SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient - Powered by the Science of Games - Jane McGonigal (2015)

Part 3. Adventures

ADVENTURE 2. Ninja Body Transformation

Take this adventure if . . .

·                You want more energy.

·                You’re sick of diets.

·                You’re looking for a healthier way to lose or maintain your weight, or put on muscle.

·                You want to develop more body confidence.

·                You possibly have secret ninja superpowers just waiting to shine!*

This adventure includes:

·                21 quests

·                10 power-ups

·                5 bad guys

How to play:

·                Complete one quest a day, until you finish all 21 quests.

QUESTS

 NINJA QUEST 1: Learn the Philosophy of Ninja Body Transformation

To master the art of ninja body transformation, you only have to follow four rules:

1. Don’t diet.

2. Ignore your scale.

3. Eat foods that make you feel stronger.

4. Do things that make you feel powerful.

As you can see, ninja body transformation is very different from other weight loss methods you may have tried. In particular, you aren’t allowed to diet. There are no foods you aren’t “allowed” to eat. There is no calorie counting. Appetite suppressants are strongly discouraged.

Why? Because (as you probably already know if you’ve ever tried it) dieting rarely works. And worse, it’s dangerous. Numerous scientific studies show that:

·   Almost everyone who goes on a diet regains any weight they lost and then some.

·   People who diet end up weighing more than people who start at the same weight but never diet.

·   Even people who successfully lose weight and keep it off don’t always end up healthier and happier.1

Meanwhile, repeated dieting:

·   Raises cholesterol and blood pressure

·   Suppresses the immune system

·   Actually increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and all-cause mortality2

These harms are due to the extreme stress and strain that restricting food puts on your body.

So how are you going to change your body without dieting? This adventure will teach you unconventional, or “stealthy,” weight loss and fitness strategies. It will focus your attention on foods that make you feel stronger and actions that make you feel powerful. It will develop your intuition for how to respect and nourish your body. And it will show you new, unexpected techniques for cultivating your physical strength. By completing these quests, you will sneak up on weight loss and energy gain—achieving your physical transformation goals without aiming at them directly.

Over the next twenty quests, you’ll learn all about how and why these rules work. For now, simply make a commitment to follow them for at least three weeks.

To complete this first quest, write the four rules of ninja body transformation somewhere where you can see them daily. (But maybe, because you’re in ninja training, put them somewhere where no one else can see them. Remember, ninjas are sneaky!)

NINJA QUEST 2: Banish the Scale

To transform like a ninja, you have to learn to ignore your weight.

Check the scale today or tomorrow if you want. Then you must banish the scale for the rest of this adventure. For the next three weeks, you will not weigh yourself.

Why not? Because your goal is to feel healthier, happier, stronger. And that goal is not a number. That goal is a feeling.

To get to your true goal, you have to learn to pay attention to how your mind and body feel—not to what a machine says.

On this adventure, you will learn to pay closer attention to other signs of health and vitality: how much energy you have, what mood you’re in, how well you sleep, how often you get sick, and the increasingly powerful actions you can take with your body.

Banishing your scale will also help you avoid one of the biggest mistakes people make when they diet: adopting short-term habits that they’ll never be able to sustain. By focusing on how you feel instead of how much you weigh, you’ll develop more sustainable habits, a powerful intuition, and true self-control.

What to do: Weigh yourself one last time—and then physically remove the scale from where you normally use it. Put it in the back of a closet, in the garage, or on a very high shelf.

Tip: If you think it will be really hard for you to go three weeks without weighing yourself, recruit a friend or family member to hide the scale for you!

NINJA QUEST 3: Eat Like a Ninja

The third rule of ninja body transformation is: Eat foods that make you feel stronger.

You’re not counting calories on this adventure. And you’re not restricting or avoiding food. Instead, your primary mission is to pay attention to how you feel after you eat—and figure out which foods make you feel happier, healthier, and stronger.

