At a 1K, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile:
“Holy *$&% Brian! What happened to the rest of you!”
“Haha, yeah, I’ve lost some weight.”
“You didn’t suddenly take up doing cocaine as a hobby or anything right? You look great!”
“Nah, nothing so dramatic. Just trying to be healthier.”
“You should write about that. I’d be interested to hear what you’re doing.”
I’ve lost nearly 50 pounds over the past seven months since I’ve focused on adopting a healthier and better lifestyle. It feels great. I feel great. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long, long time. I’m not a dietitian, I don’t really understand calories, and my life doesn’t revolve around CrossFit. I’m just an ordinary gamer who made some positive changes and has benefited from the results.
Understanding Why it is this Way
The first step to changing anything is to understand why it needs to change and the causes. Obviously, if you are reading this and curious about some gamer tips to drop weight, you recognize the goal, and understanding the causes is the first step.
In my case, I basically had the deck stacked against me in every way possible. From a lifestyle perspective, gaming is sedentary, and the grind of travel and events often leads to unhealthy and not ideal eating habits. From a genetic standpoint, I’m a descendant of burly upper peninsula French-Irish lumberjacks on my dad’s side and eastern Europeans who love to cook way too much on my mom’s. And, from an emotional standpoint, I found myself in a long-term relationship that had sort of run its course where the last common ground was watching Netflix or going to the movies and snacking on junk food.
The literal weight gain Tron.
The sun set on the relationship and I found myself single and way heavier than I’d ever been before in my entire life. Single and self-conscious about weight is about as fun as being the designated driver at a wine tasting. It feels like you do not get to participate in the things going on around you.
I’m not trying to fat shame anybody. I don't care what people look like and I don’t judge. If you are a good person and fun to be around, we can be friends. But I felt like I was constantly being judged. I felt uncomfortable in my skin. There are also very obvious health and well-being advantages to being in better shape. It was important to me to make a change.
I began to think about what I would need to change in order have a shot at achieving my goal. If you understand the factors that caused the situation in the first place, it’s a lot easier to formulate strategies to correct it.
It really becomes about recognizing that you have choices and making better ones when the opportunity presents itself. In this case, giving up short-term gratification in lieu of long-term betterment.
One mantra I’ve kept in my head as I’ve been working toward my goal of getting into shape:
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
The quote is from Kate Moss, and there are some problems with it in proper context that I don’t like. But I think there is a part of that message that is really useful and compelling, and so I sort of amended it to have a more positive and productive message:
“Nothing tastes as good as being physically healthy feels.”
That is actually more relevant to what I care about. I’m not trying to be a Twiggy. I’m interested in being healthier, and looking and feeling better. For me, the idea means that when I go out to eat and I’m presented with options, for instance, a salad or Parmesan Mac and Cheese, that I'd choose the salad even though I’d rather eat Mac and Cheese eleven out of ten times. It’s delicious. Who wouldn't want to?
Either way, I’m giving up something. The Mac and Cheese is more delicious than the salad. The salad is better for my goal of eating healthier. The key is that the Mac and Cheese is only useful in the here and now, whereas the intangibles of eating healthy improves the quality of my life literally every moment that I’m alive. All of those intangible qualities that add up have more value than the gratification of food that tastes good but isn’t healthy. It’s something I think about when I make eating decisions on a day-to-day basis.
Feeling good has value.
Stress is an unavoidable fact of life. But the way that you manage that stress has the ability to dramatically alter the quality of your life.
As a professional gamer, traveling and competing in tournaments is a large part of my life. I love tournaments. They are grueling and unreasonably challenging, but I love everything about them. But there are elements of traveling to tournaments that don’t lend themselves to the healthiest lifestyle.
For starters, since you are not at home, you have less control over what you eat. There are a lot of opportunities, where the convenience of fast food, sugary energy drinks, concession stand junk food, and hitting the bar afterwards are going to naturally come into play.
While I don’t count carbs, I do pay a lot more attention to the quantity and quality of the food that I eat. For the most part, I’ve tried to eliminate fast food, soda, and energy drinks from my diet. Just doing that has made a huge difference.
