Resolutions Review: How Spark People helped me lose 10 pounds in 11 weeks without dieting.

INTRODUCTION:

A while back, I introduced this month’s series in a post called Resolutions Review: did you get control of your weight, fitness, money, and work issues? (Plus Power Poses.) Tackling this series a bit of a stretch for a paranormal-themed blog, but less so if you understand that I define the word paranormal broadly.

Para- / par-ə / Prefix. ”Alongside, near, beyond, altered, contrary to.”
norma/ nawr-muhl / Adjective. “Conforming to the standard; usual; regular; natural.”

No matter how far I stray from topics like ghosts, cryptids and mysteries, I am always thinking about how to make life better and easier for my kindred. These articles will become part of a section of the blog I’m developing, dedicated to living a (moderately) paranormal lifestyle.

body preservation

There. That’s out of the  way.

*****

MY STORY:

In the first installment in this series (Resolutions Review: How “You Need A Budget” (YNAB) helped us save $1000 in less than 3 months) I I tell a detailed and sordid tale of my financial history. In this post, I don’t have a long, personal story about a struggle with weight loss or maintenance.

Basically, I’ve always been a healthy-looking Midwestern girl. I’m tall, and broad and sturdy. And I’m okay with that. I am, however a writer in my mid-40s, and some extra pounds have caught up with me. More importantly, I’ve been noticing a decline in how good I feel physically. I’ve got aches and pains and stiffness, especially after a long day at the keyboard. I get a bit winded when I take a flight of stairs or prowl a cemetery with a lot of  hills. When I attempt to flee from zombies, I sometimes get caught.

This sort of thing has been going on for a while but, until recently, I was ignoring it because I didn’t have the time or energy to deal with it.

Back in November, though, I attempted to do NaNoWriMo, and failed miserably. Perhaps the stress of the last few years had caught up with me, perhaps I had just neglected self-care for too long, but the end result was that I couldn’t write fiction. My creative well had run dry. After more than a month of wailing and moping, I decided I might as well do something useful with my time, so I resolved to get healthier and drop a few pounds. As usual, I turned to the web to find tools to help me achieve my goal.

THE SPARK PEOPLE METHOD(S):

Eventually, I stumbled on sparkpeople.com. I made a free account and started to explore. I was blown away by the myriad resources available.

There’s no magic in the system. It simply puts everything you need in one convenient place. (And “what you need” will vary from person to person.) The basic approach is that you must create a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. SP is all about giving you many options with which to create and maintain such a deficit.

 THE SPARK PEOPLE SITE:

Once you’ve created your account, you have a start page, where you will check in often and track you progress. It is divided into three major sections:

  • In the first section (Step 1) you can set the parameters of your  goals about food, fitness, weight and measurements, then track your behavior over time.
  • In the second section (Step 2) you first create, then review your personal goals and motivations. You can also read featured diet- and fitness-related articles.
  • In the third section (Step 3) you can access the social features of Spark People, including a personal homepage (where your blog lives, if you choose to have one,) general message boards, and team message boards. (You can choose to join teams based on common interests and goals.)

Digging deeper into any of these sections will reveal additional available tools. I do no use any paid features of the site, but I believe it it possible to purchase the services of a personal coach and personalized menu plans.

In my opinion, there’s just too much there for any one person to use. The best way to use the SP community is to pick and choose the tools that are most useful to you. At first, of course, I sampled everything. I signed on to too many challenges and played with too many tools. Now that I’ve been using it for a while, I’ve settled on the stuff that’s crucial for me:

The food tracker:

 

 

I want to be clear about what I mean when I say I haven’t dieted. Though I eat whatever I want, when I want to, I DO track my intake. And I do it faithfully and honestly. I actually weigh and measure my food most of the time. I have a digital scale and a set of measuring cups so it’s not that big of a deal.

Now that I’ve been at this for a while, I know what an ounce of nuts or cheese looks like, but I usually check to make sure I’m not estimating badly. That said, I don’t worry about taste testing my sauces or the cream I put in my coffee. I record meals and snacks, though, including that one 53-calorie Chips Ahoy I’ve been known to snatch when I pass my boy and his open tray of cookies.

