I’m building this health site kinda thing. It’s funny because I’ve somehow become interested in the world of health and fitness. When we started 43 Things, I would often answer the question, “where do you work” with something along the lines of “at a self-help internet company”. I liked that answer because it got to the heart of what our goals were, while also sort of taking the asker off guard. Because being involved in the self-help market is sort of like saying “I’m a Scientologist.”
Health and fitness, dieting, and that whole market is not quite as sketchy as the self-help market, but I think it’s definitely related. There are about 3.8 billion diet plans, ways to lose weight fast, ways to be healthy without actually being healthy, etc. There are a few nice and simple health and diet plans out there, like the Hacker’s Diet and the Primal Blueprint, but even they sort of alienate a lot of their audience by trying to appeal too much to a certain smaller audience. Which, I guess I wouldn’t notice as much if I was actually in their target audience. And, most likely, anything I create will be yet another small audience kind of deal, but as far as I know there isn’t one for people like me, people who are sort of into Nike+ and sometimes into weird fasting diets and sometimes into extreme rule-making for short periods of time and sometimes into giving up something for Lent, but really pretty unmotivated to go much beyond that. Even though I do intellectually know that health is a fairly important thing.
What motivates me? Competitions, social connections, challenges, easy things, pretty things, simple things, cheap things, things without a ton of ads, things that are easy to understand, things that don’t make me shiver with sketchiness, things that work with technology, things that my friends like, things that don’t seem like a scam, things that have some scientific and common-sense backing.
When it comes down to it, health is easy. Michael Pollan’s Food Rules sum it up, mostly. They really aren’t rules as much as anecdotes about food. Eat real food, exercise, don’t get too stressed out.
The problem, of course, isn’t knowing the rules, it’s following them. It’s motivation. And that’s where I think I can help, because the Internet, and social games, provide nothing if not a ton of motivation to do things. Most of the time, we’re motivated to do things that have no bearing on our health, or that harm it. But what if you applied the same addicting methods that make us check our Twitter and Facebook feeds 982 times a day to eating real food, exercising, and not getting stressed out?
Anyway, that’s what my brain sounds like lately.
I’ve now got the basic structure of the health game figured out. And the rules. And the signup page. And the part where you make bets and promises with yourself. And the part where you can sponsor people. And the part where you can learn something about yourself based on the kind of rules you chose and how difficult you think they are and how important you think they are. And there are spirit animals involved that help you along the way, well 3 spirit animals and one sort of anti-spirit animal sort of modeled after Steven Pressfield’s Resistance. The Lizard Brain. And there are wild cards, and ways to track your progress, and share your progress, and now I just need to get working on the Encyclopedia. After that, I’ve got to work on the actual game itself. How you play it once the game starts. That’s going to be a big chunk of my remaining work and I’m excited about it.