Healthy living and weight loss encouragement | all bets are off

In January I hosted a DietBet (lose weight, have fun, make money and BUILD COMMUNITY). Over half of my participants lost at least 4% of their body weight in just four weeks. Many of those needed to lose much more and were thrilled to find a group of motivating, encouraging and inspirational peers to share the journey with.

At their request, I decided to host a second weight loss game. Happy to continue providing a platform for positive lifestyle change and delighted to see so many people sharing their tips for curbing the munchies, fitting daily exercise in and getting back on the horse after a binge meal (or two).

weight loss

Despite the success of this second game (44% of players met their weight loss goals; you guys rock!), I won’t be promoting a third anytime soon. This decision is not a reflection on the game itself (it clearly works for people who have significant weight to lose), but a personal decision on how hosting the game made me feel unhappy with my body.

You see, I not only hosted the games, I anted up and participated as well. Despite the fact that I didn’t (and don’t) really need to lose weight.

The act of stepping on the scales weekly (and being sent email reminders to ‘weigh myself more frequently to improve my chances of winning’) did a number on my head.

weight loss

  • It made me think that my body weight SHOULD be 4% less than it is (it stressed me out to not see the scale moving despite my very clean eating habits and almost daily visits to the gym)
  • It made me consider taking extreme measures to cut calories (even though I know that caloric restriction undermines my attempts to gain muscle mass and makes me a very cranky female dog).
  • It made me think back to all the different weights my body has been during the last 20 years (marriage, pre-baby number 1, post-baby number 1, pre-baby number 2, post-baby number 2, pre-weight lifting, pre-baby number 3, post-baby number 3, teaching 10 group fitness classes a week, the arrival of peri-menopause) and decide that the lowest weight was the best (never mind that I was considerably younger and had no muscle mass…)
  • It made me forget that I love looking and feeling strong (I love having a ‘big butt’)
  • It made me think that I’d be happier if I were 6 pounds lighter (happiness doesn’t come from a number on the scale)
  • It took the joy out of eating (food is fun) and exercising (even more fun)

It took watching some of my own #FatblasterFriday workout videos to realize that the body everybody else sees is NOT the same body that I’ve been seeing when I’ve look in the mirror as of late. (That girl in those videos has a rocking bod! Strong arms, toned butt and lots of confidence in her appearance…)

While I’d love to continue motivating and encouraging my friends and followers who aren’t yet through with their weight loss journey, I just can’t do it by hosting another DietBet (at least not right now; I need to deal with my own body image issues first). Instead, I’ll continue to support and inspire by sharing workouts, healthy eating tips and thought-provoking discussions about body image and weight loss here, on the blog, and in my Facebook group (if you haven’t ‘liked’ my page you’re missing out on twice-weekly free home workouts).

And my bathroom scales? I’m finding another use for them.

weight loss 

Does the number on your scale influence how you feel about yourself?

What other ways do you measure progress towards your health and fitness goals?

Looking for an inexpensive way to jump-start your journey to fitness and health? Join my online Bootcamp today! Get more info by clicking the image below.

Looking for an inexpensive way to jump-start your journey to fitness and health? Join my online Bootcamp today! Get more info by clicking the image below.


  1. I’m participating in my 3rd DietBet right now — and am in that category of those with quite a bit to lose (I started at 248 and am down to 224, on my way to about 170). I won the first one fairly easily because I’d just started WW again and the pounds were falling off. Fell short of winning the second (by less than 2 pounds) and am on track to lose again now that my loss has settled into turtle mode.

    That said, I like the accountability and the social aspect of the game. But it sure sucks when I don’t lose weight … or don’t lose “fast” enough.

    I try not to let the number on the scale affect my mood, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care — especially when I’m in weight-loss mode. I wish I didn’t have to be a slave to the scale, but when I fail to check in regularly, it’s usually because I’m making crappy choices and don’t want to face the music (because when I know how much I really weigh, I have to do something about it).
    Arlene @ Adventures in Weight Loss recently posted…WIAW: The atypical dayMy Profile

    • Arlene, thanks so much for your support! The first DietBet I participated in was great for me. Right after Christmas when I was trying to undo some bad eating habits. The problem started when I missed my goal by less than a pound.

      For me, paying attention to how I feel and how my jeans fit is the best measure of fitness!

