Fatty’s 2019 Weight Loss Challenge

01.1.2019 | 3:45 pm

January 2 AM Update: 30 of us have filled out the “I’m interested” form so far, which is not the same as actually registering, but it’s still way beyond (about 3x beyond, to be honest) what I expected. Clearly, I’m not the only one who has gotten too fat for his fat pants.

If all of us actually pay up, that’s $1500 I’ll be donating to Camp Kesem. And since the company I work for does matching on donations, that will turn into $3000 for Camp Kesem. And that makes me super happy.

It’s not too late to sign up. Lose some weight, do some good!

Hey, Happy New Year to you. I hope your January is off to a splendid start.

As for me, well, I’ve kinda been taking it easy on the whole “diet” thing. By which I mean I’ve gotten about as fat as I’ve been in a decade. Maybe more. Specifically, a week or so ago I weighed myself and was horrified to discover I weighed 180 pounds. My reaction was to begin dieting immediately, by which I mean that I have eaten continuously, bringing myself into a perpetual food-induced stupor.

It’s time to turn this ship around.

If you’ve kinda let yourself go they way I’ve let myself go…well, maybe we can help each other get back on track with a little coopetition. Which is to say, if you’ve got at least 15 pounds you’d like to get rid of before summer and you think a friendly competition might help you do it, I think I’ve got just the thing.

Why I’m Doing This and Why You Might Want To, Too

I know I need to lose some weight. I also know a few other things about myself. I’m a competitive soul; I love to win. I’m also a cooperative soul; I love to help others win. I stay engaged — focused — over the long haul when I have accountability, incentive, a finish line, and the prospect of fun.

I think these traits are pretty common. So I’ve contrived a weight loss challenge that I think will keep me on track, will be fun, has serious accountability, has real incentive for me to not bail, and will do the same for the folks who join me.

Here’s How It Works

I’ve done a number of weight loss challenges before. The ones that have worked (for me and others) have had some common elements. They’re easy to understand. They have a carrot and stick. They require frequent accountability. And they do something positive, beyond the competition itself.

So here’s the basic notion of Fatty’s 2019 Weight Loss Challenge: between now and April 20, 2019, you vow to lose at least 15 pounds (if you have less than that to lose, you should find a different challenge). Every Friday, you log your weight in a spreadsheet every challenge participant can see. And if you don’t, you’re out of the contest. That’s the accountability part.

But there’s money involved — a $150 ante. Part of that will go to Camp Kesem — a charity that’s had life-changing results for my own children. The rest will get divided among those who hit their goal, or at least keep trying.

And of course, there’s a community aspect — I’ve set up a Facebook group for those who enter, where we can celebrate victories, encourage each other when we’re having a tough time, and complain about how hungry we are when we need to complain about how hungry we are.

The Rules

  1. To be part of the challenge, you must first apply using the form linked here, then once accepted, pay a $150 entry fee (Venmo or Paypal, I’ll email you the info when I collect the form) to show your commitment. I know, that seems like a lot. It’s meant to be enough that people won’t just join casually, and enough that it will be an incentive to stay in and keep trying.
  2. $50 of your join-in goes straight to Camp Kesem. I’m a huge fan of Camp Kesem, which provides free week-long camps to kids whose parents have (or have had) cancer. My own twin daughters have been to it every year since they were eight, and I’ve watched them be helped by it when they needed help. Now I’m watching them want to pay it forward, helping others.
  3. The first official weigh-in is January 12. If you’re not registered by then, it’s too late.
  4. You must weigh-in every single week by Friday, posting your weight on the Google Sheet I will share with participants.
  5. If you do not weigh in, even skipping just once, you are out. If you know you’re not going to be able to weigh in on a Friday, weigh in early. No excuses, no exceptions. Almost certainly, someone (maybe me!) will get hurt, or will have a family emergency, or something else. I can’t / won’t be making those kind of judgement calls.
  6. At the end of the contest (soon after the final weigh in on April 20), the remaining money (the money that did not go to Camp Kesem) will be divided up as follows:
  • 75% of the money is divided equally among people who hit their target weight
  • 25% of the money is divided equally among people who did NOT hit their target weight, but did not give up

Notice that I don’t have anything here about how to do your diet. That’s up to you.

An Example

As a thought experiment (and to help me make sure I have this thing imagined reasonably correctly), let’s walk through how this might work.

To keep math easy, let’s say 10 people enter. That creates a pool of $1500, of which $500 goes to Camp Kesem. Now the pool is $1000.

