At my new workplace, my department has a fairly regular weight loss competition which is completely optional to take part in. There is a set of scales in the office which we all use to weigh in. I believe this has ran multiple times before I started, but as I have only been there a few months, plus I really want to finish losing weight, I decided to join in. It ran for 13 weeks and there are a number of financial rules and penalties which go like this – 

  • Weigh in on Friday of week 1
  • Every subsequent week you weigh in on Friday within an hour of arriving at the office. (there are a number of rules in place for when you are off on the Friday/on holiday for multiple weeks)
  • Every week every person pays £1
  • If you lose between 0 – 1 pound you pay an additional £1 penalty = £2 per week
  • If you lose more than 1 pound you only pay the original £1 = £1 per week
  • If you gain weight you pay a £5 penalty = £5 per week 

Everyone is ranked on their overall percentage lost, and at the end the money is used to pay for a meal and a night out for those who took part (and anyone else who wants to join but pay for themselves). I thought, “hey, what could be bad about this?” Surely this will give me the motivation I need? I was back up to 190 pounds, the weight I have been at for over a year (give or take ten pounds at most). During the first few weeks I really got back into the gym, five times a week, three times a week weights, twice a week cardio. My eating was okay, not perfect but reasonable. I lost about 5 pounds and after week 2 I was second! I knew I was going on holiday soon so really tried hard. 

Then, around came my time of the month, and the week before it I had to pay my first £5 fine. I knew my weight always goes up (a lot) at period time. My stomach severely bloats (even more than usual) and water is held onto as if I am very dehydrated (usually drinking around 2 litres of fluid per day on top of plenty of fruit and vegetables). This was very demotivating, as I was good with food and exercise and really there was nothing I could do to avoid the gain. 

The following week I had a mid week takeaway, another thing that encourages my body to retain fluids in a desperate attempt to clear itself of the increased sodium. Unsurprisingly there was another fine. The next week I lost but then I was on holiday in Croatia for a week. It’s safe to say I wasn’t sticking to reduced calories while away, and when I got back I was half a pound heavier than I had been the week I started! Another loss next, then it was the time of the month again, and yet another fine. 

In the run up to the end of the competition I signed up for 80/20 plants, which motivated me to really stick to my healthy eating, but i hadn’t ventured back to the gym, for fear it would make my weight loss stall again. I lost a pound one week, then another pound the next, finishing the competition at just over 2 pounds lighter than I started. The total I paid in was £33, I finished last having lost 0.94% of my original weight. Other people paid bigger fines, but overall lost more weight. 

I have really struggled getting much below 190 for so long now, I truly think this is the set point of my body, and to lose this last 50 pounds is going to take extreme dedication. I thought the weight loss competition would give me the motivation, but a few weeks in I realised it was affecting me in the same way that Slimming World did all those years ago. My body just does not lose weight in a linear fashion. Okay, I had a holiday in the mix, but a combination of exercising/weights, periods, and not eating perfectly leads my body to produce big weight fluctuations.

On a day to day basis I am not aware of these (other than feeling bloated), but weighing in, competing against colleagues once a week showed me this. And instead of taking it for what it was, fluctuations, it would generally leave me feeling disappointed, angry at myself. No surprise what I sometimes do when feeling like this? Eat more. So for me (and I suspect most people), weight loss competitions just don’t work, especially long term. This is not a race to the finish line, it is your whole life and health, and next time the competition starts, as much as I would like to completely destroy my colleagues, I won’t be joining in. I suspect this is why slimming companies continue to exist, and the number of classes just seems to continually rise. Weight loss is incredibly difficult to sustain over the long term, short term loss and fluctuations don’t teach the message of true lifestyle and habit change, don’t rid people of the negative ideas they have around food. This competition reminded me even after 6 stone, these thoughts can still be within me to pop out when required. 

Since starting the new eating plan with 80/20 plants, I have been eating around 80% whole plants, and this week I have made it back to the gym five mornings out of five. I’ve not weighed myself this week, it is nearly my time of the month which means I’m bloated, plus it’s my birthday in a couple of days and to be honest I’m in for the long haul, not the minor changes. I just need to remember that. I am envious of those who lose weight consistently until they reach their goal, but I just don’t work like that, does anyone really? If the statistics of over 90% of people regaining any weight they lose are correct I begin to think this is actually a myth, and longing for something that just can never be is a pointless endeavour. 

To join and support me (and also to get some support back too!) please add me on My Fitness Pal , and other social media, InstagramFacebookTwitterFitbit. I’m not so active on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter at the moment but I am still consistently using My Fitness Pal and my Fitbit so these are probably the best places for us to connect.