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Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Insanity of Weight Loss Contests

Someone I know, a civilian who works for the Navy (and is an emotional eater), just starting an office sponsored “Biggest Loser” contest.

The first Weigh-In was this past Monday at 12:30pm. Right before the Weigh-In she went out and had a huge meal…pepperoni pizza, bread pudding, as much ice tea as she could drink. Her goal was to weigh as much as she possible could at the Weigh-In…thereby increasing the chances that she would ultimately show a bigger weight loss at the end of the contest. (She laughed as she told me this and she gave me permission to write about this in this blog.)

She says her reason for participating in this weight loss contest is to lose weight. If her goal is to lose weight, anybody else see the insanity of eating more in prep for a weight loss competition? Does anyone know anyone who has particated in a weight loss competition and kept the weight off?

Why do we keep buying into this craziness even when we know it is a set up for more feelings of failure?


Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in emotional and binge eating issues. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Vice President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com


  1. audrey macknight says

    Hi Ellen, To be honest, I have seen many of these contests and their participants may lose weight during the contest, but are back the following year to try again as they have regained all the weight and possibly more. Thank you for helping me address the real issues that keep me from my optimum health, and helping me enjoy and be present in every moment of my precious life. God Bless you!

  2. aweighoutadmin says

    Same back at you, Audrey! I know weight loss contest can be so seductive…
    participants are all in it together so they feel supported, everyone is focused on the prize (weight loss and/or any actual prizes offered–like an ipod). But for an emotional eater, the contest itself becomes the distraction from day-to-day thoughts and feelings that the person would rather not think about. Then, when the contest is over its back to old habits…so yes, weight comes back, plus some. I wish it weren’t so, but it is…Ellen

  3. Rachel Becker says

    I used to work for a well known weight loss company. It was not uncommon that members eat till they popped right before that initial weigh in. On the flip side, when subsequent weigh in weeks came they would starve themselves before weigh in and then peel their wardrobes down to as little as they could publicly wear before stepping on the scale. How humiliating is that? What is learned?

  4. Ellen Shuman says

    A friend of mine said she knew she was at her very last WW meeting, ever, when she and a friend snuck in a WW brownie during the meeting, and ate it right after they weighed-in. She said based on how they felt, they might as well have been doing drugs in the back of the room.

    Someone else told me about a woman ahead of her in the WW weigh-in line (in the dead of winter) who dropped her fur coat on the floor and stepped on the scale wearing only a bathing suit. Yup, the things we do in the name of weight loss!

  5. Laura Burkett says

    I work at a gym that promotes this very thing – in an 8-week format. It’s funny to think that the gym would close down if it delivered what participants had hoped for – enough hard work and discipline to drop lots of weight in a short amount of time that would STAY OFF.

    The problem I see for so many women is the creation of Food and Exercise Hell! This is PARTICULARLY frustrating when they get the results they had hoped for and all of a sudden create a belief system that eating extremely clean and ignoring personal food preference, and exercising like crazy is the ONLY WAY to maintain results. If that’s not hell, I don’t know what is.

    Is it always a challenge to remain mindful in this environment!


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