No the character will have to spend a tense round dangling from the side of a speeding carriage and hoping the driver’s aim is really bad.  Most important, the action keeps going instead of stopping dead with the failed die roll.

I’m not saying you never say no to your players again.  But I am suggesting that “no” shouldn’t be the first tool you pull out of your GM toolbox.  Maybe let it sit for a while, and get used to the feel of “yes, and…” and “yes, but…”.  I think you’ll find those tools get the job done better.

Humpday Links for April 11

Good morrow, fair gentles!  The apex of the weekly grind is upon us, as we struggle through to the downhill slide into the weekend.  Please let these links ease your passage…

– If I were a teacher, this is the sort of thing that would get me in trouble.  And I’d be okay with that.

– Someone is working on a documentary about RoboGames, which would be damn cool.  Sadly, look like they still need a lot of support.

– Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford did a panel on the future of D&D at PAX East.  I’ll have more on this later…

– Speaking of 5th edition, Wundergeek has some advice on how WotC can better treat women in the new game.  I’ll have more on this later as well…

– In other news, this story has pushed Norway to the top of the list of other countries I would live.  Maybe I can become their Minister of Gaming Relations…

– This is so awesome I have nothing clever to lead into it: A Pac-Man fan film. Enjoy!

– I feel like I wasted my high school years with all that studying, when I could have built a Viper simulator

– This is a heart-warming video making the rounds, and if you don’t tear up while watching it you are the worst.  I give you Caine’s Arcade.

– I’ve posted it before and I’ll likely post it again, but suck it.  The Series 7 trailer for Doctor Who.

– Over at Dork Tower, John Kovalic has perfectly encapsulated my attitude towards Kickstarter campaigns

– Do you have your Nerd I.D. card yet?

– According to Brian Patterson and Hijinks Ensue, I should be happy my Doctor Who RPG campaign never got off the ground

Pathfinder Organized Play is thriving in Denmark.  Maybe I can vacation there when I move to Norway…

This is my pal Liana K., one of the smartest and geekiest people I know.  If you get the chance to talk to her I highly recommend it, it is…so choice.

– And finally, a little inspiration from one Bruce Lee.  Now get ready for the weekend, ya big lugs!

Got links of your own? Share them in the comments.  Until tomorrow, gentles!

Five from my Pull List

It’s no secret I’m reading more comics these days…oh, it is? Okay, well, since starting my part-time job at Wizard’s Comics, I have been reading a lot more comics. And I mean a lot more. I would say my comic intake has easily quadrupled, and spread beyond the gaming related comics (PS238, Knights of the Dinner Table etc) that I stuck to previously. I could try to excuse this by saying that I am reading more for work, so I can do my job better. But in all honesty that is a happy bi-product. No, if I have to look for the root cause of my swollen comic file, it’s Brandon.

You may know him better as @soupytoasterson if you frequent the Twitterverse. But whatever you call him (and @Leask may have some helpful suggestions, just ask him), Brandon is really good at selling comics. His secret? Honest enthusiasm coupled with optimism for the comic medium. Yep, that’s it. No trickery, no magic. If you come into the shop looking for comics, Brandon will try to set you up with something you will love. And if you have a file with us, he’ll be proactive about suggesting stuff you might like. Because Brandon wants you to love your comics as much as he does (his comics, not yours. But he also loves your comics, I just…never mind.)

So it was inevitable that some of that enthusiasm would rub off. As a result, I have added many titles to my pull list that I would otherwise have passed over. And I think it behooves me to pass some of that new found enthusiasm along to you, gentle readers. So here are my current top five titles, in no particular order. If you like what you read here, head out to your Friendly Local Comic Shop and pick them up. And drop me a line so we can talk, because that’s what cool nerds do…

Aquaman – Yeah, that’s right, Aquaman. Long has this character languished as a hapless B- or C-rated hero in the DC universe. But after hearing a few good things I read the first two issues in the store, and I was intrigued. What got me? One of the ongoing story-lines has Aquaman dealing with all of the misunderstandings surrounding his abilities. They actually take all of the criticism and insults that have been leveled against the character over the years, and made that part of the character arch. Combine that with some great writing from Geoff Johns and really expressive art from Joe Prado, and this is a comic I’m excited to read every month.

