Skinny Daily Post


Have you ever participated in one, either with friends or co-workers? Some people at my company are starting one, and I have such mixed emotions about it, that I’m not going to participate.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea! Some people thrive on the peer pressure, others like the ‘we’re in it together’ idea. There’s lots of support and tips-sharing.

So, why have I decided not to participate? Well, first of all, getting weighed by a colleague is just not going to happen. He may be an MD, but my exact weight is none of his business, or anyone else’s for that matter.

And how to decide who wins? If it’s in terms of absolute weight, someone who has a lot to lose can easily out-lose someone who has only a few pounds. Maybe the contest would be more equitable if the weight loss is measured in terms of the percentage of your personal goal that you attained. After all, someone who has only 10 pounds to lose can be at goal, whereas someone who has 100 pounds to lose and loses the same 10 is off to a good start!

But bottom line, right this second, my major goal is to NOT GAIN! Of course I’d like to lose a bit more, but if I can make it through these stressful times without a gain, that’ll mean more to me than losing another 50 pounds.

So, I guess what it comes down to is this: participating in these contests can be great, but give some careful thought to what your own immediate goals are, and decide if it’s in your best interests. I know, for myself, that if I joined this contest and did nothing but stay the same, it’d count as a major victory – but it’s doubtful than other people would agree.

What’s your vote? Would you be in or out?

PS – now, the walking group that they’re talking about – I’m DEFINITELY in!

22 thoughts on “Weight loss contests

  1. Amanda says:

    Being at my goal weight, I’d have to say that I’m “out,” but I’m not so sure how I feel about these contests. Sure, they work. I’ve seen it at my own office. People lose incredible amounts of weight in what seems like no time at all. Then I see them gain it back, usually with a few tag-alongs….

    IMO, weight loss is easy: it’s short-term, goal-oriented and specific. It’s weight maintenance, in all it’s immeasurable, open-ended glory, that’s the real challenge. So, I’m with you Jane, even though these contests can be enticing, it’s so important that you take look within and make sure you’re doing what’s really right for yourself.

  2. Deirdre says:

    The contest does mean that for a while there will be fewer tempting treats around the office. That’s a good thing.

  3. Deirdre says:

    I would not be in.

    My goals are about healthy habits; getting enough exercise and making good food choices. Weight loss is byproduct. I can control behaviors. I can’t control whether the weight disappears at a certain rate. Weight loss goals are a recipe for frustration.

  4. Pat says:

    I’m definitely out. Only a personal glitch in me, I guess, but whenever I make a contest out of weight loss I just don’t do well EVER. Something about the competition of it and the deadline of it and the urgency it produces, only makes me do worse and back off. Not a competitive spirit to begin with, this only adds to that mix. I do well being my own yardstick and going at my own pace.

  5. Kelly Lynn says:

    It depends how it is done. My former boss and I had a competition just with the two of us. Whoever lost 10 lbs first won 5$. That to me was fine because it was a set amount.
    The Biggest Loser on the other hand is the same kind of thing. Someone with at 250 lb will never win the Biggest Loser (unless they vote off all the heavier people). If you have someone who is 400 lbs and healthy goal for them is 200, they lose 50% of their body fat. Chances are someone at 250 lb because odds are it is not that healthy. Or even someone at 230 or 225 lb. It is kind of the same thing as the work competitions.
    If it motivates people to lose weight and hopefully keep it off, then fine, but there should be some rules and not who loses the most weight.
    Kelly Lynn

  6. Fiona says:

    Hi Jane,
    I’ve been an avid reader for a while but this is my first time commenting.

    I like your suggestion about measuring % of weightloss in accordance with one’s goal. Even watching The Biggest Loser, I sometimes wonder how measuring % of weight lost alone is a fair measure… because what most people are not aware of is that it’s not just about weight loss but the correct type of weight loss, i.e. losing fat, not losing muscle!

    As for a competition, I would say I’m out. I feel the competition would have most people focus on the short term when it should be about your health and lifestyle for the long term!

    But I do I think doing it with a friend is a great idea, support really makes a difference ~ I reached my goal weight last year in June and have maintained it since, and wouldn’t have done it without my husband’s full support. Sometimes when I wanted to quit, he wouldn’t let me!

