Losing weight is a game

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You might have read in my previous blog posts that I’m currently on a mission to lose some weight, keeping my calories down to 1500 a day. It seems to be working well, but it also means that I’m reading more about the subject too. I came across a great post that talks about why Weight Watchers is so successful, it turns the whole process of weight loss into the equivalent of an RPG.

Here’s how Clive (the post author) describes what he observed:

When you first log in to Weight Watchers, it determines how much food you’ll be allowed to eat that day, expressed as a number of “points.” My friend gets 23 points per day. Each time she eats a piece of food, she enters it into the online database, and it calculates how many points she’s used. A small apple is one point; a piece of fried chicken is seven points.

When she first started the program, she was stunned at how quickly she burned through her daily points. A single bagel was six points — more than 25 percent of her daily quota. “How the hell am I going to do this without starving?” she wondered.

But pretty soon she learned to hack her daily eating to suit the system. She snacked on vegetables that took zero points — like bell peppers — or only one or two points, like a tasty brand of microwave popcorn. Then she’d save up the big points for a really decent dinner. Better yet, Weight Watchers assigns her an extra 35 bonus points per week that she can use if she goes over her daily limit. Or she can bank them for a big blowout restaurant meal on the weekend.

What makes this point-counting possible is Weight Watchers’ elegant online tool. Type in any food you can think of — including brand-name snacks or boxed meals — and Weight Watchers has already calculated the points for you. If she makes a special sandwich at home, she can calculate the ingredients, save it with a custom name, and then drag and drop it into her day every time she eats one.

As I watched her poke around on the screen, managing inventory, calculating points, staying within her range, it hit me:

Weight Watchers is an RPG.

Intrigued? Read the whole thing here

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