Monday, March 12, 2012

A good reason for self-inflicted pain

One of the great things about working at Extrovertic is that we enjoy socializing with each other. We are also fortunate that our office has no shortage of elite organizers who relish the opportunity to turn any prospective activity into an elaborate endeavor.

Towards the end of 2011, when holiday parties started taking their toll on our waistlines, we decided that January would be dedicated to health and the reclamation of our attractive and fit selves. Of course, merely encouraging each other to lose weight and take up exercise wouldn’t be enough—we needed a competition that would bring out our best efforts and ensure a lasting commitment for the entire month. The natural choice for this type of challenge was a Biggest Loser-style contest. After a mass email was sent out asking for participants, 12 people (around a third of our New York office) signed up and put in $50 each towards the pot. The winner would be the person who lost the highest percentage of their total body weight during the month of January. The terms of this competition were highly disputed—we debated whether a single month would be enough time to achieve noticeable weight loss. But acknowledgement that people wanted to limit the duration of their dieting pain led to a consensus on the one-month time period (that and our chief extrovert said she couldn’t stand us squabbling anymore).

It is with great false modesty that I take credit for coming up with this idea. During a conversation with my desk neighbor, I fatuously claimed that I could lose more weight than he could if I were inclined to do so. He disagreed, and the germ of the idea for the extrovertic Biggest Loser competition was born. Remarkably, several people overheard my boasting and the idea took off from there. And despite the sentient nature of my job as extrovertic’s head of IT, I was sure I could shed the pudge with low-carb dieting and cardio exercise—the $600 pot was as good as mine.

The level of intensity shown by most of the competitors took a lot of people by surprise. Working at extrovertic is so fun because the people who work here genuinely like each other. But that didn’t minimize the fact that no one wanted to lose. Competitors cut way back on carbs and calories and still found the energy for heavy cardio workouts (sometimes twice a day). There was only a modicum of sabotage and paranoia in the contest. A banana generously given to a fellow contestant was later mentioned in someone’s blog as treachery.

The final weigh-in showed extrovertic’s true sense of camaraderie. At the final tally on February 3rd, most of us remembered to wear very light clothes to make weight. One person, however, wore jeans. Another offered a co-competitor his own shorts and as a result lost by a 0.45% margin. A sad ending to a generous offer.

In total, as a collective group we lost over 130 lbs, or about 11 lbs per person. Our winner, Desmond Yuen, lost 26 lbs for a winning percentage of 13.9%. I lost 23 lbs and came in a distant 4th place. But everyone lost weight and we all gained an even greater sense of respect for each other. Afterwards, we took our shrunken stomachs to Hill Country BBQ for the closing ceremonies.

-John Yoo


  1. lol. i vote for a another weigh in just to see how many lbs we kept off! VBE