We know the story. Exercise, good sleep, and a balanced diet. Together, they are the Triforce of wellness. But knowing and implementing are two distinct things. Anyway, I always saw myself as more of an indoor — read: gaming chair — person. Brains over brawn, right?
Spoiler—the body is a single system. Everything works together. There’s a reason why esports pros start each day by hitting the gym. And it all starts with awareness.
First things first. You don’t start a competitive game by doing ranked, right? You check a couple tutorials on the metagame first. You should approach wellness in the same fashion.
You probably know it by know, physical health mainly relies on diet, exercise, and sleep. If you don’t, ex LCK and LEC analyst Gary “Tolki” Mialaret made a great thread about this. And your physical health affects your mental health too. (But mental health is too big a topic for this article!)
To excel at any game, you first need to understand the rules at work. Physiology is the same. Did you know that aerobics is known to boost the size of your hippocampus, ie. the part of the brain responsible for learning and verbal memory?
In other words, sweating will literally get you a big brain.
The other brain-exploding moment for me happened when I internalized this: what I eat is the only fuel my body has to power everything I do. My brain, every organ and every muscle I have, they only have whatever food I eat to work with.
The realization was quick: if I want top tier brain results, I need top tier food. Sometimes, a little knowledge is all the motivation we need.
I hear it. You “don’t have time for X.” (Untrue, but it’s another topic!) So what can you do to squeeze these healthy habits into your hardcore sedentary lifestyle?
First, optimize. Make the most of the travel you have to do for instance. Instead of taking a bus to the office, walk or go by bike. It might take 10 more minutes, but it’s easier than carving out 30 minutes in your schedule, right? Going from zero exercise to walking every day will already do wonders. But keep in mind, 30 minutes of moderate exercise is the minimum for being in good health. But hey, one step at a time.
Secondly, track things. Feed into your completionist instincts to make new habits appealing. One thing that resonated with me as a WoW player was Josh “Xaryu” Lujan’s concept of doing your dailies. In WoW, dailies — short for “daily quests” — are repeatable quests. In the last expansions, they were so critical to your character growth that missing a day meant you were basically one day late on everyone else.
Finally, customize. Adapt the principles to whatever methods work best for you. I use Trello at work, and I’m a bit of to-do list nerd. Making lists helps me stick to my plan. So I decided to implement Xaryu’s concept in Trello.
I setup an automation to add a “Do Your Dailies” card to my board everyday. It contains to-do lists items for things I want to build habits of, like “Practice Chinese”, “Eat one brain food”, or “Read”. At the end of the week, I love counting how many Dones I have and get a percent rate of habits I stuck with.
Think about it. It’s a competion against yourself. As Monica would say: “It’s my favorite kind!”
As you start tracking things, notice how you feel when after you’ve exercised or when you’ve slept more. Conversely, check your mood when sleep deprived or after eating junk. See how that affects your ability to focus, to work, or to win ranked games.
As you build a habit of reflecting on how you feel, you will grow your awareness of your well-being. You’ll start drawing the lines between what you do and how you feel. As you learn more about how your body and mind work, you will only find more reasons to live healthy.
I used to feel that living healthy was hard. But I don’t think it’s true. The hard part is internalizing the consequences of our diet, exercise, and sleep.
But there’s good news. It’s not that hard to stick to it. Because wellness is a virtuous cycle. Once you start feeling good, you will never want to go back to feeling like crap.
In itself, feeling good is enough motivation to keep going.
To get started, I selected a couple resources I recommend:
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