Let’s say that of the 10 people, 2 exit the contest — maybe they are embarrassed to post the fact that they are actually gaining weight — for some reason. They forfeit their entry, so the pool remains $1000 for the remaining 8 people to split.

Of the 8 people who faithfully post each week to the end of the contest, let’s say that half hit their goal (mine is 160, a 20-pound loss between now and April 20), and half don’t. The four people who hit their goal split 75% of the pool, meaning $750 gets split among the four people. They each get $187.50 back — a profit of $37.50.

The four people who didn’t hit their goal but kept trying split the remaining 25%, so they each get $62.50. Not as much, but they’re rewarded for trying, and they know that they made a nice donation to Camp Kesem.

Of course, there are some weird possibilities that occur to me:

  • What if everyone hits their goal? In that case, 100% of the pool gets divided equally.
  • What if only a small number don’t hit their goal? Suppose in the above example only 1 person doesn’t hit their goal while 7 do? The person who doesn’t hit their goal would make more money than those who do hit their goal. Well, I think the odds of that happening are slim, but it’s possible. I guess for myself I’d rather get less money back and hit my weight goal than not hit my goal and get more money.
  • What if people are dishonest? Your weigh-ins are honor-based; there’s no way I can stop you from lying from start to finish. That seems like a lot of work, however, to make a very small amount of money.

It’s not perfect, but I’m excited for it. And I hope that there’ll be about 5 – 10 more people who are interested in playing, as well (though honestly I’m OK with just a couple of us doing this).

If you want to play, fill out this form (it’ll take less than 3 minutes to do) and we’ll go from there.

Let’s have a fast and light 2019, OK?


  1. Comment by Tes | 01.1.2019 | 5:01 pm

    Wow. I’m totally in – if not for the $. Unemployed right now so I can’t soend any money. Anyway of joining in without paying/receiving money?

    I’m sorry, but the money component is foundational to this competiton. I can’t have a “no incentive, no consequence” version of this competition for you (or anyone else) because that dilutes the competition for those who DO ante up. – FC

  2. Comment by Tes | 01.1.2019 | 5:02 pm

    Ugh. Fat fingers. I think you can probably tell what I meant to write.

  3. Comment by Chris P | 01.1.2019 | 5:40 pm

    Looking forward to this! Needed after injury and an otherwise challenging ‘18. Lighter and faster in ‘19!

    I’m going to be looking to you for in-person accountability. And you can expect the same from me! – FC

  4. Comment by Yannb | 01.1.2019 | 6:03 pm

    I’m in. Wish this wasn’t a recurring theme every year.

    Highest I’ve been in a long time. 212.4 as of this morning.

    It’s like we were separated at birth, man. Glad you’ll be along for this ride! – FC

  5. Comment by Alan Schenkel | 01.1.2019 | 6:29 pm

    hmmmm. $150 is a lot….

    Damn straight it’s a lot. If the consequences didn’t feel serious, it’d be super easy to bail when you get hungry. I know what I’m doing with these competitions. – FC

  6. Comment by Rowan | 01.1.2019 | 7:32 pm

    Let’s do it Fatty.

    Heck yeah. Watch for an email! – FC

  7. Comment by Lesley Jacobs | 01.1.2019 | 8:01 pm

    Great idea Fatty! I am going to Vegas cycling in Cuba from Jan 18-feb 2. I won’t have internet access during that time so would miss accessing the spreadsheet. I would participate if it weren’t for that. ????

  8. Comment by Lesley Jacobs | 01.1.2019 | 8:05 pm

    Dang it, typos in my comment earlier. I love this idea and would love to join you, but I will be cycling in Cuba from Jan 18 to Feb 2. I won’t have access to internet while in Cuba ????

    You know, you should enjoy the trip. Ride. Eat. Have an experience. Worry about weight loss later. – FC

  9. Comment by Michael | 01.2.2019 | 6:39 am

    Half tempted to join except 145 at 5′10″ is a bit too much for me. Somehow managed it back in the Army but last time I tried to get back to that point I was losing endurance. Good luck to you and anyone who signs on.

    Thanks! A little later in the year we’ll have a second-level competition for those of us wanting to get to race weight. – FC

  10. Comment by TomInAlbany | 01.2.2019 | 7:57 am

    Same issue for me as Micheal. I’m 135 at 5′6″ I could lose 5-10 but might regret the higher end.

    Michael, we could always just donate the third to Camp Kesem!

    We need to come up with a better program for us skinnier guys that want to drop a little but for whom the main goal is just to get back into shape or maintain fitness.

    Any ideas?

