Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Biggest Loser Isn't Much of a Winner

It’s that time of year again, and no I don’t mean holiday time.  It is the time for the company sponsored “Biggest Loser” contest, which loosely mimics the reality television show of the same name, but without all of the guidance, support, and amazing exercise equipment.  Basically, each person that signs up for this contest competes to see who can lose the most percentage of weight in a three month time period, based on weekly weigh ins.  I guess my company believes that we will be more motivated to lose weight if we are competing for a cash reward. 

However, I have my own thoughts regarding these kinds of contests.  Instead of promoting healthy habits or providing education materials and guest speakers to improve the overall health and wellness of the employees, the only focus of the contest is weight loss, regardless of how you do it.  For instance, last year’s winner went on a liquid detox diet for the remaining three weeks of the competition, just to win the money.  I have noticed that in most of these cases, fol, the winners gain back their weight plus some.

My experience with this contest has always been negative, because the pressure was just too much for me to handle.  Even if I had been managing my weight nicely before the contest began, once it started, I found myself getting too caught up in the numbers on the scale.  Inevitably, a few weeks into the competition I would gain a couple pounds and become so frustrated and disappointed with myself that I ended up in line at the bakery (thinking it would make me feel better for the moment) or dropping out of the contest altogether. 

Besides the pressure I placed on myself, there was pressure from coworkers.  I remember once buying some cookies from the vending machine, and someone said “is that going to help you in the biggest loser contest?”  What I needed was some solid support, not a criticism that left me feeling demoralized.

So, instead of biting off more than you can chew, slow down and make a real weight loss plan for yourself.  Remember to surround yourself with a support system who will cheer you on through the ups and the downs, and set realistic and achievable weight loss goals that are specific to your needs; don’t worry what everyone else is doing. 

Most importantly, the next time your company offers the “Biggest Loser” contest, just say no thanks.

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