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Buff(ing) for BlizzCon: Progress check

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 reached the two month mark, a third of the way through the quest [Buff for BlizzCon]. While there is still plenty of time before the big event, getting off to a good start means you've already got your rotations down, you know what you're doing, and you're making progress. Sure, you can still beat the timer if you stumble on the first boss, but it's a lot easier if you don't. And, on the other hand, if things have gotten off to a slower beginning for whatever reason (bad weather, injury, a scathing case of Loremaster-itis), you can mount up and make your way towards your goals all the same.

With that in mind, it's time for me to do my Patchwerk impersonation and perform a DPS check on our team of intrepid writers.

"Staffers come play?"

Robin: I was motivated by Choose Your Quests Wisely to re-evaluate what I was doing. Several years ago, I lost a bunch of weight and was healthier than ever in a very short time. The only thing I did was walk. I walked whenever I wanted, for as long as I wanted. That made my body want healthier food, and I complied. I didn't have a scale and didn't stress on the numbers. I did have a pretty dress hanging from my closet door, however -- a dress that I couldn't fit into for 4 dress sizes. In about 4 months, I was able to fit into it comfortably and I had done it by not counting calories or pounds.

So, I took a fresh look at my current situation. I live in a not-so-great neighborhood, and my apartment gym is still off limits due to that bad neighborhood thing, but it's summer now, which means longer daylight (and thus safer) hours. Also, I have an Argent Gruntling who needs outside time, and a park within a perfect walking/tricycling distance. Now, I'm trying to get a walk in daily. I'm not able to walk for hours at a time (like I was before) due to parental duties, but when I get up early enough, I leave The Spawn home with The Spousal Unit and walk for about an hour. And when The Spousal Unit is not here, The Spawn and I walk/tryke to the park and she plays while I do laps around the play area.

The bottom line right now is, even though I'm not any skinnier ... yet ... I feel so much better. This weekend, I'm off to buy a pretty dress that is a realistic goal. If I succeed, I'll wear it to the meet-up.

I'll say it for everyone else who is no doubt going to in the comments: PIX PRZ KTHX. I may personally have the fashion sense of a half-decayed Abomination, but I'm all for knowing what kind of fun outfits other folks will be looking to wear. But, more seriously, Robin's got a great attitude here -- simple, achievable, consistent, and fun.

Kelly: Work has been getting really crazy lately, and OT unfortunately cuts into good biking time. I've really been concentrating on my nutrition and food intake. I've caught myself buying food I shouldn't, so I'm making very conscious buying choices when grocery shopping. It's not like I was horrible before, but I've really slipped since the holidays, so now I'm just retaking my old - and much better - eating habits. I'm now on the fairly steady diet of my usual breakfast (high-protein, low-fat Greek yogurt with puffed flax and pumpkin flax granola), lunch is a homemade Greek salad, and dinner is an egg wrap. Throughout the day I snack on organic raisins and roasted (un-salted and un-oiled) nuts, like almonds, walnuts and cashews. I'm really gunning for my old high-protein/low-carb diet again.

Kelly hits on one of the biggest, most fundamental truths about losing weight (if that's your goal) - healthy eating is the most important factor in any healthy regimen. You can make up for a rogue or mage who's having an off night if your healers and tanks are on point, but it's a lot tougher if one of those folks isn't doing well. If I had to extend that analogy all the way around, I'd say that tanks are food, healers are recovery (and sleep), and DPS is exercise.

Before everyone lines up to say "it doesn't matter where you get your calories, as long as you burn more than you eat, you'll lose weight," I'll concede that that is true. However, maintaining sensible and healthy macronutrient ratios, as well as intelligently planning when you're eating what (carbs and protein in the morning, fats and protein mid-day, carbs after a workout, and protein in the evening) will make changing your body composition a lot easier.

Sure, you could just spam Shadowbolt or Chain Lighting all fight, but as a DPS rotation, that pretty much sucks rocks. Knowing how and when to eat to maximally support your objectives is just as much an art as crafting a good rotation. The right food (or spell) at the right time will give you the most bang for the metabolic buck.

Amanda: I have been doing workouts several times a week, and being much more careful about what I eat. When I catch myself craving or considering a food that I know is out of bounds, I read through the nutrition and ingredients and remind myself about the effect that each of those chemicals would have on my endocrine system. That usually does the trick. Unfortunately, for the last week or so, I have been off workouts. It's been so dark and rainy that I haven't been able to get motivated. Now that the sun is shining again, I'm going to kick my butt back into high gear!

There's something to be said for the school of thought, "If I can't pronounce it, I'm not gonna eat it." You don't need to go raw, or neanderthal (though many folks have, some for the long term), but steering clear of more processed foods is certainly not the worst decision you can make.

