Do Dieters Have Split Personalities?

           Why is it so hard to stay on a diet when success is just around the corner?

           You decide to lose ten pounds, pick a diet, and weigh yourself. Then, it’s off to the races!

           For the first day, week, or month, you are so good! You do everything right. You cut down on fat, sugar and salt. You eat green leafy vegetables, fruit, chicken, and fish. You even hide your stash of candy.

           Then that time comes, maybe it’s the next morning, the next week or next month, when you weigh yourself. You have done SO WELL! The scale has gone down one ounce, two ounces, or maybe even a whole pound. 

           “Great! Congratulations! Wonderful!” you tell yourself. 

Immediately, your brain, that most devious part of your body, speaks. “You have to celebrate! After all, this is America! If you don’t celebrate something, then it wasn’t that important. You have to mark this event so you know you’ve accomplished something.”

           You start thinking about all the ways you can acknowledge this great weight loss. Which would be the best, most meaningful one? Why, with food, of course! You could have a chocolate bar or an oatmeal raisin cookie, the really good kind that are at least three inches in diameter, or maybe a Frappuccino with whipped cream on top?

           Instantly the sane part of your brain speaks up. It’s trying to look out for you. “A pound is 3,500 calories and that’s for sixteen ounces. You’ve only lost half a pound.”

           Let’s do a little math. 3,500 calories divided in half equals 1,750. The chocolate bar is around 300 calories and the super duper oatmeal raisin cookie is around 500. The Frappuccino with all that nice, real, not fat free, whipped cream on top is around 600.”

           Now the devious part of your brain reasserts itself. It’s very warm and friendly so you just can’t resist paying attention. “Why not have all three, just this once? That would add up to only 1,400 calories. You’ve just lost half a pound. That’s 1,700 calories. You’d still be ahead. You would have lost one and one-half ounces!”

           Where did this devious part come from? It seems to know you so well, almost like your best friend. It acts like it’s only looking out for you and shows up every time you start to make some progress on that ten pounds. “What’s going on here?” you ask yourself. “No one needs a friend like this.” 

           You want your brain to tell you: “Great! Congratulations! Wonderful! You’ve finally lost some weight. You need to commemorate this remarkable achievement. Go to your favorite café, sit outside in the sun and order a hot cup of herbal tea. How about orange mango, cranberry apple or lemon zest? You will feel so wonderful afterwards and the number of calories is zero.”

           “Zero calories,” your devious part starts in, “how can I mark this important event by putting something with no calories into my body? I need something that tastes good. That means salt, fat, sugar.”

           “No, no, no,” your sane part says. “You don’t want calories.  That’s the whole point.  You want something with zero calories so you can continue to lose weight.” 

           “What kind of friend are you?” your devious part demands.  “She lost weight, after all. She needs to go out and celebrate and eat something very special with lots of whipped cream, chocolate and sugar. There’s nothing like the taste of real sugar. After all, she just lost half a pound.”

           “Whoa”, your sane part weighs in. “You’re not at the end of the line. You’re only on the first step. You didn’t go on this diet to lose half a pound. You went on it to lose ten pounds. Remember? To lose ten pounds, at a half pound a week, will take twenty weeks. That’s close to five months. You haven’t even gotten through the first month yet. Actually, this is only the end of Week #1.”

           So the real reason it’s so hard to stay on a diet is our brains have two parts—the sane and the devious. It is hard for some of us to realize the devious part is not really our best friend. What we really need is therapy for our split personality!

First Impressions of the Resident Evil 3 Remake

Ever since the Resident Evil 2 Remake was released in February 2019, I had been looking forward to a new and improved version of the third game. I was even more elated when I learned that the Resident Evil 3 (RE3) Remake had secretly been in development at the same time as the second title and would be released on April 3rd of this year.

I tried to remain spoiler-free prior to playing the Resident Evil 3 Remake for the first time, but didn’t quite succeed at it. But I still very much enjoyed the game for its intensity and improved character development. The story is simple: ex-STARS (Special Tactics and Rescue Services) officer Jill Valentine is in a race to escape a monster-infested city before it is destroyed while also trying to evade an intelligent titan-like creature called Nemesis bent on killing her.

What differentiates the remake from the original game is that it is more fast paced, with Nemesis coming after Jill within the first two minutes of the game. And Nemesis gets deadlier with each encounter, either by equipping himself with a flame-thrower or rocket launcher or by mutating into a bigger, faster monstrosity.

In spite of this, my first playthrough took five and a half hours because I was either taking my time, trying to figure out how to navigate a sometimes confusing map, or trying to work out the solution to one of the game’s puzzles. I have since played through this year’s Resident Evil 3 two and a half more times for the achievements or to get my time down. My best run so far was 2 hours & 10 minutes, but I’m sure I can get through it faster than that.

I have also hit some oddities that made for interesting experiences. Midway through my first playthrough, I started having a problem with the sound (I couldn’t hear much of anything), so I decided to skip one of the cinematic cutscenes to exit the game. This resulted in me dying two seconds later because I didn’t realize I should be running.

During another playthrough, I was facing off, Nemesis aside, against two of the most dangerous monsters in the game—one in front of me and one to my right. I successfully gunned down the creature I was facing, but this somehow made the other keel over at the same time.

While I very much love the way the remake’s story unfolded and that the characters were more fleshed out, there were some elements present in the original that I would have liked to see here. For one, it would have been a treat to see a new and improved version of Gravedigger, a giant worm sporting two sets of teeth. I also would have preferred to see the alternative narrative brought on by branching choices sprinkled throughout the game. I have never played the original Resident Evil 3, but I may purchase a copy for the full experience.