Tracking has not reduced my total calorie count by much, but it has improved my diet. I eat less junk and more fruits and vegetables. I am less likely to eat in the evenings when I’m working, because I know by then that I’ve actually eaten the calories I need throughout the day. If I must have a late-night snack, I’m more likely to grab the grapes than a candy bar, because I am (always) short of the recommended daily minimum of five to seven servings of produce. I hardly ever stay within the default calorie range. In fact, I think I’m going to go in and change the range, now that I know I can lose weight, albeit slowly, at 2,000 – 2,500 or more calories.

Tracking has been useful because, like most creative types, I just don’t think about what I’m eating much of the time. (I’m often either writing or reading.) Awareness and tiny, natural-feeling self-corrections have contributed to a slow, nearly painless weight loss.

That said, I’m not kidding when I say I’m not dieting. I ate SIX big, luscious, custard filled donuts on Saturday, because we made a special trip to a special bakery. But, during the week leading up to that, I had avoided mindless snacking and paid some attention to how I was fueling myself.

Net result? The number on the scale wobbled for a day, and now I’m back to pre-donuts weight. I might not lose this week. If we make the trip next weekend, maybe I’ll have TWO instead of six.

That’s pretty painless.

The fitness tracker

To be honest, I’m not doing well with fitness right now. When I first started at SP, I was on a major Zombies, Run! kick and I was doing it every day. Somewhere along the line (maybe when I started writing again) I stopped finding the time. The horrible weather hasn’t been helping either, because I haven’t been able to go on my Twilight Walks. I’m still not doing yoga, even though it’s one of my fitness goals to incorporate it into my life and routine.

Here’s the thing, though, I am AWARE that this is a problem, because I know I haven’t opened the fitness tracker at SP in days. Every time I go in to track my food, I notice I’m being sedentary because my Step 1 summary section isn’t adjusting my suggested calorie intake to reflect the calories I’ve burned by doing extra exercise.

trackers

Today, I’m working on a deadline for this blog because the weather has changed and I AM going to go for a walk. And then I’m going to come home and happily make an entry in my fitness tracker. Part of the impetus for that decision is that I created a challenge at one of my Spark Teams, and I can’t very well not complete my own challenge.

The teams

Zombies, Run! led me to Spark People. I googled a question I had about the game and was taken to a message board that provided the answer. The board turned out to be that of a Spark People team, created by and for Zombies, Run! players.  I grew curious. After clicking around the mother site a bit, and seeing everything it had to offer, I signed up.

There is a team for EVERYONE at SP. (The danger lies, I think, in affiliating oneself with too many of them.) Each team has a message board with multiple forums. There’s a place to introduce yourself to the team, another for chit chat, and another where team goals and challenges are created and accepted. (Most teams have additional forums too.)

Joining a team is a great way to make friends and find supporters and accountability partners, should you wish to have them.

I belong to:

  • Zombies, Run!
  • Writers (which I was invited to co-lead)
  • Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
  • Bipolar Mania
  • For The Love of Horror
  • Inside Out Weight Loss (IOWL)
  • and the “class” of December 1-7, 2013

There are literally thousands of teams, based on everything from gender, to age, to sexual orientation, to religion, to politics, to dietary habits, to sports teams, to careers, to hobbies, to medical conditions, to specific weight issues, and so on. All of them exist under the umbrella of Spark People.

The personal blog

With few exceptions I have made a personal blog entry at SP every day since I started. It’s a wonderful place to vent and whine and obsess about, well, personal things. Fairly soon after I started that blog, I created a sort of mental template for my entries, so that the process is quick and easy. I make note of my general physical and emotional status (so that I can spot the patterns of my bipolarity) then I list at least three things that happened in the day for which I feel grateful. It’s a satisfying, low-stress practice.

The friends I’ve met through team interactions stop by, read my blog, and leave comments and “spark goodies” for me, and I do the same for them.

The virtual prizes, gifts and rewards

Spark goodies are another entirely optional part of the SP experience. Every time you complete an action in SP (tracking food, leaving a comment at someone’s blog or in a message board, reading an article, etc.) you earn “spark points.” These points go into an account. The points in one’s account can be spent on a variety of virtual gifts that you can buy for yourself and/or other SP members. It’s silly, but it’s fun. I don’t spend a lot of time playing with this, but it’s fun to be able to send a pretty bouquet or a hot tub to someone who needs cheering up or has reason to celebrate.

Even if you don’t partake of the social interactions at SP, the site does reward you with virtual tokens for milestones like losing a certain amount of weight, or tracking X-number of fitness minutes in a month, or signing in to SP every day.