Look for foods that make you feel more energized, alert, or in a better mood. Foods that make you feel calm and confident. Or perfectly fueled for a workout. Or more beautiful. Or better connected to nature. Check in with your mind and body to figure out exactly what feeling good means to you.

What to do: For the next twenty-four hours, investigate everything you eat. If a certain food makes you feel stronger, add it to your power-ups and plan to eat more of it over the next three weeks. A food that makes you feel sluggish, weighed down, or gross? That is not a power food. You don’t have to eliminate it, but it won’t count toward your daily power-ups. Keep investigating until you’ve identified at least three power foods.

Keep in mind: You’re looking for foods that make you feel good for up to an hour or two after you eat them. Lots of foods taste amazing and make you happy while you’re eating them, but make you feel slow, dull, bloated, heavy, or cranky afterward. Those are not power foods, even if you enjoy them. You want to enjoy how you feel after you eat, not just while you eat.

For the next three weeks, your mission is to eat one food that makes you feel stronger with every meal. Don’t worry about eating less of anything. Instead, focus on eating more of the foods that make you feel good.

Why it works: Research shows that eating more power foods changes people’s appetite and cravings over time, so eventually they eat fewer unhealthy foods without even trying.3

Everybody is different, so you should experiment with different foods to see what makes you feel more alert, full of energy, and in a better mood. Most likely, your power foods will be what food journalist Michael Pollan calls “real food, mostly plants.” That means foods with a very short ingredient list, and as Pollan puts it, “ingredients your great-grandmother would recognize as food.” (So no weird chemicals or additives.)4

Examples: Here are some potential power foods you can test for yourself:

·   Roasted sunflower seeds

·   Yogurt

·   Sweet potatoes

·   Scrambled eggs

·   Popcorn

·   Bananas

·   Chickpeas (or hummus)

·   Dark chocolate

·   Blueberries

·   Quinoa

·   Spinach

·   Almonds

·   Vegetarian chili

To be clear: These aren’t the only foods you should eat during this adventure. You just need to eat at least one power food with every meal and snack. Then you can eat whatever else you want.

 NINJA QUEST 4: Choose a Power Move

The fourth rule of ninja body transformation is: Do things that make you feel powerful. Here’s one way to practice that habit.

What to do: Pick a tiny physical feat to accomplish. Choose something you don’t think you can do now but would like to be able to do. A tiny physical feat should take only a few minutes (or even mere seconds!) to accomplish.

Examples: Here are some ideas:

·   Do one fearless cartwheel

·   Complete one perfect push-up (or 10, or 50, or 100 perfect push-ups!)

·   Tread water for five minutes without stopping

·   Learn the choreography to your favorite dance video

·   Climb all the stairs at work in under three minutes

·   Throw a Frisbee back and forth a hundred times with an ally, without dropping it once!

·   Balance on one leg for thirty seconds with your eyes closed (harder than it sounds . . .)

·   Complete one lap around the track in less than 90 seconds (or 120 seconds, or 240 seconds)

·   Hold the yoga pose Downward Facing Dog, with your heels touching the floor, for ten breaths

As you can see from these examples, we’re not talking about a major physical feat, like completing a triathlon. Instead, go for something small, something you can show off in a matter of minutes or seconds, and that you can reasonably master in a few weeks.

Just make sure it’s something that you won’t be able to complete on the first try! The idea is to pick something you can work toward, try a dozen times, improve upon, and accomplish by the end of your Ninja Body Transformation adventure.

Now choose your power move—and make your first attempt at completing it today!

 NINJA QUEST 5: Ninjas vs. Zombies!

Traditional diets often require calorie restriction and food deprivation—which have some rather unsettling effects on our brains. A 2011 study found that when we don’t eat enough, we starve our brain cells—and over time the starved brain cells start to eat themselves.5

Scientists call this autophagy, or literally “self-eating.” Neurons devour little bits of themselves, particularly in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls your heart rate, blood pressure, appetite, and sleep cycles.

