New Gaming PC

In my last blog post where I discussed the upcoming MSFS AAU2 (Aircraft & Avionics Update) which is due to release on 23 June, I briefly mentioned some issues I had been having with my gaming PC.  The PC in question, I called GBS Beast Mark V (which was the 5th gaming machine I had built in recent years).  I built the machine in May of 2018 (5 years ago) and at the time it was pretty much top of the line with an Intel i7 8700K CPU, Nvidia 1080Ti GPU and 32GB of RAM.  It performed well with the games of that time period including American Truck Simulator, Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Prepar3D Flight Simulator.  It performed OK with the new Microsoft Flight Simulator.  However, sacrifices had to be made with some graphic settings in an effort to keep the FPS above the 30 FPS mark.

However, over the past month or so I had been experiencing several issues which caused concern for the overall health and longevity of the machine. I’m pretty good about keeping backups, so about two weeks ago I made a backup of everything I needed and a few days later the machine finally rolled over and said no more.  I quickly put a plan in place to start looking at the costs of building a new machine which would obviously be more powerful and hopefully future proof for at least another 5 years.

GBS Beast Mark VI

Obviously technology has taken a huge leap forward over the past several years and certainly so since 2018.  As previously stated, I wanted to try to future proof any new build everywhere possible.  As with previous builds, the most intensive gaming I play is flight sim.  To truly maximize the total immersion possible, any new build would need to have the very best CPU and GPU available and that’s what I’ve done with this new build.

GBS Beast Mark VI features an Intel i9 13900KF CPU on a Z790 motherboard and cooled with a liquid CPU cooler.  In addition, I’m going with  the top of the line Nvidia 4090 24GB GPU.  In addition, I’m adding three Samsung 990 Pro NVME SSD’s and reusing three Samsung 870 Evo SSD’s from the old machine.  Total storage capacity will be 8 TB.  In addition, I’m adding 32 GB RAM (DDR5) which is more than enough for the games I play and all this will be housed in a massive (largest case I’ve ever used due to the massive Nvidia 4090 GPU) Corsair 5000D Airflow ATX Case.

Testing Benchmarks

As I have stated many, many times over the years.  I tweak my system for smoothness and typically don’t concern myself too much with how many FPS I can get from the hardware.  As stated above, my old gaming machine was still capable of giving me a fairly smooth experience around the 30 FPS mark in Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Of course, I had to dialed down some of the graphics settings in order to achieve this, but nonetheless I was able to enjoy the sim just the same.

Of course, the beauty of having this extremely beefy system now with the i9 13900 KF CPU and the truly awesome Nvidia 4090 GPU, I’m pretty much able to run my graphics settings to the full extreme and still enjoy a smooth, buttery visual experience at 60+ FPS with both the Fenix Airbus A320 and the PMDG Boeing 737-800.

The WOW Factor

I’m literally blown away at the huge leap forward I’m experiencing with this new PC and it very much reminds me of how I felt 5 years ago when GBS Beast Mark V came to life.  But of course MSFS wasn’t around at that time and has completely changed the flight simulation landscape.  Over the next few weeks I’ll continue tweaking the new machine and will post my settings once they are all dialed in the way I want them.  While I’m not saying one cannot enjoy MSFS without a 4090 GPU, I will just say that it is absolute joy to see the virtual skies in all their glory without sacrificing performance.

It’s great to have a gaming machine once again and I look forward to many years of what I believe will be truly awesome experiences in all the simulation games I enjoy.  Obviously, Farming Simulator and American Truck/Euro Truck will certainly enjoy the benefits of the updated hardware, but of course not to the same level as MSFS since that is both a CPU and GPU extensive simulation.

Until next time…

Happy Gaming!

Jerry

Farewell Eustace Pharmer

It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform those of you who regularly read my blog that our dear, dear friend….Eustace Pharmer aka Atomic67-Gaming recently passed away.  Like many of you, I met and got to know EP via his YouTube Farming Simulator Channel.  While EP was not responsible for me starting my own channel, he was truly the inspiration and mentor in which I continued to strive to be in my own efforts of developing online content.  While EP wasn’t actively producing content on his main channel, he had been actively working on a new project where he released daily YouTube Shorts featuring daily inspirational messages on his Percy Wyatt Relaxation channel

As we all know, EP was a perfectionist in all that he allowed us to see and often times we waited anxiously for his next installment of what ever he was producing.  But it was his shear talent and love for all of us that he put into each and every production he released on his channel. For me personally, each time I received a notification of new content from his channel, I knew it would be absolute gold.  However, his greatest love was in helping others.  Whether it was helping someone understand various elements with the games he played or helping someone start their own channel, he did it because he loved doing it.  This was his true passion and the legacy in which he leaves behind. 

