Sometimes, when we want to change ourselves, the simplest thing to start with is the physical. Now, notice, I didn’t say the easiest, I said the simplest. Dovahkiin is whoever you want him or her to be. A big burly melee fighter? Go for it. Stealthy, wiry ninja assassin? Absolutely. Lithe, strong, swift hunter? Sure thing. Maybe a skinny mage, small on brawn but big on brain? Sure! But creating a body type in Skyrim is as easy as playing with a few sliders on a computer screen. Notice I said the simplest thing to start with is the body, not the easiest.
At its heart, fitness is simple. Eat X amount of calories, carbs, fats, proteins, and vitamins, do X amount of/type of exercise on a regular basis, and get what you’re looking for. It is that simple but it is never that easy. Food is one of the base interactions we have with the world, changing our eating habits is HARD, even if we know what we need to do. By the same token, we are creatures of habit in our daily goings-on, too. Exercise can be difficult to fit in, especially if we don’t particularly enjoy it. I will not lie or sugarcoat it, significant results can sometimes hurt. Not in the bad, I-think-I-hurt-my-knee kind of way, but in the man-I-don’t-like-getting-sweaty-and-my-lungs-and-legs-are-burning kind of way, or the oh-my-god-I’m-so-sore-it-hurts-when-I-lift-my-arms kind of way.
The fact is, both of these things involve habits. Habits are hard to break once you’ve made them, and sometimes it’s hard to start them, too. It can be severely intimidating to try to jump right into a new lifestyle regime, so let’s take a look at a couple first steps.
Seriously. This is important. This is the most important thing of all, honestly. Working out, losing weight, changing your diet, gaining muscle, ALL these things are SO MUCH HARDER without sleep. Focus hard on getting at least eight hours a day. Set a bedtime for yourself, and a wake up time. Get your sleep cycle in order, and you will already feel much better than you did.
Keeping a Food Journal
If you’ve ever tried to change your weight before in life, you’ve probably heard of this one. Food journals are meant to track and tally your average eating habits. Here’s the problem with food journals: they often just end up making you feel worse about your eating habits. There’s a benefit in knowing something, but just knowing it doesn’t make you feel any better. So here’s my take on things. Keep the journal, and don’t total your days up. For a month, write down what you eat, and write down four things: calories, carbs, protein, and fats. Do not total numbers up, just write it down every day.
At the end of this month, I want you to, instead, go through and pick out just a few things that you eat on a regular basis, but know you shouldn’t. You’ve probably got a guilty pleasure or two that you know, so now is the first test of willpower. Try to keep these pleasures limited to a once-a-week thing. Remove the obvious guilty pleasures at a rate of one-pleasure-a-week, but don’t go overboard on yourself if you slip up sometimes. Remember, the whole point of the journal is to just develop a habit related to food that ISN’T negative. The journal itself is your tool.
Once you’ve gone through a few weeks of eliminating the guilty pleasures, I want you to start totaling up your days. Go back and total up all those days in your journal, and take a look at the numbers from then till now. Congratulations, you’ve already made progress. You leveled up. Now it’s a game of numbers. Pick a diet plan(I recommend the Fighter Diet for losing weight and toning, or the Big Guy Diet for gaining some good muscle), and slowly try to make your numbers match your goal numbers(according to the diet plan). Start picking out the less obvious guilty pleasures and subbing in the good food recommendations.
Don’t scold yourself from slidebacks, and don’t worry about weighing yourself(at least at first). Your food journal, and the numbers in it, are the only things you’re worried about, at least at first. Results will come in time, what you need to do is build a habit of controlling your own eating habits, and not letting them control you.
Start Workouts Slowly
Okay, let’s assume you are at level zero for fitness. Heck, forget that, you’re at level negative one, and your in experience debt to boot(City of Heroes reference!). What do?
Start. Slow. Do NOT jump into even the level 1 section of any of my workouts yet. It’s intimidating to start a huge new fitness plan from scratch, outta nowhere. You’ll burn yourself out, and give up, and that helps no one. What I want you to do, is find a twenty minute block of time, at the same time each day, when you go for a walk. I’m not talking power walk, or jog, I mean just take twenty minutes, and go walk. Start doing it every other day. After two weeks of this, start walking every day, and resting one day out of the week. Twenty minutes, ever day. That’s it. Once you are walking six days out of seven every week for a month, ramp it up to half an hour. If you feel comfortable with that, then move on to the level one of the character workout of your choosing. But that first month of twenty minutes of walking every day is crucial.
As with the diet, don’t kill yourself for setbacks, they’ll happen. If you don’t get a workout in every day, it’s not the end of the world. But twenty minutes, ever day. That is your time, and in it you go walking. The end. Accept no compromises or substitutes, that is YOUR thing. The end.
So that’s it. There’s your starting point. Get your sleep. Then get your food. Then get your walk. Do all three at the same time if you feel ambitious, but don’t overdo it. You have the rest of your life to become who you want to be, taking it slow at first isn’t going to be any worse than whatever you’ve been doing up until now. It’s worth it, I promise. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me, I’ll help as best as I can, and keep it in confidence.
Until then, continue to be awesome!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace
The Elder Scrolls, Skyrim, Dovahkiin, Oblivion, Morrowind, and all property therein are © Bethesda Softworks.