My Plan Needs Work

12.23.2008 | 2:45 pm

I know I said I’d post about the 2009 Weight Loss Challenge today, but I think I need more time to refine it. Here’s what I was thinking:

  • Ante: Everyone who wants to join has to put some skin in the game by donating a certain amount to my LiveStrong Challenge Fundraising page. I will then reciprocate by donating the same amount to your LiveStrong Challenge Fundraising page. The amount you choose by donating to my page becomes our monthly bet amount.
  • The Monthly Bet: Each month, we state how much we will lose by the end of that month. It has to be an ambitious goal.
  • Loser Pays: If I miss my goal, I donate our bet amount to your page. If you miss your goal, you donate that amount to my page. If we both hit our goals, then we’re both lighter, and that’s pretty cool, too.
  • No Quitting Allowed. If you join the challenge, you’re in until the end of July. No exceptions, no bail-outs. You can quit dieting, but that just means you lose and donate to my account every month.

What I Like About This Idea

There’s a lot I like about this plan. Specifically:

  • It Exposes Me, Big Time. I don’t do well with bets when I can afford to lose. If I’m betting an average of $20 / month with 100 people, I could wind up losing $2000 per month. I could afford that maybe once, but certainly not more than once.
  • It’s Personal. I’ll be betting something with each individual person. I like that.
  • It’s Simple. A couple years ago when we did the B7 Challenge, I just about lost my mind keeping track of the prizes and rankings. And while I did very well, the effort of collecting all those prizes was just too much and I left dozens of them uncollected.
  • It’s For a Good Cause. No matter how well we all do at this contest, the LAF is going to benefit. And when we fail, at least some good comes of it.

What I Don’t Like About This Idea

This challenge has problems, though. Here are the ones I see:

  • Not Humiliating Enough. When you or I fail, it’s just not humiliating. I think I can rectify this by publishing a “Non-Losing Losers” list each month, listing everyone who failed in their goals.
  • It Feels Too Good To Lose. This goes along with the first point. When you lose, it’s easy to think, “Well, that’s OK; I’m just donating to a good cause.” So there needs to be something else you (or I) give up when you miss your objective.

It’s this part — the penalty for failure — that I’m hoping you’ll give me some good ideas for. Although I’m definitely happy to have suggestions for other parts too. Like, what should the carrot be (currently, all incentives for this contest are definitely stick-like)?

Give me your suggestions, and we’ll nail this down. At the beginning of the year, we’ll start sign-up and get going.

The B7 from a couple years ago was a lot of fun, except when it was embarrassing. I’m expecting this will be no different.


  1. Comment by KanyonKris | 12.23.2008 | 3:00 pm

    Losers have to submit a photo of the fattest part of their body which will be posted on your blog. Humiliating enough?

    BTW, who won the Shimano wheel set? Did I miss something?

  2. Comment by Charisa | 12.23.2008 | 3:26 pm

    I have no ideas for this one, but I love watching the creativity of this come together!

  3. Comment by Beth | 12.23.2008 | 3:37 pm

    Hot damn, this could be just the motivation I need! Also, it gives me license to keep eating like a pig for another week! I can continue to repress the fact that I found out my cholesterol is 240 for another week….
    (have been contemplating changing my blog name to fatbethbikes for the last couple of weeks….)

  4. Comment by Nancy | 12.23.2008 | 3:38 pm

    Losing the money is enough of an incentive for me. I am thinking that it might be cool to spread the ‘love’ around and have bets with other participants, known and unknown, not just you, Fatty (no offense, but it might make it more interesting) — what do you think of that idea? Would it be too hard to arrange?

  5. Comment by jvance | 12.23.2008 | 4:15 pm

    You want to make it humiliating? Loser has to change their LiveStrong page to a picture of his or herself in weighing garb (I’m thinking of Fatty’s topless picture from year(s) ago) with the weight on there in lolcat fashion.

