Getting paid to lose weight with HealthyWage

I struggle with weight. In fact, it’s a far more difficult issue for me than personal finance. Honestly, I’m not completely sure why, but it’s true.

There are many similarities between paying off debt and creating a healthy lifestyle. For starters:

    1. Correcting both issues starts with awareness. The key to turning around my financial life was realizing exactly how bad it was. After that, I was able to connect deeply with the burden that my lazy financial habits created in my life. While I understand that I’m unhealthy, I haven’t fully connected with the burden it brings into my life.
    2. Both issues have simple solutions. Notice I said simple, not easy. Personal finance can really be boiled down to “spend less than you earn“. There are plenty of details, techniques, and strategies, but it all comes back around to that one basic concept. Creating a healthier lifestyle is also simple: Eat fewer unhealthy foods, exercise more. Remembering these simple foundations can help us from distracting ourselves in a search for a mythical secret solution.
    3. Both issues require more motivation than “it’s good for you”. The vast majority of people who struggle with money realize that consumer debt is bad for them. Most people who carry credit card balances know “they shouldn’t”. But this doesn’t keep them from doing it or help them from being susceptible to credit card tricks which can increase their fees. I know my diet is poor and I’m not as active as I should be. Just because eating better and exercising is “good for me”, doesn’t mean I’m going to do it. Sadly, most of us need more motivation (and more specific motivation) to overcome either issue.

Even though intellectually I can identify these similarities, I haven’t been able to bridge the strides in my financial life to my health. I need more awareness and a more specific type of motivation. I recently stumbled upon an interesting concept that may help me with the latter.

HealthyWage.com Pays You to Lose Weight!

Early last week, I was approached by a group of personal finance bloggers who were entering a team-based weight loss contest at HealthyWage.com. Unlike many of the free sites and competitions, this one was different. Teams of five had to cough up $100 total ($20 per member) to sign-up. As a result, there are some big prizes, including $10,000 to the winning team!

The winning team is defined as the team of five that has the highest average percentage weight loss. In order to compete, you have to have an official weigh-in at the beginning and end of the competition at an approved gym or doctor’s office.

In addition, there’s weekly accountability, casual weigh-ins, forums, and conference calls with former Biggest Loser participants and health professionals. The current competition starts May 15th and runs for 3 months.

Aside from this team-based competition, anyone can also attempt to achieve a healthy BMI in order to receive $100 from HealthyWage.com’s sponsors. In this case your physician has to actually phone HealthyWage at the beginning and end of your personal challenge.

For those who want to take it even further, you can pay $300 before you start. If you chose to fork over the money up front and are still able to hit your goal, you’ll receive $1000 back. If you fall short, though, you are out the $300!

I can’t believe I hadn’t bumped into this concept before! I find it extremely intriguing. On their website, HealthyWage points out two recent studies that suggest cash incentives can triple the success of a weight loss program:

For me, there are a couple of incentives beyond just the cash. I’m highly motivated by the accountability in a team-based competition. I won’t want to let my teammates down, especially if at least a couple are motivated themselves. This allows each member to stumble a little, without completely falling off the wagon.

Also, I’m a firm believer in changing your environment when attempting any lifestyle change. The added benefit of conference calls, forums, and the ability to track the progress of other teams lends itself to creating a powerful community interaction. Immersing yourself inside a community like this is a great way to maintain motivation (just like many active members of this community have done).

Potential Pitfalls of the Model

While I’m already signed up and eagerly awaiting the start of the competition, I do have a few reservations about the pay-for-weight-loss model. While HealthyWage makes an active effort to promote safe weight loss, the “competition” atmosphere may potentially encourage some to go to extremes.

Personally, I’m going to have to be careful about this. I’ll have to work extra hard to prevent burnout and/or risky weight loss results, especially early on. From what I’ve been able to tell, the website and competition provide plenty of resources for help with this.

