Or Why I’ll Never Sign Up for a Diet Bet
Diet Bet. HealthyWage. These are just two of many apps that all have the same purpose. They encourage you to lose weight by putting down the one thing that everyone is even more concerned about — money. The exact mechanics vary from app to app, but the outcome is the same. You bet a certain amount of money, and if you reach your goal weight within a certain amount of time, you get your money back, and sometimes more.
The ads are everywhere. If you start talking about losing weight, you’ll see these ads pop up on your Facebook or Instagram, talking about how someone reached their goal weight and won hundreds or thousands of dollars. It sounds like a great idea, right? Money makes the world go ‘round, after all, and in most circles, it’s a universal motivator. Who doesn’t love the idea of making money for doing something that you’re going to do anyway? What’s so bad about that?
You’re betting against yourself, which is why I’ll never sign up for one.
This came to mind because I see people talking about their own Diet Bets and Healthy Wage wagers all the time on Instagram and other fitness-centric social media pages — and I hate them, because I know how my brain reacts to things like that. It’ll go something like this:
Step 1: Sign up for a Diet Bet with $40 I may or may not actually have. The goal of a Diet Bet is to lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks. For me, at 204 lbs as of this morning, that would be 8.16 lbs or a little over 2 lbs a week so it’s not approaching dangerous weight loss levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should aim for 1–2 lbs a week for healthy weight loss, so for someone who weighs 300 lbs, they’d be expected to lose 12 lbs in 4 weeks or 3 lbs a week which is harder to do in a healthy or sustainable manner.
Step 2: I manage to stick to my diet and exercise regimen for the first week, if I’m lucky. I’m meticulous about it, tracking everything on My Fitness Pal and staying below 1200 calories a day to lose those 2 lbs a week.
Step 5: I lose enough weight to win the diet bet — and then this goes one of two ways. Either I start binging on junk food and gain back every ounce that I lost, or I keep eating 1000 calories a day. Either way, disordered eating is in my future.
When you bet against yourself, you’re the only loser.
Now, this is just my opinion. I know how my brain works and I know that if I spend four weeks focused on my weight loss with something like money on the line, I’m going to regret it because it’s going to ruin me, one way or another. Betting against myself is toxic, and detrimental to my mental health.
For some people, it works — I’ve seen people succeed at reaching their weight loss goals using apps like Diet Bet and HealthyWage. I’ve also seen them brag about how they reached their goals by restricting themselves to steamed broccoli and unseasoned chicken breast for the last week of their bet.
If it works for you, more power to you — but make sure that your weight loss is healthy and sustainable. Don’t let the pressure of these apps or social media push you into making the sort of unhealthy choices that you’ll regret later. Eating disorders affect 30 million people in the United States every year.
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