  2. I am a scale-a-holic. As a person who now doesn’t need to lose weight, but who used to be overweight, I find it difficult to break up with the scale entirely . . . but instead I need to focus on other indicators of fitness and health – like body composition, strength, etc. It’s interesting lately – even as I’ve gotten to a place where I like how my body looks & feels more than ever, I’m still attached to what the number on the scale says, and I do keep it in my mind. I know there is a part of me that is worried about seeing those 40 lbs. I lost come back, even though it’s been 21 years!
    Sarah @ Semi-Sweet recently posted…Tuesday Tidbit: The Craving KillerMy Profile

    • I should add, though, that the holiday DietBet I participated in kept me from gaining over the holidays, and actually helped me lose the last 5 lbs. I’d been carting around for a while . . . . but none of this is worth it if it makes you unhappy or nuts!
      Sarah @ Semi-Sweet recently posted…Ground Turkey Breast, 3 WaysMy Profile

      • As I mentioned to Arlene above, the first DietBet I hosted was great for me! I think the long term focus on the scale is what is getting me down. I need to return to pushing for bigger numbers in the gym rather than smaller numbers on the scale…
        But I know that this approach has worked so well for you! It’s all about knowing yourself and doing what makes you feel best.

  3. I have been participating in a few DietBets and it also has been making me scale crazy, which is something I actually had given up a while ago because my mood is affected by the number. I think DietBet is a great motivator, but I actually prefer measurements to weight as I think they more accurately reflect progress.
    Toni @runninglovingliving recently posted…What’s In My Gym Bag? featuring @ComebackMommaMy Profile

    • I hear you Toni! I love my measuring tape (and my Fitbook in which I log all of my sets and reps and loads in the gym)

  4. I think any weight loss program whether on line or WW is good if that is what works for you, the individual. I am glad we all know what works and what doesn’t. I participated in your first DietBet and the extra emails and seeing others weigh consistently and lose actually sabotaged my eating…..I felt like I didn’t compare, do enough, needed to do more, and wondered “why, why, why” didn’t I post more often and just participate more….ugh! The mind is a dangerous thing sometimes.

    I guess I am best to motivate myself when it comes to weight loss…..and your advice of Staying OUT of the Kitchen is the BEST advice ever!! (ha!)
    Kathy recently posted…Losing part of a filling….***UPDATE***My Profile

    • Kathy, I agree. To each her own and this has been a great learning experience for me. I’d like to keep helping others lose weight without getting caught up in it myself…

    completely why Ive never been to the site.
    Miz recently posted…We *are* all SUPERWOMEN.My Profile

  6. I so get what you’re saying in this post. Whenever I think I’m “supposed” to do something I get a little unhinged. Best to just do my best and let the chips (or pounds) fall where they may and stay sane about it.
    Gaye recently posted…Nutrition: On How to Make a Package of M&M’s Last 1.5 Hours and Other Useful InformationMy Profile

  7. I love this post Tamara!!!! I hear you on all accounts! Although stats say this type of things works for people to lose weight, they did not say if it helped them keep it off long term.

    The thoughts you express here are very important & valid – something others should think about if they decide to do this.

    I never joined because basically I am where I am & feel fine here. Yes, I look my best about 3-4 pound lighter BUT that was when I was sick & living a normal life, if you call mine normal, 😉 well, it is really just too hard to maintain at that weight for me & my age. It is like me eating right before a bodybuilding contest & that is not gonna happen an a day to day basis! 🙂 AND those 3-4 pounds is just 2% less body fat so… 🙂

    Thank you soooooooo much for sharing your thoughts! I know others feel the same way!
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted…May I have a Cup of Coffee with that SUGAR PleaseMy Profile

  8. Wow, I love this post. We both came to the same conclusion. I got so depressed when I missed winning the bet by 1 lb. Hormones jacked me and within one week, I am now 2 lbs under. It made me realize that the scale does lie. It is about long term healthy decisions. The scale can go up and down and really mean nothing except that maybe your hormones are crazy or you ate a healthy but late meal. In the last week of the bet, I decided to retire my scale as well. I am so much happier with my body as a result. I am strong and the healthiest I have ever been. I am making great food choices. And I am not overweight. It’s not about looking 20 in a bathing suit versus my 42 years. It’s about have strong arms and back to swing my grandkids 20 years from now.

