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How to Host a Biggest Loser Challenge at Work

Looking to lose weight through a fun group activity? How to organize a weight loss competition at work, or with your friends/family (like the Biggest Loser Challenge).

Back in 2009, a friend of mine had this fantastic idea to host a Biggest Loser Weight Loss Competition at work.

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We quickly gained 10 coworkers eager to participate.

Not only was the weight loss games competition a lot of inexpensive fun, but it helped coworkers to become healthier.

It was so exciting to watch people lose weight throughout the course of the competition and to see morale build among the eleven of us.

And let me tell you, the weight loss results from a little competitive fun were impressive – the winner of our competition ended up shedding an astounding 12% of their body weight in just 12 weeks!

I wanted to share with you how to host your own competition for very little money (not only very little cost but read on to find out how you can actually get rewarded with money for your weight loss!).

Read all the way through, or skip ahead to the section you want to read about most (I won’t tell!):

And also? You'll want to consider adding a money incentive to lose weight. Check out HealthyWage.com, where you can give money incentives to your employees/friends/group mates for getting healthy and losing weight.

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Details for Setting Up Your Biggest Loser Weight Loss Competition

So, you’ve decided you want to set up a Biggest Loser Weight Loss Competition at work (or in a group – family and weight loss competition with friends are fun, too!). Or maybe you’re not quite sure, but the idea excites you.

There are a few things you need to decide on and set into place before you move forward.

You’ll need the following to get the biggest loser challenge at work or weight loss competition with friends:

1. Management’s Blessing (not needed if you're doing this with family/friends)

You don’t want to rock any boats at work (at least not in a bad way). Make sure your management team is on board with this competition – especially if you’ll be using company property or time, company email, or company-anything to do so. See the next section for how to get your management to say “yes”.

2. Participants

Hard to host a competition without any competitors! Come up with an idea for how to campaign for this. A flyer (paper) for the lunch room area, next to the vending machine, and even in a company newsletter is a great idea. Another option is a blanket email – make sure you have permission to send these out. See the next section for how to get your colleagues to sign up and participate.

3. Group Email List of Participants

Create a contacts list for each of the participants so that you can quickly email them with exciting updates + info throughout the competition. More on this later, in the section “Weight Loss Challenge Ideas to Keep Everyone Motivated”.

4. Some Tools

You need a scale, a clipboard (nice to have), a poster, and a camera.

5. A Semi-Private Area for Weigh-Ins

You likely don’t want to do your weekly weigh-ins in front of everyone (at least not all participants would like that, anyway). So, you’ll need the corner of an office room, or private cubicle where you can do the weigh-ins.

You’ll want to have a kick-off and wrap-up celebration event – see below, “How to Host a Kick-off Event”.

And also? You'll want to consider adding a money incentive to lose weight.

Check out HealthyWage.com, where you can give money incentives to your employees/friends/group mates for getting healthy and losing weight.

You can also participate as an individual, outside of work (get a group of friends together!).

Workplace Weight Loss Challenge – How to Get Management and Work Colleagues On Board

If you're running a corporate weight loss challenge, then the two obstacles you might have in getting this all set up are finding people who want to participate, and getting your management to okay the process.

Here’s a few tips when trying to get management + colleagues on board:

1. Approach Your HR Department

You’ll want to approach your HR department. Point out to them the benefits of this competition – that people will become healthier, which will likely lower the company’s overall healthcare costs (the part they pay for employees).

2. Fill a Petition

If you think your managers will be responsive to this, then go ahead and get the signatures of all interested people. It might help your case!

3. Use Your Health Insurance Wellness Program

Research your employer’s health care plan, and see if they have a wellness program that could coincide or supplement your Biggest Loser Weight Loss Competition. For example, our health insurance plan through my husband’s employer is Cigna. They have this awesome Wellness Program where participants earn up to $450 in gift cards each for doing various healthy activities, such as tracking weight loss (ding, ding, ding!), water intake, watching 15-minute webinars on health subjects, or going for preventative health exams.

4. Tie it In with Team Volunteer Projects

Does your company promote community projects and volunteering? Come up with a few ideas of how this competition will tie in with those values, such as something we did at our building during the competition – a walking trash-pick-up event. The walking part helped employees meet their health goals, and the trash up counted as a community event for the company. See the section on Fun Weight Loss Games + Bonus Ideas for how we added even more fun to this event. Hint: our wellness program gives out a $25 gift card for each volunteer event we do, so this could count towards something like that!

