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Some Thoughts on DietBet

I recently completed three games on DietBet (www.dietbet.com).  For those of you who don't know what that is, DietBet is a game where you put money on the line saying that you'll lose 4% of your weight in 4 weeks.  You submit pictures with code words to prove your beginning and ending weights.  After four weeks, anyone who has hit their 4% goal is a winner and splits the pot.  The theory is "social dieting" where people are successful when they attempt to lose weight as part of a group with a common goal.  

In my head, 1% per week didn't sound like a lot of weight, and I though the financial incentive would keep me motivated and focused.  Because I always seem to dive into things head first, I decided to basically triple-down on myself.  Instead of joining one game, I joined three.  One ran from 1/7 to 2/3 and the other two ran essentially together starting a week after the first game (1/14-2/10 and 1/15-2/11).

Ultimately, I won all three games.  In the spirit of full disclosure, here are my results:  

                      Players     Winners         Bet           Payout      Net Winnings           
Game 1:       1,334         942 (71%)      $50          $60.19        $10.19   (20%)  
Game 2:           14               4 (29%)      $15          $44.63        $29.63 (198%)
Game 3:         367          243 (66%)      $50          $64.19        $14.19   (28%)
TOTAL         1,715      1,189 (69%)    $115        $169.01        $54.01  (47%)

When all was said and done, I didn't lose any of my original money and I won a bit extra (any free money is good money!). To be honest, I really do think that I could win another one if I started it now.  Despite this, I am hesitant to join another DietBet.  Here are my thoughts on the game:

It Breeds Anxiety
Although 1% sounds like a small amount, for me the goal for my first game was 7.8 pounds and for my second two games it was 7.7 pounds, which obviously means I needed to average just under a 2-pound loss each week. When I lost 1.2 pounds one week, I nearly had a breakdown. I should have been thrilled to see the scale move that much, but instead it just made me nervous.  Now I would have to make up that 0.7 pounds the next week... I need to work out more... I need to eat less... I need to be better somehow.  I became such a headcase, but with three games and $115 on the line, I wasn't willing to quit and losing wasn't an option.  Instead I drove myself crazy worrying about what the scale would do. 

So essentially, DietBet warped my perception of success.  Rather than be happy about a loss of a pound or even a pound and a half, I got down on myself for failing.  Let's be real... under normal circumstances, a 7-pound loss in four weeks would be awesome! But if that had happened to me during my DietBet, I would have been a loser in my game, and I would have been so disappointed in myself.  If there's one thing I've learned in my 2+ years on MFP (today is my 780th day!!), it's that you have to realize that losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle is a process.  Some weeks you'll lose a really big number, and some weeks you'll only lose a little or you'll plateau.  But what's important is that you're making the changes in your life to become better. DietBet blinded me from that understanding and reverted me back to thinking ONLY about the number on the scale... and that is not a place I want to be. 

It Encourages Crash Dieting 
Several people I know came down to the last minute with their final weigh-in (you have 48 hours after the game ends to submit your weight).  Some people chose not to eat for a period of time to get the last bit off.  Other people dehydrated themselves to get past their goal.  And you know what... I don't blame them at all.  I'm not judging them because I know that I would have done the same thing had I been in that position.  When you've been working so hard for four weeks, the thought of missing your goal by a fraction of a pound is devastating.  I don't think that DietBet is intentionally pushing people towards these unhealthy tactics, but I think that behavior like that isn't surprising given the stress and anxiety the games can cause. 

It Would Be Pretty Easy to Cheat

As with so many things in life, it would not be hard to cheat at DietBet.  Yes, you have to submit photos when you weigh in and weigh out, but a photo wouldn't show a hand weight tucked in the back of your pants during your weigh-in to make you appear heavier at the start.  A photo won't show you calibrating your scale with a weight on it before your weigh-out to make you appear lighter at the end.  If people want to cheat, they will find a way to cheat.  Obviously self-reported information is inherently prone to error, and DietBet does their best to regulate and monitor players' activities.  At the same time, though, when it's day 5 of a 28 day bet and a dozen or so people have already reached 100% of their goal, I get a little suspicious.   

But It's Not ALL Bad...
If there is one good thing I can say about DietBet, it's that it really did keep me motivated. I was constantly at the gym getting big burns, and I kept my food in check.  While I think the degree to which I was doing both things would have caused me to burn out over an extended period of time, I do feel like it kicked me back into gear and reinstated some of my healthy habits.  I have gotten back into the pattern of going to the gym regularly and planning meals ahead of time.  I appreciate the fact that I was forced back into focusing on those things, and I plan to keep at them going forward.  Before my DietBets, I was definitely in a slump (holidays and all that), and the games helped to snap me out of that.  For that, I am grateful.