  9. Such a great post, Tamara…Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I could see that this would definitely happen to me if I hosted too, as I’m already teetering on the verge of “I should lose those 5 lbs” and “No! I’m happy and strong where I am!” I could see it being a great program for those who can use the scale in a positive way but not for others…never thought of it before though! I’m sure many other hosters (and game players) felt this way!
    Bonnie recently posted…Do Hard ThingsMy Profile

  10. Awesome post. I’m definitely on the same wavelength as you. For those that find it motivating and need to lose weight, then that’s okay, but doing something like this wouldn’t be good for me. Way to recognize that and make decisions that are best for you!
    Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted…Steamed Lobster Tails (and preparation how-to)My Profile

  11. What a thoughtful post. And for all the seriousness of it, I did get a laugh out of your new scale use!
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…Natural Products Expo West: Scenes from 3 Days of Food, Natural Products and FriendsMy Profile

  12. I trust my body..not the scale 🙂

    I much prefer going with how I feel, how my clothes fit and looking within myself to measure how I’m doing.
    Kierston @candyfit recently posted…Fitness Competition Eats: A Taste of Progress!My Profile

  13. Love this post! I’ve always thought that a fit strong body is better (at least for me) than a skinny body!!!
    Kim recently posted…Balls + Records = JellyMy Profile

  14. Awesome post! I can’t even begin to share (with anyone) all of the mental struggles I am going through right now, but reading this post truly helped. 🙂 You have no idea.

    For what it’s worth, I hate the ‘S’ word aka scale. It makes me cringe that a number can have such a hold over a persons head. I don’t own a scale for this reason and only have access to the one at the gym. That is probably the other reason why I hate visiting my doctor….the scale! I always preface them going in to purposely NOT tell me the number since it clearly messes with my head.

  15. Tamara, this is exactly why I had to go toward intuitive eating. All the obsessive counting and weighing myself did a number on my self esteem and body image. I am now rejecting the diet mentality and focusing on just being happy, becuase that’s all that matters in the end after all! We have to be happy, workout because we LIKE it and it makes us FEEL good, and eat the food that makes us feel good and satisfies our hunger and our body, not based on calories/fat/carbs. I’m glad you are so conscious of the fact that this is what happened and you are willing to work on these issues now. Great job and I wish you best of luck! 🙂
    Kammie @ Sensual Appeal recently posted…Szarlotka or Traditional Polish Apple Pie, reduced sugarMy Profile

  16. Tamara, it is really interesting how if effected you mentally. I’m not participating in mine because my goals were different, and i am glad to get your perspective on how it made you feel. I have also seen that bod you speak of in the videos and you are right – it IS a rockin’ bod! keep up the great work!
    getfitchick recently posted…Shrimp and Asparagus Sauté with Lemon and ThymeMy Profile

  17. What a great post! I have a love/hate history with the scale as well. I went over 10 years without weighing myself which created it’s own “boogeyman” for me. I applaud your decision to take some time off as well as your honesty.

    I joined Diet Bet to cheer on friends but never fully participated for fear of getting hooked on numbers.
    Margo recently posted…What Did We Learn This Month? @SELFmagazine March Issue with New Look!My Profile

  18. I’m so glad you recognized what this was doing to you and decided to take a break! After a lifetime of disordered eating I have finally stopped counting calories and am so. much. happier. I definitely still have some self esteem issues to work on, but I feel I’ve made a great step forward with this one area.
    sharla recently posted…WIAW: Clean Snacking IdeasMy Profile

  19. Thank you for the post Tamara! Your feedback and knowledge has been, and I’m sure will continue to be, great for us. And thank you to all those commenting, we always appreciate feedback so we can continue to improve the dietbet game and the overall experience for the user. We wish you only the best in your health journey!

    p.s. Love your alternative use for the scale now 😉

  20. How very self-aware of you and how wise to step back from it! I lost a few pounds spontaneously in the last month just by training my program hard, now I’m back to what I think of as my baseline, yay.
    Mary @ Fit and Fed recently posted…Ready for Sectionals!My Profile

  21. Very interesting post. I’d love to try your DietBet event but I guess I have to wait until you decide to do another one. I sure need some advice on how to weight myself. Thanks for sharing this.
    James recently posted…Converting Web Visitors Into New Patients – The Who in Google AnalyticsMy Profile

  22. Just wanted to let you know…Dietbet now has a “maintenance” mode where you can play with the aim of staying within 1% of your body weight. Just thought that might be of some interest to you!
    Jillian recently posted…Day 4/28My Profile