Accompanying the release of the RE3 Remake is a multiplayer game called REsistence where 1-4 players attempt to escape a testing area overseen by another player\Mastermind. I have attempted a few practice runs to get a feel for this game, but I need some time doing solo runs before I’m ready to join an actual match. I’m sure once I get the layouts for each area memorized, I’ll do much better at it.

One other aspect that thrilled me about the RE3 remake is that there’s a post-credits scene that seems to tease that the next installment in the series, Code Veronica, will also get remade. Since I consider the latter as the one game with the best plot twists, I would love to see a modernized version of it. Especially if it’s on the same level as the remakes for parts 2 and 3.

Resident Evil’s production company, Capcom, has done such a great job reintroducing their older classics to a modern audience that I look forward to what’s in store for future entries of the franchise.

Birth of a Journalist

As a high school journalism student, I dreamed of becoming a columnist for one of the local newspapers. I envisioned myself interviewing people and publishing their stories. However, the teacher gave me the unsatisfying task of finding local companies willing to place ads in our paper to help defray the printing costs. I didn’t complain because the alternate task of editing the stories written by others was even less appealing.

One day as the class was working on the layout of the ads I secured and the stories my classmates wrote for our next edition, the principal rushed into our classroom. After he whispered something to our journalism instructor, I heard my name. Why? I hadn’t done anything wrong.

The principal smiled and asked me to come to his office where he said, “You’ve been selected to represent our school because the teacher said you’re not shy around strangers. We have an important visitor arriving here soon and we want you to interview her.”

There was one catch. I could only ask the visitor one question. “What is your opinion of Fidel Castro?” I had little knowledge of the political significance of Castro, but that didn’t matter. After repeating the question to the principal’s satisfaction, I walked with him to the school library where the interview was scheduled to take place.

We arrived to see several faculty members, a few students, as well as newspaper reporters and cameramen. This was my first experience with the professional media. I was not impressed until it was my turn to approach a tall, majestic looking woman who smiled at me with her right hand extended. Former first lady, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, shook my hand as I greeted her and calmly asked my question. This happened so fast, I did not have time to get nervous.

Mrs. Roosevelt’s hand felt like velvet, her eyes were warm, and her voice was strong and self- assured. She answered my question confidently as the reporters took notes and the photographers snapped away. I doubt if I closed my mouth the entire time. I don’t remember her words, but I do remember her opinion. She didn’t like or trust Fidel Castro. She had no positive words about him, but I had a positive feeling about her. My time with Mrs. Roosevelt was short, but memorable.

A few days later, I received a slightly out-of-focus photograph of Mrs. Roosevelt with me as I asked my question. I treasured the photo of that tall, impressive important world figure who took the time to answer the question of an inner-city African American journalist.

Stuck at Home? Now What?

During our current world-wide health crisis, many people have discovered they don’t know how to handle the isolation. Now might be a good time to review your 2020 New Year’s resolutions for something to do.

Is that boring? Let me give you a few suggestions that might interest you.

1. Move – Walk, dance, or follow an exercise expert online.
2. Communicate – Phone a friend.
3. Read – The books on your shelf are gathering dust or you can order new ones. 4. Learn – Take online classes to learn another language or how to do Tai Chi.
5. Create – Try decoupage, painting, drawing, crocheting, knitting, or sewing.
6. Teach – Volunteer online to teach your neighbors’ children, your grandchildren, or adults who need help in navigating the internet.
7. Write – Try journaling what you’re feeling now. Not a writer. So what! No one else will read what you’ve written. Or you could put pen to paper and start the novel you’ve always wanted to write.

Think outside the box. Do you have any suggestions for us to find ways to occupy our time and minds?

Game Spotlight — Final Fantasy V

Despite the fact that the Final Fantasy series has fifteen main titles to its name, I’d never played one of them until 2017. Viewing YouTube videos from ProtonJon depicting a blind playthrough of Final Fantasy V during an annual Four Job Fiesta event—more on that later—sparked my interest. I purchased the game myself not long after.

Like many other entries in the franchise, Final Fantasy V sees individual fighters band together to combat a potential world-ending evil/villain. The plot of this particular title is however a bit ridiculous; the main antagonist is a sentient, humanoid tree. But what sets the fifth game apart from many other titles in the series is that the roster is limited to five playable characters, though you only ever have four at a time.

Final Fantasy V consists of exploring the landscape of three separate worlds, battling a wide variety of monsters and acquiring items or achieving goals to advance the story. I love the game for its simplicity but also because it offers variety with each playthrough.

You’re able to assign each character a specific role/job in combat, such as knight, ninja, mage, etc. Each job comes with its own unique perk but also its own drawback. For instance, a berserker has a massive amount of health but cannot be directed to self-heal while in combat; they must rely on teammates to keep them alive if necessary. Also, you can mix and match job abilities such as having a ninja capable of casting spells, assuming that the character in question was a magic-user at some point. You can switch a character’s job and abilities at any time during the game.

However, the Four Job Fiesta, an online charity event that takes place during the summer, can make Final Fantasy V a challenge to get through. Participants pay a small fee to determine what jobs they have to work with and are strictly limited to those specific jobs. Though you can switch up the roles among the four playable characters, you must have the assigned jobs represented through pretty much the whole game. To cite one example—thief, thief, ninja, chemist.

I haven’t yet tried the Four Job Fiesta, but I might actually give it a shot when it rolls around this year. In the meantime, I have been playing the game normally and experimenting with all the different jobs. I have yet to beat the final boss though—that may require more leveling up to increase the amount of health my characters have.

I have also been re-watching the YouTube videos from ProtonJon, which has clued me in on some aspects of the game I’ve missed. There are also a couple uber-bosses present in the game who are extra tough to defeat and who can wipe out all four combatants in one blow.

And when the Fiesta event does start, my only prayer is that I don’t get stuck with four berserkers.