Fitness progress

In addition to my normal routine I mixed in a lot of weight training (curls and tricep extensions). I also upped my protein intake a fair amount. While visiting my parents I spent some time in the VR set I bought my mom for Christmas, which is always a surprisingly strenuous workout, and helped my dad throw a cord of wood into the woodshed.

This week’s exhaustion test:

  • Pushups: 82
  • Situps: 70
  • Squats: 46

I wanted to break 80 pushups this week so I’m happy to go over. Situps saw a nice boost too.

I’m kind of disappointed at the change to my squat max but I decided not to push myself too hard. I did manage at least 67 at some point during the week but when the time came to take the test I had to give up early. I’ve probably been punching above my weight for the past couple of weeks and this will put me back at a lower level of the program so I can build up a bit more slowly.

Japanese reading report

This week I mostly focused on the second half of 青春ブタ野郎はハツコイ少女の夢を見ない. Very nice overall and I feel like the series could very well have just ended here. The plot threads have been tied up with no extra teaser at the end; the foreshadowing from vol. 1 has been resolved; everybody happy end. I guess I will say that the means by which the ending was achieved seemed unclear so maybe that’s what the next book will cover. Either way, I do have the next volume in my library already so I’ll probably read it pretty soon. I’m momentarily ahead of schedule on my novels goal for the year but I think it’ll be short-lived.

I only read one (completed) volume of manga this week; 僕のヒーローアカデミア vol. 37. Aside from my first ever experience with furigana on both sides of a word, nothing major to report. The first half of the volume had good energy but it took a sudden turn into a side conflict what feels like it could have been a oneshot spinoff manga rather than something to stick into the middle of the final boss battle. The last scene was a decent cliffhanger I guess. Still enjoying the manga a hell of a lot.

I watched this week’s episode of もののがたり and it’s the same as before. Feeling in the mood for something I could watch on my own during work, I decided to finally revisit Death Parade (watched ep. 1-4). I originally watched the first three episodes with English subtitles ages ago and have been meaning to get back to it for a while now. It’s a classic for a reason.

Aside from ハツコイ少女 (which I listened to while I read the book, 8:34 at full focus), I also listened to 魔女の宅急便 vol. 1 (5:33, medium focus). The biggest thing I guess I have to say about this is how differently it’s paced from the movie. I can only imagine that the first few books are all interwoven together. The writing and dialogue is all easy to understand and pretty fun. Might be a good first novel/audiobook recommendation.

Meals this week

This week’s shopping was pretty minimal. I’m still planning on leaning pretty heavily on the dry and canned goods from last week, plus remaining frozen ingredients that will be carrying me for quite some time. The only thing I really needed to pick up was eggs, and I wanted to restock on green olives since I had run out making fisherman’s eggs last week. I swung by the discount produce shelf and grabbed a cucumber for salad, plus a big package of green beans that I’ll be using as a side dish throughout the week. As a treat, I got a couple of greenhouse tomatoes (for salad and maybe a tomato sandwich or two), plus a bag of mandarins to make up a fruit slot. Finally, I got a bag of coffee beans since I recently ran out. In total, I spent $35; a little more than I had planned on since this is a light week, but it’s really not very much and the unexpected extras will be a nice addition to my meals.

For one reason or another, I still had a few meals’ worth of chickpea curry left from the week before. I might have misjudged just how many meals it actually made. Rather than trying to finish it off early in the week, I decided to use it for one more dinner and then freeze the rest in serving-sized containers. It’ll make things easy in the future if I’m caught without enough time or ingredients to cook, or just give me a chance to add some variety to my lunches here and there.

I’ve decided to make jambalaya for my dinners this week. The original plan was to make some kind of side dish with beans and tomato sauce, but finding the big package of green beans for cheap changed my mind. I’ll be preparing them pretty simply; just blanched with some olive oil, chopped garlic, and red pepper flakes. At $3.41 for the package it’ll be running me about $0.48 per meal; a bit pricey all things considered but the jambalaya will be significantly cheaper to balance it out. The breakdown per serving would be something like:

  • Andouille sausage ($0.71)
  • Brown rice ($0.20)

…and that’s pretty much it. Again I’m leaning pretty heavily on freezer staples, so I’m only counting ingredients that appear on the receipts from my recent shopping trips.

I ended up getting a couple of meals for free due to my parents being in town for a few days (a nice dinner out at an Indian restaurant) and my sister making meatballs for dinner one night, both of which led to some of my prepared food being left over. As with last week, I’ll be freezing it into individual servings so I can fill in gaps in the future.