There are Other Options
At the end of the day, I do still like the idea of having some kind of incentive to keep my motivated.  To that end, I've become a huge fan of EarndIt.  EarndIt is a site that links to other fitness apps (RunKeeper, FourSquare, Nike+, Garmin, MapMyFitness, etc.) and gives you points for your workouts.  Then you can redeem your point for awards (like giftcards) or charity donations.  There are also pay-to-play challenges.  The challenges vary, but they are generally based on accruing a certain number of activity points over a period of time.  Unlike the number on your scale, the amount of time and effort you spend exercising is something that is entirely within your control!  Like DietBet, in EarndIt paid challenges the winners split the pot less a fee taken out by the site.  There are also a lot of free challenges where winners are entered into raffles for giftcards.  

I highly recommend this site not just for the challenges, but for the fact that it rewards you for the work that you're doing anyway.  If you use this link to sign up, you'll get a bonus 50 points and then I'll get a referral bonus once you've earned an additional 100 points on your own... so we both win! http://earnd.it/T0IFH2 

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I feel like I went into DietBet kind of blind and disillusioned, and I wanted to share some things that I wish I would have thought about before I joined. For me, the pressure and stress of DietBet was a lot to handle, but others may function well in than kind of situation.   What it comes down to is that people need to find what works for them.  I would entertain doing another DietBet, but I'd go into it a lot smarter this time!!  

21 votes + -

32 comments:

txjulie wrote 75 months ago:
Yes - this is spot-on!!!! Thank you for putting this together. I don't think I'll do it again because of the stress and the fact that at the last minute I was fasting for my weigh-in since I was so close. Not that an 18-hour fast would have killed me but it isn't the WAY to lose weight. I also didn't go on my long weekend run the weekend before bc I knew my scale would still be up Tuesday morning for the weigh-in - another thing that put me off a healthy goal for my 1/2 marathon training. Anyway, I'm just glad I got my $$ back plus the $14.19 instead of losing $50.
amazinglywell wrote 75 months ago:
This makes sense. I like the concept (the site that started this type of thing called Stikk.com). However I think tying your bet to something you can't exactly control (the scale number) is stress inducing. Plus as you say it has to be realistic and not too aggressive.

I would make a bet on keeping a daily journal, or working out x times per week. Something that I can control the outcome of works better for me.
JeninBelgium wrote 75 months ago:
I'm in a bet now with 6 days left in the game and I totally agree that it is both motivating and stress inducing!
melissann23 wrote 75 months ago:
i COMPLETELY agree with you. i thought...oh 4% that totally doable & easy...but the stress that came with the 4% hanging over my head was worse than the stress for my wedding! i love the idea of having a weight loss competition & throwing $$ in the mix as an incentive but i dont think i will ever do another diet bet. my poor husband, he is so glad its over & my crazy "crash" dieting can end.
melina_bea wrote 71 months ago:
I started a June DietBet just a few days ago and agree with you 100%. I kinda knew it would be like this, so before I even started I planned to only be on it for one or two months, then get off it to "stabilise" myself, before joining any new games. I'm happy with all the support (the Blogilates game is HUGE and everyone is very supportive) and it's really motivating me, but at the end of the day health is more important than a number, so you need some balance.
wendytc wrote 69 months ago:
Thanks for this post! I have been thinking of doing diet bet and I will probably do it based on your experience. My goal is to kick it into gear and get back to what I was doing initially to lose weight and inches. I do not plan doing it for the long term as I do agree with not being able to directly control the scale, but rather our actions. :-)
smp5095 wrote 68 months ago:
Thank you for writing this. It is very informative. I'm thinking of doing Dietbet, but I wanted to know what I was getting myself into. I think that I will only sign up for one. Then it's only 4 weeks. Hopefully it will keep my enthusiasm and drive up as we transition into fall (which is usually when I start to give up). I'm also not a super competitive person, so if I don't quite make it, I'll survive. So long as I know I gave it my all and stuck to a regimen for 4 weeks, then I will have won!
h2owens wrote 68 months ago:
My friend and I were looking to do this because I figured if I could earn money by losing weight, what the heck. This definitely opened my eyes to all the pros and cons. I may still do it but I am definitely setting up an account for earndit!

