I like to play video games. I didn't play very much for a really long time. I always cited some more "important and urgent" task that needed to be addressed instead of playing.
Most people would call this "being responsible" and a year ago I would have agreed with them, but now I realize how much of a disservice I was doing myself.
I was denying myself enjoying a past time that I found fun and enjoyable largely in hopes that eventually sometime soon I'd have plenty of time to play them.
I dropped that mindset though because the truth is there won't ever be a time when I am not chasing something that doesn't require discipline, focus, and determination and that in order to truly live a fulfilled life and sustain the energy needed for a successful chase I need to make time for past times that bring me joy and fun.
That's probably a mindset shift we all need.
And may I just mention that while playing video games is mostly about fun for me there is actually quite a bit of research showing that engaging in regular gaming can actually have definitive cognitive benefits such as improved decision-making and a greater ability to experience empathy towards others.
But anyways the point is that I like to play video games and I have been playing a lot more of them regularly.
One thing I have come to notice over the last few years is that you can actually take away some important lessons from playing certain games that also apply to getting fitter and healthier.
The newest game I've recently picked up is called the Shadow of Mordor and without getting too deep into the game let me just set the stage by telling you that it is set in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth the same one that the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is set in.
However the characters in this game are different from the ones in the trilogy and if my understanding is correct it is in a different time period.
The jest of the story line is that the main character, Talion, is out to avenge the murder of his wife and son with the help of a wraith-like ghost of an elf who suffered the same tragedy at the hand of Sauron, the antagonist of the story.
In order to avenge these deaths Talion and his ally must systematically weaken Sauron's forces by removing the Uruk (similar to Orcs) captains and warchiefs of his army. This weaken's Sauron's forces and makes him vulnerable over time to being over thrown by the people he has oppressed in Mordor.
Don't worry if I have lost you with all the Tolkien references I promise I am going to bring it back around to why it matters for achieving the physique and performance of your dreams.
Anyways all this requires Talion (or the gamer) to strategize what Uruk will be the next target, when is the best time to go after the target, and how it will affect the overall mission and progression of the main quest.
I just recently faced one of the first bosses in the game and defeated him with such ease and minimal time investment that I surprised myself.
As I reflected on the game play I had put in over the last couple weeks I realized that there was a reason that the process of getting to the boss and destroying him was so easy.
It was because I had spent time building a foundation.
I spent time honing Talion's skills, gaining new abilities, and growing his arsenal.
I then spent time systematically eliminating Uruk captains and warchiefs from the bosses command that made him much more vulnerable and open to defeat than he would have otherwise been if I had simply rushed through the game straight to him only to be frustrated by his overwhelming might, defeated, and sent right back to where I started.
This mimics perfectly the process it takes to get truly healthy and fit for the long haul.
Most of us want to jump right in, crank the difficulty level up to "hardcore," and go at it.
We rush through learning the basics, advance to movements beyond our competency, start piling on load, and begin seeing some results.
But without fail in 3 to 6 months we are sidelined from our efforts either by physical or mental burnout.
We either injure ourselves or we drive ourselves to hating the process of eating better and exercising so much that we don't want to see another squat rack or chicken breast again.
Because we are all more interested in hurrying up, beating the game, and getting to the fun stuff than we are in establishing an understanding of how the game works, building up our characters attributes, and building a strategic foundation from which we can launch an all out assault on our main mission.
Do you get what I am saying? Or are the gaming references throwing you off?
I am trying to tell you that in order to make the process of getting fit and healthier that much easier and successful in the long-term you need to spend time investing in the beginning of the process and establishing a foundation that will give you stability to build on without risk of it collapsing.
You need to develop a deep understanding of the basics of good eating which include:
Eating whole foods as often as possible.
Limiting the foods we know we shouldn't be eating to 10% of the time.
Having a serving a protein at every meal.
Only eating carbs when we deserve them.
You need to develop a ruthless obsession with the quality of your movement before you ever start worrying about the quantity of moving you are doing.
I know none of this sounds sexy or appealing, but trust me it will benefit you immeasurably as your journey progresses and it will ultimately make things that much easier once you get to the more advanced levels.
You'll be able to go after PR's without worrying about getting hurt.
You'll be able to make dietary choices in an informed and conscious manner.
And you will be able to continue eating better, training smarter, and kicking ass at life for many years to come.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training