    I will say that 160 is not my final goal and that a “race weight” competition is something I’ll be considering between now and mid-April, when I will want to start losing that final 5 – 10 pounds. That’s a different kind of weight loss effort (every pound is a victory at that point) though and thus a different kind of competition. Stay tuned! – FC

  11. Comment by Jim Cuene | 01.2.2019 | 8:21 am

    In! This is exactly what i needed. Hope to *finally* lose the 17 pounds with a little help from my new friends.

    Excited to have you aboard. Look for an e-mail from me on how to make it official. – FC

  12. Comment by Isaac | 01.2.2019 | 9:55 am

    Staying tuned for the “race weight” competition. I’m about 8lbs over where I’d like to be _ideally_, but 15lbs would be too much to drop.

  13. Comment by Christopher Averett | 01.2.2019 | 9:55 am

    Count me in for a 15 lbs loss.

    Awesome – have you filled out the form yet? – FC

  14. Comment by Christina | 01.2.2019 | 10:28 am

    Once I get my new scale today (bathroom flood destroyed the old one), I’ll fill out the form. This is like 100MoN, only I don’t have to cry on rollers.

  15. Comment by Matt | 01.2.2019 | 10:55 am

    In. At 179ish and having been down to and below 164 I know how good it feels on my 5′10″ frame. The first 10 will be doable, but the last 5 will be a street fight. Extra motivation just when i needed it!

  16. Comment by Brian Ogilvie | 01.2.2019 | 12:13 pm

    I’ll join iff I can use my most recent scale weight from December 22 as my first weigh-in, since I’m on the road and won’t be back to home, and my scale, until January 14. I’ve gradually put on about 16-17 extra pounds over the last 3 years and it’s time to take them off!

    I have no problem with those stipulations. – FC

  17. Comment by Susie H | 01.2.2019 | 1:25 pm

    This is perfect! I’m down 26 pounds, but still have 20-30 to lose! Looking forward to the accountability and victories from/for us all! And of course the bonus of being for a very excellent cause. Thanks, Elden!

  18. Comment by TomInAlbany | 01.2.2019 | 1:37 pm

    The question is, will there be updates on here?!?

    Fatty, I’ll definitely look for the ‘race weight’ competition notice in early spring.

    Yep, I’ll be updating on the blog. – FC

  19. Comment by leroy | 01.2.2019 | 6:36 pm

    My dog is insisting I sign up, but I’m not keen on revealing my personal details publicly.

    Can I register as leroy’s dog so everyone thinks he packed on the pounds?

    My dog has been putting on some weight, too. We might have to add a canine category. – FC

  20. Comment by Mike | 01.3.2019 | 7:23 am

    This is exactly what I need to get back on track and ready for the first gravel race of 2019! Thanks for organizing this fatty [soon to be called skinny]!!!

  21. Comment by Brian | 01.3.2019 | 10:13 am

    Have emails been sent yet? Filed out the form but no response yet. Thanks Fatty!

    Just sent them. Check your inbox. If you don’t see it, leave me a comment and we’ll figure it out.

  22. Comment by PeterB | 01.3.2019 | 1:02 pm

    Done and done! Excited to have even more motivation to lose the “mid-forties fifteen” and not feel like a sausage in my cycling bibs.

  23. Comment by Dave | 01.3.2019 | 1:02 pm

    Yea, this looks good. Pricey month but I’ll fill this out for now. Were you at the Sky High Pizza place Sunday after the Leadville 100? I think you were sitting next to my family and I with yours but I didn’t recognize you. You weren’t “fat!”

  24. Comment by fellowfattychris | 01.3.2019 | 4:28 pm

    YES FATTY! Just saw this and am totally interested and agree to all the rules. I really need some motivation. I rewarded myself by basically eating anything and everything I wanted to after finishing my first Leadville last year, and carried that eating momentum through the holiday season as my activity level dropped off significantly in the off season. I haven’t actually stepped on a scale, but pretty sure I’m about as heavy as I have been since the start of this decade. Let’s do this!

  25. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.7.2019 | 3:22 pm

    Fatman: just back from vacation and now have access to a scale. It wasn’t pretty…the scale that is.

    Before joining this challenge I’m wondering if I can use substitute ‘placeholder name’ for my starting weight? I’m thinking something like OH MY GAWD! or THIS IS NOT GOOD and then using that moniker minus lbs for each week weigh-in.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    One Old Fat Guy

  26. Comment by Frank | 01.9.2019 | 2:05 pm

    Having that feeling of pressure under the lungs and shortness of breath is a clear indicator that I have to join this challenge. I am in!


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