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The Holiday Spread – Group Weight Loss Game

Posted in Lifehacks by engtech on October 10, 2007

Lifehacks and Productivity

This past weekend was Thanksgiving (aka Turkey Day) in Canada, which means seeing your family and eating a lot of food together. One of the favourite pastimes at any holiday is pointing out who’s gained weight and who hasn’t. This got me thinking: one of the principals of successful dieting is public accountability. Could we use these family get-togethers as a way to motivate each other to lose weight? So I’ve invented a game I like to call the Holiday Spread.

Family holidays are usually spaced two to three months apart, so that’s long enough to make a noticeable dent in the waistline without being so long that you’ll lose motivation to keep playing.

The Weight In – Holiday #1 (eg: Thanksgiving)

The reason why this has holidays as the start and end is that you can get everyone together in one spot and publicly weigh each other with the Official Scale. Since everyone will be weighed at the same time, in the same place, with the same scale then there will be no whining about variation. Write down the weights on two pieces of paper and have everyone sign or initial beside their weight. You’ll be repeating this process at the next holiday to determine your weight spread.

The Stakes

Have everyone put money into the pot as an incentive to keep playing. The real prize is the lost weight, but if that was motivator enough then there wouldn’t be any point in playing this game in the first place. You want to find the sweet spot where there’s enough of a buy-in that people will want to participate, but not so much that they’ll turn into sore losers if they don’t win. The overall pot should be high enough that the players can visualize something special they want to buy if they win. You’re aiming for a significant amount of cash for motivation and to engage the competitive spirit, but not so much that it can cause hardship and stress. Make sure the game coordinator gets the buy-in as close as possible to the initial weigh-in. This is family we’re talking about, so chances are people will opt-out if you wait too long and they don’t think they can win.

2 ppl 3 ppl 4 ppl 5 ppl 6 ppl 7 ppl
$20 $40 $60 $80 $100 $120 $140
$25 $50 $75 $100 $125 $150 $175
$50 $100 $150 $200 $250 $300 $350
$75 $150 $225 $300 $375 $450 $525
$100 $200 $300 $400 $500 $600 $700
$125 $250 $375 $500 $625 $750 $875
$150 $300 $450 $600 $750 $900 $1,050
$200 $400 $600 $800 $1,000 $1,200 $1,400

Individual Buy-in versus Number of Players gives Size of Pot

Rule Variation – Weight Loss for Christmas

I’m not a big fan of Christmas, so you can try to convince everyone to put the money they would have spent on Christmas gifts into the pot instead. Good luck with that.

Rule Variation – Multiple Winners

If the pot is big enough then you can have 1st and 2nd place winners to increase the chance of winning something.

The Scoring – Holiday #2 (eg: Christmas)

At the next holiday you repeat the same process of weighing each other. You’re again weighing everyone at the same time, in the same place, with the same scale so that should accounts for all variation. There are a couple of different ways you can score it.

Scoring Method #1 – Pounds Lost

This has the advantage of being dead simple: take what the scale said in October and subtract it from what the scale said in December. That’s your spread. It gives a slight advantage to the more obese (but you could also argue that they’re the ones who need to lose the weight most so any incentive helps).

If you’re 6’0″ and go from 190 lbs to 180 lbs that gives a score of 10.0 (tie)

If you’re 5’10″ and go from 220 lbs to 210 lbs that gives a score of 10.0 (tie)

If you’re 5’6″ and go from 180 lbs to 170 lbs that gives a score of 10.0 (tie)

Scoring Method #2 – Percentage Body Weight Lost

One way to try and make things more “fair” is to use the percentage of body weight lost instead of the absolute number of pounds. This gives a big disadvantage to the more heavy set.

  • SCORE = 100 * (INITIAL_WEIGHT – FINAL_WEIGHT) / INITIAL_WEIGHT
1 lb 2 lbs 3 lbs 5 lbs 7 lbs 10 lbs 15 lbs
100 lbs 1.00 2.00 3.00 5.00 7.00 10.00 15.00
110 lbs 0.91 1.82 2.73 4.55 6.36 9.09 13.64
120 lbs 0.83 1.67 2.50 4.17 5.83 8.33 12.50
130 lbs 0.77 1.54 2.31 3.85 5.38 7.69 11.54
140 lbs 0.71 1.43 2.14 3.57 5.00 7.14 10.71
150 lbs 0.67 1.33 2.00 3.33 4.67 6.67 10.00
160 lbs 0.63 1.25 1.88 3.13 4.38 6.25 9.38
170 lbs 0.59 1.18 1.76 2.94 4.12 5.88 8.82
180 lbs 0.56 1.11 1.67 2.78 3.89 5.56 8.33
190 lbs 0.53 1.05 1.58 2.63 3.68 5.26 7.89
200 lbs 0.50 1.00 1.50 2.50 3.50 5.00 7.50
210 lbs 0.48 0.95 1.43 2.38 3.33 4.76 7.14
220 lbs 0.45 0.91 1.36 2.27 3.18 4.55 6.82
230 lbs 0.43 0.87 1.30 2.17 3.04 4.35 6.52
240 lbs 0.42 0.83 1.25 2.08 2.92 4.17 6.25
250 lbs 0.40 0.80 1.20 2.00 2.80 4.00 6.00