  7. Fiona says:

    P.S. Deirdre’s comment clearly and succinctly describes my sentiments exactly!

  8. Theresa says:

    I have read this blog for two years and this is my first time writing.I am also so struck by what Deirdre wrote I am going to cut and paste it and look at it frequently. I have had a really hard time losing any weight but (for the most part) I am eating healthier and I am more aware of what I eat. I would really like to lose weight but it does not seem to be under my control…. My habits are.

  9. cindy says:

    Since this battle began, I have considered it a personal struggle. To make it a contest would make it public, something I am extremely uncomfortable with. But also, it would trivialize it, somehow. This changing our lives thing is serious business. I am in it for life. A contest makes it a game—and this definitely doesn’t feel like a game!
    The walking group sounds like a great idea, though. Everyone can feel good about that and it might inspire people to be more active when they wouldn’t be on their own.
    I want to run a road race some day. I’ve been thinking about this ever since I started losing weight. My weight is now at a point where I might be able to consider serious training. And if I do take up running, maybe I’ll lose the last 30+ pounds that I should—-a side benefit. My knees, however, have a different idea. I don’t want to give up on this dream. Any suggestions from anyone out there? When I see runners out on the road, I am envious. It looks so liberating. I want that freedom and ease of movement. I want to feel that power in my body. I just want this…

  10. Jen says:

    I’m out. I’ve participated in one, and it was horrible. I met my goals, but another woman didn’t, and she took her frustration out on me passive-aggressively. She’d say things like “We should force-feed you french fries” or “You’re so skinny now. I hate you!” There are too many “poor losers” out there to make it worth while, imho.

  11. Cheryl says:

    I did this about 2 years ago, we measured by percentage of weight loss, and for me it was a great motivator. We just did it for 6 weeks, and I can do anything short term!! I lost 15 lbs, and kept it off for a year, until i screwed up my sciatica nerve, and went crazy with food again. I personally like a challenge and the competition, so it worked for me, everyone is different. And I didn’t do anything stupid, I just kept track of my points (weight watchers) and exercised. I was training for a half marathon at the time, so it helped me all the way around.

  12. susan says:

    Last year dh and I competed to see who lost the highest % of body weight in six weeks, but he crash dieted at the end and just beat me. That rather defeated the purpose.

    So this year, we have a contest with points — you earn a point for eating 2 fruit servings a day, two veg servings a day (easy for me — harder than heck for him), exercising for at least 20 minutes a day, walking the dog for 20 minutes, being in bed with the lights out by 9pm (we get up at 4:45am), or losing a pound. Much more fair and healthy I think. It’s also lasting longer this year — til May 15.

  13. sandy says:

    We don’t have an official contest in the office, but somehow it still feels like a competition! I lost nearly 65# 5 years ago, and I have maintained this loss since. My boss, who has done WW, Atkins and is now doing NutriSystem, goes up and down by the same 20#, and we get up to the minute news on whether he has worked out, what he ate and what he weighs. My assistant, who talks and talks about dieting (she probably has 30 pounds to lose) can’t seem to start any program at all, and is part of the general conversation as well.

    I am not competing with anyone, and sometimes I get tired of being seen as the “food police” (which I am not) and the person who sets a rather ascetic example (which, if they really knew me, would realize that I have the same impulses and cravings as everyone else, and I do give in – I am human too). I suppose it is good to set a healthy example, but ultimately it is not about me, it is about them. You can share tips, talk about weight loss and working out, etc. but ultimately it is up to you to do the work, both emotional and physical.


  14. jonquil says:

    Cindy, google “couch to 5k” — a beginning runners program. It’s really good. And I too, am “it it for life.” Go, team! 🙂

  15. cindy says:

    Thanks, Jonquil. I checked out the running site and printed out the plan for couch to 5K. I am going to give it a try. Spring, here I come!

