I’d like to preface this article by reminding everyone of a lifestyle choice/way of thinking that I strongly believe has made me into a strong, fit, healthy young man. I’ve talked about it in the past so I won’t beat it to death here. If you want something, you have to go get it. Make the means to do so because nobody else will do it for you. You can cause change, but you have to be the change.
Today, I’ll be talking about leading a healthy lifestyle. It’s not always about loosing weight or whatever. In fact, very little of what I say today is about losing weight. It’s about becoming healthier. It’s about improving our quality of life. It’s about feeling successful. Sticking with something until we’ve seen it through to the end and becoming a better version of ourselves for it. It’s about general wellness and actually giving a shit about ourselves. About not becoming a stereotype or statistic. Not as a member of the gaming community and certainly not in our regular life. That being said, let's get right to it!
Untap, Upkeep, Draw. Three words that we’ve said over and over in our minds when learning to play the game of Magic. Untap, Upkeep, Draw. Over and over and over. Three words that, as enfranchised Magic players, are as much a part of our way of thinking as getting up and eating breakfast. We know it through and through, right? And after that, Pre-combat Main Phase. Attack Phase. Post-combat Main Phase. We got this!
But what about when we were new? What if you are currently a new player? What if you’re teaching someone the game? How many times did you need or give a reminder? Untap your lands. Or, can you hear yourself saying to your protégé, ‘remember to untap’. During combat, ‘you have tap your creatures to show that they’re attacking’. Then, again on your turn, untap, upkeep, draw as an out-loud demonstration of how to do things. Anyone who's taught anyone the game has done it!
In teaching the game of Magic, one must practice great patience and persistence. And to learn the game, one must be patient and dedicated. There’s lots to learn, lots to do and it can certainly feel overwhelming. The same can be true of any new undertaking you find yourself on. Today, I’d like to delve into that a bit.
With the holiday season fast approaching, we’re all making sure that our last-minute gifts are purchased, sent, wrapped, etc. We are travelling home to see loved ones, celebrating the year that was 2018. That’s all fine and well, but what happens when we head back to our regular lives at the start of 2019? Tons of people flock to gyms and health food stores. People want to ‘get in the best shape of their life’! This is going to be our year, right? Let’s get that new treadmill on boxing day for half off! Maybe we’ll use it for a couple weeks and see some lifestyle improvements. Maybe we’ll shed a few of those Christmas pounds. Then what? Maybe we’ll skip the treadmill today, we’re really tired. What’s another drink or slice of pizza. Our New Years resolution partner won’t know. Before we know it, our new treadmill turns into the most expensive coat hanger we’ve ever owned. The supplements and protein powders we bought in January expire, un-consumed. We revert right back to our old habits, our old ways. Our old lifestyle. Our same old self that we were two months ago. We didn’t anticipate that it would be this hard. That a long-lasting commitment to wellness was required. This is the functional equivalent to showing up to games night as a non-Magic player, expecting to learn. Then, not playing for a year and going back the following January expecting to qualify for the Pro Tour! It doesn’t work like that. Any change you want to see realized is going to take some commitment, some learning and some perseverance. You have to live that Untap, Upkeep, Draw Lifestyle.
Maybe it was because we were overwhelmed. Maybe it was because it’s hard to learn something new. Maybe because it’s hard to stay committed (that’s the hardest part, in my experience as a coach/trainer). Let’s take a closer look with a particular eye for becoming a healthier version of ourselves.
It can be very overwhelming stepping into a fitness facility for the first time. Or, for the first time in a long time, for some of us. The monetary cost alone can be overwhelming! Then there’s all this foreign equipment. And where’s the remote for that TV so it doesn’t look like you’re watching Dr. Phil on the treadmill. And the people! Especially in January. Other New Years resolution’ers. The old naked dudes in the change room! Oh god! What if there’s old naked dudes?! It’s true, there may be some. That’s all part of the gig though. If you’re serious about becoming healthier, those are some things that you might have to deal with. Remember, Untap, Upkeep, Draw. One phase at a time. It gets easier.
On the matter of cost – you don’t need an expensive gym membership and super expensive motivational personal trainers to help you become healthier. You could just start by walking. Yes, just walking. The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends thirty minutes of walking per day to help prevent or reverse the onset of heart disease in adults. Seems like a lot, right? But they also say that thirty minutes of walking can be broken down into three, ten to fifteen minute, bouts throughout the day¹. That doesn’t seem too bad. One walk at a time. Your Untap walk, Upkeep walk, Draw walk. You see the point I'm attempting to get through? You can make it part of your every day life. Just like every turn in Magic. Stick with it.
Another option would be to workout from home. You don’t even need equipment when you’re first starting out. A simple Google search of ‘best body weight exercises’ will give you a ton of new things to try. And you can do them from the comfort and safety of your own basement or yard.
If that’s not for you, or like me, you live in The Great White North, maybe walking or working out in your yard isn’t the most enjoyable. It gets dark by 4:30pm in January. And it’s cold. Very cold. Instead, maybe try hit up a couple gyms that give free trial memberships. They’re usually two weeks or so (That’s a way to game the system for a free month of membership). Learn as much as you can. Talk to the attendants. They’re usually quite versed in gym equipment and exercising. They probably work there just so they can work out for free. They can be your mentor for the session. Just ask. It's their job to help you. Just Untap, Upkeep, Draw. Once you break the ice and step through the door, everything else is easier.
Additionally, over the years, I’ve come up with a few pieces of advice that I always like to share with fledgling health/fitness aficionados:
We’ll cover it more in the future but, on the subject of food and beverage consumption, what I’d like to say is this:
Exercise should never be used as a form of punishment for eating. Also, lack of exercise (missing your workout) should never make you skip a meal. Proper nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. They need to exist harmoniously with one another. Never use them against one another. The take home message is simple:
The final bit that I’d like to touch on today is that there are a ton of people like you and I out there. People that might be first starting. People who want to become better. People who are gamers and realize that the lifestyle we lead isn’t the healthiest. I’ve met a ton of people just because I was watching Dragon Ball Z on my phone on the treadmill, for example. Dudes come up to me if I’m wearing a gaming shirt or what have you. That kind of thing happens! See if you can start a brotherhood of gamers at your local gym. It’s not all muscle heads and spandex, I promise you that! Challenge your friends. Make it part of your weekly routine together. The bonds you build with friends and family through the adversity of committing to a healthier life style are like no other.
I’ll save any further specifics for another article entry. Today is about getting out of our chair and starting. I hope that I have encouraged you enough to make change. Please let me know in the comments or on Twitter. I’m always open to talk about Magic, being healthy and becoming better.