You know those weight loss competitions people do at work? The ones that involve men chest-thumping over plain lettuce and women eating ipecac at lunch? DietBet.com is the internet’s version of the office weight loss competition.
The reasonable part of me acknowledged that I already have pretty atrocious yo-yo dieting habits and that being healthy should not resemble an online casino. But my friends were doing it, and if you think peer pressure doesn’t work in your 40’s, guess again. So I paid $25, and joined fifteen others in our first game. We had four weeks to lose 4% of our weight. If you didn’t make it, you lost your $25, but if you did, you split the pot with the other thinner victors.
Here’s the truth: I can lose 4% of my weight in an hour. All women can do this because we were all once teenage girls. The night before the starting weigh-in, I ordered an entire menu of Mexican food, I drank salt with my salt, and thus added the weight of a small toddler to my weigh-in. Four weeks later, I drank some water, skipped dinner, and voila, I won $50. I thought I had found a new revenue stream.
Round 2. This game had 120 players in it, was titled “because Skinny Jeans,” and had a pot of $3,000. I was in it to win it, and started shopping for new tile for my bathroom.
Keeping true to my secret for success, my weigh-in binging efforts included key lime pie, orange cream soda and Chipotle. (I actually ordered so much Chipotle that I pretended I was ordering for someone else. “Yeah, chicken, black beans, green salsa and he wants sour cream and extra cheese,” I said, and looked at the fake order on my phone.) Unfortunately, Round 2 wasn’t as easy as Round 1 thanks to a vat of raw cookie dough I bought for a school fundraiser. With one week left, I realized I was on track to lose DietBet in a big way.
Shit just got real. I juiced, I hiked, I drank so much water that week that I would not have needed a flotation device in the event of an emergency landing. My son brought home a bag of candy from school the day before final weigh-in, and I didn’t trust myself to have it in my kitchen for even one night so I threw it in the trash. As mom moves go, that one sort of sucked, but I told my son that the candy looked unsafe. There were, after all, unwrapped pieces that were sort of melted and misshapen.
I woke up the next morning ready for weigh-in. I felt thinner, but not eating for 18 hours does that to you. I stripped down, rid myself of all toxins, if you get my drift, blew out all my air, and got on the scale.
I was over by 8 ounces.
I did what anyone would do. I put on long underwear, gloves, a hat, wrapped myself in garbage bags and went for a run in the 80 degree Phoenix weather. I was in it to win it.
I finished my jog, and stepped on the scale. 4 ounces.
I moved the scale. Moved it again. 3 ounces. I leaned on my dresser and gradually shifted my weight back to the scale. 2 ounces. Earrings, gone! Ponytail holder, goodbye! Shifting, shifting, should I cut my hair? Wait! There we have it!
With absolutely no dignity in tact, I made weight.
While I became the poster girl for adult eating disorders, DietBet confirmed my win. DietBet also confirmed the win of the vast majority of the other participants. I choked down kale juice for dinner and jogged around my neighborhood in Hefty bags like an OCD high school wrestler to win $15.
As I dug through my day-old kitchen trash and ate every last misshapen, miscolored and melted piece of candy from my son’s bag, it occurred to me that, perhaps, it was time to change my yo-yo dieting routine. Maybe DietBet Round 3 would help. I have, of course, already signed up.