Monday, 1 January 2018

The New Year.

   This year has been pretty difficult, if I'm honest. Battling against Brexit and all the commotion that's come with it has had a direct impact on Seeg and I, but we've been doing all we can. It's also been difficult with mum and her condition getting worse, but, again, we muddle through. In truth, though, it's not been a bad year, and it ended on a high note - what with a Christmas Eve proposal, and all - and I actually have a lot of hope for 2018. I finished a book last year that I'm expecting to get somewhere in the coming months, and I have another art exhibit in the summer. In a way, most of the impending highlights match 2016, which was a great year itself - though that's not to say I expect this year to meet or exceed it. Anything could happen, right?
   But I have good hopes all the same, and that brings me to...


The Matter of Resolutions
  Over the past few years, my resolutions have been winners. 2014 encouraged me to try something new for weight loss every month, which worked, for the most part, and also fuelled 2015 & 16's resolutions - to change up my workout every month - which proved to be both enjoyable and effective. I remained interested in exercise and avoided boredom and plateaus, and it became a habit that I've continued to this day. Of course, that dedication also caused me a few problems, which is why 2017's resolution to, in contrast, learn when to step back from my exercise and take a break when my body needed it was so essential. I've felt more energised thanks to that, less run-down and I've finally begun making progress again, though I did slip up once or twice. But in this vain, I've also been allowing myself to try more varied workouts: every 2-3 months I've opted for a lower-impact workout for 4 weeks to counter the HIIT and circuit training I'm usually drawn to.
   2017's is a resolution, however, that still needs conscious thought and active work, but it's one that I don't think I need to keep on the pedestal. In fact, for 2018, my resolution isn't fitness-focused at all:

My 2018 Resolution: learn when to step back from my writing.

   It's kind of going the same way my workouts did: over-working and losing progress because of it. Too often I burn out on my writing but I refuse to stop and take a break. "If I have time to play games, I have time to write" - this kind of excuse often tumbles from my lips, and if not games then watching TV, crafting for fun and even sometimes reading. I don't give myself a break to relax. It's true that I live and breathe for my writing, I love it and find it immensely enjoyable and relaxing, but I sometimes go through a week or two of just staring at the screen and getting only a paragraph done a day, and that doesn't make me feel good - not to mention that my writing suffers and those parts I do squeeze out need a lot more re-working than others. But if I had just stepped back for even just two days, I could have gotten more done in that week than by forcing myself to keep trudging through. And better work, too - games can be inspiring, books can improve vocabulary and writing skills, and TV, usually documentaries or historical or fantasy series, can be either informative or inspiring, while crafting can outright calm the brain and silence the chatter.
   So, from now on, if I'm struggling to write, I will try to back off and spend the day doing something else. Just one day or even an afternoon doing something unrelated to writing could be enough to save a few days of wasted time or poor quality work, and not to mention allow me to read more stories and finally finish some games. I've been playing The Witcher 3 for a year and a half, and only got out of White Orchard last week! For those unfamiliar, the gaming industry's amazing writers, graphics and voice actors have produced some immensely long and immersive stories - The Witcher 3, The Last of Us, Sleeping Dogs, Assassin's Creed Origins, to name those that Seeg has played for me most recently. They can be like virtual books, but with side quests and missions that go beyond the story and give you an even greater insight into characters and the world itself, which can be valuable, if you're one who naturally picks this things apart, in building your own worlds and characters.

   This might seem like a silly resolution, "surely it can't be that hard", but I'm a workoholic. I can't sit down and do nothing. If it isn't productive, it is a waste of time, and while that's not a bad attitude to have if you have deadlines, I do not. Which means that that attitude never ends. It's draining, and the more you give in to it the harder it is to step back. And while I'm far from it, it's a very good way of growing to despise what you love. It'll feel like a shackle rather than a pleasure, and I desperately do not want that to happen.

   But with a bookcase loaded with unread books, loads of games I've seen Seeg play and would love to replay the stories for myself, projects I've wanted to begin for years - and some I did and have needed completing for just as long - I've got plenty on hand to refresh my mind when my creativity becomes strangled. It's just a matter of dragging myself away to do them.
   In short, I get the feeling that this year could be quite productive. And I've started on a high note: I sent my next book out to fantasy literary agents today. Which means that, at the very least, it'll be self-published in the spring!

   How do you all feel about 2018? Great hopes? Or tempered caution?


   I made a canvas cake for the new year, too, and it's just as much for resolutions as it is for looks! Perfect for those of us who make the huge and respectable decision to clean up their lifestyle! And this canvas cake is just as celebratory as it is nutritious!
   The canvas cake base is high fibre and high protein, while being minimal in carbohydrates and fats - instead, the carbohydrates and fats, both of which your body needs, comes in the form of yoghurt 'frosting', almonds, chia seeds and dark chocolate - with the addition of a few Shimmer Popaballs left over from Christmas for a fruity blueberry burst!

   I replaced the water and Stevia from the basic canvas cake recipe with 80ml of Innocent Bubbles for a fruity flavour and natural sweetness (and drank the rest of the can for 1 of my 5 a day), 'frosted' it with my favourite Yeo Valley fat-free honey greek yoghurt, and topped that with some silvered chopped almonds, Lindt 90% dark chocolate shavings, a sprinkling of chia seeds, and a teaspoon of Popaball's blueberry shimmer bubbles. Oh, and I admit I did spray the cake with a little Dr Oetker's silver shimmer spray...

New Year Mug Cake:
275 calories, 9.3g fat, 17.5g carbs, 6.5g fibre, 27.5g protein
Break-Down
Cake + 80ml Innocent Bubbles Sparkling Lemon & Lime: 150 calories, 2.8g fat, 8g carbs, 5g fibre, 21.5g protein
50g Yoghurt: 40 calories, 0g fat, 5.5g carbs, 3.5g protein
Toppings:
  - 1/2 square 90% Lindt dark chocolate (approx 5g)*: 30 cals, 2.5g fat (1.5g sat), 1g carbs (0.5g sugar), 0.5g protein
  - 5g blueberry Popaballs (approx 9 balls): 5 cals, 1g carbs (0.8g sugar)
  - 5 almonds (approx 7g), chopped: 40 cals, 3.5g fat (0.25g sat), 1.5g carbs, 1g fibre, 1.5g protein
  - 1/2 teaspoon chia seeds (approx 2g)*: 10 cals, 0.5g fat, 0.5g carbs, 0.5g fibre, 0.5g protein

* The measurements listed for the chocolate and the chia seeds were what I intended to use, but I only ended up using half of them so as not to crowd the cake. The nutrition displayed, however, is for using the full amount, so go right ahead!




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