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Biggest Loser: Office Edition

by Meghann on September 21, 2010

Sweet Potatoes with Black Beans in a combination that never gets old.

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Add in a little feta for some extra flava’ and some jalapenos for extra spice and you have a picture perfect lunch worth drooling over.

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I also had a slice of Dad’s homemade spread with a smear of Fig Jam.

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1/2 of an addicting Peanut Butter Chocolate Crunch Bar for dessert

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Fuzzy Peach Snack

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Biggest Loser: Office Edition

A few co-workers and I are looking into organizing a Biggest Loser type of competition for our office. I think it will be fun. Lately, there have been more than a couple of cubicle mates looking for motivation to lose a few pounds and I see this a the perfect opportunity to promote healthy food choices and to encourage active exercise during work.

I’m in charge of researching how this competition will work and was wondering if anyone had any feedback they could share with me.

Has your office conducted an in-house fitness competition before? What worked and what didn’t work?

So far the only feedback I’ve received around here is to make sure there’s a good prize for the winner. I guess the motivation of cold hard cash is better than looking good and feeling better?

{ 103 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tina September 21, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Yea, there needs to be some sort of motivation in a prize. I’ve seen offices and places do where everyone enters $5 or $10 to join and the winners split the pot. I don’t know much about organizing it though.
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2 Kara September 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Sadly the only time I’ve heard of an office doing something along those lines was on “The Office.” Which, ya know, was hilarious — but not all that healthy. I do think the idea of time off would be an AWESOME prize though — I have no idea if an HR dept would be on board with that though… Good luck!!

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3 Heather September 21, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I actually coordinated a BL contest an my former employer. Everyone paid a $5 entry & then $1 at weekly weigh-ins (they paid whether they weighed-in or not.) We based the challenge on percentages & it worked perfectly.

At the end of the contest, the winner & runner-up both received gift cards. The amount was based on the total collected (with some added cash from our wellness team) so I think the winner got $100 & the runner-up $25.

It was a LOT of fun & great incentive for all! No complaints either about the small fees to participate.

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4 Heather September 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm

I wanted to add here about the weigh-in. It was done in my office behind closed doors & I was the only person that knew the numbers. That was an important factor to some & it was kept completely private!

Our contest was completely voluntary.
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5 Sarah for Real September 21, 2010 at 2:31 pm

You asked for opinions, so here goes. I would not appreciate my office putting on such a competition. I think if anyone is going to be successful at healthy living and weight loss it’s got to come from within, not from outside pressures, especially at the workplace. Weight loss and health is extremely personal and not something I want my employer poking their nose into, ever. I would hate working in a place like that. Consider the overweight person in your office who doesn’t really want to participate. They basically have no choice right? What torment. I’d hate working in a place like that. It’s none of my employers beeswax. (This comes from a person at a healthy weight who has struggled in the past.)

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6 Meghann September 21, 2010 at 2:34 pm

We wouldn’t require everyone to participate. We were talking about treating it like Weight Watchers where there are team captains that send out encouraging e-mails with healthy tips. I’ve seen other offices do these sort of competitions with a lot of success.

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7 Sarah for Real September 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I don’t mean to be harsh, and I hope my comment didn’t come across as mean. I just really don’t think that sort of thing belongs in the workplace. As for participation, I just meant that an overweight person would feel pressure to join, regardless if it were required or not.

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8 Meghann September 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Oh, I know it wasn’t mean. 🙂 This is why I’m putting it out there – I want feedback on it. People below have some great ideas about not just making it a weight loss contest but just encouragement to eat better or to training for something. I particularly like the group 5k idea! 🙂

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9 Sarah for Real September 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Yes I read some great ideas where it’s more of a “wellness” competition than weight loss specifically and I think that’s more exciting to me. Then it’s not targeting one group of people specifically and everyone can participate!

We all remember how Kelly on The Office portrayed some hard core eating disorder habits during their biggest loser competition. While it’s funny on the show, I worry about that in real life and I think a wellness focused program would be a better focus.

10 Anne September 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Companies also have an ulterior motive in that it could help lower their health care costs. Just FYI.
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11 Lauren Wismer July 8, 2012 at 2:19 am

I see your point if the employer was pushing the contest, but if it’s the idea of the employees it’s a great step in taking action to better health. I’m a Certified Health Coach running a “Biggest Loser” Contest right now for a company where a group of employees needing the motivation and education to start making changes in their lives asked their Boss/Owner if they could create such a contest. There are no twisting arms or torment involved, only willing participants which will consequently become a support/accountability group for one another, a safe place to share their successes and struggles and learn about both positive foods and lifestyle changes rather than deprivation. It will strengthen the sense of community within the office. Confidentiality is a must, actual weights are not revealed, only loss and gains. The biggest percentage lost wins rather than total lbs for fairness. The best thing about the contest is knowing it will truly change lives and even save lives.

