Games Dieters Play

by Moira on May 31, 2013

money-scaleEarlier this month, I ventured into the arena of “social dieting” with DietBet.  The setup is that you join a game, with an ante (ours was $25.00)  Everyone in the game has the same goal: 4% of the original starting weight within 28 days.  Based on past weight loss experiences, this is a fairly aggressive goal for, but I was game.

What happened is that I saw myself revert to all these old “games” that have not been part of my repertoire for years, games that perpetuate the deprivation/binge cycle: games dieters play.

The Last Supper  – played the day (or days) before starting a diet (deprivation part of the cycle).

In anticipation of the deprivation to come, the player loads up on all the favorite “forbidden” foods: the last binge.  In a game like DietBet, it has the added advantage that the behavior usually results in a local maximum on the scale: pounds that are not really fat pounds and come off quickly in the first few days of deprivation.  When the goal is to  lose 4% of your starting weight, there’s a clear advantage to this game.  Remember all those huge weight losses in the first week of Biggest Loser?  Likely the result of Last Suppers Extraordinaire.  I mean, wouldn’t you, if you were facing months of Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels  in your face?

The Number on the Scale is the Only Thing That Counts  – played throughout the deprivation part of cycle.

The signs that you’re playing this game is an over-obsession with the scale, weighing much more frequently than your usual pattern, and starting to change your behavior in unhealthy ways  (excessive exercise or calorie reduction) to influence that number.  While I didn’t seriously consider it,  the thought of intentionally dehydrating to “make weight” did cross my mind.  How healthy is that?  I also considered a multi-day cleanse.  The idea of the cleanse in itself is not a bad thing. But again, experience tells me these are more successful experiences when they come from an inspiration rather than desperation.  And when I stalled out on the weight loss with a few days before the deadline, inspiration is not where my head was at.

I’ve Blown It Now So I Might as Well Go Whole Hog – played at the end of the deprivation, beginning of binge

It was on day 25, the long holiday weekend, when I noticed these thoughts start to creep in.  It’s a bit disconcerting to notice that they arrived on the scene so readily, like they had been queued up all along waiting anxiously for the chance to jump in, like trekkies waiting for the premiere of the Star Trek movie.  I managed to maintain a semblance of sanity, thanks to my conscious eating practices.

The After Bingeplayed during the binge part of the cycle.

I had started fantasizing about some of the foods I hadn’t had since The Last Supper. If I had given in and fully played  Go Whole Hog, there is a higher probability that it would have slid right into The After Binge.  Funny thing is that now, two days after the end of the game, the desire for those foods has dissipated.  I have a new Friday night habit of naked salmon burgers from Whole Foods and some veggies that is more appealing.

I didn’t win my bet.  I’m okay with that.  I did bring more consciousness to my food choices over the last four weeks, and I broke through a plateau I had been on for several weeks.


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