I also wonder if there will be some amazing results that will turn out to be temporary lifestyle changes. Even if the rate of weight loss is healthy, what will happen to people when the monetary compensation and the competitive atmosphere are gone? I wonder what the success rate will be of those who are able to make lasting, long-term changes.

Even with these two reservations, I’m still excited take part in the competition. I’m going to do my best to play into the strengths, while being aware of the potential pitfalls. For me, if even a small portion of people are positively affected (long-term, positive health changes) then it’s worth it.

I have no affiliation with HealthyWage.com in any way; I’m just a new and eager competition participant. However, I’m interested if any of you have had experience with a similar competition or what your thoughts of the model are!

Who knows? Maybe I’ll be giving an update in three months on how my team (Jesse from Personal Finance Firewall, Brad from Enemy of Debt, and Paul from Fiscal Geek) will be spending our portions of the $10,000 (or more importantly how much better we feel being much more fit)!

J.D.’s note: I, too, have struggled with weight. And, like Adam, it’s actually been tougher for me to tackle than personal finance. I started Get Fit Slowly with my friend Mac, but haven’t written there much in the past year. However, I seem to finally be slowly turning the corner. I’m down 13 pounds this year, thanks to sensible food choices and discovering Crossfit.

More about...Health & Fitness, Psychology

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There are 47 comments to "Getting paid to lose weight with HealthyWage".

  1. elisabeth says 04 May 2010 at 13:15

    one analogy that you didn’t explicitly make: losing weight can be like getting out of debt. Feels good for a while, but if you go on a drastic diet or a bare-bones budget, after the debt is paid/weight is lost it is really easy for all the old bad habits recur the weight/debt comes back.
    Losing weight/getting out of debt just can’t be the goal, it has to be changing one’s relationship with food/money — that’s why the short term 3-month model doesn’t bode too well for long-term changes. One could win the contest by losing a lot of weight quickly, but the only ways to do that probably aren’t sustainable in the long term — to be really helpful, these contests should pay off only if you keep the weight off for a year or more, because that would indicate that you had changed one or more habits that will really stay with you and keep your weight down.

  2. Katy says 04 May 2010 at 13:28

    I suppose the mantras for wealth and weight-loss are quite similar… “spend less than you earn” and “eat less than you burn”.

    I agree, weight-loss can be a lot harder. Good luck, though!

  3. Shara says 04 May 2010 at 13:31

    It’s not difficult to understand why I’m better with finance than fitness: I like money, I’m not crazy about exercise.

  4. ArandomPerson says 04 May 2010 at 13:41

    I agree with the first post.

    There will be lots of social support (your team, friends etc.) and motivation (the competiton prize) while you are in the contest.

    When you leave that support group if one has relied too much on those sources of support and motivation, it seems likely that one will fall back into the bad habits.

    Most people who lose 100+lbs (and work at non-physical job) gain it back in 3 years. Most as in 9 out of 10 people.

    It has to be a lifestyle change and that is something that might (might) get lost in the thrill of the compeition.

    However that being said, this sounds like a good thing if one is over-weight and is likes this method.

    A spender can stop spending for a few months 9with support and motivation to do so) and then fall back into the old habits quickly.

    I wonder how many people get their finances in order for a year or two and then have it all go back to the way it was (analgous to losing 100 lbs and then gaining it back)?

    /disclaimer: I’ve lost 150 lbs almost 3 years ago–taking 10 months to do so– and have kept it off. I believe that it must be a life-style change or else it will fail.

  5. Steve says 04 May 2010 at 13:49

    I’ve heard of companies and/or groups of friends having weight loss competitions, but hadn’t seen larger groups do it before. If that’s what gets you moving, good for you.

    It’s not really “healthywage” but rather “betonweightloss” but if that’s the way they want to spin it…

    On the other hand, it’s hard to see how the top prize could be won by anyone other than the team that loses too much weight too quickly. Kind of like a “bidder’s remorse” – the winner is the one that overshoots the most.