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12 Rachel September 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I actually conducted (and won) the contest that my office did about a year ago. We had about 12 participants and each person put in $50. Everyone weighed in once a week on the same scale that we had in our office. We went by percentage of body weight lost, not by pounds. Each week I would track the pounds lost and calculate the percentages and announce the percentages only (so there was privacy regaring everyone’s weight). I think we did it for about 11 weeks. I ended up loosing 25 pounds and keeping off about 20. I have a great spreadsheet that calculates % lost for the week, pounds lost for the week, pounds lost total, total % lost so far. Let me know if you want to take a look and I will email it to you. Our office is very competitive and everyone ended up doing great in the contest! I would love to do another.

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13 Meghann September 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Would LOVE the spreadsheet. Could you e-mail a copy to graduatemeghann@gmail.com?

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14 Catherine @ Life 2.0 September 21, 2010 at 3:36 pm

We did this exact concept at our office a few years ago, I did not participate but a bunch of people did and some lost a lot of weight! I think the winner ended up winning around $300…if that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is! 🙂 Definitely do the percentage lost thing…makes it fair between both sexes!

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15 Catherine @ Life 2.0 September 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Oh, and your lunch looks divine! That is for sure going on the to-make list!
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16 Jackie September 30, 2010 at 9:20 am

Hello. We are also doing a biggest loser at my workplace…and your spread sheet sounds awesome. Please send it to me!!!

Gellybean6903@yahoo.com

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17 Samara April 25, 2011 at 9:37 am

We are trying biggest loser at work for the first time. We would love the spread sheet. Thanks
cardioprncs1@yahoo.com

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18 Donna January 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

Could I get a copy of the spreadsheet for the percentage of weight loss?
Thanks!
Donna

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19 Jayme February 10, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Hi Rachel..
Do you still have the spreadsheet? We are starting an Office Biggest Loser…and I would love some insight on tracking. Additionally, I am looking for some suggestions on “in office” fitness challenges…did you do any of those?
Thank you!

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20 Lauren March 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm

I’d love the spreadsheet too!

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21 Greg September 7, 2012 at 11:01 pm

If you still have the spreadsheet, I would appreciate it if you could email it to me. Thanks! Greg

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22 Jennifer October 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I am starting one at my office and if the spreadsheet is still around I would love it too.

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23 Michelle January 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Hi Rachel,
I dont know if youre still on this site, but i just came across this post after trying to find ideas for my biggest loser contest. I have been looking EVERYWHERE for a good persentage spreadsheet. If possible can you send it to me too! My email address is: mickimac1@gmail.com
Thanks you soooo much!!!!

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24 Rachel January 28, 2013 at 10:33 am

I actually left the company about a year ago and no longer have the spreadsheet. Sorry!
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25 lillie hearst February 5, 2013 at 11:42 am

Please email me the concept that you did for your office biggest loser contest.

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26 Jessica September 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm

My office does wellness competitions all the time! We just finished one about eating your fruits and vegetables.

We’ve done a biggest loser before. Anty-ing up your own cash towards the jackpot does sound like it would be a good motivator!

We did 2 different competitions last time: the first was weight loss and the 2nd was work-out minutes – the winner of each section got a prize and you could do one or the other or both. The workout minutes one helped the people who didn’t necessarily need to lose a lot of weight, but still wanted to get healthier.

We’ve also done a stair climbing activity (person with the most steps wins), a pedometer competition (person with the most steps wins), and the eat your fruits & veggies one as mentioned above (you had to eat 9 servings of fruits/veggies every day)

I’m a tax accountant so our office always tries to do fun competitions that take a little bit of the focus off of how much we have to work 🙂

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27 Freya (Brit Chick Runs) September 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm

What an awesome idea!! I don’t work in an office so I have no experience..but that sure does sound fun 😀 I wish I worked in your office!!
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28 Chaaron September 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm

We are actually doing a 60-day wellness challenge at my office. We are divided into two teams: “Bill Cosby’s Sweaters” and “Tom Selleck’s Mustache.” We are competing to lose the largest % of weight per team as well as to have the highest activity levels. It has been really fun. We are tracking our progress thanks to a company called Live Healthy America and they do challenges all over the USA and abroad. We’ve only been going for a week, but everyone seems to be enjoying the format.

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29 Rachel @ Fit Fun and Fabulous September 21, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Awesome team names!!

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30 Meredith September 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm

We did this in my office. Each person paid $X each week to weigh in and at the end of the competition all of the money went to the winner. It was a lot of money! One designated person weighs each person in weekly and (obviously) keeps that number confidential. We kept a poster going with all participants listed along with the number of pounds they gained or lost each week, never disclosing their actual weight. Everyone loved checking the board to see the progress! Some people dropped out along the way, but the money is never refundable and of course they can’t be eligible for the grand prize. At the very end you take total pounds lost divided by their starting weight to determine the percentage of body weight lost to make it fair, just like on Biggest Loser. It’s a lot of fun!

