Gaming tends to pull you away from reality, and in an MMORPG, it’s a way of interacting with others without having to actually be yourself. These games give gamers the chance to create characters to any desirable image to represent themselves. Whether it’s choosing to be fit or having a crazy hairdo, gamers have that freedom of choice in terms of appearance. To an extent, we can be somewhat like our gaming avatars, and that’s just what Marcus Dickinson did. When Marcus created his avatar character for Eve Online, he created more than just an avatar; he created the very image that would inspire him to become fit!
Marcus weighed 230 pounds and had a love for bacon. In a trip to the 2009 “EVE Online” FanFest, Marcus realized that he, like everyone at the convention, was your stereotypical unhealthy geek. “We were all just a bunch of pathetic losers” says Marcus. “We paid good money to fly all the way to Iceland and instead of enjoying Iceland, most of us spent all our time sitting around playing the video game we already played back home.”
“Something snapped inside me, and I realized I wasn’t being true to my brand. Why can’t I be this character? Why can’t I look like this? He acts and talks like me because he is me. I’m the one who gave him life.”
Marcus’ wife, Farah Iqbal, had been telling him for years that he should go to the gym. Coming back from Iceland, Marcus and Farah both began to work out. Marcus said his feet and knees hurt, he could barely run a mile, but regardless he continued.
Marcus started using Roc (his fit avatar) as an example. Roc never gave up on a mission, so he convinced himself similarly, telling himself it was a matter of life or death—a matter of life or death.
“If I do not make these changes today, and every day going forward, I will die,” Marcus would say. “I know it sounds tragic but that’s what it took for me.”
Marcus knew he had to make changes, so he did. He’d be up by 5:30 every morning doing let workouts and pushups, going as far as he physically could. He did fitness programs like P90X and Insanity, and even ran a half-marathon! Eating habits had to be changed as well. Farah remembers a trip she and Marcus made to visit friends in Montreal: Marcus created a grocery list for their hosts and he made all his own meals.
“It was almost embarrassing,” she says, regarding grocery list, “but you know what, I got over myself. Because he’s on a path that I support.”
Marcus now eats 3,000 calories a day — mostly lean protein and vegetables so he could progress with his body-building lifestyle. “Five years ago if I was eating 3,000 calories a day, it was because I had bags of Doritos in front of me,” he says.
For Marcus, there are no desserts or cheat days. It’s a struggle, but one he’s willing to go through because he’s up for the challenge.
“He always had this attitude of not giving up, but now it’s extreme,” says Farah. “He’s become very well-focused, or stubborn, with [the] journey he’s on.”
Marcus now weighs 185 pounds with only 14% body fat. He can squat almost twice his weight and dead-lift 450 pounds. “I’m closer to looking like Roc than I’ve ever been,” he says.
Marcus makes a strong point when he says that all guys have fantasy lives. When they read a comic book, they see themselves as caped crusaders. Even when guys watch James Bond, they envision themselves as suave womanizers with tons of money.
“Superman, Vin Diesel—we want to be them so badly,” Marcus says. “The difference is you’ll never be Superman. You’re setting yourself up to fail. The reason Roc worked was that he was a fantasy hero of my creation, so I was already part-way there. I just had to get the physical.”
Farah says she has to keep Marcus from crossing the line between fantasy and reality. She’s not Roc’s biggest fan, she prefers men balanced, with a feminine side. When Marcus slips into Roc’s deep voice with a “Hello, darling” greeting after work, she says, “I’m like ‘Oh, shut the hell up.’ I have to remind him that it is a character.”
Farah still encourages him to blog and play “EVE Online” so he can encourage and guide his fans. She also has another reason to keep him fit: “If I said to him, ‘This is affecting our relationship,’ I know he would [stop and say], ‘But I don’t want to—he looks yummy!’” Source CNN.com