Weight Gain 4000, the competition

Raymond Chen

Some years ago, one of my colleagues mentioned at the lunch table, “I went hiking this weekend, and man, my backpack was so heavy. I weighed it, and it was like 35 pounds. And then I realized, wait a second, I’m overweight by 35 pounds. I’m carrying this heavy backpack all the time!” Thus began a collective weight loss competition we called Weight Gain 4000, named after an episode of South Park which had aired recently. (“I’m not fat; I’m big-boned!”) I set up a Web page where people could enter their current weight, and it charted everyone’s pounds over target weight as a function of time. Oh, and the goal was to lose weight, not gain it. It so happened that I won this little competition with the aid of some extra bike rides. Then again, I also had the least amount of weight to lose. And my colleagues accused me of cheating because I managed to accelerate my weight loss as the deadline approached. (But I didn’t cheat, honest!)

I was reminded of this competition from years ago when I read about John Dirks and Adam Orkand who also learned that an effective way to make you stick to your weight loss plan is to make a wager out of it.


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