I want to start this article off with the disclosure that I am not a doctor, a nutritionist, or a health and fitness expert. Please do not take my words as the final say here, always consult a professional if you have questions.
Back in March, I wrote about how video games helped me lose over forty pounds and a few months later I hit the next milestone– sixty pounds. Although, these two goals were only a sliver of the overall quest, the main goalpost for me isn’t another box to check or milestone to cross, it’s an ongoing battle.
The journey is one that will never end, it’s transforming my lifestyle to make strides at healthier living and all of my choices this year– video games included– factored into my mental and physical health. My reliance on using games like Beat Saber and Ring Fit Adventure (detailed more in the article linked above) coupled with my diet, amalgamated into an effective rhetoric to coerce me through the year and ease me into the most important part of the process to me– the management phase.
When the calendar read January 1st, 2020 I weighed 242 pounds and the ultimate weight goal was to reach about sixty pounds lost with intermittent loss goals as focuses throughout. Once I reached that once thought unattainable number in August, I was able to re-evaluate my regiment. Up until that point I was exercising everyday and rarely eating a cheat meal. If I kept on this cycle I’d likely be losing more weight and that wasn’t my intent at this point. I was ready to adjust to staying around my targeted weight instead of actively trying to slim down further.
These adjustments were crucial for me. I could see this as an opportune time to relax too easily on my progress and revert back to old eating habits or make excuses for not exercising– which could’ve compounded exponentially due to the weight of the pandemic and world in 2020. I wasn’t trying to quickly lose weight, I was trying to solidify a lifestyle I spent eight months curating.
Since then, I’ve allowed myself a little bit more flexibility in my eating habits and I’ve bumped down to exercising around five to seven days a week as opposed to making sure I work out everyday. I don’t wake up every morning and look forward to working out, and some days I really just want to shove a burrito down my gullet– but being cognizant of my choices and keeping within my rhythm helps me stay within my zone. It’s not always easy, but the more I build upon what I’ve been doing all year, the harder days become less frequent and more conquerable.
I didn’t want to write this whole thing without mentioning my mental health throughout all of this. Of course games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Murder By Numbers were bastions of hope and comfort through an already tumultuous year, but utilizing my negative energy as fuel during exercise also helped me wade the waters of self loathing. If you follow me on social media you’ll see me say things like “sweating out today’s demons” and that’s another way that these routines have been beneficial to my mental health in quarantine, and that help cannot be understated. Your mental state is just as valuable and important as your physical one.
As I’m writing this in December, reflecting on my progress throughout 2020 and looking at myself in the mirror now compared to pictures of me from this same time last year, or any photos of me from the last few years– I sometimes don’t know who that person was. Surely someone I never want to meet again. I was unhappy with how I looked. Although, this is not solely about vanity, I didn’t enjoy how I felt. I am more comfortable in my own skin now, I feel more motivated and determined knowing I could keep the promises I made to myself in January.
I don’t look at video games as this mythical savior of my health, deliberate diet choices and other exercise played crucial roles– and continue to play them– but they were integral to my success and help prove that video games can do good. I think for anyone looking to make these type of physical and mental changes in their life needs to evaluate the attainable short-term and long-term goals and make a realistic plan to achieve them.
This lifestyle change doesn’t even have to include video games, I just chose that as a vehicle to help me get to my destination. I think the thing you need to consider– or at least what I did– is what exactly is it you are trying to accomplish and what methods can work for you. Video games made it fun for me and eliminated any of the typical excuses that would slither into my brain in the past. Blaming the weather for being too cold to run or not willing to sit in traffic to drive to the gym weren’t mindsets I could fallback on anymore. Once I hurdled those excuses and built better routines I looked forward to the challenge, I looked forward to sculpting a better version of myself inside and out.
I am hopeful for my future, I am ecstatic that a thing that I love– video games– helped me achieve an unrelated personal goal in my life. However long Beat Saber, Ring Fit Adventure, or Just Dance remain in my routines is irrelevant, what matters is that I continue to build upon the foundations that I erected in 2020 and continue down the path of mental and physical prosperity. My hope with both of these pieces is that if anything, it can inspire someone out there to stick to their goals and commitments that can easily vanish after January.
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