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How to stay healthy while leveling

What are you going to do first when you start playing Mists of Pandaria? If the answer is leveling to 90, you're in for a lot of potentially unhealthy sitting/munching/caffeine-ing. But you don't have to make Rockstar pyramids or worry about Cheetos stains on the keyboard while spreading in your chair, getting repetitive motion injuries, and otherwise straining your body just to get those levels in. Here are some tips for staying (mostly) healthy while progressing through Pandaria.

Get healthy snacks

Snacking, or grazing as my doctor calls it, is actually good for you when small and well-spaced throughout the gaming session. Healthy snacks are best of course, but if you must have your favorite munchies, having them in small doses is better than constant gorging. Willing to substitute for yummy but healthy? Try these.
  • Nuts Barring allergies, nuts of all kinds are a healthy snack. Protein, good carbs, iron -- they are full of good nutrients. Nuts will even help balance things out if you choose to imbibe the sugary drinks.
  • Crackers If you're into crackers, get the whole grain/low carb ones. I like Akmaks. Thin slices of cheese as toppings are good, but nut butters are even better.
  • Fruit I like having berries around so that I can have a few with whipped cream every time my sweet tooth acts up. Apples are great and so are bananas, but really any fruit is going to be better than candy.
  • Popcorn When you don't slather it in nasty fats, popcorn is actually not terrible for you. Try sprinkling parmesan cheese or shaking in a small amount of real butter rather than buying the over-processed, flavored kinds.
  • Vegetables? You can get the old standby of raw carrots, celery, etc. But don't force yourself if you're really not going to eat it. I like vegetables, but munching on the raw stuff just isn't my thing. I just end up raiding the kitchen for potato chips and feeling guilty about it.
Keep the snacks far away from your gaming setup

If you have bags of munchies at your side for whenever you want them, you'll just end up mindlessly eating them. You'll also not get up from your chair enough. Positioning the snacks in the next room, and just getting a small bowlful when hungry, gets you up and moving around while spacing out your calorie intake.

Plan small meals

You don't want to snack the whole time, of course. Planning small meals ahead of time (and making them) will get you fed and then back to leveling quickly. If you have dishes that can easily be eaten at your desk, you can even do both at the same time -- but you already know that. Shut up, Captain Obvious. Moving along.

Water

I'm a huge fan of Mountain Dew, particularly the Throwback version with real sugar. But large doses of caffeine are bad for you. And high fructose corn syrup? Don't even get me started. It doesn't taste as good as sugar, it's much worse for you, it's bad for the earth, and it encourages farms to ... sorry. I got started. The subject of artificial sweeteners is a hot button topic with me too, so I'll just say diet drinks are not the answer here. Anyway, try to resist the bad stuff and replace it with drinks like unsweetened teas, bourbon, and water. Lots and lots of water.

Energize with exercise

I find the yoga exercise in the video above to be very energizing. I tend to do something similar on the back of a chair. Rather than caffeine to keep you awake, try getting up and moving -- even if it's just a walk around the room. Stretches are good too. As a side note, don't skimp on the bio breaks.

Furniture

It's a bit late to get this for your race to 90, but you should have an ergonomic desk setup for gaming anyway. A standing desk (with good shoes) is the latest, but a chair with good back support and a desk arranged for comfortable use of the mouse and keyboard works well. Your system should be placed as close to indirect sunlight as possible, or at least have those bulbs that simulate it. Natural light = good. Darkness and eye strain = bad.

Sleep

Find time to rest your eyes. Your leveling time will be more efficient and pleasant if you do.

Cheating

OK, so you are going to eat and drink stuff that's bad for you anyway. I understand. It's part of the fun. But do still keep the snacks away from your computer, take breaks to move, and get in at least 20 winks. You'll be glad you did.

Have fun!

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

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