I realized that I consistently made a lot of unhealthy choices, and one-by-one I tried to replace those choices with better ones. For instance, every time I'd go to my LGS, I would grab two slices of pizza and a Mountain Dew Kick Start for dinner from Jets. Instead, I’ve replaced that with a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of unsweetened tea from The Coney Island.
Assuming I go to the LGS twice a week every day for a year, I looked up some information and did some quick math.
Two slices of pizza and a Mountain Dew is about 700 calories.
The bowl of oatmeal and tea is about 150 calories.
That decision cuts 1,100 calories per week, for 56 weeks=108,640 calories over a year.
The average recommended number of calories for an average male is somewhere between 2,000-2,500. The difference over the course of a year between replacing two slices of pizza and a Dew with oatmeal and tea is essentially eating 47 entire full days less worth of food over the course of a year.
It adds up fast!
Replacing unhealthy meals with more nutritious snacks is what the game is all about! The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
For instance, you know that when you are attending a Grand Prix that the only available food is going to be some nasty, unhealthy $9 hot dog or slice of liquor store pizza from the concession stand. Why not bring something that is actually healthy along in your backpack instead of eating gross out food? Bring a couple of granola bars or some trail mix to snack on. Not only is it better for you, but it will make you feel better and give your brain and body good energy for concentrating on your matches.
The other amazing transition I’ve found is to straight up try and drink only water or unsweetened tea. Water and tea are great for your body and they don’t add needless sugar and starches to your daily intake. Even just replacing 1 or 2 sodas every week with a bottle of water cuts a ton of unnecessary carbs.
Portions for Foxes
Another thing I realized was that I had a poor grasp of what a portion was. My parents always made too much food when I was growing up and so I’ve always had a sort of messed up idea of how much food was actually necessary to be full.
I’ve also learned that there is a disconnect of several minutes from the time you actually feel full until the time that your brain understands that you are full. Which means that if you eat too quickly that there is a greater chance that you will eat too much in one sitting. If you are eating quickly there can easily be a span of several minutes where you continue to eat before your brain will comprehend that you’re full.
The answer? Eat slower. There is less chance of eating or snacking too much. Also, drinking a glass of water before you eat helps you to feel more full more quickly. You’ll find that if you slow the pace of eating way, way down to a crawl that you can literally eat half as much food and still feel full and satisfied at the end of the meal. If you do that every single meal, it cuts a ton of extra food from your daily intake.
I’m all about high EV plays. I’m not looking to live my life at the gym. In fact, I’ve never even been to a gym in my entire life.
I don’t particularly like to work out at all because I don’t like doing things that are tedious, hard, and boring. With that being said, getting some exercise every single week really goes a long way toward improving your general health and well-being.
So, I’ve really found that it is easier to be motivated to get exercise if you find something that isn’t completely intolerable. Maybe even something that you marginally enjoy doing.
I know it’s totally lame or whatever but I’ve found PokemonGo to be a pretty good motivator for getting off the couch and going for a run or a bike ride when it is nice outside. Work up a sweat and hatch a 5K egg? Time well spent.
I’ve been talking with the Ann Arbor guys and we’re pretty excited to bring back basketball Drafts once the weather gets nicer. It’s something that Patrick Chapin and I were pretty big on back when he lived in Michigan. You get six people together in the evening for some combination drafting and 3v3 basketball. Do a Draft. Play a game of 21. Draft again. Great night.
I think the key with exercise is to find something that you enjoy doing. If you hate it, there is zero chance that it is sustainable. But if you find something where you can be active and you actually kind of enjoy it, then that activity can become part of your weekly routine.
That was my general strategy and approach for changing some elements of my lifestyle in order to be healthier. I figured out what I was doing that was causing me to be unhappy and then one by one began to replace undesirable habits with better ones.
The funny thing is that I could easily have been doing these things all along without having given up too much. It’s just a matter of changing one small thing with something better, and then another, and then another.