Sticking to a good-health-plan involves a lot of management skills, a surprising amount of which can be learned from video games.
Here are a few gamer rules that we apply to our own diet:
- Primary goals should be hierarchical, planned, and rewards unto themselves.
- Secondary goals should be unexpected and celebrated.
- Cheats should be limited, earned, and saved till needed.
- Know your arsenal.
- When you have to restart a level, it doesn’t diminish your chances of success.
- Play with the expectation that life will interrupt.
- Don’t get into gamer-wars or become a game-missionary, or you’ll quickly lose friends.
Primary goals should be hierarchical, planned, and rewards unto themselves.
Make a list of primary goals, which are goals that are rewards upon themselves. Put them in order and remind yourself that achievements are won in steps! An example would be: (1) Eat only the required amount of calories every day for 2 months, (2) Lose 20 pounds from you start-game weight, (3) Keep 20 pounds off for 2 months. If you happen to lose 20 pounds before you reach Level 2, great! It’ll make Level 2 easy when you get there, but — you aren’t there yet. It’s important to remind yourself that each level has it’s own rewards, and that hierarchy has a purpose.
Secondary goals should be unexpected and celebrated.
A secondary goal is like dropping one or two pant sizes, or having your skin clear up, or making a gym buddy. It’s not something you should expect if it’s not your primary goal, but it’s pretty great. And as something pretty great, it should be celebrated!
Cheats should be limited, earned, and saved till needed.
Cheats shouldn’t be taken for granted and used at random. Whether your cheat is a food or a day off from exercise, you should create a system where you earn the right to it. Maybe even give yourself a physical token to represent it! Then, just like in a game, save that shortcut for when you really need it. Cheats don’t grow on trees!
Know your arsenal.
Memorize the list of things, people, and places you need to succeed in your goals. What foods can you eat? Know them! You should be able to glance at a menu and know what you can eat and what you can’t. Are there things you need to exercise? Make sure you have them with you so you can’t make excuses.
When you have to restart a level, it doesn’t diminish your chance of success.
Stuff happens, try not to be restarted more than one level at a time. When you start over, know it’ll be easier the second time around, and have faith! Success is still within your grasp.
Play with the expectation that life will interrupt.
Life interrupts. People interrupt. If you take those interruptions too seriously, that angst will transfer to your game and put you behind your goals.
Don’t get into gamer-wars or become a game-missionary, or you’ll quickly lose friends.
You’re excited about your good-health-plan, we get it. It’s working, we get it. If you try to convert people or tell everyone about all the details of it all the time, though, you’ll just alienate people.
And on that note, thanks for your patience as I blog my way through Diabetes Awareness Month.