Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dieting in Public

So what inspired me to finally start this blog months into my fitness journey? Cold. Hard. Cash. Over $25,000 to be exact.

DietBet is a social-dieting game where players have 4 weeks to lose 4% of their body weight. Everyone puts money in the pot and weighs in at the start of the game. After four weeks, everyone who reaches their goal of losing 4% splits the pot. According to DietBet, 90% of people who participate lose weight. DietBet attributes this success rate in part to the proven effectiveness of financial rewards and penalties for producing weight loss (e.g. this study). This part of the site's theory of change makes perfect sense to me, as I have always found cash to be a great incentive and HATE the idea of losing or "wasting" money.

However, DietBet contends that money isn't the only thing that makes the game work. According to the site, the power of social motivation is a big factor in user success. Publicly declaring your fitness goals ups the commitment, and friendly support or peer pressure can be as big an incentive as the cash payout. This was the part of DietBet (and of starting this blog) that terrified me, mostly because I feel there is a strong taboo against talking about weight loss and dieting publicly. When I was first starting my fitness journey, I got a surprising amount of negative reactions from friends who told me I was "crazy" to want to lose weight, that I had self confidence "issues", and that I should focus on working on my body image "problems" instead. For the record, my ultimate aim is definitely more about increasing my fitness level, living a healthy lifestyle, and just feeling great in my own skin than about the numbers on the scale. However, as long as it is done in a healthy way, I do think that these numbers can be used to measure progress and set goals, and it is OK to talk about weight loss.

I first heard about DietBet thanks to the fabulous Cassey Ho of Blogilates fame. I really wanted to join her June game, but held back out of fear of failure and of publicly declaring an intention to lose weight. And boy did I miss out. Cassey's game was the largest ever in the history of DietBet and had a combined pot of almost $150,000! So when July came around I decided to take the plunge and join a game. 

I now have a total of $50 down in two games that I will lose 5.5 pounds by August 6. This seems extremely ambitious and somewhat daunting to me (it took me over 3 months to lose 10 pounds), but I feel extremely motivated and in-charge of my own destiny. And, no matter what happens, I am proud of myself for getting over my fear and just trying.

Q: Have any of you tried a DietBet? What are your thoughts on dieting publicly?


  1. I'm only on my first time trying dietbet but so far I think it's a great thing. I think it's a great thing that people with a common goal come together and just help support each other.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts on DietBet! I'm definitely interested to see how I feel about it at the end of the 4 weeks--will probably have to do a followup post :)