health

Geek Jitsu – a special guest post

dbz vegeta dragonball z

Woah! I really wanted this week’s Geek Jitsu to be about something completely different, but then someone crushed my door with a swift blast of energy. Before I could get angry, it turned out to be Vegeta, the prince of all Saiyans! Looks like he thinks my advice in this column is rather dumb and wants to add a few…sidenotes. So yeah, let’s sit down with him and…wait a moment. Mister Vegeta, what are you doing? What, this isn’t an interview? You want to do what?! No, this is my blog, you can’t ju– AAARRGHH!!!

[ an explosion can be heard, followed by a pleased laugh ] 

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Geek Jitsu – the fatter, the dumber?

nerd fat health

“Young Nerd” by Costalonga

We geeks like to think of ourselves as a bunch of intelligent, educated people. So far, about one half of the fellow nerds I met are actually pretty smart, while the other half consists of people with love for just one topic that takes up all their brain capacity. They aren’t dumb, but then again, they are stupid in a special way.

Anyway, I’m not here to discuss narrow-minded people with one-track minds. No, dear readers, it’s Wednesday once again, which means that it’s time for Geek Jitsu! So why did I start this post then with a piece about how geeks deem themselves intellectuals? Well, that’s because you should take care of your weight then, because the fatter you are, the dumber you might be!

Now, hold your horses and don’t become anorexic to save your IQ just yet! It’s not like the additional pounds on your waist are eating away your brain cells like you munch a bar of Hershey’s. However, it’s fascinating how research has shown the correlation between obesity and reduced cognitive abilities. For a while, science has suspected that there is a reason that, on average, highly educated people have less tendency towards obesity than those with a lower-educated background, but the proof for that is scarce. Now, however, science has something to use to back up such claims.

Of course, I’m not trying to say that all overweight people are dumb. That’s simply not true. What I’m trying to say though is that your physical and mental health influence each other. It’s a typical case of one needing the other, and vice versa. Yoga practitioners know that the human body is a temple, and a healthy mind can only reside in a clean temple. On the other hand, well-developed cognitive functions will help you in your quest to live healthy. They will make you question your food habits, have you process information faster and even provide you with a sense of healthy guilt every time you skip on a training session. Imagine life without that voice inside your head, pushing you to go hard!

So, the research presented above just goes to show that living healthy is not just about having a good-looking body and rocking those swimming trunks like a young Hasselhoff; it’s also about giving your mind the opportunity to grow and function normally, guaranteeing a carefree life. So next time you feel like going to McDonald’s for the third time in a week, ask yourself: how much will my cerebral cortex hate me for this?

Keep on sweating!

Geek Jitsu – Tumblr reminded me of something

Let me share a little something with you: Tumblr scares me. The reason for that is simple: I don’t know a single sane person who’s on there, and most of the stuff that Tumblr spawns is related to some weird fandom I just can’t wrap my head around (why do all you geek girls love Tom Hiddleston so much?!). Some people warn you of 4chan’s /b/, but I warn people of Tumblr in its entirety.

Now, to be fair, even the darkest hellhole of the Internet can be of use for something, and this week, Tumblr reminded me of some handy knowledge. The picture below appeared on seinen-engel’s Tumblr, and has been madly reblogged:

I want to use this week’s Geek Jitsu to discuss this list, since I think that this is relevant to many a geek trying to live healthy. In a subculture where both genders are heavy sexualized in our media of choice, be it games, movies, tabletop RPG’s or the likes, it’s easy to associate many superficial physical features with health. The list above should be a helpful reminder to you, but I still want to work it through, point by point.

