That Weight Loss Challenge

There are probably few things in life that I hate more than being unoriginal. I love to brainstorm, innovate, figure out what’s not working and do it different (hopefully better).

Unfortunately, what I’m about to suggest is completely unoriginal. Yet in it’s own way, completely awesome. I wrote about Bobbi+Mike’s Healthy Train and I admit I kind of wanted to start my own. But per the first sentence, I felt stupid “copying” Bobbi. Then I started joining up with all sorts of people who were trying to lose weight along with me, and I realized I wanted to share the experience with those of you who read my blog and are trying to slim down this year like I am. I don’t know if you guys know this, but you really are my e-bffs. When people ask if I’m doing okay in Chicago I think to myself “How could I ever feel lonely, my friends are with me wherever I have an internet connection!”

And so, my weight loss challenge begins. The goal is sustained weight loss at a healthy rate. I love the Healthy Train challenge (and I’m obsessed with the idea of doing a session with Bobbi+Mike) but if I want to win I’m going to have to lose weight incredibly fast. Starting my own challenge, and extending the date well into the summer, means I can focus on trying to win the Healthy Train challenge and then keeping the weight off for several months. If I’m ever going to be at a healthy weight that makes me feel good about myself, I have to focus on both losing the weight, and sustaining the loss. I want that for all of you as well!

Beginning Date: February 1, 2011

Ending Date: August 31, 2011

Prize: Winner receives a 2 hour portrait session with Jenna Cole Photography, including a disc of high-resolution watermark-free images. If you don’t live near me, don’t worry, the session offer never expires! If you ever come near where I live, we’ll try to set something up, or if I come out to where you are, we’ll try to make something work.


1. Participant with the highest percentage of weight loss is the winner

2. If I lose the highest percentage of weight… I’m the winner! If you want to win the session, you have to lose more than I do. :)

3. The session with me is only redeemable if the winner has maintained the weight loss, lost even more weight (woohoo!) or gained back no more than 10 lbs. The goal here is to change your lifestyle/habits so that you lose the weight and keep it off. If you win the challenge weighing 150 pounds, and I come to town 6 months later and you weigh 165… no deal.**

Steps to Enter:

1. Take a picture of your front, side, and back. Also take a picture of the number on the scale while standing on it*. The camera will add some weight, but as long as you hold the same camera at the end your percentage lost will be the same!

2. Email 4 different pictures (detailed in step 1) to thatwife {at} gmail {dot} com. In the subject line write That Weight Loss Challenge Before Picture – Insert Your Name Here. I will not even open the email you send until the end of the competition when you send me your after pictures. If you do not follow this step exactly, I will reply with a curt response that asks you to please read the instructions and do it over. You’ve been warned.

3. Visit the DailyBurn site here and sign up for my challenge.

4. Update your weight on the DailyBurn site before the 1st of each new month to remain part of the competition. Don’t worry, DailyBurn only shows the percentage lost, not the actual number.

5. At the beginning of September I’ll write a post asking for those who completed the challenge to send in front, side, and back shots.


I took some pictures for the Healthy Train challenge, but for my own I decided to take some new ones this morning. I wanted to be wearing my “sexy dress” that my mom gave me for Christmas. I love this dress and I think it’s going to look amazing on me when I lose the weight I’m working at. Looks pretty good from the front even now, doesn’t it?

From the side? Not so much. I want a flatter tummy and a nicer bum to really look smokin’ in this thing! When you have large breasts like I do, your chest and stomach shouldn’t stick out the same amount!

I’m not going to show you pictures of me in this dress again until the end of the challenge. Hopefully the results will make your eyes pop out a little bit. :)

Sometime during  September those who complete the challenge and would like to have their results posted on the final results post will be able to do so. That way we can all ooooh and ahhh over each other’s slimmer physiques!***

*Your scale picture will never be shown or used anywhere, I’m just going to use it to verify that you really did lose the most weight. I’m sorry to be all crazy about this, but it’s a prize that’s going to cost me a lot of time and effort (and I suspect a prize that others would really like to win) and I’d like to reduce the likelihood of cheating.

