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Weigh In: Lose It Or Lose It

Weigh In: Lose It Or Lose It

Lose it or Lose It (catchy name, eh?) is a new(?) online service that promises to help you lose your unwanted weight through systematically threatening both your wallet and your sense of public shame. The following is an excerpt from their service description:

Lose It or Lose It helps all you chubby geeks put an end to your constant battle to lose weight by making you try hard for 10 weeks or be punished! Choose [poundage] per week and dollars per [pound] and give us the money up front. Each week, if you skip a weigh-in or don’t make your goal weight, you lose part of your initial investment. We send you daily reminders as well as let you add accountability friends who are updated every week with the status of your weigh-in. After the 10 weeks, you get the remaining balance back as a reward!

OK. Wow. Punishment? Investment? Reward? Strange words here, since an “investment” is generally regarded as something that you put money into with the expectation that you will get everything you put in back, plus more. Best case scenario with Lose It Or Lose It, you get all your money back as a “reward” (generally thought of as a recompense for good deeds done) with no return. Unless, that is, you consider the weight loss that you’ve managed to pull off on your own to be a return on your investment. We can quibble over the use of financial terms here, but to me this sounds like an absurd proposition almost guaranteed to fail in everything other than generating a population of angry consumers who will never give repeat business. But then maybe this is the idea.

Now, I found out about Lose it or Lose It because they are sponsoring the Daring Fireball RSS Feed this week. For those of you unfamiliar with Daring Fireball, it is a blog that features links and news bits about technology and gadgets, goings on in the blogosphere, and just general internet happenings. It has a pretty pro-Apple stance, but even without hardcore PC hackers in the audience I would guess there are plenty of “chubby geeks” who read it, so I guess this is good targeting on the part of the marketing team at Lose It or Lose It. My main problem with this service is that it appears to be trying to use the standard bet that people make with each other about losing weight into a business model. You know, where you have a friend who wants to lose weight, and you want to lose weight, so you bet each other and see who can lose it first? This is the premise, right? I’ve never understood that bet, and perhaps this is why I don’t understand this service.

I would pay any amount of money to lose weight. I would work sixteen extra jobs to lose weight. Money is not important to me in comparison with weight, at least not on this scale. I mean, if I forked over $100,000.00 to them or something, OK, maybe it would mean something. But I’m guessing that people are doing a couple hundred here or there . . . I just don’t get it. But mainly I wanted to hear from you guys about this service, because I’m wondering if maybe this is a gender thing. Perhaps this is a service that would work with men but not so well with women?

Comments (29)

  1. Jan 8, 2010

    That’s insane. You’d have to be an idiot to give strangers money, and then agree to let them keep it if YOU didn’t do something. If that works for you, you should spend your money on therapy, not this.

  2. Jan 8, 2010

    Agreed. This is ridiculous — it’s like paying someone to threaten you. I don’t know why someone would need that kind of artificial motivation to lose weight. In my opinion, if you need the threat of someone taking your money to lose weight, then weight loss is just not that important to you.

    I imagine this would be well suited for, say, a fat husband whose nagging wife wants him to slim down, but he doesn’t care, so she gives them a thousand of Fat Husband’s dollars without his knowledge and then says to him, “SURPRISE, Fatso! If you don’t lose weight, you aren’t getting your money back!” In other words, the motivation here is completely external. Anyone who lost weight on this bizarre system would surely gain it all back immediately.

  3. weezy
    Jan 8, 2010

    I think the reporting to friends & family is really the stick to this carrot, not potential loss of money.

    I read about a study that showed that to be in charge of or leading a cause and not maintaining, yourself, the integrity of the cause (be it losing weight, fundraising for charity, being a Classroom Mom, etc.), followed by subtle and mostly private “tsk-tsking” of being hypocritical is the best motivator for getting back on track and staying there.

    I don’t know how to monetize that, though.

  4. Jan 8, 2010

    Kerry, that’s an interesting idea. Maybe it’s the brain child of a cadre of down-on-their-luck therapists?

  5. Jan 8, 2010

    Yeah, I guess if you didn’t have any control over the money going in it might work. I wonder about people who make bets for weight loss, though, isn’t this kind of the same thing, only with people you don’t know?

  6. Jan 8, 2010

    Weez, you’re probably right. It’s the humiliation factor. But that confuses me as well, since people are so willing to do things these days that demonstrate that they have no shame!

  7. Jan 8, 2010

    To me this seems to similar to hiring a coach to motivate you to meet personal or business goals, or hiring a personal trainer to meet fitness goals. If you buy coaching/training, you don’t get your money back, so the “return” depends on your performance.

