Step by step: I wouldn’t lose weight for cash, but I’d jog for wine

What would make you lose weight? Being told to eat naked in front of the mirror?

At Le Marathon Du Medoc, 23 of the drinking stops offer wines from the Medoc  region

At Le Marathon Du Medoc, 23 of the drinking stops offer wines from the Medoc region

 

What would make you lose weight? A doctor’s warning? A wedding outfit? Cash? What if meeting your weight-loss target meant instant financial reward?

Listening to an American radio podcast recently (as you do), we heard the host mention he was an active subscriber to a “diet betting” website.

Sufficiently puzzled and intrigued, we investigated, and found this actually exists – which means everything does now. There is nothing left that is not not hidden somewhere in a corner of the internet.

It works rather simply – you back yourself to lose weight by putting money on the line. Meeting the target you set for yourself means getting the money back – plus a little bit more. Not reaching the goal results in forfeiting the wager.

The idea, of course, is that the financial incentive keeps you from cheating on your diet, and the various “diet betting” websites use different methods of trying to ensure you don’t cheat – including requiring photographs and videos.

Hundreds, or even thousands, of people pay into one pot – with the light-weights left standing at the end sharing the pot between them.

Apparently it works – at least, we found several studies, including a Mayo Clinic research paper and a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, that indicated people will lose weight for a few quid.

Affliction

But we couldn’t bring ourselves to name the websites here. There’s just something strange and exploitative and plain wrong about the concept. These sites prey on the intention-rich but action-poor – an infliction that hampers many of us trying to get into better shape.

No matter how they dress it up, it’s simply a motivational tool too far – like being told to eat naked in front of the mirror.

Sure, it probably works, but who wants to eat a bourbon cream that way?

And yet, we couldn’t help but wonder would it give us the impetus we’re sadly lacking (the diet betting site, not the nude-food-mirror horror show).

Desire? Check.

Plans? Check.

Motivation and effort?

I’m tired of starting over, which is why I’ve put much effort into not giving up.

My fitness and health drive started last year of course, and after many minor stumbles, I arrived at Christmas in much better shape than I did the previous year (which wouldn’t have been hard).

However, a non-enforced break (to indulge fully in the Christmas season) was followed by an enforced break (due to a recurring lower-back pain) and, suddenly, momentum is completely lost. It really feels, at least, that square one is back within view.

So I’ve been looking for something to focus on – such as running events.

In 2015 I managed just a single one – a small 5km event in a rural village which was – retrospectively, at least – very enjoyable.

Setting a more long-term, long-distance goal seems much a much healthier way to spend some money than on a site that will bet against you losing weight.

Marathons, such as those in Cork, Limerick and Belfast are already on the horizon, but Dublin is sufficiently in the distance to appear attractive – though everything looks attractive from such a long way away.

But there are other options. For example, Le Marathon Du Medoc is definitely right up our street (Editor’s note: Our Get Running expert Mary Jennings already got me on board with this wonderful idea!).

Staged near Bordeaux in southwest France, it has, as one might expect, plenty of drinking posts along the way.

What makes it slightly different to the Dublin equivalent is that 23 of the drinking stops offer wines from the Medoc wine region.

The food stops are also less protein bars and more oysters and ice-cream, and there’s plenty of bands keeping the drunk and sweaty entertained.

Fancy dress is mandatory for participants (if you’re interested, this year’s theme is “Tales and Legends”) and the 2016 edition will take place on September 10th. And the goody bag at the end contains a bottle of wine and glasses.

Best still, a six-hour finish is considered an impressive race-time.

Motivation: Check.

Damian’s Stats
Age: 40
Height: 6ft
Weight: 14st 9lb (minus 1st 12lb)
BMI: 27.4 (-3.0)
Fat: 25.7% (-3.9)

Figures in brackets indicate change since March 10th, when Damian started to change his diet and exercise habits, and write this column.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.