Your brain, understandably, wants to avoid eating its own neurons. So during self-eating, the hyopthalamus triggers hunger hormones that make you really, really want food. This is why you often feel so much hungrier when you’re dieting—hungrier than you normally are. It’s not just that you’re eating less. It’s that your brain is freaking out, cannibalizing itself, and telling you to eat more to stop the process!

This is one of the major reasons why traditional dieting doesn’t work. It makes you weaker—not just physically but mentally.

To put it as plainly as possible: when you diet, you become a real-life zombie, eating your own brain.

To complete today’s quest, simply declare war on calorie restriction and food deprivation. If your stomach grumbles, eat something. Make a promise to yourself today that you will never let yourself go hungry.

It’s ninjas versus zombies—and you want to be a ninja, not a zombie!

 NINJA QUEST 6: Summon the Power of Water

Legend has it that ninjas were able to control all the elements of nature with only their minds—harnessing the power of water, earth, wind, fire, and sky for their own goals.6

This adventure will not help you develop any “supernatural” powers. However, over the next five quests, you will learn how to summon the very real mental, physical, and emotional powers that these five natural elements represent in Japanese culture.

Let’s start with the first element: water, or sui.

In Japanese philosophy, water represents the fluid, flowing, and ever-changing life forces in nature. Water in nature is rarely still—think of the always changing tides of the ocean, the flowing river, or the falling rain. It adapts perfectly to whatever environment it fills or flows through.

You have these same abilities, to change and to adapt. You are changing and adapting right now, just by completing this quest. You’re creating new memories, and wiring new neurons together. Like water, you are constantly adapting to new circumstances. You can take any form you want.

Keep this fundamental truth in mind as you think about your goals for your weight and your physical health. You are not stuck. Your life and your body are fluid, ever-changing.

Today’s quest is simple: To connect with the element of water, drink a glass of water. While you drink the water, remind yourself of your own ability to be like water—to adapt and change.

 NINJA QUEST 7: Summon the Power of Earth

The second element is earth, or chi. In Japanese culture, it represents what is hard, solid, and unyielding in nature—from the ground you walk on to the mountains that stand strong through the centuries.

You have a hard, solid, and unyielding aspect, too: it is your determination and your steadfast commitment to your goals.

To connect with the element of chi in daily life, you need a small object from the earth to carry with you or put somewhere you’ll see it often (on your desk at work, by your bed, on the kitchen counter). You need a chi stone—a small rock that can represent your own rock-hard willpower.

What to do: Choose a chi stone. When you have one, hold it tightly in your hand for ten seconds and say to yourself, My commitment to my goals is as solid as this stone.

Every time you mindfully hold this stone in the palm of your hand, you will remind yourself of your own solid, grounded, confident, and steadfast nature.

 NINJA QUEST 8: Summon the Power of Wind

The third element is wind, or fu. In Japanese culture, it represents things that expand and enjoy freedom of movement: the air all around us or smoke that rises from a fire.

There are two simple ways to summon the power of wind and connect with your own freedom of movement and expansiveness. Try them both today.

What to do: First, make yourself as big as possible for thirty seconds. Expand your body and take up as much room, physically, as you can. If you have a disability, illness, or injury that restricts your physical movement, focus on making any part of your body bigger—open your mouth as wide as you can or stretch your fingers as far apart as possible.

Then, move any part of your body through space in slow motion for thirty seconds. You can move your hands and arms, your whole body, or even just your head, slowly turning your neck in every possible direction. As you move in slow motion, put all your focus and attention on the air around you. Feel the air on your skin, and notice how you move through it. Pay attention to the powerful relationship between your body and the air around you, something we almost never notice.

Summoning the power of wind with these two quick actions will help you continue to develop respect and gratitude for the amazing capabilities of your body, exactly as it is, right now.

 NINJA QUEST 9: Summon the Power of Fire

The fourth element is fire, or ka. In Japanese culture, it represents the most forceful and powerful energies in the world, including not only physical heat (or literal fire) but also mental drive and emotional passion.

