Friday, February 6, 2009

It's Not a Competition--Wait, Yes It Is

Some innovative ways to lose weight in the media the last couple of days: The New York Times reports that the concept of diet betting, that is, challenging your friends or co-workers to a contest to see who can shed the highest percentage of their BMI (an extremely flawed measurement, by the way, according to political science professor J. Eric Oliver) seems to bring good results, especially if cash is thrown in to sweeten the pot.

As competitive as I am, though, I'm not sure this would be a good concept for me. This is borne out by reading the piece, which looks at a few of these contests, but finds only one woman competitor (she lost).

Women and weight is a thorny issue, to say the least, and a rough-and-tumble atmosphere created by a contest would seem to be counter-productive--an exercise in adding to self-esteem issues for a population that already has plenty of them.

Still, I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule--women who are avid competitors and who would relish the chance to win some bucks with their dieting prowess, honed from a lifetime of experimenting with various weight-control measures.

In other fitness news, the walkstation, seems to be gaining more ground. For those who are just too dynamic for even a stand-up desk, the walkstation marries a desk with a low-speed treadmill, so you can walk while you work. According to Hotels magazine, the Marriot Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI, is the first hotel to feature the walkstations in its business center. (Of course, in that part of the country, you need to keep moving just to stay warm.) At a stately 2 miles per hour, you're only going to burn about 180 extra calories per hour, so, if you're actively trying to lose weight, don't use your walkstation as an excuse to supersize your order of fries. But the benefits of moving while working transcend weight loss--clearer thinking, increased energy without caffeine, and a good excuse for getting off the phone ("gotta go, my treadmill is malfunctioning") are some of the hidden advantages.

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