IN SUMMARY:

So far, I’ve only told you the good news though. Here’s the bad:

Time-suck. SP can and will eat as much time as you give it. Be careful. There’s a balance between taking care of yourself so that you can function at your best, and losing yourself in something-anything that isn’t exercising … or writing …  or whatever else it is you know you should be doing.

Ads. TONS of ads. There is no option to have a paid, ad-free membership at SP and you will be assaulted by advertisements on nearly every page you visit. I’ve heard there are ways to get around that with ad-blocker programs, but I’ve just learned to ignore them.

Drama. There’s nothing about SP that makes it worse than any other type of online interaction you might have, but there’s nothing about it to make it better either. There are drama-queens and bossy-folk and sad-sacks. If you’re vulnerable to being drawn into such shenanigans, it’s wise to guard yourself in the wilds of SP Land. After all, it is a place where people are revealing a lot about their hopes and dreams and their failures and successes.

Still, overall, getting involved at SP has been good for me.

The resources available at SP are many, and I’ve only scratched the surface here, by sharing my favorites. If you are looking for a tool, or rather a set of tools, to help you take charge of your health and fitness, I’m confident you’ll find what you need at Spark People.

TIPS & TRICKS:

1) Choose a short, easy to remember username – preferably one that includes your actual first name or a common nickname that you like. People communicating with you will want and need to type it often. (I didn’t do this right.) And. please, don’t choose a self-denigrating name. Nothing makes me sadder than seeing someone self-identify as FATBARBARA or CHUBBYCHUCK.

2) Limit yourself to joining 2-3 teams at first. It’s less overwhelming. If you’re going to join up and you’re a regular reader here, you are probably a writer too. So the first team you should join, of course, is Writers at http://teams.sparkpeople.com/wordsmiths. The board is in the middle of getting a structural update right now, but you’ll probably recognize my handiwork all over the place. Soon, I’ll be completing the orientation sections there that will make getting started in the team, and on SP in general, as easy as I can make it.

3) Make a personal spark page right away. This is different from your START PAGE, which only you see. Your spark page is where people can visit you … where, in fact, ANYONE can visit you if they know your SP handle. Mine is RRUDEPARANORMAL And yes, I’m a little uncomfortable about it now that I am admitting to myself that the WHOLE WORLD can see my soft, boring underbelly. You know I’m an open book, but there’s stuff there there that has NOTHING to do with the public persona I cultivate. What’s done is done though, and I can’t realistically make my page view-able to SP people friends only, now that I co-lead a team. YOU have the option to more privacy, if you’re smarter about choosing a user name and / or if you decide to go with the SP friends only option.

4) Track what you normally do for a couple of weeks before you try to change anything deliberately. And once you do start to set some behavioral goals, be gentle with yourself. SP has a high burnout rate, because so many folks come in with the intention of keeping a strict, demanding routine.

5) Take a “before” picture, and note all your measurements as soon as you start. You’ll want every opportunity to see improvements as you travel your journey.

6) and, finally, I’m leaving this very specific tip here, because I’ve yet to figure out how to easily access this handy view from the start page or anywhere else I regularly visit in SP. Once you have created your account, and you are signed in, bookmark this address: http://www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/stay-on-track-calendar.asp (If you click that link right now, it will just take you to a signup or log-in page.) After you’re set up it will take you to a calendar view like this:

SP calendar

 

 

wrimoprog 03/10/2014:  5 + 18 = 23/80

 


Resolutions Review: did you get control of your weight, fitness, money, and work issues? (Plus power poses.)

It’s Resolutions Review Week, here at The Paranormalist.

Why? More pointedly, why now, in late February? Because most of us made some resolutions just seven weeks ago, whether we admitted it aloud or not. Now, in the trough of this extreme and exhausting winter, we are at a challenge point. If we’ve been “good,” we’re feeling deprived and tired. If we’ve been “bad,” we have slipped back into the same old pre-resolution, habits, and we don’t care … because, hell, it’s hard enough to just get from one (frigid, ice-coated) day to the next, right?

(Apologies to my readers who live in reasonable climates … here in most of the United States, it’s been a rough winter.)

This week, I’m donning my Miss Mary Sunshine persona and sharing my thoughts about a few amazing life-hack tools I found. (You should appreciate that; this particular mask pinches and smells funny.) Still, some combination of desperation, determination, and good luck has allowed me to actually make real progress on a few of my 2014 resolutions, and (in the name of karma, or something) I have to share what is working.