Fatale – If this were just a film noir-style comic, I’d probably read it.  If it were just a cthulhu-based comic, I’d probably read it.  Combine those two things together and the chances of me not reading Fatale approach zero.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s part of the solicit for Fatale #1:

“GUNS! SEX! SECRET CULTS! AND MONSTERS!  Nothing the BEST-SELLING and AWARD-WINNING creators of SLEEPER, CRIMINAL and INCOGNITO have done so far will prepare you for the explosive debut of FATALE!

A reporter in 2012 stumbles on a secret that leads him down the darkest path imaginable… to a seductive woman who’s been on the run since 1935, a mobster who may be an immortal demon monster, and the stories of all the doomed men who’ve been caught in their decades-long struggle.

FATALE blends noir and horror to tell a riveting epic unlike anything you’ve seen before.”

Geeklings, that is the kind of story that gets me out of bed in the morning.  Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are telling one hell of a great story here, and the art sets a mood both gritty and sultry.  Out of all my pull list, this is the title I re-read the most, though to be honest I find myself just going through the books and admiring the style as much as I do any of the words.  An evocatively beautiful comic.

Saga – Having been a fan of both Brian K. Vaughan‘s work on Y: The Last Man and Fiona Staple‘s North 40, I was super-excited to hear these two would be working on a new comic together.  It certainly didn’t hurt that the story promised to be an epic (well, they did call it Saga) tale of intergalactic intrigue, in the vein of Babylon 5 or Dune.  And even though I have only read issue #1 I have to say, I hope this gets the audience/sales it deserves.  Because it would be a shame if this beautifully rendered tale of two lovers caught in the middle of inter-planetary war was cut short.  I don’t just want to read to the end, I need to read to the end!  Saga is currently my favourite sci-fi story, and I am including many seasons of Stargate SG-1 and Star Trek when I make that determination.  I am a sucker for romance and intrigue set against a backdrop of science fiction.  If you are too, this is a comic you need.

Thief of Thieves – Also only at issue #1 is this little gem.  Sometimes it seems like a comic is written with me in mind.  Thief of Thieves is written like the creators entered my mind, Inception-style, and pulled out everything I have ever loved about every heist/crime show I have ever watched.  Hyperbole?  Hyperbole is for the weak, and in this case even it wouldn’t capture how much I’m enjoying this comic.  I know, I know, it’s only issue #1.  But I have faith in Robert Kirkman and the rest of the team.  Even if it only remains an entertaining heist comic it is worth the cover price.  But I can already see it hinting at so much more, and that is how it stole into my top five (yeah, yeah…).

Let me put it this way: do you love Leverage?  Do you miss it in the off-season?  Then reading this will fill that hole in your heart, and serve as an added bonus when Leverage comes back.  (If your answer to my first question was “What’s Leverage?, I…I have no words.  Just watch it.)

Smoke and Mirrors – This one almost slipped under my finely-tuned nerd radar.  Which was shocking, because a modern-day tale set in a world where magic is the prevalent technology is so firmly in my wheelhouse it’s like a part of the architecture.  As luck would have it, though, this caught my eye as I put it on the New Comics shelf, and after waiting an appropriate amount of time for real customers to snag it, I grabbed a copy.  And I can tell this is going to be a fun ride.  I can’t say too much at this point without spoilers but…okay, think of our world as it is now, with our massive reliance/dependence on technology.  Now imagine if someone came along and actually demonstrated real magic, as a force that could be measured and controlled.  Now imagine that in reverse.  Yeah, I thought you’d like that.  And that isn’t even a fraction of what is going on in this comic, not by a long-shot.  I’ll be reading voraciously…

Okay, that’s it for me.  My top five doesn’t even touch on all the comics I have on the go, so I’d better get back to it.  Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re reading.  And swing by the store some time so we can chat…