A few Sundays ago I wrote I was shooting to run a 5K race and lose five pounds. My attempts to train for a race were thwarted thanks to very painful plantar fasciitis that left me hobbling around the house and outside when I walked the dogs. So, no training or walking long distances. The pain in my heel turned to be a be a pain in the ass when it came to my fitness goals; consequently because I wasn’t getting enough exercise, I was getting very grumpy, and used food for comfort. Instead of losing five pounds, I gained four.
One day on Twitter, I noticed the hash tag for The Game On Diet! (#gameon) and wondered what this was all about. It seems that a few of my followers were playing this game and losing weight. What the hell was it all about I wondered? I ventured to Amazon and searched for the book, looked inside and thought that I might as well plunk down the money and try it, but in the back of my mind I thought it would be one of the many diet books (or snake oil remedies, as one reviewer for Alvah’s Books likes to call them) that would collect dust on my shelf.
Well, I was wrong.
In a nutshell, The Game On Diet is actually a game with teams, rules, points, penalties, and a grand prize. The reasoning behind the diet is to get dieters motivated to lose and have fun. Let’s face it, dieting is not fun and it’s hard to stay motivated. However, with The Game On Diet, players are motivated to earn their points and stay on track to lose the weight (which really is the BIG prize, achieving that goal and not getting frustrated).
Krista Vernoff, Emmy winner and head writer for TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, writes of her trials and tribulations with weight, but when she became pregnant, had her baby and then couldn’t shake off the 25 pounds, she knew she had to do something that would help take it off, but what? Vernoff readily admits that she wasn’t into exercise, that her eating habits weren’t great, and that she wasn’t disciplined about her meals. So how did she manage to lose over 40 pounds? Her trainer and co-writer Az Ferguson, Million Dollar Body for Life champion, came up with a neat psychological device that made losing weight into a game. And Krista loves games and loves to win even more.
I can certainly relate to that. When I read Krista’s story, I thought, yup that’s me to a T—I hate organized sports, but love board and card games, and I want to win, win, win! This is the only time I’m actually competitive, and to make matters worse, I am a terrible winner because I gloat and let’s not even talk about losing.
The rules to game are fairly simple to follow. To win your daily 100 points, you have to eat five meals a day, basically three meals with two snacks. Each meal has to be balanced. That means a carbohydrate, a protein, a healthy fat, and as many green, leafy veggies as you like—minimum 2 servings a day. Vernoff and Ferguson provide a list of verboten foods which they’ve labeled as F.L.A.B.B or fat-loading or belly-bloating foods as well as healthier alternatives labeled as F.Y.T or flatten your tummy foods. In addition to healthy eating, there’s also healthy drinking. To earn 10 points, you have to drink 10 glasses of water or three liters. Alcohol is only allowed on your day off, if you decide to lush it up one evening, plan on losing 25 points per drink. Oh, and when you lose points so does your team—so it’s not all about you.
As for exercise, Vernoff and Ferguson only ask that players make a daily 20 minute commitment to get their heart rate and their limbs moving. No exercise, no 20 points.
Other rules include getting enough sleep, keeping in touch with teammates for motivation, and one very interesting rule which is eliminating one bad habit and starting a good one, which helps a great deal with discipline (at least it does for me). Snacking is the one activity that is almost every dieter’s Achilles heel and that sabotages a weight loss regime so there’s a no snacking rule–not even popping a handful of cereal or taking a spoonful of peanut butter. You snack, you get minus 10 points per infraction.
If you think about The Game On Diet it’s really all about the common sense basics of dieting that every one knows, but the authors really drum into your head that it’s the quality of calories that you eat and will burn. In addition to the basic rules, there are few give aways, you’re allowed a 100 calories daily of FLABB foods with a meal (butter in a baked potato or some dried fruit in a salad); one meal off during the week, and the entire-the day off–in which you can say toodles to the rules and just have a rest day, eat what ever you like, have a drink and slip into one bad habit. However, some players (like me) might not want to lose momentum and apply some of guidelines even on their day off.
The Game On Diet is an amusing and fast read. Most people will finish the book in two days. Some minor issues should be noted about including possibly too much dairy and/or protein in every meal. Some of the rules need clarification; for example are players allowed to weigh daily or not. Once a week is the rule, and there is a penalty for weighing more than once, however Vernoff later writes that she weighs in daily (most diet and fitness books recommend once a week,while a minority say that weighing in daily is a good method to keep you on track daily).
Some readers might find Vernoff’s jokesy manner a little over the top (the section on water and crack wasn’t really that funny), but overall, she writes in a manner that’s chummy and shares her success story to dieters who have lost all motivation and keep on piling the pounds.
How have I fared? I’ve completed one week of The Game On Diet, followed all the rules, with the exception of one weigh-in penalty, and one popcorn snacking penalty, and I’ve lost six pounds, and I still have three more weeks to complete. Six pounds lighter, not flabby, frustrated, grouchy, or hungry, and very motivated to continue, now that’s a game I like.