3823701741_ea084edc2e

Photo by Don O’Brian
(linked to original)

The truth is, I didn’t make my resolutions on January first. Long-term readers know that our family is coming of a pretty brutal period (during which we experienced: cancer, eldercare issues, sudden unemployment that lasted 11 months, losing our house, moving into an apartment, etc.)  We’ve been trying to rebuild our lives for about two years. For most of that time, we’ve been consumed with just hanging on. Following Halloween of 2013, though, I had a bit of an emotional crash — the stress of the previous years finally caught up with me.

I stopped being able to write fiction.

After about a month and a half of unrelenting writer’s block, I decided I might as well be doing SOMETHING useful, so I set out on my quest to fix everything else, in the hopes that relieving some stress would ignite my creativity.

I didn’t find all the fantastic tools I wanted right away. There were some false starts. As weeks passed, however, I found some treasures and a few things started to come together.

Now I can tell you that in the last 3-4 months I’ve:

  • lost 10 pounds without really dieting
  • started working out regularly
  • taken control of our financial situation
  • saved over $1000.00 – in a real savings account
  • increased my hit traffic here at the blog substantially (On this one, I’m not quite sure WHY it’s happening, but I’ll take it.)

AND

  • I’ve started writing fiction again.

So, what has been working?

This intro to Resolution Week is already getting long, so I’ll start the series by sharing a quick link to one of the flakiest helpful techniques I stumbled on. I’m going to assume that you, like me, are a special kind of (paranormal) person — one who is simultaneously open minded and skeptical.

Power Posing:

wonder woman

(linked to Wonder Woman on IMDb)

I warn you, the idea seems silly. If you watch the whole 21 minute presentation, though, you might be persuaded to give it a try, based on the psychological and neurological science cited in the video.

Perhaps you’ve already seen Amy Cuddy’s viral TED Talk, Your body language shapes who you are. The idea is that our brains are hardwired to take cues from the body language of the people around us, and this capability is unconsciously applied to our own personal body language too. We come to believe things about ourselves based on the body language we adopt. Now, this is obviously a chicken and egg thing, but the question remains: if there is a feedback loop, can we really “fake it ’til we make it?”

I don’t yet power pose daily. In fact, I hardly ever do it at all. I just forget. Right after I watched the video, though, I tried to adopt a regular practice. I wrote in my personal journal:

A funny thing happened today. My husband likes it when I greet him enthusiastically when he gets home from work. You know, if I stop whatever I’m doing and go to give him a kiss before he can even get his coat off. I know it makes him happy. 

I thought I’d be funny today, and be waiting for him at his parking spot. I went down and was just sort of slumped against the wall when I remembered I hadn’t done any power poses yet. So I did. Just the Wonder Woman stance. 

Next thing I knew, I’d decided I might as well walk laps in the big underground garage of the apartment complex while I waited. It was probably my third lap before I started to wonder if the power posing energized or focused me in such a way that I started to do something good. Just a thought. 

My biggest take-away from this video was a realization that the position I adopt while writing matters. I happen to be one of those people who has always walked and stood confidently, but I tend to slump and fold in on myself and shrink when I’m seated. Now, when the words are feeling confined or cramped, I change the way I’m sitting and I stretch out a bit. It’s just one little thing, among other hacks that I’m using, but it helps.

power rangers

PS: A whole lot of yoga poses already tap into this idea, I think.

Photo links:
Warrior II
Yoga @ Midway Castles
Happy 50th Francine

————————–

wrimoprog: 02/24/2014: 35 + 31 = 66/80


Zombies, Run! – a fitness app, perfect for horror & paranormal fans. (Overview, tips and trouble-shooting.)

I have found a fitness app that makes me WANT to walk … and inspires me to actually run some of the time. As I type this, I’m considering having a second zombie walk/run today. I hope you realize what a miraculous statement that is, coming from me.

That’s the good news.

“You are Runner 5. Hundreds of lives are counting on you. You’ve got to help your base rebuild from the ruins of civilization by collecting critical supplies while avoiding roving zombie hordes. Can you save them and learn the truth about the zombie apocalypse?” – From the website.

The bad news is that I don’t think the game is as user-friendly as it should be. Like most apps these days, there is a lack of any kind of manual or documentation … it’s supposed to be intuitive.

I hate that.

