Diet Diet Revolution: How I Lost Weight Playing a Video Game

Growing up, I was a very thin kid. Thanks to an amazingly high metabolism, I could eat anything I wanted, as much as I wanted and never gain weight.

Once I did nothing but eat junk food and play games over winter break in high school and lost 5 pounds—dropping me to 119 pounds. My parents simply told me to enjoy it while it lasted—that eventually my metabolism would slow down and I’d have to start a regular diet and exercise …or get fat.

Even back then I made a promise to myself, that once I started putting on weight as an adult, I’d start to work out before I got too fat. This was basically because, even then, I knew myself. I was (and still am) inherently a lazy person. I hate working out and never really got why people enjoy it—to me it’s nothing but pain and time wasted that I could have spent on doing something fun. However, I didn’t really want to be fat so I decided that it would be easier to work out constantly than to get fat and then try to lose the weight.

By the time I hit college my weight had stabilized at about 135 pounds. But in my early twenties, it began to climb without my noticing.

The first time I felt I was getting too fat—aka the last time that I looked down in the shower and was unable to see the ol’ meat and two veg without leaning forward, I tried to start jogging. I hated it. It turned into about 75% power walk and 25% jogging. Moreover, I loathed having to go to bed early and waste an hour each morning feeling miserable. Even listening to audiobooks wasn’t enough to keep me motivated.

So after a while I decided it was easier to diet than exercise. I began limiting myself to two meals a day—a healthy lunch and dinner of whatever I wanted. There was only one rule to the diet really: 1500 kcals a day, no more. Luckily for me, I live in Japan. Not only is the food often healthier, but also they tend to eat smaller portions—at least half the size of what I came across at family restaurants on my last trip stateside.

Oh sure, sometimes I would go a bit over the 1500 kcal mark on dinner when out to eat with friends or after a bad day, but for the better part of three years this diet was enough and kept my weight around 160 pounds.

But around the end of last year, I realized that I had been sneaking a bit too many extra calories a bit too often and once again was hovering around 180 pounds. So finally getting motivated again (by feelings of insecurity centered around being in a country where the vast majority of the population weighs less than me), I decided to try out a different kind of work out—one I had done by coincidence in my high school and college years: Dance Dance Revolution.

Back in the day, you could say I was pretty into DDR. I played at the arcade two or three times a week (often daily in the summers) and went to every tournament in driving distance. It also helped that all my friends were into it too. So by the time I quit playing—aka, the time I moved to Japan—I could do every song in the game on the “hard” difficulty.

Diet Diet Revolution: How I Lost Weight Playing a Video Game

Fast forward to the start of this year. I’d never been one for New Year’s resolutions, but I dragged out and set up in a spare room my old PS2, an ancient CRT TV, and a rather expensive DDR pad. And, on New Year’s Day, I put in one of the numerous DDR games I had purchased years ago—Disney Mix, for those wondering—and gave it a whirl.

Needless to say, it was tough going. In my daily life, the normal amount of exercise I get involves walking to the nearby store or train station. The first day I started light. Doing the easy difficulty was simple enough and I found that it would take me about an hour to play 20 songs. I felt great after the first day, even jumping around on the pad seemed to cause no problems.

The next day, however, I could barely move my legs. And though I continued to do it each morning, the pain didn’t really go away that first week. Still, my pride hurt by playing on easy, I moved up to doing 10 medium songs and 10 easy songs in the following week.

Over the next four months, I slowly but steadily ratcheted up the difficulty, and the pain of the first two weeks faded away. Now every morning I do five songs on medium to warm up and 15 on hard after that.

The results are nothing spectacular, but I have lost weight. Starting at 180 pounds, I am now down to 167 pounds. I've also had to tighten my belt another notch, proving at least something has happened. Moreover, I feel a lot more awake during the day now and don't have the urge to pass out in a corner after eating lunch.

Yet, despite this, I still hate waking up each morning to do it. DDR has made working out tolerable, but still not fun, sadly.

However, if you, like me are starting to put on weight as you get older and hate working out but love games, an hour a day of DDR may be just what the doctor ordered.