For breakfasts, we’re sticking with oatmeal. About half of the days I went with a huevos rancheros-inspired dish with baked black beans ($0.18 per serving, plus the cost of two eggs and one serving of oatmeal of course) and pickled red onions. The rest was a simple combo of brown sugar and greek yogurt.

As much as I’d love to eat fisherman’s eggs every day, mercury intake is an important consideration. I only ate it on Thursday (my biggest workout day of the week), using three eggs to make up for a missed day.

Fitness progress

This past week was my first week home after my recent trip to Japan, during which time I did no exercise at all (aside from walking around for a significant portion of each day). On Wednesday, after my sleep schedule had more or less stabilized and I felt basically recovered from the travel, I did a quick exhaustion test to find targets for my three exercise types, and these were my results:

  • Pushups: 48
  • Situps: 35
  • Squats: 40

It’s a pretty sad downgrade from my previous best, but not awful, all things considered. I ended up having only two proper workout days this week, but even so my numbers have improved:

  • Pushups: 79
  • Situps : 56
  • Squats: 64

New records across the board! Squats continue to see the slowest progress but I feel very good about the +11 to my max pushups.

With these numbers, I’ll be on week 5 of the program for both situps and squats, and week 6 for pushups (repeating until I reach one set of 100). Both pushups and squats will have me in the highest difficulty slot, and for situps I’ll be in the middle.

Japanese reading report

It feels like I didn’t get much done this week but I guess I forgot all the manga I read on the plane on the way home from Japan. Gonna try to make this a quick report because I’m still not totally readjusted to the timezone and I’m pretty tired.

殺し愛 vol. 4-5, pretty good. I bought the next three volumes to see what happens. The story is getting pretty interesting and it’s making me wonder if it’s all been planned as a single story and not a continual series. チェンソーマン vol. 12-13, not quite as strong as the latter half of part 1 but that’s probably to be expected. A good mix of heart and humor like normal. 古見さん vol. 27-28, not bad. The amogus arc was surprisingly entertaining and I like seeing 阿瀬 living her best life. Finally, トニカクカワイイ vol. 22, wrapping up the backstory arc in an interesting way that tied a few threads together. Hopefully the next volume will show some real development in the present day.

For anime I caught up on もののがたり (ep. 4-5) and it was alright. If it wasn’t a current-season show I probably would have dropped it by now but it’s easy to manage one episode per week. I feel like they’re going for a 呪術廻戦 thing and just not really capturing what makes it good. Buddy Daddies (4-6) was as good as ever, trying to get みり into daycare and help her make friends with the other kids. シュガーアップル・フェアリーテイル seems to have finished one arc and moved on to the next. Still quite good and it struck me how unusual and refreshing it is for a “hobby”-focused fantasy series to not be an isekai. Finally, caught up on 僕のヒーローアカデミア and I feel like it’s finally reached a point where it’s worth watching. Every episode this season so far felt like kind of a waste of time considering I’d already read the manga.

Finished ドーン・トレッダー号の航 (8:54, med-high focus). I remember being struck by the choice to translate “sweet water” as 真水. It’s a choice which isn’t necessarily obvious; I know when I first read the story as a kid I definitely thought of “sweet” in the sugar sense.

Finally, I read about half of 青春ブタ野郎はハツコイ少女の夢を見ない. Vol. 7 in the series, and the final arc that has been adapted (as the second half of the movie, which I haven’t actually seen). I can definitely see why this and the previous book were adapted together as one film. The themes of self-sacrifice and self-centeredness are still present but from a different perspective. It’s interesting seeing two different takes on the same core emotion (wanting the people you love to be happy, even if it means causing grief for yourself). I’ll probably be finishing this next week and I’m excited to see what comes next.

Meals this week

Right after I made my first post in this category, I went off to the store to get a batch of groceries to set things in motion. The total came out to just over $67, which is slightly over my ideal weekly budget ($3 per meal x 3 meals per day x 7 days = $63). However, this also included a big bag of brown rice which will probably last me the rest of the month, as well a bunch of canned goods that I’ll be using across the next couple of weeks. I could have held off on buying them but I figured I might as well save a trip if possible.

This shopping trip also didn’t include much in the way of fresh vegetables. I did buy a cabbage and carrots to make salad with, but I do have a decent stock of frozen veggies to work with already, plus some onions and potatoes remaining in the pantry. These kinds of irregularities will stabilize over the weeks of course, but the goal isn’t to hit some magical number, just to be efficient and frugal, and using what you’ve got is a key.

