I want to start this article off with the disclosure that I am not a doctor, a nutritionist, a health expert, or a fitness expert but from reading trusted sources online, speaking with other active individuals and compiling my own regiment and routine that worked for me I was able to accomplish my goals. Please do not take my words as the final say here, always consult a professional if you have questions.
In December of 2019, I hated how I looked. Not that I was ever the definition of health, but a younger Brenden was more active, more in shape. Stepping on the scale and seeing the numbers adjust to just over 242, I sighed knowing this is the heaviest I’ve ever been. Debating for some time towards the end of 2019, I knew I needed to take some strides towards healthier choices. Though, not just because of my appearance or weight, but I’m in my 30s, my parents are older and dealing with minor health issues, and my significant other was diagnosed with a rare, neuromuscular autoimmune disease called Myasthenia Gravis at the beginning of 2019– so I felt obligated to start making healthier choices so that I can stay healthy, longer, to care for the loved ones in my life. Not knowing that we’d also be dealing with a pandemic in 2020.
So, as the calendar changed to January 1st, it was time to commit myself to my words. Two of the things that I did from the start to hold myself more accountable was that I told a few people that I would be losing weight and eating clean this year, and that by PAX East 2020, my goal was to be down 20 pounds, with a long-term goal of being down 40 pounds by the summer. PAX East 2020, for reference, started on February 27th so I was giving myself a mere eight weeks to overhaul my health. Here’s how I did it.
This stretches beyond just reforming your own health. I think setting and maintaining realistic and achievable goals in all aspects of your life will lead you to becoming more successful and you’ll actually see progress and results. For this journey, I made sure to keep my weight logged on Monday morning of every new week. I still weighed myself everyday to track my results, but only logged and “counted” my Monday weigh-ins. This resulted in me always being mindful and conscious of my decisions, even if certain days I was craving to cave on my healthy eating or commitment to exercising everyday. Setting the PAX East goal was a milestone I thought could be achievable if I stuck to my regiment. I went from 242 the first day of 2020, to 215 the week of PAX East.
I don’t subscribe to the idea of fad diets. I’m not shaming anyone who does them, as long as you’re doing something that is healthy and enjoying yourself while you’re doing it then I don’t see a real problem, but I think it’s easy to fall back into old ways once you finish your fad– for me I wanted to make real life changes that would last after I hit my goals. I decided to cut out processed food. Altering my diet to eating clean and whole foods in addition to portion control and not over-eating. Making these adjustments to my diet were difficult at first, but after eating clean now for almost three full months, I have no issues at all with being mindful of the ingredients that build my meals and look forward to creatively eating meals that would typically not be the healthiest but subbing in healthier options for ingredients.
The final piece to the puzzle, the part that may surprise some people– I’ve certainly already witnessed it when anyone who I’ve seen before quarantine has asked how I’ve lost weight– a majority of my work-out consists of Beat Saber. Video games have made attempts in the last decade or so of incorporating fitness into certain titles, or trying to create experiences that would garner results and though some may have been successful, none have ever stuck with me. Yes, I also go for runs, lift light weights at home, and play Ring Fit Adventure— but Beat Saber by far has made up the bulk of my daily cardio, especially during the cold weather when going for a run wasn’t something I felt like doing.
For those who aren’t familiar with Beat Saber, it is a virtual reality game where you are wearing a headset, holding two controllers, and slicing blocks that are moving towards you with your sabers. Doing all of this to the rhythm of custom built tracks as well as some popular music you may recognize. Beat Saber is an essential VR experience in its own right, but as a game for health and well-being, I think it’s underestimated as something that can actually help you live a healthier lifestyle. Truth be told, I think healthy games are undervalued altogether. There are games that are targeted at fitness like Ring Fit Adventure— and yes Ring Fit has also been influential and helpful in my healthier living, but Beat Saber isn’t necessarily touted as a fitness game.
Though, there were a few ways in which I augmented my approach to Beat Saber to maximize my workout benefits. Even though I got substantially better over time since I play Beat Saber almost everyday, that wasn’t always the case. When I was still getting my skill level up in the game, one of the things I would do to increase my heart rate and sweat more would be to turn off the ability to fail a song, and turn the difficulty higher than I was capable of beating otherwise. For most songs, if not all, when you increase the difficulty the blocks per minute go up as well as the number of blocks in the song completely so you’ll be moving noticeably more. I think it’s important to still try and play the song correctly so that you have motivation to move even though the fear of failure is removed.
In addition to that, I would try and play songs in quick succession, so that my breaks were minimal and my heart rate would stay strong, but as with any exercise, take breaks as necessary and be sure to drink water. Once I started knowing songs more comfortably on higher difficulty levels, I would start taking off “no fail mode” and with the increased stakes of failure, and the ability to play songs at a higher level, I felt my workouts getting even more beneficial because I was trying to ensure I was executing at a high level. To step things up another level, I would start playing with increased speed on songs that I could handle doing so, which was just another way of enhancing my workout and keeping my sweat going strong especially as I got better at Beat Saber as my playtime grew.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ring Fit Adventure, it is a Nintendo Switch exclusive fitness title that has you wearing one Joy-Con on your left leg to track your movements, and holding a pilates ring that you slide the other Joy-Con into so that it can track your exercises. Ring Fit Adventure is more forward-facing that it’s meant to be something for health benefits, and though it was worked into my workout regiment later down the line I also can attest to Ring Fit being beneficial to my weight loss. With a mix of light workouts and yoga, Ring Fit offers a variety of exercises that will challenge you based on your level of fitness. I find myself more often playing through custom workouts as opposed to the main campaign, not that the main campaign doesn’t also work your body, but I wanted the quicker succession of exercises with less chatter in-between.
If anything, Beat Saber and Ring Fit Adventure serve as perfect ways to build healthy lifestyles, build a base level of fitness, and build up your body so that you can continue to grow your fitness routine if you’d like, all while also serving as serviceable routines on their own. For those who have an issue with working out at gyms because you don’t want to feel like people are watching you, these two games, and others like them can help with that insecurity as well.
Both Beat Saber and Ring Fit Adventure are absolutely worth your time if you want to be serious about working out and don’t want to start at the gym, or even if you are working out at a gym but want something for the house. The benefit of having both of these at your disposal is that you have no excuse to skip a workout if you don’t feel like leaving your house, you have an option already there. The only other video game that has ever made a positive impact on my physical health was when I was avidly playing Pokémon GO and constantly walking around but Beat Saber and Ring Fit Adventure have made keeping up with my now normal lifestyle of eating clean and working out daily a feasible reality that I can continue to partake in.
As of today, I am down 40 pounds. FORTY! It’s March 28th, 2020 and as of today I have gone from 242 pounds to 202 pounds. It hasn’t been easy, but once you set manageable, attainable goals, you can truly do whatever you set your mind to. This state of mind has transcended just my eating and exercising too, I see it infecting every part of my life for the better. I think ultimately, having the ability to work my favorite thing in the world– video games– into healthier living is not only a great way to help yourself and make fitness more enjoyable if gaming is also your jam, but to show the world that video games can truly do good things for the world and the people that inhabit it.
Even reaching my goal of 40 pounds, I am going to continue to work out, eat clean, and keep these two games in my rotation because not only are they great for exercise but enjoyable in their own right as gaming experiences. Gaming can be incorporated into fitness, and I am happy that we are living in that future.
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