To be fair, I suspect some of my frustration is due to the fact that I paid for, and downloaded, the first version of the game. (Which I was able to update for free when I resumed playing.) Back then, it was more expensive and some of the mechanics were different than they are now. I’ve been tempted to uninstall and re-buy now, but that would be silly, because it does work, I just needed to fight my way through the changes.

ZombiesRun2Logo

AN OVERVIEW OF THE GAME ITSELF:

The app wraps an engaging story around a playlist of your favorite music (which you create.)

During your workout, you alternate between listening to:

  1. segments of the story (as relayed, via “radio communication,” by various post-zombie-apocalypse survivors.)
  2. and songs from you playlist.

During the narrated story-line, you just walk/jog, listen and learn. The active game-play (aka zombie attacks) happens while you are listening to your songs.

While your music is playing, you may be informed of  one of two different events, via a quick announcement-style voice-over.

  1. Most commonly, you will be told that you’ve found an item of value. (This item is automatically added to your inventory; you don’t have to stop, press anything, or mime picking up something.)
  2. Sometimes, the voice-over will tell you that you are too close to one or more zombies. Eventually this proximity may lead to you being chased by the undead.

You will either survive the zombie attack unscathed, or you will drop an item (or items) to distract the horde. You will not die, and the game will continue either way.

See below for more details on how zombie chases work.

After your mission is completed,  the second game-like aspect of play is available. In the post-walk/run phase, you can use the supplies and materials you collected to expand and improve your home-base settlement, Able.

THE COMPLICATIONS OF SET UP:

Note: Zombies, Run! only works on Android devices running 4.0+.

Because you need to work with at least 3 different interfaces for this game to function well, it’s easy to get confused. You’ll go back and forth between your PC and your phone during this set up process. Here’s a simple step-by-step to get you up and running.

1) download Zombies, Run 2 ($3.99) to your phone.

You may be prompted to update your operating system and / or download another free app that will improve the sound quality of the recorded story. (It may be something like: HD UK English.) Go ahead and do what it asks. Don’t yet get into the game itself.

2) Also – if you don’t already have it – download WinAmp, (a free music player and manager) to your phone AND to your PC.

On Android phones, Zombies, Run! ONLY likes WinAmp. (I think iOS is friendlier, but you’re on your own for that.)

Before I started playing Zombies, Run!, I didn’t have any music on my phone. I had to start from scratch. I believe one can use the WinAmp app to manage music, but I found it easier to learn WinAmp on the PC, where my music was stored anyway. I was able to puzzle out how to move music from our hard drive collection to WinAmp. (I did learn that certain types of music files (ITunes) don’t transfer well. Experiment. MP3s work best.) If I can do it, so can you.

3) In WinAmp, on your PC, create at least one playlist of your favorite walking/running music.

It should be either approximately 30 or 60 minutes in length, depending on how long you plan to work out in each session. This is not critical, just make sure it’s not too short. Name the playlist in a memorable way. Read: How To Create a Playlist Using Winamp, if necessary.

4)  Once you have a workable playlist in your PC version of WinAmp, sync it with the WinAmp app on your phone.

Read: WinAmp for Android, if necessary.

5) On your PC, Register at ZombieLink. You have the option to register with your Facebook or Twitter ID. I opted for the more straightforward username and email option. Bookmark your ZombieLink profile.

You’ll need this AFTER you have a workout, to better see your settlement and review your run logs. You will also want access to the SUPPORT section available here.

Now that everything has been downloaded and organized, you’re ready to run (walk / jog.)

PLAYING THE GAME:

KNOW THIS: If you don’t understand the mechanics of the game, you’re likely to over-exert yourself on your first walk / run, especially if you aren’t already a runner. The most important thing is to “ignore” being told to run UNLESS the actual cue to do so is given! (See below.) The game’s characters frequently exhort you to run,  but you need to translate that to mean, “Walk / jog at a good, steady clip, at a rate you can sustain for the length of the workout.”

1) Go to a safe place to run around, or to a treadmill. Connect your headphones to the phone and open your Zombies, Run! app. You’ll probably see this:

???????????????

Go ahead and download the season one radio mission. This is something you do before entering the game proper. These radio shows will play if you want to keep working out after the official mission of the day is finished. These shows do not really advance the plot, but they do world-build, and they are very entertaining in spots. Take advantage. (See TIPS, below.)