Japanese culture teaches that these powerful energies must be kept in balance. A physical fire can spiral quickly out of control and destroy everything in its path. But a life-sustaining fire can burn out too soon, leaving only coldness in its wake.

A candle lighting a safe path, a fire for cooking, a controlled burn in the forest that stimulates growth and clears the way for new life—these are all examples of just the right amount of fire.

Your mental drive and emotional passions must be kept in the same balance. Too much fire, and you feel anxiety or self-destructive anger. Too little fire, and you feel only boredom and apathy.

Boredom and anxiety are two of the most common causes of mindless, unhealthy eating. That’s why finding a balance between them can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Where to look for balance? Try the psychological state of flow, which you read about in Chapter 1. When you are in a flow state, you are motivated, interested, and fully engaged. You have a clear goal that fires you up—but you also have the needed skills and resources to achieve it without suffering undue anxiety or self-defeating thoughts.

Your quest for today is to create at least five minutes of flow. It can come from doing any goal-oriented activity: a physical workout, playing a video game, writing, dancing, making music, making art, cooking, cleaning, gardening . . . If you are motivated to do it and enjoy it, and if it fully absorbs your attention, you can get flow from it. (Just make sure you’re not multitasking! Flow occurs only when you are completely absorbed.)

Once you are in flow, you have successfully balanced your most powerful source of energy—and are less likely to engage in mindless and unhealthy behavior. Remember, you can tap into your ka power whenever you want by taking just five minutes to find flow.

 NINJA QUEST 10: Summon the Power of Sky

The fifth element is sky, or ku. In Japanese culture, it represents the world beyond our everyday experience: the heavens above, the countless stars at night, and the boundless creative energy of the universe.

In your own life, sky represents spiritual strength and creativity. It’s your ability to connect with something bigger than yourself, to feel awe and wonder, to create something out of a void. These elevating feelings can help you develop a better intuition about what you truly crave and want more of in life. This intuition will make it easier for you to break free of unhealthy habits.

To summon the power of sky, take a moment to connect with something greater than yourself. There are many ways to do this: through prayer, poetry, music, meditation, art, or even just literally by gazing up at the heavens. Today, pick one of these rituals and devote at least one full minute to it, just before a snack or meal.

If you enjoy this quest today, consider making it a daily habit.

 NINJA QUEST 11: Take a Ninjitsu Break

Sometime today schedule a ninjitsu, or ninja-training, break. Spend at least ten minutes practicing your power move. (If you’ve already mastered your power move, then it’s time to pick a new one!)

 NINJA QUEST 12: Learn ”Uzura-gakure”

Uzura-gakure is a ninja tactic that has been practiced since the fourteenth century as a way to develop willpower and go unseen by enemies.

The instructions are deceptively simple: “Curl into a ball and remain motionless in order to appear like a stone.”

Why do ninjas practice this maneuver? According to martial arts historians, the uzura-gakure was an essential and effective technique for avoiding detection. By making themselves as small and still as possible, ninjas could hide in plain sight. But perhaps more important, it was also a way to teach ninjas to control their fear and to exercise total self-control.7 As you will soon see for yourself, making yourself still, especially under extreme stress, takes tremendous mental and physical discipline.

You don’t necessarily have to curl up into a ball every time you practice this traditional ninja tactic. Another option is to simply bow your head, cross your arms over your chest, and remain frozen.

What to do: Try uzura-gakure right now—and see how still you can be for one full minute.

 NINJA QUEST 13: Connect with Three Elements Today

You’ve already learned five different ways to summon the power of the natural elements (water, earth, wind, fire, and sky). Make today extra powerful by connecting with three of these five elements.

What to do: Before breakfast, lunch, and dinner today, make it a point to spend one minute connecting with a different element. Use the techniques you learned in the earlier quests, whether it’s holding a stone in your hand or mindfully drinking a glass of water.

This simple ritual of connecting with an element before each meal will help you make better decisions, exercise greater willpower, and feel stronger throughout the day.

