You’re a donkey. Find your carrot
I used to ignore my children because I was in the middle of an online game. Now I still ignore my children, but I don’t feel bad about it. Now I only play while exercising (stationary bike, not in traffic). I still game, but I don’t have a gaming problem. I’ve used my addiction to discipline myself.
Forget a fitness app that gives you more information. What about one that gives you less, unless you move? Unlocking your phone would take 10 push-ups. If you don’t get 10,000 steps, no social media. No YouTube unless you’ve slept for 7 hours.
Nobody needs more health data. We need discipline. That means not just another app on your phone. It means an app that disables everything else.
I do this in my own life through a few simple rules, running on the shitty Brain OS I was born with.
- No gaming off the bike
- No Twitter until I meditate
OK look, the second one I break 90% of the time, I’m working on it. The first rule is at least is simple and I stick to it. I never, ever move a game piece (I play Settlers of Catan) unless my legs are moving. I also — as much as possible — try to pedal for the entire length of a game. This means that I often spend an hour on the bike. If I try to do this on my own I get super bored, but not during a board game. So this works for me.
You can plug in whatever addiction works for you.
Have a problem with Instagram? Simply set a rule that you need to do one 7-minute workout to ‘unlock’ the app for 24-hours. If you can just maintain that one rule, then you can enjoy Instagram and get some movement in. In fact, you can use Instagram without guilt now. It’s your workout buddy.
What you’re doing here is connecting the short-term dopamine hit of the Internet with the long-term reward of exercise. On its own, the rewards of exercise are so far in the future that it’s hard to get up and do it right now. But Internet apps are designed for this. When I wake up in the morning I’m rarely like “I want to sit on a bike for an hour” but I am like “Voldermous225 humiliated me, I must get revenge”.
I don’t know about you, but there must be some Internet itch that makes you scratch. Just put a bike or a yoga mat in between. Guaranteed motivation.
You don’t need an app for this, but pay me if you make one
In the future I’m sure someone will monetize this (please pay me). Companies are collecting all your fitness data, the next step is locking you out and charging you for the privilege.
For now, however, I’ll give you the beta version for free. It’s called an idea. Just run it on the OS your mama gave you — your brain. Just take whatever’s addicting you — be it games, or social media, or news, or email, or porn — and harness it. Rather than have it take you away from your goals, have it draw you closer.
Start small, with one thing. One thing you really like, unlocked with one simple movement. It can be just one sun salutation before you look at your phone in the morning. Or 2,000 steps or no TikTok the next day.
With exercise the hardest part is getting started, but once you get a little habit going, it becomes harder to stop. Then the long-term addictive power of exercise kicks in, and you’re on your way. I’ve been doing this for months now, and it keeps me going. I look forward to it every day.
I’m a donkey and found my carrot. Embrace your digital donkey and find what works (out) for you.