  6. Kate C says 04 May 2010 at 13:55

    In my family, everybody is overweight. My mother and father, and my two brothers, have tried for years to loose weight. They often do manage to loose 20, 30, a few years ago my Dad lost 60 pounds, only to gain it all back again. It is horribly demoralizing and very difficult, and I do understand that. There is definitely a similarity in emotions between admitting debt problems and dealing with your weight… shame and fear and guilt.

    Just last month, my dad became diabetic. It happened quickly, and nobody knew that he was so sick, until he was in DKA and fighting for his life in the ICU. It was very scary, and one of those life-changing moments that will make you face the consequences of your actions. He and my mom are now both on very strict diets, and have committed themselves to turning everything around.

    So, the idea of “motivation to loose weight” or “motivation to exercise” is an interesting topic to me. I have seen my closest family members struggle with this same problem, but I found a solution that worked well for me years and years ago. I’ve managed to keep a healthy weight for the past 10 years because of a very simple thing.

    I found a sport that I love. I rock climb. I love rock climbing, I love everything about it, and it makes me want to do everything in my power to keep climbing and get better. The activity keeps me moving, going to the gym, strength training, and eating well. All of the side-effects of this love are those “get fit” goals people have.

    It makes me wonder if it might be better for some people to change their motivations. So, in this post, the author is lamenting not being “fully connected with the burden it brings into my life”. Possibly because he sees “getting healthy” as some abstract idea with no purpose. If he, say, fell in love with trail running, or playing soccer with friends, or hiking through the wilderness, then he would have a more concrete grasp of what that burden is which he currently bears.

    I guess this rambling comment is basically to say, maybe its time to give up on “getting healthy” whatever that means. Find something physical that you love to do, and do that! Make your goal “get better at ballroom dancing” or “run a triathlon for charity” or “hike the Appalachian trail for a week” and the “getting healthy” part will just happen by itself.

  7. RJ Weiss says 04 May 2010 at 14:02

    Interesting little concept. Money has a great way of motivating anyone. Good luck to the bloggers involved.

  8. Erica says 04 May 2010 at 14:05

    I work at NYU Medical Center and they have an incentive program to lose weight (among other goals you can choose like smoking cessation and stress management). You sign up for a year and if you reach your weight loss goal (that you devize with a nutritionist at NYULMC) then you get $100 off of your medical insurance for the following year. I did this last year and it was really great. It makes logical sense because if you are healthier then technically your medical insurance should cost less because you’re costing them less. I loved the idea I only wish they kept up on you more like how you were describing. I was weighed every 3 months and had a small weight loss goal but I think I would have done better if I would have been checked up on more often!

  9. Samantha says 04 May 2010 at 14:11

    EDITING. I couldn’t get through this whole article… could just a little copy editing have been done?

  10. Anna says 04 May 2010 at 14:39

    This is a terrible idea. Diets don’t work long-term (long-term being more than 5 years, and even if you call it a lifestyle change), and continuous weight loss and gain (yo-yo dieting) is extremely bad for your health.

    Might I suggest researching fat acceptance/size acceptance/Healthy At Every Size instead? You may not win any money, but you might be happier (and healthier).

  11. Brian S. says 04 May 2010 at 14:42

    If you win, I suspect most of the prize will have to go to new clothes. Not necessarily a bad thing.

  12. Joseph | Kickdeboff says 04 May 2010 at 15:00

    Very well said! personal finance has alot of similarities with weight loss.
    I would be curious to know what is the average weight of people who are our of debt! vs those in debt ):

  13. Sheri says 04 May 2010 at 15:38

    #10 Anna – I have to disagree with you. You’re correct that diets don’t work, but lifestyle change can and does. I lost 100 pounds in 2003 and have kept it off.

    Yes, acceptance of different body types is very important, but championing a morbidly obese lifestyle is something I will always speak against. You might as well put a gun to your head and pull the trigger.

    Eating healthy and exercising has made a huge difference in my battle against debt. When I began to really pay attention to what I ate, and cut back on eating out (talk about unhealthy food!)my food expenditures went down. I average a savings of $100.00 a month by taking lunch to work, and eating in.

