Ok, people who’ve tried to lose weight: how many times has this happened to you? “I already went over my calories today. I blew it, so now I’m going to eat whatever I want”… or, “I haven’t exercised at all this week. Forget it, I’ll start fresh on Monday.”
My answer: 32048. At least.
We’re all smart enough to know that all-or-nothing thinking doesn’t make any sense. It’s illogical and counterproductive. If you’ve already eaten too much – stop eating! If you haven’t worked out in a while – no time like the present! But it’s like our brains are these persuasive and charismatic little debate champions that can talk us into (or out of) anything. And they tend to use their powers for evil.
To combat this, I’ve been applying elements of gamification to my weight loss adventure over the past six months, with great results. My personal system gives me achievement points each day for everything I do right (meet my calorie goal, stick to my exercise plan, have a multivitamin, etc.) that are weighted by importance and add up to a total of 100 for the week, so my teacher-brain can easily grade my work. It’s great in that it helps me get back on the wagon much more quickly and consistently after cheats and slip-ups (which, let’s face it, are going to happen. Living a healthier lifestyle doesn’t mean you’re never gonna have a piece of cheesecake or a lazy day – nor should it).
This is on my mind right now because I had a terrible beginning to last week – stuff in my personal life was going up in flames, and I’m not proud to say there were three full days of epic weight loss adventure fail. I was eating whatever I wanted, skipping workouts, and drinking much more than the occasional glass of wine or cocktail that fits into my daily calorie goal. (Pro tip: don’t eat and drink your emotions – it ultimately makes you feel worse.) Anyway – I decided that I was going to turn it around and get ALL my points for the rest of the week. I worked really hard at it, and though I didn’t quite achieve perfection (earned 53 points out of the 56 remaining to me), I did achieve my goal of changing the whole direction of my week. I felt better physically and emotionally and lost 2.6 pounds!
Today begins a new week for me, and it’s starting off well. When I went to the gym, I brought my phone so I could get a picture of this machine, which never fails to make me laugh because it reminds me of Mr. Bill (“OH NOOOOOOOO!”):
Make this week a great one!