Writing Wednesday – the scourge of e-mail!

I frikkin’ hate e-mail. I get between 60-100 e-mails a day and it’s driving me up the damned wal,l trying to keep up with all of it. About a third of what comes in is usually crap and it gets deleted right off the bat, and often labeled as spam so my e-mail program knows to not even bother me with it. But the rest of what I get has to be read, answered, filed… If I answer even just 10 of those e-mails, and take 5 minutes to answer each one, that’s almost an hour of my day dedicated to e-mail right there. This does not include the aforementioned reading and filing that still has to be done afterwards. And you know what that means. Any time spent on dealing with e-mail is time not spent on writing!

I’ve done my damnedest to cut down the flow of messages that flood my in-box daily.  I’m only subscribed to those Yahoo groups that I need to belong to for professional reasons. Unfortunately, all the organizations and publishers I work with have at least two Yahoo groups to their individual names, and sometimes more than that. Then there’s the e-mails that go back and forth on individual projects. Those e-mails are all important and must be kept up with, but I’m getting so many right now. I’m starting to think maybe it’s time to scale back on my work. I mean seriously, I’m spending 1-2 hours a day on e-mail related to my work. Yes, I said 1-2 hours a day, people. Right now, I’m getting up at the ass-crack of dawn to spend two hours every day on the podcast and I’d like to spend an hour and a half in the evenings writing stories and books, but I’m struggling so hard to keep up with the fucking e-mail I can’t seem to make that schedule work.

Ugh. It’s enough to drive a person crazy. But there may be a solution. I’ve been limiting the amount of time I am allowed to spend on e-mail. I will only check and deal with e-mail during whatever hours I have free between 9 AM and 3PM during the week. By which I mean, unless I’m working out or drawing the Cynical Woman cartoon or having lunch, I’ll deal with the fucking e-mail. But come 3 PM, the e-mail gets shut down, and I will not, under any circumstances, re-open my e-mail until the next morning at 9 AM. And that’s during the week. On weekends, I will handle e-mail on Saturday for as long as I can stomach it, but on Sunday? Fuggedaboudit! No frikkin’ way am I check e-mail on Sunday.

So here’s the deal. You need to get a hold of me in the evenings, or on Sunday? You just dying to tell me something, or request something, or chit chat? You’ll have to catch me on Twitter. I’m on Twitter pretty much all day when I’m home. And I really like Twitter too. You know why?

Because tweets are limited to 140 characters, baby! And that’s a helluva lot easier to deal with the fuckin’ e-mail!


Move It Mama Monday! My Fitness Coach

Since I reviewed Gold’s Gym Cardio for the Wii Last week, I thought I should take a look at the other game I got myself last month – My Fitness Coach.

I’ve been playing My Fitness Coach for the last couple of weeks, to give myself time to decide if I like it or not. My Fitness Coach is an apt title for the game, because it’s all based around a personal trainer character, Maya, who guides you through the workouts. Maya asks what equipment you have (balance ball, weights, step, heart rate monitor), how long you’d like to exercise (15, 30, 45, or 60 min), and what you’d like to focus on. The first time I played the game, I was prompted to take a fitness evaluation; pushups, sit ups, jumping jacks, stretching, etc. I was also asked to measure myself at various points, give a resting and active heart rate (that’s where the jumping jacks come in), and a few other odds and ends. Then Maya made a recommendation for what my primary workout goal should be. The game focuses on areas like cardio fitness, upper body, lower body, flexibility, etc. Maya will work you through all the areas, but the workouts will focus more heavily on whatever the primary goal is. You get the option to go with her recommendation or to choose your own.

After all that – the set up took about half an hour (yeesh!) – I was ready to workout. My Fitness Coach is just like having a real personal trainer put you through your paces. There’s a cardio warm up with the usual aerobics and step moves, then on to weight/resistance training and a little cool down and stretching at the end. After a certain number of workouts, it’s time to do another evaluation, and yes, you go through the whole schmiel all over again. I’ve been do 30 minute workouts three times a week since mid November, and so far had one re-evaluation. Do I like the game? Have I seen results?

Eh, to the first question, and maybe to the second.

Eh, because My Fitness Coach is almost exactly like having a personal trainer… but one you can’t really interact with. Maya does ask at various points in the work out how you feel. Was that section too hard, too easy, or just right? Then she stores that feedback for reference when building future workouts. But that’s about it for interaction. The game barely uses the Wii remote, and never uses the balance board. Although I wish it did use the balance board to at least check my weight during the evaluations.

Beyond that limited interaction though, My Fitness Coach is a lot like working out to an exercise video. It’s more varied, obviously, because the game switches up the workouts every time, based on the evaluations and the feedback. So it’s never the same thing twice. But it’s kind of dull, and the most I can stand to do is 30 minutes at a time.