  8. Jan 8, 2010

    Well, not exactly. When you hire a personal trainer, they do provide some accountability as part of their service, but they also provide you with a means of working out that it’s highly unlikely you’d know to do on your own. There is a real service they’re providing because they know how to work out your body to maximize weight loss or fat burn or whatever, based on your goals. It is very hard to get personal trainer-like results without a personal trainer.

    Now, life coaches, I’m not sure. I have never tried one, so it’s harder for me to say.

  9. Jan 8, 2010

    I would hire a personal trainer in a heartbeat (if I had, like, a job and a paycheck and stuff).

    Life coaches…it seems to me all you really need is a friend who will tell you “stop doing this, it’s stupid…and do that instead.” I do that for my friends for free. People need to have at least one friend who isn’t a wimp.

  10. Jan 8, 2010

    @Anna good points, lose it or lose it doesn’t seem to offer a real service or expertise. However, I once signed up for the online version of weight watchers, which besides sending me a cheerful email every day didn’t offer much in my opinion. I did like the online database of foods so you could look up your points. And they had a way for you to input your meals so you could see the points spread out during the week.

    @Kerry, I don’t know about life coaches personally but know from friends that good ones can be really useful, especially if you’re going through something really tough like a divorce or a death. My ex’s wife is a life coach and based on her description of the education program and practice methods, it sounds like a bona-fide professional service. She told me that good life coaches don’t actually give advice as much as listen and ask questions that help you figure out things for yourself.

  11. Jan 8, 2010

    I’ve been using this post as a rationalization for hiring a personal trainer, actually. I want to, but it costs like $85 an hour or something like that at my gym! GAH. I think it’s just Jillian Michaels for me.

    What I really need, though, is a personal eater. Somebody who just controls eating for me, completely takes it out of my hands because I cannot be trusted with it. I am pretty good at exercise but I have that gnarly sugar thing going on and I cannot kick the habit, even on my special diet I’ve been on for a few months now. It’s so depressing.

  12. Jan 8, 2010

    I looked at doing that Seattle Sutton thing at one point, but it’s for meat-eaters, and I’m a vegetarian.

    I just bought a Michael Pollan book in hopes that reading it would make me horrified by processed foods and sugar and stuff to stop. We’ll see.

    Just reading the words “special diet” made me want to run in the kitchen and eat some frozen cookie dough and a hunk of cheese, so I sympathize.

  13. Jan 8, 2010

    I tried a personal trainer and she helped me understand that my workout was essentially doing nothing. It took 6 months to adapt to the correct level of torture, during which I s l o w l y lost ten pounds, only to gain most of those back during the holidays. Her next tip is to eat less and cut out alcohol.

  14. Jan 9, 2010

    Isn’t that the same idea as buying a gym membership and then not going? That didn’t work for me, either.

  15. Jan 10, 2010

    I’m just trying right now to start and stick to a diet. I’m finding the momentary pleasures of sneaking snack foods outweighs (no pun intended) my desire to achieve long range goals.
    I DO have a picture of two horribly obese women–stuffing their faces, in a bikini–that kind of works as negative motivation. Definitely don’t think this Lose It or Lose It would work for me….unless they were willing to “bet odds”. If I had the opportunity to double or triple my money I might seriously consider it.
    By the way, I’m glad I found your blog and I’m now following.

  16. Jan 10, 2010

    Well, sure, it sounds simple when you put it out like that. I would be happy to lose ten pounds without changing my eating habits, though. This seems like an impossible goal for me, post-pregnancy. I am good at working out, but I am TERRIBLE with sticking to diets.

  17. Jan 10, 2010

    Well, only if you got your money back from the gym if you went. Which by the way, would be AWESOME. I would totally sign up for that gym.

  18. Jan 10, 2010

    I’ve never used the negative motivation technique, but I’m starting to think I should. Or, the twist on that, pictures of really thin people as “thinspiration” like all the pro-ana website girls do. (As you can see, I’m a paradigm of psychological health on this particular issue!)

  19. Jan 10, 2010

    @Anna, I would think working out without changing eating habits should probably work at your age, at least it did for me through my 30s and 40s. I am 51 and now need to watch calories in addition to working out like a maniac to lose weight. For the workout my trainer recommended 15 minutes warm-up on the arc trainer at an easy setting, then 30 intense minutes at level 3, then 15 minutes warm down at an easy setting. It took 2 months to adjust to level 3, 2 months for level 4, 1 month for level 5. I’m stuck at 5 procrastinating increasing to level 6. She also suggested gradually letting go so the whole workout is hands free, not holding onto the handles, as this works out the abdomen. Ideas.

