Year after year, the Super Bowl scores millions of viewers and earns its position as the most watched event in America. Attendance at classical music concerts on the other hand, has seen a significant decline. Why? Because the Super Bowl is fun to watch while classical concerts sadly, are not. Similarly, exciting and engaging weight-loss interventions attract and retain participants while dull, stagnant approaches deter them. In other words, fun must be at the foundation of an experience that aims to draw and keep a crowd.
Mobile technology enables professionals to present information in fun and entertaining ways, methods proven to increase self-awareness and health. Focusing on fun promotes success through another mechanism as well:
According to the Theory of Self Determination, intrinsic motivation (doing something because you want to do it) effectively predicts whether we’ll initiate and continue a particular behavior. Since fun comprises an important aspect of intrinsic motivation, playing well-crafted games can produce change by increasing motivation.
Some believe that games are for children. They’re right. Fun and supportive weight loss interventions for children prove successful. 8-year-old African American girls playing the game, “Fun, Food and Fitness,” demonstrated some impressive diet and physical activity modifications. But focusing on fun is essential to successful weight loss in adults too. One large trial found that those who cook or bake for fun are more likely to lose weight and keep it off.
How do we make weight loss fun? We encourage creativity, silliness, goofiness. We photograph funny faces made from vegetables and encourage our clients to do the same. We make a game out of it, or customize competitions where clients can go head to head, eating their way to first place.
When we play sports, we’re exercising no doubt. But since it’s fun, we don’t consider it a chore. We lose track of time, feel bummed when the game is over, and look forward to the next time we’ll get to play. Eating healthily can feel the same way. Plodding away on the elliptical trainer or performing other mundane exercise on the other hand, can be mind-numbing. Time seems to stop for those 20-30 minutes. Following a regimented, no-fun diet can bring on boredom just the same, derailing us because there seems to be no end in sight.
The bottom line? To promote and sustain weight loss, the journey must be fun. Lead by example by photographing words or faces made from healthy foods, and watch as clients do the same. Set up challenges and gamify weight loss. Tried and true, these tools can transform a nutrition consultation from sitting in a dull, classical musical concert hall to a cheering at a fun-filled, eagerly anticipated Super Bowl.