The program I’m doing has launched a competition of sorts, Thirty in Three. We’ve been paired up and challenged to lose, between both people on each team, thirty pounds in three months. In other words, 15 pounds per team member. If, however, each team member alone loses 30 pounds, they will receive a small discount on the cost of the program.
This seems much better than the 12 in 30 challenge that some of my friends indulged in during college, which was seeing whether they could eat a dozen donuts, flavors selected by others, in 30 minutes without throwing up. Let me assure you—this cannot be done.
Thirty in Three, I am most thankful to report, does not involve donuts or throwing up. Still, I have concerns about framing weight loss as a competition. The last time I was involved in anything like a weight loss competition, back in high school, I was borderline anorexic and the “winner” ended up being hospitalized for several months.
On the other hand, this contest seems to be about finding support for healthier decisions. It is designed to get us talking to each other, encourage each other to exercise, trying new recipes, etc. Given the parameters of our meal plans for the next three months, losing five pounds a month seems realistic. Ten pounds a month per person could still happen for the people who are a) male and b) are starting from a higher weight, but it probably won’t happen for me.
When I first heard we’d be competing, even a friendly competition, I was anxious that I’d get stuck with somebody not as motivated and would not win. That’s the dark side of competition for me, obviously—proactively worried I’d fail because I wouldn’t be able to control someone else.
Now, I’m worried (a small worry, more like a nagging concern) I’ll be the one slacking. My weight loss has started to slow already, although all things are relative. The average since June is still 2.6 pounds a week, but some of those July and August weeks were 3.5- and 4-pound weeks, and these days, they’re closer to 1 or 1.5.
The real challenge for me will be participating without reframing everything as an actual competition. I need to keep my real and true goal in mind, which is being healthier at a lower weight for the long haul. In the final analysis, a game with winners and losers seems too much like the kind of all-or-nothing / perfectionism thinking that can get me into trouble.