There’s more to being a successful poker player than having a good preflop strategy and choosing the correct bet size.
If you want to win big and move up in stakes, you must be on your A-game as much as possible. But there are many vices that prevent players from accomplishing their poker goals, like drinking, binge eating, lack of exercise, etc.
Today’s article will give you health tips that you can easily incorporate into your life so that you can improve your health and mindset as a poker player. Let’s get started.
Note: This article was guest written by former poker professional TJ Jurkiewicz. He now works as a fitness/nutrition coach, and a majority of his clients are poker players, so he is uniquely qualified to give health advice that can directly relate to poker players.
What Usually Happens With New Year’s Resolutions?
With the Near Year beginning, I know many of you have resolutions based around health because 70% of all New Year’s Resolutions relate to people wanting to become “healthier.” The top 3 resolutions made by people year after year are:
- Exercise more
- Eat healthier
- Lose weight.
After just one week, only 75% of people who make a New Year’s Resolution are still successful at keeping them. After 1 month, that number drops to 64%. And after 6 months, that number drops to 46%. On average, by the end of the year, only 9-12% of people kept their New Year’s Resolutions.
Does this sound familiar? You wake up on the first Monday of the New Year feeling bloated and disgusting after all of the holiday binge eating you just did. So naturally, you decide that “TODAY IS THE DAY” you are going to start an intense exercise routine and a super restrictive diet.
You’re able to grin and bear it for a few weeks before you ultimately find yourself out of tilapia and asparagus meal prep. Or you end up in a social situation that causes you to fall off the wagon.
Then you say to hell with your resolutions and continue the cycle of unhealthy living for a few more months until you inevitably try again to unsuccessfully lose weight by punishing yourself. Another intense exercise routine and a bland meal plan. Rinse and repeat.
Note: I have a free Facebook group aimed at helping poker players lose fat. You can join the group here.
My Story: From Crash Diets To Sustainable Habits
That’s pretty much how I lived my life from age 17 until around the beginning of 2021. So for about 15 years during this constant stretch of back-and-forth yo-yo dieting, I would lose a bunch of weight through super-restrictive dieting before gaining it all back when the diet was “over.”
Over the years, I have been as high as 295 pounds and as low as 200 pounds (and everywhere in between, dozens of times).
But in 2021, it all clicked for me: I figured out that the key to success isn’t about being “on” or “off” a diet. It’s about building a lifestyle that allowed me to regularly enjoy the foods I love while still being able to accomplish my health and fitness goals.
So, during the pandemic, I had an honest conversation with myself. I gave up my 8-year full-time professional poker player gig. I got a proper education and became a certified nutrition coach, and started my own business, All In Fitness Coaching, LLC.
Since 2022 I’ve helped dozens of people (mostly poker players) lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way without needing to kill themselves with cardio workouts or eat bland foods out of Tupperware every meal.
If you don’t believe that you can find a way to eat the foods you love while also losing weight, check out my before-and-after pictures:
2 Steps To Help You Follow Through With Your New Year’s Resolution
Given all of my experience, not only with myself but with my clients, I’m here to help you bend the win probabilities in your favor of accomplishing the resolutions we set out to achieve. In order to do that, you need to do a few things:
Step #1: Understand WHY You Want To Change
Most people will decide they want to lose weight because they know they’re heavy, and that’s as far as they’ll think about it.
Successful people will figure out their why, which will serve as the driving motivator behind their goals.
To figure out your why, try this exercise:
- Picture yourself as having a conversation with the 3-year-old version of yourself. They ask you what your New Year’s Resolution is, and you tell them, “I want to lose 50 pounds.” Now, picture the 3-year-old asking, “Why?”.
- You will now tell them something along the lines of “Because I want to be healthier.” And they will again reply with “Why?”
- Now you say because you want to be able to move around better. You guessed it; they’ll ask “Why?” again.
- Repeat this exercise for at least 5 “Why’s,” and you should find yourself getting to some core pains that you have around why you want to lose those 50 pounds. Write these last few “Why’s” down, and you will have them to look back on when things get turbulent.
- Remember to dig deep here. Your answers should eventually become very personal and emotional. When you start getting emotional, you’ll know you’re getting close to finding your core desire for wanting to get healthier.
Step #2: Create a Realistic Plan
Most people will again say they want to lose weight and envision how they will look when they cross the finish line of the goal.
Successful people will create a goal and then reverse engineer from the finish line and see every step of the way that it will take to get there.
Research shows that the average person who followed through on their New Year’s Resolution suffered 14 setbacks throughout the year. So remember, if you slip up once, you’re one good day away from getting back on track!
