From my mid-twenties all the way up to my mid-thirties, I was in good shape. I loved going to the gym, I loved rock climbing (both indoor and outdoor), and hiking was something I did every summer in the horrid heat of the west Texas hill country. I never really gave much thought to my health at the time — my lifestyle just coincided with activities that kept my metabolism high, my gut in check, and food that didn’t have the word fast in it.
Then I got married and had kids.
Now keep in mind that I’m not blaming my wife or children for the bad habits I’ve picked up. My 4 year old and 16 month old sons certainly keep me moving with our visits to the park and jumpy-houses. But my gym visits have declined little by little over the last few years. And my eating habits have devolved quite a bit from the single-guy’s day to day grocery shopping that always seemed to have a vegetable or two mixed in to the married-guy’s phone call to the wife asking Pizza or Chinese tonight?
But I know my kids are watching every move I make. I need and want to set an example for them when it comes to a healthy lifestyle, and for this reason I made a decision recently to get my butt back to the gym and change my eating habits.
The eating habits, at least for me, are the easiest thing to change, but it’s getting back to the gym that sucks. I always find that I can’t lift near what I used to. I’m embarrassed when I throw myself under the squat rack or the bench press and groan trying to push up those measly 25s on each side. I know it’ll only take a few weeks to replace the 25s with 45s, but during those in-between weeks I feel like such a weakling… like everyone in the gym is looking at the new guy who can’t squat his own body weight.
One thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is that when it comes to motivation, keeping my intentions secret is my Kryptonite. If I announce to my friends, family, or the world that I’m going to do something — build a canoe, run a marathon, learn Spanish — I do it. (It may take a while to finish, but I get there. Eventually.)
So it’s great timing that just as I’m looking to get back to the gym, I find a new tool at Fitocracy.com that not only allows me to post my workout for anyone to see (and ridicule, thus driving me to increase the weights and number of gym visits) but also turns me into an RPG character complete with level, achievements, and quests to accept.
Yes, Fitocracy has turned working out and getting healthy into a sort-of roleplaying game that geeks are (hopefully) going to love.
Keep in mind that Fitocracy is still in beta — I’ve already seen a few changes in the week since I signed up. But it’s so cool. You sign up, you start out at Level 1 with 0 points, no quests, and no achievements. The site gives you access to a great forum with lots of folks who are just as anxious and/or excited to try and get into shape. You also can create groups (yes, there’s a GeekDad.com group created – more on this shortly) so you can compete against friends and family or even complete strangers in other parts of the world. There’s a Leaderboard that displays the Top 100 players (not sure if it gets reset every now and then, but it should… otherwise good luck on ever catching up with those early adopters) and a nice big button on most pages where you can invite others to join Fitocracy.