What I Learned from the 2017 Summer of Anime

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Now that it’s come and gone, I find myself pondering the process, the execution, and the things I could change about this year’s Summer of Anime. What better way to collect my thoughts than to share a post to the world about my overall impressions from the torture experiences I had to face since June 1st, as well as some tidbits that could prove interesting to onlookers and newcomers alike. I could very well title this post “Thoughts on …,” but for the sake of variety, I’ll make this particular entry a little more academic.

1. YOU ALL HAVE SHIT TASTE

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Just kidding.

Still, it’s astounding to see all the average to below-average series rated for this year’s batch of anime titles. Out of thirty completed anime, only nine have a “B-” or higher in either score category. That’s not even a third of the list. Initially, I thought this was incredibly alarming… until I looked back on previous years and discovered that I haven’t fared much better picking my own titles. While this year is technically a low point for anime, my Summer of Manga back in 2015 produced the same results: only nine of thirty manga received a “B-” or higher in either score category. Really, we all have pretty shit taste, don’t we?

2. Anime over Two-Cour Are a Death Sentence

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I did not do well with big chunks.

NANA and the ‘Aria’ series. Those are the only two series recommended to me that are longer than two-cour that did not have a negative impression left by either a tough, uphill battle or time constraints. Strangely enough, they’re also two of the better series I watched this year! The rest festered within the restraints that I placed upon them (and myself), with finishes ranging between decent (Code Geass) and horrid (Fate/kaleid), if they weren’t dropped outright.

Blood+ (50 episodes), Hikaru no Go (75 episodes), and Ghost in the Shell (52 episodes) were all dropped due to time constraints. Eureka Seven (50 episodes) started out alright, but eventually feel prey to its own undoing, making the last fifteen episodes or so a complete drag; dropping it would mean having to face another longer series, so I put up with it. Code Geass (50 episodes) and Fate/kaleid (42 episodes) were both fairly early on, so the rush for time wasn’t as prevalent, though their quality didn’t make them a breeze to go through, either.

If I ever do this again, two-cour will be the limit.

3. (Most) Anime Within the Top 100 Were Enjoyable

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Out of the thirty anime recommended, six (and a not-quite seventh) anime are ranked within the top 100 on MyAnimeList. Out of those six, five got a rating of “B-” or higher in the “Personal Score” category. The lone loser? Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. Everything else is recommendable (to whatever extent).

Why is this important? For the sake of formulating theories.

Back in 2014, I intentionally ended that year’s Summer with five titles from MyAnimeList’s top 100. Sure enough, four out of five got a Personal Score of “B-” or higher, and the fifth got a “C+.” The message on display is that while a number of anime are overhyped, it’s really to what extent, as many anime I’ve seen ranked within the top 100 are, at the least, decent shows. It was no different this year, as five of the six anime qualified are anime I would recommend most from this Summer—most specifically NANASamurai Champloo, and the ‘Aria’ series.

So, when looking for a new series to watch, if you really want a bang for your buck, it’s probably better to go with a series with an overall rank of 200 than 2,000. Don’t take that to heart, though.

4. I’m Never Exceeding Twenty-Five Anime Again

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I’ll admit outright that I did not expect to receive so many recommendations for this year’s special condition (I brought this slightly on myself). Not wanting to let anyone down, I pushed the envelope further and further until everyone’s picks got equal chance to be included, to the point where I was pushing myself past my limits. At first, I was ready to take on the extra load. By Eureka Seven, I was looking quite a bit like Oreki up there.

This year was rough. By the end, I was crawling to the finish line, resorting to ashamedly sprinting through the path that took the least amount of effort (strategic drops). I certainly had enough motivation to do thirty series in the beginning, though with all garbage I had to wade through, my tolerance wore thin quickly. Of the last ten anime I watched, only two had a “B-” or higher in either score category. Six of them had a “C-” or lower.

For any future event similar to this, two things will be set in stone: only two recommendations per person and the total count is twenty-five. I’m not sure I could do this again without resorting to dirty tactics (which, admittedly, I did near the end of this year).

