Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Diet Bet

Have you heard of Diet Bet?  It's a service where weight loss becomes a game and you get to win (or lose) actual money. 

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Every since I heard about it, I've been on the fence about the whole idea.  In this article I'm going to outline what I think the pros and cons of this site are.  I will add the disclaimer now that I have never participated in a diet bet, and I'm neither condoning or condemning it, simply outlining some information and my opinions on it. 

How it works:
You sign up - you can either start your own "game" or join an existing one.  Cool ideas for this couple be things like a company challenge, bridesmaids looking to lose weight before the wedding, big families, your favorite blogger creating a challenge, etc. 

You put money (typically $25, but it can vary by group) into the pot.

You weigh in.  They have some rules and criteria for weighing in, and you also have to submit a photo.  They have some measures in place to try to prevent cheating.

You do what you want to attempt to meet your goal.  There are 2 kinds of diet bets - one is 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks, the other is 10% in 6 months

You weight out.  Again, there are certain requirements and measures to try to prevent cheating. 

All participants in that pool who met the goal are the winners and the pot is split between the winners. 

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Like everything out there, there are a number of pros and cons about this system.

Pros:
money- We live in a society where obesity is running rampant and quick fixes and empty promises are everywhere.  We all know that the individual must choose to make changes, but we aren't always motivated to do the work.  Diet Bet makes people individually responsible for themselves and provides monetary incentive to lose weight.  Diet Bet is not a "eat our food and you'll lose weight" system, and doesn't provide you any magic beans to losing weight. They simply provide motivation. This is a pro in my book.
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- Probably my favorite feature of Diet Bet is the element of community.  We all know it's hard to go it alone, and by creating groups there's both support and the element of competition.  You can compete again strangers or people you know.  I think this is awesome.  Another point for Diet Bet.

- Monetary incentive.  This is definitely a fun element to the game.  Most of us spend $25 on "junk" but the winning potential can be pretty big.

- They don't tell you how to lose weight. Diet Bet lets you decide how to best lose weight for yourself.  Everyone is different and this allows people to do what works for them. 

- The goals are set in percentages.  It's definitely a tricky thing to define - how much weight to lose. Obviously it's not fair to specify a number of pounds, and so doing it by a percent of your body weight is the most fair way to do it.  Choosing this value is also the "easiest" for the average joe (as opposed to % of body fat or other measures that would indicate health/fitness)

- The goals in a Diet Bet are "SMART" goals. 
S - Specific? Yes.  Lose 4% of your body weight (maybe not specific in HOW to do it, but I'll let that go, as it's a pro listed above)
M - Measureable? Yes.  The measurement of the goal is part of Diet Bet.
A - Achievable?  Generally, yes depending on how mush weight you have to lose. For a 150lb person, you're looking at 1.5lbs per week. 
R - Realistic? Generally, again, this depends on how much you have to lose.  If you're 150lbs with high percentage of body fat, 4% of your weight is 1.5lbs per week, and realistic.  If you're like me, and around 150lbs with a high percentage of lean muscle mass, seeing the number on the scale drop is more difficult.  Additionally, a 300lb person is looking at 3lbs a week, which is starting to be high for long term, healthy weight loss, in my opinion.
T - Timely. Yes. There is a time frame set out that's fairly appropriate for the goal. 

-Diet Bet has recently added a second kind of bet where players try to lose 10% of their body weight over 6 months.  I really like this option because it promotes long term changes.  Again, in the example of the 300lb person, you're now trying to lose 30lbs in 26 weeks (1.15lbs/week) which I think is a better, safer goal and is more likely to set that person up for long term change and success. 


Cons:
- Diet Bet is strictly weight based.  While it's understandable that the number on the scale is the easiest to compare, it's not the only factor in getting healthier.  Inches, body fat %, and numerous other factors are also (perhaps better?) indicators of health and fitness. 

- Again, because it's only weight based, people with higher percentages of muscle mass or those who gain muscle mass during the bet are at a disadvantage. 

- I couldn't find much information (blog articles, links, etc.) to losing weight.  While a pro listed above that Diet Bet doesn't tell you HOW to lose weight, it would be nice to know that they provide some solid advice on how to do it in a healthy fashion.  I would be concerned that certain individuals would go to extremes to win.

- Some people are just not in a position to succeed in a Diet Bet.  I stated above that I have never participated in a diet bet.  That's because I know that the likelihood of me losing 4% of my body weight in 4 weeks isn't very attainable due to my body composition and my body's disposition to gain muscle mass.  It would be a $25 donation to other people.  Other people who are not idea candidates would be people who would take extreme unhealthy measures to lose weight, individuals that lack knowledge of how to drop pounds in a healthy nature, or people with pre-existing medical conditions.


So there you have it.  While Diet Bet is not something I intend to participate in...ever, I'm not 100% opposed to the idea.  Will you ever see a Fitness with Jill dietbet? Not likely.  Like all avenues of getting healthy, it's not for everyone, but I can definitely see how some people can benefit from this.

Let me know, have you tried Diet Bet? Did you win? Would you recommend it to others? What do you think the pros and cons are? Share in the comments!

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