Looking for some a fun group and work activity? How about hosting a weight loss competition at work (a la Biggest Loser). Let me show you how it’s done.
Back in 2009, a friend of mine had this fantastic idea to host a Biggest Loser Weight Loss Competition at work.
We quickly gained 10 coworkers eager to participate.
Not only was the 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.Hosting a biggest loser competition at work is inexpensive and a lot of fun. It also helps coworkers to become healthier. Click To Tweet
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!):
- Details for Setting Up Your Biggest Loser Weight Loss Competition
- How to Get Management and Work Colleagues On Board
- Weight Loss Competition Rules
- How to Host a Weight Loss Competition Kick-Off Event
- Weight Loss Challenge for Money
- Weight Loss Challenge Ideas to Keep Everyone Motivated
- Fun Weight Loss Games + Office Weight Loss Challenge Bonus Ideas
- Bonus: Tips for How to Get AHEAD of the Competition and WIN!
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 competitions 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 this going:
- Management’s Blessing: 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”.
- 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.
- 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 section “Weight Loss Challenge Ideas to Keep Everyone Motivated”.
- Some Tools: You need a scale, a clipboard (nice-to-have), a poster, and a camera.
- 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”.
How to Get Management and Work Colleagues On Board
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:
- 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).
- Fill a Petition: If you think your managers will be responsive to this, then go ahead and get signatures of all interested people. It might help your case!
- 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.
- 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-pick 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 into 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!
- 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! You can also participate as an individual!
Weight Loss Competition Rules
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
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 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%).
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
If you want to really ramp things up (and get more participation), then offer money incentives for losing weight!
How to fund your weight loss challenge 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).
- 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 (up to a $10,000 prize!). As an individual, you choose a goal weight, and a time frame for when you will do it by – 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!
- 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!
Prizes work well, too. Why not use some of the funding ideas above to pay for prizes that further promote healthy lifestyles?
Here are a few ideas:
- Biggest Loser Recipe Book: You can choose from the original Biggest Loser Cookbook, Biggest Loser Desserts, or Biggest Loser Quick and Easy.
- Fitness Gadget/Wristband: How about the Fitbit Charge 2?
- Yoga Starter Kit: This one includes a non-slip mat, foam blocks, straps, etc.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Create a Biggest Loser Weight Loss Competition 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 by people’s photos. Periodically a player would come over and check out the stats or track their own progress.
- 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 the competition (and keeping this a surprise is pretty cool as well).
- 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!
- 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.
- 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: Tips for How to Get AHEAD of the Competition and WIN!
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.
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 declare 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.
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!
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.
- Healthy Snack Plan: Graze is such a yummy service to sign up for if you love to graze throughout the day, (and when left to your own devices, from the vending machine!). (full disclosure: I’m a grazer). Get healthy snacks delivered to you weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Be sure to take them into the office to ward off that afternoon snacking!
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.