Thanks!
Anonymous wrote 67 months ago:
I just completed my 1st DietBet with 8 days to spare (met my goal early). My experience is not one of stress at all, but I think a key difference was that I had been consistently losing weight for 4 months prior to starting (averaging 2 pounds a week, which I've always heard is a healthy amount). I knew what I was capable of, so when I computed my 4% amount, it was totally feasible. So for me, the DietBet is exciting and I plan on signing up for more... as many as 3 at once. With the data provided above, it looks like I want to choose bets with a lower number of players to increase my winnings. My friend Tammy also finished with 8 days to spare and she has a similar personality to me and I don't believe she was stressed at all either (in fact, she started her DietBet while on vacation and still lost weight!) I guess it all depends on how realistic your expectations are and how well you know yourself. Really, if you can't afford to lose $20-30, you probably shouldn't be gambling.
Anonymous wrote 67 months ago:
I would highly recommend diet bet, keeping in my mind the one I did I had a bit of excess weight to lose, so I think some of the weight fell off easily once I changed some habits. But the biggest thing for me was the incredibly supportive people who were constantly commenting words of encouragement who were sharing the diet bet with me. I would also suggest that for the first time do a very big diet bet, by this I mean one that attracts a large number of people (the one I did had over 7000 people), so I think it gives a more realistic reflection on weight loss, you can see that some people find it difficult (and encourage them) you can see that some people are having success (and congratulate them), so it makes you feel comfortable. Anyway I was disappointed when it all ended because it was incredibly motivating :)
Anonymous wrote 66 months ago:
DietBet is just what many people need. I just started two "games" and am enjoying the encouragement and motivation. It's never pleasant when you're going through a change like this. Look at the contestants on the Biggest Loser. They are STRESSED. Then at the finale they are in their glory. As DietBet says, it's a kick in the pants and that is what we need at times.
Anonymous wrote 66 months ago:
Maybe they added it since you posted, but there's a six month DietBet option to lose 10%. You might find it less stressful.
welly5 wrote 64 months ago:
I was considering joining in one, because 4% is fairly realistic for me.. but after reading this I think I'll just stick to what I'm doing. at this point weight loss is fairly stress free for me so although the allure of winning some cash is tempting, it doesn't seem worth adding pressure and stress.
tristanwade1 wrote 63 months ago:
anyone have issues with pay pal? pay pal told me the email i received when i requested payout was fraudulent?? no idea what to do!!
Anonymous wrote 62 months ago:
I have won 2 4-week Dietbets and am now in a 6 month Dietbet game. The site is very motivating. I didn't join it to make money, I joined it for some motivation. Currently down 35 pounds since last September. I love the challenge and yes there is some stress. But then, losing weight isn't easy is it? I love the website and will continue to use it when my 6 month goals are reached. A game that involves maintaining the loss has been requested and from what I hear, they are working on it.
Anonymous wrote 61 months ago:
Have you tried the app GymPact? You pledge certain amount of money that you will workout a certain amount of times. If you miss the workouts, you pay. If you get them done, you keep your money and get a bonus. I earned about $.40 per workout.
Rusty612 wrote 60 months ago:
I just joined DietBet earlier this week, but I lost nearly half of my goal weight in the first couple days because I had just switched up my routine. I'm sure the rest will come off slower, but I'm not stressed. (Yet! haha)
I am in three games for a total of $95.00 - any winnings I make will go into a savings account for when I reach my goal weight and need new clothes. I'm hoping to make about $50/month for 6 months. :)
Ivanna_B wrote 52 months ago:
I was disappointed with DietBet and found it discouraging rather than encouraging. I won the first round of the first game and was so excited that I made the goal that I decided to register for a second game to participate concurrently with the game I was already in. I think their iPhone app doesn't support being in 2 games at once well because, on the next round, I was told I lost the round even though I had made weight. I emailed dietbet and they quickly fixed the issue but then it happened again on the next round. Even though dietbet quickly fixed that issue upon my reporting it as well, it still left a bad taste in my mouth. It was extremely discouraging to work so hard to meet a goal, feel the excitement of meeting that goal, and then be denied recognition unless I defended it. I found myself not wanting to participate and, after losing the next round (this time legitimately), I found myself not wanting to participate. Even though I continued to lose weight on my own and had already prepaid for several more rounds, I never weighed in with dietbet again (so I pretty much forfeited my money) because losing weight was already hard enough that I didn't want to be discouraged by them again.
Anonymous wrote 49 months ago:
I just finished my 4th diet bet. I have won $205 and lost 12 pounds in 2 months! I'm starting a new diet bet on May 1st. If you want to join me, the link is below.
http://diet.bt/dRX0gq
Anonymous wrote 45 months ago:
I haven't seen anything posted anywhere about the fact that Dietbet takes 25% of the money bet each round. I am in a 6 month challenge and lost money the first month even though I was a winner. Why 25%? Seems rather greedy to me.
Anonymous wrote 42 months ago:
I do not know much about this site but I am starting to worry. So last night I won my first bet. I thought ok time to join another game. I joined Dance The Pounds Away with LaBlast Fitness Game. transaction was confirmed and quietly sat and waited for my weight in code. 11pm came so I went to bet. 4 am I got a text stating I am qualified because "they did not approve my initial weight in".
I assume ok because the game is ending about 16 days and I have probably missed the deadline for weight in. I also rested assured they will simply refund me since they do not want participating in that particular game.

