Challenges to lose weight have been around for a long time but gained popularity with the introduction of weight loss shows such as The Biggest Loser. You might see weight loss challenges on the internet, be invited to one in real life by a friend, or consider joining a weight loss challenge hosted by your office. Before you jump on the weight loss challenge bandwagon, make sure this type of challenge will be good for your long-term goals.
Years ago, when my weight hovered in the 300-pound range, I had never heard of a weight loss challenge until a friend of mine invited me to join her team for a small community challenge. I declined because I didn’t want to embarrass myself or cause her team to lose because I had never successfully lost weight on my own or in a group. Looking back, I think I made the right decision at the time.
What about you? Will participating in a challenge be a great kick-start to your weight loss goals?
Let’s find out.
Know Your Preferences
Know what your preferences are before you commit to joining a challenge.
If you like to keep your weight loss progress private, a weight loss challenge that requires publicly sharing your weight is not for you. Some weight loss challenges offer secret or private weigh-ins, while others require you to post pictures of you on the scale or weigh with a representative of the challenge.
You may be someone who likes to work out alone or lose weight without group interaction. If so, a challenge that encourages group interaction might not be for you. If, on the other hand, you love the accountability that a group affords, a weight loss challenge may be right up your alley.
Know the Rules
Each weight loss challenge has its own set of rules. Make sure you know what you are getting into. I had a friend who joined a challenge only to discover that she had to pay $50 into the pot for the eventual prize.
- Regular weigh-ins.
- No unhealthy diets.
- No use of commercial weight loss products such as Medifast or Jenny Craig.
- Required meeting attendance—usually for at-work or local challenges.
Pick a Fair and Reputable Challenge
The fairest type of weight loss challenges are those based on losing a percentage of your body weight rather than pounds lost. This evens the playing field between men and women.
If you join a team challenge, ask how the final results for the team are calculated. Some challenges discard the lowest competitor to avoid penalizing a team that has a member drop out. Others do not.
When deciding whether a challenge is fair and reputable, look at online reviews or talk to people who have participated in the challenge before. In general, challenges run by established community organizations are safe to enter.
Don’t Win at All Costs
A weight loss challenge can be a boost to your weight loss efforts, especially if you are motivated by prizes and recognition. Don’t try to win to the detriment of your health, however.
It doesn’t do you any good to starve yourself or exercise for hours a day just to win a prize. Unhealthy dieting habits, whether during a weight loss challenge or not, will never lead to long-term weight loss.