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COLUMN: Competing to be the 'biggest loser' with co-workers

I never really considered myself a competitive person.

Oh sure, I like winning -- who doesn't really? But I gauge whether the exertion/discipline is really worth it. For example, winning a board game against my toddler wasn't really worth it. Winning an argument with my husband, on the other hand, is always worth it.

So when a woman at my office suggested we get a group together to form our own version of "Biggest Loser," I was intrigued. I have been carrying around BLANK extra pounds ever since I started having kids several years ago, so the incentive was already there.

After getting six women and one man on board, she explained the rules. To join, we each put $5 in the pot. She would bring in her personal scale each Wednesday for us to weigh ourselves in the privacy of the bathroom, smelling salts would be available if needed. The personal weight results were placed under lock and key, in code and with tamper-proof alarms (OK, that last bit was my own recommendation).

On weigh-in day, if we did not lose at least one pound, we would have to put another $1 in the pot. At the end of the nine weeks, whomever lost the highest percentage would win 60 percent of the pot and the runner-up would win the remaining 40 percent.

There was an issue about getting the "before" group picture taken. A couple of the women did not want to do it without 24 hours notice. I would have preferred a few months notice, but then again, it is a "before" picture and therefore we didn't really have to look happy.

We are just over one week into the contest, and at the time of this writing, have not had our second weigh-in yet. The first one was enough for me, however. I think her scale batteries might be off...

The nice thing about this is that now that we are all in the same boat, we are able to provide support to each other. We had a box of $1 candy bars sitting at the front desk; they are gone now since several of us complained they were a major temptation.

Diet tips are circulated via e-mail, and it is really interesting to read the comments that come back. One tip was to use smaller plates, "between a dessert plate and regular plate" to make it look like you are eating more food than you actually are. One co-worker wrote back, "did you really have to use the word 'dessert?'"

Since we have started this, we've shared some of our back stories. One gal said her increasing friendship with vending machines was part of the problem; another said she slowly gained weight over the years after having her children.

Me? I had three kids inside four years and about the only exercise I got was chasing them around a small duplex and lugging a 70 pound diaper bag everywhere we went. Now that they are older, I've tried playing volleyball, taking a martial arts course, learning to swim and racquetball.

As far as weight-loss equipment, we have a treadmill, weight bench and I even purchased a new bicycle with a child trailer. Imagine how in shape I would be if I actually used them all.

When I've gone into the office this past week, I've heard miscellaneous comments floating around about eating salads for lunch, not drinking any wine over the weekend and how the latest diet tip "stinks" since it advocated not eating chocolate. I've also heard one co-worker tauntingly remark to another "you're going to owe a dollar this week."

Yes, it is not mega-bucks we are competing for, but there is something in leaving your co-workers in the dust. It inspired me to get back on my diet -- at least for the time I was in the office. Once I was back at home was a slightly different story. I refuse to be beaten however, and I'm back on it with a vengeance.

Just to be safe though, I have my dollar ready.