Last Day to Register for Weight Loss Challenge (Plus Helpful Tips)

03.11.2014 | 10:44 am

A week ago, I posted an announcement for the FatCyclist / Beeminder Challenge.

So far, more than 100 of you (including The Hammer and me) have signed up. Which means that more than 100 of us are serious about hitting our weight goals by June 21, and that we’ve raised more than $2000 for World Bicycle Relief.

That is awesome. 

Today, I wanted to let you know that it’s the last day you can register. 

Tomorrow, we reset the points back to 0, and the contest begins for reals. 

So now seems like a good time for me to give you a link to details of how the challenge works, along with a link to register.

And give some helpful tips for making it easy to leave comments to each other, as well as maximize your points right off the bat.

Use Retroratchet TODAY 

When you start a Beeminder program, Beeminder automatically gives you a weeklong grace period — time for you to get on the good side of the yellow brick road. And, probably, even to get below the yellow brick road before the road starts dropping down. Like my chart, here:


Normally, that’s awesome. Because it feels good to look at the chart and be able to say to yourself, “I’m doing great. I’m doing better than what’s expected of me.” 

But with this contest, when you’re below the yellow brick road (green dot territory), you are getting only two points per day, instead of the three you get when you’re on the good side of the yellow brick road (blue dot territory).

So, today you can use the “Retroratchet” feature to drag the yellow brick road to wherever you are, and adjust the path of that road toward your goal starting today. 

Here’s what my chart looks like after I used Retroratchet:


Tada! Now instead of being way below the yellow brick road, I’m on the yellow brick road for when the contest starts in earnest (i.e., tomorrow). This way, everyone who has signed up has the same fair chance of doing well in the contest, regardless of how they did during the practice period.

Note that for the purpose of this contest, today is the only day you can use Retroratchet. After that, the feature will be disabled so you can’t constantly drag the yellow brick road to where you are, giving yourself more points in the process.

Also note that Retroratchet is a two-edged sword. You can use it today to put yourself on the yellow brick road, but by doing so you eliminate any buffer you might have built up by getting below the yellow brick road. And that means if you mess up, your odds of derailing are better.

So, do you want to Retroratchet? It’s up to you. I did, because I’m confident I can keep up my progress, and felt I had too much buffer, which for me is an incentive to slack off.

How do you “Retroratchet?” Well, log in to Beeminder and go to your personal page. Below your chart, you’ll see several links in a tab format, like this: 


Click the “Retroratchet” link and then click the Retroratchet button. Suddenly, you’re right in the middle of the yellow brick road, and whatever safety buffer you’ve built up this week is gone

It’s a gamble. You’ll have to decide whether it’s worth taking.


One thing I’ve really liked in past weight loss challenges is being able to leave encouraging comments (and where appropriate, encouraging taunts) to each other, so I asked the folks at Beeminder to add a Comments feature. Impressively, they did it pretty much instantly.

So now you can go to anyone’s personal page (the Leaderboard is a good way to see others’ pages) and leave a comment. Just look below the chart, log in with any of your popular social media logins, and you’re set to leave a comment. Easy.

Good luck with joining, and meeting your goals. This contest is gonna be great. 


  1. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.11.2014 | 10:57 am

    I’m eating pizza and donuts as I read this. Will weigh in tonight an sign up!

  2. Comment by Wife#LookOutWorld | 03.11.2014 | 11:19 am

    Okay so ignore my comment on the last beeminder post as you have answered all my questions.

    And we’re off! ‘Scuse me while go rip the pizza and donuts from the grasp of Husband#1 and toss them in the garbage before they start to look good to me.

  3. Comment by pfonke | 03.11.2014 | 1:12 pm

    Is there any way to have a GROUP comments page, so we can continue to post questions and comments (and encouragement and smack-talk) in a single place where everyone could read it. The comment-thread to last week’s announcement served this purpose, and I found answers to questions I hadn’t even asked yet.

    Also, how are multiple entries treated for points purposes? Does highest count? Lowest? Average? I just got a Withings scale, and I can see myself posting multiple times as I get used to it. In addition, I recall that Beeminder encourages you to make an emergency effort to get back on the road on the day you go off track.

    I was going to retro-rachet, but then I got the new scale and immediately “gained” 3 pounds. I’m right back in the middle of the road.

  4. Comment by Tom in Albany | 03.11.2014 | 1:28 pm

    Good luck to all of you. I hope you’re all successful in reaching your respective weight-loss goals!

  5. Comment by Daniel Reeves | 03.11.2014 | 1:43 pm

    Great questions, pfonke! I just created a google group, FatMinder —!forum/fatminder — in case it’s useful but let’s stick with this comment thread for now.

