We also use HeroMode to stay healthy, be active, and eat better. HeroMode helps maintain these daily habits by
- automatically creating repeat quests to keep the Cue → Routine → Reward loop going
- adapting to our lives with flexibility
- keeping us motivated with points, activity calendar, and milestones
- leveraging social power with adventure buddies
As we mentioned in HeroGuide, even within our small pool of beta users, we have found that people use HeroMode very differently. The one exception is health and fitness. Almost all of our beta users have an adventure dedicated to diet and exercise.
And this is probably no surprise to you! Year after year, surveys have consistently shown that exercising more and losing weight are the most popular new year resolutions. And since we use HeroMode for all aspect of our lives, including personal goals and aspirations, it makes sense fitness and diet are the exact kind of goals we'd manage with HeroMode.
Here are some ways we use HeroMode to stay fit and healthy.
Design Repeat Quests to Keep Habit Loop Going
In his book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg describes the "habit loop". It's a feedback loop that contains three stages: a cue, a routine, and a reward (below). If you get this feedback loop going round and round, then you are exhibiting a consistent habit.
There are many ways to kick start the habit loop. For example, willpower. Your brain can tell your body to take a certain action (cue). You perform such action (routine), and your brain tells yourself "good job" (reward). But as you can probably tell from experience, willpower is like a muscle, and constantly invoking it can be tiring and eventually ineffective.
Above: Using HeroMode to manage a habit loop. Repeat quests automatically create the Cue at designated times. As you complete the quest (Routine), you get points (Reward), as well as accumulating progress that can be seen in the activity calendar and adventure milestones (more Rewards!).
An easier way is to design your environment and leverage tools, so that you can go through the habit loop with less effort. For example, when it comes to fitness and diet, we create a lot of repeat quests. Then HeroMode creates quests automatically at designated times, serving as Cues. We then perform the task prescribed by the quest (Routine). After the task is completed, we get points (Reward)! Over time, we also can see our progress with milestones and activity calendar -- more ways to feel rewarded and accomplished!
Flexible, Forgiving, Fun
Being healthy requires a combination of exercising and eating well. That translates to doing many things right each day. And that can get exhausting!
We made HeroMode to be flexible and forgiving. For example, I have several repeat quests set up for the adventure of being fit and eating right (below). And there are several strategies I employed when designing these repeat quests:
- Mix it up: Different types of exercises each day.
- Take a break: No exercise or diet quest on Saturdays.
- Use points for motivation: Usually more points means a quest takes longer to do. But points can also be used to motivate you to do the "harder" things. Not necessarily more difficult, but things you don't like as much. I don't mind jogging at all, so it's the easiest for me and it gets 1 point. I also schedule jogging for Fridays and Sundays, when I'm on weekend mode and can only do the easiest exercise. In comparison, strength training has always been tedious and boring to me, so it takes all 3 points.
Above: Repeat quests are automatically created at designated times, with a red alert. If I can't get to it right away, I can just let it sit on the quests list and eventually completing it as I go about my day.
And even though I have scheduled the exercising quests to be created at 7am each morning, that doesn't mean I need to complete them at exactly that time. Most of the times I'd exercise at the designated times, but if something else gets in the way on a particular day, I can do the quest later in the evening, or even make it up next day. Or if I really can't get to it, I'd simply delete a quest. No points earned, but also no hard feelings!
Stay Motivated with Points & Activity Calendar
A lot of the time we get demotivated because it takes a lot of consistent effort over a long time to get to discernable results.
"I have been eating lighter, but my pants are still tight."
"I have been jogging for weeks but I still can't go more than two miles."
While we control our actions and efforts (mostly, but let's not get too philosophical), the distance between efforts and outcome is long and filled with factors we migtht not be able to control. Efforts are "neceesary but not sufficient" drivers for results. Because they are necessary, we can't get to our goals without efforts. But because they are not sufficient, our efforts do not directly translate to results. So only looking for positive results can lead to disappointment, and demotivation.
Instead, in HeroMode we can focus on the efforts: the actions we put in every day. First, there are the points that pop up with each completed quest. It's like a dopamine high five!
While points are for each quest completion, we can see how our efforts are adding up in the activity calendar (below). For example, while I try to do my fitness quests every day, there are days I miss them, like the last week of August when I was on a trip. And that's okay. HeroMode is forgiving and flexible, and I can pick up where I left off.
See Progress with Adventure Milestones
As motivating as it is to visualize effort, still, we care about results. After all, we created the adventure to get somewhere. That's where Adventure Milestones come in. We can create custom milestones that we want to achieve along our adventure.
Above: We can define custom milestones along the fitness & diet adventure. A milestone is different than a quest. A milestone is an outcome. A quest is an action with effort.
Leverage Social Power with Buddies
We all know that friends help tremendously when it comes to building and maintaining habits. This social power comes in many forms: friendly competition like a step challenge, peer pressure like workout buddies, emotional support like words of encouragement, or accountability like checking in on each other's exercise and diet plans.
In HeroMode, you can add buddies to your adventure. You can use the buddy system as a way to collaborate on a shared project, or have friendly competitions by comparing points on a shared goal. And as you can imagine, staying fit is a very common shared goal, and ideal for friendly competitions!
In addition, we use Mementos to record how our diet is going, and keep each other informed (and sometimes entertained) with our meal pictures.
Above: Diets are not fun. But getting through it with a buddy makes it slightly more palatable.
An Easier Way for the Habit Loop
Circling back on the habit loop, as we mentioned, shaping your environment and using tools are a lot more effective than going at it with willpower alone. We have added a lot of functionalities into HeroMode, and we will continue to do so, to make it easier for all of us to reach our goals.
Above: May we all get stronger than yesterday!