Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spinning My Wheels

My current attempt to lose weight and get in shape has started and stalled at least a dozen times. Each new attempt begins with enormous promise and effort, but after a couple of weeks, it's usually the same result. A particularly stressful day of work leads to a Wawa binge when I have perfectly healthy options at home. A night out with friends leads to me succumbing to McDonalds or pizza. Those bad food choices lead to me feeling awful the following day, forgoing my workout and eating more junk, and the snowball begins.

I'm keenly aware that my biggest handicap when it comes to fitness is that if I have one bad day, my mind checks out completely. "I already ruined this week," I'll say to myself on a Thursday when I hit the snooze too many times and have a sandwich instead of a salad at lunch, "Might as well go nuts until Monday." Then Monday comes around, and it's the same rationalization, but I replace "week" with "month." And on it goes.

I need accountability. I need a reason to shake off a bad day and immediately get on track. I was intrigued by an article that I read last year about someone with a Twitter public humiliation diet who Tweeted his weight every day on his way to losing sixty pounds. I knew it wasn't enough for me. I barely have a Twitter account, and not enough people would follow me that would keep me honest.

One morning, as I rode my stationary bike while messing around in World of Warcraft, a thought popped into my mind that made me chuckle. "This routine of self improvement that I take day-by-day, of sticking to my diet and riding the bike for an hour, is my daily quest. Getting to where I want to be is really that simple, as long as I stick to those two simple things."

It was doing just those two things that led to me losing 70 pounds in the summer of 2004. I know that I'm capable of doing it, and it's just a matter of buckling down and getting it done. That thought that I had on the bike led to some thinking as I pedaled. What was it about WoW that kept me interested? It's been the only video game that I've played in the past five years for an extended period of time, so it must have something in it that is particularly special to me. Then it hit me.

It was my own character's self-improvement that drove the game. Each character begins on the lowest rung of the ladder with poor gear and limited skills, but through questing and exploration slowly gets stronger, learns more abilities, and becomes much more interesting. As you get stronger, you are able to unlock parts of the world that had been unavailable to you, and participate in quests that are much more intricate, with more at stake. You eventually interact with the major world leaders, take on more stronger foes, and become a hero. All from someone who begins by killing some wolves so that someone can have a pair of gloves.

That's where the idea for this blog came from. Over the next few months, I will attempt to parallel my own weight loss efforts with the leveling efforts of a WoW character. For every day that I adhere to my diet and workout routine, I will reward myself with a level. For every day that I gain a level, I will create a new post that will feature an area where a character of that level would find himself. If I happen to have a day where I don't adhere to my diet, or do my full workout, I will remain at the previous level. Finally, for every day that I neither adhere to my diet or workout, I will lose a level. This is my attempt to make sure that I keep my spiraling to a minimum.

It should also be noted that a great amount of the game content was changed when the Cataclysm expansion was released in December. This changed a large amount of the leveling process, and while I experienced some of the updated content, it wasn't nearly enough to paint a comprehensive picture for this blog. Therefore, most of this will portray the pre-Cataclysm stuff. Wherever possible, I will point out the difference between pre- and post-Cataclysmic content.

I hope that you'll enjoy this blog, and keep me accountable as I start on this journey (again.) In a few month's time, I hope to be able to post that I've reached the game's highest level of 85. My journey won't end there, however, but for now, I am going to take it one step at a time.

Thanks for reading!

P.S.: I'm happy to say that I've been at this for a week, and have already made some progress. The posts I make in the next couple of days will be reflections of that. Enjoy!

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