Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Biggest Winner?

Our office has begun the ubiquitous and poorly named "Biggest Loser" contest.  If you're lucky enough to be free of these where you work, the premise is that whoever loses the most weight in a certain time period wins a pot of cash, which the participants paid to enter. 

Now I don't think that health should be competitive.  There's enough "good/bad fattie" stigma from the world inflicting guilt if you don't exercise for hours every day or eat nothing but whole vegan organic foods.  But I think, as a matter of compromise, that the only way to get rid of these destructive weight-loss competitions is to first replace them with something constructive. 

So I propose a "Biggest Winner" contest, based on precepts of HAES, and focusing on adding health positive actions to your day instead of deprivations. This might already exist, and if it does please let me know!  If it's a feasible idea though, I'll eventually put together a full kit of daily e-mails, goals, charts, etc. that people can download for use in their office or organization. 

One of the challenges is that HAES is an entirely new paradigm for most people.  The idea of health independent of weight is radical, and it has to be presented in acceptable bite-size pieces if this is going to work. 

If you have any ideas for points or rules to add, remove or tweak, please let me know in comments or via e-mail at Jolandra6 at Yahoo (formatted here to prevent spam).

Contest Rules:
You earn points for certain physical or mental wellness activities.  It is self-reporting and depends on honesty, but the goal is to try out new wellness activities to see if you want to incorporate them into your life.  At the end of the contest (1 month?  6 weeks?)  the person with the most points receives some sort of prize/trophy/recognition. 

Any one activity can only count in one category.  If you go for a swim, it can count as exercise, meditation, or time for yourself (not all three). 

The maximum points for each day or week are to promote moderation.  You are welcome to go for a two hour run every day, but as 30 minutes of moderate movement is enough to gain significant health benefits, the maximum is to allow people to meet that mark without feeling that they have to overdo it to stay competitive. 

10 points for each 10 minutes of moderate physical activity (30 points maximum each day)

This can be any physical activity that raises your heart rate and breathing to aerobic levels.  You can walk, dance, swim, mow the lawn, etc.  It doesn't have to be traditional "exercise" as long as it gets the heart rate and breathing up! It can be done in increments (i.e. three 10 minute walks). 

5 extra points per day if the activity you chose to do is one you enjoy. 

This is defined as something you like enough that you want to continue to do it after the contest is over. 

10 points for 10 minutes of strength training or stretching activity (20 points maximum each day)

This can be traditional weight lifting, or any activity that strengthens or stretches muscles (especially core muscles) such as pilates, yoga, or simple stretches.  It is generally recommended that you give muscles 24 hours to recover after strength training; so alternate strength and stretch days, or work a diffferent area of the body each day.  

10 points for 10 minutes of meditation (20 points maximum each day)

This can be any activity that creates mental stillness, grounding and centeredness; whether traditional meditation, simple deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, etc.  It must be done without distraction or interruption, for at least 10 minutes at a time. 

10 points for adequate sleep the previous night

This is generally a full 8 hours, although your body's needs may vary.  Some people only really need 7, others may need 9.  If you require a lot of caffeine or other stimulants to get through the day, you're not getting enough. 

5 points for each serving of fruits, vegetables or whole grains (30 points maximum each day)

Look for foods you enjoy or haven't tried before and prepare them in different ways to get variety.  You may find that a vegetable you dislike is tasty if prepared differently.  Note:  It's still a vegetable if you put butter on it.

10 points for trying a new food (10 points maximum each week)

This can be anything you've never tried before, or haven't tasted for at least 10 years.  It can be a new way to prepare a familiar food, or a completely new ingredient.  It needs to be more than a simple variant on a familiar recipe, unless the taste is dramatically different.  

10 points for each day you drink enough water

Your water needs may vary, but the general rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day.  You need more if you exercise, breastfeed, or are ill, but you may need less if you have certain medical issues like low sodium or potassium.  Soup, juice, soda, milk, etc. all count towards your total for the day. 

10 points for doing something just for you (10 points maximum each day)

This can be anything that simply gives you pleasure.  Take some time to read or veg.  Go window shopping.  Get a mani/pedi.  Eat dessert.  Take some "me" time.  Avoid anything that serves dutiful double-purpose as being about someone else's happiness or accomplishing something.  If the activity is accompanied by the idea of what you "should" be doing, it doesn't count in this category. 

20 points for volunteer activites or charitable donations (20 points maximum each week)

Any cause you feel good about can count towards these points.  This can be anything from shoveling your elderly neighbor's walk to volunteering at Habitat or an animal rescue, to decluttering your house and dropping off reusable items at a charity resale shop. 

50 points for a personal wellness project (50 points maximum each week)

The focus should be on positive additions to your mental and physical wellness, but this should be a significant project for you, and you decide your goal for earning points.  You can split the points into days or make a weekly goal. 

Some ideas for personal wellness projects:

1.  A personal activity goal beyond the points offered above

2.  Commit a certain amount of time to decluttering your house each week
3.  Significant time spent with friends, family or partners
5.  If applicable, commit to keeping your blood sugar or other controllable measures within a certain parameter each week

While the focus is on adding positive measures, you can decide for yourself what your personal wellness goal will be.  If you want to set a goal to reduce or eliminate tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, etc. you can certainly set those goals!  You could also set a goal to reduce your level of criticism, or to focus on constructive thinking. 

The personal wellness goal should be achievable, reasonable, measurable, and contribute to your personal wellness (physical, mental, or emotional). 


Anonymous said...

DUDE this sounds like a WONDERFUL thing! Self care as a collective activity - who'da thunk it! As long as it doesn't get seriously competitive, and we're not allowed to beat ourselves up for not making enough points (something I know I have a tendency to do in a system like this)!

I think this would be great to encourage each other to do those things we KNOW are good for us because they FEEL good. We just have a tendency to neglect ourselves in the rush to get this or that done every day. These things need to be paid attention to without becoming a focus for "tough self love" which is just a fancy name for self hate.

Also I feel it's important that as individuals we respect our own boundaries and triggers. For instance, I like vegetables, but I'm likely to find myself in a subconscious rebellion if I focus too intently on eating a certain amount of them. For me, the thing I should probably eat more of is protein - specifically, good quality meat. I don't get a whole lot of protein and I always seem to feel more ready for things when I do get some.

Anyway here's a TIP FOR VEGETABLES: I hated cauliflower until I tried ROASTING it. I think a lot of vegetables benefit hugely from a layer of caramelization on one side from being roasted with olive oil. NOM.

Amy said...

You should start a team on Health Month! (http://healthmonth.com/). It's a website where people can check in every day about healthy habits they're engaging in (or unhealthy habits they're trying to give up, such as smoking or procrastinating). You and anyone else who wants to participate could start a HAES team, and the site tracks points and rewards and whatnot for you. I'm a member of a team from another website, and it's been a great motivator. It sounds like the perfect tool for the game you've proposed.

Anonymous said...

Just to say - love your blog, love the biggest winner idea! and thanks :)