While there are many content creators who were inspired through EP’s efforts, I’m lucky to have been able to call him a friend and was fortunate enough to be able to meet him face to face on one occasion about 5 years ago.  EP and his wife were flying through Denver on their way out to Las Vegas and we met up at the airport for lunch.

In the 8+ years I knew EP, I got to know the real man behind the YouTube personality and to be honest….there really wasn’t much of a difference.  EP was a loving husband and father and just an all-round good man.  Thank you for your friendship and all the kindness you shared with me over the years.  You will be dearly missed….but NEVER forgotten. 

Requiescat in pace amicus meus

Jerry

Why We Sim

A few weeks ago I was perusing through the various social media platforms and groups I belong to and discovered a discussion taking place regarding why simulation based games are so popular.  One individual in particular was (in my opinion) trolling the group and making various references that simulation based games are the absolute most boring titles he had ever witnessed and just couldn’t understand why people would spend countless hours playing these types of games.  He referenced two which I myself enjoy, Flight Simulator and Farming Simulator. 

One point he attempted to make was if you wanted to farm or fly, just go do it in real life.  He went on to compare the costs (specifically with flight sim) where one could easily pay for the lessons and time to obtain a PPL or Private Pilots License.  I attempted to follow the discussions for a few days but finally lost interest as it was pretty clear to me he really had no clue what he was talking about and most likely was a kid just trying to get a reaction from the group.  Anyway….

The gaming industry today is big and growing even larger.  If Google is correct, the total industry size includes 3.2 billion players and some $197 billion in revenue during the year 2021 and the forecast for 2022 was expected to hit $200bn.  Needless to say, there’s something for everyone when it comes to video game content. 

As for me personally, the reasons I enjoy simulation based games is most likely not unique.  While at one time in my life I had a dream of learning to fly and obtaining my PPL, this just simply isn’t possible any more.  However, through the awesome Microsoft Flight Simulator platform I can fly anywhere in the world from the comfort of my mancave and enjoy each and every minute while doing it.  I can role play anything from a bush pilot flying into the Alaskan wilderness all the way to a commercial airline captain flying into small or large international airports around the world.  And with the beauty of MSFS, I can fly into a large airport in my jetliner and then depart in a small single engine aircraft and spend time sightseeing around the region. 

I’ve known many fellow flight simmers who have used their virtual experience to propel them into various aviation careers such as private and commercial pilots and air traffic control.  Many pilots I’ve known through the years continue to use the various flight simulation platforms (in some degree) to brush up on their skills.  Likewise, I’ve read about individuals who have come of age with ATS or ETS2 and have used that experience to take up a career in trucking/transportation.  I also know of a few individuals who have started working on farms because of their interest and passion from Farming Simulator.

The level of immersion has always been a number one requirement for me in any simulation based gaming title.  I’ve discussed many times before that in my opinion the bar has been set fairly high by the flight simulation genre as what truly will define any other simulation gaming title.  I’ve discovered in the past where developers have labeled their titles as “Simulation”, but found many reasons why that misses the mark greatly.  Any simulation based title must provide an “As Real As It Gets” experience to truly immerse me into that virtual world.   

For the simulation based titles I play the most (Flight Sim, ATS/ETS2 and Farming Simulator) the level of immersion is high enough to allow me to completely escape the stresses of the real world for an hour or more as I simulate the life of a pilot, a trucker or a farmer in my own virtual world.  And it is for this very reason why I sim. 

Why do you sim? 

Thanks for taking the time to read.  Until next time…

Happy Simming!!!

Jerry

Reader Question–MultiPlayer Networks

Here’s another reader question/comment that was submitted a few days ago.  I think this will be helpful to those who are thinking about taking their simulation experience to the next level.  While my comments to the general question will reference American Truck Simulator/Euro Truck Simulator 2, most of my key points will be directed towards Flight Simulator.  So let’s get started with the question and then my general comments.

Hello.  I found your blog site after a few Google searches regarding a recent issue I experienced after connecting to the VATSIM network for the first time.  In all honesty, I’m fairly new to Microsoft Flight Simulator.  But many years ago I did use FSX but never tried VATSIM.  I’ve been watching YouTube videos and Twitch streams and VATSIM seems really cool. But my first experience wasn’t an easy one and I’m really confused.  Basically I connected to VATSIM and wanted to experience seeing other aircraft in real world liveries and just fly.  The first issue I discovered was that I didn’t see other aircraft in their respective real world liveries and I also angered the controllers and other pilots when I attempted to take off without permission.  I was hoping my VATSIM experience would be similar to ATS where I could just do whatever I wanted to do until such time as I could get my head around all the procedures.  Needless to say, I don’t think VATSIM is for me but wanted to see if you had any pointers for me. 

