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Why I Quit Black Desert

During the course of a conversation with a friend a few weeks back, I came to a stark realization – when I’m addicted to a video game the rest of my life seems dull. 

When I say addicted, I mean the game causes problems in other parts of my life.  The second I said this, it become obvious to both of us just how true this is.  In this last gaming cycle I was sucked deep into a massive multiplayer online game called Black Desert Online.  I played a sorceress.  A mean one.  I divided my time between your typical monster slaying and “sandbox” skill elements where I fished off a pier, mined stone, chopped wood, hunted animals, and gathered flowers.  I sold gathered ingredients or used them to craft jerky, tools, boats, or potions.  For me these skill elements added an incredibly addictive element to the game where I was often leaving my computer on overnight so I could work in-game and felt the need to re-check on my progress every few hours.  Towards the final weeks I’d been playing for 15 or 20 minutes before work and found myself rushing home to log in.  I was probably putting in 4-5 hours per day on average and another 6 on weekend days.  I say addiction because playing a game like this has a severely negative impact on other aspects of my life.

Interestingly, I actually have a way to track this addiction.  Using data gathered by RescueTime, an application that runs in the background on each of my computers, you and I can watch this addiction unfold for two months.  My email records show that I bought the game on April 17, 2006.  A friend, after warming me up in person once or twice, sent me an email with a free beta link and a video review titled “Join meeee”.  I downloaded the beta that day and you can see my gaming usage jump.  On April 22, I sent an email trying to recruit my brother in.  On April 23, I finally bought a full version of the game – upgrading to the deluxe version for a mount and a pet!

In April I logged 37 hours and 10 minutes of Black Desert.



In May I logged 65 hours and 48 minutes of Black Desert.  I was on vacation for 3 days from 5/19-5/22 where there’s no activity shown. 



I quit on May 30th.  I clicked the “reset password” button, set a new password, and then threw it away. 

So, how did I quit?  The weekend before, I’d been grouped up with a father/daughter pair.  I thought it was neat that they played socially together, but when the father started talking about how he played for many hours every day I had some unpleasant flashbacks to the bad old days.  I had also finally reached the “end game” and gotten a brief look into what my life would be like almost every play session if I continued to play.  I got a good look at grinding the same mobs, gathering the same stones, and suffering the same old recruiting effort in finding companions to assist me in my quests.  I realized during this pivotal conversation that the experience of being in-game for so many hours of my life, no matter how monotonous, dulled the rest of my life.

It’s like a cloudy pallor is cast over life.  I can practice guitar for 30 minutes but how many experience points did I gain?  I can work for a day and know how much money I made, but where are my gold coins?  Where is the leaderboard?  I can fish in game so easily without the pain of buying a rod, driving down to the lake, and sitting in the blistering sun.  I can chop wood without fear of black widows or losing a toe.  I can ride a horse without fear of falling off.  I can fight a monster without fear of death.  Fear is the resistance we push through in living our lives and in-game I feel no fear.

In June 2016, I logged 0 hours and 0 minutes of Black Desert.

I’ve been MMO clean for 34 days now.  Check out my productivity scores for June.

June_dashboardOf the June “entertainment” time, I practiced guitar for 10 solid hours. 


In May 2016 this was only 3 hours. Note that the 6 hours of youtube time was all spent watching Black Desert guides!  On top of the youtube time, I also found time tracking evidence of many hours spent reading Black Desert forums and tutorial guides.


In April 2016 I also logged only 3 hours of guitar practice.  Quitting this MMO seems to have have tripled my guitar practice efforts.


For reference, my personal tracking of my guitar practice goal – which would probably be much more accurate if I did a real comparison against my RescueTime logs to account for unrecorded practice session or fake “weasel” points.





The Importance of Tracking: Is Adrenal Fatigue really Starvation?

There is a great post up at Go Kaleo about Adrenal Fatigue: “Adrenal Fatigue as a Cover for Starvation.”

