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New Beginnings

Hey guys! I just wanted to jump on here and thank you all for your support recently. Some of you may have seen the report on MCV -- if you haven't, please check it out. Loads of people have since been in touch with some very kind messages, mostly expressing their opinions on what happened, and what's happening to GameSpot UK in general. The GameSpot UK Podcast page offers some particularly interesting feedback, all of which I've been paying very close attention to.

Subsequently, a lot of people have been in touch asking what I'm up to now. The last couple of weeks have been really exciting -- I've put out the first episode of my new weekly podcast, which not only reunited me with Jane Douglas, Lucy James and Dan Maher, but also went to number one on the iTunes chart. I've also been busy writing for Wired, appearing on BBC and Sky News, and updating my YouTube channel with new videos. In the next few weeks I'll be sitting on a BAFTA games journalsim debate, interviewing Rhianna Pratchett at the Hay Festival, talking about the next Xbox on CNN and BBC, and of course heading out to E3. If you're going to be attending any of those events, please say hi, and if not, I look forward to hearing from you over on my website or on Twitter. There's loads more coming down the line, but for now, please let me know what you think! See you all again soon.

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Jane, Lucy, Dan and I recording the first episode of my new podcast.

UFC Personal Trainer Update -- Week 4

It's the final day of the UFC Personal Trainer programme--here's my final update!

After four weeks, the UFC Personal Trainer competition is over. I'm a little bit sad to be honest, but I can't deny I'm also looking forward to a pint of beer and a pizza binge this weekend! After slower results last week, I made a really hard push this week. Training-wise, it's been more difficult than ever, with UFC Personal Trainer really upping the difficulty and length of my workout sessions.

However, the results have made the hard work pay off--I've gone down from a 34-inch waist to 31-inches, and I've been able to fit back into medium-sized clothing with ease. I dediced to treat myself to some new clothes on the weekend to celebrate! Today's weigh-in also provided better results. I went down to 75.5kg, another 1kg over last week. This means that after a month using UFC Personal Trainer, I've gone from being substantially overweight to within healthy BMI levels, which has made me very happy indeed.

The best way to show my weight loss, though, is in pictorial form. Apologies in advance for the topless photos, but hopefully they show how using UFC I was able to change my body. Here are the images I submitted to MCV magazine on 8th July, followed by the ones I took this morning on 5th August.

BEFORE

IMG_0354

AFTER

IMG_0472

I'm still a few kilogrammes away from my ideal weight, but I'll be sure to keep you updated on my progress as I embark on a new UFC 60-day programme!

Friday 1st July
Weight: 84kg

Friday 8th July
Weight: 80.5kg (-3.5kg lost)

Friday 15th July
Weight: 79kg (-1.5kg lost)

Friday 22nd July
Weight: 77kg (-2.0kg lost)

Friday 29th July
Weight: 76.5kg (-0.5kg lost)

Friday 5th August
Weight: 75.5kg (-1.0kg lost)

Total lost: 8.5kg (1.34st)

UFC Personal Trainer Update -- Week 3

Welcome to my penultimate UFC fitness update--not long to go!

My third week of UFC Personal Training has been a mix of highs and lows. I've completed challenges that would have seemed impossible at the beginning of the month, but I've also indulged more than I should have. Overall, though, things are still on track.

I suffered two slip-ups this week when it came to being healthy. On Sunday, I went for a picnic with a blanket full of food and drink, including bread, wine and sweets. The weather was great, and I happily gorged in the lot. On Tuesday, I got an overwhelming urge for ravioli pasta, so I went and filled up on a large serving accompanied by more bread. I even had a cupcake for desert.

While I do feel guilty about these treats, I balanced things out with a great week of exercise. I've been completing the UFC challenges faster than ever before, and even earned an achievement for a total of five hours spent using the game. V-ups are no longer a chore, but I've been introduced to a new form of torture--the T Press Up, which the game makes me do more reps of than the already-painful standard press up.

I also managed to run 10km on Monday--an achievement I would have thought impossible only three weeks ago. I was also restrained at both a birthday party and a leaving party this week, turning down beers and shots anddrinking Diet Coke instead.

In terms of weight loss, I've only managed to lose 0.5kg this week--my lowest loss to date. However, I'm confident that fat is turning into muscle, as my clothes are starting to become too big. I'm really looking forward to splurging on some new clothes, but first I need to focus on the final week of the challenge. Check back next week to see how I fare!

