When you’re building stacks (or trying to, at least), it’s not exactly an aerobic activity. A true grinder will spend at least a few hours every day almost motionless. Sometimes, in poker, you will literally be completely motionless. Some workout.
It can be pretty tough to stay fit and play poker, and not all of us get to be Patrik Antonius.
In fact, I played college football for my first year at Dartmouth. I quit during the summer after my Freshman year, devoted myself to playing poker (and not so much to school, to my parents chagrin. But that’s a blog for another day). Needless to say, I also committed to my social life (read: Keystone Light) and the pounds started pouring on. Pretty soon I had ballooned, picked up a big ole belly, and lost most traces of my previous athleticism. But, I was making money, so I didn’t worry about it too much.
Eventually, after my years and years of travel had petered out, I decided to get back in shape. I tried hitting the gym super hard. I got buff, but the stomach stayed around. I didn’t really understand why it wasn’t exactly working quite right. After all, I’d spent many years in weight rooms for football throughout my youth. I’d always been a pretty trim guy in general until that sophomore-year slump. I just figured it was a lack of gym hours that was my problem.
At some point in the last year or so, I got a new roommate who happened to be an old friend. He was always the funny fat kid growing up. Except now, he was the funny kid who’d just lost 50 pounds. I was, of course, super interested in how it’d happened for him. But, when I asked how he’d done it, his answer surprised me: “Reddit”.
Sure enough, he had taken to posting and following along in the Reddit fitness forum (found here). As he was explaining the series of trials-and-errors, book and article reviews, and massive volume of quantitative data amassed by an internet-going population, I couldn’t help but notice a similarity between that experience and my own on the good old 2+2 forums (begrudgingly linked to here). I had arrived on 2+2 many years ago as a losing-but-curious poker player without any real glimmer of hope for a long-term future. But, through the collective wisdom of the online forum community, I (relatively) quickly learned new skills, observed millions of hands of data via my own play and that of others, and slowly but surely began reaching my poker goals. It turns out that the Wikiverse, the collection of global knowledge and experience, can make you an expert in pretty much anything if you’ll only dive in.
So, just like I had become an expert in poker (debatable), my friend became an expert in fitness (less debatable). Pretty cool. So, I started asking him what to do to get back in shape, and he started telling me. And holy shit, did that shit work.
But before I get to the actual advice, I want to wrap up the other main prong of this blog-essay. If you WANT anything in the world, the internet is filled with literally thousands of people who want, will want, or have wanted that thing. They’ve tried to figure it out, they’ve tested things, they’ve talked about it and written about it. There is countless expertise floating around. Why would anyone become a history major in college anymore? All the world’s history is accessible online for free. If you *really* want to learn about history, just boot up some wikipedia links and some youtube videos and you can get on the learning train for hours and hours and hours. And it will cost way less than a degree, I promise. But, so, whether it’s poker, fitness, music, business, lock-picking (yes, I actually googled/learned this once), particle physics (most amazing youtube videos of all time… there are actually hundreds of them). Once upon a time, it took a ton of courage to go from nothing to something; two quick anecdotes. Number 1: My dad worked with a successful businessman who’d never graduated from college. His dream was to become a stock trader at a high-end firm in NYC. So, he got a job in the print shop at that firm, making copies for everyone. He kept asking which books to read, asking “what would you do” questions, or “why would you do that”. He was always around, always learning and improving, until, eventually, somebody quit their job. They needed to fill the post in a hurry. You can guess who got the job. Number 2: A good friend of mine from New York City knew, back when he was in high school, that he only wanted to go to Dartmouth. He applied early decision and was summarily rejected– not even deferred, just given the blanket, “You don’t deserve to come here” letter. So, he went around in NYC and gathered signatures on a petition that said, “Dan should go to Dartmouth”. Then, when he had collected over 10,000, he drove north to Dartmouth unannounced. He walked into the admissions office building with his stack of signatures in one hand and his rejection letter in the other. Tossing them both down on the stunned administrator’s desk, he said, “I see that you don’t think I should go to Dartmouth. Here are 10,000 people who disagree” and left. And yeah, his decision was reversed the next day.
The point of these anecdotes is simple– it used to be really, really hard to gather the knowledge or the resources to get what you really, really want. Now, though, it’s almost too easy. The classic JFGI meme is right on the money– you want something? Just Fucking Google It.
And now, the part you were all skipping through that last wall of text to see (if you even made it this far). Here’s the magic recipe to get back in shape that was handed down to me:
1) Drink a ton of water.
2) Eat your body weight in grams of protein. If you weigh 200, eat 200g of protein (if you can)
3) Eat the minimum possible amount of carbs. Vegetable carbs don’t count to your total. Breads and such, of course, do count. Shooting for less than 50g/day is the way to go.
4) Eat 1000 calories less per day than you’re supposed to. How many are you supposed to eat? This site will tell you. Use the sedentary lifestyle button, even if you plan on being active. Don’t count exercise an excuse to eat more, as it’s difficult to really know how much exercise boosts your metabolism in any given day.
5) Booze will absolutely kill you. You can drink through 1000 calories in literally no time. So, if you want to drop the weight, put down the beer. You can still get away with drinking once or twice per week, but college-style binge drinking 5x/week will make it literally impossible.
6) Lift weights, but don’t over do-it. Personally, I lift 3x a week, and it’s pretty much just the big ones– squat, bench, deadlift, pull-ups, shoulder press, and curls. Currently I do something like Squat Mondays and Fridays with Deadlift on Wednesdays, then I just alternate bench+ curls and shoulder press + pull-ups every time. That’s pretty much it. It should take less than 45 minutes to do. Do 2 sets of 5 and a 3rd set of as many as you can. If you get 5 or more, increase the total weight by 5 lbs the next time (this means ya gotta use the 2.5 lbs weights… emasculating, I know).
My advice: get an app like LoseIt! or Fitocracy to help you manage it. Then, just eat less and move more. You may notice that items 1-5 on the “how to get back in shape” have nothing to do with exercise and everything to do with diet. Here’s a cool story: A guy who weighed like 600 pounds didn’t eat ANYTHING for 382 days (he had vitamins and salt tablets). He lost like 410 pounds and then resumed a normal, healthy life.
If you want to read up on this stuff, the items that were recommended to me were Eat Stop Eat and Starting Strength. They’ve been fundamental to helping me avoid scams and get to real, solid knowledge.
So thanks for that, internetz.