**Barring pregnancy. If you are pregnant at the time when we can meet up for your session, you get a free pass from this rule.

***Only those who ask me to post their before and after pictures will have them shown. The before picture you send me will never, ever be used without your permission.

I’m also interested in starting a reply-to-all style email chain, where we can have an ongoing chat over the coming months regarding our high, lows, woes, triumphs. If you’d like to be part of that, indicate in your comment below and I’ll add you to the first email I send out on February 1st.

If you’d like to talk about this on Twitter, use the hashtag #TWLC. The tweets tagged with #healthytrain have been really motivating for me, and it’s an easy way to keep track of who is doing this with you.

Good luck! I’m ready to achieve by “Skinny by Europe” goal for this year!

109 thoughts on “That Weight Loss Challenge

  1. I’m pretty happy with my weight right now and given that I have a lower body weight I don’t feel I would have any chance to win.
    However, I want to congratulate you on choosing to make this challenge a long term one. It’s easy to loose weight quick, it’s a lot harder not to do the yo-yo with it.
    Maybe you could even encourage a 6month after the contest “where are they now”. Not necessarily a contest, but maybe the participants could let you know and if they wish to have their results shared again.
    I also feel that it would be great at the end if participants gave their tips. What worked best for them, what encourage them to keep going.

    Ex: for me I started exercising more because I realized on a cruise with his family that his 40 years old sister was in way better shape than I was even if I hike fairly often. It was my wake up call.
    Since then I signed up for races last spring to get me started and motivated. Bought some good running gear so I felt I had no excuse. And I try to do a muscle work out at home with my husband so we motivate each other.
    I went from 128 to 118 pounds without doing anything to my diet in 10 months.

    Jenna Reply:

    I just went over to your blog and read your post about your loss. You look great! You definitely don’t have much more to lose. :)

    I hope it’s okay that I link to you, but I wanted everyone to know that your post is really helpful because you talk about what you did (and it wasn’t some crash diet): Scroll down to read the english portion!

    Cécy Reply:

    No problem at all. I hope it can help others.

    I didn’t talk much about the exercise part in the blog however. What I did is that I got inspired from the workout (one time) class I did on the cruise, I tried my best to remember the moves and reproduced it at home.
    It included 10 sets of 10 (girl=on the knees) push up. I do a set of 10 between each exercise. Then there is some knee flexing and pull up exercises too. Ideally I would do that every day I’m not running, in reality twice to thrice a week. I’ve started adding some of the back exercises given by my physical therapist a few years ago and some yoga moves too recently.

    I’m against crash diets. I was raised by a Mom who is a dietician and a Dad who is sports crazy. My mom always told me that slow but steady weight loss is better and how important it is to eat a balanced diet.

    And thanks, I keep on being surprised when I look at myself in the miror lately and there is not much of belly sticking out. It’s so nice to feel good in my clothes and have my husband comment how fit certain body parts of mine are :)

  2. I am super excited you’re doing this! I missed healthy train by a day (dang it!).

    I just set myself a group of goals for when I reach my desired size and having a photo shoot is one of my rewards, so winning this would be absolutely awesome! In fact, I’d pay the $300 to fly to Chicago to have you take my picture!

    I’m going to have the husband take my pictures tonight! Now I’m officially not mad that I haven’t lost a single pound in the 3 weeks I’ve been working out everyday….gives me a good place to start!

  3. I’m on the same boat as Cecy — there’s no way I could win this. I’d like to lose about 10 pounds ideally, and get to where I was when I got married. Because that is a higher percentage of my body weight, it will be hard to lose! I have to celebrate the small victories.

    More importantly, I can’t actually run a mile, something I wish I could change, and would like to this year.

    Best of luck! I will be following the contest for sure!

