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

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 2kg — dropping me to 54kg. 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 university, my weight had stabilised at about 61kg. But, in my early 20s, 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 per cent power walk and 25 per cent 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 73kg.

But around the end of last year, I realised that I had been sneaking a bit too many extra calories a bit too often and once again was hovering around 82kg. 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 university 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.


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 82kg, I am now down to 76kg. 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.


  • My friends and I like to joke that one of our friends lost his chubby-ness through DDR. He liked to flip-flop between a) “Hey! I was never chubby!” and b) “It was my other exercise that made me lose weight”. We played the Mario one on the Gamecube (which is pretty terrible as far as DDR games go) but it was still fun. Only about 2 or 3 songs on the hardest difficulty were challenging but sometimes we would just hammer those few songs over and over again and actually work up a sweat. Oh, and that game actually had a calorie counter. Do the other DDR games have that?

    • I recall DDR 3rd Mix had a dedicated “Diet Mode”, where it counted calories and based on how much you worked (not your score, so even if you ignored the song and just hit the pad as rapidly as possible it’d count) it displayed a food treat you could eat that was equal to the calories you just burned. I think the lowest was like a single peanut.

    • I Know max, max2 and extreme had a diet mode, though i’m not sure if that’s a feature that’s in most DDR games.

  • Not sure what the logistics of Japan are like but I’ve found riding a bike to work (40-45mins each way) a couple of days a week is an extra few sneaky hours that I wouldn’t have spent at the gym.

    I mean I still goto the gym and do other weekend rides but replacing a mundane task like riding a train every morning with something that takes just as long and is totally beneficial… win win !!!

  • The home versions are never challenging enough, and often have pretty lousy tracklists when localised. Plus the mats are useless for long term/heavy play.

  • I would absolutely love to play DDR as an exercise regime but I honestly don’t seem to be able to get my legs to co-operate with my eyes and brain. Maybe it’s just a matter of practice though.


    That being said i really need to get me a metal mat o_o

    The plastic just isn’t that great once u start moving up to harder songs =(

  • There was also that guy from Rooster Teeth that lost weight by gaming while walking on a treadmill. Personally, I’d lose focus attempting that. Diet is where it’s at, y’all.

  • I would be curious to know how old you are, I am 28 and tick all the “Too Lazy” boxes of the daily grind but no matter how much junk food, pizza, coke (so so so much coke), coffee and a wide variety of other sugar groups I shovel into my maw, I still sit at around 63kg. I get as many sit ups in a day as I do attempts to motivate myself to get out of bed in the morning. I have a job that has very limited exercise opportunities. Is there some secret to putting on weight? I could do with an extra 10 kilos but it doesn’t stick >.

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