  • The first three items on the list: I summed up my opinion about that pretty well in another edition of Geek Jitsu, so there’s nothing left to say.
  • Rips and hip bones aren’t meant to be visible: while some of us are just bony by nature, most geeks will have a normal physical appearance. That includes the fact that your rips and hip bones shouldn’t be showing. If they do, you might consider actually gaining some weight.
  • Collarbones are not meant to jut out: unless you’re Benedict Cumberbatch, everything I said on the previous point applies here as well.
  • It’s normal to have rolls on your stomach when you sit down or bend over: how also would you want to bend over then? D’you want your belly to be just in the way? Trust me, nature got you covered, even if it makes you look like you’re a walrus. Trust me, you’re not!
  • It’s normal to have a stomach that curves out: it really is. Of course, there’s a difference between a curved stomach and carrying around a keg of concentrated fat, but I’m assuming that my readers are smart enough to spot the difference.
  • Both points about stretch marks: this doesn’t just apply to girls. As a guy with a stretch mark-covered belly, I know how annoying and ugly they can look. However, after thinking about it, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. As the picture says, stretch marks come from growing, but they do also appear when you lose weight. Your skin is a bit loose there, still used to the amount of fat it had to cover. This makes your stretch marks badges of honor, showing the world how you won the fight against yourself. Wear them with pride, and have the world know that you are a symbol of physical change!
  • BMI charts are not accurate: thank you for supporting me here, list! I keep telling people  the BMI is no accurate way of telling if you have a healthy weight or not. It leaves out too many factors (like muscles) and will only depress you. It’s a nice general indication, but not the doctrine that should control your life.
  • Six packs abs are not necessary: though my vanity would like to disagree, my logic has to agree with this points. Having good-looking abs is nice and great to impress the ladies, but they are no prerequisite for a healthy body. If you want a six-pack, go out and get it, but don’t believe that others can’t look good without one.
  • Eating whenever you are hungry is perfectly fine: though I technically agree, I would like to point out that you should get to know the difference between being hungry and just wanting to eat. I’ll discuss that in another installment, but you can already think about it. Nevertheless, starving yourself doesn’t grant you a super-powered body, it only shows how stupid you are.
  • The best way to get a bikini body is to a put bikini on your body: power to everyone who just does that, but be ready for some backlash!

That’s my two cents about this list. Generally, I think it’s a good idea to keep it somewhere visible, as a helpful reminder and a good set of guidelines. Thank you, Tumblr, for providing me with something not-fandom-related and / or really scary.

Geek on!

 

Geek Jitsu – gamifying health

While out running the other day, a sudden realization hit me as hard as my sore muscles the next morning: gamers love gaming. Wow, what a burst of genius, Chin! No, seriously, give me a minute to explain this. Gamers love gaming, which is something you probably knew. But what can we learn from that? Well, if you want a gamer to do something, turn that something into a game. Thus, if you want a gamer to stay fit, turn that into a game.

That is, of course, not a new way of thinking. The gamification of almost everything has been discussed thoroughly by experts, and I even had a post about creating achievements for your health plan a few months ago. Still, it strikes me as odd how small the market for fitness games is. Sure, you got all those Wii games that pretend to keep you fit, but next to those titles, you won’t find much. There are apps like Zombies, Run and sites like Fitocracy that gamify your workouts, but they are not enough for the healthy gamer who wants some more depth.

Why haven’t we seen a full-fledged RPG powered by your workout yet? Heck, let me take the chance then and provide all you game designers with a little concept for such a game. Let us call it Sprinteria, and let it be a game about brave heroes and adventurers in a world powered by your running sessions. It works like this: users sign up for Sprinteria on the website, and download the app that comes with it to their smartphone. When they are out running, the app tracks their distance, average and maximum speed, and approximate amount of burnt calories. These values are translated into action points at the end of your session, and then send to your digital alter ego in Sprinteria. Your in-game hero can use those points to perform actions, like going out to hunt monsters, craft items or participate in player-vs-player warfare. Through these actions, your hero acquires experience and becomes more powerful. Thus, your running sessions are the only source of power for your hero, motivating you to slip into those sweatpants and fuel your adventurer in Sprinteria!