My first big meal this week was a butter-chicken-inspired chickpea and turkey curry. I basically winged the recipe but I had previously made a similar by Adam Ragusea so I had a rough idea of what to go for. Eyeballing it, I probably made about six servings. Not including the spices and vegetables I had on hand at home, the price breakdown per serving is something like:

  • Canned chickpeas ($0.41)
  • Canned tomato ($0.20)
  • Ground turkey ($0.46)
  • Brown rice ($0.10)
  • Greek yogurt ($0.20)

$1.37 per meal for the rest of the week, for a total of $8.22 for all my dinners. Not bad at all.

I ate oatmeal for breakfast throughout the week (I bought a container of quick oats that seems to be listed wrong on my receipt, but the result will be that I get 30 meals for about $0.07 each). I don’t like to eat sweets very often so oatmeal has never been a very appealing choice, but I suddenly remembered Oat Shop, a restaurant near me that had a wide variety of savory oatmeal on the menu (now sadly closed). I fried myself a couple of eggs ($0.33 each), mixed some soy sauce and vinegar with my oats, gave it a dash of hot sauce and away we went. The next day I was feeling like something sweet and mixed in a spoonful each of greek yogurt and brown sugar. The standout of the week was pretty decadent, with some goat cheese mixed into the oatmeal and fried eggs and some bulgogi beef from the freezer on top.

For lunches, I made stir-fry with vegetables and meat I had cluttering up the freezer, along with some cajun red beans I had previously made and frozen in individual portions. My lunch today was fisherman’s eggs, featuring one full can of tuna and two eggs for a total of about $1.91 and a major chunk of my protein for the day, doubling up on eggs because I forgot to eat them yesterday. Dinner will also have a nice cabbage salad on the side.

Next week I’ll still have some of my chickpea curry left over for dinners and I’ll still be working my way through freezer stuff. Haven’t decided what to prep for dinners but I probably won’t have to go shopping at all.

Meals this week (kickoff)

Back when I lived in my apartment in New Hampshire, I had a pretty good mealprep routine going. My income wasn’t great but I also had very few expenses, and I was able to save up quite a lot of money just by limiting my spending, and eating cheaply was a major player. Forgetting to cook for myself often meant eating at the diner across the street, where I could easily blow two hours’ wage on a single meal that was less tasty and much less healthy than what I could make myself.

Since leaving my last job and starting a new one where I can work from home, it’s never been easier to have full control over my meals, but I haven’t made an effort to get back into that habit. I still find myself forgetting to cook and ordering delivery instead (which costs even more than I would ever spend across the street from work).

Having just returned from Japan and with several other trips on the horizon, it feels like a good time to get myself back on track. I’m going to try blogging about what I eat each week, including approximate costs per meal. My goal will be to spend no more than $3 per meal on average, but without sacrificing on flavor or nutrition. I’ve also been trying to gain weight and build muscle lately, which means that high protein is important.

Broadly speaking, my plan looks something like this:

  • Rice. Lots of rice. I’ll be picking up a big bag of brown rice right at the beginning, which will probably account for a big chunk of this week’s budget, but which will carry across multiple weeks in the future.
  • Beans and other similar vegetables will probably account for a large portion of my dinners. I’ll be leaning towards stuff like taco bowls, curried chickpeas, lentil daal, and cajun red beans. If I was trying to go ultra-cheap, I could be buying these dry, but I’ll probably be sticking with cans most of the time.
  • Most of my vegetables will probably be frozen. I might buy some of them fresh (bell peppers for example) and freeze them myself, but in general I want to limit my trips to the store and make sure I always have ingredients on hand without worrying about spoilage. Stuff like onions that get used quickly will be bought fresh, along with hard vegetables that can stay in the fridge for a while. For salads, I’ll mainly be using cabbage since it’s cheaper and heartier than lettuce.
  • Eggs are on the expensive side but they’re good enough that I’ll allow them. I’m going to aim to eat a dozen eggs every week. These will likely be fried for breakfast or boiled for egg salad.
  • Lean meats like ground turkey and canned tuna will be my main protein drivers. I’ll probably supplement with ground beef on some weeks where my other expenses are low. I’ll likely prepare these as soboro or dry curry most of the time.

I don’t plan to prep for the entire week on one day, but ideally most of my meals will be at least partially pre-prepared. Finally, I’m going to dramatically cut back on how much I spend on eating out, and swear off delivery entirely.

