Is Poker Damaging to Your Health? - Part 1
My adult years could thus far probably be summarised chronologically in the following three words:
In my teens and early twenties I was pretty much what you would call obese. At my peak I was about 240lbs (Not sure of a true figure because I avoided weighing myself at the peak of my pork), I'd love to say it was glandular but it all my own doing, too much snacking, TV and computer games.
Stage 2 came when I started University, I didn't particularly like campus life, especially when one of my housemates chose to pin a 'message' on the message board next to the communal phone informing me that the liposuction clinic had called when I was out. I laughed this off, after all, we fat guys were jolly, but inside I was crushed and I decided to change my life. I joined the university gym and started reading up on diet and nutrition. It took a long time but I got myself down to 172lbs.
I had completely transformed my life, not only was I in shape, I was a total expert on the subject. I ran a few marathons, beat my big friends at arm wrestling and even put together some successful weight management programmes for friends and family (as I was toying with becoming a personal trainer). The biggest change (and if I am being honest my only true motivator for any man) was the attention I got from women, this is what kept me thin and in the gym, I even went on a date with the my secondary school crush - just like in any good American sitcom it turns out she wasn't that great after all.
Then onto about 2 years ago, I met my lovely girlfriend Gina (Hi Smoochy xxx) and I started taking poker seriously. Gina is also a big fan of poker which helped me pursue my interest in it. I think I owe Gina a lot of my poker success and I think our relationship owes a lot to poker. Because I am in a loving relationship I haven't felt the need to attract women that I did, so my biggest motivator to go to the gym is no longer there (Plus Gina likes me cuddly). Because poker is now where I get mental stimulation, I no longer read up on or record my fitness and nutrition details.
I am now 203lbs. I still look ok and I am still quite fit, but nowhere near where I was. I still go to the gym but I have no set programme, I tend to do what I feel like doing at the time, which is often not much. My diet is not brilliant, though much better than when I was a fatty, I still succumb to snacks and skip breakfast a bit too much. I am happy enough with my weight, although I have gone from a medium to a large again in my clothing, but a couple of things have happened this last month which has made me question my health since I became a poker player.
First of all I got ill about a month ago, just a bug of some sorts, I got better and 3 days later I was ill again. I found myself ill three times in 5 weeks, which begs a few questions about my immune system. I have also found myself getting very tired at night, which has been losing me money because I become a very loose player when I am sleepy. I had a session at a casino recently which started at 8pm and ended at 4am and I was shattered for days, whereas back in my fitter days I (and also my clubbing days) I functioned very well indeed on a minimum of shut eye.
Has poker damaged my health? There is no doubt that the non stop sitting does not help the quest to burn calories, but is it worse than that? What on earth is it doing to my back and what the hell is staring at 4 cash tables on Pokerstars for hours at a time doing to my eyes? What about my mental health? Are bad beats stressing me into an early grave and am I neglecting my emotional health with the solitude that sometimes comes with poker?
Has my health damaged my poker? Is my diet making me feel sluggish and lose my concentration? Do I need to get fitter to keep me playing longer sessions successfully? Am I getting enough/too much sleep and am I playing at the right time of day? Do I need to sort something out in my personal life to clear my head for playing? Are there any foods or supplements I could take to improve my concentration?
For the rest of the year I am going to be researching the link between health and poker, using myself as a Guinea Pig. I am going to look at things such as diet, exercise, sleep, depression, stress and some of life's temptations (drink, smoking, sex and drugs) and whether they help or hinder the poker player. By the end of my quest I am going to try and answer the following questions:
Is poker damaging to our health?
What can we do to repair this damage?
Can we improve as players if we adopt a healthier lifestyle?
If anyone would like to help me in my journey by all means drop me a line at the UK Poker News contact page. I would love to hear any thoughts, comments, stories or suggestions about anything related to the health of a poker player.
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