After downloading the radio missions, you may be prompted to start right away. You can listen for a bit, to get a feel, but this is not the game. If you started it, “stop mission” (don’t worry about the warning screen that pops up) and touch “done.”

2) To begin the game, touch the three bars up near the word “News.” That will take you to the menu.

You’ll use this screen again when it’s time to manage your settlement. For now, just choose the missions option.

zombies season one start

From here, you select the next mission by touching it. You will then see this:

zombies download mission

Download. Next you’ll have to select your preferred options:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • When you touch Music, the app will pop open a window where you can select which playlist you want it to play. (If you shuffle, it will shuffle ALL the music in WinAmp, not just the playlist.)
  • When you touch Tracking, the app will offer you “GPS” (for walks that cover measurable distance) “Accelerometer” (for treadmill walking) and “None.” (I don’t know what happens if you choose None.)
  • When you touch Zombie Chases you can toggle the option on or off.  (See below.)

3) Once your choices are made, touch start. Turn off your screen display, pocket your phone, start walking / jogging, and listen. (In order for a zombie chase to be triggered, you must be moving at 3.5 kilometers per hour / 2.17 miles per hour.) Remember real zombie chases only happen when your music is playing. Don’t panic.

You will now walk/jog — while alternating between listening to story line advancement and your music playlist (during which you’ll collect valuable items) — until you hear the warning “zombies detected.” At first the undead may be rather far away; there may be a distance countdown as they get closer. You may be able to hear groans. Once the voice is telling you the zombies are a certain number of meters away, they are dangerous. This is when you pick up your pace.

Here’s how chases work, from the support pages:

1) When a Zombie Chase is triggered, the app calculates your average pace over the previous 30 seconds
2) You must increase your pace by 20% from this average
3) You must maintain that increased pace for 1 minute in order to escape the zombies. The voice will usually say, “zombies evaded.”

You can see how speeding up early will make the required pace for a successful escape skyrocket. Hold out until you have to speed up. Remember, if they catch you, you simply automatically drop some of the supplies you have collected.

4) The game will proceed until the mission (the story segment) has been completed. You will hear “mission complete,” but there’s no immediate shut-down. The game simply switches you over to the radio broadcast.

Only once has a zombie chase happened to me during the radio broadcast phase; my understanding is that it’s not supposed to happen. The item collection, however, does continue when your playlist is playing, between the DJ banter segments.

[EDIT 2014.02.02] I got another zombie chase (the only one of the whole workout) in the radio segment. I was TICKED. I was already pushing myself to the limit, knowing that I only had a couple of minutes left before I was going to quit, when I got the announcement. At first the zoms were 100 yards out, so I slowed way down to catch my breath, thinking I’d have a few seconds before they got close. It didn’t work. They got me right after I started running, and I dropped 3 items. Lesson learned: pick up the pace as soon as a distance is announced. And don’t believe it when the support guide says there will be no chases in radio mode.

By the way, you can’t just quit when the announcement is made. Once the chase is triggered you must either escape or drop items.

When you’ve finished with you workout, you will have to quit out of the radio broadcast. You do this by touching “stop mission.” You will receive a warning. (See photo middle photo, below.) That’s ok. You won’t lose anything you picked up while you were in that mode.

You must quit all the way out of the game, by pressing DONE (see last photo, above) before the run record will be available to sync to you PC-based page, at ZombiesLink.

If you were working out with the accelerometer on a treadmill,  note and remember the distance you covered by looking at the treadmill display.

AFTER THE WORKOUT:

Run Logs & Maps:

1) Once you’ve recovered from your workout, open the app menu by touching the “News” bars. Select the “ZombieLink” option at the bottom of the list. The app will ask you to log into ZombieLink, using the same information you used to set up the account on your PC. (After this, it will stay logged in unless you tell it to log out.) You have some sharing options on this screen. If you choose to share, other Zombie Runners will be able to see the specified information about your workouts.

Touch “Synchronize now!” (Then close the app, but keep your phone handy for base management, later.)

2) Log into the ZombieLink you created on your PC. Your run should be available for you to review on your main profile page. To view the details of your workout — including duration, average speed & pace, calories burned and supplies collected — click on the gray > at the right edge of the page. There will be a timeline of the entire run/walk. If you used the GPS option, a map of your run/walk will have been generated. If you used the accelerometer option and want to add you distance, go back to the main profile page and click on the “EDIT” button, just above the top gray >, then edit the correct run.