It’ll probably take some getting used to but I’m a believer in using periods of motivation to supercharge strong habits. Let’s see how this goes.

Fitness progress (kickoff)

For the past two months I’ve been slowly bringing myself back into a habit of daily exercise, mostly in an effort to keep my body from falling apart. This has involved a series of targeted workout routines (for pushups, situps, and squats), along with ad-hoc moves like shrugs, curls and tricep extensions.

I figured it would be fun to keep track of this stuff in public, so here we are. Going forward I’ll be doing my exhaustion tests on Saturdays and posting about them here on Sundays to drive the next week of exercise.

Exhaustion test results as of this week:

  • Pushups: 68
  • Situps: 52
  • Squats: 62

My diet will be changing in the coming weeks but so far I’ve been aiming for three eggs per day, plus a Huel shake for lunch if I don’t have anything else planned. I’ve also been trying to eat breakfast more consistently.

Japanese reading report

I’ve been in Japan all this week and my report is a bit of a mess because of it. Some of what I read is technically from last week while I was on my flight, and my daily reading throughout the week was pretty sparse. I did ultimately get a decent amount of reading in all things considered.

First up, manga: 東京卍リベンジャーズ vol. 31, 僕が死ぬだけの百物語 vol. 5, 殺し愛 vol. 1-3. I can see why people didn’t like the 東マン ending but I thought it was alright. Considering how popular the series is I can’t imagine it was cancelled so I am curious why it all had to wrap up in just one volume. 百物語 is still pretty good, though I wish it would pull a paradigm shift and focus more on the meta-narrative around the boy who’s telling the stories. 殺し愛 is very light reading, lots of pages with no dialogue at all. The main guy is a pest but in kind of a funny way. There’s an indian guy who uses only kanji/katakana and says things like 見ロクダサーイ and he is rather grating.

I also read よつばとしろとくろのどうぶつ; a secret addition to the yotsuba canon. It’s 30 pages long and each page has one animal name. Highly educational.

I watched a movie (in the theater) called グッドバイ・バッド・マガジンズ, which was about an image-change campaign by the four big convenience stores around the time of the Japanese olympics, where they stopped selling erotic magazines in an effort to appeal to tourists’ sensibilities. It’s the first live-action movie I’ve seen in a while and it’s amazing how much of a difference there is from anime in terms of speech clarity. The movie itself was fairly interesting as a peek inside the day-to-day of a small business.

Finally, I spent some time on two different nights watching variety TV; one for adults and one for children. Learned about ゴンズイ and other poisonous fish, heard some opinions on why Japanese has three writing systems and the worst parts of visiting the country. Kids’ TV is pretty funny. I have a frame of reference for うらみちお兄さん now and it makes the series funnier in retrospect.

Japanese reading report

After nearly running out of physical manga last week and not feeling especially motivated to continue with what I have on hand, I decided to focus more on other stuff this week to try to get ahead of schedule a bit. It’s probably unrealistic to always have margin on my moyase goals, but having them in yellow bothers me.

I watched all 13 episodes of 後宮の烏, which was pretty good. It has a lot of interesting old-fashioned language and the characters and scenarios are fun. Royal court intrigue is a cool genre and the supernatural elements are generally pretty understated. Unfortunately about halfway through I kind of lost my ability to fully appreciate it because everyone started calling the main character 娘娘(ニャンニャン)and it killed any sense of gravity that the scenes were obviously going for. Chinese aesthetics really are not for me.

I also watched episodes 1-3 of もののがたり (all that are out at the time of writing). I wasn’t sold by the trailer but I like the “corporate demon hunters” aesthetic so I’m giving it a try. So far it seems fun but also a bit by-the-numbers and I’m not sure if it’s going to have anything that sets it apart from the average battle series. The main guy at least is not very interesting and the (ostensibly) main girl has barely been in it.

All my literal reading this week was 青春ブタ野郎はゆめみる少女の夢を見ない, which I started and finished in six days. Since I haven’t seen the movie yet this book was uncharted territory for me and as usual it’s a pretty easy read. I was reading along to the audiobook (5:47) but I think even if I hadn’t been I probably would have been able to finish it just as quickly, or maybe a little slower. The themes in this one were “self-sacrifice” and “selfishness” and how they can be intertwined in unexpected ways. I wasn’t really sure where it was going until about the 2/3 mark when suddenly everything fell together and a bunch of foreshadowing from across the series paid off all at once. It ended on a cliffhanger so I guess I’ll have to jump right into the next one pretty soon.