Make weight loss into a game

I’ve been tracking my food for the past week and it’s been eye opening but also… well kind of intimidating. With every “bad” food choice, my weekly allowance grew negative faster and faster to the point where this afternoon when I sat in front of my computer at work, logging in my breakfast and lunch, –51 weekly allowance points stared back at me (yes, that’s negative 51!!). I calculated that I could run a half marathon today and it would still not cover the damage I’ve done over the past week. And I wanted to give up. And maybe cry.

When I get into my head like that, it’s really hard to get out. I play the victim game. Why can’t I just have a normal relationship with food? I’ve done it before (actually more than once… hmm) and it wasn’t this hard. Whyyyyyyyyy? Today my amazing husband came up with a game plan for me. Literally. We decided to make weight loss into a game. I’m super excited!!


We’re going to Vegas in May 2011 and I told Adam that while he’s gambling with his buddies, I want to lounge by the pool while looking HOT.

This picture is from last time we were in Vegas (October 2006). We were both at our heaviest here (during the time we’ve been together). So the goal is to not look like this. I hate this picture.


This is Adam and I on our honeymoon at our lowest weight. Also our happiest!


[From our hike in Cinque Terre]

This is Adam in Vegas in 2004. He looks so young but also kind of jacked. No? I like it Smile


This is moi in Venice. I still have this dress and there is no way in hell I’d fit into it. I’ve got 20lbs on that girl.


The Game Rules

So here is how we’re going to make it work. The game rules have 3 parts: accountability, penalties and rewards. I’m a numbers person so it’s no wonder I got this down to an equation. Winking smile

1. The goal is to stay within my weekly Weight Watchers Points Plus. Every time I want something that I know would break the (points) bank, I have to tell Adam about it BEFORE I eat it. I promise I will not lie to him (or omit certain things). He will keep me accountable and remind me why this is important to me. Oh, and I get 1 free pass for dinner out with him. We have to have a little fun without calorie/points counting. Open-mouthed smile

2. For every week I go over my weekly points allowance, I will pay $20 into a special account. This comes out of my personal shopping money and it’s actually a really hard amount to swallow… especially if I do it more than once a month (we’re really trying to save so I don’t get a lot of “play money”). When I get to my goal weight (set at 140lbs for the purpose of this game), we can take all the penalty money and treat ourselves to something fun. Hopefully that envelope is empty but if not, at least we’ll turn something negative into something positive… but only if I reach my goal!!

3. For every 5lbs I lose, I get $100!!!! This will go towards the Vegas shopping fund. 😆 [This would be SWEET.] Adam will also get $100 for every 5lbs he loses. This will go towards his Vegas gambling money.

We will buy a giant calendar this weekend that will hang in our bedroom closet where we’ll track all the points, weight, “prize money.” Honestly the most important part of this is Adam keeping me accountable. I promised him I will not cheat. This is really key. The money part just makes this into a fun game. Hopefully I’ll be a little richer come May Winking smile

What do you think of this plan? Do you sometimes have to play games with yourself?

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42 comments to Make weight loss into a game

  • Glad Adam is playing along, too. I don’t remember if you mentioned if he has fallen off the wagon, too, so to speak. But I think it’s much better not to go it alone! Plus, Vegas is SUCH a motivator.

    • Elina

      He hasn’t officially been trying to lose weight (through calorie counting or the like) but he’s been wanting to drop a few pounds (he gained about 15 since the wedding too). I got the best results when we were trying to lose weight together (although I was always a lot more “into” it, read: strict). GO Vegas!! 😉

  • What a great husband and a wonderful idea to make this into a game. I can so relate to you, Elina. Our struggles are very similar and I question the same things when I’m in my slump. We can both defeat this though and I wish you all the best.

    BTW, even though you don’t like how you looked in the picture of yourself when you were heavier, you were still beautiful. I know you want to feel comfortable in your own skin and feel your best (that’s how I feel too). We are so hard on ourselves though. Others see us differently, even as we pick ourselves apart.

    Enjoy your new game!! I predict you’ll have lots of shopping fund money for Vegas with all your 5lb losses!! {{HUGS}}

  • Husband Adam

    I’ve definitely fallen off the wagon too! I’m not at my heaviest but i’m not that far away either!

