How Choice Hacking & MYND transformed weight loss from mental mountain to an inspiring journey.

How do you keep people motivated when their progress is invisible?

This is a story about transforming unhealthy (and ingrained) customer behaviors to better habits, using psychology and behavioral science.

MYND Therapeutics approached Choice Hacking to supercharge their app, wearable, and virtual reality-powered weight loss program with a science-based UX approach. 
// Challenge
2.6 billion people struggle with obesity. It’s a debilitating, chronic, and compounding disease that shortens lifespans, reduces quality of life, and costs healthcare systems billions of dollars a year.

But when it comes to losing fat and gaining healthy habits there’s a BIG barrier: You start out strong and motivated in the first few weeks, and the scale reflects your hard work.

But then the scale stops moving.

It’s at this moment that most people just give up. “I’ve failed again” they think to themselves. But the truth is, there are still changes happening, but they’re invisible.

Too many weight loss apps gloss over this critical moment in the user journey.

But Choice Hacking used behavioral science and psychology to create a UX strategy that tackled this drop-off point head-on.
// Process & Deliverables
We approached this challenge with a three-step strategy: 

  1. Discover: 
    1. Literature review
    2. Best-in-class UX review
    3. User interviews
    4. Salience analysis of proof of concept
  2. Define: 
    1. Customer journey map creation
    2. Behavioral barriers and drivers definition
    3. Target behavior definition
    4. Gamification and rewards principles
  3. Design & Test
    1. UX, gamification, and rewards design
    2. Testing roadmap 
// Discover
We started by gathering information to help us create behavioral hypotheses, target behaviors, and document behavioral and psychological barriers.

The Choice Hacking team performed desk research and a literature review of behavioral science principles that’d proven the most effective in healthy behavior change (weight loss, smoking cessation, and starting an exercise program).

We then performed a salience analysis using predictive AI to understand how MYND’s current proof of concept was performing (what was catching people’s attention and what they were missing).

Last, we got to work with customer interviews. We talked to several folks who were struggling to lose weight and who had tested the MYND app, in order to better understand their needs, behavioral blockers, motivations, and response to the mobile and VR experiences.

We learned how emotional the process of weight loss is for folks - how they feel looked down on and infantilized by others because of their failure to lose weight. Many of these people were very successful in other areas of their lives, with high-powered jobs and several advanced degrees. But yet, they felt powerless, overwhelmed, and like failures due to their weight.

// Define
In the course of our work, we discovered that the biggest barrier to success wasn’t starting the process of weight loss. In fact, that’s when people were most motivated. It was the dip that happened 3-6 weeks into the process, when their scale progress slowed.

Users felt that they were doing lots of work for nothing - and that without the outward progress of numbers on a scale that they were incredibly demotivated to continue their health journey.

We had to find a way to get keep users performing their new healthy habits.

By creating a customer journey map and defining behavioral barriers, psychological blockers, and target behaviors, we were able to create a science-driven UX strategy using:

  • Gamification that transformed how users saw themselves and their progress
  • Avatars that reflected the invisible changes users were making through visible transformations
  • Rewards-based motivation and path-based learning to drive education, habits, and engagement
  • Emotional user experience elements to help users better connect with their future selves
  • Timing and location-based prompts to help users avoid “high risk times and places” for overeating

// How working with Choice Hacking transformed MYND Therapeutics
michael bidu headshot
Michael Bidu

CEO, MYND Therapeutics

"If you have a chance to hire Choice Hacking, do it before your competition does it.

I believe Jen is one of the top consumer experience and behaviour change experts in the business.

I worked closely with Jen on building a behaviour change and habit-forming product development strategy for our first digital therapy focused on women with obesity and eating disorders...  

I can say she was a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend her and Choice Hacking."

1. From demotivated to seeing the bigger picture

Healthy habits can feel like a lot of work without much payoff (at least at first). To transform this experience, we turned to behavioral science:

We began using evocative and emotional language that connected the future self to the present self - providing psychological rewards for taking steps to stay healthy, engage with the learning material and perform healthy behaviors (like practicing navigating high-risk times through exposure therapy in the VR environment).

Users practice exposure therapy in virtual reality environments

2. From an overwhelming task to an empowering plan

A clear path helps users understand the steps they need to take to make progress - no matter what the task. We developed a rewards-based motivation and path-based learning strategy that not only drove education, habits, and engagement but also empowered users and built their confidence throughout the process. 
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