NBC’s reality TV show The Biggest Loser has taken America by storm since 2004. The show is now in its tenth season and still largely popular due to its relatable concepts and life-changing power. Why not take the themes of The Biggest Loser and transform them into your own employee health incentive? Here are some ways to safely launch your worksite weight-loss program:
- First things first: To avoid legal trouble, rename your program so that it doesn’t bear the trademark The Biggest Loser name, but is still recognizable, for example, "Lose to Win."
- Don’t vote anyone off. Yes, there should be an overall winner to make it a true competition, but participants should be given the opportunity to continue through the entirety of the program, reinforcing lifelong habits.
- Avoid singling out individuals in a negative way. If a participant has a bad week of weight loss, discuss what factors may have been inhibiting them and move on with an action plan toward the next weigh-in.
- Do push your participants out of their comfort zone into more strenuous workouts, keeping in mind their physical limits. Watching the show can give you many new ideas of exercises, but not all of them can be appropriate for your clientele. Remember, the show has trained medics on standby at all times.
- Do record all baseline health measurements at the beginning of the program and periodically throughout. On the show, Dr. Huizenga performs extensive assessments on the players, telling them their body’s age, showing scans of their fat distribution, and so on. At the very minimum, record weight, percent body fat, girth measurements, BMI, resting heart rate, and blood pressure.
- Do encourage participants to understand the root of their weight gain and possible underlying issues that have made them unsuccessful at past weight-loss attempts. Jillian Michaels, trainer on The Biggest Loser, takes this to a bit of an extreme, making it her personal goal to emotionally break down each player to his or her point of realization and future empowerment. Get to know your clients' lifestyles and remind them that weight loss is such a multifaceted process that emotional and relational issues play a role.
- Lastly, be realistic. Remind participants (and yourself) that you most likely aren’t going to see more than 10 pounds of weight loss in one week. Your corporate participants also have a job, a family, and other obligations that The Biggest Loser's players are removed from during their time at the ranch.
If there’s one theme from the show worth stressing to your clients, it’s a line in the theme song: “What have you done today to make you feel proud?”