    Good luck Adam! I hope this contest/motivation framework works for you.

  14. Andy Hough says 04 May 2010 at 15:56

    This is an interesting concept and I blogged about it a while back. The doctor visits would cost me more than the potential $100 winnings so I haven’t tried it.

  15. chacha1 says 04 May 2010 at 15:58

    Baker, don’t listen to Anna. “Acceptance” of being fat means acceptance of vastly higher risk of future disability, chronic disease, and early death.

    Kate C. is right on: find something physical you enjoy, and make weight-control merely a tool to achieving better results in that – just as financial control is a tool to create freedom in your life (freedom from a day job, freedom to travel, whatever it may be).

    Personally, vanity is a strong motivator in controlling my weight, and fear is another one. My grandma effectively lost the last ten years of her life to physical weakness that was the direct result of poor nutrition and no exercise. That will not be me.

    And my sport – which just happens to be ballroom dancing, Kate! – is another very strong motivator. I love it, I’m good at it, and I want to continue getting better – which won’t happen if I let the weight creep on.

    As you say, it is by no means easy, but it really IS simple. Good luck!

  16. JenK | Sex and Money says 04 May 2010 at 16:20

    It’s not really “healthywage” but rather “betonweightloss” but if that’s the way they want to spin it…

    Steve – I like the way you think 🙂

    BTW, studies show most people who go on diets do have short-term weight loss followed by gaining some or all of it back (PDF). Sort of like how some people do win $25000 at a casino or a few million on Lotto — and a lot don’t.

    However, a lot of people can improve their health by getting more exercise and eating well, even if it doesn’t affect the scale. This is the part I see as being like money — do you want to look good (thin, flashy clothes/house/car) or actually be in good shape (healthy, good net worth)?

  17. Chris P. says 04 May 2010 at 16:27

    JD,

    As a CrossFit coach and avid follower of your site, I was excited to see that you got into it. I actually started a draft of a blog post on how CrossFitting is like investing money, with some similar points made here. For those who don’t know what it’s about, definitely look into it for not only weight loss, but longevity and health!
    -Chris P., CrossFit King of Prussia (PA)

  18. Stefanie says 04 May 2010 at 16:31

    Anna (#10), you are completely and totally correct! Thank you for posting here about fat acceptance.

    For those naysayers, fat acceptance has nothing to do with health or not, it has to do with fighting institutional oppression against fat people and people perceived to be fat. Its about treating every person on humanely and not assuming that because someone is fat they live an “unhealthy lifestyle.”

    It sounds like Adam’s find is both one more way to make people feel bad about themselves and one more way to earn money by the $40 billion diet industrial complex.

  19. Stephen says 04 May 2010 at 16:47

    Keeping the weight off after the challenge is over is definitely the hard part. I didn’t realize how much the external stimulus affected my will-power until it was gone.

  20. JenK | Sex and Money says 04 May 2010 at 17:07

    It’s not really “healthywage” but rather “betonweightloss” but if that’s the way they want to spin it…

    To touch on this again: If you find it fun, and you have the money in your “extras” file, then it’s your decision. But it’s a money sink. File it under the “Entertainment” part of the budget if you really think it’s worthwhile.

  21. Adam says 04 May 2010 at 17:55

    2010 is 1/3 over, and 13lbs is 1/3 of 40lbs, which I believe is your goal weight loss for 2010 from your resolutions?

    You’re right on track!!

  22. TR says 04 May 2010 at 18:38

    My issue with this whole thing is it promotes fast WEIGHT loss. The healthy thing to do is lose FAT, while maintaining as much lean mass as possible. This can only be accomplished losing 1-2 lbs a week.

    It’d be like a contest to pay off your credit cards as fast as possible. The fastest way to do it would be to cut corners and neglect paying all the rest of your bills. Obviously this is not healthy.

