When I was in grade 11, in 2002, I weighed in close to 300 pounds at my peak. My school did not have rugby, football, wrestling, or any kind of sport outside of shot-put that a person that size would have a reason to be. I kept that weight on until after I graduated from university in 2008. Now, in 2015, I weight closer to 175 pounds, am much healthier, muscular, happier, and learned a valuable lesson. Fitness is a lifestyle, much like gaming is to a lot of people. This is my guide, for the gamer, to help kick-start the mentality of a healthy lifestyle and inject some of that gaming flair to what otherwise would be a boring activity.
The first step is find a group. Call it a fitness guild if you need to, but I cannot stress this enough how important having a group of like-minded individuals will be to helping your fitness goals. It keeps you from being bored. It keeps you from being alone and letting in those feelings of doubt and awkwardness. It keeps you responsible because now you’re letting someone else down, instead of yourself, if you decide to skip out. It doesn’t have to be 50 people. When I first got started on my path to getting in shape I had one friend who I went to the gym with. Same time every day of our schedule.
The next step is you need to find what best suits your needs. Not every gamer likes every game. The same can be said about the fitness world. Some like to play sports, others like to lift weights. You need to pick what is the most exciting for you, and if you have other friends who are interested then it is even better. If not? Well, you’ll just make new friends.
I see a lot of people fail at achieving their fitness goals because they try and force themselves to perform tasks they have no interest in. If you hate FPS games then why would you buy the new Killzone? You wouldn’t. So if you hate lifting weights, but love soccer, why not just kick a soccer ball around in the backyard or park instead of buying a gym membership?
Trophies and achievements have revolutionized games for some people because it gives them a reason to play games they would not normally play or care about. It also helps extend the life of a game for those who already love it. Make your own trophies, your own rewards for achieving fitness goals. For example, if you are very weak then set up a reward structure once you’re able to lift X, Y, and Z weight of a certain exercise. The same can be done for anything. Running? Check. Weight loss? Check. Walking up stairs? Check. Yes, even walking up stairs can be difficult for people.
I remember not being able to climb a couple flights of stairs without feeling like death came for me, that was how out-of-shape I was. The moment when I could climb five flights without needing a phoenix down was a feeling indescribable.
Just grind. At the end of the day that is going to be a reality. You’re going to come to a point where you feel like you can’t, feel like it sucks, feel like you want to give up. But if you could sit there for 8 hours for a raid on World of Warcraft, why can’t you do that one extra push-up, or that one extra sit-up? A lot of fitness is mental. You feel like your tank is empty but it really isn’t. You just think that way. So take the five minute break, lower the weight, and do it again. So what if you’re taking twice as long to run the distance of the track as you did the previous lap? That is negative thinking. Instead, think positive. “Before, I never was able to even do a second lap. Now I did. I improved. I leveled up.” Positive thinking will create positive results.
What Are Your Priorities?
Take responsibility and make no excuses. This is going to be the hardest part for anyone deciding to get healthy. I’ve been there. I understand that life throws curve balls. Losing weight is hard. But what you have to ask yourself, and I’m being literal here, is “What is more important to me?” If you can grind for hours and days for a raid, or a trophy, or just because the game is fun, why can’t you do it for your health, that Herculean body, or just to fit in a pair of pants better? The answer is you can, you just choose not to. That sounds harsh but it needs to be said.
I’d avoid any scale, any mirror so I wouldn’t have to look at myself. Pictures? Never. I’d always get the biggest clothing (hockey jerseys) so there would be lots of room for hiding my girth. I did not want to face reality. I wanted that excuse that I’m not that fat, I’m not that out-of-shape, so I could stuff myself with more party mix with a guilt free conscience.
Learn from others. Don’t be ashamed you can’t match up with others in the gym. You walk into the gym and see a cut guy doing a 400-pound bench press, or go out on the soccer field to see someone doing acrobatics with the ball you’ve only seen on YouTube videos. Right away some of you are probably thinking you can never do that. It is impossible. But it is not. Just ask them, or watch them, to learn their secrets. In-between sets at the gym, I’d look around and see what other people are doing and learn from them. Some of the exercises I do religiously, and have helped me the most, I’ve gotten from observing others.
Bring your soundtrack. Music makes the world go round. How much does a good tune make a game you’re playing that much more better? Let us be honest, Mass Effect 2 would not have been as good without the Suicide Mission theme. Get a good pair of sound-muffling headphones and blast the songs that make you want to push yourself to the limit and then farther. I listen to high energy K-Pop, even when lifting heavy. You might listen to death metal, or even reggae. It doesn’t matter. If you would listen to X when gaming, it’ll have a similar effect when exercising. Don’t be ashamed of it.
The last part of this starters guide to gamer fitness is ignore the haters. Who here plays games online and gets hated on for being too good, or too sucky, or just cause someone doesn’t like your avatar pic? When that troll says something stupid to get into your head, do you just stop playing the game you enjoy? No, you either ignore them, talk back, or hit the mute button. Do the same in the gym. There are going to be haters everywhere. If you can handle them on Call of Duty, what is fundamentally different handling them going to the gym, or out on the street for a walk?
Now, you might be asking why I chose to write about helping you to improve your fitness goals without actually writing down a workout plan, or telling you to do X exercises, and so on. The reason is because that is the easy part, believe it or not. Lifting the weights, going for a run, those are all simple for people to do. The mental game, getting out of the starting blocks or even just continuing the race is where people fail.
A lot of individuals have asked me for fitness advice once they learned I lost over 100 pounds. I’d spend hours telling them what to do and they would never do it. I’d ask them why and I’d get excuses. I learned I was telling them what to do physically, when it was the mentality they needed the lesson in. If you still feel the need to take a cab to work every day, when your work is a 5 minute walk away, then giving you a workout sheet won’t solve your problem. Yes, that is sadly what someone I knew did. Combine what makes you want to game for hours everyday and adapt it to fitness. Do what works for you. Once you have the mentality of wanting to exercise, the rest is academic and easy, just like pressing start on the menu screen.
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