5. Add a Monetary Incentive

Yes, you read that right. We’ll talk about this more in the section “Weight Loss Challenge for Money”, but just know that if you add a money incentive, you’ll likely get more sign-ups!

Pssst: You will definitely want to check out HealthyWage.com, where you can give money incentives to your employees for getting healthy and losing weight. Ultimately, this will decrease your health care costs – what a win-win! Hint: right now they're having a $100 prize boost, if you sign up by 2/07/2021 through this link.

🏆Weight Loss Competition Rules for Weight Loss Contests

Now it’s time to establish your weight loss competition rules so that everyone knows what to expect, as well as how to win.

But first, who is going to enforce these rules? You’ll want to designate one person as the weight loss competition ringleader (this was my job in our competition! This was so much fun.).

As ringleader, it was my responsibility to be there every other Monday at 7:45 a.m. for the weigh-ins, to record the weigh-ins on a clipboard from week to week, to calculate the percentages, to send out the emails, and to keep the winner a secret until the big reveal.

More so than all of this, I took it as my personal job to keep everyone motivated (without overstepping boundaries; if someone decided they no longer wanted to participate, that was a-okay).

It was sort of like holding the competition space for everyone.

Any good competition has rules so that everyone knows what’s involved.

In our competition, we decided on the following rules:

Rule #1: Competition Duration

We wanted to make our competition 12 weeks long. There are lots of 30-day weight loss challenges out there, and that might work for your group. For us, we wanted to really see a change in our lifestyle and habits and felt that 12 weeks was best.

Rule #2: Mandatory Weigh-Ins

We made weigh-ins mandatory (talk about a great way to make everyone accountable!), and scheduled them for Monday mornings, every other week (we also established the weigh-in time as 7:45 a.m.). I would arrive to work a bit earlier than usual, and take people as they came in the door.

A note: people did not have to participate in “mandatory” weigh-ins; but if they didn’t, then they were out of the running for the prize.

Rule #3: Established Fair Weight Loss Competition Rules – How are biggest loser competitions calculated?

From the beginning of the competition, everyone knew how we were going to determine the winner. And it’s in the fairest way – part of the Biggest Loser Rules: the winner is determined by the overall percentage of weight loss.

This is the same way they used to declare the winner of Biggest Loser weight loss competitions!

Here’s how to calculate the percentage of weight loss each week:

  • Take a baseline weight measurement during your Kick-Off Event. Plug this into an Excel sheet for each participant.
  • For each new weigh-in weight, subtract it from the baseline weight. Then divide by the baseline weight.
  • Example: Bobby’s baseline weight is 270 lbs. On week 6 of the competition, he comes in at 250 lbs.

Calculation: 270 lbs. – 250 lbs. = 20 lbs. 20 lbs./270 lbs. = 0.074 (or 7.4%).

Rule #4 (Bonus/Optional): Join HealthyWage as a Team

You can make it a rule that everyone joins up for a HealthyWage competition as your own, personal, team in order to enter your office's competition. This adds a money component to it – meaning there will potentially be a cash prize won by the entire team! What great motivation + a fun way to get everyone working together.

When a team signs up, they compete against other teams.  There are various prize tiers, but the teams that lose the greatest % of weight win cash prizes (top prize is $10,000 for the team).

Wondering How the HealthyWage Prize Calculator Works?

The amount you win depends on your current weight and how much weight you want to lose (and other factors based on the couple of questions you answer in the calculator process). Your profit % can be as high as around 300% (tripling your money) or as low as 11% (if you are already at a healthy weight).

Playing with the calculator is part of the fun.

How to Host a Weight Loss Competition Kick-Off Event

For kick-off events, you’ll need to accomplish the following:

  • Get people PSYCHED about participating (you can remind them about the prizes, if any, involved).
  • Get a baseline weight measurement for everyone. This is important, as it’s what you’ll base your overall calculations off of.
  • Take everyone’s picture for impressive before-and-after photos later.

You can time this event for a routine office meeting, over lunch if no one can spare extra time, or pair it with an office-wide walk to get things headed in the right direction.

🎯Weight Loss Challenge for Money – Incentives for Weight Loss Challenges

If you want to really ramp things up (and get more participation), then offer money incentives for losing weight! I've got some great office weight loss challenge prize ideas, weight loss incentives with friends, and even family weight loss challenge prize ideas…but first, let's talk about how you can actually fund these incentives.