  • I love this! I wish it would work for me but so far…nothing, not even the fact that I’m getting married in five months (exactly!) or that I’m paying for WW, seems to be working.

    Question about the rules of the game. When you talk about “going over” do you mean going over the 29 for the day, or going into your 49 weekly points? I have yet to go into the negative but I usually eat 30-36 points per day (depending on how much I work out) and I feel like since I am active, it should be OK but I’m not really losing. Is that how you’re doing it too?

    • Elina

      Hallie – I’ve been so frustrated with paying $40 for ww too… with no results (because of myself, not the program!). When I talk about going over, I mean everything. 49 points are part of the program and you should be able to lose weight even if you eat all of them. Do you not track your activity points? I do and I use those first. Good luck!! Find a game that works for you – weight loss is so mental!!

      • Yeah I have always tracked activity but I just switched my program to use those first. My goal (mental game?) is to only use those and none of my 49 weekly points…still, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong! I would really like to lose some decent weight by July 2 but at this rate, it’s going to take for-ever!

  • Slade G

    I love the idea of a game! SO FUN! I’m a numbers girl too and I’ve often used it to my advantage by creating little “incentives,” like when I cook at home and make HEALTHY lunches (i.e. not going to panera and indulging) I save money. I put away that extra “saved” money and put it towards something fun.

    It’s a journey and whether you realize it or not, you are an inspiration to us all.

    And of course, *snaps* to Adam. Having a supportive man behind you can make all the difference!

  • what a great idea! i was just thinking i needed a new motivation (because apparently my cousin’s wedding in puerto rico in less than 2 months isn’t enough). i am actually finally going back to weight watchers this morning (i’ve been “following” but not going to meetings) and hoping that will help.

  • Whether it is through a game or any other plan, I think it is really important and super helpful for your hubby (or in my case my fiance) to be on the same plan – for motivation and accountability!

  • I have definitely rewarded myself before – not for weight loss, usually for workouts :) I think any plan that is going to really motivate you and allow you to have fun with it and not feel bad is a winner! And why not try something new? We can’t expect ourselves to keep trying the same thing and being mad that we are continually failing. Sometimes, I find, reaching a goal means that to get there, I need to accept some things about myself that I may not like, and learn how to work with them instead of be constantly fighting them. Good luck, I think this sounds awesome Elina!!

  • Gretchen

    Hey Elina! I’ve been a reader of yours awhile and had to comment! My boyfriend and I are ALSO going to Las Vegas in May, and like you, it is the perfect motivator to look my best. I keep getting the visual images of me looking happy/healthy/toned in my swimsuit by the pool! For me, visualizing my end goal can help me get to the gym and put the sweets down! I love the game too :) I know you can do it, you seem like such a sweet girl, and I’ve done the food sabotage thing too. But looking back, that’s when I was most miserable..ick.
    Best of luck to you!

  • Good luck! Hope you win lots of money!

  • That sounds like a great plan Elina! You are so lucky to have such a supportive hubby. I hope you guys have lots of fun with this game plan, and of course in Vegas!

  • I think this sounds like a great plan. You’re being realistic and healthy and I think that’s key. Its also great to have a partern in crime to help keep you accountable. Its really important to own it.

    Good luck and I’m excited to hear about this adventure and all the fun in Vegas!

  • Saw your post on BSW. Great idea to reward yourself. Good luck keeping on track for your Vegas goal.

  • First, I just want to say you look great in both pictures! :)

    Second, you say that you were your happiest when you were lighter.

    Is that related to the fact that you weighed less? Or was it because of the wedding/honeymoon?

    • Elina

      Val – I love traveling and hanging out with Adam so that definitely contributed to my happiness right in that moment, but I was also at my happiest with my body. I’m still in love with my husband so I don’t think the fact that it was the honeymoon specifically really make a difference. :)

  • Interesting idea – hopefully it works! I have to say, my skinniest was not necessarily my happiest (wedding dieting worked great but I was crabby and hungry!), but whatever you’re goal is, I hope you reach it! (ps – do you mean you are going to Vegas in May 2011?!)