4 Foundational Habits to Increase Your Poker (And Life) ROI
The best way to become a healthier version of yourself is to start with small, attainable habits that will ultimately lead you to where you want to get to. Here are some of those habits:
Habit #1: Increase Your Water Intake
Take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2. That’s the amount of water (in ounces) you should aim to drink every day (people that weigh 300 pounds or more can aim for 150oz and cap it there).
However, if you’re trying to go from drinking 40oz of water a day to 128oz, that’s a drastic change that might not be sustainable. Aim to drink 64 ounces and once that becomes easy, make it 96 ounces, and so on, until you reach your ultimate goal.
Pro Tip #1: Download to WaterMinder app on your phone to help your water intake go smoothly.
Pro Tip #2: You can buy a 32 oz water jug and simply divide your goal by 32. Aim to drink that many water bottles per day instead of tracking every single glass of water you drink.
Habit #2: More Intentional Movement
A great goal to aim for is 10,000 steps per day. If you have an iPhone, you can see your average steps per day by going to the Health App -> Browse -> Activity -> Steps.
However, if you’re trying to increase from an average of 2,000 steps per day, we once again want to bridge the gap with more attainable amounts. So, every week try increasing your daily average goal by 1,000 steps until you reach that 10,000-step mark.
Habit #3: Get 7-9 Hours of Quality Sleep
This will be the most difficult thing to get under control, but I have some good tips to increase sleep quality after suffering for years to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep myself.
Pro Tip #1: Turn off 95% of artificial lighting in your house 2 hours before your scheduled sleep time. We evolved as a species to recognize the sun going down as being time to go to sleep. We have so much artificial light these days that it prevents our natural production of melatonin (the hormone responsible for making us sleepy). I usually set an alarm 2 hours before I plan to go to bed, and when it goes off, I cut off pretty much every lightbulb in my place.
Pro Tip #2: Invest in some blue light blocker glasses and put them on 2 hours before your scheduled sleep time as well. This will help cut down on the harmful light from computer monitors, TVs, cell phones, tablets, etc.
Pro Tip #3: Supplement with Magnesium. Most people are Magnesium deficient, so it could be a good idea to add some to your sleep routine. Always consult with a physician before taking any supplements.
Habit #4: Track Your Food Intake
If I could suggest one “skill” that people should develop to improve their chances of following through on their weight loss resolutions, tracking food would be that skill.
Until you know exactly what you’re putting into your body calorically, you will be at a severe disadvantage when it comes to optimizing weight and fat loss. Taking in fewer calories than you burn is the ONE non-negotiable law when it comes to creating fat loss.
To build this skill, I suggest using the MyFitnessPal app on your phone (and paying $80 to subscribe to their Premium membership so that you can use your barcode scanner as well as some other awesome features) and accurately tracking your food intake. I did a live training on how to do this most efficiently, so email me at [email protected] if you want that replay.
Some Bonus Advice
If you want to lose 50 pounds, you have to lose 1 pound first. Stop looking at it as this far-away goal. Instead, see the one step in front of you and pursue that. That makes the game a lot easier to win.
If you try to lose all your weight as quickly as possible and make the scale going down your sole focus, it would be akin to trying to win the WSOP Main Event on Day 1. You need to be patient, tactical, and mitigate your losses while capitalizing on small wins to eventually nail the big win.
One of my clients, Matt Affleck, told me how he relates his poker game with his fitness game. Everyone who plays poker regularly is familiar with the concept of playing your A, B, or C game. As we improve our games, our C, or “worst” games, improve to the point that they eventually become our old B or “average” games.
Then our new B game is our old A game, and we unlock a whole new A game. It’s the same with dieting and exercising. The harder you work on it and the more consistently you make good decisions, you do away with your old C game, and your new C game is your old B game. Your new “worst” is your old “average.” Your new average is your old “best.”
If you can redefine your best and worst efforts for your health and fitness, you will unlock abilities that you didn’t know you were even capable of.
If you’re interested in working with me directly, I’m currently running a 6-month, 1-on-1 coaching scholarship where you can win a multitude of prizes, with the Grand Prize being 6 months of 1-on-1 fitness coaching totally free. All you need to do to apply is fill out this application form.
I hope that you found the information in this article helpful and you implement the strategies above to make 2023 the year that you finally stick to your resolutions.
If you have any questions at all, I can be reached at [email protected], or you can shoot me a message on Twitter or Instagram.
Make 2023 the year you go all in on yourself.
Thank you for reading.