First things first.  The VATSIM online network is NOT like the online networks for ATS or ETS2.  Yes, you’re right….for the most part with ATS/ETS2 you can connect and just do your thing pending it doesn’t violate the terms of service of TruckersMP.  In other words, as long as you don’t crash into other players or block roads/intersections then most likely you’ll be fine.  Of course, you’ll see plenty of idiots doing the very things I encouraged you to avoid, but when they are caught they are generally served with a ban.

But like I said, other than TruckersMP and VATSIM both being online multiplayer networks…that’s really where the similarities end.  The online networks for flight simulation including VATSIM, IVAO, PilotEdge and POSCON are all serious, by the book online multiplayer networks.  Before connecting to any of these networks you really need to have an understanding of a few important things.

First, you really need to have a solid understanding of the aircraft you are flying.  In other words, you should be able to taxi, take-off, fly and navigate based on a pre-determined filed route including SIDS/STARS and finally land, taxi and shut down the aircraft.  While I’ve been flying on the VATSIM network for more than two decades, I rarely fly using a new aircraft until such time that I’ve put in the time required to learn it properly. 

Second, you really need at the very least a basic understanding of the procedures required for filing a flight plan, requesting ATC clearance and just a general understanding of all the radio communications needed during a flight.  While there may be times you’ll find no controllers logged in, this doesn’t mean you can just do what you want to do.  Regardless of ATC availability…one should always operate his/her aircraft in such a manner that doesn’t impact other online pilots. 

It may all sound like a lot of stuff to learn, but if I can do it…then anyone can learn the ins and outs of VATSIM or any of the other online networks for flight simulator.  My advice is to search YouTube for VATSIM tutorials.  You’ll find hundreds of hours of content to get you started.  Second, I would encourage you to connect to the VATSIM network, make sure your plane is parked at a gate or some other remote parking area and tune into the various frequencies and just LISTEN!  You’ll hear how other pilots are requesting clearance and communicating with ATC.  Don’t give up….keep learning and keep trying.  But bottom line, please understand that the online networks are for serious users who want to simulate the real world operations. 

Now, you mentioned when you did login all the other aircraft did not appear in the real world liveries as you had hoped they would.  There is an easy solution for this and allow me to direct you to the FSLTL (Flight Sim Live Traffic Liveries) website.  You’ll also find YouTube videos on how to setup FSLTL so that when you connect to VATSIM you’ll see other aircraft as you would expect. 

Finally, I also have several “how to” articles I’ve written over the years which can be found here.  Alternatively you can navigate there by clicking the Flight Menu and clicking Flight Sim Tutorials.  A few that might help you initially will be The Basics of VATSIM, IFR versus VFR and Your First Flight

Also, understand this final important thing.  Everyone….including myself and everyone else you’ll find on the VATSIM network have been exactly where you are today.  We’ve all been brand new and we’ve all made mistakes.  From time to time we may even still make a mistake.  But bottom line is we’ve all been brand new at this.  The vast majority of individuals you’ll encounter will go out of their way to help someone new.  Especially when that new person has a desire to learn and improve. 

I hope this helps you and I hope it helps anyone else that may read this article at some time in the future.  The flight simulation community for the most part is comprised of likeminded individuals who all have a passion for aviation and we’re all extremely helpful to those who are new. 

I hope to see you flying the friendly VATSIM skies very soon. 

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

My Tenth Anniversary

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On 2 September 2010 I wrote my first flight simulator related blog article and published it to an old blog site I called “Position and Hold”.  Ten years later, I’m still actively writing about my involvement in the hobby of flight simulation.  And with a brand new simulator release from Microsoft, there’s going to be so much more to write about.

A few years later I did rebranded my site to bring all of my simulation based gaming interests into my GrizzlyBearSims brand and renamed the site “Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and Farming Too!) which of course is the name of a great movie starring the late John Candy and Steve Martin.  The concept was to have a single platform to write about flight sim (Planes), train sim (Trains) and ATS/ETS2 Truck Sim (Automobiles) and of course also throw in Farming Simulator into the mix. 

Over the past 4-5 years my writings typically followed which ever of the above mentioned topics I spent the most time enjoying.  While I enjoy ALL the titles I mentioned above, my writings have been the most passionate when they discussed the topic of flight simulation.  This is why you’ll find a lot more posts on flight sim than any of the other topics. 

As previously mentioned, with the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, there will be so much more to experience and ultimately write about.  I’ve already been busy enjoying the new sim and providing as much information as I can through both this blog site and also my YouTube channel.  In addition, I’ve been rebuilding my GrizzlyBearSims Discord channel to feature all things simulation.  Please join me as I pop the cork on the past 10 years and what will hopefully be many more years to come. 

Jerry

General Update & COVID-19

Hello Friends,

I haven’t been active on social media much the past few weeks.  Since Monday, 16 March I’ve been working from home and being in the IT field, I feel as if I’m just as busy in this remote configuration as I’ve been at any time based in an office.  Still managing the same projects, much of the same work and even some new challenges as a company of over 100K employees all fight for available bandwidth across a VPN network.  The good news is everything seems to be holding together well and we’re all just trying to make the very best of the situation.

