Why gamers are a great fit at the gym

They’ve been trained to focus for weeks at a time on a single goal. They know how to clearly identify obstacles and form step-by-step plans to overcome them.

They’re obsessed with improving specific skills but judge success only by overall progress made in the world they’ve decided to conquer — as realistic or fantastical as it may be.

It’s precisely these traits that make video-gamers great bodybuilders.

Take a moment to laugh, if you must. Now hear us out.

Brian Wang and Dick Talens were the stereotypical video-gamers in high school. One was scrawny, the other fat. They grew up playing marathon sessions of “EverQuest” and “Counter-Strike.”

"I literally would wake up and play all day, eating intermittently," Talens said. "OK, when I say intermittently, I mean eating a lot."

Dick Talens weighed 230 pounds in high school before becoming a body builder. Dick Talens weighed 230 pounds in high school before becoming a body builder.

But by the time the men met at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, they had traded an obsession with video gaming for an obsession with weight-lifting. As they shared stories at the gym, they realized their healthy transformation had been easier for them than for most.

Why? Because they were — and would always be — gamers.

"People don’t realize that video games are an expression of personality," Talens said. "There’s certain qualities that people have. They’re obsessed with improving the stat sheets, getting to the next level; they pay a lot of attention to detail. Guys who play (‘World of Warcraft’) … are very intense about whatever they do. They can turn that addiction and all its characteristics into fitness."

It’s a theory they’re taking to the bank. Talens and Wang are the co-founders of Fitocracy, a website that’s turning gaming geeks into fitness geeks. The site has 70,000 users in its beta version and hopes to open to the 60,000 on a waiting list in the next couple months.

Fitocracy members can “level up” by earning points for their workouts. New levels unlock special challenges or “quests” that are designed to push users out of their comfort zones. For example, a runner might have to do yoga, or a bodybuilder might have to tackle a 5K.

Brian Wang grew up playing hours of \Brian Wang grew up playing hours of “StarCraft” and “Counter-Strike.”

Still, one has to wonder: What would make a virtual warrior trade in his sword and shield for a pair of dumbbells? The same thing that got him interested in playing video games in the first place, Dr. Scott Rigby says.

Rigby and Dr. Richard Ryan are co-authors of the book “Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound.” As experts on human motivation, they have identified basic psychological needs — similar to physical needs like food, water and sleep — that video games satisfy.

First, Ryan says, is the need to feel competent. In real life, you get the chance to “level up” only once every couple years: like when you earn a promotion at work or get married. In games, you always know what you have to do to get to the next level.

"In video games, you’re constantly getting information about your achievements and (learning) how to do things better," Ryan says. "There’s an opportunity to develop a mastery that’s very much a key motivator."

That translates well to fitness, where tracking your accomplishments enables you to progress quicker. You know you’ve improved when you run an extra mile or dead lift another 50 pounds.

Guys who play WoW … are very intense about whatever they do. They can turn that addiction and all its characteristics into fitness.
Fitocracy co-founder Dick Talens

A second motivator in video games is the feeling of freedom and autonomy, Rigby says. People like to know they have control over their future. In video games, you can choose your path, the skills you want to improve, even your outfit. Making the same choices in your fitness regimen helps you feel empowered.

"Games make the goals really clear," Rigby said. "You have to run from point A to point B, deliver a message, kill this bad guy. You have a very clear sense of ‘If I just do these steps, I will succeed.’ And let’s call them quests because it sounds heroic. And who doesn’t want to feel like a hero?"

Fitocracy user Michael Perry says that what’s most important to him is the community on the website, which resembles that of his favorite online game, “World of Warcraft.” In any massively multiplayer online role-playing game, you work with other players to conquer enemies. Your team expects you to show up and do what needs to be done. He gets the same sense of accountability from the members on Fitocracy.

"When I was playing WoW all the time, I had to make sure everything I was doing was right. I researched it down to the T. I made sure I was hitting spells right at the right time. I wouldn’t miss a raid," Perry said. "I think that translates really well to exercise and bodybuilding because you have to have that level of knowledge, (and) you have to have that commitment."

Rigby says the community around online games, or fitness, satisfies one of the last psychological needs: relationships.

"There’s a social component to it. … You’re relying on each other. You really need the other person to watch your back and vice versa," he said. "(Games) build in a sense of ‘I matter to others; others matter to me.’ "

Michael Perry said he was heavy all of his life before he started weight-lifting. Michael Perry said he was heavy all of his life before he started weight-lifting.

Of course, motivation isn’t restricted to video gamers. Everyone has these basic intrinsic psychological needs and can apply them to fitness. Gamers just have an easier time learning the language.

"What video game players have is a certain understanding for how these sort of fitness structures are built: goal-setting, progression, etc." Rigby said. "In other words, it’s a world that they know."

