By LMQC Battle of the Bulge blogger Alan Sivell, St. Ambrose communications professor, RAGBRAI-er, pizza lover and longtime weight watcher.
I’ve been very good at losing weight. Unfortunately, I’ve been just as good at gaining it.
I’m not the greatest at remembering birthdays and anniversaries, but I remember my most successful weight loss campaigns.
In the first three months of 1981, I lost 20 pounds. After New Year in 1986, I lost 22. In the fall of 1999, I even managed to hit the ideal weight for my height, bone size (I always go with large bones!) and age recommended by the doctor’s chart.
Most of my most successful campaigns have come when competing against friends or co-workers. But it’s not always easy to find someone whose weight loss needs and motivation align with mine. Hence, my intermittent successes.
Biggest Loser Contest
Last fall I was getting desperate. I was 20 plus pounds beyond where I wanted to be and it had been about 15 years since my last success.
That’s when I got an email from former SAU student Josh Paul about his “Biggest Loser” contest. Josh is a Bettendorf police office (he’s currently the K-9 cop) and a competitive racquetball player. But he still struggles with his weight.
Four years ago, Josh was about 25 pounds over his ideal weight. He’d always tried losing weight by himself and he knew from experience, that rarely works. It was hard to follow through.
So he started an online contest with friends and family. He admits he did it for “somewhat selfish” reasons: He needed competition to keep him motivated.
SAU alum and Bettendorf officer Josh Paul’s plan
In his contest, people can compete against themselves, against the group or against others. There is plenty of motivation to be found. All they need to enter is $50 and a scale with a digital readout.
Starting on the first of January, contestants send Josh a picture of their weight each week. For losing 1 percent of your body weight each week, you can earn a dollar back. Do it for a second week and you can earn $2 back and so on. The top losers overall each week earn money back. And Josh has occasional special contests, pitting similar “losers” against each other for more “prize” money.
Winning weight loss
And at the end, losers in the top third of losers get money back. I was so motivated by the contest, I got $60 back from my initial investment. But that was just a bonus. I had lost the weight I wanted and I had changed my eating habits.
Josh says he runs the contest for three months because he read somewhere that it takes 56 days to break a habit. And he says that’s what we need to do. He says it is done on the honor system, so yeah, someone could scam him by sending in false weights.
But people aren’t doing it to make money. They’re doing it to change their lifestyle.
There were 25 people in Josh’s first contest. 73 in this year’s.
Some people enter every year. Others are one and done, having successfully changed their habits for the better. I’m hoping that’s me!