Health

My wife and I, (along with all my family members around the world) are all healthy.  In early March and well before the grocery store shortages began, my wife and I began shopping for essentials as we suspected things would get bad here in the US.  We didn’t hoard, but we added to our pantry some essentials and even some non-essentials such as snacks. After all, if we’re going to be confined to our house for any length of time….might as well enjoy it with some Twinkies, Oreos and bean dip.  No, this doesn’t get consumed together.  LOL

Parents Role Reversed

I’m really not sure at what point in life the role of parent/son gets reversed.  After my mom passed away last year, I’ve had a few opportunities where I needed to apply a little more persuasion with my dad than I’ve ever done before.  My dad will turn 77 this fall and for the most part he’s doing well coping after my mom’s passing.  But I had to be a bit forceful a few weeks ago about insisting that he go to the grocery store and purchase a little extra food than normal and also that he limits his visits.  He gets it and I rest easier being 1,000 miles away from him that he’ll be OK through this. 

Coping Mechanisms

We all have different coping mechanisms when it comes to how we deal with the stresses of life.  My wife and I both lost our moms last year.  She and I were very eager to celebrate the new year and say goodbye to what we thought was a crappy year (2019) and hello to what we thought would be a very good year (2020).  Needless to say, the jury is still out on just how this is all going to unfold and what things are going to look like on the other side.  But as I said, we all have different coping mechanisms….

While I’m busy with work, I’m still stuck at home.  I’ve been spending a bit of time doing some virtual flying.  It had been a few months since I had seriously spent any time with Prepar3D (P3D) and I’m enjoying flying long-haul flights where I can start the flight up before my work begins and either land during my lunch time or after my day ends. 

This week all I’m flying are cargo runs as I still can’t believe we have as many real-world passenger flights flying all over the world and furthering the spread of COVID-19.  But I digress.  As I said, the flights I’m flying are cargo runs with Fedex.  I’ve done some flights to and from Memphis, but now embarking on some imaginative flights to help shuttle medical supplies, food and perhaps even some toilet paper to some far away places. 

Final Thoughts

I’m no expert.  But we all need to do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19.  Stay Home!  Wash your hands! And while we all need to stay informed, limit your exposure to the 24 hours news cycle to just a few minutes each day (perhaps a few times a day). 

I may storyboard some of my flying adventures and post them here to my blog.  Who knows….

Until next time….

Please stay safe!  Remember, the life you save…might just be someone else. 

Jerry

Switching Gears, Making Plans and Simply Safe Mods

First, THANK YOU!  Thank you for taking the time to read this posting.  Perhaps you’ve come here from my brief YouTube announcement, from a posting in Discord or you just simply stumbled onto my blog site.  Whatever the reason….I truly appreciate you taking the time from your busy day to read this important message. 

Getting to the Point!

I realize I have a tendency of using 10,000 words when perhaps less than 100 will do the job.  So with that, I’m switching gears and making plans with regards to my gaming social media life.  For the time being, I’m stepping back from the creation of “Let’s Play” videos from my GrizzlyBearSims YouTube channel.  I believe this news has truly been a long time coming. 

For the past year, I’ve struggled with the creative motivation needed to keep my channel current.  I’ve taken lengthy breaks in an effort to recharge my batteries, but once I restart I once again hit the brick wall called burnout.  Unfortunately, with my heavy work schedule and other life commitments, the stop/start would only continue to stop…then start. 

Don’t Touch That Dial!

Please Don’t Unfriend/Unfollow Me Just Yet!  I’m going to make some changes to both my Discord channel and eventually my YouTube channel.  These changes will be a rebranding effort to support SimplySafeMods.com.  What?  You haven’t heard about SimplySafeMods?

SimplySafeMods

If you’ve been around my YouTube, Discord and this blog site for very long, you know my thoughts on some mod sites.  I wrote an article a few years ago where I identified a few “reputable mod sites for Farming Simulator Mods”.  Unfortunately for all of us, several of the sites I listed as “reputable” are no longer around.  This includes PC-SG, FS-UK and Mod Central. I created SimplySafeMods.com in an effort to offer a safe, reliable, fast and absolutely free alternative to the scam mod sites such as uploaded.net. 

At SimplySafeMods.com we work directly with the original mod author so you can be absolutely sure the mod you download is genuine.  In addition, SimplySafeMods is 100% ad-free and offer fast download speeds. 

At the present time, SimplySafeMods is hosting both Farming Simulator 17 and Farming Simulator 19 mods.  Please take a few minutes and visit the site and browse our selection of mods.  You might be surprised at just what you’ll find available with some truly awesome new mods coming very soon.

