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Warcraft Resources for D&D 5e

Man, this is one of those projects I just look at and think "Did I really do all of this?" I've definitely got lost in this do...

Friday, May 11, 2018

Four Random Mini-Projects from the Past (and a Surge of Unexpected Nostalgic Gratitude)

What a rough year. So little free time, so much stress about finances, and so much hinging on my success in this coding certification. Luckily, the course is going good for the most part (I seem to learn by osmosis—even on days I don't pay attention I seem to soak in the knowledge and remember it later), we have WIC, and I just started a D&D group with my wife, my brother, and his wife. A weekly group! I couldn't be happier. Having something like that to look forward to each Wednesday night is a real buzz. Maybe I'll summarize their adventures on the blog every few weeks. It could be a fun thing to showcase, since I'm going to be doing a lot of worldbuilding for it.

Anyway, today I want to just dig up a few old projects from my past to showcase them for you. I found them while looking through old tablet boxes at my parents' house, and I gotta tell ya, those blasts from the past feel real nice. Honestly, one of the things that just keeps me going in life is seeing all the stuff I came up with as a kid. It gives me hope of having continual creativity in years to come.

Anyway, let's just get started or I'll never get around to actually finishing this post:

Mini-Project 1: Fatachu Pokémon Card


Truthfully, this barely even counts as a project, but it was funny to find and I remember it was a huge hit at my... let's see, junior high school by the look of my handwriting. I thought it was middle school since that's when Pokémon cards were big, but back then I wrote in all capitals. Regardless, my friends and even acquaintances all thought it was hilarious.

I looked real close at a Pokémon card of my own or my brother's and, as I am wont to do, I copied it very carefully and adapted it as my own. I doubt the attacks are balanced for cost, since I've never actually played a game of Pokémon cards in my life, but I do know Tackle doesn't normally paralyze, so I thought that was hilarious. The length and weight is an odd combination, obviously just made up on the spot, but it's actually really close to real sumo wrestler weights and heights, so that's kind of funny in retrospect.

Anyway, I wish there was more to say so that this text would fit on the side of the card without having to start a new section next to it, but that's about it. Fat Pokémon were a hit on the young teenage years comedy scale.



Mini-Project 2: Native American Quest

This is kind of a funny one. So, in Mr. Clifford's eighth grade history class, we were learning about Native American culture, and my friend Robert and I were paired up as a group for a project. I'm not quite sure who thought of it, but one of us decided it could be fun to have a sort of collaborative edutainment roleplaying puzzle map game activity session, where we would have the map (shown below) that the class could roleplay their way through in order to guide the main character through a Native American setting in order to figure out the way to... get to the end and... win? I guess?
The problem was (in retrospect), there was absolutely nothing at all Native American about it except for the setting, which was extremely loose. I mean, you can see tepees on the map and stuff, but I remember Robert creating encounters with finding an abandoned shield and other items that may be strictly fantasy Europe based. Oh, ha ha, I just noticed there's even an indicator for hit points in the corner. How cute.

Anyway, I think we got a good score on the project, but I just remember some people in the class just being flabbergasted at how geeky and pointless this was for them. And if I remember right (based on the Warcraft 3 adaptation of this game I made), there was a freaking cannon in the cave on the map that you had to secure to win somehow. Anyway, good times, weird memories.

Mini-Project 3: Dragon Cards

The dragons themselves that these cards are based on are more of a project than these cards are, since I had a tablet and even a WordPerfect story full of all the different types of dragons and even the types they could merge into written up. They were basically Pokémon, except dragons, which I was obsessed with in Sixth and Seventh grade (notice the all caps writing. Definitely from that era). There were dragons for all four elements, plus light and shadow dragons and psychic and "physical" dragons. They could all merge together into everything from sun dragons (fire + light) and ice dragons (water + air) to moon dragons (light + shadow) and mud dragons (water + earth). Given that card on the left of that sentient puddle, I'm guessing the dragons' early forms were elementals, and then they "evolved."

The attacks themselves look pretty dumb indeed... Some kind of "dragon tokens" you used to power your attacks like in Pokémon, but as I said earlier, I didn't know how that works. I'm guessing you'd be pretty hard pressed to be holding eleven tokens in your hand to power Meteour [sic] Attack. And 64 damage? That means a meteor wouldn't even be enough to kill a water dragon, as seen by its hit points. I dunno, my Battle Cards had a lot more promise than these things. And I wasn't expecting to talk so much about Pokémon in this entry.

