My Poker Chip Diet

My desk at work is near the kitchen/breakroom. I think some people working from home can relate to that. There are all kinds of available goodies and it can be hard not to get up and go to the breakroom for a treat. Repeatedly. I’d imagine people working at home might be able to relate to that too.

I’ve sort-of-tried to lose some weight for four years now, and I’m right about where I started in January 2017. I’m not at a really unhealthy weight, but I think I’d be healthier if I were lighter. The biggest issues for me have been the breakroom food, regular food, “calorie laden adult beverages”, and the fact that I’m never excited about “working out”. That, and a general lack of self-control when it comes to stuffing my face sometimes. And I enjoy good, rich food.

Given that I’m spending about half my waking hours at work I thought it would be a good start to limit my excess calorie intake when I’m there. Ideally the “don’t eat junk food” reminder could be something visual that I’d see every time I went to grab a quick snack, and it would gamify dropping weight. So — The Poker Chip Diet:

My computer monitor risers at work.

The way it works is that each poker chip represents one pound. The weight I want to lose is on the left, and the weight I’ve actually lost is on the right. Weigh-ins are weekly on Wednesdays (“Weigh-In Wednesday”), which hopefully maximizes the weight impact of work eating and (relatively) minimizes the impact weekend eating. When I’ve tried to do monthly goals one of two things seemed to happen — either I’d look at the scale near the start of the month and decide I still had tons of time to lose weight and not worry about it, or I’d look at the scale at the end of the month and write the month off as a lost cause. The weekly goals don’t allow for a lot of time for inattentive slack.

I’m rounding all weights up. I started at XX8.4, so I called that XX9.0 for the purposes of the poker chips. Today I weighed in at a lower weight — XX2.2, so I rounded that up to XX3.0. Six chips have moved from the left stack to the right stack.

It looks like a lot of chips in total. It’s 35. After the holidays I was 10 pounds above what I’d call my normal “walking around weight”. I had already wanted to lose 15 pounds from that “normal” weight to get to a “good weight”. I figured while I was at it I’d add 10 more pounds to the challenge so I could get close to something resembling an “ideal weight”. 10 + 15 + 10 = 35 pounds, and a fairly imposing bunch of chips.

That’s ok though. It gives me a goal that should be attainable as long as I continue to stay disciplined and grind away at it. I’ve played many video games where grinding is part of overall experience, so the grind part won’t be new, and I’ll get something a lot better than shiny in-game trinkets when I stick with it. It’s also rewarding to move the poker chips from the “bad” pile to the “good” pile — they’re dense and colorful and visceral — I can actually watch the weight go away and they make a nice heavy “click” when transferred to the good stack. If I’m tempted to go to the kitchen I look at the poker chips and I go get a water instead — the extra water can only be a good thing.

I’ve made minor “lifestyle” changes as well. I downloaded a calorie-counter app so that I could keep a pulse on my intake. I’ve been going for brisk walks which could be longer, but it’s a start.

So there it is. Credit to my co-worker for naming the diet. The goal is one pound per week. Hopefully I’ll be able to do a follow up post here in a few months and most of the poker chips will have moved to the right side.

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