5. I Had Fun

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Yeah, sure, by the end I was praying for sweet death and cursing myself for being so hardheaded, but despite it all, it was a worthwhile Summer. For the first time, I was doing the Summer not just for myself, but for the people who continue to read and support my blog. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for taking part this year. This is both my most and least favorite year so far.

I’m glad I got such a diverse selection of titles to sink my teeth into, as well as opportunities to watch things I had been putting off for years. These fun concepts wouldn’t be possible without the help of you readers, so thank you, again. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I only hope next time I won’t have to show my cynicism by smashing everyone’s choices.

Until next year!

I’ve Been Nominated for the Entertainer Blogger Award

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Many thanks to the not-always-so-lethargic Lethargic Rambles for the nominating me as a suitable entertainer. Chances are, if anyone reading this enjoys the content on this blog, whether it be anime reviews or thoughts on various video games, you’ll also adore LR’s styling of fighting back against the trolls of anime and delivering heartfelt odes to all things Nintendo. In all seriousness, while his posts are somewhat infrequent, most of his posts are ones I would willing recommend to anyone looking for a dependable and knowledgeable source on anime to go to.

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Add these rules to your post.
  • Answer all the questions below.
  • Display the award picture in your post.
  • Nominate 12 other bloggers who are funny, inspiring, and most important of all entertaining.

I was somewhat confused by the rule “Answer all the questions below,” as there are no questions actually provided, unless they’re just in the original post and no one bothered to copy/paste them. I’ll just go ahead and answer whatever anyone else answered.

Also, I’m removing the unnecessary u’s to these questions because I’m AMERICAN and we don’t need them got’dam u’s!

Questions:

1. Why did you start a blog in the first place?

My answer isn’t very interesting compared to most others. While many respond with “I wanted to interact with the community” or “I wanted to voice my opinion,” my response boils down to simple boredom. I made my blog, primarily, because I was bored, and I saw a MAL friend had one and thought, “Hey. That looks cool.” Thus, Criticism and Thoughts was born.

What some may not know is that I created this blog back in 2013. I’ve had this place for nearly four years now. I never really took it all that seriously, as I used it as a dumping grounds for thoughts I would already put down in the comment sections for individual anime on MyAnimeList. The first time I even thought of putting pictures into my blog posts was in June of 2015, and I didn’t start advertising my work on Twitter until 2016. That’s why if one were to dig really deep into my blog’s past, they would see a lot of picture-less pages with loads of text and no likes or comments. Experimental times, back in the day…

Now, I see my blog as a sort of catalyst for my dream job, which is to be a critic of visual media. It’s not much, but I adore the feedback I get for each post and, when I eventually find the time/motivation/courage to expand further, I hope to make something out of what was, initially, a hasty and thoughtless nothing.

2. What is your favorite book?

Not much of a book-reader, but I have a huge fondness for Suzanne Collins’s Underland Chronicles. She’s much more famous for her work with The Hunger Games, but I fell in love with her storytelling years before then. Even now, I clamor for some sort of media acknowledgement of her other books by means of film adaptations or otherwise. Gregor the Overlander as a film would be fucking great… if handled correctly.

3. What do you dislike the most?

I’m not sure how anyone could really like the mainstream media. I’m not usually very political online, nor do I make the effort to show my affiliations, but if there’s one thing about the mainstream media I despise is their subtle use of cherry-picking, framing words and sentences, and biased attitude. It’s much more prevalent online than not, but many, many, many news sites are filled to the brim with “holier-than-thou” writers who cannot help themselves and spew their political garbage whether it pertains to the article at hand or not. Furthermore, whatever’s popular is what gets written about, so imagine my absolute glee when I get to see headline after headline, image after image, late-night TV-show host after host, bitching about Donald Trump at every, little, miniscule, cell-sized opportunity, just so they can feel relevant, feel better, or advance their own status. It’s absolutely disgusting, and I get so unbelievably sick of this click-first, think-later mentality.

[Removes tin-foil hat.]

4. What is your favorite food?

Pizza. Any kind, really. Bread with marinara sauce and cheese melted on top. All I need. If I didn’t get fat immediately upon eating it, I’d have it at every meal.