 NINJA QUEST 14: Pick a Power Song

On a low-energy day, it’s all too easy to try to fuel up with sugar, caffeine, or junk food. But have you ever seen a ninja eat a doughnut? Probably not!

But there’s an alternative source of energy: power music.

Scientists who study music have long known that it has powerful impacts on the mind and body: it improves your mood, distracts you from pain and fatigue, and increases your endurance. In fact, listening to music improves energy levels and athletic performance so much, Dr. Costas Karageorghis, a professor at Brunel University in London and a leading sports psychologist, describes it as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.”8

And there’s more. Listening to music you love lowers your levels of the stress hormone cortisol more than taking antianxiety drugs. It also boosts levels of immunoglobin A, an important antibody linked to a strong immune system.9

So think of music as your new go-to source of energy and resilience.

What to do: Pick a power song now, and share it with at least one ally. Your power song should be any song that pumps you up and makes you want to move.

The next time you’re feeling tired or in a bad mood, listen to your power song for energy!

 NINJA QUEST 15: Get Inspired by “Tanuki-gakure”

One of the ninja’s favorite strategies to avoid detection was tanuki-gakure, or the practice of “climbing a tree and camouflaging oneself within the foliage.”

You don’t have to climb a tree or hide out for today’s quest. But tanuku-gakure has a lot in common with the more modern Japanese practice known as forest bathing. It’s a unique form of Japanese therapy, in which you stand around as many trees as you can in order to get a boost to your mood and your immune system.10

It sounds weird, but scientific research shows that it works. It turns out that trees emit airborne chemicals called phytoncides (which literally means “killed by a tree”). These chemicals protect trees by killing fungi, bacteria, and insects. These chemicals, strangely enough, help humans—boosting white blood cells that are essential to immune function and lowering cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.

What to do: To get inspired by the ancient ninja art of tanuki-gakure, or tree camouflage, go spend five minutes next to or under a tree. It will boost both your mental andyour physical resilience.

 NINJA QUEST 16: Hunt for More Power Foods

You’ve been following Rule 3 from Ninja Quest 1, “Eat foods that make you feel stronger,” for two weeks now, and eating the power foods you chose in Ninja Quest 3. It’s time to increase your options!

Your next quest is to spend today hunting for more power foods.

What to do: Choose at least three new power foods to add to your power-up list. Remember, a power food is anything that makes you feel stronger after you eat it—more awake, full of energy, in a better mood.

Examples: To help you in your hunt, here are some more foods that research has shown improve mood, alertness, resilience, and energy levels:

·   Strawberries. They’re rich in vitamin C, which you need to produce the “happy hormone,” endorphins.

·   Mashed potatoes. They not only feel comforting, they’re also packed with energy-boosting and cell-repairing potassium.

·   Peanut butter. It’s high in protein, which helps you avoid sugar crashes and maintain steady willpower.

·   Grilled chicken. It has lots of B vitamins, which help control your mood.

·   Oatmeal. It’s high in fiber, which slows digestion and gives you longer-lasting energy.

·   Green tea. It has enough caffeine to increase your alertness without causing a dramatic energy drop later.

·   Walnuts. They offer plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which boost mood and stimulate neuron repair.

·   Dark chocolate chips. They provide tons of antioxidants, which help make every part of your body stronger and more resistant to injury or illness.

Whatever you choose, make sure you actually acquire all three foods today—whether you eat them today or just put them in the fridge for later.

 NINJA QUEST 17: Scale a Wall Together

Legend has it that in order to scale walls, ninjas carried each other on their backs. They called it “creating a human platform,” and it allowed them to reach heights that no single ninja could reach alone.11

Teamwork should be an essential part of your ninja maneuvers, too. But instead of asking for help today, you’re going to help someone else.

What to do: Who could you help reach a greater height today? Make it your mission to be ready to spring into action, at a moment’s notice, to help someone else “scale a wall.” We’re talking metaphorically here—you don’t have to give someone a boost over a literal wall. Any way you can give someone an emotional, mental, or physical boost will work just fine.