Rebranding Plan

The first thing you’ll notice change is with Discord.  The GrizzlyBearSims Discord channel will be rebranded to become SimplySafeMods.  I want a method for both mod developers and the users of their mods to have a way to communicate with each other in an effort to provide reasonable support.  Discord is a much better solution than a clunky forum. 

Finally, I will eventually rebrand my YouTube presence to also reflect SimplySafeMods.  I believe YouTube can be used to help promote SimplySafeMods as well as be a platform to host mod reviews etc. 

This is not goodbye

I have zero regrets about the time I’ve spent making YouTube content.  I’ve met some really incredible individuals who have become dear friends to me.  This is just about shifting gears and focusing on a new project.  I will continue to be around Discord and will continue to watch all the great content from those of you producing it. 

Before you go, please do me a favor.  First, visit and join my Discord channel and say hello.  Second, visit and bookmark SimplySafeMods.com.  Browse the FS17/FS19 mods and see if anything interests you.  Then stay tuned to both Discord and SimplySafeMods for new mod releases. 

As always, thank you for your friendship.

Jerry

Where’s Jerry?

Well…let’s see.  The last time some of you heard from me was just before my wife and I embarked on our three week European vacation.  This was back in mid-July.  That seems like it was ages ago…and I suppose it was. 

The trip was mostly uneventful.  I say mostly…only because both my wife and I got sick during the trip and we had to change our plans as a result.  We spent the first several days recuperating and then the heatwave hit.  Needless to say it was HOT!  We were in England on the hottest day of record and it was miserable. 

On our flight home, we both were just ready to put it all behind us.  After all, 2019 hasn’t been the best our best year.  Shortly after the new year, my Mother-in-law passed away and then in April my own mom died.  This vacation was supposed to be a time for my wife and I to relax and it was anything but.  But as I said, we were on our way home and as the old saying goes…”There’s no place like home”.

After arriving home we found we had a leak in the upstairs master bathroom that had ruined the ceiling in the kitchen.  For the next several weeks our house resembled something out of the movie Outbreak.  I half expected Dustin Hoffman to come walking out.  We had a giant containment room setup in the kitchen with loud fans and air scrubbers running for 5 days and then the entire downstairs ceiling had to be repainted. 

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To cap it all off, our upstairs AC decided to stop working and this resulted in about a week of learning to sleep in warm temperatures which just reminded us of the England trip. 

Fortunately, things are slowly starting to come together.  We managed to make it through the long Labor Day holiday weekend without any major issue and we’re both looking forward to fall. 

I’m sorry I’ve been mostly absent from discord and social media. Needless to say…I’ve just not really been in the mood.  I will try to change this in time. 

Thanks for reading.  Talk soon…

Jerry

Political Division–No Place in our Hobby

I participate in two different hobbies which in the past have always promoted good will towards mankind.  The first is amateur radio (ham radio) which brings likeminded radio/electronics enthusiasts from around the world where we find each other on the airwaves and use our common interests to bridge the issues that divide us.  In this hobby, I’ve talked to fellow hams all over the world.  From someone a few blocks away all the way to hams in England, Japan, Australia, China, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq and Israel.  We exchange our thoughts, ideas and our dreams for a peaceful and better world.  In my over 10 years of being an FCC licensed amateur radio operator, I’ve never heard anything other than positive vibes regardless who is talking and regardless of where they are talking from. 

Years ago, the flight simulation hobby was just like this.  VATSIM, IVAO and the internet in general has brought many of us from differing cultures together for a common interest and that is aviation and flight simulation. 

Last week on one of the Facebook groups I belong to, a fellow flight simmer posted a series of screen shots he had taken from his flight simulator to showcase a flight he had recently enjoyed.  The pictures showed an aircraft from the Israeli airlines El-Al.  The image was simply celebrating the history of Israel.  The image, nor the typed message from the original poster didn’t contain any hateful, hurtful or political remarks.  Yet, just a few minutes after it was posted….several members began sharing their hateful, spiteful and dangerous comments. 

Thinking back to the immediate days after September 11, 2001….VATSIM shut down their network to coincide with what was happening in the real world.  I was extremely proud that something which is just a hobby, made the decision to also cease operations during the timeframe where no other commercial aircraft was flying around the world.  I received messages from fellow flight simmers who also were members of the same virtual airline I was flying for at the time (American virtual Airlines) offering their condolences for the tragic events that took place that day.  Some of these fellow members were from the Middle East.  They realized this hobby has no place for hate and political BS.  We just want to fly our virtual aircraft. 

Our world and our hobby is not the same as it was on the 10th of September 2001.  The internet and social media has unfortunately created a mass of “keyboard warriors” who spew their hate, spew their political agendas and their absolute ignorance.  I’m not being naïve about this, I’m simply saying that this hobby doesn’t have room for this behavior.   The good news????  The admins of this Facebook group did quickly act, they shut down the post and they banned those who were spewing their hate towards the El-Al photograph.