How to fund your weight loss challenge incentives money:

  • Negative Consequences: Everyone pays $1 for each pound gained, and $0.50 for staying the same weight.
  • Management: Get management to kick in some money (hey, you never know! This is good for company morale, and it could be good for the company's bottom line if it decreases health insurance costs).
  • Bet Money on Your Weight Loss: Use HealthyWage.com to win money for your weight loss. Seriously! You can join this as individuals, or join as a work team/family team/friend team (up to a $10,000 prize!). As an individual, you choose a goal weight and a time frame for when you will do it – and then you choose a bet amount that you pay each month. If you make your goal, you win cash! For example, by playing with their calculator, I found that if I say I’ll lose 10 pounds in 9 months, and bet $50/month, then the amount I’ll win is between $500-$750! The prize money is funded by government agencies, insurers, hospitals, food manufacturers, etc. It’s totally legit! Here are some success stories by others who have joined HealthyWage.
  • Donate Money to Charity by Exercising: Use Charity Miles App when going for team walks, and you can all earn money for each mile walked to donate to a cause!

Now, how will you use some of the money you get together from above?

Here are a few Office Weight Loss Challenge Prize Ideas:

Weight Loss Challenge Ideas to Keep Everyone Motivated

Twelve weeks (or however long you guys choose) is a long time to sustain excitement around a competition. Also, weight loss can be frustrating for some, especially when they work at it and lose hardly anything. Or worse, when they have gained a pound or two back.

So, it’s important to keep people motivated throughout the length of the competition.

As the Weight Loss Competition Ringleader, you’ll want to:

1. Email Them Updates + Topic-Specific Articles

I created an email list of the people in our competition so that I could easily send our updates.

Then every other week, I emailed out the percentage loss ranked from highest to lowest (if people don’t want this information to be revealed, you could send out a range of weight loss percentages for the week, or a group total weight loss – both can be motivating!).

Periodically I would also include interesting articles tips/tricks on exercising, eating healthy, etc.

2. Sync your Competition with a Weight Loss TV Show Opener

Choosing to start the competition while a popular weight loss television show season is starting can really motivate people as well as create something to talk about at the water cooler.

Popular weight loss shows include Extreme Weight Loss, The Big Fat Truth, Fit to Fat to Fit, and I Used to Be Fat.

3. Schedule Weekly Walks

Scheduling weekly walks during lunch could bring everyone closer within the group, as well as provide time for exercise for those who find it difficult to exercise after work/before work or on the weekends.

Don’t forget to have each person sign up for Charity Miles App and remind everyone to turn it on before starting the walk.

4. Create a Biggest Loser Challenge Board

Depending on the comfort level of the group (take a poll, asking those who don't want to be included to tell you so), you could create a poster board with each person’s percentages + before photos. Display this in your cubicle, or perhaps by the scale.

I kept a poster board in my cubicle and surrounded it with people’s photos.

Periodically a player would come over and check out the stats or track their own progress.

5. Buy the Biggest Loser Cookbooks as a Library for People

Can your HR department splurge on a set of the Biggest Loser Cookbook, Biggest Loser Desserts, or Biggest Loser Quick and Easy?

Perhaps you guys can use part of the penalty money for gaining weight to purchase a set and keep them in the lunch room for people to peruse?

Fun Weight Loss Games + Office Weight Loss Challenge Bonus Ideas

Something I enjoy about the actual Biggest Loser competition is the challenges that they give to the players.

While you certainly cannot build the types of stunts that they do, there are a few ways you can incorporate some fun into your biggest loser contest at work (and keeping this a surprise is pretty cool as well).

  1. Bonus Idea #1 – Weighted Walk­: During the last week of the competition, have everyone bring in a backpack. Put rocks in the bottom of the backpack for the amount of weight that they lost (wrapped in a plastic bag), and have them wear the backpack around for lunch, or even just keep it in their cubicle during the day. This will really show them how much weight they have shed, and they should feel great about themselves!
  2. Bonus Idea #2 – Guess the Calories: You could also set up a game through email where you send a photo of a popular meal and ask everyone to guess the number of calories and grams of fat it contains.
  3. Bonus Idea #3 Build Suspense for the Reveal Date: We decided to add a bit of fun to our wrap-up celebration event by keeping the last weigh-in percentages a secret. Everyone agreed that our big reveal of the winner was going to be during a team builder event a month after the last weigh-in – people were dying to know for that entire month!

