You’re in an enviable position, like Liam Neeson in Taken (AKA The Greatest Film Of All Time). You have a particular set of skills that make you a force to be reckoned with.
You’re a gamer, and it’s time the world hears you roar.
Life is the ultimate role playing game. Sure, there MIGHT not be dragon, and you MIGHT not be able to effortlessly deliver 9,999 points of damage to your enemies (yet), but much like Cloud, Samus, Master Chief and Lara Croft, you’re the hero of your own story.
Everyday that you wake up is a new chance to use the lessons learned from your experiences to create the future that you desire.
Now here’s the kicker: no one can do this for you. No one can tackle the necessary work required to change your world for the better. Frightening? Maybe. Exciting? You can bet your sweet hit points that it is! As a gamer, you innately understand this. Regardless of the game you play, you’re thrust into the role of the hero, shoes that only you can fill.
The princess (or prince – that’s right, ladies!) is in another castle and you’re their only hope.
This subtle mindset shift, from victim to hero, is what allows gamers to excel at anything we set our minds to, with fitness being custom-made for our particularly awesome skill set.
Enjoy The Grind
When it takes longer to level up, and more challenging to accumulate valuable experience points.
When skills become harder to acquire and progress all but grinds to a depressingly screeching halt.
Welcome to The Grind.
Everyone who has done anything worth doing has come face to face with it, but luckily you’re more familiar than anyone else with this part of the game, and it’s high time you use this to your advantage.
Lifting and nutrition is a battle of attrition, wearing down bad habits, uninspired moments and fighting the natural human urge to look for the path of least resistance (hello McDonald’s drive-thru). If there’s anything I can say with absolute confidence after working with hundreds of clients it’s this: there is no magic bullet.
These things take time, and those who are most successful find a way to enjoy this necessary part of the journey.
It’s like staring down a long corridor with a giant boss glaring at you dubiously from across the room. The hallway has many doorways, all containing something useful, all serving only as a distraction from your main quest.
No matter what you do, the only way forward is to do the work, to defeat the boss.
The latest fad diet.
The newest workout that promises to adorn you with muscle and cut slabs of fat off like thick-sliced bacon in record time.
Hopping from one program or diet to the next in search of the “secret” that will fast-track your results is just another way of trying to circumvent the grind.
This is where dreams go to die.
This is where many people spin their wheels for months or years on end, not moving any closer to their goal than when they started.
But what about gamers? Not a chance! You know the meaning of hard work and sacrifice, viewing the grind as a necessary part of the path towards completing your quest. You know how to keep your goal the goal. Find what works and milk it for all it’s worth before exploring other options.
With this firmly entrenched in your brain, it’s becomes not a matter of if you’ll reach your destination, but when.
Progress, Rewards And The Pursuit Of Awesomeness
Let’s talk about loot, gear, rewards and treasure.
If you think this whole health and fitness thing has to be head down, powering through difficulty after difficulty until the end of time sort of deal, I invite you to consider another perspective.
As someone who once believed such dogma, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and buying into it can actually make it even more challenging to accomplish great deeds.
Games have a fantastic reward system built into them that we can apply to our own pursuit of happiness. Complete a quest, get a new item. Perform a certain task, unlock a new area of the world. All of these are ways of keeping us motivated and moving forward, focusing our eyes on the proverbial prize and feeling great for doing so.
We play games for the enjoyment that they bring, so why not treat our lives the same way?
Nobody said that this had to suck. Identify an area where you’re struggling and build a quest and reward system around it – you can even draw your own avatar if you’re feeling particularly sassy. If you’re struggling with getting to the gym, set a weekly or monthly goal for the number of sessions you want to make. Each time you go to the gym, give yourself a certain number of experience points and once you have enough to “level up”, reward yourself.
The same goes for nutrition. Do you usually order fries when you go out to dinner, but this week you subbed them out for veggies a few times? BAM – that’s a win.Treat yourself for new personal records, consistency streaks, and pretty much everything that you can.
The key to success is pushing yourself consistently in small doses that make you slightly uncomfortable. As you get more wins beneath your belt, your confidence in your ability to overcome anything that comes your way grows.
Keep this mantra in mind: as you can do better, do better.
Growth and progress happens in small spurts. Of course it would be daunting as a level 1 noob to step into a level 99 dungeon, but it becomes less so after you work your way up to that point. Every once in awhile you’ll have the opportunity to do something very difficult that will level you up in a big bad way – take these chances whenever you can.
For some, seeing the dreaded “Game Over” screen after several hours of work is enough to make you wanna throw yourself on the floor and flop around like a fish that’s having a seizure. But first, calm down, playa.
Dying means you took a risk.
Failing means that you went for it but didn’t quite make the mark, and that’s perfectly fine.
The great thing about failing in game, much like real life, is that you always get a second chance – mistakes aren’t permanent. Using the knowledge gained from your setback, you can jump into the fray and try again, stronger and wiser from your defeat.
If you fall off your diet, identify what happened (was it stress related, poor planning, or just one of those days?) and confidently hop back on, knowing that when the scenario presents itself again you’ll be prepared.
Get Your Hack On
Like Neo dodging bullets in The Matrix or learning kung-fu in 5 seconds, a hack is a way of manipulating your environment to serve your needs by looking for opportunities to make any difficult task less challenging and thus easier to comply with, increasing your chances of long term success. If devices like the Game Genie and Game Shark exist for consoles, then why not apply the same principles to get your sexy on and take control of your health?
If you’re constantly running into a wall with your diet because of poor food planning one hack would be choosing 2 days a week where you prep the majority of your food for the week so that you eliminate this issue before it becomes a problem. Another even more awesome, albeit it more costly, way would be to hire a company that prepares and delivers your meals right to your doorstep.
Can’t find the time to make it to the gym? Sit down, find out the reasons why and set up a system that removes a particular barrier from the equation. If you’re always sleeping through your alarm, set 5 of them at different intervals. If you forget to take your gym clothes to work, keep a spare pair in the trunk of your car and in a locker at the gym.
Getting a grip on your health and manipulating how you look and feel through sheer force of will and your own efforts is about as life changing and magical as you can get without a wizard’s wand or gryffin.
You only live once, and when your world is in peril, failure isn’t an option. Suit up and get ready for battle, hero.