  6. Comment by Big Boned | 12.23.2008 | 4:16 pm

    Kanyon Kris,
    That is possibly the WORST idea ever (nothing personal)! I’ve been coming to this page for years, normally first thing in the morning. You think the first thing I want to see is the fattest part of your (or anyone else’s) body? Yeech! We gotta be able to come up with something better than that! Come on people, don’t let this idea “win” by default!
    Big Boned

  7. Comment by Nelson | 12.23.2008 | 4:17 pm

    I will be in. The advantage to you is I often lose interest in losing weight after a couple of months. The advantage to me is at least I won’t get any fatter….. I think as an incentive posting a full frontal body shot (with appropriate modesty–a pair of lycra bike shorts for men complemented by a jog bra for the women with real name and state.) I’d imagine your site gets enough traffic to warrant a reasonable effort for all participants.

  8. Comment by rich | 12.23.2008 | 4:27 pm

    I love this idea and there’s no doubt I could stand to lose a few lbs, but I’m not going to be doing a livestrong page(not that I don’t want to I’mjust previously committed to 2 other fund raiser rides this year)….so how does that work?

  9. Comment by Joel | 12.23.2008 | 5:01 pm

    I’m in. I’ll spend tonight trying to top Kanyon Kris’ idea (doubt I will)

  10. Comment by John the Lawyer | 12.23.2008 | 5:27 pm

    Okay, don’t want to spoil the party, but Big Boned is right. I want to see pics of the biggest losers–wait, winners–you know what I mean. Besides, the way you have it set up now goes against everything I learned in psychology class. And I actually paid attention once in awhile. (Not that I make a living off my psych degree, thankfully.)

    Problem 1a: No one wants you to lose any cash, Fatty. So, there’s a hidden incentive to NOT lose weight, and somehow feel good about it. Great for you, sucks for the masses.

    Problem 1b: Anyone who did beat you and forced you to cough up cash would probably either waive it or donate it to the LAF. So there’s not enough of an incentive for you.

    Problem 2: I have a few extra pounds to lose, for sure, but a few of us haven’t been gorging in the off-season, thank you very much. So I don’t have 20 easy ones to drop.

    Solution 1a (Come up with a better carrot for us): I want to compete against the masses, not just you. So, the person who most meets or exceeds their defined goal each month (as determined by you) gets a Fat Cyclist jersey, signed by you.

    Solution 1b (Come up with a better carrot for you): You want $$$ for the LAF, I’m guessing. So, to truly incentise you, and really make it hurt for those who lose to you, I suggest 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 odds in your favor.

    Solution 2 (Even the playing field): Do it in percentages, not pounds. Ex: I’m gonna lose 5% body weight. That’s an even bet for you, me, men, women, tall, short, etc.

    A few more (more or less random) suggestions:

    1. Biggest loser–wait, winners–you know what I mean, of the whole contest gets a Fat Cyclist jersey signed by SUSAN. (Even you would admit she’s the real star, right?)

    2. All the money you “lose” doesn’t get paid out right away. It goes into a holding account. At the end of the contest, those who visit your site get to vote what happens to the money. Majority rules.

    3. Everyone entering the contest has to put up an ante: Either enter an LAF 2009 ride or donate $50 up front.

    Dem’s my views. Now I gotta go stuff myself for the weigh-in. I want that Susan jersey.

    WIN SUSAN!!!

  11. Comment by John the Lawyer | 12.23.2008 | 5:31 pm

    Ohh, ohh, ohh! One more suggestion: Losers have to volunteer to marshal a cancer charity ride in their area during the calendar year 2009.

  12. Comment by Dartanyon | 12.23.2008 | 6:17 pm

    This sounds exactly like the challenge I need!
    Downsides …
    Somewhat public humiliation (simply; the losing part), Losing money (who can afford that) …
    Upsides …
    Win or lose money goes to Team Fatty (I won’t lose), I lose weight …
    Seems like an awesome idea!