Although doing a spontaneous favor for someone else might not seem like it’s directly related to your health goals, remember Rule 4, “Do things that make you feel powerful.” Helping someone else is one of the most powerful things you can do.

This quest is complete when you’ve successfully helped someone “scale a wall”!

 NINJA QUEST 18: Have a Five-Element Day

You’re nearing the end of your ninja-inspired adventure—so today, demonstrate how far you’ve come.

What to do: Summon all your natural powers today by connecting with all five elements (water, earth, wind, fire, and sky). Try to spread them out across the day. Connect with an element before each meal, plus once more in the morning and evening.

Think of today as an opportunity to lock in these simple, life-changing habits before your ninja journey is finished!

 NINJA QUEST 19: Master ”Uzura-gakure”

Today you have a chance to demonstrate one of the new skills you’ve developed during this adventure: uzura-gakure, or the art of staying as still as a stone.

As you know from Ninja Quest 12, uzura-gakure is a test of your mental strengths, including willpower and determination. With all the quests you’ve completed on this adventure, your mental strengths should be in absolute peak condition. See for yourself!

What to do: Today, you must attempt a more difficult uzura-gakure mission: stay still as a stone for three entire minutes. That’s six times as difficult as the uzura-gakuremission in Ninja Quest 12.

Set a timer, and hold yourself to it. Yes, it will take tremendous mental discipline. But when you successfully complete this quest, you’ll know that your ninja training has made you measurably and objectively that much mentally stronger.

 NINJA QUEST 20: The Legend of the Shape-Shifters

In Japanese legend, ninjas were said to have several fantastic powers—not the least of which was shape-shifting, or the ability to transform physically into another form, such as a fox, a wolf, or an old woman.

While you won’t be transforming into another creature, you have been shifting your shape for the past three weeks. Today is the day you celebrate your transformation—no matter how small or subtle it may be. Here are some changes you may notice:

·   You stand or sit up taller.

·   You have more energy.

·   Your clothes fit better.

·   Muscles that usually tense up in your face, neck, or back are more relaxed.

·   The muscles in your arms and legs feel more powerful.

·   You feel more comfortable in your own skin.

What to do: Spend at least two minutes looking for and appreciating the shifts you’ve made in your shape. These changes are a reflection of the powerful shifts you’ve made in how you think about your health goals, and how you treat your body.

 NINJA QUEST 21: Share the Secret

For three weeks, you’ve practiced the art of adopting sneaky and unconventional weight-loss and fitness strategies. Now it’s time to share your ninja wisdom with others.

Take what you’ve learned, and pay it forward. For your final quest, teach someone else the four rules of ninja body transformation:

1. Don’t diet.

2. Ignore the scale.

3. Eat foods that make you feel stronger.

4. Do things that make you feel powerful.

What to do: Teach the rules to a friend, post them online, or share them on your favorite online forum. If you’re feeling really superbetter, offer yourself as an ally or mentor to anyone who would like to give it a try.

Your Ninja Body Transformation Power-ups

PRACTICE YOUR POWER MOVE

See how close you are to perfecting your power move (from Ninja Quest 4)—whether it’s doing one perfect and fearless cartwheel, climbing all the stairs at work in less than sixty seconds, completing one hundred push-ups, or holding the yoga pose Downward Facing Dog for ten slow breaths.

Whether you achieve your goal or not, every attempt makes you stronger.

EAT A POWER FOOD

Energize yourself by eating a power food (Ninja Quests 3 and 16). That’s anything you eat that makes you feel stronger—more awake, full of energy, in a better mood. Keep a list of your personal power foods, which could be anything from sunflower seeds, dark chocolate, or yogurt to a hard-boiled egg, a banana, or almonds. Try to activate this power-up at every single meal or snack for the next three weeks.