I’m a fan of all airlines and while I mostly fly American Airlines, Southwest and British Airways….I also simulate operations for airlines such as Emirates, Etihad, Royal Jordanian, Gulf Air and YES…I also fly El-Al from time to time.  I’m not planning to stop and I’m not planning to stop sharing screenshots of these flights.  If this happens to become the new norm (and I don’t think it will), I’m not sure I want to remain participating (at least not publicly) in the hobby any longer. 

For the most part I realize the overwhelming majority who participates in our hobby will agree with what I’m saying.  However, there is that old saying which reads, “a few bad apples can spoil the entire barrel”.  So I hope you’ll join me in ensuring the bad apples never make it into the basket.  If while on social media you see the type of behavior I’ve described, say something…report it.  I’m not suggesting you act the same way (two wrongs don’t make a right), but stepping in, reporting it and I’d even go so far as insisting the admins do the right thing and place temporary or permanent bans on the offenders is really the only way this can be stopped. 

Next week I’m going to discuss the struggle for balance between between performance of the sim versus maximum immersion.  The following week I’m going to give an overview and some tips if you are planning to move away from Envtex/Envshade to the new REX Environment Force.  Then if nothing happens, the week following I plan to share with you my “Top 10 Payware Aircraft for Prepar3d/FSX”.  I hope you’ll take the time to read.

Until next time…

Be Kind to each other….

Jerry

A Gamer’s Healthy Life

I began working on this article to publish on my GrizzlyBearSims gaming blog over two months ago.  I also talked about my weight loss and exercise journey on one of my last YouTube Videos before my break.  As I had over 90% of the article written, I didn’t want it to go to waste so I’ve completed it and it’s ready to publish.  While this won’t be a regular topic on my gaming blog, it is something I’m passionate about and something that many of us truly can benefit from.  So perhaps every few months I’ll throw together some health related topics and include them here.  But it will certainly be less than 25% of my normal content.  If you’re interested in discussing more about this, you can reach me via Discord message. 

We’ve all seen and heard the typical stereotypes regarding the un-healthy lifestyle of most gamers.  Let’s face it, if you consider yourself a gamer…well, you probably enjoy spending many hours sitting while enjoying what ever type of game you enjoy.  It’s just the way it goes!  Of course, perhaps this article already finds you also living an active lifestyle.  If so, congratulations and you can probably stop reading.  But if you’re like me and spend 50+ hours a week at a high stress desk job, sometimes arrive before the sun comes up and usually leaves after the sun has set and the amount of exercise you achieve is the quick walk to the vending machine and back.  Then perhaps this article might interest you.

Go See Your Doctor

Now before I get started allow me to just say this.  Before starting any diet/exercise program you really should consult with your primary care or family doctor first.  In addition, for those of us who have experienced more than a few trips around the sun…this should be done once a year.  Some insurance providers even cover these “Wellness Exams” 100% with no co-pay.  But the important take-away from this is to consult with your doctor just to be sure you are safe to begin an exercise program.

I’m Not a Doctor…

…and I didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night either.  I’m also not a dietician, fitness expert or anything else related to this subject.  I’m just a regular guy who once was overweight, out of shape and decided to do something about it.  Then a few years passed and I almost let it all go down hill again.  The topics I’m going to cover are simply what have worked for me.  Will they work for you?  Most likely they will…but my method does require some commitment and yes…a lot of hard work.  Again, go see your doctor and remember this is just my method.

How Weight Loss Works

A friend of mine posted the below “How to Lose 10 lbs. in a week” meme on Facebook the other day.  Despite what you might see on TV, this meme is 100% accurate.  Simply put…you can’t lose 10 lbs.  in a week.  Once you accept this fact, it makes the true understanding about how weight loss through diet/exercise possible.

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In simple terms, a normal/healthy human body will lose weight when the amount of calories burned through some form of exercise is greater than the amount of calories consumed.  Said in the opposite way, a normal/healthy human body will GAIN weight when you sit on the sofa all day and eat nothing but cheeseburgers and barely move.

While the concept of losing weight by burning more calories than you consume is relatively easy to understand, this is where the discipline comes into play.  The only way to really make this work is to monitor your exercise and count calories.  But fear not…there are some wonderful tools that will make this easy peasy and I’ll tell you about the tools I use in just a moment.

But What About Those Fad Diets

Oh…you mean the ones you see on TV?  Like Jenny Craig, SouthBeach Diet, WeightWatchers etc.  Yes, these will work…but have you checked the price of those meals?  WOW!  These programs work (if you adhere to the program) by simply limiting your calorie intake.  But you can achieve the exact same thing by shopping at your local grocery store and preparing your own meals.  Plus you’ll save hundreds of dollars in the process.

