Here’s another post from the old website. Since that time I’ve lost about 50 lbs and have maintained my weight. I’ve since quit that part time job and started exercising on my own. Since I’ve lost that weight, I’ve enjoyed gaming even more. 

Tabletop gaming is one of the largest hobbies out there, and tabletop gamers have a reputation for being large.

Stereotypes aside: what’s the point of the hobby if you’re too unhealthy to enjoy it?

1. Desire it to the Point Where You Need to Lose Weight
Otherwise it will seem like too much work.

You need at least one good reason to start.

Whatever your reason, it has to motivate you enough to start exercising, even in small doses.

In fact, it’s best you have multiple reasons. 

I had five: 

  • Borderline Diabetes and High Cholesterol. A doctor diagnosed me with both a couple years ago. I didn’t want to take pills for the rest of my life to regulate these.
  • Lethargy. I was tired of being tired. Not even caffeine could keep me awake during the day at times. And since I don’t drink coffee, I’d resort to soft drinks for a quick energy fix, but that would lead to…
  • Sugar Crashes.  Also known as hypoglycemia. When those sugar crashes would come, it felt like a necromancer cast enervation on me, followed by feeblemind. No saving throw.  I just stopped functioning until I slept, which led to…
  • Sleep Apnea. I terrified my girlfriend when I stopped breathing when I napped, and then annoyed the hell out of her when I snored.
  • The Fat Gamer Stereotype. I know. Not every gamer is overweight, and I wasn’t as overweight compared to some, but I still self-conscious about it. I wanted to break the stereotype for myself.

Friends told me “oh, you’re not that overweight.”

Yeah. Right.

I hated trying on new clothes because nothing fit quite right for a guy who’s 5’10” and 250+ pounds.

Things needed to change.

I needed to change.

2. Get Paid to Exercise

A gym membership is expensive, so is exercise equipment (and remember, you spent your extra money on gaming accessories, right?).

And working out is really a pain if you’re not used to it, making it more likely you’re going to quit and do something more enjoyable with your time.

Solution: Find a job where you’re active, on your feet, walking around, lifting  and carrying things, going up and down stairs if possible. Get paid to exercise. 

There’s plenty of jobs like this out there. Look for them.

A good place is in retail: nearly every single “big box” store needs somebody (reliable) to replenish merchandise.

I’ve been working part-time at a crafts store since June.  I started off working just one or two days a week. Within the first month I lost a few pounds and have continued to lose weight.

It doesn’t pay much, but I’ll save a fortune in health costs down the road. The extra money, however, is nice though. I can afford more gaming stuff (or help pay down those damn student loans…).

3. Start Small
Lifting a box full of books might be too heavy, if you’re not used to lifting things. But there’s good news.

The new D&D 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual each weigh around 2.5 pounds. That’s about 7.5 pounds put together. Most people can lift that above their heads. Do it repeatedly.

Throw in the 5th Edition Starter Set (1.4 pounds) and maybe your dice bag to get about 10 pounds total. Now lift those.

Still got some of those D&D 4th Edition core books laying around? Lift the 5e books in one hand and the 4e books in the other and balance them for for a minute or so. Do it again for a few repetitions.

The point is you don’t have to dive right into full blown exercise and dieting. Take baby steps. 

There’s certain things you can do at the tabletop, while during gaming sessions, that can help:

  • During breaks, get up and do stretches, even if it’s just lifting your arms above your head to stretch your back. Walk around a bit. 
  • Drink lots of water. Sure, you’ll have to go to the bathroom more often, but this is far better than binge drinking on soft drinks while you’re gaming. Water also helps you feel full, so you won’t snack as much.
  • Keep snacks and food away from the tabletop, so you’re not tempted to eat constantly during play. (Besides, many Game Masters–myself included–don’t like food near their gaming books). 

In 2014, I focused more on my activities rather than on the food I ate. Before the job at the crafts store, I did small stuff: took the stairs instead of the elevator, miscellaneous yard work, and so on. 

A quick Internet search will turn up lots of different small activities to lose weight. 

In 2014, for once in my life, I have actually lost a significant amount of weight–about 30 pounds. 

I desperately needed to lose weight, as you’ll see. But I didn’t join a gym or buy a bunch of exercise equipment. In previous years, every time I started an exercise program, I’d be good for a week or two, then quit. It was too much effort for me to handle.

This year I took it slow; I changed my lifestyle gradually. But I was tired of feeling like I fit into that “fat gamer” stereotype.

So here’s the 5 things I did to lose those pounds. Nearly any gamer can do them–although here’s the obligatory caveat: consult a doctor before beginning any new exercise or diet. 

(Of course, if you’re not overweight, that’s great. You can use these steps maintain the weight you have, or share this article with a friend).

4. Use Your Gaming Books as Weights

Stack several of your favorite gaming books. Now lift them. A bit heavy, huh?

D&D 3.5e, D&D 4e, and Pathfinder  books work great. Their magazine-quality pages are partly made from clay, making them heavier than standard book pages.

Heck, if you have them, old copies of Dragon and Dungeon magazines from the 3e/3.5e era are perfect.

Put a bunch of these in a Bankers Box and lug them around your home whenever you go from room-to-room. Lift them over your head several times first thing in the morning. 

Carry them to your gaming sessions. If anybody asks, say “I brought them, you know, just case…”

5. Start Now
Okay, here’s my dirty little secret:  I started losing weight in 2013. 

It began in the fall, and it wasn’t much–around 5 pounds–and I gained some of it back over the holidays. But at least it was a start. I’d done something to make progress, which is better than no progress.

As of this writing, there’s about three weeks left in 2014. 

Don’t use the New Year as an excuse to start loosing weight. That’s just procrastination rearing its ugly head.

Start now. Even if you just do little exercises a couple times a day–at least that’s something. 

Focus more on your activities rather than what you are eating. 

Believe me, the effort is worth the results. 

  • My blood sugar is under control. I don’t get those severe crashes anymore.
  • The lethargy is gone. I have more energy now. 
  • My clothes fit better–I also need to buy new clothes. 
  • I don’t “feel” fat.
  • My sleep apnea is gone.

I still snore occasionally, but my airways don’t collapse when I sleep.

Also, I’ve stopped biting my tongue, because my tongue got smaller. Yeah. Weird. But it turns out that body will stuff fat wherever it can, including the tongue, which can lead to sleep apnea.

So there you have it. 5 steps to start lose weight and break the “fat gamer” stereotype for yourself in the coming year:

  1. Desire it.
  2. Get paid to do it.
  3. Lift those books.
  4. Start small.
  5. Start now.

In 2015, I hope to lose more weight and gain some muscle. Maybe I’ll pick up the momentum, become even more active. I’m not sure.

I’m just thankful I’ve made progress and encourage you to do the same, if you need to.

Once again, consult a doctor before you start any major diet or exercise program.  

Further Reading
“Eat Man Food and Lose Weight: A Primer on Flexible Dieting,” by Justin Hastings, from the Art of Manliness.
“Five Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Own Life,” by David Wong, from Cracked.