Supportive Accountability – Working together

Bathing Suit SeasonOK ladies – swim suit season is approaching. It may be harder to believe for some of us what with the frigid temperatures we have all shared but….warmer weather (i.e. less clothing) is coming. Are YOU ready? Kind of makes one long for the old style swim suits!

Metal Fillings CartoonAccountability and support are two of the best tools we can have in our box if we want to get healthier and more comfortable in our lighter clothing. And of course, that what’s this blog is all about – giving us all tools to get us to our best selves.

One of the best support tools we had at my place of work in the past was a weight loss challenge program championed by a couple of co-workers. The premise was that in a set period of time, ours was 12 weeks, participants would lose a certain percentage of weight. Everyone had the same goal, let’s say 5% weight loss in 12 weeks. For a 200 lb person that was equal to 10 lbs overall with each week’s goal being .8 lbs. We all paid to join – we put in $20 but the amount could be anything. Each week, we were weighed in by one person, no actual weights were ever distributed, only % lost. You knew your standing each week in relation to the other ‘contestants’. The winner of the challenge – the one that lost the biggest percentage of weight, was awarded half the money collected over the 12 weeks including the penalties! If you didn’t meet your weekly goal (e.g. the .8 lb for the 200 lb woman) you were penalized a dollar and had to ante up. If you didn’t show up to weigh (and were at work that day) you were penalized a dollar. If you gained weight from the previous week (even if you met your goal) you were penalized a dollar. We awarded the other half of the money to the next two runner ups (with decreasing amounts going to each standing). You could do it however you chose – all the money to the winner or some other winning scheme. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we were supporting each other and keeping each other accountable.

Chewing - favorite exerciseEveryone did their own thing regarding diet and exercise but were always willing to share tips. Usually the ‘biggest loser’ for that week was asked what her secrets were. Recipes were shared, fitness tips distributed, etc. I never failed to lose weight when I participated in that program and once I even won (over $100). I was held accountable by the weekly weigh-ins and possible fees and I was supported by doing this with a group of people.

There’s so much literature out there that reinforces the advantage of having a support group when trying to lose weight. It’s just like anything else, it is easier, more fun, and WAY less stressful when you are doing with others. “Most people put all their effort into finding the right diet or exercise program but don’t put any energy into creating a support and accountability system, and too often, that’s where the devil lies,” says Adam Shafran, DC, an exercise physiologist and chiropractor who is the author of You Can’t Lose Weight Alone: The Partner Power Weight Loss Program.

No one is running the weight loss challenge at work right now and it has been on my mind so much, I just may need to put my ‘fierce cape’ on and get it started again. I have the spreadsheet to calculate everyone’s weekly goal if any of you are interested in also being a ‘caped crusader’. I would love any suggestions for re-motivating the group at work and any special challenges I could include along the way to make it fun for all – maybe some little incentives for fourth and eighth weeks?  I know I can count of this group for support.  🙂

You are what you eat


  1. The reasons Weight Watchers has worked for me are 1) it advocates more of an eating “shift” rather than a “diet” and 2) it has an accountability factor. Even though the weekly weighing-in process is confidential, there’s nothing like knowing a weigh-in is in your future to help you say “no” to second helpings or fatty foods. (FYI Weight Watchers doesn’t compensate me for these testimonials, but they should!)

    1. I agree Dee Dee you should receive at least a few extra stars for your book (if they even still give those out). I also agree that WW weigh in keeps you accountable as does the general philosophy behind it – it is a great program. Having the weigh in here at work keeps me even more accountable because I know someone is coming to my cubicle if I have not shown up to weigh in and they may even notice what I am having for lunch!!! – M

  2. If money won’t motivate your co-workers, I’m not sure what would. I guess you could try the humiliation factor…post weights in the company news letter every 4-6 weeks. All kidding aside, people have to want to make the change for themselves. Good luck and keep us posted!

    1. You know, we did seriously discuss posting the weights in the women’s locker room but I think we all decided we didn’t want the company charging us more for our health insurance!!! Thanks for the encouragement. – M

  3. What if the goals were set based on getting healthier, rather than losing weight? I think one of the biggest challenges to losing weight is it becomes all about the number on the scale. There are lots of thin people who aren’t particularly fit or healthy. Shaping a competition based on wellness would open it up to those who don’t need to lose a lot of weight, but do need to ramp up the movement factor or quality of food they eat…?

  4. I’m with the dog … I need to eat a skinny person instead of the truffles I’m eating while I’m typing this.

    Oh, oh, oh, I have to tell you, I went to a women’s conference today and 3-4 of the speakers used the work “fierce.” I wanted to say “amen” or “whoo hoo” or something to encourage them. And the YMCA is offering a course called Fierce Funk. It’s all kind of freaking me out, but I know I’m hearing the word over and over for a reason. At least if I run from it for right now, I’ll be getting some exercise. 🙂

      1. Natine, I’m tempted to jump ship on “content” and go with fierce, but I was pretty clear about content being my word for 2014. What to do? What to do? I guess I could have 2 words.

    1. Don’t worry, Kim – I’m sure a skinny person has WAY more calories than a few truffles! So the word ‘fierce’ is starting to resonate, aye? Love it! Just saying it is empowering – I think because it ends in a (fierce) hisssss. – EL

      1. What’s weird, Shel, is I’m not sure I’ve ever said the word “fierce” until now. Where has it been all my life?

  5. This has finally become my issue. I don’t mean I didn’t used to worry about my weight. I did. But it was maybe #73 on the list of things to worry about. It’s inched up along with my weight, and now it’s probably #5. That first cartoon made me burst out laughing. It’s such a creative excuse. I’m not sure what my excuse is except that as soon as I get hungry I get cranky if I don’t eat. And if i eat salt I need a sweet and if I eat a sweet I need a savory. It goes on and on. A lot of my friends have recently lost weight with Weight Watchers . . . .

    1. We sure understand the cycle, Luanne! WW is really a good program – as evidenced by it’s longevity. I (El) got my lifetime membership many moons ago, but I’m not exactly spokesperson material. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind and I wasn’t doing it for the right reason. The program has really expanded and is much more life-style friendly now.

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