Take Vin Diesel, one of the buffest men in Hollywood. Diesel used to play “D&D” on his days off as a bouncer in one of New York’s nightclubs.

He contributed the foreword for the book “30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons,” writing, “We were all drawn to the game because it allowed us to become these characters, vastly different in appearance and in actions, but what kept us hooked was the search for the character that represented our higher self.”

A quest — to look different, to act stronger, to be better. Sound familiar?


Eat Well & Be Well: Stop Eating Chemical Additives


Photo from “Anatomy of a Cheetoh” via Men’s Health October 2009 Issue

Like any American child growing up in the last 20 years with two full time working parents, I grew up on a healthy diet of junk and fast food.

Bless my mother’s heart, I can’t blame her.  She was no match to the peer pressure from my friends and the hours of television ads that sunk into my brain.  She escaped war-torn Vietnam, built an amazing career to raise five of her own kids along with a handful of cousins that came in and out of our homes.  Her sole goal was to give us what made us happy, and if that meant a bucket of KFC then it was a bucket of KFC.

I will freely admit that I still love the taste of junk food. It’s programmed to taste good. I love Ranch Doritos. I love a McDonald’s Big Mac and Cherry Coke. But lately the intelligent part of my brain has been taking over and it’s been scaring the junk out of me.

Above is a photo of what it takes to make a Cheetoh.

From top left:

  1. Corn meal
  2. Ferrous Sulfate (iron supplement)
  3. Niacin
  4. Thiamin Mononitrate
  5. Folic acid (B Vitamin)
  6. Corn Oil/Sunflower Oil
  7. Whey
  8. Salt
  9. Cheddar Cheese
  10. Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
  11. Maltodextrin (a starch derivative)
  12. Disodium Phosphate (stabilizes pH levels and improves texture)
  13. Sour Cream
  14. Monosodium Glutamate aka MSG (flavor enhancer)
  15. Lactic Acid (a preservative)
  16. “Artificial Colors”
  17. Citric Acid (to regulate acidity, flavor and preservation)

17 ingredients. SEVENTEEN.

I’m pretty handy in the kitchen, and I’ve tackled some amazing recipes from the cookbooks of Thomas Keller that have a heavy list of ingredients.  But when was the last time you went into a grocery store and had partially hydrogenated oil, disodium phosphate and artificial colors on your shopping list?

If you are a soda fan, I recommend you switch to water and tea for a week and then take a swig from a soda on the 8th day. That burn down your throat and syrup coating in your mouth won’t be as refreshing as you remember.

I’ve always found it interesting that the foods that are made to last longer through preservatives are also designed to be eaten quicker.  The chart above (via O’reilly) puts things into perspective in terms of our health.   What isn’t so apparent is its affect on our happiness.  I’ll let Thomas Keller explain.

“The pace of life today is so quick, and we often feel so rushed and disconnected from one another, as well as from the sources of our food, that it’s easy to forget how powerful the ritual of eating together can be. To be able to sit around the table, passing food, sharing stories of the day, with the sense that for an hour or so, the outside world can be set aside, is a gift to embrace.  Some days life is sweet, other days life can be hard, but the one thing we always strive to do, is to partake of the comfort and pleasure of sharing a meal with those we hold dear.” - Thomas Keller “Ad Hoc at Home”
CrossFit: Where Navy SEALs and Pregnant Soccer Moms Help Each Other Get Ripped | Fast Company



CrossFit: Where Navy SEALs and Pregnant Soccer Moms Help Each Other Get Ripped | Fast Company

Awesome description

Just came back from today’s Crossfit squat session to this awesome title/article.

For all the ladies that think Crossfit/weightlifting will make you look like a man, read this article, watch the videos.

(via peternyc)



This is kind of a dumb list.
1. That’s not a picture of spinach, that’s a picture of chard.
2. Peanuts are in no way the most healthy nuts. Cashews, walnuts, almmonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, etc. (plus seeds) should be up there before peanuts.
3. Plain yogurt, sure. But a lot of yogurts are lacking in probiotics and are just a vehicle to cram more sugar into your body. Read the label.
4. Say organic produce. If you compare the nutritional information between organic and conventional produce, conventional is incredibly lacking, giving your body basically nothing. Especially greens.
5. Likewise, wild or farmed salmon? Because, as with produce, there is a big difference.
6. Where are the goji berries, maca, spirulina, legumes, quinoa, cacao, wheat grass, and all the other amazing superfoods?
I know it’s pointless to take issue with dumb things on the internet, but healthy food is important to me.. Maybe I’ll make my own.

Katie is so rad.

Oats should be on here.

Undercover by Nike “GYAKUSOU” Collection


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