  20. Chris Nagele
    Jan 13, 2010

    I have been on Lose It or Lose It for six weeks. I can’t say exactly why, but I have never been more motivated to work out. I actually make it to the gym six days each week. To me it is less about the money and more about having short term goals each week.

  21. Jan 13, 2010

    You can! Well, if you live in Denmark. See http://nudges.wordpress.com/a-gym-membership-for-gym-rats/

  22. Jan 13, 2010

    Hi, Anna!
    Full disclosure: I’m a good friend of Randy (the fellow that built the site), and I’m one of his alpha users, so I should be up front and say that I’m a big cheerleader for the site.

    My eleventh weigh-in is next Monday, at which point I’ll have lost 20 pounds (as of this moment, sitting here writing, I’ve lost nineteen.) Everyone’s weight-loss journey is different; for ME, it’s not a matter of knowing what to do. I know if I eat less, I WILL lose weight. My issue was much more like Alyssa’s above, who said: “I’m finding the momentary pleasures of sneaking snack foods outweighs (no pun intended) my desire to achieve long range goals.” Boy, that was (and is) me in spades.

    What LIOLI can do is take a nebulous, long-term goal (“lose twenty pounds by bathing-suit season!) and turn it into a specific, measurable, short-term goal (“don’t eat that cheeseburger or, you’ll lose $100.00 on Monday.”) That kind of motivation has worked really well for me.

    It’s not for everyone: it’s for folks who know HOW to lose weight, but are having trouble really getting the gears engaged. I’ve tried telling my friends “I’m going to lose weight!” before, and even sharing my progress on my blog, but that didn’t seem to have the same power that putting up a hundred bucks each week did. You know, horses for courses!

    If you’re interested, you can see my progress at:
    http://www.loseitorloseit.com/tikaro

  23. cdoo
    Jan 13, 2010

    @Anna, I think you’ve sucked the fun out of a cool new weight loss approach. As much as I want to lose weight, I have a very difficult time sticking to the eating less/exercising more plan. I might be afraid to lose some $, but is that a bad thing? I think the fear of losing some cash, is exactly what’s going to help me lose some weight and there’s NOTHING bad about that. Plus, loseitorloseit.com looks like it may even be fun…

  24. Jan 13, 2010

    James, isn’t Denmark where they have the free wireless internet for everyone, as well? I need to move to Denmark.

  25. Jan 13, 2010

    Delayed response here, but since pregnancy my metabolism has been much different. I still haven’t lost all hope that it might adjust someday. Right now I do spinning three times a week and the 30 day shred three or four times a week, running on days I don’t do spinning. I exercise a lot. But my food is still messed up.

  26. Jan 13, 2010

    Chris, are you a male? Because I really think this would work better on men for some reason. This probably makes me sound sexist, but I just think the whole competition factor would be more motivating to men.

  27. Jan 13, 2010

    @John, interesting! It’s encouraging to hear that it works for you. I see that you are a guy, and again I suspect gender has a huge effect here. For me, I’ve been dieting all my life. I’m tired of it. Paying money might seem like a novel thing to some people, but for me, it’s like, am I going to keep doing this for the rest of my life? I don’t know. I’m very interested to hear about successful stories, though.

  28. Jan 13, 2010

    @Cdoo,

    There is nothing fun about losing weight except having done it. I don’t really see how me being critical of a site can make you dislike losing weight more. I don’t have a problem with people doing it, I just don’t really understand why they would want to use this method of weight loss. Then again, I don’t know why people would do the slim-fast shake thing, either.

  29. Jan 14, 2010

    Anna, yes, it does make you sound sexist 🙂 That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re WRONG, though. I think it’s less important whether it works better for men, or whether it works better for women, but whether it happens to work for YOU. My wife Kate (who is also on lose it or lose it) and I were talking about your comments over dinner last night, and she said “well, if one tool worked for everyone, then we would have discovered it LONG ago.”

    For me (and I have no idea whether this is a man thing or a woman thing, but don’t much care), the most motivating thing is not the competition aspect, but rather the translation of long-term goals into short-term, concrete goals with accountability. Literal accountability, in this case, since money is involved. This works great for folks that don’t have difficulty losing weight when they’re sufficiently motivated. Well, let me weaken that claim — this works great for ME.

    From your comment below, it sounds like you are already a very active person, which already makes you very different from the me that started Lose It or Lose It nine weks ago. I went to the local YMCA and got a metabolism test — here’s a picture of me with the ridiculous hose on my face:
    http://flic.kr/p/7pSA7n
    …and charted out how many calories I burn per week, then I just created a calorie budget that shorts me 7,000 calories per week. This was easier for me, because I am a big person with a generous calorie budget to start with. I suspect things are much tougher for you, and I wish you good luck, however you go about it!

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