Mini-Project 4: Teasy Wars

Have I seriously never talked about teasies on this blog? I should sometime. My brother and I invented them as little cartoon characters and we drew them all the time. They mined with little pickaxes, subsisted on mashed potatoes, and domesticated other tiny creatures. They were also really inventive, coming up with all kinds of interesting vehicles to pilot and cause mischief with.

This page is a colored remaster of an older version of this prospective game that I made somewhat earlier, but the premise was the same: Essentially, it was my own version of a strategy game, which I've always loved (and really miss currently! Is it just StarCraft 2 now and nothing else forever?). I used this project to compile all the ideas surrounding teasies I could "mine" from old drawings. The first teasy drawings were from long ago... I'd say when I was at most six or seven. When I was in junior high or so, I used those old drawings as creative resources for inspiration on how teasy culture might really be in a strategy sense. I'm particularly proud of the vehicles, because I could (eventually) find each and every one of those in an ancient childhood tablet somewhere, and you can tell I didn't make them up in my later years because of how lame they are: "Pow Planes" were so named because of the sound they made when they blasted something, and "BlastCO" is my attempt to vaguify what was, apparently, a device made by an actual industry devoted to blasting things. In other words, "Blast Company" (I think there was a (TM) symbol after it even). I think I made up TITAN, though, because that page didn't have a name for the giant teasy with a glass bubble for an eye that an actual teasy would pilot like a mech.

Resources

First off, there were a lot of resources the teasies would use in this game.
  • Potatoes were for the creation of teasy troops, and you can see the square icon representing this on the units' cost because they stored potatoes in drums or cans that they buried in caches in the ground.
  • Coconuts were rare and expensive delicacies, so the more "noble" or educated troops like pilots, barbarians, and priests needed those to be created.
  • Fish were fed to domesticated beasts.
  • Minerals were smelted down and forged into metal vehicles.
  • Grass was burned for fuel, but it seems to only be used for flying units. So maybe it was required to keep them airborne? I remember grass was also used as fuel to process raw potatoes into mashed potatoes, too.
  • Precious Stones were essentially just rare components that were needed to finance higher-tier buildings and units.
  • Prisoners/slaves were "harvested" by barbarians raiding enemy settlements, and transformed into Mamelukes (I got the word from Age of Empires II, which in the manual explained that they were slaves trained as warriors. It turns out "mameluke" or "mamluk" actually means slave, so I actually dodged a bullet with borrowing words there). The white counterparts to teasies were called "sibleys." There were also malformed, large white teasies with black eyes and white irises called "cobcows," which are really obscure and only mentioned once in my tablets, but I didn't decide to include them in the game.
  • Corpses were used to make necromantic Skull Warriors and Sky Eyes, and they were animated using the final resource, Coin Power.
  • Coin Power was also used to perform miracles or spells and to summon the ultimate warrior, the Teasy Angelic.
Coin power is a bit odd, because it comes from a single reference to an orange "teasy coin," which is apparently "any teasy's greatest possession." So I decided to make it have religious significance. In my mind, it was so cool: basically, you had a coin on a pedestal just sitting there flat, and then you'd click your priest and right click the coin, and he'd go over there and start chanting and waving his cane, and the coin would float into the air vertically and revolve slowly in place, radiating orange energy into the priest and adding to the value of how much you had. I'm sure that was currency for how much you could heal as well, probably.

