Gaming and working out are not too dissimilar when you think about it.
In both activities you start from nothing and have to spend an initial ‘beginner’ period learning the ropes;
What exercises you need to do / What equipment your character needs
What food you need to eat / What skills or statistics to invest in
How often to train / What quests to do
In both activities this learning curve is quick and exciting, you level up fast and what was once unknown quickly becomes second nature.
You’re encouraged to keep at as you see yourself getting results in a relatively short amount of time.
You build strength rapidly
Gain muscle easily
Lose fat even more easily
Progress to advanced exercises
And feel more comfortable and confident
But after the initial beginner period, things gradually slow down, progress takes a little longer, your diet needs to be a little stricter and strength comes more slowly.
It’s at this point that all good games (workout plans) should be giving you enough to keep you interested in getting to that next level. In workout terms you should have seen enough progress to know the benefits of persevering at this new slower rate of progress.
That new shiny sword (lean abs or bigger muscles) should be enough to keep you striving for progress. However, it’s exactly at this point, where most people’s interest begins to wane;
Your diet begins to become a little to samey
Your strength progresses too slow
Results in the mirror harder to see
The scales don’t move quickly enough
It doesn’t seem worth it anymore.
It doesn’t seem worth it anymore.
If you’re lucky, it’s right at this point that a new workout (progressing from beginner to intermediate) or a change of exercise selection (much like new game content) can be enough to keep you on track for a while.
Eventually you’ll end up back here, wondering whether to continue or save and quit to do something else.
This is where the gamer’s mindset comes in.
The Gamer’s Mindset
You see to be really good at a game, you have to grind at it.
What this means is that you have to put in the hours, you have to practice, you have to do variations of the same thing over and over.
Each time you do it you get a little more progress and get a little bit better.
Only after you’ve done this do you begin to truly understand the game, you can make adjustments on the fly, anticipate difficulties and know how to overcome them.
To put it simply you have to keep grinding away to get the results you want.
I know it can sound boring to some people but working out is the same.
You can’t put in 1, 10 or even 100 workouts and expect to suddenly have the results you want. Once you pass the beginner stage and get deep into the intermediate stage it becomes about consistency of effort.
You know most of the stuff you need know at this point, through trial and error you’re built a library of knowledge;
What reps, sets and training frequency your body responds best to
How to calculate and adjust your calories
What exercises work best for you
What equipment you consistently have access to
How to build muscle or lose fat
And much more
For here it becomes a journey of incremental progress that over time brings fantastic results.
It’s this journey that takes you from ‘just ok’ to ‘absolutely amazing’ but you can’t do this without embracing the gamer mindset.
How To Embrace The Gamer Mindset
Embrace a Level of Suck
Look at it this way, you can either dig in and enjoy the process whilst accepting some level of suck;
Eating a lot of the same meals
Making incremental progress in the gym
Gaining muscle really slowly
Being hunger at times when losing fat
Going to the gym when you don’t really feel like it
OR you can quit, where things still suck, and you get none of the rewards in return.
I know what I’d prefer.
See The Bigger Picture
Just like doing yet another greater rift in Diablo 3 or trying to find that final backpack in the new Spiderman game can be enough to want to yank out my internet connection, smash my keyboard and swear off gaming forever, I know it’s worth it if I want to make progress.
It may not feel like it now but when I look back on this moment a month or more from now and see how the experience I got or item I found has ultimately led me, I’ll be glad I did.*
*I love gaming and I don’t care who knows it, life is about making time for all the things you enjoy, work and play included.
Fitness is the same.
If you compare yesterday’s progress to today’s or even last week’s progress to this week’s progress then sure it can seem like you’re not getting anywhere BUT if you compare;
Last month’s photos to this month’s photos
Your strength 6 months ago compared to now
Your weight loss or gain over the last 3 months
Measurements from last year to this year
This is where you see the bigger picture.
This is how you see the monumental change you’re making to how you look, feel and perform over time.
This is where and how you not only pursue greatness but remind yourself of the steps you’ve already taken to getting there.
Celebrate the Small Wins
This bit is so important.
In the same way finally finding that level 100 awesome powerful item you’ve been looking for, for the last week, makes you want to dance around the room with joy, losing 1 – 2 lbs a week or increasing the weight in one of your sets on one of your exercises is also cause for celebration.
Sure, it doesn’t sound like a big achievement but in the grand scheme of things it is.
As it’s this recognition of your progress that will lead to a domino effect of more accomplishments, ultimately resulting in you getting the body you want.
Celebrate the small wins as they reinforce your behaviour and lead to the big changes.
Become Goal Orientated
When grinding away at a game, there is always an objective in mind;
Levelling up to unlock new items, skills or stats
Getting a new, more powerful item to help progress you further
Mastery of the game and it’s challenges
It doesn’t matter what it is so much, as long as there is a genuine goal you want to achieve that is acting as the driving force behind your reason for grinding.
Working out is the same, you need a goal to aim for, a reason for grinding day after day.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to;
Build big biceps
Get ripped abs
Squat 1.5x your bodyweight
Do a muscle up
Or any of a million other goals
The point is to have a goal, something to keep you focused when the going gets tough.
Building the body, you want isn’t about coming on leaps and bounds every day, it’s about consistency of effort and progress over time.
Embracing the gamer’s mind set can help you achieve your goals.
To do this you need to;
Embrace the suck
See the bigger picture
Celebrate the small wins
Become goal orientated
Remember games are fun, so why can’t your fitness journey be fun too?
Enjoy the process, stay consistent and reap the rewards.