    Multiple entries: only the lowest weigh-in of the day counts.

    Keep the questions coming! Good luck, everyone!

  6. Comment by pfonke | 03.11.2014 | 1:57 pm

    Thanks, Dan. I just signed up. The link got cut off in your post, so I had to cut in paste. Let’s see if I can get the link to work for me:!forum/fatminder


  7. Comment by David C. | 03.11.2014 | 2:49 pm

    The last thing I want to do is criticize the contest… I am so glad I signed up, that I am doing well so far and I really could careless if I win. I’m just glad to be motivated to share something with all of you as b737officeview.

    The reality is though the point system is kinda skewed and it will be hard to win. If you go too far below the “yellow” path you get less points than if you hover close to the line. I get the idea that you don’t want to lose too much too fast but people lose at different rates, usually faster at the start of a diet than later. While my target may be 1.4 lbs per week of loss that is an AVERAGE, and right now I am losing a bit more and later I fully expect to lose a bit less. With this point system I won’t get maximum point unless I am nearly steady at 1.4 lbs per week.

    What is my point? The prize is great BUT DON’T TRY TO WIN! TRY TO LOSE… weight that is. Keep your retroratchet on if you are signing up today, give yourself a flat week… get ahead of the line, points be damned and be proud you are ahead!

    If I reach my goal (AND I WILL!) that will be prize enough.

    I’m pretty much in agreement with you, David. I’m just going to do my best to lose at a reasonable pace. I doubt I’ll win, and don’t really care. This is very much a 1.0 version of this contest, and I’m sure Beeminder and I will take our key learnings into 2.0. Meanwhile, we’re losing weight, doing some good, and enforcing accountability. And it’s fun to have the carrot out there; SOMEONE’s gonna win it, after all. – FC

  8. Comment by Wife#OhDearGod | 03.11.2014 | 3:25 pm

    @DavidC… 100% agree with you and that also is NOT a suggestion to change the rules in any way but rather just a reality for some of us. I’m in this for two reasons only…
    1) the motivation to lose more weight via public accountability
    2) support Lisa and WBR

    Though I do love the idea of sending the Chapek brothers a pair of Rapha bibs for them to start reverse engineering bio bibs. My husband’s idea. LOL.

  9. Comment by Daniel Reeves | 03.11.2014 | 4:31 pm

    @David C: I think we actually have you pretty covered on that score! If you want to lose at a faster rate at the beginning and taper off, you can do that. Just adjust the steepness of your yellow brick road with the road dial under your graph. All changes have a one-week delay, so we believe it doesn’t defeat the point of the commitment contract (or this contest!) to allow that. In fact, we’re super proud of that innovation and gush endlessly about it here, for example:

    In short: You don’t have to have the same rate of weight loss the whole time!

    (Very interested in feedback about this, of course. Maybe it’s hard to predict a week out how your rate of weight loss will change? Definitely want to keep hearing people’s thoughts on this!)

  10. Comment by David C. | 03.11.2014 | 8:19 pm

    I totally see your point Daniel, but like you mentioned, I really can’t fairly predict how my weight will drop. Just eating better I shed a ton this first week but it will rapidly slow down as water weight etc. no longer is an issue. I could try to say I will lose “3 pounds” this week but that is a IMHO a dangerous goal so I like the idea of a steady line, all the way down… IMHO the solution is to give everyone below the line by any amount the same points BUT, BUT… I get that means tons of people might end up with the exact score if they get below, stay below etc. so it makes the winner a more “random” thing.

    I am HAPPY with the contest, happy with Beeminder, and happy to be losing weight!

  11. Comment by Al Pastor | 03.11.2014 | 8:30 pm

    Good luck all who entered. I did not – mostly because I like to drink a good cab or syrah most nights.

    Whoever wins will look mighty good in their new rapha bibs.

  12. Comment by Daniel Reeves | 03.12.2014 | 2:02 am

    @David C: I think if the points were the same for the right lane or outperforming the road then it would be too gameable: You could set a totally unambitious road and then make sure to be totally below it the whole time.

    This way with Fatty’s 3-2-1 points rule your incentive is to pick a yellow brick road you think you can realistically stick to. Not too easy and not too hard — which is exactly the right way to lose weight!

  13. Comment by ClydeinKS | 03.12.2014 | 8:52 am

    is it possible to still enter today or was the final registration 3/11/14? I’m trying to get on but the work computer limits access and will need to get on tonight – but I did get on the scale and YES it is time to lose again!! Thanks for offering the platform again, this one will require my approach to be done differently but let’s shed some pounds!

  14. Comment by Lorri | 03.12.2014 | 10:41 am

    I had signing up on my to-do list, bought a scale last night but missed the cut-off. I don’t have to be in the contest but I sure want to lose weight.