5. What is your favorite past time?

Very likely football (Americano). Anime and video games are also both up there, but there’s something about football that get me so riled up every time I watch it. The players, the positions, the strategy, the organization, the coaches, the drama, the history, the execution, the [insert everything else here]. Football is so multi-faceted that it becomes more and more interesting the further one gets into it. Even the offseason is exhilarating with all the upcoming events like the Scouting Combine and the Draft and Free Agency. It’s kind of a lot to take in, but man, I love football with all of my soul. Wish I was fit enough to play it.

Nominations:

Not going to recommend anyone specifically, but I would like to encourage any reader to check out my Recommended Ani-Bloggers list for people within the aniblogging community who I, personally, find to be the best people to follow. While I’m not tagging anyone for this award, if anyone there would be willing to do so, by all means, have at it. They’re all pretty cool people, too. Definitely have a look-see.

Thanks again to LR for the nominations and thanks for the continued support!

Commencing ‘Summer of Anime 2017’

It’s that time of year.

First off, a huge thank you to everyone who participated in recommending me anime to watch! You all will aid my Summer in being as diverse and long as possible! This year will be a tad different, so I’ll go over a few things.

In case you weren’t aware, I raised the roof from 25 entries to 30 entries, while also increasing my drop count from 5 to 10. This was because so many people recommended me anime. I underestimated your potential, dear reader! Since this was the case, I threw in some extra loopholes to make the event more memorable.

First of all, the total anime count I received via recommendations was stopped at 39 anime titles. This was because I wanted to introduce a concept that will probably end up not being used. I call it the “Get Out of Jail Free” pick. Basically, with 39 of 40 possible entries, I decided my final anime within my 10 reserved drop list will end up being my own choice. My very last drop will be something I get to choose, as a last resort, as something to look forward to before knowing I can no longer drop any more titles. Again, it’s not likely it’ll get to this point, but who knows?

That being said, all 39 anime titles are accounted for, but only 30 of them will go onto the official Summer of Anime 2017 list. The last nine will go onto a reserve list, which will serve as my go-to list in the case I ever drop any anime from the main list. If I drop, say, Steins;Gate from my main list, I will have to watch the first anime in my reserve list. Once I finish that, I go back to what then proceeded Steins;Gate on the list. If I drop a reserve title, I go on to the next reserve title, and so on and so forth.

The deadline was left somewhat ambiguous in past years, but the deadline for this year (especially due to the giant increase in episode count) will be my birthday, August 20th. Scores will be based upon an A-F rating scale for both personal and critical attributes, and I will give a shout out at the beginning of each post to the person who recommended me the anime of the post.

I am also allowed to watch ongoing anime, as well as OVA’s, films, and specials, during the Summer. For titles that may take me a while to finish, I will prepare various, likely unrelated posts to ensure this blog doesn’t get lonely. For example, I will have a post on Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water tomorrow ready to go before the first entry on the SoA list. I will start first thing tomorrow morning, June 1st.

The full list will be available to see momentarily within my Summer of Anime Archive. With that said, here’s to a successful Summer!

Summer of Anime 2017? You Decide! [Closed]

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Nine days before the 2017 Summer of Anime officially opens, I’ve decided to let the floodgates open.

I want you, the reader of this post, to tell me what I should watch.

Now, this is a bit of a risky move, because I have no idea how many people will actually choose to participate in this and there’s no control over what I could be watching in the end! I could just watch 25 Shounen titles and cry myself to sleep every night!

In all seriousness, there are a few stipulations I’d like to put in place before I give people the key to my anime summer.