Click around on the tabs and see what kinds of information it keep track of.

On the “Missions” tab, you can access the audio snippets of story line, (In case you missed some details.)

On the “Base” tab, you can see your starter base. In the original version of the game, you built up and fortified your base on the PC, but now all of that is done on the app. This image of your base on ZombieLink is just that, an image. You can click on a building to see what it is and what its current status is, but that’s all. (You can do all that and more in your phone, using the “Base” option on the menu.)

There are some icons on the base image, as follows:

Population and Population Cap: The numbers by the person icon represent population and maximum population, where the number on the left is population, and the number on the right is maximum population, or your population cap. You can increase the population of Abel by constructing buildings such as housing. You can’t add more people to Abel than your maximum population. Population cap can be increased with buildings like Hospitals and Farms, also by upgrading Janine’s Farmhouse.

Defence: This is the shield icon and represents how well the base is able to defend itself. Only the Defence Tower can be visibly damaged; the higher the defence, the less damage the tower sustains from a zombie attack. You can repair it at the cost of some supplies. The tower contributes half of the base’s defence rating; the remaining half can be accumulated by building other defensive structures.

Morale: The smiley face represents how happy Abel’s residents are. It is calculated by factors such as population, building modifiers and addons, the state of the defence tower and your progress through the main storyline.

(From the Support section – ZR: Base Builder.)

To get back to the main profile page from anywhere else, click on your user ID name at the upper right. 

Base Management:

On your phone, in the “Base” section, you can actually modify your settlement. All of the icons listed above are on the screen PLUS two more:

Supplies: These are indicated by the Satchel icon, sometimes also called the box icon. Supplies are collected in proportion to the amount of time that you spend running; you will collect about 30 supplies an hour.

Materials: Often called wrenches, spanners or tools, [these] are collected in proportion to the amount of progress you make through the story. Unlike regular supplies, there will be a set number to collect in each mission. For Season 2 Missions you will receive three materials when you first run a mission; this will decrease by one each time you replay the same mission. For Season 1 missions you will only receive one material the first time you run a mission and none when you replay. Again, these are used to build and upgrade buildings.

(From the Support section – ZR: Base Builder.)

The base building mechanic involves selecting a building or upgrade from a list, checking to see if you have enough supplies and materials to build it, and finding a place for it to fit onto your map. Most buildings and upgrades have prerequisites, which will become clear after you’ve selected / examined your options. Your job is to work out the best order for building and upgrading.

If you are doing season one, you will usually be able to make ONE change after each run. (Some changes require more than one “Materials / wrench.”)

Remember to “synchronize now” after making changes, so that your base at ZombieLink will reflect your upgrades.

TIPS & NOTES:

This is just a place for thoughts that didn’t fit neatly into any section above. I will add more of these as I continue to play, and I welcome information from other players. What have I missed? I’ll happily add your wisdom. 

Season one is stingy with zombie chases, supplies and (especially) materials. It’s worth it, to get the whole story, in my opinion.

In order for a zombie chase to be triggered, you must be moving at 3.5 kilometers per hour / 2.17 miles per hour.

If you want to do about an hour-long workout, DON’T choose the 60 min. option when it’s offered. (That just means TWO of your songs will play between each segment of story.) Instead, do half of your workout in mission mode and do the other half / return trip in radio mode (which happens automatically.) You’ll get more game play out of the app that way.

To keep things fresh, make more playlists to swap in. Pander to all the moods that can work for you. I even have one that is entirely composed of really uplifting songs for days when my mood is bad.

Be aware of the security risk inherent in sharing your map routes, especially if you are a very habitual runner/walker. No point in advertising where and when you are out and about and distracted.

Once you are in radio mode, and no zombie chases should be triggered, you can easily interval train by picking up the pace for the length of each song. [EDIT] I’ve now triggered a second zombie chase in radio mode. See the edit section, above, in “Here’s how chases work, from the support pages.

This app is great at making you extend your walk/run just a little more. You want to hear the next radio broadcast, or you might as well run to the end of the song, or (if you’re keeping track of distance) until the next quarter-mile. Let it manipulate you.

There is also a 5K trainer, and there are expansions you can purchase, via something called a Season Pass. I’m not there yet, so I can’t say much about it.

If you need to free up space on your phone, use the “Download Manager” in the app menu to delete completed missions. Your run log will not lose the data from completed missions.