    I’ll just go the beeminder route, sure wish the registration could go to wbr. I’ll just send them money because I know this isn’t going to cost me anything else as I’ll always be below the line : )

  15. Comment by briebecca | 03.12.2014 | 10:57 am

    Somehow when I initially entered my starting weight, I missed setting my target weight and Beeminder set it up for me. I have entered my target weight by doing the ‘dial it in’.. question… I suspect I’m going to go below the yellow road tomorrow or the day after because of the water weight coming off. Once it’s adjusted after a week, do those 2 points become 3 points?

  16. Comment by Lorri | 03.12.2014 | 11:12 am

    FYI: I went to Beeminder to sign up and they entered me in the fat cyclist group. Sweet!

  17. Comment by Daniel Reeves | 03.12.2014 | 2:20 pm

    Hey everyone, registration is officially closed now. We’ve got 167 people doing this! Thank you so much! That’s $3,331.65 to WBR, plus half of any penalties you may pay for going off track.

    To those still wanting to join: You can’t be in the contest or on the leaderboard but you can definitely still create a Beeminder goal. And note that there’s no registration fee at all on Beeminder. That was just for the contest. Beeminder is totally free (if you never go off your yellow brick road!). :)

  18. Comment by Daniel Reeves | 03.12.2014 | 2:23 pm

    @briebecca: No, the points you get on each day are normally final, regardless of future adjustments to your yellow brick road. But if you made any mistake in setting it up or anything, just let us know — — and we’ll fix it and retroactively adjust points if needed to make sure everything’s fair.

  19. Comment by Liz M. | 03.12.2014 | 4:56 pm

    I can see the benefit of Retroratchet if you are losing weight in the trial period . . . but somehow i managed to GAIN weight! I believe this is a temporary anomaly because I’ve been doing what I know I need to do, I understand fluctuations are part of the process . . . but does Retroratchet work for those of us with the opposite problem? (Note: I’m still on the yellow brick road, just not under the hashed line).

  20. Comment by Daniel Reeves | 03.12.2014 | 7:17 pm

    @Liz M: No, part of the idea of Beeminder is that it always has you locked in for the coming week. So you can make it easier a week from now but not sooner.

    I see what you mean about how that’s maybe unfair for the contest since we called it a practice week and everyone who went below the road got to ratchet it down when the contest started for real. Let me check with our Arbiter of Fairness, aka Bethany, and we’ll make the call. Could you email us at as well so we know which is your graph?

  21. Comment by Tanner Lovelace | 03.13.2014 | 6:51 am

    Hey @Daniel Reeves, for those of us that don’t read Fatty every day it kind of sucks not being able to use Retroratchet at least once in the contest (now, for instance) since we have now missed the window. (I.e. I just now saw this post and I’m still stuck on a flat goal line for another week.)

  22. Comment by Tom in Albany | 03.13.2014 | 7:02 am

    Ahem. Umm. 100MoN should be coming due….

  23. Comment by ???? ?????? ????? ??? | 03.13.2014 | 8:17 am

    What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of
    valuable knowledge regarding unpredicted emotions.

  24. Comment by Daniel Reeves | 03.13.2014 | 4:40 pm

    @Tanner: Email us at and we’ll look at your graph. If it looks clear that you would’ve chosen to retroratchet on Tuesday then that’ll probably feel fair to retro-retroratchet you. :)

    @Tom: 100MoN?

    @String-of-question-marks: what a data indeed!

  25. Comment by pfonke | 03.13.2014 | 5:49 pm

    100MoN = 100 Miles of Nowhere. Ask @Fatty.

  26. Comment by Wife#1 | 03.14.2014 | 9:29 am

    Beeminder peeps I have a question… my Wordpress blog is not letting me add your widget (or strava’s dammit). It seems to strip out iframe code each and every time I save. I suspect I need to do something as a site admin to enable that (plugin or such) but have no clue what. Do you have any documentation you can point me too? Thanks!

  27. Comment by Daniel Reeves | 03.14.2014 | 1:32 pm

    @Wife#1: Ooh, we’re very keen to make sure people are able to add that widget (for obvious ulterior reasons!) so if it’s that it doesn’t like iframes we’ll make a version without them. In the meantime you could embed just a thumbnail of your graph. For example, here’s mine:

    Could you email us at and we’ll help figure it out? Thanks so much for showing off your graph!

  28. Comment by Wife#1 | 03.14.2014 | 6:28 pm

    Thank you SO much Daniel, Bethany et al. Knowing that Wordpress is so awful about iframes, I totally appreciate that you did as much as you did. Having it up there and updating at least is awesome. THANKS!


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