Liz: Oh. Uhm. That. I've been on my usual "distracted by work" kick.

This is where my status as a former Massively and Big Download staffer comes in handy: I can mock Liz with relative impunity. I've worked with her behind the scenes to try and keep her on task. I'm a lousy App when it comes to Nagging, but my Guilt plug-in seems slightly more robust. I'm thinking of adding Cajoling and Bribery in the next point release. But this just goes to show, that even the most well-meaning and hardest-working folks need to remember to make health and fitness a priority, or it can get marginalized entirely too quickly.

Alex: Somewhat ditto'ing Liz here. I've still been making sure to get at least an hour of exercise into my daily routine, but my diet has slipped horribly because I don't get much time away from work. Priorities slip when you're in a rush. Forget brewing tea, just crack open a soda! Man, I don't have time to cook, I'll just order takeout! Yeah, that's no good, I really need to get back on track with it all. Being impatient is never a good excuse.

No, no it isn't. None of us got all the way out of shape in two months, and none of us are going to get all the way back into shape in two months, either. Now, step away from the Hot Pocket and Diet Coke and nobody gets hurt.

Mike: I'm at about 30 days of rigorous excercise now. To be fair, it should be noted that (in my past) I've been a runner, wrestler, and lifter. I've been out of shape for about 5 years, and about a mediocre-level for a little longer. So my results may differ from the average. I'm using P90X as my routine, but with some additional cardio here and there. I'm on a very strict high-protein diet. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a ketogenic diet; instead, I've tightly restricted carbs to be fuel for my workouts, and otherwise stick to veggies and protein for food. My most common "meal" now is an egg-white shake (1 part egg-white, two part fruit or vegetable juice.) If I'm running behind on my daily protein, I'll dump some protein powder in there. I eat every two hours roughly. Each "meal" is either a can of tuna, about 3 ounces of flank steak, or something similar. I change it up so I don't get bored.

On average, I work out for about an hour. (An hour of activity --
changing, recovery drink, turning on the DVD is all outside that hour.) Since I'm using P90X, that really determines the exact details of what I'm doing, but it's basically interval training. I work out a different muscle group each day, with some occasional cardio and such to burn up calories. Warm up a bit, stretch it out, warm up a bit more, then work it out. The important part is that I'm pushing myself. I'm doing what *I* can do, I'm pushing for *my* best and for *my* results. My wife and I do it with one another for entertainment and company, but we're pushing ourselves. We can't make the other work hard for one more rep ... we each have to do it for ourselves. There is very much a mindset issue at stake here. My least favorite work out is Yoga, which I can not make it all the way through. It is forty minutes of intense muscle work, followed by forty minutes of balance poses.

For those tough guys who think yoga is a weak excercise for little girls, I invite you to send me a video of your successful completion of P90X's "Yoga X" at my address.

I can vouch for the challenge an energetic Yoga session can impart, because isometric, body-weight exercises, especially when leverage and balance are working against you, can be fantastically difficult. Add to that the lousy mobility we've got from spending eight or more hours a day sitting in front of a computer, and the stretching is no walk in the park, either.

Mike: As I suspected would be the case, the weight loss has not been overwhelming so far. That being said, my shoulders, arms, and chest are all showing huge changes in definition. I'm actually going to need to buy larger shirts soon -- the additional muscle to my shoulders and back is nudging me out of my current dress shirts. My quads and triceps are starting to become visible, and the edges of my pecs now show through. Additionally, my stomach is visibly flattening out -- I still have a spare tire, but a lot of the "roundness" is gone. So, while the weight loss hasn't been overwhelming, I couldn't care less. The weight loss will come; right now, we're stacking on health.The biggest change has been my energy levels, focus, and alertness. If you're not getting regularly excercise, you don't realize how sluggish you feel. Two anecdotes explicate the difference for me. Before getting back into a workout routine, I used to drink a lot of Red Bull. I commute four hours a day (seriously), so when there's things that need to get done, sleep is the first thing I start skipping. So, I chugged a lot of crappy energy drinks to stay awake. Now? If I do feel a little tired, I'll grab a cracker or a piece of fruit. Those carbs give me the energy I need, and in a much more healthy format.

This is another area where Mike uncovers one of the awesome hidden truths about engaging in vigorous exercise - it triggers some of the same OMG WANT responses that things like sex, chocolate, and cocaine do in our brains. Having just come back from being sidelined by an injury for a few weeks myself, it drove me absolutely bananas not to be able to be as active as is my wont. Seriously, it's like being told you can't run your favorite toon in the raid again this week, they need you on your annoying and under-geared alt. Again. And there's not a darn thing you can do about it except get over it and kick as much butt as you can.

Now, how much progress have you made since Mike and I started raiding this place?

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