Initial Weight versus Pounds Lost gives Percentage Loss

If you’re 6’0″ and go from 190 lbs to 180 lbs that gives a score of 5.26

If you’re 5’10″ and go from 220 lbs to 210 lbs that gives a score of 4.55

If you’re 5’6″ and go from 180 lbs to 170 lbs that gives a score of 5.56 (winner)

Scoring Method #3 – Body Mass Index (BMI)

The fairest way to measure the weight loss that is still easily calculable without getting callipers and a health professional is to use height and weight by calculating your changing in body mass index (BMI).

  • BMI = ( Weight in Pounds / ( Height in inches ) x ( Height in inches ) ) x 703
  • SCORE = (703*(INITIAL_WEIGHT / HEIGHT^2)) – (703*(FINAL_WEIGHT / HEIGHT^2))
60 (5’0″) 62 (5’2″) 64 (5’4″) 66 (5’6″) 68 (5’8″) 70(5’10″) 72 (6’0″)
100 lbs 19.53 18.29 17.16 16.14 15.20 14.35 13.56
110 lbs 21.48 20.12 18.88 17.75 16.72 15.78 14.92
120 lbs 23.43 21.95 20.60 19.37 18.24 17.22 16.27
130 lbs 25.39 23.77 22.31 20.98 19.76 18.65 17.63
140 lbs 27.34 25.60 24.03 22.59 21.28 20.09 18.99
150 lbs 29.29 27.43 25.74 24.21 22.80 21.52 20.34
160 lbs 31.24 29.26 27.46 25.82 24.33 22.96 21.70
170 lbs 33.20 31.09 29.18 27.44 25.85 24.39 23.05
180 lbs 35.15 32.92 30.89 29.05 27.37 25.82 24.41
190 lbs 37.10 34.75 32.61 30.66 28.89 27.26 25.77
200 lbs 39.06 36.58 34.33 32.28 30.41 28.69 27.12
210 lbs 41.01 38.41 36.04 33.89 31.93 30.13 28.48
220 lbs 42.96 40.23 37.76 35.51 33.45 31.56 29.83
230 lbs 44.91 42.06 39.48 37.12 34.97 33.00 31.19
240 lbs 46.87 43.89 41.19 38.73 36.49 34.43 32.55
250 lbs 48.82 45.72 42.91 40.35 38.01 35.87 33.90

Weight versus Height gives BMI for that Weigh-in

If you’re 6’0″ and go from 190 lbs to 180 lbs that gives a score of 1.36

If you’re 5’10″ and go from 220 lbs to 210 lbs that gives a score of 1.43

If you’re 5’6″ and go from 180 lbs to 170 lbs that gives a score of 1.61 (winner)

Rule Variation – Weekly Weigh-ins

One variation to the rules could be forcing a weekly weight check-in with the coordinator in order to keep being a contender for the pot of money. Another principal of successful dieting is weekly weigh-ins to keep on track, so this rule is there to promote that habit. It doesn’t have to be done publicly like the initial and final weigh-ins, it can be an email or a phone call to the coordinator. The goal is to keep people on the weight loss wagon, and if people do drop out then it increases the odds / motivation for the people who are still in the running. Successful weight loss is gradual over time, not a cottage cheese crash at the end.

The Holiday Spread

Put down a spread of money, and lose the spread of your belly by the next time you sit down for a huge spread of food.

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4 Responses

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  1. Wet said, on October 11, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    The body Mass Index (BMI) is not a great way to compare weight as it does not indicate or measure the percentages of muscle and fat on any particular person A heavily muscular person can have a poor(high) BMI reading even though he/she does not have excesive body fat. Maybe the participants should contribute to the purchase of a scale which measures percentage of body fat in addition to weight.

  2. The Middle Manager - Build Muscle said, on November 13, 2007 at 9:07 am

    The BMI not withstanding, the concept of accountability is an important one for weight loss. This is an interesting game, and one I may have to try with my own family this coming holiday season! Good post, I am going to become a frequent reader of the IDT!

  3. [...]   The Holiday Spread – Group Weight Loss Game « // Internet Duct Tape [...]

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