    Cécy Reply:

    You should try the Couch Potato to 5K training (aka C25K)plan like Jenna is doing. It’s a great way to get you started. It’s a good goal to have, you start by mixing walking and running until you get to your mileage/time goal really.

    Natalie Reply:

    That is a great idea. I have heard about it and thought about it — just never acted on it. I think they have a mobile app too! I should try, it is one of my goals before my birthday to conquer. I want to build my endurance.

    Jenna Reply:

    I am obsessed with the mobile app. It’s THE reason why I love the program so much.

    Amanda Reply:

    I love C25K. HUGE FAN!

    Emmie Reply:

    Ahhhh that’s what that stands for!

    Jenna Reply:

    Haha, sorry to be all cryptic and mysterious.

  4. You shouldn’t feel bad at all for “copying” her challenge. So many websites have weight loss challenges, and it just makes sense that someone with a community as large as yours would start one as well! And if getting healthy, learning to eat great food, exercising, and losing excess weight is something that everyone starts “copying” then I will be very happy :)

  5. Also Jenna, I think you look hot in the dress. Don’t knock yourself — your confidence is beautiful too.

    married in chicago Reply:

    couldn’t agree more! i think you look great in that dress!

  6. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyy! I wanted to do “Healthy Train” after you blogged about it but I missed the deadline. I am totally joining up, although I’m a bit embarrassed to send you my “before” weight (I have a baby only a few months younger than yours, gained about as much as you did, but haven’t lost ANY weight since she was born), it will be motivating to have someone/something to be held accountable to.

  7. I’m pregnant now, which I’m pretty sure disqualifies me, no? I’d really like to sneak through that little loophole and win… I need some more Jenna Cole portraits in my life!

    Jenna Reply:

    I would love to take more of you! The last healthy train started literally days after I had T1, and I felt unfair join in when I knew I would be losing a chunk of weight without a lot of work (which I did). Maybe after my next baby I’ll do another!

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  9. I’m so looking for something that will make me more accountable. I have been trying to lose weight for a while now, and my motivation has just been so low. In the past year and a half I have gained over 20 lbs, pushing me into the “overweight” category according to BMI. While the likelihood of me winning this is slim because I may not have as much to lose as others, I think this will be a good way to keep me accountable. You’ll likely see an email from me with before pictures within the next week!

  10. I’m really excited about this challenge! I’m always looking for new ways to hold my self accountable to my weight loss goals and this is perfect! Plus, I’ve always thought it would be really fun to do a post-weight loss photo shoot so I REALLY want to win. And it would be the perfect excuse to come to Chicago! Please include me in the email chain. Can’t wait to get started!

  11. Well I might not win, but at least it will give me extra motivation to lose more weight! This should be exciting! I’ll have to take the pictures soon so I can get in on this! I would also love to be included in the email chain!

  12. Oh I am totally going to join in! I don’t know if I could lose enough percentage wise to win, but it will be great to have some motivation and some company while I try to lose what I need to.

  13. Soooooo, can I still enter and take pictures and everything if I’m 35 weeks pregnant and am going to have a pretty good chance of losing 15 or so pounds in the next 6 weeks or so? I mean, talk about before and after pictures! Lol. No, seriously, can I enter too? I’m not sure that’s fair to the other contestants though. But on the other hand, I have had a hard time losing weight all my life- the 26 hours of labor with my son was the easiest 15 pounds I’ve ever lost!

    Jenna Reply:

    I think Emily, who is 30 weeks pregnant and also commented on this thread, would like to join as well, but I’m torn. A week before I had T1 I weighed around 215-220 and one month later I weighed 199. I certainly didn’t work very hard to lose that first 20 lbs, about 10-15 of which where the baby/placenta, but after that point I feel like I’ve really been fighting for every pound. I could give a set number like “Take your weight at the time of birth, subtract 15 or 20 lbs for baby and water retention weight loss, and then everything after that point counts as weight loss” but some people only gain like 30 pounds during their pregnancy so saying that only 10 of those pounds counts means they have a smaller percentage to count toward winning. Does that make sense?

