Many modern diets focus on calories. They tell you to eat everything in moderation. To move more and eat less. In this view, healthy nutrition is just a question of balancing your energy input with your energy consumption.
But a healthy diet is not about calories, but about good nutrition. If all you ever eat are low calorie foods devoid of nutrients, you’ll never be satisfied. What you eat matters. 500 calories of grilled chicken salad is not the same as 500 calories of rice crackers. If you focus on eating filling and nutritious natural foods, you will be naturally satisfied making it easier to control your cravings and resist temptations.
Similarly, we weren’t designed to sit behind a desk all week to then punish ourselves at the gym for an hour or more. We have evolved to walk around every day, lift heavy things when necessary and occasionally run after a deer (or away from a bear). Cramming all this into a few weekly exercise sessions is asking for trouble.
Many diets focus on getting quick results by limiting the calories you eat. But obsessing about calories and weight is ultimately counterproductive. If you are constantly counting calories, you will never enjoy the foods you eat. And if your weight is your only measure of progress, you’re bound to lose heart when it inevitably plateaus after a few weeks.
Relying on willpower alone to get quick results is ineffective in the long run. The most effective lifestyle plans focus on adopting new healthy habits and sticking to them. But building new habits is easier said than done. It takes months or even years of deliberate effort. And it’s even harder when you try to change many habits at once.
Focus and motivation
Focusing on one or two new habits has been shown to be more effective than trying to change many habits at once. That’s why our system introduces just one: Use the app to earn your foods. That’s all. The app then encourages you to gradually adopt other habits, like going outside, exercising and drinking water.
Which neatly brings us to motivation. You need intrinsic motivation to stick to your new habit long enough for it to become automatic. In our app, this intrinsic motivation comes from earning the foods you crave. There are few incentives more natural than gathering the foods you eat; we have been doing it for millions of years.
This incentive works especially well if you need to earn cheats. Imagine you have a big weekend ahead. On Friday you’re having a posh dinner with your partner and on Saturday you have plans to go out with friends. Rather than deny yourself these moments of joy, you can plan ahead and make sure you earn enough stars to buy the two cheats you need. And feel proud about the moments of joy you give yourself.
Of course, the incentive of earning your foods only works if you always stick to our one golden rule:
DON’T EAT ANYTHING YOU HAVEN’T EARNED
No matter how big your natural incentive is, any diet will fail if it lacks enjoyment and taste. If you want to stand a chance against the hyperpalatable snack foods out there, eating healthy but bland foods is a losing strategy. You will need to make everything you eat as delicious as possible. Healthy food should not feel like a trade-off. So stock up on herbs, spices, onion, garlic and other taste-enhancers and use them. And don’t hold back on healthy cooking fats and salt.
Similarly, look for enjoyment in your exercises. Or try exercises that appeal to you to find out which ones you really enjoy. Take a walk after a hectic day at work to clear your head and get energized again. Meet a friend for an invigorating game of squash. Or spend a lovely afternoon outside on the golf course. The app provides a good motivation to start exercising, but the easiest way to maintain regular exercise is to really enjoy the activity.