I am very much the epitome of a guy’s kind of guy, even more so when it comes to gaming. Add in two young kids, a married life, 45 hour work weeks, tee ball games, and life itself, and you have a prime mix for one chubby tired dude. Healthy gaming was not on my mind. After taking a look at my life and what I want out of it, I came to realize that I really just want a bunch of new games. Possibly a new computer chair.
Though after some more thought, I realized I had to do something before I became a total blubbery mess. I tried going the route of extreme diets and death workouts, but that never really stuck with me at all. Let’s face it: diets and strict exercise regimes are not something everyone can stick to for long, if at all. “There has to be a better way about it”, I thought as I finished off a milkshake during a Diablo 3 session. Turns out there are better ways.
One day while I was doing a grocery run, I saw a young woman who was stocking cat food. As I passed her by she was chanting to herself, “3 gold pieces, 4 gold pieces, 5 gold pieces”, and so forth. I thought it was funny, but kept on. Well after I was done with my boring little excursion and ready to check out, the same girl was my cashier as well. A few people were ahead of me and she kept doing the same little routine: “34 gold pieces, 45 gold pieces,” etc. When it came to be my time I simply asked her why she did that. She told me that she really hates work but loves gaming. Something that helped her get through the crappy shift was thinking back to Skyrim and putting herself in the same place, basically raising barter and one-handed skills, as she put it. I laughed and asked if there was a shout that could give me coupons, but she replied that her barter skill was too high for me.
I thought about what she said on the way home, and it hit me that maybe I could similarly gamify working out and being healthy. So after the house was asleep, I put together some healthy gaming ideas that I would try out. Below are the five that worked the most and may help you too. Again, I am no doctor, and not liable for any pains, breaks, burns, or unexplainable hellish diarrhea you may experience. You know your body better than I (at least you should), so try these healthy gaming ideas at your own pace.
NUMBER ONE: THE LOADING SCREEN
No matter what, you have to do SOME kind of exercise to stay healthy and lose weight. There are a few ways you can do this very easily. In most cases while you’re playing a game, you will encounter a loading screen for match setup or while entering an area. When this happens, grab a weight and do some curls, hit the floor for some push-ups, or even do a series of stretches. If your game does not load all that often, substitute the trip back to town, or death screen (which, if you’re playing Dark Souls, should have you ripped in no time). Bottom line is to set a point in your gaming time that will “click” with you to get up and do something. It’ll feel like an interruption at first, but eventually it’ll gel with the rest of your gaming session and you’ll feel weird sitting still for too long. Play time is more enjoyable when you’re pumped up, thinking clearer, and feeling invigorated.
NUMBER TWO: BREATHING
Breathing? I know, it sounds like a dumb thing to list, but think about it. When you take in a deep breath and let it out, you feel better. Go ahead and try it now. Getting all that rich super cool oxygen inside and dumping out stale air is a good thing. You may not notice it in the middle of a match or while dragon slaying, but you tend to clench up and play in a very tense and restricted mode. If you make a mental note to simply take a sweet and cool intake of air every now and then, you can ward off painful headaches and eye strain. To really take full advantage of this, get up and do a strong stretch while you pull in a lung full of goodness. Really get it in there; you’re going to want people thinking your Kirby impressions are the best. Just don’t actually suck any items up…despite popular belief; you will not gain super powers such as Kirby. Also, cats totally seem to hate that.
NUMBER THREE: BREAK UP YOUR SESSION
Okay, so if you’re taking time to work out and breathe, why take another break? I’ll tell you why, because your body tends to react poorly to hours on the couch or chair staring at the screen in the same light. Take a 10-minute break after a level gain, or just pull up your cell phone’s timer and pause your game when it goes off. You may not feel like it in the moment, but it really will help you get your body feeling better. After all, it’s not like you’re just going to leave your game alone. It’s just a brief relief for your bones and butt as you get up and do something else. Trust me, your eyes will thank you for it later on. Perhaps make a sandwich, or check on something you should be doing and find a way to push it back so you can get back to your game. At least until someone yells at you enough. Or the power goes out. Who am I kidding? That’s when you bust out the handheld.
NUMBER FOUR: SNACK RIGHT
We all know that gaming and munchies go hand-in-hand. It never fails to creep up on you, the ever-lingering need for that tasty-crunchy mouth flavor party that hits us all. That is then followed by the downpour of syrup, sugar, and caffeine that makes up our drinks. Yeah…that’s good stuff. Only it really isn’t all that good. Try this: replace every other soda or sugary drink with water for at least a week. Then after that, move to mostly water. You will see that you stay hydrated better and longer, making for a better gamer. You can also notice a drop of up to 8 pounds just by doing that. If you’re really into doing it healthier, change the chips and candy routine to something like fruit, carrots, or even light popcorn that you can share with your buds. Perhaps even a pack of gum that can help you stave off that nagging urge to devour something sweet. Just don’t totally deny yourself. Every now and then should be OK, otherwise you tend to go total binge-crazy. People will think of you as Kirby again…just in a less flattering light. Though come to think of it, being thought of as a pink soulless fluffy vacuum monster isn’t all that flattering in the first place. (Seriously, Kirby is terrifying when you think about it.)
NUMBER FIVE: CARE
This is the hardest and yet simplest healthy gaming tip there is. You simply have to care. Care about making yourself a little bit better. If you find that motivation is hard, you are not a lost cause — you just need the right mindset. So picture this: the zombie-demon-Nazi-robot apocalypse is right at the end of the month…or year? You have from now until then to get ready. Feel like getting in better shape now? How many tubby people survive in those scenarios? I may not outrun them…but at least I will come back as a totally awesome zombie-robot. Point is, make yourself a character, and think about what you need to do to “level up”. You would not make a crappy character to live out your game would you? So why make one for you in real life? Try to be as awesome as your digital avatars. The more you actually want it, the more it becomes reality. (If your digital avatar is Kirby, Bob, or MuiMui, then you may want to switch). You can even make up character sheets and challenge your friends to a game workout. Winner gets whatever you all put up.
DOES THIS GARBAGE WORK?
It all depends on you. They more you put in, the more you get out. Simple stuff, but hard to always apply. I have tried this healthy gaming mess for a few months now and have a net loss of about 40 pounds. That’s not even really trying hard! I just cut back on the heavy sugars and do a little moving in between matches. It’s all up to you to try it, but you can really max it by dragging your friends into this as well. Remember, if you need motivation, just think about how cool it would be to actually be as strong, quick, or amazing as your character. You can also dream up how long you would last in last five minutes of any sci-fi movie. If you’re like most, that’s not very long. All the little changes don’t seem like much, but think of how much gaming we do. Give healthy gaming a shot — you may just be surprised how it all adds up and can really make a difference.