Now I do typically keep a few Healthy Choice (or other brand) frozen meals in my freezer.  These are for when I just don’t have the time to cook.  The reason I do this is as a safety net.  If something is keeping me from cooking, then the typical default plan is to go get fast food.  WRONG!  So I keep a few frozen meals in my freezer and will eat these instead.  While these are not as healthy as fresh cooked food, these are far better than fast food.  Plus it’s really easy to know just how many calories I’m consuming and can add that to my daily plan.

The Basic Numbers

Like most things…the science with weight loss through diet/exercise is a numbers game.  As I’ve already pointed out, a normal/healthy human body will lose weight when the amount of calories burned through exercise is greater than the amount of calories consumed.  But to really understand how this works, we need to know a few numbers.  These numbers may vary depending on the source.  The numbers I’m listing below are from a website I’ll talk more about later called MyFitnessPal.  Also, these numbers are based on my age, height and gender.  For the record, I’m 52 years old, 6’0” and I’m a guy.

Based on the info I mentioned above, I would need to eat/consume 2,250 calories just to maintain my weight.  Or 1,750 per day to lose one pound per week or 1,500 calories per day to lose up to two pounds per week.

Just for comparison, looking at the numbers for a 6’0” tall, 52 year old woman the numbers would be 2,060 calories per day to maintain current weight.  Or 1,560 calories per day to lose one pound per week or 1,200 calories to lose up to two pounds per week.  As you can tell, the differences between the male and female body as it relates to metabolism are quite different.

So yes, in theory….you could simply just consume the above mentioned calories and still stay seated on the couch and either maintain or lose weight.  But that’s no fun and it’s not healthy!

The Benefits of Exercise

When I was a young boy, I absolutely hated calisthenics.  That’s what our exercising program in elementary school was called.  I just wanted to go out to the playground and run, jump and chase the girls around the playground.  The end result would most likely have been the same…but instead we had to line up in the gymnasium and do all sorts of things.  But now that I’m older and of course much, much wiser…I fully understand the value of getting my butt up and moving.

For me personally, I have elevated cholesterol numbers (used to be very high) and I have above normal blood pressure readings and also suffer from acid reflux.  Most likely the recent stress of my job and a few other things that have been going on is contributing to the above normal BP readings.  While I’m not in the danger zone, my doctor wants me to reduce the numbers AND SO DO I!

Regarding my cholesterol.  About 15 years ago it was sky high.  My primary care doctor at the time prescribed me one of the popular statin drugs and I popped a pill every day for about 8 years.  The statin drug did what it was supposed to do, but I began suffering from the side effects after using it for that many years.  I had to do something and thankfully I changed doctors and found one that helped motivate me to exercise more.

So in my case, the exercise (and diet of course) eventually allowed me to lower my cholesterol to safe and normal levels naturally.  Unfortunately, I got lazy again. But I’m back in gear and working the numbers back down to safe levels.

So that my friends, is one of the benefits to exercise.  There are many others including actually getting a better nights sleep.  I sleep so much better when I’m exercising.

As I also mentioned acid reflux.  When I was really heavy (several years ago) I took prescription Nexium daily.  When I lost all my weight, I was able to quit the Nexium.  I should have listened to my body as a few months ago as I allowed my weight to creep above 200 pounds, I began having acid reflux symptoms again  and had to go back on Nexium.  Lesson learned!  Always, listen to your body.

My Exercise Program

Once again I’m going to encourage you to visit with your doctor before starting any form of exercise.  I’m also going to remind you of what I’ve already said regarding these are the things that work for me.  With that out of the way, an exercise program can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.  For me, I absolutely love walking and walking is what I do and it’s just about the only thing I do for my exercise program.  Yes, I do occasionally lift small weights…but generally I just walk.

My daily goal is 10,000 steps per day.  10,000 steps per day is roughly (give or take) about 5 miles.  As previously stated, I love walking.  While I will walk on my treadmill during inclement weather, I much prefer to be outside.  I have a park across from my neighborhood which is safe and I can walk and listen to the birds sing.  I also have areas around my office building where I can also safely walk and on warm weather days see many others out stretching their legs and taking in the fresh air.  But yea…I just simply walk.

But…I walk at a fairly fast pace.  The courses I typically use will have varying elevation to them.  Some flat, some downhill and some uphill.  I like the variety as it really gets my heart pumping on the uphill segments, but then allows for a bit of a cooldown on the flat and downhill segments.  I can generally cover a mile in just under 16 minutes.  Just walking…no jogging.

Gadgets Are Cool

What can I say?  I love gadgets and many times gadgets truly help make our lives better.  Of course there are a ton of different gadgets related to fitness.  I’m going to share with you what I use and how I use them.