  • Limit of three titles per person! I want to fill up my slots, but I don’t want to have to be super choosy by experiment’s end. If it does end up that people recommend me more than 25 slots allotted for the SoA, I’ll pick and choose to my own discretion, but will keep some noted in case I drop anything throughout the event. If you don’t want to recommend three, you’re more than welcome to just recommend one or two!
  • I will be open to rewatching titles! These titles also don’t have to be things I’ve watched from previous SoA’s, they can be anything! If people want me to rewatch Koi Koi 7 or One Punch Man, that’s fair game. I’ll leave a link to MyAnimeList for those who wish to see what I have and haven’t watched before making a recommendation.
  • Rules of previous Summer of Anime’s still apply, so please don’t recommend anything shorter than six episodes of standard-length runtime! Alternatively, please don’t recommend anything with episodes spanning triple-digits! I’m not going to spend my entire Summer marathoning Naruto, Bleach, and Fairy Tail. Also, no currently-airing anime, OVA’s, specials or films!
  • Note that when you’re recommending a series to me, I will watch every season of said show! If you’re going to recommend my rewatching of Zero no Tsukaima, I’m going to watch every season of it. For the sake of clarification, if you want to spare me want me to only watch a certain season of an anime, note in within the recommendation. Otherwise, I’m marathoning the whole series.

As an added touch, I’ll note whoever recommended me a certain anime at the beginning of each post dedicated to their choice. The public should know whoever loves me enough to put me through human torture. Teehee!

I’ll leave this post open for the next nine days for anyone to comment below with recommendations. In that time, I’ll jot down whatever titles I receive and eventually add them to the Summer of Anime Archive in whatever order I choose. Until then, thanks in advance to all who give me something to watch, and have a great summer!

Second Blog Announcement

Short post announcing that I’ve created a second blog dedicated purely to football posts (NFL, AFL, CFL, etc.) I’m taking the liberty of moving a few posts already located on this blog to there, but won’t delete the original posts. They’ll remain in place for “historical purposes.” (Some of them still garner traffic and I don’t care to disrupt that.)

While I know 99% of my followers don’t follow me for football, I simply wanted to affirm that with the creation of this new blog, I will not be writing any more football-related posts on this blog. Not that I wrote many anyway, but still. Criticism and Thoughts will strictly cover anything outside of football from this point on.

For anyone interested, my new site can be found at Criticism and Football (Continuity for the win).

I’ve Been Nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award (Again)

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Would’ve done this a little sooner, but March of the Movies was still going on and I wanted to get a few anime reviews out of the way.

A giant thank you to Naja B. for nominating for this award. She recently released one of the lewdest things I’ve ever seen from her blog, so if you’re into hot bishies and BL/Yaoi visual novels (and the occasional Pokémon/Fangirl moments), she is the gold standard. Really, she is. She’s also the only person I follow who talks about the stuff, so my word is definitely safe and unbiased.

I’ve been nominated for this post before, so if you care to read more about the deep, dark secrets of my personal life, I welcome you to do so.

Rules:

1) Display Award
2) Thank the person who gave this award (and include a link to their blog)
3) Share seven things about yourself! (Anime Edition)
4) Nominate ten bloggers

I suppose I’ll continue along with this “Anime Edition” shtick. Makes things more interesting in the long run.

Seven Things About Me (Involving anime)

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1. My First Anime was Dragon Ball Z… I Think

Many have heard the age-old question: What was your first anime? Dragon Ball Z is a fairly common answer for people around my age who were exposed to a particular block on Cartoon Network called Toonami. However, I can’t say with certainty that it was the first anime I’ve ever watched, as there was another anime that I remember being fond of very early in my life.

Tenchi Muyou!.

I’ve been meaning to re-watch the show for a long, long time now, but have never taken the time to actually do so. Maybe I will tomorrow. Anyway, Tenchi Muyou! is somewhat infamous for being among the first attempts at a streamlined “Harem” anime. Imagine something like Love Hina or Nagasarete AirantouTenchi Muyo was almost like the forefather to these works. Thinking back on it, I don’t recall a lot of the show in general, but certain events stick out in my mind, particularly the little fuzzy thing turning into a spaceship and something about Tenchi pulling out a sword that harbored a space pirate’s dead soul… or something? I think I just liked it for the sci-fi-esque setting and goofy romance.