    There are also things like breastfeeding, which burns off a lot of calories (something I didn’t have) and is that really the same as someone who did not *just* have a baby and is working hard to watch everything they put in their mouth and exercising a lot?

    I certainly feel for you, I was right where you are only a year or so ago! But I just don’t feel like it works to have just-pregnant women pitted against others.

    Anyone want to chime in and say what they think?

    Regina Lynn Reply:

    Yeah, no, I know what you’re saying. One thing I have going for me in a major way is that I lost 10 pounds in my first trimester (NOT due to being sick, just started taking supplements for my endocrine system and it just so happened that it coincided with my getting pregnant) and I have not yet gained it all back yet. So, if I can keep a handle on it over the next 6 weeks, I have hopes of being lighter after delivery than I was when I got pregnant. And yes, trust me- I KNOW how lucky I am! I ate almost every bit as good with my first pregnancy as I have this one and I gained 70 pounds! That’s why I believe it has more to do with my endocrine system than diet…

    Regina Lynn Reply:

    All that to say (seriously, placenta brain much?) that I guess I’ll probably duck out of this one. It probably wouldn’t be fair to the other contestants.

  14. You look super great in that dress!

    I think it’s awesome that you’re doing this. Too bad I can’t participate – I could if you asked me about 6 years ago! I got up to 190 lbs in my grade 12 year (04-05), went to weightwatchers and lost almost 30 pounds. I’ve essentially kept it off (except for the first year of university) so I’m really quite proud of myself. Now, my weight generally fluctuates around 160lbs. I guess I’ll have to be consoled by that for having no chance of winning the photo session. :P

  15. If I weren’t pregnant, I would join this in a heartbeat! I’ll have to just use all of the before and after photos as inspiration to lose the baby weight this summer! Good luck to everyone participating!

  16. I love that dress you’re wearing. I actually saw it in the store and loved it right away.

    Also..Can this be an ongoing thing? I’m pregnant right now and so I can’t really actively lose weight but I am looking to about mid-August so I’d be willing to jump all over the next round (after the first winner)..even if the prize isn’t so grand (like a session with you)..I’d even take a bag of

    Jenna Reply:

    Well I hope to be at a “goal weight” by then, but so many pregnant women are speaking up, and I KNOW how much it sucks losing baby weight, that maybe I’ll do it again!

    Sara Reply:

    Yes, please do! I’m pregnant now, otherwise I’d join right in.

  17. So excited for this, Jenna! I’ve been a long-time reader of yours (since Weddingbee) and am looking forward to having some accountability while losing weight.

  18. I agree with others above that I don’t have much more weight to lose and still be at a healthy weight, but I am totally committed to eating healthier and working out consistently (we’ve been chatting a bit on Twitter about C25K). Unfortunately I took about 3 weeks off of blogging about my adventure while I finished up my apps to grad school, but hopefully I’ll be posting soon about my progress! Good luck, Jenna! : )

  19. I missed the Healthy Train but would have loved to do that! So I want to join in your challenge! Add me to the email list also please!! Can’t wait!

  20. I’m in! I’m excited for this – I missed the healthy train too, and am really looking forward to this…especially since it goes for longer/focuses on keeping the weight off!

    and count me in for the emails!

  21. i can’t possibly win because I can(need to) only lose 10-15 lbs max and that is about 12% of my body weight

    Jenna Reply:

    You are free to join in if you think It will be the motivation you need!

    Ellie Reply:

    I only need to lose 10-15lbs as well, so you should definitely join in and keep me company!

  22. You look great in that black dress. And I’m sure you’re going to feel even more FABULOUS, once you lose the weight you want. Furthermore, how awesome that you’re getting your readers to participate in your weight loss goals. It’s always easier losing weight with ppl, who have the same goal.
    Wish I could participate, but I don’t have as much weight to lose as others, so there would never be a chance for me to win. As for crash dieters…haha I actually was one of them. Yes, I knew I would never be able to keep off the lost weight, but somehow I always convinced myself that I would. Oh, don’t you just love it, how the mind can play tricks on you.
    So, finally last year I decided what I knew all along, to lose weight the healthy route. So far I’ve lost 11 pounds, which took me about 4 months, just by cutting my portions in half and exercising more. Only got 6 more pounds to lose until I reach my goal weight. Oh, and I don’t deprive myself of anything either.