  23. Jan says 04 May 2010 at 20:54

    @Anna- I have been 120 and 220. Both were me. Why should the 220 be the me that I ‘Have ” to accept?

    You go Adam. I believe that a healthy lifestyle change is waiting for you. Take your time and get it off forever. I am thinking 160 might be the right me (bigger than most my size- but comfortable for me). Find that good place and stay there!
    Good luck!

  24. Donald says 05 May 2010 at 00:57

    Very nice idea to make a competition in weight loss! What more do you need as motivation to lose weight. Is there any competition about who will save more money? This would be also nice for losing weight because you will also have to save on food 🙂

    Good luck!

  25. Chris says 05 May 2010 at 03:17

    I suggest you check out Marks Daily Apple(.com) for some lifestyle tips. I can personally attest to being in the best shape of my life after adopting some of his suggestions.

    It’s pretty flexible so I found sticking to good health clear and easy.

    Good luck over the next three months!

  26. Alexandra says 05 May 2010 at 05:50

    Anna, I see what you are saying – there is indeed still a prejudice against fat people that is almost accepted by society, and no, that isn’t right.

    Coming from Canada, I think we have a different reason for this than maybe just not liking the way fat looks or something.

    We have a universal health plan that is paid for by everyone’s taxes. Just like smoking, obesity is a self-inflicted state of being that causes known health issues. These obese people in their later years will clog up our health system with issues related to diabetes, cardiac problems and a myriad of other problems. That means other sick people will have to fight over the limited resources left over.

    It is just like a smoker who finally gets lung cancer – it’s very hard to sympathize with. And no, I don’t want to “accept” it.

  27. Nancy L. says 05 May 2010 at 07:02

    Do you have any information about previous contests that they’ve run? I looked around very briefly, but I don’t see anyone posting about winning anything, other than a few gift cards.

    I’m a little skeptical about the overall turnaround of money for this site. There are a lot of free weight loss communities on the internet, so the draw for this site specifically is all the money you can get for losing weight. As many people have commented, having a specific motivation (winning cash in this example) makes attaining a short term goal a lot easier for most people, but based on the fee structures they are talking about, such as “guaranteeing” certain prize amounts and offering over 3x returns on the $300 challenges, without major sponsorship (which seems to currently be lacking), I’d question how they are funding all of these prizes. In my short time of poking around, it didn’t seem like they have enough active members to properly fund all of their prizes as is, and if even a moderate percentage of people achieve the various challenges, I’d wonder how they would be able to then pay the promised prize monies. I sort of feel like they are betting themselves right now, on either getting a large enough community or a sponsor willing to pay big $$, and if neither of those come through, I’d question whether or not they’d be able to uphold their promises.

  28. Todd Eddy says 05 May 2010 at 07:38

    FWIW I started jogging late last year. Started out as something to do. I remember when I started doing a light jog and within 30 seconds being exhausted. I’ve been following the “8 week” method although it’s been several months now. It’s where week 1 you jog for 1 minute and walk for 7, week 2 is jog for 2 minutes and walk for 6, etc. It took me a month to get past the 1 minute mark. I was at 4 and 4 when I stopped in the winter (never got around to getting a gym membership or treadmill). Started it back a couple weeks ago and was able to resume at 4/4; something I wouldn’t have been able to do a year ago.

    What’s my weight goal? no clue. I haven’t been on a scale in months. My goal in all this is to simply be healthier. If I can keep up a constant jog for 20-30 minutes then I’ve met my first short term goal. Beyond that it’s just keeping it up for longer and longer periods.

    Getting back on the subject of money. This whole regimen is quite similar to even the name “Get Rich Slowly.” I went into this knowing it’s going to take a while. Just like with finances you’re not going to get rich overnight. Start out slowly, maybe only put $20/paycheck in savings. Then make it $50, then $100, up to whatever your goal is in terms of amount you want to save.

