If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I wish someone would just pay me to lose weight—that’s exactly what would give me the motivation to finally lose those pounds,” then you’re in luck. It’s 2018, and if you can imagine it then there’s already an app for it. What a time to be alive.
A lot of companies are beginning to realize that offering financial incentives for weight loss not only motivates people to lose weight, but also results in financial returns for them. In October, insurance provider John Hancock rolled out a Vitality program that gave every participant an Apple Watch for only $25—the catch being that they had to maintain a healthy lifestyle over the next two years in order to keep it (health insurance giant Aetna announced a similar program soon after). A popular new app called Sweatcoin allows you to collect cryptocurrency, which you can then use to buy various products in exchange for how many steps you take. And now the newest fitness buzz is around HealthyWage, a website that lets you gamble on your ability to lose weight and win big money if you do.
All you have to do is go to the website and put in how much weight you want to lose, how many months you need to reach your goal, and how much money you’re willing to gamble per month that you’ll achieve your goal. The Prize Calculator then determines how much money you can win; the more pounds you want to lose, and the more money you bet, the greater the prize, which goes up to $10,000. You need to lose at least 10% of your weight to qualify. If you don’t reach your goal, then you lose the money you bet. But if you lose the amount of weight you wagered in the amount of time you set, then the website sends you your Prize Amount via cash or Paypal.
It’s a great system, especially since the Prize Amount, which is calculated when you first set up the bet, is a lot greater than the money you would lose if you quit or failed to attain your goal.
It sounds too good to be true, but the website has actually been around for a while, and there are plenty of success stories floating around online.
The Penny Hoarder lists a few, including Caitlin McKenna, who bet she could lose 61 pounds in 9 months, and won $3,180.
Buzzfeed recently compiled a sponsored post in which six people revealed their earnings. The biggest winner was Brett M. from Puyallup, Washington, who lost 103 pounds, betting $100 a month, and won $2,800.
“Losing weight was something I had thought about over the years, but I was always too busy,” he said. ” The bet was about putting my money where my mouth was. It was like a carrot and the stick: I had that monthly little bit of pain of putting $100 a month toward it, and I also had that $2,800 reward sitting up there. I wrote $2,800 on my palm with a Sharpie for the first couple of months. Coworkers would ask about it and that was an easy way to quickly build a support team to help me stay on the path. I work at a grocery store, so the temptations were around every corner. Once I found a diet that worked well for my body, I was able to stay straight because of that support team.”
Brett’s latter point speaks to something that studies have shown for ages, which is that telling people you’re trying to lose a specific amount of weight makes you more likely to stick to your fitness goals so as to save face; it’s one of the reasons recent research has shown that declaring your fitness goals on Instagram can actually be a secret weapon for weight loss. HealthyWage thereby takes the methodology that makes hashtags like #fitspo work and combines them with the dopamine high that people get from winning bets, so it’s easy to see how it might be effective in helping people not give up on their goals. Plus, there’s something kind of poetic about putting a gamble on yourself, isn’t there?
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