How to game-ify weightloss?
February 19, 2020 1:36 PM   Subscribe

I like games and am looking to find new ways to motivate myself to have better habits with both diet and exercise.

I respond very well to fun and to positive reinforcement in the form of earning badges and my screen lighting up, the idea of levelling up, stories, competition against self and others. To be very honest: I like to eat carbs and I don't like to exercise very much, so I want to make it feel as much as possible like a video game.

Some things I have tried in the past and enjoyed are Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (it got me walking 10,000 steps a day and I really like the VR/AR elements), Zombies Run!, Noom (for all the little animations and positive reinforcement when I did the thing I was supposed to do).

I would be interested in entertaining variations on Couch-to-5k programs or game style habit trackers. I don't want to spend much money. Some of my goals include limiting sugar, limiting alcohol, keeping my calories around 1500/day, and consistently meeting my step goal.
posted by unstrungharp to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried Habitica? Gamified, cute, habit-building, and pretty darn customizable.
posted by miratime at 1:39 PM on February 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

If you have a Nintendo Switch then Ring Fit Adventure is a game where you have to exercise to play. It's slightly more expensive than a regular game but the resistance ring it comes with is pretty neat and squeezing or pulling it can be pretty tough. I've been playing for about a month so far and it hasn't gotten boring yet.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:45 PM on February 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

Depending on your level of tech-savvy, people have connected World of Warcraft character movement with treadmills ...

That having been said, in addition to the exercise games you mentioned, there's also Ingress, Pokemon Go, The Walk, Zombies! Run 5K, Run an Empire, and StreetComplete (of those options, more vanilla, but it does have 'quests').
posted by WCityMike at 1:49 PM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Strava is a good, free app for competing/earning badges (especially for cycling). You track your workouts and it shows you how you did both vs yourself, vs other contacts, and vs everybody else who has been on the same stretch of rides/runs. There is some nice social feedback built in too.

These all cost some money, but the biggest tech/gamify helpers for me in losing weight/getting fit (-40 pounds and holding for 2+ years) have been:

* Apple Watch - in addition to very good tracking of workouts, heart rate, and daily activity, you get badges for meeting your goals, monthly challenges, and streaks. I get a lot from going back over workouts to see my progress and my consistency, and the "get up and walk around" prompt gets me out of my chair a few times each day.
* A Bluetooth Scale + the Happy Scale app - a regular weigh in plus visualization of where you've been and where you're going is motivating.
* Ring Fit Adventure - if you have a Switch, it's a fun game and a true workout. I set my watch to record a high intensity interval workout and it gives me good credit.
posted by AgentRocket at 1:56 PM on February 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

There is an app called Step Bet where you compete for actual money by walking.
posted by crunchy potato at 2:25 PM on February 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

I had a lot of success with a simple game:

- Weigh myself every morning.

- Every time I lose 5 lbs, buy a box of donuts for my office.

- There is no other circumstance where I can possibly eat any pastries.

This game can be adapted to whatever appetite motivates you.
posted by Phssthpok at 2:36 PM on February 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

Seconding the suggestion of Ring Fit Adventure on the Switch. I've been playing it for a few months and it's super fun. I always look forward to playing it!

It plays like an RPG. You have quests and there's equipment (workout clothes), potions (smoothies), spells (smoothie recipes), ingredients, and weapons (exercises) to collect. As you level up, there are skills you can acquire to make you more powerful. There are lots of small battles and each world has a boss battle. The better your form/strength is on the exercises in the battles, the better your attacks/healing.

It's way more fun than it has any right to be!
posted by burntflowers at 2:39 PM on February 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

apropos, ish:
posted by booooooze at 2:55 PM on February 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

Thirding Ring Fit Adventure, even though it's not an inexpensive proposition if you don't already have a Switch. But I think it's totally worth it.

(Another fun fitness game for Switch is Fitness Boxing.)
posted by The Deej at 3:33 PM on February 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

It's on the high side of equipment requirements, but Zwift is running/cycling in a virtual world where you/your avatar can level up, collect badges, unlock cosmetics, compete with others, use powerups and go on social runs/rides.
posted by meowzilla at 5:02 PM on February 19, 2020

Wholesome is a food tracking app with a whole bunch of nutrient information. It can kind of feel like a game to get as close to 100% across all the nutrients as you can.
posted by slidell at 6:29 PM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]


...A website called uses commitment contracts to help its’ users accomplish their goals. People sign legally binding agreements where they have to pay a third party if they don’t meet their obligations to stop smoking, exercise, or finish their novel, for example. The site, founded by two Yale professors, has proven effective for those brave enough to take the bet.
posted by AugustWest at 7:10 PM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

competition against self
Lifting is exactly like this if you keep a training log and focus on increasing each lift by a little bit at a time according to a schedule. It's like Dungeons & Dragons: you have a half-dozen metrics — rather than Dexterity and Fireball it's Deadlift and Mile Run of Swiftness — with scores that you want to minimax. It's critical to follow a program like Starting Strength so that you lift a teensy bit more in each movement each week or so. Another program called 5/3/1 provides even more goals to chase, by having you chase the most weight you can do for a given number of reps (as well as the inverse — the most number of reps for a given weight).

Here is a detailed explanation of one note-taking approach similar to mine, and here's the official marble notebook approach. Some people use spreadsheets or apps.

Few people take me up on this suggestion because a notebook doesn't sound like a game, but for lots of us it feels more like a fun game than any app.
posted by daveliepmann at 4:20 AM on February 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

If you are interested in Intermittent Fasting (16:8 in particular is known to be very helpful with weight loss), the app Zero is very popular.
posted by amaire at 2:33 PM on February 20, 2020

There is an app called Step Bet where you compete for actual money by walking.

Likewise, Healthy Wage allows you to bet on yourself to reach a weight loss goal.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:22 PM on February 21, 2020

I really liked dietbet- you pay a small- large amount of choice (I’ve seen bets from 5 to 500), commit to an amount of weight to lose over the 4 weeks- it’s 2 or 3%of your body weight afaik. You weigh in at beginning and end, and if you lose you get your money back plus more from those who did not make the weigh out and forfeit their money.
posted by beignet at 9:23 AM on February 22, 2020

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