Quick Recap: A friend who knew I was trying to lose some weight invited me to join a Dietbet game with her, which was the first I had ever heard of this. I thought it sounded like it would make all this hard work a little more fun, so I signed up.
How It Works – (mostly) Just the Facts: Players have 4 weeks (28 days) to lose 4% of their body weight, and anyone who achieves this is a winner. There is usually a buy-in (ours was $10), and the money is split between all the winners at the end of the game. It’s not the one person who loses the most wins all the money; anyone who loses 4% wins.
Sometime during the two days before the game begins, players have to take two pictures of themselves on the scale – one full body shot and one showing the number on the scale. Players can set up their profile to either show their weight, or it can be kept private, but no one except the rulers of the Dietbet world will ever see those pictures. When the game ends, winners have 48 hours to submit pictures again.
During the 4 weeks, players can self-report weight loss as they like, though Dietbet send emails encouraging players to weigh-in often (too often in my opinion). No pictures are needed for self-reporting. Players can post updates on the game’s wall (looks like a Facebook wall), cheer each other on, ask questions, etc. They call this “social dieting”, encouraging players to be active about it. Our group wasn’t overly social, just a few people here and there posting that they had worked out or drank lots of water that day.
The game I participated in had 16 winners out of 54 players. Winners received a little over $30 (so $20 on top of the $10 buy-in). 264.5 pounds were lost – and that is awesome.
My Thoughts: Everyone knows weight fluctuates throughout the day. Since I joined the game the day before it began, my initial weigh-in was done at the end of the day (heaviest part of the day). I got on the scale the next morning, already a few pounds lighter than the evening before. I don’t consider this weight loss; however, on Day 1, many players were reporting major losses since their initial weigh-in. I’m talking, people had already hit 100% of what they needed to lose. Cheating?
Now let me talk about healthy weight loss for a minute. There are tons of sources that say healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds a week. 4% for me was 6.4 pounds, which averages to 1.6 pounds a week. This is in the healthy range, but I’m sure that’s not the case for every player. While it is possible to lose more than 2 pounds a week, expecting that kind of weight loss 4 weeks in a row is not healthy. What would have to be done to lose that kind of weight each week?
And then what happens after the 4 weeks are over and someone who was “detoxing” , fad dieting, etc to lose the necessary weight starts eating normally again?
So that leads me to wonder what some of the players were doing to lose weight. Is Dietbet really encouraging HEALTHY weight loss, or are players making extreme decisions to win money?
I noticed people weighing in every day. Maybe it’s just that Weight Watchers ingrained in my head that you should only weigh once a week, but I think getting on the scale every day can be detrimental – and can lead people to do some of those extreme measures just to see some movement…particularly players who are just trying to lose a few “vanity pounds”. I know I should not judge any one else because I don’t know their situations, but there were a few players (who made their weight public) who seemed like they didn’t have 4% to lose…and they would weigh everyday…and a few of them would write how frustrated they were that there was no movement. I Judged.
Also, I feel like this is giving the scale too much power. Yes, I want to lose weight, and I have more than 4% a couple of times that I’d like to lose. BUT, I don’t exactly have an ideal weight that I want to get to (if you think my “Visual Motivation” goes against everything I’m saying now, read this post when I first made it). There are so many other ways to visualize what’s healthy that what the scale says to you.
I was also a little disappointed that the group wasn’t a little more social. I thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss healthy weight loss, encourage others, share tips that work for you, and get support when you’re struggling – but it didn’t develop in to that. No one really shared tips.
So all of that has been a little negative: I worry that Dietbet fosters people to take extremes to lose weight because there’s money involved, and I feel like it is a missed opportunity to share and support. I REALLY FEEL THAT DIETBET IS NOT FOR EVERYONE, but it does have some positives. I did have a lot of discussions about healthy weight loss with a couple of my friends who joined the game which I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. So even though all 54 players weren’t involved, it did foster a social aspect for me. It did help to keep me motivated – particularly in keeping up with the 30 Day Shred. It’s awesome to see the total pounds lost (imagining that people did it in a healthy way…). And I did win a little extra money (turned $10 into $30 – not much, but a little).
Would I do it again? Maybe. Probably. Okay – honestly – since I “won” and I can use my winnings, Yes.
Would I recommend it?
- Can you afford to lose the money it takes to buy-in?
- Do you really HONESTLY have 4% to lose?
- Is 4% in 4 weeks in the healthy weight loss range of 1-2 lbs per week?
- CAN THIS BE ACHIEVED IN A HEALTHY WAY?
- Can you handle the pressure of a deadline and competition in a healthy way?
- Are you willing to keep doing what you have to do over the 4 weeks (meaning it’s a lifestyle, not a diet) to maintain your end weight (or continue to your goal)?
- Do you realize that there are MANY other measures of health, beauty, self-worth, etc than what the scale reads?
If you answer no to any one of those questions, then NO, I would not recommend it. In all honesty, I would never just go out and say, “If you’re wanting to lose weight, you should join a Dietbet”. I like the idea of Dietbet more than the actual realization of it and what I feel like it fosters: an unhealthy idea about weight loss and the scale.
Does that make me a hypocrite because I would do it again but not recommend it? Maybe. But there’s too many factors, especially psychological, for me to recommend it. Only you know your situation, and only you can make the decision for yourself.