  23. Ah I’m so excited for this! I don’t want to lose a lot so I’m not thinking I will have a chance of winning, but it is a great motivator! I always feel that things like this are easier if I know others are doing it with me… I need that extra motivation :) I’m glad you posted that you won’t be showing any of the before and after pictures if we don’t want you too… I would die if someone realized how wiggly my stomach, legs and butt are at the moment! Thank goodness it is winter and I’ve been able to hide under sweaters and coats!

    Seriously…. thank you, thank you, thank you!! This is some great motivation!!

  24. I wish you, Jenna, and all of your participants lots of luck! I think this is a great idea and I can’t wait to see the results in September!

  25. Awesome! I’m in! I probably won’t win because I don’t need to lose a high percentage of my body weight, but I need the motivation. I have a baby boy about 2 weeks younger than T1 (my second child) and even though I lost all the weight gained from this last pregnancy, I need to lose the weight from my first. I’ll get the pics taken in a few days because I’ve been sick the last couple days.

  26. You are working that dress out, totally hot.

    Jenna Reply:

    Just give me a few months baby. You’ll see what true hotness can be. :)

  27. I am totally not saying this undermine your goals (because I know how important this is to you) but you look FANTASTIC in those pictures. I think our proportions are relatively the same (same height/weight/body type) and looking at your pics I was thinking “if that is what I look like, go me!”

  28. I’m SO down. I just need the husband to take a few pics!

    Long story short, I just started training for a triathlon so this will be perfect to go along with it!

  29. I’m so in! I’m so ready and excited. I read your healthy train blog too late to join in. I also love that you are willing to meet up whenever you or I are in the area (that is, if I would be the winner). Love this.

    I’ve taken before and after photos already, but I’m guessing you want a bit more clothes than shorts and a sports bra. I will get new photos taken.

  30. I want it, but I don’t have a scale at home – I’ve been using the one at my gym, which isn’t digital. I would be happy to take a picture of my weight on that scale, though. What do you think, Jenna?

  31. Since I missed the Healthy Train deadline, I’m WAY IN! (I’d join both though, even if I had done the Healthy Train. Haha.) Count me in on the email chain, too. If I lose what I want, I could win! How’s THAT for confidence going in? ;) Can’t wait!

    Dawn Schaffer Reply:

    By the way, Jenna, I have the same belly/boob issue! DEFINITELY ready to get rid of that!

  32. I’m in! I actually started my weight loss journey on January 6th but I have a ways to go and this will be great motivation! I’ll take my pictures on Thursday and send them in! Please add me to the email chain!

  33. I love this challenge idea. But I am pregnant and due in early August – so i will only be gaining weight between now and then. But it will be a nice reminder to keep the weight in check while prego so that it will be easier to get back to (or better than) my before baby weight.

    I am curious about how tall you are… mind sharing?

    Jenna Reply:


  34. This is such a great idea! I really need that accountability to stop me from eating too much or the wrong food after a long day. I don’t think I’d have much of a shot at winning, though, because to stay within healthy range, I could only lose about 10% of my weight, and those last 10-15 are seriously the most difficult ever, when you’ve cut out almost every bad food you can, and you already exercise regularly, there aren’t as many little things you can do.

  35. I am in! I’m another one who only has ~ 10 lbs to lose but I’ve been fighting to lose this weight for YEARS. Several times I’ve lost about 5, but then I seem to get lazy and it comes right back. I’m not expecting to win (though I would love to with that great prize!!) but I definitely need some moral support and motivation! And I really like how you are focusing on the long term. Please add me to the email chain! Thanks Jenna!

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