Units

The units themselves pretty much all have significant origins in tablet lore, and even the different teasies themselves have interesting differences if you notice.
  • The worker has a small mining pick-like growth on his neck because, like ants, teasies are marked from birth as to what their duty in the community is.
  • I'm not so sure that farmers have a strong place in teasy lore... I seem to have gone somewhat "Age of Mythology dwarf vs. worker" on it. Perhaps I just wanted to showcase a teasy with buck teeth, which sometimes existed in older tablets.
  • Priests represent the "old man" figures found in a lot of old tablets. I think his single-lensed glasses, er, 'glass' is pretty funny. And is that a turban on his head? Oh, and it looks like he did have a specific spell that used Coin Power. The only problem is, AP could stand for either "attack points" or "armor points," and DP could be either "defense points" or "damage points." So it could literally either help defend at the cost of strength or vice versa.
  • I like the idea of pilots, which I wouldn't be surprised if they were inspired by the civilians on Starcraft that can operate battlecruisers on one of the levels. A lone pilot could operate a jet, Pow Plane, or TITAN, but it took three to operate a BlastCO.
  • Barbarians (and the Angelic) have tails, which is symbolic of strength. They are the ones that can knock out enemy sibleys and take them back to change into slaves. I do find it a bit odd that the sibley Mameluke doesn't have a tail, but maybe it's an enslaved worker or heck, maybe they cut off the enemy's tail once they capture them as a form of subjugation. That actually sounds reasonable.
  • Brick spiders, or as I think they would've been cooler called, "spider riders," are based on a crablike "brick spider" that I drew in one of my childhood drawings that was named because I used a "brick red" crayon. I think they had some kind of venom-spitting gland in the back, which is perhaps how the teasy riding it can dip its spear thingy to stay venomous.
  • I kid you not, I named that bird a kapow because it dived like a falcon and probably made that sound when it struck. Man, names were not my strong suit back then. I was probably inspired by phoenixes in its art, and its rider has a very similar helmet to the Warcraft III wind riders, which it's doubtless based on.
  • Hhhhh.... Let me explain what this unit is and then you'll understand why it's called a "yow." It's a dirt-brown porcupine-like creature with grasslike green spines on its back that likes to burrow into the ground, and is a hazard to be stepped on. Basically like a mobile mine. Almost certainly inspired by the sentinel units on the computer game Dark Colony, who also burrowed before they were useful.
  • Beastmasters aren't from anything at all. It's a ripoff of kodo beasts from Warcraft III. Shame on you, teen-Aust. That beast it's riding has no basis in all the lore of the planet Surtiss!
  • A lot of my ancient drawings had passing drawings of a pilot in a little jet plane wearing a flapping scarf and goggles just flying over the scene I had doodled.
  • I already explained Pow Planes and TITANs, sort of. As for the BlastCO, I remember having a fun idea that one of the pilots would push the vehicle from behind, and the other two would operate it. Judging by its original drawing, it would fire bright blue pulses of energy out of its cannons as the two (or three, I suppose) pilots pulled belfry ropes to fire them.
  • Skull warriors and sky eyes also have no basis in teasy lore, but I'll excuse it, because I genuinely wants to know sort of what teasy anatomy and skeletal structure would be like. I imagine that (possibly on a thinner scale), the skull warrior is pretty good attempt at depicting such a simple creature's skeleton. And the sky eye? Pretty much just a straight up Eye of Kilrogg.
  • Mamelukes are so ripped off from Age of Empires II. Not just in their name, but in their fighting style. The mamelukes on the game throw scimitars to fight, and it looks like this is an exact copy of that—it's even dressed like a Saracen. The only thing it's missing is a camel to ride.
  • The Teasy Angelic was a pretty cool image in my mind. In my head I imagined it descending from the sky during a desperate battle with sibleys at just the right moment, invoked by priests. Perhaps you needed multiple priests to summon it. I think I'd knock off the precious stone cost for it and just say that one of the victory conditions of the game was to amass enough Coin Power to summon one and win. Anyhow, it would descend, and slowly stomp along the ground killing enemy sibleys, and then it would aim its two-handed staff and fire beams of sunlight that would eradicate enemies in a single shot. It would feel like a cheat code, because if you spent that much time collecting five hundred Coin Power, it should be worth it. Three minutes is actually quite a duration if you think about it. But if it moves slowly, I don't know.
It's always a pleasure to look back on the past. I don't know why, but I've been nostalgic lately. It seems like my nostalgic personality has taken a back seat in the past few years. I'm not sure why. I guess one factor is that time seems to be accelerating constantly. The days fly by, even though they're long ones of full-time work and three hours of school each morning. It's already almost summer, for heaven's sake. The holidays fly by, each Christmas that comes feels almost like just a Saturday. It's like years are the new week for me as an adult.

That's partially a good thing—I don't get as sad leaving my parents' house after a vacation because I know that I'll be there again really soon. I'm also just filled with gratitude constantly, which is a blessing. I feel like I personally have experienced so much good and happiness even in the 29 years I've been on earth. I hope this isn't prophetic, but if I died on the way home from work after publishing this article, in a personal sense I would be satisfied. I've experienced so much that there is to life: a loving family, a fun-filled and engaging childhood, love, parenthood, religious enlightenment, satisfaction of progress, laughter, fun, excitement, fulfillment, and joy in the small things of life.