Friday 1st July
Weight: 84kg

Friday 8th July
Weight: 80.5kg (-3.5kg lost)

Friday 15th July
Weight: 79kg (-1.5kg lost)

Friday 22nd July
Weight: 77kg (-2.0kg lost)

Friday 29th July
Weight: 76.5kg (-0.5kg lost)

Total lost to date: 7.5kg (1.18st)

UFC Fitness Challenge -- Week 2

Time for an update on my second week doing the UFC Personal Trainer challenge!

This week, I went on a slightly more realistic diet, which meant that alcohol, snacks and even pizza were back on the menu! I kicked things off on Saturday at a barbeque where I ate some enjoyably unhealthy snacks such as crisps (no cupcakes though!) and drank two wines and a beer--more than enough to get me tipsy after two weeks off the booze. I also went out for a champagne and pizza dinner on Wednesday, and even treated myself to my favourite snack--licorice!

Pizza!
My Wednesday treat. How could you say no!?

On the fitness front, I've been keeping up with my previous routine, although my day at Develop in Brighton prevented me from doing any exercise at all on Thursday. This was a good thing, though, as I'd been doing something every day for the last couple of weeks, and my body felt like it needed a rest.I've religiously adhered to the UFC Personal Trainer 30-Day Weight Loss Routine though, which runs Friday-Sunday and Tuesday-Wednesday, with Monday and Thursday as breaks. I really like the way that the game keeps introducing new routines to stop things from getting old, and at this stage, getting up and playing the game in the morning has become part of my routine.

Whether it was the alcohol, the salty food or the break in exercise, something worked this week, as I lost even more weight than I did last week. I've managed to come down another 2kg, up over 1.5kg last week, taking me to a new total of 77kg and putting me within touching distance of a healthy BMI.

Over the next week, I plan on maintaining a more realistic diet, rewarding myself with the odd drink or snack, while continuing to do regular exercise. The training is a habit now, but I feel like I need to give myself the odd reward if I'm going to stay healthy after the challenge is over. Thanks for all the comments posted to last week's update--if you have any questions on using UFC to lose weight, feel free to ask any questions, and remember to follow me on Twitter for more regular updates!

Here's my progress to date:

Friday 1st July
Weight: 84kg

Friday 8th July
Weight: 80.5kg (-3.5kg lost)

Friday 15th July
Weight: 79kg (-1.5kg lost)

Friday 22nd July
Weight: 77kg (-2.0kg lost)

Total lost to date: 7kg (1.1 st)

UFC Fitness Challenge -- Week 1

If you listen to the GameSpot UK Podcast or follow me on Twitter, you've probably heard about the UFC Fitness Challenge. Organised by UK games industry magazine MCV,Seb, Johnny and I are all taking part, focussing on improving our fitness over the course of the month with the help of the game.

While I was regularly cycling to work, eating a fairly healthy vegetarian diet, and going to the gym a few times a month, I had gradually gained weight over the last few years. I believe it was mostly down to a typical journalist lifestyle, involving regular drinking, frequent unhealthy snacks, and a fairly sedentary working environment. As a result, my weight crept up to 84kg (13.23 stone), and given my height of 5'7", this put me into overweight territory.

When the UFC Challenge came along, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get back in shape. Firstly, I had to submit a topless photo of myself to the magazine in full-on belly-out mode, which, if nothing else, would shame me into losing some weight. Secondly, the UFC software applies gaming mechanics to weight loss through achievements and challenges--things that motivate most gamers, including me. Thirdly, I also have Seb and Johnny around for support (Cake Thursday and Pay Day Beers are both regular events here in the office).

A week before the challenge, I decided to start altering my diet and getting more exercise to prepare myself for the start of the programme. As well as eating more healthily, I decided to stop drinking alcohol, which in turn meant I could cycle everywhere. I also started doing cardiovascular exercise such as running, rowing and cross-training to aid weight loss.

Once the challenge started on the 8th July, I added the UFC Personal Trainer software to this plan, setting up the 30-day Weight Loss programme. I was impressed with how challenging the UFC software was, even at the beginner level--I found exercises such as the V-Up impossible at first. However, with each day I found I could do more reps, add more weights and open up new routines, which helped strengthen my muscles while I burned calories with cardio work.

So, how's it going so far? Well, I've managed to lose a significant amount of weight over the last two weeks. In the warm-up week I lost 3.5kg. This week, after introducing UFC Personal Trainer, I dropped 1.5kg--not as much weight, but a far healthier amount (the NHS recommends you aim for around 1kg per week), while I suspect that UFC Personal Trainer is helping me turn fat into muscle.