Having said that, I get a solid workout in 30 minutes with My Fitness Coach. The warm-up segs right into a cardio session so I’m jumping and dancing around for 15 minutes or so. That gets my heart rate up pretty dang quick. So far, I’ve only been asked a couple of times to pull out the weights for the resistance training, which follows the cardio, but I’ve been using them anyway, otherwise I’m not getting any workout there, even though I’ve repeatedly told the program, “That was too easy.” Hopefully, Maya gets the hint soon. The cool down and stretching at the end last two minutes at most, but then I am only doing 30 minute workouts. But even on the days when I’m supposed to be working on flexibility, I’m still not doing a lot of stretching. Again, I keep telling Maya, “Bump it up a notch, bitch!” She’s slowly getting there.

So, results? Yes, I’ve seen some, but I honestly can’t say if it’s because I’ve been playing My Fitness Coach for the last month or because I’ve been doing water aerobics for the same period of time. It’s probably a combination of both. I do like that I’m getting plenty of strength training and that I don’t have to fiddle with an elastic band to do it (I’m lookin’ at you, EA Sports Active!). It’s much easy to follow along with weights in hand and the remote on the table. But then again, My Fitness Coach can’t tell me if I’m doing things right or not because it doesn’t use the Wii remote to get any feedback.

I will say that so far My Fitness Coach hasn’t killed my knees, but again this may be because it doesn’t rely on the feedback from the Wii remote to see if I’m doing the move exactly right. EA Sports Active did kill my knees, and doesn’t really allow me any way to modify the problem exercises to a level that’s comfortable for me (although it does let me skip them; My Fitness Coach doesn’t have that option).

I’ll stick with My Fitness Coach for a while, mainly because I had to make a commitment to do so many workouts a week. I’m slooooooooowly unlocking the new environments to work out in (another downside, there are so few goodies in the game for continued participation, and earning a new environment isn’t nearly as fun as earning new outfits to dress up your trainer in; I’m lookin’ at you, Gold’s Gym Cardio, and your hottie trainer Alex too!).

Honestly, so far, the best fitness game has been Gold’s Gym Cardio, although the focus there is almost entirely on the cardio. It’s fun, like Wii Fit, but it offers more of a heart thumping workout. EA Sports Active just kills my knees, although I do like the sports games and the ability to make my workouts or modify a premade workout. Wii Fit Plus spent too much damned time developing new mini-games and not enough time focusing on upgrading the cardio and strength training portions of the game. And My Fitness Coach is challenging, but dull.

With no perfect fitness game out there, what’s a gal to do? Continue to mix and match between the games I already have, and keep trying out new ones. At the very least, I’m getting some good variety in my exercise routine this way.

Move It Mama Monday! Getting my figure back!

Okay, so I mentioned yesterday that I had been undergoing fertility treatments the last three months. The treatments didn’t work, which is okay. I knew going in they might not work, and now we can move onto other plans, i.e. adoption. What isn’t okay is all the extra pounds I packed on during the last three months thanks to the medications I was on. Geeze Louise! One day I suddenly weighed an extra 9 pounds! Nine pounds packed on in just one day! Then I’d drop maybe 4 or 5 the next day, only to shoot up another 2 pounds the day after that. It’s been nuts, I tell ya. I’ve had to wear the same three pairs of pants the last three months because I can’t fit into anything else. Ugh! And of course, since I had to spend so much time traveling to and from the doctor’s office, not to mention the time actually spent in the doctor’s office, I missed a lot of days at the dojo and in the pool, so I barely worked out some weeks. Oh, and those meds gave me massive cravings for salty foods and chocolates. Hmmm… maybe those extra pounds aren’t all water weight after all.

In any event, now that I am free of fertility meds and doctor’s appointments, I need to get back on track with my workouts and yes, my eating habits. I’m not going to be too strict about the eating habits becaue hey! The holidays are coming, and I want to do some serious baking and candy making this season. But I do need to get my tushie back to exercise, so here’s the plan for that.

A friend of mine, Patty, took me to a water aerobics class two weeks ago. Did I mention this already? It was killer. Patty and I were the youngest people there and we got put through the wringer. So naturally, I loved it. If I feel like I’m getting a workout, then I’m happy, ya know? Plus water aerobics have two big benefits. First, it’s very easy on my knees. And B, the water aerobics class always takes up most of the pool, so there are no swim lanes left. If I can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

So I will be going to water aerobics classes two mornings a week. That’s two hours of exercise. I plan to get back to the dojo at least two days a week, so there’s another 2-3 hours of exercise a week. Aaaaaaaaaand my good buddy, the Wii, has some new games for me to play.

I know I mentioned that I was getting two new workout games for the Wii – Gold’s Gym Cardio Boxing and My Fitness Coach. I’ve had them both two weeks now and I am a happy little camper. I enjoy Wii Fit, but Wii Fit Plus spent too much effort on the new minigames and not enough on upgrading their original components. I mean seriously, would it have killed Nintendo to through in a few new step routines, or add something new to the cardio boxing and hula-hoop games? Sheesh!

I still want to do another week or two with the two new games before I give an actual review, but suffice to say, I’ve got something to help round out my workouts, something that I look forward to doing along with karate and water aerobics. So here’s to seeing if I can lose those pesky pounds I’ve put on in the past three months. This mama is seriously ready to move it!