I've written and published a finished book. I've made over 100 color comic strips. I've started and found joy in scores of projects. I've DMed games of D&D. I've watched the entire series of Critical Role one and a half times. I was alive to watch the Homestarrunner videos as they came out, and I got to see the Warcraft movie in theaters. I was a 90s kid who got to watch Saturday morning cartoons. I got to go to Brazil for two years and learn to speak Portuguese fluently. I've gotten to try so many delicious foods and experience so many fun places. I've heard so many beautiful and stimulating forms of music. I've ridden roller coasters, gone down water slides, hiked and camped in the mountains, made love, gone to college, flown in airplanes, gone water skiing, known and lost children and grandparents, and learned to code.

Sure, I get down sometimes, and I've got a bucket list of things to do, like see Stonehenge in person and go to Medieval Times someday, but I can't believe how many things I've done that so many people throughout history, and even in the world today, will never get to do. Sure, I hate the 2010s and miss the 90s and 2000s, but who cares if the future doesn't look bright if you've already had a wonderfully bright past?

I definitely wasn't expecting to do this on this particular blog post (added to the title: "and a surge of unexpected nostalgic gratitude"), but I just want to gratefully thank God for my past, my present, and my future. Any person in the world would be lucky to have experienced half of the things I have in my 29 years.

Thanks for reading my blog! And in case I do die on the way home from writing this, I want this song to be played at my funeral.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Knight Guy 5e


Hey, I just for kicks and giggles felt like adapting Knight Guy to D&D 5e. I tend to resort to spending free time adding to my D&D 5e Tables project, and after I finally resumed Knight Guy, this was a natural consequence. I may add to this in the future.

Humdring
Weapon (longsword), very rare

This +1 longsword automatically attunes to you the moment you speak directly to it after killing a creature with it. It does not count against the other items you are attuned to, and you cannot break the attunement unless Humdring wills it or unless you cast a greater restoration or remove curse spell on it.
While you are attuned to it, the sword acts as a +2 longsword. On a critical hit, the target's AC is reduced by -2 until the end of your next turn, and its damage resistances (if any) are suppressed for this duration. Against evil or chaotic creatures (who are clearly acting in accordance with their alignment), you can choose to make a rune attack with Humdring. You make the attack with advantage, and on a hit, the target takes an additional 3d10 force damage. Humdring regains the ability to do this again daily at dawn. During this time, Humdring falls asleep.
Humdring is a sentient weapon of lawful neutral alignment. It can speak, understand, and read all languages and has hearing and darkvision out to 120 feet. It has 16 Charisma, 18 Intelligence, and 12 Wisdom. Humdring is convinced that he is a hero's sword, and demands to be treated as such, being placed in a heroic scabbard, presented and worn proudly, and wielded by someone courageous who seeks to kill evildoers and protect the weak. While you are attuned to Humdring, it can communicate telepathically with you as long as you are on the same plane of existence, and it can hear your spoken words.

Pyrestone
Wondrous item, uncommon

This tool is used by blacksmiths to mend metal and protect themselves against errant flames, and resembles a ring with two loops in it. While wearing the pyrestone on your middle and ring fingers, you can cast the control flames cantrip, as well as the mending cantrip (but only on metal objects). When you would take fire damage, you can use your reaction to absorb the damage, taking no damage and instead storing it in the pyrestone. This power stays in the pyrestone until the end of your next turn, after which it disappears. Until it disappears, you can use your action to blast a target within 10 feet of you with a jet of the stored flame. The target must make a Dexterity saving throw (the DC is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Dexterity modifier), taking up to the damage stored on a failure, or half as much on a success. If the pyrestone ever stores more than 50 fire damage at one time, is submerged in lava, or contains more than 50 damage at the start of your turn, it explodes, dealing 10d10 fire damage to you and every creature within 10 feet of you (other creatures can make a Dexterity saving throw for half damage).























