Okay, time for a bit of harsh reality. I play a dexterous and nimble swashbuckler in my weekly D&D game, but physique-wise I probably fall a little closer to the ogres he fights. All you have to do is look at the photo in the title (I’m the guy in the middle) to see that I have more in common with Jabba than Han.
And I’m not alone. Look around any gaming or sci-fi convention and you will find many guys (and not a few women) with my particularly robust body type. Not surprising really. With the exception of LARPing, pretty much every other geeky pursuit out there is a sedentary one. We sit to watch movies and anime, we sit to play video games, we sit around a table to play games. Sure, your barbarian might work up a sweat bashing orcs, but your only exercise comes from rolling dice. And my friend, unless your dice are depleted uranium, that is no exercise at all.
Several years ago I realized that I was not in a good way. I was tired all the time, I didn’t think much of my appearance and a lot of the things that I previously enjoyed doing (besides gaming) I could no longer do because of my poor physical condition. Eventually I made it past the whining about it phase and started making some changes to correct bad habits. Because that was really at the heart of my being out of shape; bad habits. It wasn’t like I got up one morning years ago and said, “I never want to see my toes again, how can I make that happen?” or “Gosh, how can I get a sumo wrestler’s physique?” No, over time I gradually got out of the habits that had kept me healthy and adopted ones that at the time were easier but unhealthy.
I could go into a big long discussion about why I made those choices, and what might lead you to have made similar ones. And I will another time. But today’s entry is about the better choices I made and how you can make similar ones.
Here are five changes you can make right now, if you want to make the switch to a healthier geek lifestyle. And really, why wouldn’t you? If nothing else, healthier geeks get to be geeks longer.
1) Next gaming session, swap out the bags of nacho and potato chips for baby carrots and snap peas. Not only are they way healthier for you (especially if you avoid dipping them in dressing, but go low-fat if naked vegetables offend you) but you’ll keep the crunch factor, which is part of the visceral reason we eat crunchy foods during gaming anyway.
2) Can’t give up the fizzy drinks and don’t want to take a gamble on diet pops with Aspartame? Grab a bottle of soda water instead, and mix it in a glass with equal parts unsweetened fruit juice (pick whatever flavour you like). You’ll get you fizz, and while you’ll still be drinking sugar water, at least it’s a better class of sugar water (natural fructose being better than processed sucrose). You’ll even snag some vitamins, something a glass of cola won’t give you.
3) Take fifteen minutes in the evening and take your books for a walk. Grab a backpack (the ubiquitous school backpack will do), fill it with gaming books or other hardcovers, strap it on and take a walk around the block. If a walk around the block doesn’t feel like enough work, make it two blocks. Walk vigorously, and if it takes less than fifteen to go around, do it again.
4)Leave off ordering fast food. Once you factor in the time it takes you to figure out what you want to order and the delivery or pick-up time, it really isn’t that fast anyway. There are plenty of delicious twenty-minute recipes that will give you healthy fast food (just type “20 minute recipes” into your browser and see what you can find), without all the hassle and expense of ordering in. And if you do decide to order in, get it from somewhere close by and go pick it up. Usually picking up is cheaper and you’ll get a bit of exercise thrown in.
5) Book an appointment with your doctor to get a full physical done, and ask him about fitness evaluation. You can’t figure out where you are going until you know where you are, and your doctor is the best person to tell you that. He may also have suggestions about what to work on first and what exercises or activities to avoid. Make sure to let your doctor know that you are planning to get in better shape; most doctors won’t just give fitness and nutrition advice unless it is being sought.