A little controversial perhaps, and super cliched for the New Year, but today I’m talking about dieting and specifically the competitive and social weight loss program that is DietBet.
Sadly, I am not new to competitive weight loss, having previously joined ‘the biggest loser’ type programs at my gym. To my shame, I am the biggest yo-yo dieter, so as much as I would like to keep it all off, the lure of pasta, pizza, cream and cheese, always gets the better of me in the end. A year or two later I seem to be back where I started. I can lose (and ultimately gain back) as much as 25 lbs. This time, however, I am determined that this is the last one. I am going to lose the weight and keep it off. Something has to change.
This weekend I joined a DietBet ‘Transformer’ competition. I have 6 months and the goal is that I will lose 10% (or more) of my body weight. This is done through (totally achievable) monthly goals over the duration of the challenge so that I lose weight in a manageable way, a few lbs per month.
For those interested in a little less commitment and something more short term there are also ‘Kickstarter’ competitions in which you pledge to lose 4% of your body weight in one month.
Recently – through a combination of laziness and overindulgence during the festive period – I have been piling on the lbs. I can see it on my belly, on my face and my arms, in particular, and it bothers me. I am a fairly body positive person and I (like to think that I) dress well for my body shape. I play up my ‘assets’ and invest in styles that will skim over the parts I love less. But I live in the land that is permanently bikini season and so I can’t hide that extra chub for long. It’s time to do something about it.
There are positives and negatives to DietBets and, having done one before, I thought I would run through them.
The Positives –
Whether it is the money and competition that motivates you, or the support from the rest of the DietBet contestants – there is no shortage of motivation. During the course of your DietBet there is an Activities Wall in which participants can post messages and pictures. The more people participating in your game – the more activity and encouragement. You aren’t competing against these people – you’re competing against yourself.
It’s easy to put off your diet – to want to start ‘tomorrow’ or ‘Monday’ or ‘next week’. With your monthly goals DietBet helps keep you on track and keep you accountable. You can’t keep putting it off when the weigh-in deadlines are looming.
Most DietBet games come with frequent emails and diet tips. Extra weekly weigh-ins with prizes and other incentives help keep you on track.
The Negatives –
There are a couple of rules in DietBet in order to try and keep it fair and honest. You have to weigh-in wearing ‘airport clothing’ (no shoes, belts, jewelry), you weigh-in on specific days (with a code word) and everything is adjudicated by the DietBet administrators. Having said that, when you see people meeting their goal only days after the start of the game – you have to wonder whether everyone is competing fairly and in the spirit of the game. See more about the DietBet rules here.
You are putting a certain amount of pressure on yourself and as weigh-in day approaches it can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. The body does strange things – one day you could be perfectly on track and losing weight, the next you hit a bump in the road and suddenly you’ve inexplicably gained a lb. The pressure to make goal weight can lead to you eating erratically in the days beforehand and crash dieting, which isn’t ideal. You’re aiming for reasonably steady, sustainable, weight loss and not crashing and gaining from weigh-in to weigh-in.
The challenges aren’t massively expensive but it is still a consideration. Transformers cost $25 per month (or only pay for 5 months if you pay all of it upfront) and Kickstarters are usually $35.
For me the money keeps me accountable as even if I’m not making a massive amount (payouts are usually small) I don’t want to lose my buy-in – I pay all 6 months up front as an incentive not to quit and that costs me $125. Think carefully about whether you can afford to lose that money if you don’t make goal.
When all is said and done, despite the negative aspects, I would recommend participating in a DietBet challenge. If you have that weight to lose I think it’s an excellent source of motivation and support, but it’s not for everyone. Hopefully, after reading this, you can go into it with your eyes wide open – if that’s something that you’re interested in doing.
There are still a couple of days left to enter my challenge here.
Have any of you tried something like this before? Any thoughts?