Character Stats

  • Corlis: Level 2 fighter, proficiency with farmer's tools. Folk hero background.
  • Attikos: Level 2 Forge Domain cleric, proficiency with smith's tools and cook's utensils. Guild artisan background.
  • Salleigh: Level 3 ranger (hunter). Outlander background.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Adventures in Coding

Well, I've made it through 1/4 of my web development and coding course this year. Two more quarters to go, and then I have an externship at the company who started the program and where my instructors are from for the rest of the year. As usual, time goes by at a breakneck speed no matter what because I'm an adult, but I'll be honest—the hours of the day crawl by agonizingly.

I'm working full-time while going to school, and many days school is boring or we do reviews for the students who are behind, which makes driving 20 minutes at 7:00 in the morning seem like a waste of time. Even worse, though, is my job. For the past couple of months, we've had next to no work to do. Our team is overstaffed, and several of our clients have simply dropped off for some reason I don't care enough to find out (I just work here. I'm no SEO or business enthusiast). So many times I come into work and am done with all my duties after as little as an hour and a half, and then I have to look busy for the remaining 6 or 7 hours till 7:00 pm.

Thank goodness for D&D, both in playing form (we play during our lunch hour every Monday—totally worth the one less hour of paid work per week) and in watching/listening form through Critical Role (I love Mondays), or else I would go insane. But I still ride the line of craziness most of the week when I get tired of fantasizing about playing a group with my siblings again and investing in worldbuilding for a future game to an unhealthy amount. There's such thing as "entertaining yourself to death." This may be the most first-world-problematic thing I've ever said, but I hate coming home from work and not feeling like watching YouTube videos or shows because I've already done that all day and the experience has been cheapened.

And yet, that is why I'm in this situation. I'm sick of my job, I hate working in SEO and editing, and I so very bitterly crave a satisfying career. So I'm learning languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in hopes that they can get me a job that, even at an entry level, will double my salary.

And now for the positive part: I do really love coding! My instructors aren't the sharpest teachers, but that's mainly because they're professional coders, so they know best how to just sort of emanate expertise and hope we can follow along. But the coding itself is fun, I love the problem-solving aspect of it and the vastness of possibility in terms of what I could possibly make now, and I really enjoy the thrill of debugging! Whenever I figure out a particularly troublesome bug, I hear this music in my head. :D

My brother who is a CS major has helped me out quite a bit to wrap my head around the logic involved in JavaScript, and the best way for me to do that is to make it as geeky as possible! If you're into coding, this may demonstrate my method of thinking:

let deathKnight = new Class(Arthas,

Anyway, another thing I've been able to have fun with is making my own programs. D&D-related, of course, and once I perfect them, they'll likely be really useful for worldbuilding in future campaigns (as I said, an unhealthy amount). So here they are if you're interested in using them. Just don't spread the word too much, since I'm technically using information found in a purchased book, so it may not be strictly lawful good, if you know what I mean:

Character Generator


This generator is pretty rough, especially in the CSS sense. I have a lot of visual/UI polishing to do. But it currently does its primary job—that of generating a random race, class, and name—perfectly! You can even fill in fields that you don't want to be random and then randomize it till you get a result you like. You can also edit the text yourself if you want to tweak it.

Eventually I hope to get to the point where you can generate all kinds of different aspects of the character's story, and possibly even click a button to save the entire sheet as a PDF or something. I've gotten a bit discouraged with the coding on this one, mainly because there are SO many random tables I have to make and nest, but feel free to use it in its current state and check it for updates periodically.

Place/Landmark Generator


This one is a lot more solid. I really like how it turned out. Basically, you choose however many "moods" you want the generator to choose from, a biome or terrain type where the place is located, and whether or not you want it to generate a specific landmark or just the name of a region or town. I personally am really proud of how well I nailed the compound words that fit together. Almost every single time you press the button, it comes up with something that sounds evocative and fantastic. I took some inspiration from World of Warcraft, but the names sound a lot like what Matthew Mercer comes up with for his world of Exandria as well. Check these generated names out:
  • Ravenleaf Summit
  • Graysbrad Vineyards
  • Gloomdale Wilderness
  • Shimmerburn Dike
  • Grayflake Forest
  • Banebank Isle
  • Dawnburble Wetlands
  • Chainbush Gardens
If nothing else, this can serve as a great way to get inspiration for a fantasy map you're creating, especially if you're trying to deck out a region with landmarks, dungeons, or other places of interest. I may add some more functionality to this in the future as well; for example, adding the option to have shorter names or names that are more vague (which is sometimes more evocative), like "The Ghostburrows" or something. And I may add more word components as well. But for the most part, it's a solid tool that I'm proud to call my own!