“Adrenal Fatigue is a very trendy diagnosis in the alternative health industry right now…”

Have to agree here, but disagree that this makes the diagnosis less valuable.  For whatever reason a person has gotten into a state adrenal fatigue, treatment requires diagnosis.  When I read James Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue, the first consistent thought I had is “Is Adrenal Fatigue really stress?”.  The roots of my problems are probably a combination of stress, poor sleep, and starvation.  The starvation component may come not just from dieting but also from malabsorption though.  Stress, sleep, starvation, food absorption:  are these all things are easily trackable.

“[people] fill their plates up with protein and vegetables (ie, low calorie, highly thermogenic foods) and believe they are eating ‘a lot’, but they are, in reality, shorting themselves of the calories their bodies need in the order of hundreds or even thousands of calories a day”

I tremendously agree!  I cannot understand any nutrition guru who prescribes a very precise diet that requires a total overhaul of the way a person eats and probably hours of additional food preparation a day without adding in the 5 minutes a day it takes to actually track food intake.  Or an exercise guru with a VERY precise workout plan that plans your workouts months in advance with adjustments of 0.5 lbs of weight a week.  Anyone this attentive to fitness should also be willing to impose the discipline to track food intake.  This is so easy especially with the advancement of free, easy to use food trackers like MyPlate or MyFitnessPal that synch data between phone and website.

“…people literally starving themselves in the pursuit of optimal health, and receiving reinforcement for it from their gurus and friends because they’re eating the ‘right’ foods and not counting calories.”

Agreed again.  My conclusion: Self-tracking is the first and most important step to making any kind of nutritional change.  If you’re tracking, then at least you’ll KNOW you’re starving yourself. 



Week in review 12/24 – 12/30: Adrenal Fatigue and Increased Waking Temps

Weight change: 214.8 – 217.0 (+2.2 lbs)
Average Calories/day: 2375.96
Average ZEO sleep score: NA
Average waking temperature: 96.08 (+0.13)

Squat: 265×3, 315×1, 285×3, 235x6x3
Deadlift: 305×3
OHP: 95×4, 95×3, 95×4
Chin-up (assisted, -150) 6×3

Cardio #1: 10 minutes jog, 10 minutes body weight exercises
Cardio #2: 20 minutes body weight exercise

Lift/Habit Progress
Lift checkins were somewhat impaired due to travel

First, I unfortunately had to withdraw from the DietBet challenge.  Between the antibiotics and the stress of the test scores, I just couldn’t ask any more of my body.  I did manage get to 214lbs, a loss of 8.8 lbs from my initial weigh-in at 222.8 (and I had seen 225 on 11/24).  I am fully carbed up writing this post today at 220 lbs.  Waist measurement unchanged.  It’s very hard to tell actual body composition changes over the course of a month.  It was certainly not a month where I saw significant strength or performance gains.  With the amount of stress that the dental abscess and test scores caused though, I am quite happy to weigh less after the worst of Christmas/New Years Eve than I did after Thanksgiving.

I read Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. James Wilson last week.  I think it’s safe to say there is something amiss with my adrenals based on the cortisol saliva test, my out-of-range testosterone/estrogen test scores, and the survey in the book.  I will certainly elaborate on this in another post, hopefully after I get some advice from a practitioner.

This was my first week trying out some herbal supplements based on Dr. Wilson’s recommendations: Maca, Chinese Ginger, Dandelion, and Ashwagandha.  I also used Power Adapt and Vital Adapt products from Natura Health.  This was my second week taking Iodine supplements.  I ate more calories per day this week, especially after the DietBet had ended.  I did not have access to all the nourishing food I’ve been eating recently, but I did manage to keep up a mostly Primal/Paleo diet.

After my sleep was so great last week, it was terrible this week on the road.  For 3 nights I slept on an inflatable air mattress that had to be re-inflated at 4am each night.  Rooms were not dark so I slept with a sleep mask causing the ZEO to frequently fall off.

With all these changes, it’s hard to say what’s causing it but I do feel great.  My waking temperature has been steadily improving as well.  I threw a linear trend-line on my temps from November/December.  When you look at just the two weeks that I’ve been taking Iodine and focusing on sleep, the line is even more drastic.


I’m going to continue to aim for 2000-2500 calories a day.  I want to see what number and macronutrient ratio will put me at a weight that I can maintain through figuring out what is wrong with my testosterone numbers.