  • I need rewards to keep motivated, I hope this new system works for you:D

  • Sara

    I wish you lots of luck on your new approach to weight loss. I have lost 60 lbs. with the old Weight Watchers plan and a total of 9 lbs. on the new PointsPlus! I have about 5 more lbs. to go! I have an incredible sweet tooth and have fallen off of the bandwagon many times. I would always pick myself back up and get back on track. I choose not to bake or keep sweets in my apartment because I cannot control myself sometimes. This is a lifelong journey that takes time mentally and physically. You have to do what works for you!

    • Elina

      Yeah, having sweets around the house is definitely a problem for me too. At least we’re figuring out what works and what doesn’t :) Good luck with those last 5lbs. How exciting!!

  • I think you look great in all the pics, both of you! But, I understand wanting to get back to a comfortable weight. good luck and kick his ass!

  • hehe, that picture of adam in vegas made me smile. good luck with this new approach! where is the $100 coming from? if only someone could pay me…

    • Husband Adam

      We have a joint account that our paychecks go into. Each month we take a little ‘allowance’ to pay for our own things so we aren’t scrutinizing each others little purchases when we do our budget.

      So the $100 comes out of our joint account (savings)

  • Mike and I are talking about a May Vegas trip too! Much to discuss tonight! And you are gorgeous in both pictures :)

  • So fun and great idea! It’s nice to take the serious out of it, and just have fun with it, which is exactly what you’re doing. Good luck! : )

  • I love your games! Monetary rewards and fines are the best. My dad used to choose fines for our punishments as a kid and they worked SO well!

    I’m currently trying to lose fifteen pounds myself and I don’t usually do games but I should and so I WILL! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • I’ve been on weight watchers and have lost 10 pounds since the beginning of January and I’ve actually lost more in the weeks when I eat all 49 weekly points (without going over).

    Good luck in your journey! I put $200 in an envelope and am rewarding myself $40 each time I lose 10 lbs. It’s good to have rewards.

    • Elina

      How interesting. Do you think it’s because you’re more satisfied when you eat all points? Love that you have a rewards envelope too :)

  • That is such a great idea!! Good for you! It sounds like a lot of fun, actually! You can do it!
    You look great in all of your photos, albeit different but I completely understand the desire to be a certain way! I am on that journey too! WW is a fantastic program! I have done it in the past (not now as $$ is tight and I want to do it on my own with the education I gained from doing WW and reading a lot of nutrition and health books). Good luck! Exciting!

  • This is a GREAT idea Elina!! Back to tracking food, I agree its always eye opening and I think it ALWAYS helps.
    I wish I could get my husband in on soemthing like this when I really want to focus on healthy eating…but he’s 6’1″ and barely 150lbs…yeah, he’s one of THOSE people who can eat whatever they want, atlhough he eats pretty good. Anyways, he never struggles with weight so I dont like to complain to him when I’m trying to eat healthier.

    Enough blabbing :) SO jealous of your trip to Vegas and I know you’ll be rocking it by the pool! Use the money for a hot new outfit!!

  • This is great! So awesome to have someone to do this with. I wish I had a motivator like you do. Good Luck! and those pics of you look amazing- look what you have already accomplished once! :)


  • […] In early 2011, I tried making weight loss into a game. We have a different variation on this going right now (I’m tracking my exercise, Adam his […]

  • […] *The following blog includes an example of someone who has come up with a game for losing weight. […]

  • […] *The following blog includes an example of someone who has come up with a game for losing weight: […]

  • Good info. Lucky me I recently found your blog by chance (stumbleupon).

    I’ve book marked it for later!

  • The more newspapers you have, the additional deals you’ve to pick from.

  • Tara

    This is great. Personally I’m trying to get away from the whole punitive side of weight loss, but that’s my own issue, and the penalty factor probably would work for a lot of folks. But I am implementing the 100 reward for 5lbs. I’m going to try to think of other ways to “gamify” weight loss. I’m also going to add some rewards to the maintenance.. cause that’s really where I struggle.. keeping it off!

    Thanks for the ideas!


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