How I won more than money in a #DietBet

Last month, I entered into a DietBet.

While most people would tell me I don’t need to lose weight, and while I would happily agree with them and take another cookie, the fact that my body fat percentage was 22 irked me. And I figured that if I could lose a few pounds I might find those abs I’ve been working hard on all winter, not to mention gain some running speed by carrying around a lighter me.

What exactly is a DietBet? It’s a four week online social dieting game. Anyone can sign up to play, and all the players compete for a share of the “pot” – the money paid to play. You win by losing 4% of your bodyweight. It’s not a competition to lose the most weight, just to lose 4%. If you lose 4% or more, you win. If you don’t, you lose. I entered the FitFluential January DietBet, which had just 4 players at the time I signed up but 582 and a pot of $14,550 by the time the game started!

Dietbet header

Here’s a short video explaining how the DietBet works:


So why a DietBet? Why not just lose the weight on my own? The answer is because I have no self-control. This may sound strange from someone as driven and competitive as me, but when it comes to food, it’s true. I don’t eat fast food. I don’t drink soda. But I have issues when it comes to the cookie jar. I needed motivation and accountability. I found both when I laid down $25 to enter the DietBet. I hate losing. To steal from Brad Pitt (as Billy Beane) in Moneyball, “I hate losing more than I love winning. There is a difference.” It’s true. I didn’t care about winning a huge wad of cash (although that would have been nice), but I didn’t want someone else to get my $25. To me, that would have been like handing $25 to a stranger on the street. I wouldn’t have it.

The other reason people enter a DietBet is because of the social aspect. They get to chat with other players, post their results online (facebook and twitter), and see how they’re stacking up against the other players with self-reported progress indicators. I chose not to post to facebook but did have twitter enabled, and was surprised every now and then to see I had posted an update! I also signed up to receive e-mails, which would tell me how other players were doing as well as remind me to weigh in. Players choose which of these tools to use so you can make it as public or as private as you like.

My husband (the sceptic) asked how people could be kept from cheating. Granted, it was a valid question. After all, no-one’s standing over you reading the scale. You have to submit a picture of yourself on the scale and then another of your feet on it with the readout visible both at the beginning and the end of the bet, but I guess as with everything there’s a way to fudge it. Not that I’m suggesting anyone did. But here’s the answer I gave my husband: if someone really feels the need to cheat, then they have bigger issues than losing weight. I’m certainly not going to waste my energy worrying about other people. I’m entering this for myself, because I need to motivation and accountability, and if I’m honest, with myself, well, that’s all that matters to me.

So I put down the money, stepped on the scale, and entered the bet.

I thought it would be easy. I just had to lose a little over 4 pounds, and I had 4 weeks to do it. I actually hit my target in 3 weeks. But it wasn’t easy. I had to work for it. What I hadn’t bargained for was how much I’d learn about myself in 4 weeks:

– I thought I was a “grazer” but I’m actually a chronic snacker. I snack all day long. Sometimes I don’t even eat a meal and so I think I’m not eating much, but all those snacks…they add up.

– I reward myself with food. Ran a few miles? Have something to eat. Swam for an hour? Eat. Biked for two hours? Eat, eat, eat. Yes, I know I’m supposed to refuel after exercise, but this was different. I wasn’t refueling as much as restocking as if the shelves had been emptied after a winter storm warning. I was a rabid animal loose in the pantry.

– I actually weigh more first thing in the morning. I would step on the scale in the morning and freak out. I would have breakfast, get the kids off to school, go for a run, come back, weigh myself again, and I’d have lost 2 pounds. I don’t think I was losing that weight on the run. I think I just wake up full of water weight or something. One night, I actually gained weight while asleep. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t raid the cookie jar in my sleep.

– I won’t pass out if I go for a few hours without food. In the past, I’ve gotten a little lightheaded or have felt nauseous if I didn’t eat every couple of hours. I always carried snacks with me “just in case I get hungry,” which, of course, I would eat regardless of my hunger. My body had become accustomed to being fed every couple of hours and simply needed retraining.

– I can say no. And I did. I thought I had no willpower. That wasn’t true. I managed not to eat the bad stuff at several parties and just focused on the healthy stuff. I knew once I started I wouldn’t be able to stop, so I didn’t start. And I found that the less I ate the bad stuff, the less I wanted it.

Dietbet winners

At the end of the DietBet, 277 people had won. That’s just under 50%. And many others posted on the DietBet wall that they’d gotten oh-so-close.

So, how did I do in the DietBet? I made the 4% goal and lost 2% body fat. I made twenty bucks. Yeah, no big payday. Still, the biggest payout was in the things I learned about myself.

Interested in DietBet? Just go to the website to join any game or start your own.

Have you played in a DietBet? 

How do you keep yourself motivated and accountable?


  1. Great post! I won too… I figure I will parlay the money back in πŸ™‚ I want to keep up this good eating
    Mindy Artze recently posted..Flashdance, The Muscial! I was a Maniac! And Dietbet resultsMy Profile

  2. Congratulations! I was about 1.5 pounds away from winning some of the jackpot {I had to lose almost pounds}, so I’m sad I didn’t win. But in reality, I lost weight, so I still won!
    Maureen recently posted..Must Have CoffeeMy Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      You did so well! It’s hard when you get that close but you have the right outlook which is that you lost weight and so you benefited.

