Welcome to the first installment of Geek Jitsu, the column on this blog about keeping yourself healthy and fit while living your dice-rolling, mouse-clicking geeky lifestyle. In this column, which will be published every Wednesday, I will do my best to share my knowledge about healthy living with you.
Before we get started, I want to make one thing very clear: I am not an educated health specialist. I do not have a single degree in biology, anatomy, healthcare, dietetics or any other related topic. The knowledge that I’ll share with you in this column comes from my own experience and from what people and literature has told me. Talking about experience, why don’t I start with telling you about my own path so far.
The fat years
My teenage years were characterised by two things: playing a lot of video games and being overweight. Back then, I didn’t really care about the weight on my hips and the round cheeks. It was a part of me, and people had to live with it or get the hell away from me. As a teenager, thoughts like that feel cool and adult to you. I mean, we’re taught that everyone is special and unique in their own way, so why should I change my own “specialness” just to have people love me?
Being sixteen years old, I didn’t understand that losing weight wasn’t about being liked by others, it was about doing something for your health. However, that kind of logic eluded me. I just thought that my weight was something genetical. Even though my parents were (and still are) overweight, my two siblings were always slim (even though I never ate that much more than them). I failed to understand that my rather slow and stationary lifestyle caused the calories to pile up, turning me into a little teenage barrel (see picture on the left).
People kept telling me to lose some weight of course. When you’re a teenager and you start to be interested in girls, your friends keep telling you that a few pound less on your belly would do you well in your hunt for boobies. Again, such good advice is put aside, thinking that the woman of my dreams will love me no matter what shape I have. It would take a few more years for me to find out that this is true, but that it never hurts to look a bit athletic. Still, the pounds kept piling up, and when I graduated from high school, I was “one fat mofo” (said with the wise words of one of my friends).
Getting a move on
After high school, university was the next stop. I was eighteen years, and excited about starting studying history. Even though that excitement faded after one semester, another fascination was born: martial arts. After a few months studying, my brother took me to an introductory class of a martial arts / self-defence course of one of his friends. Every man loves to fight, but fighting involves moving, so I was never a big fan of it. However, after just one class of learning how to punch properly and how to choke someone, I was hooked. Twice a week, I learned about how to defend myself and others, while improving my stamina and general fitness. To my great surprise, the kilograms kept on disappearing from my body, and after about eight months of regular training and eating healthy, I had lost about eighteen kilograms of weight. My entire physique had changed, and people who hadn’t seen me in a while were surprised by my new looks (see the picture on the right). It felt like I had slipped into a new, more handsome body, and that felt just great!
Switching to a bachelor’s study of European Studies took its toll though, and I couldn’t keep up appearances at my martial arts course. However, the course had ignited an interest for fitness, and when I couldn’t go to martial arts class, I went for a run. My runs got longer and longer, while my times got faster and faster. Additionally, I read a lot about healthy food, and learned how to eat well without having to starve myself. Even during my Erasmus semester in Denmark (which involved quite some drinking and other unhealthy behaviour), I was able to keep my weight. I was on the right path, and until today, I haven’t strayed from it.
Keeping in shape
These days, I’m a member of a local Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) club, training two or three times a week. I have only two stripes on my white belt so far, but learning the gentle art fascinates me. While I’m a slow learner, I’m eager to expand my knowledge, while keeping fit through the tough physical excercise which is part of every training. Furthermore, I try to give people in my circle of friends tips on healthy living (as long as they’re willing to listen).
Still, through all of this, I’m a geek. I play different MMORPG’s, organise tabletop RPG campaigns on Google+, love to watch all the Harry Potter movies back-to-back and have a Dalaran University t-shirt in my closet. I’m living proof that these two really different lifestyles can be combined, and in the coming weeks, I will tell you how!
Thanks for reading this introduction. Come back next week when I get y’all started on the fundamentals of a healthy, geeky lifestyle. Keep your head up!