Week in review 12/17 – 12/24

Weight change: 214.4 – 214.8 (+0.4 lbs)
Average Calories/day: 1928
Average ZEO sleep score: 88

Squat 225x6x3
Power Clean 95x2x5
OHP 95x5x3
Chin Up (descent only) 6×3

20 mins cardio/bodyweight work

Another tough week this week with a diagnosed dental abscess and going on antibiotics.  The tooth issues prevented much exercise but I did feel better enough by the weekend to at least get in one strength session.   I decided to add carbs back into my diet to allow my body to recover.   I think this is also probably going to be a necessary step to resolve my cortisol/hormone issues although losing weight is also important.

I really cleaned up my sleep  which is evident in a 8-9 point rise in my Zeo sleep score.  This was accomplished by setting a 10PM cutoff on TV watching with a 10:30 bedtime goal.  I realized that two shows we watch are in the 10-11 slot and can easily be DVRed and postponed to the next day.’

I will take a few weeks off of attempting 100% ketosis as I try and find the right health care practitioner to help me interpret the results posted earlier.

Week in review 12/10 – 12/17

Weight change: 214.8 – 214.4 (-0.4 lbs)
Average Calories/day: 1970

MMA/Wrestling: 60 mins, 120 mins

Squat 275×4, 255×3, 225×6

Rough week this week with a toothache over the weekend and puzzling over the test results posted yesterday.   I ate more per day this week had 2 days over 50g carbs/day.   Also did not get my lifting in.    1 more lbs to lose and maintain for this DietBet.  After that I may alter diet to include more carbs.  Will also try to incorporate some sprinting/interval work.

Results of ZRT Labs Tests

A few weeks ago I took the ZRT Labs Comprehensive Male Profile II test offered through Accesa Labs.  My goal was to check my adrenal health plus a baseline hormones so that I can see how changes in my lifestyle affects each.

The results were a little surprising.  My cortisol scores were better than I thought they would be while my hormones came back pretty out of whack with a very low testosterone score of 215ng/dL which is below the healthy range of 400-1200. 

I’m still working out what to do about this but for now my plan is (in addition to what was described in my earlier post):

  • Stop any kind of fasting
  • Consider adding more carbs into diet
  • Consider supplementing Zinc/ZMA, Selenium, Iodine and a whole host of other natural adrenal/testosterone supports

Cortisol Chart:


Blood Spot / Saliva test results:


Week in review 12/03 – 12/10

Weight change: 216.8 to 214.8 (-2.0 lbs, 0.92%)
Waist: 37.5″ (-0.05″)
Average Zeo sleep score: 78 (down from 81)
Average Calories per day: 1750 [69% Fat, 22% Protein, 9% Carbohydrate]
Estimated Resting Metabolism: 2750 calories/day

Top Foods (by calorie)

Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage Maple
Steak – Chipotle
Steve’s Paleo Kit – Large
Pure Irish Butter
Chicken Curry

Worst Foods (by carbs)

Steve’s Paleo Kit – Large
Mint M&Ms
Sweet Potato Fries
Dark Chocolate
Gluten Free Lemon Cupcake

Lift Checkins

  • Shoulder stretches – 5x/100% momentum
  • MMA, Lift, or Walk – 3x/83% momentum
  • Lose weight (Weigh-in lower than yesterday): – 2x/83% momentum
  • GAPS full diet – 3x/100% momentum
  • HRV training – 6x/100% momentum
  • ZEO – 7x/100% momentum

MMA/Wrestling: 60 mins, 45 mins

Squat 315×3, 275×4, 255×3, 225×6
Power Clean 105×3, 135×2(fail), 125×3, 125×3, 125×3
Bench 155×5, 155×3, 145×4, 135×6
Pull-Up (descend only) 6,6,6

Squat 275×3, 325×2, 275×3, 245×6
Deadlift 305×5
OHP 105×3, 95×3, 85×5

This was a bad week for the Zeo.  I forgot to charge the battery, the zeo slipped off in the night, and also I took a few naps which the Zeo is not yet capable of tracking.

Starting 2 weeks without any creatine.

Moving the Vitamin D to AM has been challenging as I normally don’t take any supplements in the AM.