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31 Mindy @ just a one girl revolution. September 21, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I would love if my office did something like that!! I’m jealous! When I was an undergrad, the office where I was a student worker did one and they had the entry fee (I think it was like $5 or $10)…the winner got half the money and the other half went to a local charity of their choice.
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32 Brie @ Brie Fit September 21, 2010 at 2:43 pm

I’d try to make it less of a “losing weight” competition and more of a rewards-based program for exercising and healthy eating. It would suck for the employees who already ARE healthy and don’t have weight to lose to not get an opportunity to participate!
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33 Kate September 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I agree with Brie. My old office did a wellness and pedometer challenge, which was great. My new office sponsored workers to do a “10/10” challenge- 10% of your body weight in 10 weeks. Restricted eating plans, tending towards the personal trainer/low carb side of nutrition and training. As a healthy eating endurance athlete, it led to me feeling excluded, and also a little offended. I found that it encouraged a totally UNbalanced approach to life and wellness, and also that I ended up being judged for- shock horror- oats for breakfast, not doing weights x times per week, and the occasional beer. The other issue is making sure the prize doesn’t encourage unhealthy habits- always tricky with weight loss (and exercise) competitions!

Good luck though- you have a great attitude to wellness, and I’m sure whatever you come up with in the end will reflect tha.

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34 Erin September 21, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Ditto! I was just thinking that as someone who doesn’t have any weight to lose I would feel really left out of a Biggest Loser type competition.

Someone I know works for a company that gives points based on the number of physical activity minutes instead of basing it on weight lost.
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35 Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin September 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I wish my office would do something like that! What about coinciding the end of the competition with a local 5k or something like that so people will have something to work towards at the end besides just getting a prize?
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36 Mary @ Running Wifle September 21, 2010 at 2:45 pm

What if, instead of having the competition based on weight loss alone, you could have a system to earn points based off of different components of living healthfully? For example, people could earn different amounts of points for # of cardio minutes exercised, weight lifted, pounds lost, etc. That way everyone could be competitive since not everyone has lots of weight to lose, and you can try to avoid the trap of losing weight in unhealthy ways.

I used to volunteer in a cardiac rehab center where they encouraged weight loss but based all of their competitions on activities. They made big posters and people would get stickers as they accomplished different things- even though the average was probably 60 they LOVED seeing their progress (and their competition!)
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37 Whitney September 21, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Office biggest loser’s are the best.

My mother is the health integrative specialist in a few of the elementary school’s around our area. At each school she developed a program for the teachers similar to the biggest losers. Each person picks their own “game name” and each week they turned in a weekly exercise sheet for their daily activities. At the end, yes, someone won a big prize but their were little weekly incentives as well.

I think even more ways to keep everyone motivated would be once a week group exercise if everyone gets along. Also, if someone is willing to keep record possibly have them right down the pro’s and con’s of their week and then do a little poster board in the office of positive, helpful ,or struggles people are having. Also, fridays could be healthy lunch days in the office.

I would love to do something like that as my job in a big corporation but I have high hopes and not so much jumping at me haha.
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38 Natalie September 21, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Hi Meghann,

I’m usually just a lurker, but I love your blog!

My office has had quite a few competitions like this. Once we did it Biggest Loser-style by just counting pounds lost. Everyone just wrote their weight loss down each week, and one person was responsible for keeping track of the entire office.

A few other times we’ve split up into teams and had participants wear pedometers and track their fruit/veggie intakes. The team with the most steps and highest intake won. This was part of the Eat Well Live Well challenge (you can Google it to learn more if you’re interested).

We’ve had the best response when the prize was an extra vacation day, rather than cash (not sure if your company would be okay with that but mine was). Of course we wind up starting a new contest every year or so, so I don’t think most people are making lasting changes…

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39 Stacey (The Habit of Healthy) September 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I think I would hate it if my office did this; too much pressure!! I think your sweet potato looks heavenly though. You can’t go wrong adding Feta to it!
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40 Juliene September 21, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Our office did this last year and I won(Go Me!) But we did it based on the percentage lost not just lbs because we know some people would lose more lbs and it would be unfair. Everyone who participated had to pay a buy in of $20 and we weighed in every 2 weeks for 90 days. If you stayed the same weight 2 weeks in a row you paid a dollar to the pot and if you gained weight you paid the amount you gained. Very few people gained so it never was an issue but in the end I ended up winning $300! It kept us motivated to make good decisions at lunch and at office happy hours so I say it was a success and almost everyone has kept the weight they lost off and we ended this past spring.

PS I saw that you recently ate at a Primanti Brothers(I grew up in Pittsburgh) and my husband had never been so I took him this past weekend when we were in town. He was not as impressed as you all were. BUMMER!

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41 Kelly September 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm

We’ve never done a competition, but they had weight watchers meetings here and I think some of the people individually competed with each other. A prize is definitely necessary though.
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42 Meghan September 21, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I started my weightloss journey through at at-work Weight Watchers program and despite being initially weirded out by sharing so much with co-workers, I loved it! You could have a weekly meeting — maybe over lunch — where you weigh in and then discuss ideas and share tips on healthy living.

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43 Jessie September 21, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Sweet potatoes are something I normally only eat in the form of a French fry but that sweet potato looks amazing. I would have never though to put jalapeños on a sweet potato but now I must give it a try!!