I made a goal to update this blog at least twice a month. There's a lot I want to talk about and have kept putting off for months and years, and I want to show Pretzel Lectern some more love. And heaven knows I need something productive to do here at work!

I'll write again soon!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Inkarnate Argaenothruzil Map

I've been looking into all the D&D dungeon-mastering resources I can find (and brainstorming ideas for custom ones I could make someday) lately, and came across this nifty map making program Inkarnate. Naturally, I decided to adapt Argaenothruzil to it. I think it turned out great, though their workspace is extremely small... I ended up having to warp the map considerably and not even have enough room for the word 'Argaenothruzil' at the top or anything like that. The pro version apparently lets you make enormous maps. If I ever get enough money for a subscription, who knows? I may look into that.




Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Year Off

I'm tired. I'm tired of making so many projects that no one sees, and tired of having no time to work on the things that people do care about, like Knight Guy and the Warcraft 3 Easter Eggs series. And with me starting one last school degree this year to get certified in web development and coding, all while working full time, I've decided to take a year off from formal projects.

Will I still work on projects if I get excited about one? Sure! Will I still update this blog? Absolutely. In fact, the blog is one of the things I want to work on more, since I feel like I've neglected it for talking about things like nostalgia and relic projects—something I used to do and miss now.

I also just want to read more. I haven't red* anything long and engaging for years, now. I want to go back to old classics that I used to read as a kid, like Hatchet, Castle in the Attic, and The Seven Songs of Merlin, and look into new interesting series that I've wanted to try for a long time like Redwall. And I don't want to read them as audiobooks. I want to actually sit down with a good book and flip the pages and use a bookmark. I feel like a part of me from the past is missing, and this just feels like a way for me to bring it back.

I've also cut Facebook out of my life for the year! Or possibly forever. It's such a stupid waste of time.

Anyway, while I'm here, I thought I may as well showcase one more project I've been working on. It's basically just some "realism" homebrew rules for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. If you're interested, here are the links to two sets of them you might find fun for your own games:

Optional Realism Rules
Pregnancy Rules

I may update and fine-tune them from time to time, so feel free to check back on them and leave comments about them.

Anyway, here's to one more year of educational drudgery, in hopes of a career that will actually sustain my family and give me free time to work on stuff I care about!

_______
*Yes, I spelled it like "red." The past tense of "lead" is "led," so why isn't "read" the same way?! It's super hard to tell which it is since you have to rely on freaking context! I have an English language and editing degree. I reserve the right to use logic in place of what I know to be prescripted as the correct way.

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Christmas Carol Reading

A year ago, I made this audiobook reading for my mom as a Christmas present. It was a lot of fun to do a full-length project like this from start to finish. I learned a lot about what voice actors and audiobook performers have to go through, as well as how much the editing process plays a part in audio. It took me two days to record the 116-page novella, at a total of probably 6 or 7 hours of recording time (my voice was rather tired). After that, it was another 6 hours of editing as I listened to the entire thing and cut out all my mistakes, moments of dead air, etc. Finally, I had to listen to the whole thing over again, which ended up shortening to just about 2½ hours. Quite a bit of work for such a short production!

Still, I had a lot of fun, and the production turned out pretty nice overall. I had some fun with making the voices of three of the ghosts different, and someday it'd be fun to add background music and noises, á la Graphic Audio, but I dunno if that'll happen. Either way, I'll be listening to this production every year for sure!

To preserve the value of the recording as a gift, I waited a year to post it. But here it is for everyone! Merry Christmas!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to Lose 40 Pounds in 10 Months, and Keep It Off Forever


I never really was one to worry about my weight. I was always a pretty average-sized kid, and when I was a teenager, I ate all I wanted and my body never changed. But after getting married, the pounds slowly started packing on. I didn't really think much of it. I felt fine and took pride in my love of all foods and willingness to lick my plate clean with every meal so nothing was wasted. Besides, all my weight seemed to just go to my gut. I didn't really "look" fat at a glance. But once I hit 210 pounds, I decided it was time to lose some weight. Fast forward to today, nine months later, and I'm 40 pounds lighter! Let me tell you the keys to my incredibly successful weight loss story and you may find something that works for you.