As I mentioned earlier, my daily exercise goal is to walk 10,000 steps.  While there are many different pedometers available I invested in a Fitbit about 5-6 years ago.  I use the Fitbit One model.  Unfortunately, the Fitbit One is no longer in production and Amazon sellers are charging an arm and a leg for new ones.  But the reason I chose the Fitbit One was I don’t typically wear a watch and I wanted something I could just clip to my belt loop and off I go.  I wear it every day, all day.  It counts every step I take regardless if I’m intentionally exercising or just walking down the hall.  But generally…even if I’m walking down the hall to a meeting, I’m doing that at a fairly brisk pace.  Folks in the office used to stare at me.  But then they began noticing the weight falling off and I’ve converted many to my lifestyle.  The Fitbit One model is fairly basic as it only tracks steps and sleep tracking.  Some models will track heartrate and most likely someday I’ll upgrade to a more fancy model.  But for now, my Fitbit One is all I want/need.

The Fitbit devices will automagically sync up to the Fitbit website via a smartphone app.  This website tracks my steps, active minutes, number of floors I’ve climbed and calories burned.  Pretty much all the info I need to monitor my daily exercise goals.

Counting Calories

I know….I know!  Counting calories is a pain.  But hey…there’s an app for that.  When I began my weight loss journey (the first time) over 5 years ago, I not only used the Fitbit I mentioned above….but I also used a website (and app) called MyFitnessPal.  MyFitnessPal or MFP for short is truly a thing of beauty and best of all, the Fitbit website and MFP can be integrated in such a way that your fitness tracking will sync to MFP (and somewhat vice versa) so you easily watch and control all your important numbers.

MyFitnessPal also has a sleek smartphone app which makes it super easy to update your food diary when on the go.  I personally love the bar code scanner feature of the app when cooking.  I can quickly add items to my food diary or even build up complete recipes.  The MFP website also contains an extensive database of food items including everything from fast food down to individual ingredients.  Super, super easy.

Counting calories is just as important as your individual exercise program.  In my opinion, if you are putting in the effort to burn calories and you are not taking the time to carefully count your calories, then you will fail.  Everything you consume needs to be accounted for.  EVERYTHING!  Otherwise, you will fail.

Moderation is Key

The word moderation is your friend especially when it pertains to what you should and shouldn’t eat/drink when on a diet and exercise program.  Remember….this is just how I do things.  But quite honestly…if you want to eat a Wendy’s Triple burger when on your diet, go for it!  Just understand this one triple meat burger weighs in around 1,090 calories, want to add large fries to that order, that’s an additional 530 calories and while we’re at it…let’s finish it off with a small errr I mean large Frosty at 590 calories for a grand total of ……(drum roll please)…..2,210 calories.   You better do a whole lot of walking to burn all those calories.  But I suppose it can be done.

But seriously, eating the foods you love “in moderation” is still doable while on a diet and exercise program.  Unless your doctor specifically tells you to watch your sodium intake…you can still enjoy “in moderation” just about everything from time to time.  While I love cheeseburgers as much as the next guy, I would much prefer to cook my own, on my own grill than blow my calorie budget on fast food.  But that’s just my opinion.

Speaking of moderation.  I’m partial to bit of Bailey’s a few times a week.  A one ounce shot of Bailey’s is 98 calories and if I can work it into my dietary budget, I’ll do it.

Speaking of Budgets

I just used the word “budget” when I spoke about working that shot of Bailey’s into my dietary plan.  In my earlier failed attempts at trying to make a diet/exercise plan work I never thought of it as a budget.  I often had “free days” built into my plan and didn’t accurately count calories or track my workouts.  These “free days” were days where I didn’t exercise and I ate whatever I wanted.  Free days often turned into back to  back free days which often turned into free weeks, free months…..I failed each time.  It wasn’t until 5-6 years ago when I bought my Fitbit and signed up for MFP that I truly began to look at things as a budget.

Just like my wife and I operate our household from a budget, you need to think about your diet/exercise program as a budget.  The exercise is the income and the food/drink you consume directly comes from that budget.  Nothing is free…there are no free days.  I’m not saying you have to workout seven days a week.  But I am saying you have to be conscience of what you are consuming and how that will impact all your hard work.  If you slip, don’t beat yourself up…rather…pick yourself up, dust yourself off and resume the work.

In Summary

I realize this is a lot of information and a lot of words to read.  I also realize this really has nothing to do with simulation based gaming other than, as gamers, we run the risk of not properly looking after ourselves and I’m sharing this with all of you to be helpful.  I firmly believe that if you devote just a few hours a week to getting some exercise, getting some fresh air and eating correctly…you’ll feel so much better and possibly add years to your life.  The alternative is to continue to feel poorly and in time lose a possible few years.  It’s up to you.  Just do it!

Until next time…

Stay Healthy My Friends!

Jerry

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