Numbers don’t lie – people are flocking to these challenges, and they are finding success in great numbers.
Online weight loss and fitness challenges are virtual meetings/support groups that enable participants to connect with others with similar fitness and/or weight loss goals. Though companies like DietBet are among the largest offering these challenges, trainers around the country are joining in with challenges of their own. DietBet, which launched one year ago, enables participants to make a small investment of $25 and then choose a “group” with which they want to play. If they lose 4 percent of their body weight in four weeks, they are paid money from the large “pot” and they win! The pot is split between all those who lose 4 percent, so every participant will receive at least their $25 back, if not more.
DietBet challenges can have more than 500 participants. That’s a whole lot of people, providing a whole lot of combined cash (No. 1 key to success) and also providing a whole lot of support (No. 2 key to success) toward a common goal.
According to James Rosen, DietBet founder, a whopping 93 percent of DietBet participants lose weight during the four-week social game. Furthermore, a third of the game’s players achieve their goal and win the game — talk about motivation. Since DietBet launched, participants have lost more than 40,000 pounds combined.
Hmmm. Give people the chance to win money and they’ll stick with their weight loss goals? According to a recent report, yes. Weight loss study participants who received financial incentives were more likely to stick with a weight loss program and lost more weight than did study participants who received no incentives, according to a recently released Mayo Clinic research study.
"The take-home message is that sustained weight loss can be achieved by financial incentives," says lead author Dr. Steven Driver, an internal medicine resident at Mayo Clinic. “Financial incentives can improve results, compliance and adherence.”
Tina Reale, NASM-certified personal trainer and the force behind tinareale.com, regularly hosts her own Best Body Bootcamp online fitness challenges. Reale is about to launch her fifth challenge and has found that financial incentives serve as a great motivator.
“I think people realize the value for what they pay (just $25 to register) and get friends and family to sign up,” Reale says. Reale randomly picks a weekly winner who has completed at least 5 workouts per week and therefore has earned points for the week. At the end of the challenge, participants with enough “points” are entered to win $1,000.
The second and perhaps equally important reason people opt to try these online challenges is the support they receive from other participants, the accountability they feel and the overall feeling of accomplishment when they succeed.
According to Tamara Grand, BCRPA-certified personal training, advanced group fitness leader and the author of fitknitchick.com, people are simply searching for the support they need, and these challenges provide it.
“The challenges motivate and keep people accountable to their goals,” says Grand, who just hosted her second DietBet challenge.
She said she is also struck by the “emerging sense of community” among players who provide tips and support.
In all of these challenges, social media plays a vital role in engaging participants. Motivational tips and support can prompt weight loss participants to succeed. Again, the numbers tell a story. According to DietBet, participants who engage with others by posting comments and/or photos in the game, are a whopping 381 percent more successful than those who sit on the “social media sidelines.”
So there you have it: Spend a little money and invest in yourself and connect with others, and you may be well on your way to reaching those weight loss goals. But remember, just because you connect and invest in yourself, you're not likely to lose weight if you still choose to enjoy that additional helping or two at dinner. If only it was that easy!
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