When I was a teenager, I used to give my best friend a ride to school every morning. Almost every morning he would be running late. This irritated me and he apologized every time he made me wait, because he was (and is) a really great guy. It wasn’t good that I was angry every morning so I came up with a plan. For every minute he made me wait, he would have to pay me a quarter. That way I wouldn’t be angry, because at least I would get some money.
I was astounded at what happened. Over the next year he was only late once. The idea that running late by even one minute would cost him a quarter was enough motivation to keep an eye on the time, and to make sure I was never left waiting.
Twenty-some odd years later, I was having an extremely tough time controlling my weight. Unfortunately, I have one of those bodies which hangs onto each calorie with the tenacity of a pitbull, coupled with an appetite the size of Texas. At 310 pounds, I discovered the Atkins super-low carb diet. It worked wonders and I lost over 80 pounds in less than a year.
However, the low carb diet (and maybe any effective diet) seems to make you gain weight back very quickly as soon as you stop. I was extremely unhappy with myself at 300 pounds and did not wish to every return to those days. But the writing was on the wall. Without constant vigilance, it was obvious I would be back to 300+ in less than a year. After several attempts to re-diet, I was back up to about 240 and depressed. My diets would start ok, but then somebody would bring in donuts at work, or the kids have a birthday party, etc.
Like a crack forming in a dam, that one digestive transgression would make me immediately declare the diet a failure, and thus would open the floodgates. Because I hate dieting.
Then I was surfing on the web and saw a small advertisement for Stickk.com on a news website. Because of my own experiences with charging my buddy a quarter for being late, I immediately loved the idea. I was so anxious to not be a fat guy again, I would have paid $1200 for any treatment that could guarantee results. Faced with the certainty that I needed to do something different, I decided to go all out.
Back in 2008, you had to send them money first before you could start your contract. So off went a check for $1200 to a website I found on the internet, in exchange for.... nothing. I told my friends and family about it, and everybody except my lovely and supportive wife thought I was insane.
But I knew that all I had to do was succeed in order to get all my money back. I figured I was pretty close to succeeding, and this would ensure it. Then I would have a win-win. I could have my money back, and be not fat.
For the next twelve weeks, I did not miss a single weigh-in. My willpower became military-grade overnight. For how could you enjoy that donut if you knew it would cost you $100 + embarrassment? And if I did slip up, the floodgates did not open, because I had contract which I couldn’t just end anytime I wanted. My weight dropped from
243 to 212 pounds, and I did not lose a dime.
I am currently on my third stickK Contract, and have been able to succeed every time. My weight goes up and down, but I now keep it within a normal range.
I think the idea behind stickK.com was pure genius. The dread of money being wasted for nothing is a very powerful motivator. For dieting at least, we sometimes are pretty close to succeeding, and just need that extra little bit of willpower to get us through the difficult moments.
My advice to anybody who wants their weight contract to be a success:
1.) Choose a referee who will not under any circumstances ‘cut you a break’. If you really want to succeed in your goal, you must have no doubt in your mind that missing your weigh-in will cost you money.
2.) Two pounds a week is really hard to keep up. I’ve done it twice, and last time it was too unpleasant. Chose less than 2 pounds per week.
3.) Tell your friends about your contract. That really helps keep you on track, because you don’t want to look fat and also seem to be a fool.
4.) Don’t try to eat the donut and think you are going to make it up later in the week. If you are tempted, think about the weigh in. Picture your referee typing in that number, and your money going to that cause you despise. If you do that, it will be difficult to
enjoy the donut and thus there is no reason to eat it.
5.) Choose an amount of money to put on the line that you will actually care about. Not enough to cause serious hardship, but enough to be sure you get the willpower boost that you will need.