As many of you may have noticed, Runtastic Fitness Coach Lunden is hosting her first ever DietBet beginning tomorrow, May 23rd. We were interested and intrigued by this new form of “healthy lifestyle encouragement” and had a brief chat with DietBet CEO, Jamie Rosen. Learn more about this social, gamified approach to dieting and consider joining Lunden for the “Runtastic DietBet with Lunden” to lose weight & win money: www.dietbet.com/RuntasticFitness
1) Hi Jamie! Can you provide Runtastics with an overview of DietBet. What is DietBet and what inspired you to create this new weight loss platform?
DietBet is a “social dieting” game for losing weight. Unlike weight-loss tools that measure physical activity or help you count calories, DietBet works by supercharging your motivation. In the same way Runtastic makes you more excited to run, DietBet makes it fun to lose weight. It works by employing the principles of behavioral economics — financial incentives and loss aversion. Players bet money into the pot as they commit to lose 4% of their starting weight in 4 weeks (we’ll be offering other formats soon). Once you’ve bet money on yourself, the psychology of weight loss changes. It becomes easier to pass on dessert or pull yourself out of bed to get in a run. In addition to the money, you also get to compete and collaborate with other people working in tandem towards the same goal — it’s like running a big race with thousands of other runners, plus spectators cheering you on. The best part is that it works – 96% of our players lose weight.
I’ve been an avid runner for years and have experienced personally how running with a goal, and with other people, is so much more motivational and enjoyable than just running alone. When you’re training for a marathon or part of a running club, it’s so much easier to put in the hard work. I started DietBet around an idea called the Fun Theory, which says that hard things can be achieved more easily simply by making them fun. We’re doing this for weight loss now but the Fun Theory can also be applied to other areas in our lives that require discipline and healthy habits, like exercising regularly, quitting smoking, learning an instrument, etc. It’s a powerful idea.
2) Because everybody asks: How do you monitor the weigh-ins and keep people honest?
We created a weight verification process where players submit two photos of themselves being weighed. One shows it’s you on the scale in “airport security attire,” the other is a close-up of the scale’s readout with a “word-of-the-day” written on a piece of paper – this ensures that it’s a current photo. We also audit a percentage of players by requiring them to submit additional proof such as a live weigh-in via Skype with one of our DietBet Referees.
3) We know you’ve already worked with thousands of individuals trying to lose weight. Do you have numbers on successful weight loss, maintenance and what percentage of participants join additional DietBet games?
We keep improving our efficacy and now over 96% of participants lose weight — on average about 3 kilos in 4 weeks. We also see about a third of players repeating month after month, which is impressive when you consider that you can’t keep losing 4% of your weight indefinitely. We’re about to roll out a long-term game to help people who want to control their weight at a healthy level. We call this our Maintenance Game.
4) Do participants seem to find certain weight loss or support tools (i.e. training plans, mobile fitness/tracker apps, signing up with a friend, etc.) especially helpful?
Absolutely, our players love to combine apps with their DietBet. DietBetters use Runtastic to track their runs, MyFitnessPal to track what they eat, and they often form friend groups within their game to give them more support and encouragement. People sometimes play for charities, which also boosts their motivation to succeed.
5) Can you explain the concept of a DietBet game host and how they can influence a game? What is Lunden’s role as host of the “Runtastic DietBet with Lunden” in the coming weeks?
DietBet hosts are the pied pipers of DietBet who bring together friends and fans to get in shape together (in some cases thousands of them into a single game). A host can participate as a player or they can be more of a coach and cheerleader. In some cases hosts are professional trainers, authors, bloggers, and celebrities who we will hire to lead big games. In other cases, they’re just people who take the initiative to start a game at their office, club, or among their Facebook friends.
6) What is the highest DietBet pot a game has had thus far?
The highest pot so far has been US$66,700 and the biggest game has had 2,518 players.
7) What is the most any single individual has won so far?
We’ve seen some “high stakes” (bet size over US$100) private games organized amongst groups of friends, in which the winners took home over US$800 each.
8) How do you see DietBet growing and evolving in the coming months and years?
Right now, we just offer a 4-week weight-loss game. This summer we’ll be rolling out longer formats for weight loss games as well as games where the goal is to maintain your weight after you’ve lost it. Down the road, we are hoping to partner with devices and tracking tools like Runtastic to create games where the goal isn’t only weight loss but rather healthy habit formation, where the goal is to run consistently, eat well, sleep 8 hours a night, etc.
9) What suggestions can you give to an individual considering a DietBet for the first time? Words of inspiration for those looking to start their weight loss journey?
If you’ve struggled with your weight, you’ve probably tried all kinds of diets, only to lose the weight and gain it back. This is the yo-yo diet trap. We believe the root of the yo-yo problem – and indeed the unhealthy “foodscape” we live in – is that companies make a ton of money marketing processed, fattening foods to us and then turn around and make money selling us diet products. But while shakes and meal replacements can deliver short-term weight loss results, they rarely work over the long run. The only way to lose weight sustainably is to reprogram your habits. And while you’re at it, reprogram the habits of the people around you, because research has shown that your weight is affected by the weight of the people around you. We think a Social Dieting solution where people lose weight together is the best way to break this epidemic, just as social pressures and changing norms have helped people quit smoking. So if you’ve tried unsuccessfully to lose weight, try DietBetting with your friends, family, and co-workers!