We watch a lot of teams lose weight together. No two teams are exactly alike, and even the most successful teams have different approaches. Some teams focus on emotional support and make a heartwarming effort to lose weight together. Other teams are tough and focus on winning, giving one another a hard time for eating too many calories or not exercising enough. But there are some key characteristics that almost all really successful teams embrace. The presence (or absence) of these characteristics seems to determine whether a team stands a chance of losing significant weight and winning the $10,000 first place prize.
1. Accountability. Feelings of team accountability — not wanting to let teammates down — are the most common attribute found in HealthyWage’s winning teams. Teams foster these feelings by finding ways to help teammates think about each other — a team photo, team motto, a team Facebook page, and lots of other ways. It can help if you know your teammates (e.g., families and coworkers) because you know you will see each other and want to feel good about the results. Teammates who don’t know each other well find that accountability can be enhanced by extra communication and by spending a little time talking or email about one another’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to weight gain and weight loss.
For illustration, we wanted some advice from a member of one of our winning teams. Sarah Davis, from team ‘Too Big to Fail’ ($10,000 winners in April 2013), told us that her main motivation was that she didn’t want to be responsible if her team lost. She explained, “The team was vital to our success. No one wanted to let any of the other team members down. We took the ‘team’ idea seriously.” Sarah’s team lost 198 pounds total — winning the $10,000 prize. Read about their story here.
2. Frequent Communication. Communication is key! The most successful teams take advantage of the chance to have endless support and encouragement from allies who are going through the same experience — their teammates! Some teams communicate with in-person meetings, but many successful teams have been spread out all over the country. Smartphones, email, social media and the HealthyWage website make talking and sticking together easy. Team ‘Will Work For Less Food’ ($10,000 winners in October 2012) decided to face every challenge as a tightly knit group. Team member Daniel Teuscher told us, “We kept in contact throughout the whole challenge. We tried to be very positive and encouraging. There were some tough weeks that we had to lean on each other to keep going. We wanted to win; but losing the weight was the most important.” This team lost a combined 252 pounds and won the $10,000 prize. Learn more about the team’s success here.
3. Goal setting. Setting a goal doesn’t simply mean that you want to lose the maximum percentage of 16.59% in the Team Challenge. It means setting attainable goals week-by week. The key is to take it day by day and not try to do too much at once. One of our favorite teams, ‘Big Guts – No Glory’, lost 214 pounds total to take home the $5,000 second place prize in May 2013. This was due in large part to having team member Freddie Tester’s daughter Elissa as the coach/mentor. Each member attributed their success to her fantastic exercise and diet program. Team member Keith Gregory shared with us that this helped them create weekly challenges to see who would lose the most per week. “We made it a challenge among the team to lose the most per week. We knew that keeping the team on track would be one of the biggest challenges facing us.” Read more about the success of ‘Big Guts – No Glory’ here.
4. Leadership. Having someone who is responsible for keeping the team on track has proven to make a big impact on team success. Sometimes a team may need that one person to take action and guide them through the 12 weeks. No one person can win the challenge for you by him/herself but an enthusiastic team leader can be a big motivator. In many of our past winners we have seen one person in particular make sure the entire team has verified their weights, everyone is reporting their weekly weights and they are active in mini challenges. Our best example of team leadership comes from Team ‘Believe She Can’ ($5,000 winners from April 2013). It was unanimous: each team member expressed that team captain Tara B. was the main reason for their success. Tara let us know her secret, “Team dynamic is key. We worked together to hold each other accountable to the goal, motivate each other and provide feedback and support when needed. Meeting weekly, tracking results and making it fun was a key to what we did!” Find out more about the team’s story here.
5. Having fun. Last — but far from least — is making sure the team’s effort is fun! As these photos show, some of our most successful teams made sure the weight loss process was a blast. Losing weight can be stressful and frustrating, so adding fun and excitement to your program can make all the difference.