Weight Loss Games

by Wells

I’ve lost 8 pounds in two months.  There are two things I’ve done to make this happen:

  1. Gone to the gym 2-3 times a week (usually 2).
  2. Followed the Steve Ward Diet (just on weekdays).

I’ve never been a gym rat before this year, but I lucked into a great price on a membership (courtesy of my friend Jen) just when I realized my weight was starting to trend upward.

Forgive this tangent, but my noticing that my weight was trending upward is reason enough for me to decide to do something about my nutrition and fitness.  People like to tell me that I don’t need to exercise or watch what I eat because I don’t look fat.  I’d argue that I need to exercise and watch what I eat because I’d rather not look fat.

Aaaanyway, I started going to the New York Sports Club twice during the week and, sometimes, once per weekend.  For strength training I follow their Express Line workout (a series of 8 weight training machines) and record my progress in an app on my iPod called iFitness.  It’s important to track your progress when it comes to exercise.  Write down what exercise you’ve done, how much weight you moved, and how many reps and sets you did.  Knowing this stuff beforehand is one less thing to slow you down.

This revelation was what kept me in the gym week after week.  I’ve found that I can compete against myself and it’s very motivational.  When I can do three 15-rep sets of the weight I’m doing five days in a row, I bump up the amount of  weight and try for the next “perfect 5”.  It’s like earning badges in a Kongregate game.  “You’ve earned the leg press machine badge!”  Everything has to have its method, people.

If I have time, I do walk-run intervals on the treadmill for 24 minutes. (4mph / 6mph)

rock out with your broc out

The Steve Ward Diet is usually where people lose faith in my sanity.  It’s pretty simple.  I had a start weight and I have a goal weight, to be ultimately reached on a day in September.  Each day my daily goal weight ticks down a little bit until at the end it’ll meet my final goal weight.  If I weigh myself in the morning and I’m below my daily goal weight, I eat what I want that day.  If in the morning I’m above my daily goal, I eat nothing but raw fruits and vegetables that day.  These are called broccoli days.

The assumption is that I must go through a lot of broccoli days; that I’m starving myself on some days only to reverse all my progress on normal days.  But really this plan is about forethought.  I hate the broccoli days, so I don’t eat like an animal on the normal days.  Again, this plan would be nothing without the daily recording of my weight and comparing it to the downward-sloping line of my daily goal.  I need the tactile plotting and analyzing.  My friend Bradford says I’m a methodical person, and I guess I’d have to agree.

I’m a game player.  I thrive on setting small attainable goals for myself and meeting them.  I think this was planted in me by the book “Finite and Infinite Games” by James Carse.  I fill my life with all these finite games because they’re fun diversions, and the trophies are usually shiny (books written, weight lost, etc.)

Carse says that the real trophy is power, and that power is different from strength.  Power allows you to move things outside of yourself; to redirect the forces around you.  Strength, on the other hand, is an internal quality that describes your ability to resist being moved or redirected.  There are people who play games to win the power, and there are people who play games to test their own strength.  Most people fall somewhere in the middle, myself included.  But I do feel a little stronger every day.