Bonus: How to WIN a Weight Loss Challenge at Work!

Ooohhhh – I just love that you’re in this section. It means you have a competitive side, something I can definitely relate to!

You give me a challenge or ask me to compete? And I bring my A-GAME. I'll bet you're the same!

So, let me help you bring YOUR A-game, coming from a person who held this competition at her office several years ago.

Tip #1: Find an Accountability Partner and Go PUBLIC

One thing us bloggers know is that when you make something public, as in declaring your big intention to the world in a place where people will actually see it, then magic things happen. Because who likes to fail in front of others?

Double this up by asking someone to be your accountability partner – it’s sort of like having your own Weight Loss Mastermind. Discuss issues you’re having, successes, secrets you’ve found, and what you want to try.

Tip #2: Bet on Yourself with Actual Money

Did you know you can earn actual cash for meeting your weight loss goals? Man, is that cool! Check out HealthyWage.com for more info.

When you sign up as an individual, the amount of money you can win depends on the challenge. You're not competing with anyone or anything other than the personal goal that you set. Then if they hit their goal, you win your prize.

If you sign up for the Jackpot Challenge? All entries pay into the “pot” and everyone who meets the goal (6% weight loss, for example) splits the pot.

Psst: wondering where these guys get the money from to pay you? They’re funded by government agencies, insurers, hospitals, food manufacturers, etc. It’s totally legit! Here are some HealthyWage success stories

Tip #3: Have a Food Plan – with a Modern Twist

We all know that any weight loss plan has to include getting your food intake under control. But this can be so hard when you’ve got a life to live as well (kids, work, chores, commutes, anyone?).

I’ve got your back with some stellar services that crept up over the last decade. These can really skyrocket your personal weight loss goals (not to mention, give you an edge in your weight loss competition).

  • Sign Up for a Healthy Meal Delivery Service: I cannot tell you how awesome it is to have someone deliver a box of fresh, prepped foods complete with visual instructions for exactly how to assemble them. HelloFresh is a great way to eat healthy foods for between $7.87 and $8.99 per serving. Blue Apron is another great one, and here's my Blue Apron review.

Biggest Loser is such an inspiring show, and doing your own version of the Biggest Loser Competition at work can add to company morale, make work more fun, and most of all, help lots of people lose weight!

Bob and Jillian, we salute you.

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.

Lizelle Fourie

Wednesday 8th of January 2020

Hi We would love to do a biggest loser at the office, but we have two categories and I dont know how to do this. We have the people who want to loose weight (we will use the percentage lost here), but then we also have people that doesn't have to lose that many kilograms, but would like to participate with centimeters lost (mostly women) or gained (mostly men who want to build muscles). Would it be realistic if centimeters lost / gained is in the same group? And what would the easiest / best way be to calculate this each week?

Amanda L Grossman

Saturday 25th of January 2020

Hi Lizelle! I've been thinking about your question -- so glad you have a sizable group of people who want to do a Biggest Loser competition at work. My thoughts are, you do one competition, but have 2-3 categories for a prize/winner. SO, you have a category for percentage of weight loss, a category for centimeters/inches lost (use a tape measure and choose the same location to measure each week, such as 1/2 inch above their belly button), and a third category (if there's enough interest) for muscle gained (you would measure their body fat percentage/lean body mass). Each person can only enter one category that they choose from the beginning.

It would definitely be more work, so perhaps just have two categories instead of one or three?


Monday 28th of October 2019

We did two Biggest Losers last year and each time it was frustrating because one of the men in our group dropped 9 to 10 pounds in the first week. Contestants lost motivation because they felt they would never have a shot at winning? Is there a way to make it fair for all? The women in our contest did not lose on the level the men did so weight percentage helped but did not make a difference on the final results.

Amanda L Grossman

Monday 28th of October 2019

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with doing this at your office! I would say that if even the percentages aren't helping enough to een things out, why not make two prizes -- one for the women, and one for the men?

Jules@Faithful With a Few

Wednesday 23rd of January 2013

Thanks for sharing this. I am sure it will help a lot of people. I have never done this, but I always thought it would be fun. Now I am a SAHM who has lost 85 lbs. I love hearing ideas on how to get people motivated to get healthy!

Amanda L Grossman

Wednesday 23rd of January 2013

Congratulations on losing 85 lbs!!!! That is a major feat.

Hosting the Biggest Loser Challenge at work was so much fun to do with our group--I hope you can organize your own!