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44 Jes September 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I agree with comment – 15 Brie @ Brie Fit – about making it more healthy living and not focused on weight loss (unless that’s the audience that wants to participate). If my office did something like the weight loss focused one, I would not even consider participating and would find it off-putting to make it a weight based challenge. I am at a healthy weight and BMI… but i could always use the extra motivation to not eat the cookies and have some carrots instead… Just my opinion, not sure of your workplace dynamics which would definately play a part…

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45 Rachel @ Fit Fun and Fabulous September 21, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I like the idea of doing a Wellness Competition instead of who loses the most weight. What about the winner is the person who logs the most workouts minutes, cookes the most healthy meals at home, brings healthy lunches to work instead of going out, etc.? That way people are learning tools they can use for life. Losing weight as quickly as possible doesn’t teach you much and you run the risk of putting the weight right back on again immediately (plus its unhealthy to drop weight OR gain weigh rapidly).

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46 Lily's Health Pad September 21, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I surely hope you aren’t entering the competition. 🙂 Just organizing it.

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47 AnneWF September 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm

After reading all the comments, so far, I feel that Heather’s office (comment #3) really has it right. It’s all voluntary, there is a small fee and to keep the incentive going by adding that dollar for each whether or not weigh in is a good idea. I liked the daily or weekly health tips. These should go out to every one in the office. You might want to consider three days a week, or even daily!, office fitness. A half hour of walking, yoga, meditation or even some sort of resistance work with bands could be fun and a great moral booster when done as a group. This could be done before or after work or during the lunch break. Educate, make it active and make it fun.

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48 Brittany September 21, 2010 at 3:15 pm

We did a Biggest Loser Competition at my office one year. It went well in the beginning and then just sort of fizzled out. I would definitely have an end prize of money and maybe schedule an event weekly (a weigh in, chat about progress, etc) to keep folks motivated.

I like Rachel’s idea of logging in the most workouts, servings of vegetables and fruits, or cups/ounces of water. This might be better/easier than weight loss because people tend to lose at different rates – especially those who have more to lose. It’s not really fair for a person who only want to lose 5-10lbs.

Can’t wait to hear how you all set it up!

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49 Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine September 21, 2010 at 3:24 pm

My dad is a doctor, and every year they do a hospital-wide competition…everyone pays 20 bucks, a few docs volunteer their exercise/nutrition advice and the winner ends up getting a couple thou!! Such a cool idea!
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50 Heather September 21, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Do not base the whole thing on weight. We have an office BL that is based soley on % lost over the course of a certain number of weeks. People have ended up doing crash diets to win in the end and it is horrible. If you do base it on weight I suggest doing a similar voting theme as seen on BL. Vote between the two people with the lowest weight loss % to get “kicked out” of the program. This also present the problem of people losing their participation rights, but you could have the “at home” challenge as well for those people. We use money as a prize. Everyone puts in $20 and winner takes all. Good luck!
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51 Lisa September 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm

No I wouldn’t participate. Personally, I’m pretty close to goal weight hence it’s taking FOREVER to lose those last few pounds. A competition is the last thing I need.
Lisa recently posted..A Work in Progress

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52 KitKat September 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm

While I never participated in this type of competition I know that my company and friend’s companies have done these before.

I think they are a GREAT idea. There are a lot of people who might not have “go-to” support systems (friends outside of work, or too embarrassed to go to the gym, etc) so having such a convenient OPTION available at work is wonderful. It gives people an extra support system and a way to get to know other co-workers, share recipes and be positive in a place that you spend so many hours a day anyway!

I know at my cousin’s company they did it by:

-Having a set amount of $ to join
-Creating small teams versus just individuals (kept people supporting each other versus against each other)
-PRIVATE weekly weigh-ins (I don’t think they paid for additional weigh-ins) based on percentages not lbs
-Kept the group semi-private (they didn’t broadcast who joined, who won, etc to everyone else in the company)
-A weekly email with healthy recipes, tips, positive energy and even setting up walking groups during lunch, etc.
-At the end they did a healthy pot-luck lunch where they each brought their new favorite healthified recipe and announced the winner
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53 Michele September 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm

That potato and beans looks SO good. I foresee of change of dinner plans for me tonight.

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54 Derek September 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm

those are my jalapenos…how rude. 😉

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55 'laina September 21, 2010 at 5:14 pm

LOL!

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56 Katherine @ Left Coast Contessa September 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm

I’ve never done that but what a great idea! Probably, like others suggested, everyone should kick in cash. Maybe the group should run a 5k or something together at the end of the competition?
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57 Anne September 21, 2010 at 3:49 pm

My company also participates in the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge. We would train on Mondays by running together. The regular group was about 10-12 people, and of course within that there were the fast people and not so fast people. It was great for accountability and promoting fitness in the workplace.
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58 Amy September 21, 2010 at 3:45 pm

I have mixed feelings about these competitions. On one hand, I think a spirit of a community is a great motivator for some people to lose weight. On the other hand, I think such contents can encourage really unhealthy behaviors. I think it depends on how the competition is framed and the type of office environment you work in.

For example, I worked in a large corporate office that did something like this, and it was fine (it was “pay into the pot, winner takes all” deal). Not everyone participated (I didn’t, because I didn’t want to lose weight), most folks had fun, no big deal. But more recently, my tiny office of only six women did the same thing, and I found it AWFUL. I didn’t want to participate, which made me feel totally ostracized (since it was really obvious I was the only one not partaking!), and the other girls spent tons of time obsessing over their eating/gym habits and spent Monday mornings lamenting about how they ate “SOOO MUCH” over the weekend and totally ruined their chances at winning. I found the whole thing so sad…especially because these were all thin, fit women who probably didn’t need to be dropping weight in the first place.

