You’ve done your research and created a great nutrition and exercise plan. The gym membership has been paid for, your fridge stuffed with healthy food, the cupboards cleared of junk and your morning alarm set for 5 o’clock. You’ve got a clear weight loss goal over a fixed period of time, and you’re going to make it come hell or high water this time.
The first few days have been great. You’ve started to fall in love with the endorphin rush after 45 minutes on the treadmill, religiously stuck to your healthy diet and stayed clear of the chocolate bars that your partner has managed to sneak back into the cupboards. You’ve even done the seemingly impossible and managed to keep it (relatively) healthy at a workplace lunch outing to a Chinese Buffet, by sticking to lean protein, greens and water!
The end of your first healthy week comes around and you excitedly hop on the scales to see your progress.
1 pound lost.
Hmm. Well, that’s positive progress right? That’s a safe amount of weight to lose according to the research you’ve done. Still, your motivation levels could probably use a bit of a boost.
You dust off your social media accounts and start following fitness motivation sources. 10 minutes of browsing motivational videos on YouTube, before and after pictures on Pinterest and a bottomless well of motivational fitness quotes on Twitter before your workout and you’re pumped up!
“Sweat is fat crying”
“It takes 4 weeks for you to see your body changing, 8 weeks for your friends and family, and 12 weeks for the rest of the world.”
“If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up”
Drawing from this inspiration, you plough through another week and jump on the scales. Another 1 pound lost. Good, but…eh. Surely you should be doing better, considering the amount of effort you’re putting into it?
Week 3 comes by and all the motivational videos of cats doing pull-ups and encouragement from family and friends can’t seem to keep you focused on your goal. You’ve skipped a few days at the gym and allowed a few junk meals to slip in here and there, but overall, you’re still living healthier than you were just a few weeks ago.
But then comes time to face the scales and it shows no weight loss or gain. Motivation levels – now approaching zero. Ah whatever, pack it up for now and try again in a few weeks. It’ll give you some time to figure out what went wrong and re-energise. Right?
The Solution – Using your fear of losing money
Scenarios where a person gives up quickly after an initial burst of motivation are all too common. After all, everyone wants a fast fix – which is the reason why shady weight loss fads and dodgy pill programs that promise you the world in a week are far too successful for anyone’s good (except the marketing ‘guru’ behind the scheme). Deep down, everyone knows that solid fitness results only come with time and hard graft. But how do you manage to keep a laser-like focus on your healthy goals for weeks and months on end, while juggling and dodging all the various stresses and temptations that life throws at you?
Various studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of cash incentives for losing weight, and this concept has been adopted on a more public scale with popular TV shows like ‘The Biggest Loser’ and motivational fitness websites.
However, the answer could lie in modifying this concept and harnessing the power of a very real fear – losing your already hard earned cash.
BetWeight uses this ‘put your money where your mouth is’ concept to keep people motivated during their weight loss quest. Users can set a 30 day weight loss goal and deposit a sum of money. If they reach their goal, their money is returned to them, and if they fail to reach their goal, their money is donated to a charity of their choice. The charitable element softens the blow for unsuccessful challengers, but the desire to keep their cash acts as a powerful motivator. After all, is skipping that run because of rain or binging on that pack of Doritos while watching something great on Netflix really worth putting that £50 at jeopardy?
As an added incentive, the first 20 challengers of each month can get £30 added to their ‘bet’ for free with a voucher code (BWFREE30), meaning a nice chunk of extra cash on top of their own deposit for the successful ones!
Weight loss statistics can often be quite depressing, with the majority of the population either failing to reach their goals, or achieving short-lived success but quickly regaining their lost weight (with some studies putting the failure rate as high as 90-95% of those in their test groups). With obesity rates constantly on the rise and the number of preventable weight-related health issues even rivalling problems caused by activities like smoking, genuine schemes to help the public keep focused on their fitness need to take centre stage.
The concepts of fitness are relatively easy to understand, and anyone can pick them up in a short period of time. They do not involve any miracle shakes, fake ‘fat-free’ (but high sugar – although they’ll conveniently leave that bit out of the advert) products pushed by supermarkets, or radical ‘ground-breaking’ ideas touted by the latest scam artist looking to cash in on a large market.
It is applying these simple fitness concepts consistently over a lengthy period of time that trips up the majority of the public – and increasing their motivation to keep going with innovative new schemes may just be the catalyst needed to finally start pushing the scales in the right direction.