2. I Don’t Really Know “Why” I Watch Anime

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At first, the prospect of anime was interesting to me because it was so vastly different from American-standard television. I was engrossed with the possibilities that anime could entail with a multitude of genres and studios. Almost like American film companies, except they’re churning out anime. I suppose the feeling of “something new” (despite having experience with anime in the past) was so gravitating that once I watched Deadman Wonderland, I became addicted to wanting more.

Now-a-days, I feel all anime has a base potential of being average.

Many can go to my MAL page and look at my horrible 5.3 average rating for 300-something anime viewed, but I can’t really help that. At this point, I feel I know just about everything I really need to know from the medium. And once that sinks in, anime becomes a lot like the American television I originally wished to shy away from. It becomes too ordinary, too predictable. For me to still be watching anime at the rate that I do, despite my lukewarm impression of it in its entirety, likely boils down to one thing: it’s what I know. I’ve had a few hiatuses and/or breaks in the past, but I still come back.

3. I Think Most Mainstream Anime Are Overrated

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Anyone who knows me even in the slightest knows this already, but just for those who aren’t completely sure of it, I’m a pretty cynical dude.

Now, let it be known that I haven’t seen many of the more popular Shounen titles, a la One PieceBleach, and/or Naruto because they’re so damn long and I’d rather better my schedule with shorter series. I also haven’t seen every mainstream show ever, but the ones that I have are generally met with either dismay or base enthusiasm. Titles such as Code GeassHetaliaSword Art OnlineShingeki no KyojinAngel Beats!No Game No LifeOne Punch Man, and most recently, Yuri!!! on Ice. Popularity isn’t an indicator of quality to me, and extended hype for any particular anime makes me more motivated to look at it as sharply as my critiquing eyes can possibly muster. That sounds jaded, though I assure anyone reading I’d rather enjoy something than trash it… usually.

It’s not that I go after popular titles to preach of their inadequacy, it’s just a lot more reassuring to know of my own impressions of something I’m constantly told is God’s gift to anime. Sometimes I only watch popular anime just to ascertain my own opinion of them. And usually, they turn out opposite of God’s gift to anime. I’m just a stick in the mud, I suppose.

4. My Favorite Anime Has Been Decided, and It Will Never Change

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What exactly does this say about me? How about loyalty? …Okay, it’s more like stubbornness. My favorite anime of all time has already been seen, and I saw it very early, being only the third anime I viewed since coming back to anime. Those 300-something anime titles on my MAL? Toradora! was number three.

It has this special magic and—you know what? I’ve already explained this before, like, twenty times, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Toradora! is the best anime I’ve ever seen. Not because it’s the most objectively sound anime out there, but because it came at a time in my life that simply blew away all of my expectations and essentially ruined all anime (romance in particular) to come after it. Toradora! is a personal testament to what got me hooked into the anime world, hitting all the right buttons I didn’t even know I had. Even after seeing it three times, it remains as magically poignant to me as it’s ever been. So as presumptuous as it may be, Toradora! is my favorite anime, and it will never not be.

5. I Loathe Shounen in General

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Some may see this as harsh. Unfortunately, it’s happened too many times in the past to ignore. If not for Harem, Shounen would be my least favorite genre in anime. Coincidentally, a lot of mainstream anime are Shounen. Interesting.

For me, Shounen typically coincides with everything about anime I tend to roll my eyes at: loose writing, one-dimensional characters, overuse of magic powers, THE POWER OF EMOTIONS!!!, and sappy moral sugar-coating. Not all do this; frankly, I haven’t seen enough to confirm how many actually do. All I know is that when I see “Shounen” as a tag for an anime or manga, I hesitate.

Reminds me of when I tried to watch Fairy Tail… Yeesh.

6. I Don’t Rate Anything I Don’t Finish

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I can have predicted or tentative scores, but nothing is concrete if I haven’t observed every second. It’s easy to rate something based on what one has seen up to. For me, I feel that’s a little unfair. I can’t help but wonder what could’ve been. Perhaps the last half of the anime is worse or better? If I never find out, I’d rather just leave it up in the air.

There’s not much more to say on the subject.

7. I Once Looked Up to ThatAnimeSnob

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Who’s your favorite ani-tuber? Gigguk? Glass Reflections? Demo? Digibro? For a time, mine was none other than ThatAnimeSnob, also known as Roriconfan.