  16. Dicentra says:

    I have worked at places with weight loss contests twice; the first time I did not participate, the second time I did. The first time I was too embarrassed to be weighed by someone, didn’t want people to know I was trying to lose weight, etc., etc. But I still dieted and exercised on my own, and lost enough that I believe I could have won the contest (and the money prize) had I participated! So the next time I had the opportunity (10+ years later), I participated. The basic measure was % of body weight lost (although there were a lost of subcategories of prizes also) and I think that an okay way to do it. It does favor people who have a lot to lose, but on the other hand, should the big prize really go to someone who only wants to lose 5 pounds, and does it? Getting on the scale had one big benefit, it opened my eyes to how much I really weighed (more than I thought). I didn’t win the contest, but I lost some weight. It took several more years for things to really click for me, but over the past 2 1/2 years I have lost about 150 pounds, and am at a great place, though I think I would still like to lose 10 more pounds, if I can. For that reason I would not do the contest now, if we had it, because I don’t need to lose much weight and it comes off really slowly now. But I’m not opposed to the concept of the contest.

  17. Cathy says:

    I’d be out. I don’t do well with contests, challenges, whatever you want to call them. I am better off to focus on behaviors, and only compare to myself and my own goals.

  18. kim says:

    i’m always out. i have issues with eating. in my past i have severely restricted, binged, purged, and other unhealthy habits to lose weight. i did lose weight, nearly 80 pounds, but of course i gained it all back.

    now, i am happy to say i am following a healthy diet and working out 4-5 times a week! i am losing weight again, but this time it’s slowly. i’ve lost 12 pounds in 2 weeks and that’s okay with me!

    just thinking about joining a weight loss contest stirs up all the quick weight loss habits i adopted in the past. i want to remain healthy, and i can’t do that if people around me are watching my every bite and weighing me in front of a group of people.

    this is my personal struggle. it has nothing to do with anyone else.

  19. kim says:

    i meant i lost 12 pounds in 2 MONTHS! yikes. 12 in 1 weeks is not healthy at all, sorry about that!

  20. Barbara says:

    Hi Everyone — I’m new to the site. It came highly recommended by a new support person in my life. This is my first time posting.

    I think part of the reason we talk with women so much about weight is that we are looking for that support in our own weight-loss struggle. I for one obsess within my own head, and so I go looking for others that can relate. We’re searching for the answers.

    The point is we can have all the information and support in the world and talk it all through; but if we don’t “do” the “doing”, take action from that knowledge and support, all we are doing is talking, whether in our own heads or to others.

    I am presently in a weight-loss contest with my husband and another couple. We decided when we left Cabo San Lucas that we would start a Biggest Loser contest amongst the four of us. The deadline was six months. Well, of course, none of us did well through the holidays. Therefore, my husband and I started over January 1, 2007. I feel good about my progress since that time.

    My struggle with this is that I feel our “female friend” does not have our best interest at heart. She has the least to lose and yet the most negative attitude. Lots of judgment. On the other hand, her male partner struggles with weight loss and lovessssss to eat well. He seems to be competing for the right reasons. He too is looking for support.

    Yes, I am doing this for myself, but I feel I got into this and it’s not going to end on a good note. When I read Jen’s post, I can just feel how this is going to end badly. I wish I had never agreed.

    Weight loss is such a struggle that I don’t need any negative energy surrounding me. I’m working to surround myself with positive, life-changing energy. I find I am much more successful if I surround myself with support. And I also find that when I isolate and don’t ask for that help that I slip back to old, bad habits.

    That’s why I’m here reading all of your wonderful and thought-provoking ideas. Great blog!


  21. Cindie says:

    Loved reading everyones thoughts. Now here’s a stinger! Ever heard of a friendly community weight loss contest that after 8 weeks of 16 CUTS the bottom 50% of the weight losers? You could lose 20 pounds that is then converted to % lost, but if half the people lost a higher %, your out. Funny thing is, it is held by a merchants association. I don’t think I’d tell prospective customers “you stink, go away”. What if someone comes down with a cold in the begining and can’t do cardio, but feels better later and kicks into high gear. Also the opposite, what if you’re stay make the top 50% then get a cold and someone who was cut actually did better than you. Am I being over sensitve?

  22. Stinky41 says:

    Thanks for your voice of experience and wisdom. ,

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