When I first started the project that became InTouch Fit, I was driven by one clear goal: I wanted to help my friend Nora communicate with a broader audience than she could reach in person. Nora is a Registered Dietitian, with master’s degrees in Nutrition and in Nutrition Education. She has been a front-line warrior in the fight against obesity for over 20 years and she is very good at her job. I wanted to find a way to help her help a lot more people.

She and I are moms, concerned about our children’s future. We both felt that the healthcare system risks collapse for the next generation under the strain of preventable diseases. We agreed that addressing unhealthy lifestyle choices could have a big impact on the problem.

My background was in banking, and I had previously created training software on the financial markets for a large consulting firm. It was in the early days of integrating game technology into training environments to help improve engagement around learning. I felt that a similar approach – using games and technology – could extend Nora’s reach and make her engagements with clients more impactful.

Nora, like most practitioners, realizes that the biggest challenge is to change people’s mindset about diet and exercise. Good nutrition and regular exercise must become a priority and a value that is ingrained in our thinking and in our culture. She shared with me the research on overcoming negative self-talk by using positive affirmations. From this, an idea was born.

We were confident that her client outcomes could be vastly improved if we could create a way for them to interact regularly with her and with each other. They could reinforce, reward and encourage a shift in thinking about diet and exercise.

We set about creating a game that could be played on a mobile device. It would promote and encourage the brief, regular practice of commitment to positive self-talk. Since then, we’ve adapted and changed it based on the feedback we’ve received, we’ve added features and improved the user experience.

We’ve learned a lot and will continue to do so. Our objective is to provide an effective and convenient tool for those seeking change. We’ve done so with 3 pillars: regular, frequent commitment to positive thinking; access to professionals for regular check-ins; and the support and encouragement from a safe community.

The principles of retraining your brain and the power of positive thinking have been around for a very long time, but new research in neuroscience is shedding light on how such training works at the neurological level.

In my own research, I discovered a fascinating book called You Are Not Your BrainThe 4-Step Solution for Changing Bad Habits, Ending Unhealthy Thinking, and Taking Control of Your Life. I approached one of the co-authors, Rebecca Gladding, MD to discuss our project in the context of her work. She has honored us by joining our team in an advisory capacity. We are fortunate to have access to this great thinker, practitioner and fellow crusader in the quest to help people live healthier lives.

It has taken us a few years since those early, impassioned discussions about finding a way to become a bigger part of a solution. Now we are about to launch a new, improved app.

We are pleased and excited by this latest version – it has evolved into a comprehensive communication platform between wellness pros and their clients. The game mode to master positive thinking is still a key part, and is now optional. We recommend that it be used as a challenge in 28-day intervals to make significant progress toward health goals.

We are welcoming new people into our community every day. We are humbled and amazed by the support and courage shown by the members of that community – true compassion toward others and toward themselves. We have created a tool for all the Noras and, in the process, we are finding that the community being formed around those pros is the real force for change.