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15 Minutes of Fame: World of Warcraft player "levels down" with game-related diet

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

So how much weight have you lost since you started playing World of Warcraft? Wait, what's that? You've gained 10 pounds since the expansion launched and your guild started raiding again? Oh, good people of Azeroth ... It doesn't have to be that way. You can get lean and mean with WoW -- you simply start by Leveling Down.

Leveling Down is a new blog and weight loss scheme put together by player Moriarity of Archimonde (US-A) after he found himself starting at too many pounds and not enough motivation. "One day, while playing WoW, I stumbled upon the idea that I could turn my own weight loss into a game, much like WoW," he explains. "Every day that I ate what I was supposed to and did the proper amount of exercise, I would gain a level. And every day, I would do a blog post that would feature an area of the game where a character of my current level would be."

So is the plan working? We'd say so -- as of the beginning of this week, Moriarity's broken the level 40 barrier and appears unstoppable.

Main character I have several 85s on the Alliance side, but the one that I've been using the most during this process is Moriarity, a worgen warrior who is 75 as of today.
Guild I created the guild Jerk Store with a number of my friends who aren't playing right now, but the guild still houses all of my 85s. I am leveling Moriarity as a member of the guild Citîzen.
Realm Archimonde (US-A)

15 Minutes of Fame: So you're "leveling down" to take the weight off with WoW ... How exactly does the plan work?

Moriarity: The way that the blog works is if I eat as I am supposed to and do my exercise regimen for a day, I gain a level. If I eat something I shouldn't or skip exercise, I stay at the same level, and if I slack off on exercise and eat something I shouldn't, I lose a level. Every day, I write a post describing a world zone, an instance, or in some cases, a perk that a character of that level would be experiencing.

Do you actually play a dedicated character for this project, to keep up with your weight progress? Or do you use existing characters to adventure in the zones you feature in your posts, or do you do simply write from what you know?

I'm glad you asked this question, since my friends who follow the blog all seem to share the same confusion. I toyed with the idea of leveling a character along with my blog so that the content was strictly limited to that character only, but I finally decided to just write from what I knew for this first go-around so that the blog would provide a larger view of the world. Leveling a character takes significantly less time now than it did before, especially with heirlooms and guild perks, so it's possible to skip entire zones, and I wanted to avoid that as much as possible.

If the blog hits level 85 and I choose to continue, which I believe that I will, I'm definitely going to chronicle the adventures of one character only. I'd bet on it being a goblin, since they and the Horde have received very little attention from Leveling Down so far.

It sounds as if you've been struggling with your weight for some years now. Can you tell us a little about your ups and downs?

I lost about 60 pounds in the summer of 2005 and put it back on over the course of about four years. Throughout that time, I have attempted countless times to get back on track, but my biggest problem has always been recovering from a bad day. I allow myself to indulge in something that I shouldn't on a holiday, for example, and that opens the floodgates for two weeks of bad eating and skipping exercise. I always found myself in the mindset of "Well, this week is completely shot, I'll just go crazy until next Monday and start over."

With Leveling Down, I am able to see that a bad day isn't the end of the world. So I lost a level one day? That's all right, I can instantly get it back the next day and get back on track. It really helps me to stop those slides in their tracks. Since I started writing, I've only had one day where I lost a level, and I made it right back the following day.

What have you found to be the most successful strategy to this point?

Avoiding long slumps, as I described above.

Why do you think what worked in the past wasn't getting your weight moving downward recently?

As I recall, the last time I lost a significant amount of weight, I had a great deal of motivation, since I was returning for my senior year of college, and I wanted it to be my best yet. I was also 22 years old, so I didn't have some of the aches and pains back then as opposed to today, now that I am 28. Also, it was summer last time, and I had a newspaper reporting job where I worked evenings, so I was able to schedule my exercise daily. In recent years, between being married and having a full-time job, sometimes exercise just wasn't on the schedule, and I wouldn't go out of my way to get it done.

What's your personal sticking point in getting the weight off -- is it time to exercise, motivation, temptation ...?

Getting into a routine early in the blogging process was absolutely key, since there is very little to write about in the early levels! I found myself constantly scraping the bottom of the barrel for content, so every day I was telling myself, "You need to keep this up and get into more interesting territories!"

For me, making sure that I do my exercise daily will prevent me from eating junk. If I've done my exercise, I can always tell myself, "Eat something healthy; you don't want to negate all of that work you did." So in the early going, I made myself get on the bike every day. If I knew that my wife and I had something to do after work, I got up early and rode. If I was too tired in the morning, I was riding as soon as I got home from work. Eating well followed all of that.

Tell us about your exercise bike setup.

I have a stationary bike set up in our guest room, with an adjacent dresser that is the perfect height to rest a laptop on so that I can play while I bike. The time really flies, especially if I'm doing a dungeon. I'll send a picture along of my setup, and sharp-eyed viewers will notice that I share an exercise bike with The Conchords from Flight of the Conchords!

What's your daily exercise routine?

Before I bike, I stretch for 5 minutes and do one set of calisthenics, which includes three sets of 15 push-ups, one set of 30 crunches, one set of 30 toe touches, and one set of 15 throwdowns, all separated by sets of 25 jumping jacks. I then bike for 60 minutes and finish the routine with another set of the calisthenics and cooldown stretching.

What about dietary changes -- what's different there?

I adhere to the first phase of the South Beach Diet, which eliminates most complex carbohydrates, including potatoes, starches, sugary vegetables like carrots and beets, and sugar.

Does cooking and exercising cut into time you'd previously spent playing WoW?

Not really. I'm fairly casual at this point anyway, so I only play for about an hour a day, usually while I'm biking. The best thing that I take from the game are the visuals and lore -- and the idea of leveling myself for motivation.

How long have you been playing WoW, and how would you characterize your playstyle?

I've been playing since the fall of 2006 and am fairly casual.

Are any of your real-life or in-game friends participating along with you?

No, but a Leveling Down guild would be fantastic. I always find that it's easier to stay motivated if you have partners, and that seems like it would be a great way to do it. It would be like an online support group. The best part of the system that I have in place is that it doesn't call for any one exercise routine or diet ... It just makes sure that a person who wants to lose weight is adhering to those two important criteria: Eat what you're supposed to, and work out when you should, and you will see results.

How much weight do you hope to lose on this plan?

I'd ideally like to reach 200 pounds. I'm already down to 243 from a high of 270 in about two months of writing.

Wow -- great work! Keep it up, Moriarity, and best wishes for continued de-leveling.

Keep up with the ever-shrinking Moriarity as he levels downward at his blog, Leveling Down.

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to an Olympic medalist and a quadriplegic raider. Know someone else we should feature? Email lisa@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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