LISTEN TO YOUR POWER SONG

Increase your endurance, fight fatigue, improve your mood, and boost your immune system with the proven power of music (Ninja Quest 14). Use this power-up whenever you want a healthier way to energize.

PRACTICE UZURA-GAKURE

Take a minute to practice uzura-gakure, or becoming “as still as a stone” (Ninja Quests 12 and 19). Curl up into a ball like a real ninja, or simply bow your head and cross your arms over your chest. Use this technique to quiet your mind and increase your willpower.

CONNECT WITH THE WATER ELEMENT

Water, or sui, represents the fluid, flowing, and ever-changing life forces in nature. Every time you drink a glass of water, remind yourself of your own ability to adapt and change (Ninja Quest 6).

CONNECT WITH THE EARTH ELEMENT

Earth, or chi, represents what is hard and solid in nature. If you chose a chi stone in Ninja Quest 7, hold it tightly in your hand for ten seconds to remind yourself of your own power to be solid, grounded, determined, confident, and steadfast.

CONNECT WITH THE WIND ELEMENT

Wind, or fu, represents things that expand and enjoy freedom of movement. To remind yourself of your own freedom and expansiveness, make yourself (or any part of your body) as big as possible for thirty seconds (Ninja Quest 8). Expand your body and take up as much room, physically, as you can. Or move any part of your body (such as your hands and arms) through space in slow motion for thirty seconds, putting all your focus and attention on the air as you move through it.

CONNECT WITH THE FIRE ELEMENT

Fire, or ka, represents the most forceful and powerful energies in the world, including physical heat, mental drive, and emotional passion. You tap into your ka power whenever you take five minutes to find flow, or balance, between a lack of fire (boredom) and too much fire (anxiety). As we saw in Ninja Quest 9, your flow can be any goal-oriented activity: playing a video game, writing, dancing, making music, making art, cooking, gardening . . .

CONNECT WITH THE SKY ELEMENT

Sky, or ku, represents the world beyond our everyday experience. To remind yourself of your spiritual strength and creativity, take a minute for prayer, meditation, song, poetry, or art (Ninja Quest 10).

PRACTICE TANUKI-GAKURE

Go outdoors and practice the art of tanuki-gakure, or “tree camouflage” (Ninja Quest 15). Get as close as you can to a tree and soak up its powerful phytoncides. Activating this power-up will help you reduce stress and boost your immune system.

Your Ninja Body Transformation Bad Guys

WEIGHING YOURSELF

For the duration of this adventure, you will not allow a number to define your health, power, or happiness.

For at least three weeks, avoid the scale!

COUNTING CALORIES

Food is a source of energy and power, and one way to measure that potential energy is with calories. But it’s not the best way. How you feel after you eat is a much better indicator of what will make you stronger and healthier than a simple calorie count.

During this adventure, ignore calories and focus on how you feel instead.

FEELING GUILTY ABOUT WHAT YOU EAT

Your meals and snacks won’t always go according to plan. But guilt will not help you make better decisions in the future. Instead, guilt will drain the emotional and physical energy that you need to strengthen your mind and body.

If you make an unwise food choice, skip the guilt—and use one of your ninja power-ups to reenergize instead.

MENTALLY CHECKING OUT FROM YOUR BODY

During this adventure, your mission is keep the mind-body connection strong. Your body needs to move, it needs water, and it needs to eat. Don’t allow mental distractions—like work, social media, books, movies, TV shows, or video games—to absorb you so fully that you ignore these physical needs.

Battle this bad guy until it becomes a natural habit to check in with your body at least once an hour. Try this strategy: Set a timer or calendar alert to remind you to check in with your body every hour. Every time it goes off, ask yourself: Do I need to eat? Do I need some water? Do I need to move? Or ask an ally to send you random texts or emails reminding you to check in with your body!

IGNORING YOUR NINJA POWERS

You have the five elements at your disposal, always: water, earth, wind, fire, and sky. If you ignore these powers, they will diminish—so don’t let a day go by without calling on at least one of these elements!