This is really just a long way of saying your mileage will vary. 🙂 I’m sure you can judge for yourself if you have a suitable office environment, and I would really support a “get healthy” focus over a “lose weight” focus.

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59 Anne September 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm

We did “Shape Up the Nation”. We broke up into teams of 4-8 people, and competed in weight loss, minutes exercised, and steps walked. We were all given pedometers and I liked seeing my steps add up, especially since we had just adopted a dog.
I think one thing that annoyed me was that I thought that my team would do well, but we were pretty much out of the competition right off the bat. Some of the teams are stacked and some members of my teams were slackers.
After a while, I was basically competing with myself, which still worked, but that means that I didn’t get any of the free vacation time at the end. Oh well!
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60 Miranda September 21, 2010 at 3:52 pm

My workplace “Biggest Loser” competition does a $20 buy in from all participants. Once everyone has signed up and done an initial weight-in, there are monthly winners (based on % of body weight lost). Last year, the monthly winner ended up getting $20. Then there were prizes for first and second place; the prize money was based on how many people signed up.

All weights were tracked by only one person, and kept completely confidential as well.

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61 Jen September 21, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I really wish I liked sweet potatoes!!! I wonder how those toppings would work on a regular potato?!

Jen
http://jenslosinit.blogspot.com/
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62 Ashley September 21, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I agree with what others have said about basing it on a wellness competition, such as pedometer tracking and fruit/veggie intake. As someone who doesn’t really have any weight to lose I would feel very left out if my office did something like this.

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63 Summer September 21, 2010 at 3:55 pm

We did one at work, too. I think many other people have had the same method as we did, but I thought I might as well post, too: Everyone put in $10 at the beginning and weighed in. Then for every weekly weigh-in after, everyone paid $10 EXCEPT for the person who lost the most. At the end, the prize was a little over $200, I think. We also worked based on percentages.

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64 Kimberly September 21, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Our organization sponsors a Biggest Loser type competition each year. The employees form teams of 4, and then each player pays $5 to start. Intial weights are taking, and each week the players must weigh in. If they have not gained any weight, they are good to go. If they gain weight, they add a dollar to the pot. The money is split (at the end of 6 months) between the individual who lost the hightest % of body weight and the team that lost the highest % of body weight. Additionally, there are monthly prizes for the person who lost the most weight in that single month.

This year our company intitated a wellness program, so the Biggest Loser will likely be adjusted to include meeting goals pertaining to cholesterol levels, weight, blood pressure, etc.

I have more details if you’d like to send me an e-mail.
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65 Elizabeth September 21, 2010 at 4:27 pm

We had an office biggest loser contet where each person paid $20 to enter and $1 each week to weigh in. If you gained weight you had to pay an extra $1 to keep you motivated.
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66 Tobi Nicholson September 21, 2010 at 4:36 pm

My sister’s office did one and they had an entry fee, the winner got the pot and it was based on % of weight loss not pounds lost, just like the show.

I think that you could organize an initial and weekly weigh in so that everyone weighs on the same scale and also organize some weekly classes or run/walks…….

just some ideas
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67 Sarah @ Going on Goals September 21, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Your sweet potato black bean combo has been added to my “To Make” list!

My office had a Biggest Loser competition last year. The price was an extra vacation day! We based our winner on percentage lost. Each week every individual was weighed in separately but the scores were tracked in teams to provide a little privacy. Also, by having teams we could do team challenges occasionally! Hope this helps!
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68 Juli D. September 21, 2010 at 4:46 pm

I’m volunteer to be the Wellness Coordinator for my office (we’re a national firm) in addition to my regular job and we’re held a few competitions. The one I found that worked best was the most recent one. We had each competitor pay $5 to join the competition with weekly weigh-ins. This money was put into a pot that would be divided amongst the winners (highest % of weight loss) – 50% to 1st, 30% to 2nd, 20% to 3rd. At each weigh-in, a competitor would have to pay $1 per pound if they gained weight that week or pay $2 if they missed the weigh-in (for an invalid reason, I didn’t count it against them if they were traveling for work, planned ahead and weighed in a day before/after, etc.) That money went into a side pot. At the end of the competition, all the competitors that ended the challenge below their starting weight had their names put in a hat and a random winner of the sidepot was chosen. This was important because in that situation, sometimes the lower losers would be discouraged and lose motivation when it became clear that others would win the top prize. Having the random drawing kept them motivated to keep something off. In our case, we had some people competing that didn’t want to lose much, so I kept the criteria for getting into the side pot low (just lose ANY amount of weight). If you have competitors that ALL need to lose a higher amount, you can set the sidepot restriction higher (must lose 2% or more, etc.). Sorry I just wrote a novel – if you have any questions let me know – we’ve done a lot of wellness competitions in my office!
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69 Juli D. September 21, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Reading other comments – we’ve done different competitions to include different people – those who don’t have weight to lose based on fruit/veggie intake, exercise minutes, steps (up and down stairs), steps (walking/pedometer). You could run two separate competitions simultaneously – one based on weight loss the other based on activity level.
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70 Andrea September 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I worry about the concept of competition in the office. If not everyone is on board, some will feel uncomfortable and sometimes there is hostility with competitions. When you deal with numbers on the scale, percentages, and competition, people can really be hard on themselves and often, weight fluctuates so much, it’s not always that measurable.
Meghann, could you encourage your officemates by giving healthy eat tips and maybe not make it about weight loss necessarily in the office? Maybe you can host a fitness challenge instead like running a 5k? This way they are accountable for their own weight and not competing with other office mates over numbers or percentages?