1. It's all about the calories—not working out


That "before" picture was actually taken a bit earlier than when my weight loss journey this year started. I took it because I decided I was going to start going to the gym each morning before work. I began a discounted gym membership with my work and went and worked out each morning. I lifted weights one day and then ran on the eliptical every other day. After working out, I'd come back home ravenous and reward myself with a huge breakfast. I told myself all the while that I would lose weight from turning fat into muscle, and that at the end of the summer I'd be fit and back to a healthy weight.

It didn't work. I got a little bit stronger (for the first time in my life someone asked me "Have you been working out?"), but I weighed the same and still had my paunch. Eventually I gave up, mostly because I didn't feel like I fit in at the gym, but mostly because it just didn't seem to be making a big difference. Then my dad showed me the app LoseIt. I started counting my calories every day with a calorie budget, subtracting calories that I lost from exercising (all built in the app), and the results were immediate, significant, and satisfying.

I learned from experience that dieting is for your weight. Working out is for your shape. And the best part was, I didn't need to cut anything out of my diet. Just eat less of it. I could never stick to a routine where I couldn't eat my favorite foods ever again, or where I had to exercise a ton every day just to stay the same weight. One day I'd slip up, and that'd be the end of it. I'd just get right back to my old routines.

2. Smart eating


Using LoseIt, I learned a lot about how much I really needed to eat to get full, and eventually it even became a game to me, seeing how few calories I could consume each day while still feeling healthy. Turns out, we eat a lot more than we really need to. And on top of all that, I learned about which foods were calorie-rich and not worth eating. I've since cut a lot of cheese, dairy, and carbs out of my diet, and it's helped me make good habits that will help me keep my weight off. Forever. Did I ever splurge? Sure, I ate at Chuck-A-Rama with my wife once and gained 4 pounds in one day, but the next day I skipped breakfast, ate a salad for lunch, and drank lots of cleansing lemon water and was back on track the next day.

One trick I learned to stay full around lunch time is to eat two mini-lunches instead of one big one. If you eat half of your lunch at 11:30 and the other half at 1:30, you stay full for a bigger part of the afternoon, and eliminate time that you usually spend snacking. Losing weight is all about covering all your weight-loss bases, whether that be eliminating bad habits, planning ahead for different situations, and so forth.

3. Slow and steady


Everyone wants to lose weight immediately. Everyone wants to be instantly and eternally skinny or fit. But the fact is, your body likes being fat. It's still got its caveman tendencies of "I don't know when my next meal will be, so better stock up!", so it'll turn against you time and time again unless y
ou take it slow. When I stuck to a calorie budget over the period of 9 or 10 months, my body slowly adapted to me eating less, trusting me and forming a new base weight where it could enjoy homeostasis. So many diets make you lose a ton at once, which your body is fine with because it just thinks you're going through a food famine. But as soon as you make one mistake, you blow up like a balloon and are back at square one. I got to my goal weight of 170, and it's been easy as pie for me to stay at or around that weight, even if I'm eating pie. As long as you weigh yourself every morning and never let yourself get more than 5 pounds over your goal weight, it's a piece of cake to stay at your goal weight. Even if you eat cake.

That's another thing—weigh yourself every day. For the rest of your life. I've heard some people say they get anxiety or get frustrated when they weigh themselves every day because they get worried when they don't see results, but that's ridiculous. If you don't weigh yourself, you're not being accountable to yourself on a regular basis. Of course you're going to plateau sometimes, but the trick is to look at the long-term. Don't get discouraged if at the 10% mark you haven't lost 10% of your goal weight. Just keep doing the same things day after day, and one day you'll look at yourself in the mirror and see your collarbone again, or you'll have to drill a new hole in your belt, or your pajama pants will start falling down.

Conclusion


Weight loss doesn't have to be impossible or hard. You don't have to accept your heavy body the way it is. If you just commit to a steady, simple calorie budget; weigh yourself every day, and work on changing your habits, your body will do all the work for you in creating a new body for yourself. If you take it slow, it'll trust you more, and you'll find a new baseline for your body to feel comfortable at. It'll make it a lot harder for your body to bounce back to your old ways. The best part of all is that once you're done losing, you're done! Forever! You can splurge more often, eat those desserts you crave, and indulge on the things that other diets say are forbidden. Your habits will ensure that you don't go back to the way you used to eat, and you'll enjoy feeling better on a regular basis, thinner and in control.