  29. Anna says 05 May 2010 at 08:11

    13 Sheri – That is wonderful for you and I’m happy for you, but you are in the minority. The vast majority – I’ve seen figures anywhere from two-thirds to 95% – of people who attempt any kind of weight loss (EVEN IF you call it a lifestyle change, there is absolutely NO difference) gain all the weight back and more.

    15 chacha1

    Accepting being fat doesn’t mean giving up on life or not being healthy. You can eat healthy foods and be physically active while still being fat.

    18 Stefanie

    Thank you. It was distressing to see this post on a blog I usually love to read. Unfortunately, the comments are just what I expected (with a few exceptions :).

    23 Jan

    It’s not about picking one “right” you, it’s about being comfortable with your body however it is and not trying to force it into a socially-acceptable shape at the expense of your physical and mental health.

    26 Alexandra

    Many of the diseases that are supposedly caused by fatness can actually be caused by yo-yo dieting. Also, fat people are less likely to go in for preventative care because of the prejudice faced even at doctor’s offices, which can often result in health problems later in life. Being fat is NOT analogous to smoking. That is an incredibly judgmental and prejudicial statement to make.

  30. Adam says 05 May 2010 at 08:49

    @ Anna
    I also think being fat due to an unhealthy lifestyle is analagous to smoking. Both chioces *can* be a serious detriment to your long term health. This is not judgemental or prejudicial. This is fact.

    Yes you have smokers who never get cancer and yes you have morbidly obese people who never get diabetes, but your chances of getting either of these things or dying of a heart attack are vastly increased by those lifestyle choices (never mind people who do both).

    And yes, I live in Canada too and think cigarettes and junk food should have special health taxes to counteract their expenses on the social health care system. Come to think of it, gym memberships should be deductible too 😉

  31. Becky says 05 May 2010 at 09:10

    At first I thought this was going to discuss the issue of rewarding obese people for losing weight, possibly related to corporations who cover health care premiums. I do find it somewhat unsettling that we have resorted to this. We reward fat people for becoming thin financially. What about the people who are not fat because they already practice a healthy lifestyle? Can I win any prize money? I worked for a company who paid people cash to fill out a health survey if they were covered by the company. I wan’t covered (I was covered by my husband’s policy) and therefore wasn’t eligible. That seemed unfair to me. I saved the company money whether enrolled or not…I was healthy and hardly required medical care!

  32. Shari says 05 May 2010 at 09:17

    I have lost 17 pounds in the past 4-1/2 months, and I have to say it has been wonderful. I feel better, I look better, and YES, I am healthier. I was not an unhealthy weight, according to height-weight charts, but since I have very little muscle, what I did have was fat. I am healthier not because I weigh less, but because I am no longer eating junk food. (I was also having blood sugar issues, which I now no longer have) I am learning to enjoy eating healthy food. And while it is true that crash diets and rapid weight loss are bad for you, a slow weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week is not, and is also sustainable. If you truly begin to research nutrition and be vigilant about what you eat, you will learn enough to eventually not have to think about it anymore….the healthy choices become automatic. Am I worried that I will gain back the weight? No, because now I am very conscious of what I eat. I don’t ever intend to go back to my poor eating habits because I feel so much better now. So while I could have just accepted myself the way I was, I am glad I didn’t because I FEEL so much better now.
    I do agree that there are is a prejudice against overweight people in this world. I understand that there are people who find it very difficult or impossible to lose weight. And I realize that there are people who have medical issues that make it hard to lose weight. But I do think that people should not be told to just sit back and accept it without at least trying to do something about it, if that is what they want to do. It’s really about what is best for each individual.

  33. Thisiswhyubroke! says 05 May 2010 at 09:38

    Hey Erica (#8), I like that idea! I think you should market that to the major insurers. I know everyone is already aware that the healthier you are, with the least amount of medical issues, the lower your insurance is going to cost, but, I don’t think people are aware of the EXACT amounts. Placing these numbers in their faces may be a great way to get people off their a$$es. No pun intended!