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71 Kim @ Kim Lives Healthy September 21, 2010 at 5:13 pm

We’re doing one right now that lasts 3 months. Month 1 the contestants use a pedometer to track their steps. Month 2 the contestants add up each 30 minute block of exercise they do. Month 3 they tally up fruits & veggies they eat each day.

Each contestant gets a free pedometer, water bottle, duffel bag, and gym towel for signing up. The top 3 winners each month get a year’s gym membership.

I don’t think it’s a good prize, because when you think about it, the top 3 people are already the healthiest ones in the company… the bottom 3 should get the gym memberships b/c they had the motivation to try. Or if there was a way to do a “most improved” thing, similar to Biggest Loser where you base it on % body fat lost (our contest doesn’t involve pounds or anything actually, which I think is weird).

Good prizes would be cash, vacations (2 nights at a hotel or maybe a short cruise for the winner + their sig other), or you could ask the employees what they want. We found out after asking that not a lot of people were interested in the Wii Fit, which is the first prize we wanted to offer the winners.

Good luck!
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72 Shape Up The Nation September 22, 2010 at 2:08 pm

The prizes are a good initial motivator, but the long-term motivation will come from the bonds co-workers create when exercising together. It’s way easier to stick with a healthy lifestyle when others are motivating you and holding you accountable.

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73 Lisa (bakebikeblog) September 21, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Just wanted to say that I agree – a sweet potato / bean combo is teh best!
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74 Heather September 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I have no ideas but I think it’s an awesome idea! hope you figure out a good prize! how bout..the winner doesnt get fired haha
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75 Lish September 21, 2010 at 5:52 pm

When my old office had a competition such as this, cash or gift cards were always the most popular rewards.

We had a $5 fee to participate and “charged” $2 to skip weigh-in that week and $1 at weigh-in. Like someone mentioned above, weigh-in was always done in the bathroom in private and only one person had access to that info.

It was fun because our office had a gym, so at lunchtime some people would organize group workout sessions or take walks together. A lot of the older people really appreciated the gym sessions because some said the main reason they’d never joined a gym was because the equipment was intimidating. A few of the “health nut” workers did special lunchtime classes like yoga and quick healthy meals.

Honestly, most people participated and just had fun with it. We got to know our co-workers better and it was a good way to breakup the workday. Even those who didn’t need to lose weight would toss some money in and do some yoga or just donate to the good cause.

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76 Nicole@Vegan Whoopies September 21, 2010 at 5:55 pm

We did that at my old job-believe it or not I won too! We each payed $2 a week to weigh in which was confidential and always with the same person. It ran for 10 weeks and at the end who ever lost the highest % of weight won 1/2 of the pot and the other 1/2 was split between the highest losing male and female. Each week who ever won the highest # of pounds won a small prize too-like a $5 gift card or something like that(those were donated by the company). It was a lot of fun-they also would post exercise tips in the break room and they had a little library of health and fitness books that you could check out like a library. I think they had done it before where everyone donated $5 a week too-even more motivation. If you can think of any more questions on how it was run I can answer them =)
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77 Stephanie September 21, 2010 at 5:59 pm

I think it all depends on the office and adjusting what you’re doing.
I’ve done this at two different offices. The first one we all had great success. It was only about 4 of us but we were all comfortable enough to be honest about our highs and lows and shared a perspective on eating.
The second go around was less successful. People would often ‘phone in’ their check ins and commitment to the program. It started strong but by week 3 there was no honesty or accountability. Since we all approach it so differently it is hard to find the best way to motivate each other. For example, I want a long term plan I stick to and see success. Other co coworkers are sticking to frozen lean cuisines and convenience items. We just have very different philosophies.

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78 rebecca lustig September 21, 2010 at 5:59 pm

ah there totally needs to be an incentive! and a commitment. maybe you can draft a contract?

sounds fun though– good luck!
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79 Lauren September 21, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I did a Biggest Loser challenge at the school I teach at. It was just two of us at the time. We each picked a team (I was black and he was blue) and each Friday we weighed in in his classroom upon arrival to school. We kept a chart and since men lose weight faster than women we based it off of the highest percentage of weight lost.

Formula: pounds lost / current weight = percent lost per week
Formula 2: pounds lost / starting weight = percent lost in total

We kept debating the prize throughout the school year but in 6 months I lost 25 pounds and he gained 6 and I won $600!!!!!

Have fun!

