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Buff(ing) For BlizzCon: Carving out Caverns of Time and unarmed combat

Rafe Brox

Buff(ing) for BlizzCon is a bi-weekly fitness series written by ShrinkGeek authors Rafe Brox and Michael McGreevy. Join the team in getting in shape for the ultimate WoW geek event: BlizzCon.

We've all been there: bored in Storm Peaks, decked out in our blues and purples, and idly surfing through your achievements, when you realize that you need to give someone (or several someones) a knuckle sandwich in order to earn Master of Arms. Unequipping your weapon of choice (or eschewing your favorite spell rotation), you start slapping some unsuspecting rhinocerous or elemental. It takes a surprisingly long time to do that particular grind, especially if you're not built for melee combat.

What the heck does this have to do with our bi-weekly sojourn into the realm of health and fitness? Without the right equipment and skills, even something simple is harder than you think it's going to be -- but with practice, it gets easier. Fortunately for us, we don't have to subject ourselves to a great deal of peril in order to gear up, and we can boost our skills during in-game downtime.

This time around, Buff(ing) for BlizzCon will check in with the staffers who are on this particular quest to see what they're using and doing to help them reach their goals, and we'll offer a few suggestions of our own. We already know that if you're not doing anything at all, starting any kind of healthy eating and exercise routine will help. For those of you who have already gotten those under way -- keep on keeping on. For those of you who haven't, what are you waiting for? Extended maintenance?

Let's see how the staffers have done tackling their objectives and interject some instant feedback. A note for the faint of heart: I used to play a troll and still have a fairly robust scent of Eau d'Au-Dessous du Pont (a low-calorie cookie to the reader with the first correct translation), which means that I'm not necessarily going to be nicey-nice. Co-author Mike is the Good Cop on our team; I'm a lot more like Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.

Alex Ziebart

I picked up the iPhone app Lose It to track my calorie intake. I was pleasantly surprised that it isn't particularly hard to meet a goal there when you actually have one. I've also spent at least 30 minutes a day on the exercise bike in my office, though I usually try for more than that. Thirty minutes is my bare minimum.

He's spot on with one of the most important factors of being successful: accountability. Knowing you have a specific and measurable objective gives you something concrete to aim for. A little piece of software that reminds (or nags) you to keep you focused might be just what some folks need.

Robin Torres

I've been walking every day. Five in a row so far!

Consistency is key. Finding something you can and will do regularly is the easiest way to make sure you stick with whatever changes you make.

Kelly Aarons

Since I signed up, I bought a mountain bike off of Craigslist and picked up a decent helmet. Since then, I've been going on a huge bike ride -- usually about 1.5-2 hours long, every second day. I've already felt my pants fitting a little better, although seeing that mentally is its own battle.

There's nothing that says you have to invest in all kinds of fancy equipment to get a good workout. If you don't believe me, grab a jumprope and use that sucker for 90 seconds at a stretch. There are entire disciplines that use nothing but your own body weight to achieve significant results; gymnasts have phenomenal strength-to-weight ratios, for instance.

This gives us an opportunity to segue into bio and exercise breaks that are already built into WoW: chartered flights. If your character is cruising along on auto-pilot, get out of your chair and get moving instead of playing a quick in-game round of Peggle. One of the folks who commented on our last Buff(ing) for BlizzCon installment was already on board with this plan: "So you've got a long flight from Theramore to Darnassus? You can bang out entire rep series of crunches, pushups, squats, etc." None of those require anything more than some empty floor space and a desire to get moving. If you've got a pullup bar or some hand weights (or even an empty milk jug you can fill with water), you can do even more.

Gregg Reece

I've been playing with my daughter, which is fairly exhausting at times. She is, after all, a 12-pound weight that wiggles. I occasionally get time to work on the WiiFit, although not as often as I'd like. The 30-minute free-step exercise on there is my weapon of choice when I've got the time. Overall, I need to pick up the slack a little better and get things scheduled a little better.

This is where the knives come out, because Gregg has committed one of the classic blunders (admittedly, it's far less well known than getting into either a land war in Asia or going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line): exercise needs to be important enough that you make time to do it. At least he recognizes that he's a slacker. If you want to succeed in getting an achievement, downing a boss or getting a particular piece of gear, you put in the time to get it -- whether that's doing a rep grind, earning DKP to get a raid drop or just killing that tenth rat to finish some obscure quest. Getting healthy takes the same kind of investment of time and attention (just a lot more energy). This is a common thread among folks who have made a point of getting healthy, and not just folks who are arguably gym rats like me.

To Gregg's credit, having a companion when you exercise is a great way to stay motivated, even if our companion is not exactly doing the same stuff you are. Also, asymmetrical or unstable weights are excellent for recruiting secondary stabilizing muscles. So, he's not a complete slacker.

Joe Perez

Been hitting up the WiiFit every other night, and have begun a regimen of running around the neighborhood and parks. I've dropped and kept off 6 pounds of the goal so far. I've adjusted my eating habits considerably as well. Like Alex, I have the Lose It app for the iPhone as well iFitness, and that is helping a lot. Being able to see what is going in my food, watch calories and track my workouts has been incredibly helpful.

Joe touches on another commonality among folks who are successful in making it to their goals: tracking what you do. If you don't know where you were before, how do you know how far you've come? Cleared Ulduar-25 with six wipes last week? Do it with five this time. Ran your last 5k in 35:00? Try and break 34:00 for your next one. Exercise is a vertiable smorgasboard (... orgasboard, orgasboard) for stat junkies.

Amanda Miller

This past week, I have drastically increased my intake of vegetables and reduced my consumption of processed foods by about 85%. I've been lifting weights and doing exercise videos 3-5 times per week, and I can feel myself getting stronger. I've also been walking more. I haven't seen the numbers on the scale move yet, but I'm positive that they will by this time next week! I've also been reading about healthy eating for education, inspiration and motivation. I have been diligently tracking what I eat with, which has been very helpful.

A very smart person once said, "You can't outrun (or outlift) a donut." If you're not eating healthy food, your success when it comes to exercise will be hampered. This is true whether your goal is losing weight or building muscle. Bonus points to Amanda for digging for more info to spice up the brainmeats. Strategy guides work for boss encounters, so there's no reason to expect they don't work for scale encounters, too.

Michael Gray

I'm one week into the new diet. It's a little tough managing to eat this much food, which is kind of crazy. I'm meeting the intake by doing two smoothies in the morning (12 egg white equivalents, plus protein powder and orange juice). The cardio is a pretty good time, but the anaerobic stuff is taking a little effort.

Not knowing exactly what kind of protein powder Michael is using, if it's anything like the stuff I've got, mixing that stuff with orange juice sounds no-holds-barred nasty. I'm sure a lot of folks are wondering what kind of "diet" calls for eating what sounds like a lot more food, but this is actually a fairly common approach for folks getting into a brief but intense muscle-building and fat-loss program like P90X or the Velocity Diet. By eating several smaller meals, your body can have a less dramatic shift in blood sugar (and, by association, insulin) throughout the day, as well as burn calories with digestion more frequently. The relatively high amount of protein is there to fuel muscle development and recovery, since protein is what muscles are made of.

As for me ...

As for me? I've been doing a little bit of everything, including injuring myself and having to do some rehab work. That may be an excuse (or to the sensible folks in the audience, "good reason") to avoid picking up excessively heavy things for a couple of weeks. However, I've put what could have been downtime to use by getting back to doing more cardio. You won't catch me on a treadmill, but there are other means to that end, so I'm doing some new endurance workouts and bodyweight exercises.

I just flew in from Booty Bay, and boy, are my arms tired.

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