  3. Congrats on your success! It sounds like you gained a lot of knowledge about yourself and your eating habits. I haven’t tried Diet Bet because I’m not trying to lose weight, but it seems like a really great program for people who are trying to lose some weight. I’ll definitely recommend it to anyone I know who’s interested in getting a little extra accountability for their weight loss goals.
    Beth @ Running with the Sunrise recently posted..Trying New GearMy Profile

  4. So happy to hear that you benefited from your DietBet!
    I hosted one last month (and am re-hosting again this month at the request of many participants). The thing I loved the most about it was the encouraging community that emerged. People really wanted each other win! They shared tips and motivation and workouts and recipes.
    For me though, the constant focus on the scale is becoming a bit of a drag. I have a tendency to obsess about things and I’m doing that about my weight right now.
    Tamara recently posted..Strength training tips | the benefits of lifting weights slowlyMy Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      Thanks, Tamara. Yes, I did obsess a bit about the scale, too. It got annoying. I know some people signed right up for another bet. I need to take a step back, take a break from the scale (but not from my new improved eating habits!) and focus on something else for a while.

  5. I’m glad you gave your insightful perspective, as I am not a fan of this. I don’t agree with giving $25 to something you can do on your own when there are so many things that money could go to to really help the world. If everyone gave there $25 to someone in need, that money ($14,550) could make a far bigger impact than a bunch of people loosing weight, something they could do together as a group without having to pay. Plus, what are the long term benefits, sure everyone is loosing weight but what happens two months after the bet is over? will everyone go back to their overeating lifestyles? I don’t think is doing anything to help the world be a better place, fun and motivating for some, yes, but why don’t they donate the winnings to a true charitable foundation? $14,550 is a lot of money that could make a real difference. I’m glad it worked for you, personally I thought you were perfect before but I am thrilled that you lost the weight and are feeling good. I hope you don’t take this personal because you know I love you and many of the other people participating in this, but I must be honest, I give it a big thumbs down.
    Lisa McClellan recently posted..#KleanAthlete Review: Protein Peanut Butter Cups and Protein Sunbutter CookiesMy Profile

    • Racingtales says:

      I always appreciate your honesty, Lisa. I thought I mentioned that anyone can opt for their winnings to be donated to charity. I will add that if I left it out. I think the thing is that people can’t do it on their own, which is why we have Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and The Biggest Loser. People need help losing weight. Yes, we’re not solving the world’s problems. But then neither is the lottery or a Vegas casino where people are also gambling their money. If casinos gave one day’s earnings it could solve a lot more problems. Or if people stopped paying to enter races and gave the money to charity instead. Definitely food for thought and maybe a topic for another post!

    • People struggle with motivation and this helps because they pay and dont want to lose their money. You can play for charity aswell, so it does help others aswell as people helping themselves. It also helps people get that kickstart they need. Seeing the weight come off can be motivation to keep going (even if I think going by measurements is more beneficial than scales as weght fluctuates so much). Win win situation in my eyes.

    • Oh please Lisa… are you seriously judging people for spending money on something to motivate them to live healthier instead of giving it to charity? Lets take a look at your spending habits and judge you on how you are spending money that should be going to charity.

    • Sometimes people have to just have extra motivation! I’ve done group weight loss challenges before with no money involved and I’ve done ok. But having money involved and the prospect of losing money motivates me more. I donate to my local shelters and volunteer when I can. But not every aspect of everyone’s lives is geared at charitable contributions! And you can opt to play for a charity.

      This diet bet is something I am doing for me. So if I chose to take $25 and go but new shoes for myself of a new pair of pants am I a horrible person for spending that money on myself and not donating it to charity?

  6. That is a really interesting concept. Congrats on your win, and thanks for sharing!
    Crystal@TheFastFitRunner recently posted..Bumpdate – 18 weeks!My Profile

  7. I have a feeling I would learn all of those same things about myself… like you, I graze constantly. I don’t really “need” to lose weight so I don’t worry about it, but I could probably benefit from not always rewarding myself with food. Love that you came away with this peak into yourself, that’s definitely worth the challenge, as you said.
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Cross training with CatheMy Profile

  8. Meg Boland says:

    I like the idea of DietBet, but I think that it works better for people in the middle – those who have some to lose – not a lot or very little. Those last couple of pounds, I’ve been told, can be very difficult to lose and if you are on the other side of the scale, like me, 4% can be a very large number that might not be healthy or safe to lose in that short of a time period – 14.4 lbs during one dietbet period of just four weeks would mean I would need to lose more than 4lbs a week. I know that people believe that losing when you’re fat is easier and faster and therefore it should be easy, but so far I have failed both times and found it was very difficult and defeating instead of encouraging as I was eating great and moving more and just didn’t lose at a fast enough rate to win. Maybe when I’m thinner I will try again, for now it’s just another kick while I’m trying to get on the right track.

    • Racingtales says:

      Hey Meg, thanks for your insight. You make a good point about how it can be discouraging if you don’t make the goal in spite of your best efforts.

    • I don’t know how recent the change is, but now there’s a 6 month DietBet option where you lose 10%. It’s more gradual and you have a lot less to lose every 4 weeks so that might be a better option for you. πŸ™‚

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