the no peeking rule for weight loss contracts

From: Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu
Date: Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 13:30
Subject: the no peeking rule for weight loss contracts

I think Melanie and Laurie (with $600 and $5k on the line,
respectively, for their weight loss graphs) don’t agree with the no
peeking rule [1].
I think their claim is that it’s too tempting to "unofficially check"
how you’re doing and that it feels unfair and unenforceable anyway.

I wonder if there’s a way to have the best of both worlds here.

Without a no peeking rule you lose a lot of the point of the yellow
brick road. If you can freely peek then you’ll never report when
you’re above the road. Which just means the “daily commitment” thing
has lost all its bite. It degenerates to “you better weigh X pounds by
3 weeks from now”. (Three weeks being the longest you can not report
before losing by default.)

[1] The no peeking rule is clause 3 in the standard contract template:
http://yootles.com/expost/beeminder-contract
Also, if you want to cheer Melanie and Laurie:
http://bmndr.com/mo/weight and http://bmndr.com/laur/weight


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Jill Renaud veganjill@gmail.com
Date: Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 13:50
Subject: Re: the no peeking rule for weight loss contracts

I think that the best of both worlds would be something like this: on
days that you are at home (with access to your scale) you should be
expected to weigh yourself and report your weight regularly (at least
5 of 7 days a week). There should be no “peeking” allowed during
times that you are regularly at home. When you go on vacation and have
no access to your scale, you should not be expected to report your
weight. When you return home from vacation, you should have a 1 week
grace period to report/be on your road. I suppose peeking should (or
could be) allowed during this 1 week period. I would certainly not
want to report my weight immediately upon returning from travel for
several reasons (1) the food you eat on vacation is often
saltier/fattier than foods you prepare yourself (2) who knows what
flying/long drives do to water weight? and (3) odds are you will have
gained a little weight (or just water weight).
I am currently “driving blind” after being on vacation for a week.
That said, I don’t feel like I’m truly driving blind because I know
that I am retaining water weight. I have not been tempted to "peek"
at my weight because I’m sure that it will be a number that I don’t
want to see. Once I feel less bloated, I will return to weighing. By
Danny’s current rule that would not have to be until July 18th, but
waiting that long to weigh myself would not support my weight loss
goals. I will likely weigh myself tomorrow or Sunday. I suppose that
peeking would be helpful to know how much weight I have to lose, but I
think that at this point I just have to do all that I can to ensure
that I am on my road when I do decide to weigh myself.
-Jill

On Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 2:30 PM, Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu wrote:

I think Melanie and Laurie (with $600 and $5k on the line,
respectively, for their weight loss graphs) don’t agree with the no
peeking rule [1].
I think their claim is that it’s too tempting to "unofficially check"
how you’re doing and that it feels unfair and unenforceable anyway.

I wonder if there’s a way to have the best of both worlds here.

Without a no peeking rule you lose a lot of the point of the yellow
brick road. If you can freely peek then you’ll never report when
you’re above the road. Which just means the “daily commitment” thing
has lost all its bite. It degenerates to “you better weigh X pounds by
3 weeks from now”. (Three weeks being the longest you can not report
before losing by default.)

[1] The no peeking rule is clause 3 in the standard contract template:
http://yootles.com/expost/beeminder-contract
Also, if you want to cheer Melanie and Laurie:
http://bmndr.com/mo/weight and http://bmndr.com/laur/weight


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Bethany M. Soule bsoule@gmail.com
Date: Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 13:56
Subject: Re: the no peeking rule for weight loss contracts

Well, we originally had a “first weight of the day is the official
weight” rule, and that definitely incentivizes you to cheat.

One proposed way to fix it is to, for example, use an average of your
daily weights, which makes it a lot less risky to report, but it could
also make you more likely to do stupid things like try to drop a
bunch of weight by dehydrating yourself or something, so maybe there’s
a better solution/tradeoff to make.

B

On Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 13:30, Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu wrote:

I think Melanie and Laurie (with $600 and $5k on the line,
respectively, for their weight loss graphs) don’t agree with the no
peeking rule [1].
I think their claim is that it’s too tempting to "unofficially check"
how you’re doing and that it feels unfair and unenforceable anyway.

I wonder if there’s a way to have the best of both worlds here.

Without a no peeking rule you lose a lot of the point of the yellow
brick road. If you can freely peek then you’ll never report when
you’re above the road. Which just means the “daily commitment” thing
has lost all its bite. It degenerates to “you better weigh X pounds by
3 weeks from now”. (Three weeks being the longest you can not report
before losing by default.)