  34. Empty says 05 May 2010 at 09:59

    Although I sympathize with many fat acceptance ideas, my problem with this as a strategy is that it generally ignores the issue that obesity is in fact a health risk that should be addressed. Having lived in other countries, I agree with many observers that the US is an obesogenic environment. Trying to shame people into losing weight is ludicrous–I agree with the HAES folks that far. But the idea that it means fat isn’t a health problem is crazy. We don’t shame people for being hemophiliacs, but no one pretends it’s not a health problem either. Overweight is a normal response to an unhealthy environment. One analogy I read compared the weight situation in the US to an alcoholic trying to stay sober while being forced to live in a bar. Some people can do it, especially if they are wealthy and educated and have lots of resources to deal with stress, but it’s not a surprise that many can’t.

    The research on whether diets work or not is really pretty awful. I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say studies that show that some people lose weight then gain it back over the next five years are definitive. That’s like saying people can’t stop smoking because they took it up again after their first attempt to quit. Speaking as a tobacco control researcher, we know after years of research that people usually need to quit smoking multiple times before it really takes. And it does seem clear that some people are able to make permanent changes in their weight (see the National Weight Control Registry for examples and research). Presumably moving to a country where overweight/obesity is rare would also work. I’ve known dozens of people who dropped 20-30 pounds almost immediately on moving to Europe, kept it off the entire time they lived there, then gained it all back within several months of moving back to the US. But that solution is pretty extreme.

    It would be nice if the Michelle Obama plan of working with fast-food companies, etc., was a solution, but if it’s not, I’d support public policy changes like junk food and soda taxes, as well as taking steps to end food deserts, promote walking, and so on. And if it turns out that making bets to lose weight and/or stay at a healthy weight works, I’ve got no problem with that either. I’ve talked to some health economists who claim it can work, although the studies supporting the idea are tiny (they’re usually expensive to run!) Best wishes to the author in finding a solution that works for him.

  35. JenK | Sex and Money says 05 May 2010 at 10:02

    Jan – If you were 220 due to something temporary (pregnancy; drug side affect; work/school/injury making you exercise less; illness or stress) then often going back to your “normal” life will also mean a return to your “normal” weight.

    There’s an idea of “setpoint”, which is that the weight you maintain when you eat a varied diet and exercise regularly is your natural weight.

    Anna – Currently there isn’t a demonstrated, proven way to make all, or even most, fat people permanently thin. (A study of weight loss studies conducted by weight loss companies found none were effective enough of to be worth US Medicaid coverage. PDF) Even surgery has a short-term weight loss that is usually followed by regain. There’s a significant subset who end up regaining more than they lost, for a net gain. So really, saying “all these obese people should be thin” is a waste of breath.

  36. TosaJen says 05 May 2010 at 10:03

    I am skeptical about Adam’s prize-driven weight loss group for long-term weight maintenance, but I wish him luck. There can be a lot of value in participating in a group — we can get a lot of good ideas, encouragement, and empathy there.

    I’ve worked hard to stay roughly the same size for the past 16+ years (top edge of “healthy”), and monitored a weight-loss forum for a few years, so I have a few suggestions:

    1. Relying on external factors for “motivation” is like relying on a housing bubble to raise one’s net worth — too much is outside of our control.

    It’s too easy to come up with excuses when we rely on something outside of us to “keep us on track”. We need to own and be in charge of this process. Share and steal all good ideas, but own the day-to-day habits. Being part of a supportive community is very helpful, but don’t turn over any responsibility to that community.

    2. Health and fitness have to be part of our personal identities, and what’s important to us. If they aren’t now, change a few things at a time, finding things we love and want to do forever. It’s amazing how eventually, we become what we habitually do, both for other people, and for ourselves.

    3. I agree with the previous poster who pointed out that we need concrete visions of ourselves as healthy people. I’ve met several older (80’s) folks hiking in the Sierras, so my vision for my old age is to be doing THAT in my golden years, which means I need to be healthy NOW. Also, I want my kids to be active and eat well, and I believe that I need to be active with them for that to happen. So, my concrete visions include summers filled with hiking and biking and farmer’s markets and fresh produce and winters filled with skating and skiing and homemade healthy meals.