For those unaware, ThatAnimeSnob is notorious for being incredibly snide and cynical about anime, especially modern ones. His shtick continuously made fun of “filthy casuals” as he spit poison at anyone who didn’t believe in his standard. For the record, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is objectively the greatest anime of all time. No objections. While this turned off just about anyone with any shred of empathy, there’s evidence that shows Mr. Snob takes his character very seriously, constantly bombarding popular ani-tubers’ comment sections/anime discussion boards with his “correct” opinion and how everyone else is wrong. I’ve seen it firsthand. He even highlights his behavior through his Youtube channel.

Despite his controversial persona, his “teachings” actually make sense. They do to me, anyway. Not all, but there are a number of things that he’s preached that I’ve noticed have some correlation with anime. One of the most memorable “Anime truths” to me was the “It Never Gets Better” claim, where he argues that anime never gets better than the first few episodes. It can only stay the same or get worse. I actually still kind of believe in this, as most anime I watch usually don’t get better with time.

I haven’t watched a video of his in a good while, but he’s still going strong. He’s resorted to reaction videos now-a-days, which really turns me off. Honestly speaking, I think he’s worth a follow simply for how different he is from all other anime critiquers. Not “follow follow,” per se, but… watch some of his videos. He’s like an endangered species.

Nominations

Not too many this time, as I don’t follow anyone I don’t feel like nominating people I’ve already nominated. I’ll simply nominate a few people I feel deserve a little recognition.

Thanks again to Naja, and thanks to anyone who read through all of this! Have a good night!

Upcoming: 2017 Update and Expectations

Looking back on my 2016 update, I almost want to laugh at myself for my lack of effort. This year’s update post, however, will be far and away the greatest post I will ever dedicate to this blog!!!

So here is what readers can expect to see from my blog in the next 366 days:

  • Anime/Manga thoughts and reviews (Duh).
  • Video game reviews (Double duh).
  • Odes.
  • Top 10’s.
  • Review of the final book in the Underland Chronicles, followed by reviews of the Hunger Games trilogy.
  • Weekly post dedicated to reviewing a random film.
  • Opinion pieces and possible rant pieces.
  • My pick to win the Super Bowl (I have to, I’m sorry).
  • Thoughts on Youtubers (Tentative).
  • THE POWER OF EMOTIONS!
  • Short stories (Tentative).
  • Among others.

There is another thing readers can expect, which is something I’ve kept quiet about for a while. I plan to upgrade my blog from a Free Plan to a Premium Plan. For those unaware, being able to express my opinions and reviewing these different forms of media is my dream. I want to be considered a serious and professional critic. And I want my blog to be a platform I can use to get my thoughts out there; a sort of creative résumé, if you will. While I don’t know what the future holds for me, I feel it’s only responsible to put my dreams into action in any way I can, with the bare minimum being keeping myself motivated to write and interact with the community (which has been no trouble at all). A Premium Plan will get me my own domain name and a spruced up blog to further show my dedication to the craft. While my daily view count isn’t exactly “profitable” for monetization, I’m hoping someday I’ll be able to get to that point. So, in conclusion, my blog may be under construction in the coming days.

Allow me to add a wee bit of gloating to this post, as an update implies as much information as possible. I’ve noted once in the past of my dedication to losing a fair share of my bountiful belly. While I’m far from done, I’m excited to announce that I’ve hit forty pounds (18 kg. for you foreigners) lost since the end of July, bringing my current weight to 208 lbs. (~94 kg.) Turns out the secret to losing weight is vegetables and reduced portion sizes at meals, as exercising can only do so much for you if you’re balancing it out with large meals.

That’ll be all from me until next year. Thank you all for supporting my blog by reading and sharing my thoughts. Know that I am very, very appreciative of any attention I receive and am humbled by the growing amount of traffic my blog receives as time goes by. I’ll continue to work on getting as much content out as sanely possible (Once a day will probably be my limit) and I hope to read more of the community’s content, as well. Happy New Year’s, and thank you for reading!

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