Doug Polk ‘Proud’, ‘Happy’ Despite Losing $200K Fitness Prop Bet

Doug Polk’s $200K fitness prop bet with Bill Perkins came to the wire.

Jeff Walsh
Feb 16, 2023
Doug Polk came close, but lost his $200,000 prop bet with Bill Perkins.

On the surface, Doug Polk’s $200,000 fitness bet with Bill Perkins may have looked like just another test of endurance. Just another prop bet between two guys who love to push themselves.

We’ve seen it before in poker. From Ashton Griffin running 70 miles in 24 hours, to Erick Lindgren playing four consecutive rounds of golf in the blazing hot Las Vegas summer sun, to Mike Noori trying (and failing) to stuff down $1,000 worth of McDonald’s in under two days. If there’s money involved, a likely test of wills will follow.

This time, Polk was betting that he could lose half his body fat in one year and Perkins, who had recently gotten in shape himself, was taking his action.

The year is finally up and after giving it his all, Polk revealed Thursday that despite some incredible gains, he fell just short of winning the bet. On the final day, Polk came in at 15.1% body fat, just missing the target number of 13.8%. 

But for Polk, the $200,000 was more motivation than reward, a big number to help him accomplish something he’d been wanting to do for some time. 

“I took this bet because I’ve always wanted to be in really good shape in my life,” Polk said. “And I feel like, as I’m getting in my mid-thirties, this was my last chance to really try to get to peak shape. I lost some weight before, so I was just a little bit overweight, but I needed something to push myself to go further, to be able to actually get to something I’m proud of. So I felt like it was necessary to do.”

Polk admits that he got a late start, realizing nearly five months into the year-long bet that he had made very little progress. However, once he began to push himself, he ended up taking very few days off from then on. Rigorous exercise and meticulous dieting. His meal prep included plenty of protein and whole ingredient foods. Lots of “egg whites, chicken, rice, oats – stuff like that for carbs – fruits, and then healthy fats like avocado or nuts.”

At the same Polk was at the gym nearly every morning. His workout included weights “five to six times a week” and most days cardio on top of that, with all his training ramping up as he got closer to the finish line.

“So maybe an average day at the gym would be get down to the gym, warm up somehow – like five minutes of running – lift for 60 to 75 minutes, either legs, back, chest or shoulders. I’d put arms on different days with those other groups, and then 10 minutes of air bike and then maybe some stretching at the end. And then maybe in the afternoon I would do either a run or some Peloton, something like that.”

One year after making the bet, it was clear his perseverance was paying off one way or another. But a strict routine of diet and exercise in quest to find extreme fitness (in a limited amount of time) can also bring with it extreme side effects.

“To be honest with you, I took a major hit in other areas of my life because I just simply did not have the energy,” Polk said. “You’re working out two or three hours a day and then the other hours, you’re tired because you haven’t eaten much. And then I started to not be able to sleep as it went on longer because of the caloric deficit.

“So it was just brutal, to be honest. My productivity took a pretty big hit and [fitness] had to become my main focus for a bit. So I’m not really sure it’s something that to cut that hard that fast, I wouldn’t really recommend that for most people. I think it’s very hard to balance those things… A longer timeframe with a less serious goal would be better. But then again, I really messed up the first five months and made almost no progress. So maybe it would’ve been fine if I hadn’t have done that.”

Despite not winning the $200,000, hitting a life-long fitness goal would be cause for celebration. Perhaps even a night of caloric indulgence. But for Polk, even though the weigh-in is behind him, the journey continues. Sure, there was a celebration meal of some high-end Wagyu steaks and a few “brewskies” on Super Bowl Sunday, but Polk is planning on keeping plenty of the routine as a part of his day-to-day life. Working out in the mornings, lifting five times a week, and transitioning some cardio to stretching. He still plans on putting in the work, only now he’ll do it without the time pressure.

“It’s funny, the highs and the lows both happened towards the end because the highs were starting to really see your body change, starting to be able to see some abs, starting to really tell that you’ve lost fat and get into some smaller clothes. But then the lows were towards the end realizing that I still had so far to go in such a short period of time that there was just no way I was going to be able to do anything other than workout all the time and eat super lean. So there were just some pretty big emotional swings down the stretch,” he said.

“It’s also stressful. It was very stressful just knowing that I had to constantly be focused on this and any day you take off is just a day you’re further behind. So, I guess the lowest point would be…I think five, six months out, seven months out, I realized I had not made any progress. So that was pretty bad. But I think it was good that it pushed me in that way. But the stress I would say was the lowest point. The highs are obvious. You just start to feel better every day and look at yourself and be happy with the changes you’ve made.”

Watch Polk’s summary video right here: