I’ve been taking part in an interesting experiment over the past year and a half, give or take a few weeks. If you are reading this post, you’ve already seen the “Aedificamus” in the title. That means this is a post about health, fitness, and my often fumbling and stumbling approach to it.
One of the things that I have found interesting is just how easy it is to find escapes from the things I need to do. I have the best of intentions. I have even set and calendared the things that I know that I need to do. Yet somehow, there is always a diversion, a distraction, some way then I can wiggle out of what I planned to do, and then I get down on myself for missing the mark or not doing what I know I should be doing. However, I think this also stems from the fact that I overestimate both my energy reserves and my willingness to do things, especially if those things might result in me being sore the next day. So what is an earnest person to do?
A couple of people who have been instrumental in helping me think about this in a different way are SuperBetter author Jane McGonigal (if you have not seen her talk about “The Game that can Give You Ten Extra Years of Life“, I highly recommend it) and Manoush Zomorodi of the “Note to Self” podcast. Both Jane and Manoush have explored the ways that technology, play, and just the quirkiness of our brains can lead to interesting discoveries. Jane specifically opened up the idea of incorporating gaming into my workout routines. Let’s face it, most of us look at gaming as a sedentary affair. True, there are fitness games and games that specialize in movement (I have several revisions of the Dance Dance Revolution games, as well as two high-quality Red Octane dance pads that get good use). However, the majority of games don’t fit into a physical activity model. That doesn’t mean that we can’t tweak the way we play so that we can include activity. How?
I’ve incorporated a rebounder, or a small trampoline, into my time when I play casual games. This might sound strange, but it is surprisingly effective. For one, as I stand on the rebounder, I am constantly shifting my weight. The bounce and the movement require my body to adapt, as well as to counterbalance. Additionally, the actual gameplay becomes more challenging. I have to play while in unbalanced motion. The net result is that I am able to do a process of “temptation bundling”. I love this phrase, by the way. The idea behind temptation bundling is that we take something that we should be doing, but that we may put off or otherwise shy away from doing, and we blend it with something we actively enjoy doing. The net result is that I get to play the various games I enjoy and at the same time, give myself a vigorous workout.
During an episode of Note to Self called “Your Quantified Body, Your Quantified Self“, Manoush shared stories from a number of listeners as well as interviews with experts on the promise of all of this collected data that we can record about ourselves through our various fitness trackers and devices, and what it all actually ends up meaning to us. As I have used the LoseIt application, over time I have become familiar with a set of basic metrics. One of the key features of LoseIt is the “Challenges” space. People can compete individually or against others in teams to meet certain fitness and nutrition goals. What makes the metrics interesting is the fact that they all “top out”. Sure, you can do more and go further, but the point of accumulation stops. Here’s the basic gist of the various point accumulations. Other than things such as logging in every day and recording food and activity, there are some areas that are really easy to quantify:
– Eat 75 calories of fresh fruit to earn one point. You top out at three points (or 225 total calories).
– Eat 25 calories of fresh vegetables to earn one point. You top out at eight points (or 200 total calories).
– If you exercise (or earn a caloric adjustment according to your fitness tracker) each time you burn half of your current bodyweight, you earn one point. You top out at ten points.
– If you record breakfast and lunch, and each mean has a caloric intake of 50 calories or better, you get five points for each meal. If you log dinner, you get two extra points, for a max of 12
– If you weigh in once a week, you get ten points. any additional days you weigh in over the course o the week gets you one additional point for each day you weigh in.
– You can earn a certain number of points towards your weight loss goal, or while maintaining your weight. This one depends on your goal, but basically, if you maintain your weight during the week, you get 40 points. If you lose weight based on your goal, you can earn 50 points per week.
Seems like a lot to wrap your head around, but really, it’s like little puzzle pieces. Figure out how to get 225 calories of fresh fruit and 200 calories of vegetables, and you’re roughly done with those needs for the day. If I burn 1000 calories in a given day, I’ve maxed out. If I’ve lost the weight at the target level, I’ve topped out there, too. In short, the topping out is a way to measure and say “enough”. If you top out, you’re good, you need not keep going for that day. Of course, don’t reverse the process by doing something that will undermine your efforts, but you don’t have to feel like you have to just keep slogging. or me, when I see that I ‘ve topped out, I don’t have to focus on it any longer, at least for today.
Ultimatly, success occurs when we are enjying the process and when we can see that we have put in sufficient effort withut overdoing it. Gaming may not be your thing, but maybe Netflix is. You may not have a rebounder, but you may have a treadmill, or a stationary bicycle, or something else you can do to be active while you watch. I’d be curious to hear what your temptation bundles would be. If you would like, please share them in the comments secion below.
Aedificamus: Temptation Bunding and Topping Out