This morning I go to check and it says if disqualified, you do not get your money back.

OMG, is this a joke or what?
Does anyone have had similar experience?

I have emailed them and got one line saying "You were disqualified for not having an approved initial weigh-in.

Email customer service with any questions."
Anonymous wrote 38 months ago:
Never again!! I bet $100 and the pot was $36,900. After working hard for a month to meet my goal, I won a measly $13. It was pathetic. This app takes advantage of the players. They made out with $7,380?! Yeah, they rape you with their fees. My Game was Bet Big, Win Big...what a crock. More like Bet Big, Win Pennies!!!
Anonymous wrote 38 months ago:
Diet Bet is a business, not a non-profit organization. 25% is their payment for this service. It's not out of line, considering the price of other services (auctioneers, house cleaners, etc,) I am glad that you are certain to get your initial bet back if you lose your goal amount. Any additional pay-out is a prize, in addition to losing the weight. You won't get your money back with Weight Watchers or any other diet program.
Anonymous wrote 37 months ago:
I'm going to try this since nothing else seems to keep me from stuffing my face. It seems some people think this is a way to make big money. For me this is a tool to keep me on the right track with support and encouragement from others, not to make big bucks; There is a stock market for that or a casino. If I get my money back and lost enough weight to acheive that, then I consider myself a winner. Good luck to anyone that plays, but please don't expect it to pay your mortgage and for the cheaters, you are only cheating yourself. if someone has to cheat so they don't lose their bet, they shouldn't try to lose weight this way.
deborah82honeybee wrote 24 months ago:
In agreement ✊great post!
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Anonymous wrote 20 months ago:
For me, having specific goals aren't stressful in a negative way. It keeps me on track and I've set weight goals for myself anyways on my calander that are more intense than DietBet so really I'm just there for the support. That's what's missing from your post, the fact that a lot of the people hosting DietBets have lost a significant amount of weight and now continue their fitness journey in the spotlight to help others. Most of the players are serious about their goals and openly encourage others, lifting them up when mistakes are made, and cheering for their victories. It's a great platform. I can understand how pushing yourself to reach your goals can be hard and stressful, but it's definitely worth it to put the efffort in. If you're eating right and exercising, finishing each day/week at the right deficit, then there's nothing to worry about. Being a little stressed about loosing weight is a lot better than the stress of being unhealthy.
bitohenni wrote 19 months ago:
Thanks for this review - very balanced and thorough.
I just registered for my first diet bet because I'm looking for something to push me a bit and get me sustain motivation.

I can see how this will be stressful & not looking to use it long term. But hoping a week challenge will help drive behavior change and reinforce habits.
Thanks
plentyofkissing wrote 16 months ago:
I just joined Dietbet ..a month ago, I decided on a transformer (6 months) as 10% was a healthy nice loose and seemed doable. I do get the stress, since we weigh in every month for each round prize, I was 1 pound, for a week prior, below my goal for the month and was so worried I would gain water, or something and loose the round LOL..so yes the pressure is there..but it really does keep you focused and makes you REALLY REALLY think before you put stuff in your mouth, is this going to help me loose weight or may I loose my $? So it's not really about winning, all though that's nice, it's more about the LOSS of the bet..for me anyway. AFter 3 weeks, I did decide to join a Kickstarter which I am in my first week of...to push myself to the next Month goal on my Transformer LOL...it's a bit stiff being 4%...7.7 pounds ish...and it's Christmas month, another reason I am doing this NOW LOL...Anyway fun! I am really enjoying it.
Anonymous wrote 15 months ago:
DietBet keeps a cut of the gross pot to cover our expenses, which include financial transaction costs for both the initial bet and the payout, weight-verification staff, customer service, and technology support. Because DietBet's fees are taken out of the gross pot before paying out the winners, players who do not win do not incur any fees. The current fee to play is 10-25% of the payout
http://support.dietbet.com/knowledgebase/articles/303831-dietbet-s-fees depending on the amount of the initial bet.
Anonymous wrote 14 months ago:
I just recently finished my dietbet and due to a glitch in there system I've been declared a loser. Altogether I lost 5.2% and I've had to contact their support staff and I won't know until next week if I get my money back. Due to there error. I'm going to lose my money, even tho I put in the work for a month. 0/10 fuck dietbet.
Anonymous wrote 13 months ago:
Thanks for the thorough breakdown of what people can expect from dietbet. I have tried several games and I won a few and lost a few and my recent game. I have a good experience with it as it motivates me to keep at it and overall I lost weight and it achieved my purpose. So now I decided to host a game starting April 3 - the Easter classic,
http://dbet.me/Swa4nF So you can join me and try out that game. There are Addison Albert prizes to be won.

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