[1] The no peeking rule is clause 3 in the standard contract template:
http://yootles.com/expost/beeminder-contract
Also, if you want to cheer Melanie and Laurie:
http://bmndr.com/mo/weight and http://bmndr.com/laur/weight


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


What are you beeminding?
http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: kar1k@gmx.de
Date: Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 14:03
Subject: Re: the no peeking rule for weight loss contracts

In addition to what Jill wrote:

on regular days you should be supposed to provide a weight, and there
shouldn’t be any peeking. Seems counterproductive to me. But the idea
of a grace period after vacation makes sense.

I love the term ‘akrasia horizon’ and can’t wait to read your
article. Seems like a really valuable concept to me.

So in this context: If you decide beforehand that it’s ok not to weigh
yourself after your vacation, you’re deciding outside of your Akrasia
Horizon and that’s fine.

If you peek however and decide just then not to report, you’re inside
your AH and that’s trouble.

You know, I’ve actually thought about that concept before, but I
didn’t have a term for it. Genius! :slight_smile:

Alex


http://dreev.es – search://“Daniel Reeves”
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com

From: Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu
Date: Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 15:37
Subject: Re: the no peeking rule for weight loss contracts

Bethany: actually that’s the version in the current contract template:
your official weight for the day is the average of all the scale
readings you report. (And it’s a rule that you report all of them –
which of course is all automatic if you have a withings scale.)
As you know, whether the official weight of the day is the mean or the
min or the median (or any other crazy aggregation function we might
want) is now a parameter setting so it will be easy to experiment with
this. But after discussing to death with Melanie, it seemed like the
mean was the best compromise based on our experience so far.

Jill’s proposal sounds smart, except that I’m really reluctant to
introduce the messy fine print that comes with that. About what counts
as “on vacation” or “access to the scale”. Plus there are so many
legitimate reasons to miss a weighing (overslept, forgot and drank
water before weighing yourself, stayed up all night grazing on swiss
cake rolls, etc) that I’m worried that any reasonable-seeming
threshold like “5 out of 7 days” will sometimes be too strict.

Alex, great point about thinking of this in terms of the akrasia
horizon! (Like we promised, more on that soon!)

Another core tenet of Beeminder that I’ve been harping on for a while
and that Jill just found a great way to express:
Rule #1 of Beeminder: Things that make staying on the road easier
make reaching your final goal harder.

If that sounds counter-intuitive, imagine the extreme case of ultimate
leniency where we’re like "don’t worry, as long as you’re at your goal
weight a year from now all deviations from the road will be forgiven."
That completely destroys all the benefit Beeminder had to offer!
(Except for those non-akratics who just like the visualization and
tracking, but this list is for akratics. Yellow brick roads without
meaningful commitments are useless for us.)

Peeking is the same way. Sure, if you can peek at your weight before
recording it then it’s much easier to stay on your road. To stay on it
today, that is. But it’s that fear that this piece of pie might put
you over the edge tomorrow that keeps you in check. If that danger is
always at least 3 weeks away, it’s just not immediate enough to
counteract the immediate deliciousness of the pie.

I think the 3-week rule goes nicely with the no-peeking rule because
without peeking you really don’t want to drive blind unless you have
to (like you’re actually on vacation).
If the no-peeking rule is really not realistic then we have to rethink
the 3-week rule.

On Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 13:56, Bethany M. Soule bsoule@gmail.com wrote:

Well, we originally had a “first weight of the day is the official
weight” rule, and that definitely incentivizes you to cheat.

One proposed way to fix it is to, for example, use an average of your
daily weights, which makes it a lot less risky to report, but it could
also make you more likely to do stupid things like try to drop a
bunch of weight by dehydrating yourself or something, so maybe there’s
a better solution/tradeoff to make.

B

On Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 13:30, Daniel Reeves dreeves@umich.edu wrote:

I think Melanie and Laurie (with $600 and $5k on the line,
respectively, for their weight loss graphs) don’t agree with the no
peeking rule [1].
I think their claim is that it’s too tempting to "unofficially check"
how you’re doing and that it feels unfair and unenforceable anyway.

I wonder if there’s a way to have the best of both worlds here.

Without a no peeking rule you lose a lot of the point of the yellow
brick road. If you can freely peek then you’ll never report when
you’re above the road. Which just means the “daily commitment” thing
has lost all its bite. It degenerates to “you better weigh X pounds by
3 weeks from now”. (Three weeks being the longest you can not report
before losing by default.)

[1] The no peeking rule is clause 3 in the standard contract template:
http://yootles.com/expost/beeminder-contract
Also, if you want to cheer Melanie and Laurie:
http://bmndr.com/mo/weight and http://bmndr.com/laur/weight


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


What are you beeminding?
http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com


http://dreev.es – search://"Daniel Reeves"
Follow the Yellow Brick Road – http://beeminder.com