Of course, this is just a simple idea, but a game like that would really fascinate me. There’s also room for improvement, meaning it could be an ever-growing program that offers different challenges every week or month. The point is that I believe that if you create a sports game that takes gamers seriously, those gamers will take sports seriously. You just have to approach them the right way.

While we’re at it, what’s your opinion? Any fitness games that motivate you to keep moving, or do you also have your own ideas when it comes to designing one? Maybe you are a game designer yourself, and see something in my little pitch here. No matter what, leave your comments below.

Stay healthy!

Geek Jitsu – three songs to get you into overdrive

Warning: this week’s Geek Jitsu will be filled with what I consider tasteful music. Though I do listen some of the music the general public deems “good”, my workout playlist contains a few songs that you might find painful to hear. If folk rock and / or punk rock cause physical pain to you, you should steer clear of this list.

Alright, you still here? Well, then we have no time to lose! Every great workout needs great songs. I know that  can get that extra dose of adrenaline and general feeling of “RAWR!!!” from the right tracks. In the last years, I have gathered a few tracks in a workout playlist, and today, I want to share my three favourite ones with you

Avicii – Levels

Alright, let’s start with the odd one out of this trio. The kind of music made by Avicii is, generally, not my cup of tea. Electronic music just doesn’t cut it for me. However, “Levels” is a different story. I really love the upbeat tempo, the choice of “instruments” and composition of the track. Also, the calm part in the middle adds to the song, especially because it builds its tempo back up right after it. A perfect track for a steady pace while you’re out running!

Eluveitie – Helvetios

Yes, this is more my typical music! Eluveitie is a fantastic band, and the track “Helvetios” just makes my heart race. Listen to that refrain: don’t you want to scream along to that while finishing that set of push-ups or running ever faster? This music turns you into an ancient warrior, ready to fight anything in his path to glory. While some of the instruments might sound weird, they add to the motivating and medieval atmosphere created by these badasses from Switzerland. Helvetios!

Rise Against – Satellite

I’ve been a fan of Rise Against since my late high school years. Their tough, rebellious character is convincing, and their music is simply…raw. “Satellite” shows this so well, with lyrics that tell you why you keep going without ever stopping. Lines like “you can’t fill your cup until you empty all it has” are simply inspiring, and they keep me going whenever I think I can’t move another inch. Have this bad guy pump through your headphones while working out, and you will surely fly like a satellite over all your challenges!

That’s what’s playing when I break a sweat, but what about you? What gets you into beast mode, ready to go again? Feel free to share, I could use some new tunes!

Geek Jitsu – what you can learn from the Avengers

avengers manga art

“The Avengers” by kanapy-art

With Iron Man 3 hitting European cinemas this week, and Thor 2 on the horizon, Marvel is slowly preparing us for the next Avengers movie and the next chapters in their cinematic universe. It’s fantastic to see how the 2012 movie brought together all these cool superheroes, making it one of the most succesful comic book movies ever (if not the most succesful).

Superheroes are of course an inspiration for every Geek Jitsuka (yeah, I got a word now for a geek who practices the art of living healthy), and the Avengers are no different. Fortunately, they can inspire more than just a need to gain a body like Captain America or amass wealth like Iron Man. In this week’s Geek Jitsu, I want to highlight the healthy lessons three of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes teach us when it comes to healthy living.

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Geek Jitsu – why you should give self-defense a try

krav maga self-defense health

“krav maga” by pcsiqueira

Another Wednesday, another edition of Geek Jitsu! Welcome back, fit and healthy geeks of the Internet! So far, we talked a lot about the physical and mental aspects of fitness and health, but this week, I want to focus on something somewhat different: self-defense. As you know, I’m an avid fan of martial arts, and whenever someone gives me the opportunity to talk about it, I will gladly ramble on for more than an hour. Often, the conversation will head towards the topic of self-defense, the cousin of martial arts. Opinions about the practicality and use of the different self-defense system differ, but I believe that everyone should know a few techniques. Why? Well, read on and you’ll find out!

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