  13. Comment by JDogg | 12.23.2008 | 6:48 pm

    I know I have an easy 10lbs to drop, I guess it doesn’t seem like a big challenge to ask for a pound or two a month.

    I guess I will start on it tomorrow.

    WIN Susan!

  14. Comment by GenghisKhan | 12.23.2008 | 7:16 pm

    I think John the Lawyer has been thinking waaay too much–and come up with some good ideas! I’d vote for public humiliation lists and/or pics (C’mon, name some names!). The bonus with pics is that the rest of us might be more motivated to not have that third or fourth (ahem…) donut after seeing a half dozen of your fans favorite chunky parts.

  15. Comment by Don | 12.23.2008 | 8:41 pm

    John the Lawyer just bored and confused the ‘poo’ outta me. I think I just lost interest in his Vegas odds theory.

  16. Comment by JT | 12.23.2008 | 9:45 pm

    If you or we miss our goal a speedo or bikini pic for all the fat cyclists folks to see!

  17. Comment by Jeff | 12.23.2008 | 10:28 pm

    Sounds evil but I’m interested- in a somewhat confusing sadistic sort of way- yea, I’ve been completly discombobulated- can’t we just give you money and eat donuts too? what’s wrong with that?

  18. Comment by dr_robert | 12.23.2008 | 10:57 pm

    However you structure it, I’m in. I’d like to drop about 50 pounds… that’s under 2 lbs per week, if we start in January and finish in July. I think I can manage that.

  19. Comment by Mike Roadie | 12.24.2008 | 6:30 am

    The B7 was fun except when it was embarrassing?? I thought the fun part WAS the embarrassment!!!
    I agree with John Lawyer that the ante is a must, IMHO.
    I really don’t have 7 months of weight to lose, so I am not going to be in, unless we have a Weight Gain contest at the same time.

    Merry Christmas to you all!!!!!!!

  20. Comment by Stephen | 12.24.2008 | 8:14 am

    You want it to not feel good to lose? When you lose, for the first week of the next month, you cannot get on the bike. If you do not want to lose again, you must run. Or swim.

  21. Comment by Hombredebicycle | 12.24.2008 | 8:50 am

    Merry Xmas to you and your family.
    Thanks for all the wonderful and moving writing you are doing!

  22. Comment by Spanky | 12.24.2008 | 8:55 am

    Sounds like too many cooks may spoil the broth. Fatty’s original plan works for me. I’m in regardless of whether it changes or not.

    Rich: If you are not going to participate in a LiveStrong Challenge, then I would say this weight-loss challenge is not for you. Although…there is nothing stopping you from raising funds for the LAF, even if you don’t ride.

    John the Lawyer: Whoa! GenghisKhan and Don are right. While Fatty did not expressly state this, I got the impression that this weight-loss challenge was more about raising funds for the LAF through those of use registered to participate in a LiveStrong Challenge. Don’t forget forget that whether we lose or Fatty loses, the LAF wins. What I learned from my Psych class is that doing good deeds makes us feel good. The beauty of Fatty’s plan is that you feel good when you win, i.e. weight-loss, and you feel good when you lose, i.e. more money raised to fight cancer.

    Lastly, for those of you who don’t have 7-month’s worth of weight to lose: Congratulations!

    Many good suggestions were made, but let’s keep our eyes on the prize, folks. This is not about us.

  23. Comment by Dobovedo | 12.24.2008 | 9:09 am

    Seems to me the head chef invited all the cooks into the kitchen. Just sayin’.

  24. Comment by John the no longer fat cyclist | 12.24.2008 | 10:31 am

    Heck, I’m up for it, no matter what the rules are. Anything that keeps me focused, even if it’s not “technically” optimally structured is a good thing.

    I don’t have seven months worth of weight to lose (anymore, I’ve dropped 130# in the past year, mainly by cycling) but I’ve got a few more to go, and these are the TOUGH ones. I need some motivation.

