New year resolutions. They’re great aren’t they… and so predictable.  Every year we commit to diet, detox, to cleanse and conserve.  And as the sad statistics show, 9 days is the typical duration of our resolve, before we crash and burn and crack open another bottle of wine and some reduced-to-clear mince pies. Hopeless.

So how about this year, we use the power of social media to put our money where our mouth is?  Who is ready for a Diet Bet?

Simple rules of Dietbet

I’m talking about  This is a neat service that adds two powerful motivators to your commitment to lose weight – social accountability, and the chance to win or lose real money.  Their statistics show that with their method, 90% of people do lose weight – this works

Weight problems are social problems – so, social solutions are the right way to go.  The success of slimming clubs and groups the world over is testament to this, as are great results achieved by competitive challenges like office weight loss contests.  For lots of us though the idea of a face to face group, perhaps with weigh-ins, is impractical or unappealing – but by bringing people together online, Dietbet aims to harness the social power to provide the necessary extra motivation.

The other big pressure Dietbet brings to bear is financial.  You actually bet on yourself, to do what you have committed to.  You can either join a public game, or start a private group one, in which you all commit an agreed sum of cash to a communal pot, and the pot is then split between the winners at the end of it all.

This structure works brilliantly, because you not only have the chance to win extra cash depending on the group outcome, you stand to LOSE your own money if you fail.  Psychological research repeatedly shows that this is actually even more motivating than winning, in terms of behavioural change. When you combine the carrot and the stick, things happen. Everyone in the game bets the same amount, obviously, and the advice is to chip in an amount that would genuinely hurt to lose (but obviously not such that you absolutely cannot afford to lose)

Dietbet sets the terms, to create a safe and level playing field, and this is it. Everyone’s unique personal target is to lose 4% of their starting weight.  This is set to establish a the most level playing field possible, in a cohort that can obviously include competitors of varying start weight, age, height, and so on.  Real humans at Dietbet regulate before and after weigh-in verification, for a small admin fee… but even if everyone hits their target you get back very nearly what you put in. And if anyone does not make target, you get more. Like real life, there are usually winners and losers.

During the 4 weeks that your Dietbet game runs, you are encouraged to socialise and share with your group, and you can post unofficial weigh-ins (which by default are shown as a proportion and percentage, your actual weight can be kept secret between you and the Dietbet administrators).  You can share whatever you like, such as posting photos of what you eat, and you are encouraged to cheer, jeer and join  – you can talk a load of smack if you want, or you can support and motivate your fellow Dietbetters constructively and helpfully.  You can download an iphone app, and keep chatting. The only measurements that count are the ones that Dietbet monitor, your start and finish weight, and on this the payout is determined.

It’s about making it a fun activity, with stakes that matter – both financial and social.  Gamification – harnessing the natural human urge to compete, to win, and to brag about it to our mates – is one of the most important social trends we looked at last week, and this is an excellent example of it.

You can read all the rules at – they seem to have taken good steps to guard against fraudulent behaviour, and they appear to be doing everything they can to promote safe and sociable weight loss.  You even get disqualified if you lose more than 3 times your target weight: there is nothing to be gained by excessive weight loss, or faster weight loss, that might be unhealthy – the only winning post is the 4% loss at the 4 week mark.

There are games starting at Dietbet constantly, and you can even join one late (if you want to make it really hard for yourself, because you still have to opt in to the full stake and weight loss).  You can take a look for yourself at… but I started this article with the idea of money where your mouth is, and I’d like to propose just that. Who’s up for a Costa Connected private Dietbet game? 

I will start a thread at, and if you are interested comment there and we will talk.  Let’s aim to do this through February – January is hard in Spain because we are still partying till after the Three Kings have been and gone, and February is a nice compact month exactly the right length for a Dietbet game as it happens.  We can decide the stake amount later but for now, who’s in?  If you really don’t Facebook I wouldn’t want anyone excluded for that reason so get in touch via or tweet @casslar

Let’s make 2013 the year we really achieve our goals. Are you in?

Published in Costa Blanca News, 04-01-13

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  • Steve Hall

    My resolutions are to start drinking, put on weight, seduce the barista at Starbucks, perfect my Basque-Finnish simultaneous translations and start smoking. Those of you who know me would know that there is one that will NEVER happen.