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80 hiplip September 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Definitely do it on percentage and not pounds! More people will be likely to join and they won’t feel awkward about having to put their weight out there every week. I think it’s a great thing for an office! Even if it helps just 1 person, it’s worth it. Good luck!
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81 BroccoliHut September 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Black beans and sweet potato is one of my all-time favorite combinations (especially on a salad with mango!) but I never thought to add feta. Thanks for the inspiration:)

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82 Therese September 21, 2010 at 6:40 pm

I am a nurse in a large hospital, and 40% of nurses in this country are overweight, so we have Biggest Looser competitions all the time. I’ve never joined, but they have been helpful for those who have. It seems like the best way to do it is to charge people $10 (I guess it depends on how many people you have in the office and how much you want the prize to be) and winner takes all. We DO always determine “winner” by % of weight lost and not actual numbers.

For those who are commenting about being anti-weight-driven, we also have Wellness Challenges at the hospital. My favorite (and the only one I took part in) was the fruit and vegetable challenge where we tallied how many servings of prodcue we ate each day for a month. This was REALLY beneficial for me from a wellness and whole-food standpoint!

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83 christina cadden September 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm

We did a biggest loser contest last year! I was a lot of fun!

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84 amanda September 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm

i love the idea of a biggest loser word edition. i wish my work would do it. the motivation would be fantastic…since i can never seem to find any. ha. sadly, i work in a physical therapy office-where everyone is stylishly in shape! they eat healthy and workout during their lunch.

i am excited to see who how this goes for your cubical mates. however, i wouldn’t want to compete against youuuu! you’re like little miss fitness!
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85 Jen September 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm

My company does something similar. I like the idea more than the biggest loser because not everyone wants to lose weight, like me! We have 3 categories to measure success: minutes exercised, pedometer steps logged or pounds lost.
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86 Macrae September 21, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Maybe you could try one where everyone has thier own wellness goal! Everyone could declare thier goal whether it be a weight target, fat %age, cholesterol, more veggies, running a race, doing yoga, etc. You could have awards like MVP (everyone vote on who seemed to have best met their goal), best motivator, etc. That way there would be an atmosphere of comradery rather than competition.

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87 Heather September 21, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Are you trying to lose weight?

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88 Kelly H. (Runing Phoodie) September 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm

We did a “10 K a day” challenge at my job. Everyone that signed up got a free pedometer and the goal was to walk 10,000 steps a day. There were small weekly participation prizes (like $5 Saladworks giftcards) and then bigger prizes at the end of 12 weeks (Sigg water bottles,nicer gift certificates, and the grand prize was the Mayor’s box at a Phillies game). There were a lot of categories to win in- biggest loser, most improved, highest average steps per week, as well as team prizes. People got SO into it that they are going to do it again next year! We also had health screenings at the beginning in the end so we could see how our numbers changed (cholesterol, blood-sugar, BMI, heart rate, body fat percentage, waist circumference). There were “extra credit” activites throughout the program such as wake-up and wind-down walks to encourage people to get moving together before and after work. 🙂

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89 Catie September 21, 2010 at 8:43 pm

I love this idea! I also have heard of offices this. I am a student teacher at a district that has severly dropping reading and math test scores. We are under a lot of pressure. I lots of students that come to school with no lunch and no school supplies. They can’t fill out a reading log at home because they do not have books at home. Therefore, my day is very stressful, sad, and unhappy. I try my hardest to start off the day with a smile on my face, but after school I am totally pigging out and am now gaining back weight I worked so hard this summer to lose.

I love this idea! I need the motivation!
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90 Laura September 21, 2010 at 8:57 pm

I agree that a competition to lose weight may not be the best idea for everyone in the office. I’m in recovery for an eating disorder and would probably have a heart attack if people were asking why I wasn’t losing weight. Watching their expressions as I answered ‘because my dietitian won’t let me’ would be priceless though. Perhaps find a way to emphasize all food is good food? I’ve found this philosophy helpful in taking food off a pedestal. Good luck!!

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91 mia September 21, 2010 at 9:15 pm

My employer had one. Because my employer hired type-A, hardworking, overachievers and the prizes were decent, people lost lots of weight, but in very unhealthy ways. Some people started smoking again. Some people starved. People didn’t eat or drink before weigh-ins. Oh, and everyone gained most of the weight back.

Just something to think about.

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92 Emily September 21, 2010 at 9:15 pm

My office had a competition like this! Unfortunately it was completely weight-based, but since we had no access to a body-fat measuring system…weight works.

The initial buy-in was ten dollars. You weighed yourself (at the office with only the moderator and yourself looking at the scale – privacy here and to ensure no cheating) at the beginning and then on the same day each week. You started on a Monday? You weigh yourself every Monday.

While there was no weekly “prize” for losing weight, there was a “punishment” if you gained – each pound was three dollars.

At the end (you determine the length of the competition, 4-6 weeks otherwise people get discouraged) the “winner” is the person who lost the most weight from the initial weigh-in to the final one. That isn’t counting all the ups-and-downs in between.

Example:
Week 1: I pay $10 buy-in to the competition. Weigh myself: 125#
Week 2: I’ve lost weight! 123#
Week 3: I’ve gained weight. 125# I owe $6 for gaining two # from last week’s weigh-in.
Week 4: Lose weight: 122#
Week 5: Lose weight: 120#
Week 6: Final weigh-in: 119#
Total # lost = initial weight – final weight = 125 – 119 = 6#
But my coworker lost 10#. He gets ALL of the money. The buy-ins and the money people had to pay into the pool as they gained the weight.