Overall, I'm very pleased with my results so far. People have started to commenton my weight loss, I'm saving a lot of money on transport, food and drink, and I'm generally feeling a lot more energetic. I've also broken through the stage where I was constantly thinking about food and drink, while exercising has become part of my daily routine.I'll continue to update on my progress, but here's an overview on my results so far.

Friday 1st July
Weight: 84kg

Friday 8th July
Weight: 80.5kg (-3.5kg lost)

Friday 15th July
Weight: 79kg (-1.5kg lost)

Guy Cocker Ornament

This blog is a part of the scavenger hunt.

Share a couple of items on your Christmas wishlist this year.
Alienware M11x
New Watch

What games will you play during the holidays?
I'm afraid nothing -- I am going to be spending my first Christmas in Australia with my wife's family and am happily going to be swapping gaming in the London cold for sunbathing on a Melbourne beach!

What are the kinds of food or drinks you must have during the holidays?
This is also my first Christmas as a vegetarian, so no turkey this year, but an Aussie BBQ is a must. One little known fact about me is my love of Australian Eating Liquorice, which is amazing! I also love a cheeky Amaretto around Christmas time!

ORNAMENT HUNT ANSWER - CLUE 3

BBC Five Live - Saturday Edition

Back in August I started contributing to a new show on BBC Five Live called Saturday Edition. I go on every fortnight to talk about the big game news, and also review the best and most interesting games of the week. This Saturday, it was the turn of the PS2's tenth birthday, Back to the Future: The Game, DJ Hero 2, Shaun White Skateboarding and Fable 3. Check it out here. (Note: This episode will expire on 5th November.)

Let me know what you think of the show, and if you're playing DJ Hero 2, leave your Gamertag so I have someone to compete against!

GameSpot UK Facebook Page

Have you joined GameSpot UK's super-dooper Facebook page yet?

We've started using Facebook to gather your thoughts and comments for our multimedia shows--The GameSpot UK Podcast and Start/Select. So, if you want to air your thoughts on UK games industry tax breaks, or PSN Plus, go check it out and you could be appearing in our next show!

We're also using the Facebook page to give you guys a glimpse behind the scenes here at GameSpot UK, including the Little Big Planet 2 unveiling, a look at some the amazing prizes we've given away, as well as Bizarre Creations' superb Liverpool studio.

As ever, we want to know what you think, so if you're loving the Facebook page or think we should be checking out another way to communicate with you guys, then let us know!

facebook

Blog Update

It's been a long time since I last posted an update on my blog. It's been so long, in fact, that the last time I updated was just after our exclusive trip to Dice in Stockholm to see Battlefield 1943. Well, it's just a coincidence that I've decided to pick up the blogging while on another trip to Sweden's capital, this time to see...well, you'll have to wait to find out out. All will be revealed soon enough.

So, what's happening with me? I was recently lucky enough to finally realise a long-held dream of mine--to own a kick-ass home cinema system. My parents and in-laws were kind enough to buy me an Onkyo amplifier, while I saved up the pennies to buy the accompanying KEF speakers. It's an expensive hobby--I forgot how much the little extras cost, but it was totally worth it. It's something me and Mark discuss on this week's GameSpot UK Podcast, so check it out to find out more.

This week, the 2010 edition of the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition is also released, and after pleading with the guys behind the book for the last three years, they've finally allowed me to become one of their experts. My specialist subject is fighting games--an area very close to my heart. So, if you want to find out which is the best fighting game of all time, or which character was the first to feature jiggling bosoms, check out the book in stores now. And to win a copy of the book, make sure you listen out for Gaz Deaves' appearance on the GameSpot UK Podcast this Thursday.

One of my most-anticipated games for 2010 has already been released, and that game is Bayonetta. I pre-ordered it from Game as it was offering a limited edition Scarborough Fair gun, as wielded by the titular witch herself. Anyone who listens to the podcast will know that I'm not a huge fan of deluxe limited edition game items--I simply don't have the space at home, but I have to say that the gun is a nifty little bonus that takes new pride of place on my desk. It's plastic, sure, but it has a nice weight to it, and it's the best of all the UK pre-order bonuses. Lark Anderson, who works in GameSpot's US office, has been looking on enviously as we got the better end of the pre-order deal here in the UK--a trend that looks set to continue with Heavy Rain and God of War III.

That's all for this week's update--my full report on Sweden will follow shortly. In the meantime, check out our Dice studio tour from last year. See you soon!