    I think if we *were* to get all technical about it, the percentage of total weight lost would be more “fair”, although total reduction in body fat percentage would be “most fair”, it’s so darn hard to measure that it’s not practical…


  25. Comment by John the Lawyer | 12.24.2008 | 11:11 am

    Yeah, maybe I got outta hand. Sorry. Whatever the rules, I’m in.

  26. Comment by chtrich | 12.24.2008 | 11:30 am

    I loved the B7! I’m excited to hear about the new challenge. I need it!

  27. Comment by Keith | 12.25.2008 | 5:21 am

    I have a procedural question: Will it be possible to “get ahead of the curve”?

    Assume someone pledges to lose 10 pounds per month. If they lose 12 pounds the first month, and 8 pounds the next, are they on the hook for payment that second month?

  28. Comment by bob | 12.25.2008 | 10:24 am

    maybe at each event we have a scale, a bullhorn and a very public/heckle weigh in. oh, and in swim type attire – public embarasement IS A STRONG MOTIVATOR!
    with that, i’ld be eating rice cakes for the next 6 months

  29. Comment by BuffaloDevil | 12.25.2008 | 12:50 pm

    Hey, yeah, how about us scrawny folk who can’t climb a anthill because we weigh about the same as our bikes. How about a “Weight Change” contest?

    PS: No snide comments–you try climbing with puny stick arms and legs!

  30. Comment by courtney | 12.25.2008 | 4:15 pm

    I’d be in.

    Tell me a little more about the LAF stuff, and what I’d need to do? Do I have to enter a real ride, or do one of the Spinning ones, or what? I’m a big Lance fan, and it’s a hell of a good charity.

  31. Comment by courtney | 12.25.2008 | 4:18 pm

    So with some quick googling, I see that the LAF challenge is only in 4 cities… that’s not doable for me.

  32. Comment by Stomper | 12.25.2008 | 4:33 pm

    If I recall correctly BR7 had a time-trial component.

    Wouldn’t we also want to link some cycling into the challenge too?

  33. Comment by Ellen | 12.25.2008 | 9:53 pm

    At the risk of getting shouted down, feathered and tarred, what about those of us who may not need to lose a whole lot of weight but still want the motivation to get up off the couch and get rid of the flab?

    Maybe for those of us who have less than ten pounds to lose we could pledge to do a certain number of workouts or milage a week? We could submit our workout logs?


  34. Comment by Wine Dog | 12.26.2008 | 6:48 am

    The problem with your challenge is that it’s win win. If you win the monthly bet, you win and your page wins. If I were to win the monthly bet, I win and my page wins. And in the end, the fight against cancer wins and Susan wins. A lot of upside here…and I need to lose 50 pounds. Et tu Brutus?

    I’m in.

    Win Susan.

  35. Comment by Richard | 12.26.2008 | 10:02 am

    Would love to be involved in this challenge. Its a win-win all-round. Haven’t been watching the calorie intake too well since Leadville 50 (last July!) and I have about 35 pounds to lose (not terrible, I was running between 10-15 heavy all last year). The thought of the “Fat Mugshots” scares the poop outta me. I’m already planning to be in the MS 150 for my own personal reasons. Any chance you could set it up so that if I win my MS150 page benefits?

  36. Comment by Courtney | 12.26.2008 | 12:30 pm

    I do a charity tri each summer, and I could do that page…

  37. Comment by william | 12.29.2008 | 3:56 pm

    I like the idea of publishing photos of the losers in Speedos. I have one other thing, is there any way that we could donate to other charities. We had a baby with club foot in the summer I am working on raising money for the treatment of club foot for babies born in developing countries next year. How about trading charity donations? Is that too conplicated? The trade off, is that you feel good that the money goes to a good cause, but it’s not yours.

  38. Comment by dave | 12.29.2008 | 6:49 pm

    i’m with buffalodevil – blessed with an overactive metabolism, but i still need to get my ass in shape for the season coming up, preferably by gaining at least 10lbs all muscle mass. can we get in on this?

  39. Comment by aurora | 04.8.2010 | 2:52 pm


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