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93 Stepf @ dailyspark September 21, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Meghann, You should set up a private team on SparkPeople.com. It’s easy and they can track their food, fitness, etc! Let me know if you need any help setting it up. 🙂
Stepf

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94 Megan September 21, 2010 at 9:44 pm

My old employer did a walking contest and it was super successful. It was run by the Wellness Committee and teams got to report weekly walking totals. I think it ran for 8 weeks total– so enough to have build-up and results, but short enough to keep people interested 🙂
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95 Leigh September 21, 2010 at 9:50 pm

My husband did one with his work and it was three months long. Each person had to put in $20, and it was divided into a men and a women’s group. Every person weighed in at the beginning and again at the three month mark. The winning person was whoever lost the most amount of pounds.

I think contests like these are good. Only the people who are really interested will participate as you have to put in the money and no one is forced to participate. The contest helped motivate my husband to lose 27 pounds to win!

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96 Hannah September 21, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Hey Meghann – I’ve been a follower for a while now and love your blog but have never commented! I read it all summer as I trained for my first 5k and triathlon!
Anyways, check out http://www.shapeupthenation.com – its the perfect thing for your office competition! They offer web and social media tools to put together fitness competitions in the work place and things like that. Super cool.
I’m a big fan of ShapeUpRI, the RI version that I believe was the basis for Shape Up the Nation. I still faithfully wear my pedometer every day and it gets me moving on days I’m at my desk all day. Thanks!

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97 Meghann September 21, 2010 at 11:26 pm

My coworker did something like this at her gym. Basically they set a goal of weight loss they had to lose over a period of time. For every pound they did not lose, they had to donate that amount of weight in food, which went to a local shelter/pantry. So if you say you wanted to lose 10 lbs and only lost 7, you would hav to donate 3 lbs of food at the. You might want to combine this some of the other ideas, like most weight/% lost per week doesn’t have to pay that week; paying per week for the over/under of the goal.

You could also individulize it per person. Each person puts in $20,$50,$100 – whatever they feel comfortable with (or what they want to lose), and they either pay a “fee”? each week if they go over, like a $1/lb or get paid from that baseline amount they have set if they lost a lb. Then at the end of the session, you can give the winner something from the leftover amounts or go do something fun together as a celebration.

You have a lot of sponsors, or get some products for free/review/etc, from what I have read on your blog. You might be able to get something like that for the winner as well.

No matter what good luck to all of your participants!

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98 ida September 22, 2010 at 12:39 am

A friend of mine did this at her office, but she was pregnant at the time and people were seeing if they could lose as much as she gained! one idea would be to have a fitness challenge at the beginning and at the end, then give points for most improvement (timed mile, sit ups, etc).

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99 Sarah September 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm

We had a TBL type competition at my company earlier in the year – they did recipe challenges, a few fitness challenges (i.e. taking part in a charity walk and earning points for bringing a friend) and so on. It created a lot of division in the office of people who were TBL’ing and people who weren’t – people didn’t want to go out to lunch/take part in the monthly B-day cake party/etc bc they were “counting calories” and it led to a lot of unhealthy behavior (one girl was eating 1,100 cal/day and working our 2-3 hours/day)…but some people did have big success! I just second some of the other commentors that I’m not 100% sure that a weight loss centered challenge is really work appropriate. But, a work wellness program is a great idea…just to get people thinking healthy!

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100 Abbey September 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

We are currently in week 2 of 8 for our Biggest Loser competition at my office. This is actually our second competition. We did one at the beginning of summer that was so successful that we had to do another one! You definitely have to have some sort of incentive. For my office it was money. We did 3 weigh-ins in the 8 week period. We actually had a nurse come in to the office with a doctor’s office scale! The nurse then compiled a spreadsheet with everyone’s name and beginning weight. Each week (or every other) we would get some sort of healthy treat. Sometimes it was as simple as an apple, another time it was a Special K bar or something similar. I think we even got some form of Crystal Light and a bottle of water once too. We have an optional weigh-in halfway through. If you want to check your progress you can, if not, you don’t have to. Then at the end we have the nurse come back for the final weigh-in. She then figured out the percentage of weight lose for each participant and let our HR know the winners.
The first Biggest Loser was co-ed. We had 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place and also a random drawing with anybody’s name that participated but did not get 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Three men ended up winning so that prompted us to have separate divisions for the second Biggest Loser. This time though, we only have 1st and 2nd place for each division and one random winner overall.
If you want any other information, just let me know!’

P.S. Make sure you ask people if they want to be anonymous or not. You wouldn’t believe how many people would chose not to participate because they don’t want anyone knowing!

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101 Abbey September 22, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I forgot to add — every week we would also get a newsletter with some healthy living tips, exercises, or something similar.

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102 Dee December 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I would love to haev the chart for calculating weightloss if it exists!

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103 Sarahlydia February 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm

http://logicalloss.com/organize-a-biggest-loser-competition/

Found this one and they even give you the spreadsheet and the rules, and an initial letter to all participants!

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