Lose the weight or lose your cash: The motivational world of diet betting
If nothing else can motivate you to lose weight, maybe some cold cash in your pocket might.
Weight-loss wagering and diet contests are popping up all over the place — and for good reason. Research has shown that people lose more weight when money is on the line. Basically, if you don’t lose the weight, you lose your money. The good thing about this type of betting is that you control the outcome. Just do the work and you’ll win. While you are betting, you are not gambling.
Feeling lucky? Check out HealthyWage. This company designs and organizes online weight loss challenges and contests in which participants can win money for losing weight. Choose among the following challenges:
- 10% Challenge: Pay a $100 fee to participate. If you lose 10% of your body weight over six months, you win $200.
- BMI Challenge: This challenge pays up to $1,000 to users who move from an obese BMI (greater than 30) to a normal BMI (less than 25) over a year’s time.
- The Matchup: Teams of five lose weight and try to win the $10,000 first prize.
Kevin Macy, a 36 year old family physician from Springfield, Ohio, and four of his friends won $10,000 from HealthyWage’s Matchup contest in May. The Matchup pits team versus team in a 12-week weight loss contest with big cash prizes. Teams of five pay an entry fee of $60 — or less if your employer sponsors you. The more weight your team loses, the greater chance of you taking home the $10,000 top prize.
By the end of the challenge, Macy’s team (they called themselves the Underground Elders), lost a total of 204 pounds — that’s 41 pounds per person! Macy lost 20.7% of his starting body weight, going from 227 pounds at the start of the challenge to 180 pounds at the end of the challenge.
See before and after photos.
Money as motivation
“As a group of friends, we all wanted to lose weight, and we all knew how to lose weight. All we needed was a push to get us to do it,” Macy explained. “The cash prize was a big reason for choosing HealthyWage. We saw it as a reward for our hard work and effort — a badge of honor for what we accomplished. We discussed the prize frequently and used it to push each other on toward our goals. This was especially effective because it made each of us work harder so that we would not disappoint the others. None of us wanted to be the one person who didn’t reach his or her goal and therefore make us miss out on the $10,000 prize.”
How they lost the weight
“Losing the weight was not easy,” Macy said. “The formula for success involved changing a number of different things in my life. First and foremost, I had to learn to be hungry. In the beginning, I followed a strict calorie restriction of around 1,000 to 1,200 calories or less per day six days per week. I accomplished this by drinking a low-calorie, high-protein meal replacement shake for both breakfast and lunch, followed by a healthy dinner.”
Macy exercised for 60 to 90 minutes or more, at least five or six days a week. His workout consisted of at least 20 minutes of vigorous interval cardio exercise, followed by weightlifting and push-ups or sit-ups.
The rest of the Underground Elders, Macy said, lost the weight in similar ways so that they could all experience the same thing, and could encourage and motivate each other from a place of experience. They all used meal replacement shakes, a low-calorie diet and “free” days during which they ate more than normal, but didn’t overdo it.
Some team members ran, while others did P90X or the Insanity Workout. Nevertheless, they all exercised at least five or six days a week.
Joining a challenge where they competed as a team was important for the Underground Elders.
“I would communicate with my team members almost every day, and we would tell each other how we did that day — our successes with diet and exercise, including specifics of what we did — what we ate, how many calories we consumed, what we did for exercise. We would also share our failures so that we could encourage each other to do better next time. This kept us accountable and motivated to persevere,” Macy said.