Every young person dreams of being happy, good looking, and popular! At the age of 12, I vividly remember following the Cheryl Tiegs' diet - and making weights out of men's tube socks and rocks to do her exercise program. This diet turned into an obsession of reading every diet book and exercise program in print - which then evolved into running, gyms, very-low-calorie liquid diets and diet pills. Yo-yoing from one diet to the next became exhausting and frustrating, "I just wanted to feel good and feel good about myself!"
During my high school years, I was deeply affected as I watched 5 aunts and uncles die of cancer. I developed a fear of cancer, and a desire to help people not suffer as my family had suffered. I began to aggressively study science and health - in hopes of one day discovering the cure for cancer.
My education changed direction from microbiology and chemistry to nutritional science, nutritional biochemistry and a post-doctorate studying the genetics of severe obesity - as I became more committed and dedicated to health and prevention of chronic disease as compared to intervening after the body was already sick. I researched severe obesity for 7 years at the University of Utah, and have taught Nutrition and Diet Therapy for 12 years at Weber State University.
Over the years, I have been asked to write many, personalized diet programs and counsel with individuals as they try to lose weight and regain their health. It has been frustrating to watch people struggle to lose weight and change life habits - even when faced with serious health conditions. Yet, I understood completely on a personal level what they were going through, I have been there! I, too, had developed an allergy to diet programs - and couldn't do them any more. I stopped believing in diet or health programs - because I knew how hard they were to follow and implement long term.
This was a problem because I was a nutritionist and needed to have something to help family, friends and all those who came to me for guidance. Exercise programs were easy to implement in peoples lives because we could make them enjoyable, fun and social. However, eating was a different story. We have been raised with food at the center of enjoyable and social experiences: dinner time, celebrations, parties, holidays, social gatherings, and even just relaxing. I knew that in order for an individual to enjoy and implement a health and weight loss program long term, the program needed to be simple, social and fun - because that is what we expect from eating.
With this as my goal, I started developing a game - including all the best health and weight loss strategies - which was also simple, social and fun. I have now been playing and improving upon this game for 10 years. It is truly magical and the only program I can make myself follow. Why? I have fun playing it and it works!
A phenomenon happens during the game; you wake up at about week 4 and realize you feel so much better! You have lost weight, but it doesn't feel like a diet because you are just having fun playing and competing with your friends! I hear all the time, "I don't want the game to end!" That is music to my ears.
As for myself, I am happy to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle.. I just have to have fun doing it!
-- Dr. Maria Richards, Founder