    4. When we establish better habits and set up our lives to make the healthier choices the easy choices, we set ourselves up to succeed, even when we don’t have the time or energy to worry about it. When good habits and options are in place and my environment is set up properly, I can coast on those habits when I need to.

    Life happens. If we struggle every day to eat well and exercise under normal circumstances and hate every minute, what’s going to happen when life throws crises in our path? The hard stuff that’s “selfish” is the first to go, because it’s easy to excuse any effort to take care of ourselves as unimportant or too hard. If the healthy stuff is as easy or easier than the unhealthy stuff, it’s easier to justify the time and effort as a way to cope with stress.

  37. SJ says 05 May 2010 at 10:13

    My husband and I are at the end of the first month of a 3-4 mo challenge where if we lose 15 lbs we each get $1000 from savings to spend however we want. (If it takes 4 months that amount decreases to $500.) So far it has not been highly effective for us. He has lost 3 lbs and I have gained 1.5 lbs. I want to send my money to a specific charity so I hope that pressure will get me on the right track!

  38. Mike Ramsey says 05 May 2010 at 10:55

    I’d be interested to see where the winner of this contest is in a year after it ends. I know from personal experience that it can be highly motivating to have a goal like this for losing weight, but once the challenge is over it can be tough to keep it up.

    I wish them all the best, though.

  39. Jessica @ Life as I See It says 05 May 2010 at 11:09

    Awesome!! I love this idea and am going to check it out pronto! 🙂

    My husband is a huge work out buff and has encouraged me to be comfortable and confident in the gym – I have followed the Body for Life workout program and really like it.
    I am getting ready to start P90X and then plan to do crossfit after that.

    Have you read Warrior Diet? I have a post ready to run tomorrow on it, but it is a GREAT lifestyle/eating plan that we have adopted into our lives – adapting it slightly by consuming 3 green smoothies a day.
    You should check out the book and Green Smoothies Adam! They’ve been amazing for our health and weight loss.
    I’ve got several recipes up on my blog right now, with more ready to go over the next week.

    Good luck with your challenge!

  40. Paul @ FiscalGeek says 05 May 2010 at 14:07

    I guess the cats out of the bag :-). I agree with many of the comments I’ve previously weighed 60 pounds less than I do and ran the Vancouver Marathon in 2005. I’m a ways from there today but for my health I’ve got to try. It’s not about body image, it’s about living past 57 dealing with high blood pressure, triglycerides off the chart etc. This time I’m mixing in lots of long term habits, no extreme dieting and I’ve joined an Ice Hockey League. Fantastic exercise and great competition. My wife and I are also kicking off P90X together. Lifestyle changes for sure to go along with our financial journey.

  41. barnetto says 06 May 2010 at 13:12

    Getting people moving is the important thing…and then not getting them injured while maintaining their motivation and interest.

    I know some people who are doing crossfit. It sounds like it builds a tight knit community (he ignores us when we tease him about his “cult” fit). The secret greeting the other guy shared with us is hilarious and its never tiring to tempt him with food when he’s enrolled in their paleo diet course.

    My own preference is to not pay the recurring monthly fee (cross fit programs in my area look like they’re over $100/month) and just buy the equipment I need. This doesn’t work for people that can’t stash the equipment, who need to be taught how to use the equipment, who can’t self motivate/workout by themselves, but it works for me and it saves money.

    I may be tempted to grouse about how its another fad full of pseudo-scientific gibberish, but the perfect is the enemy of the good (one of JD’s past posts). I applaud anyone who gets up the willpower to overcome their past inertia to improve their health.

  42. Heather says 08 May 2010 at 13:56

    Adam- you may want to look into Sparkpeople.com for your long-term weight loss goals. It is a great site that is completely free- I lost 25 lbs last year while using their site. Good luck!

  43. Ivy says 13 May 2010 at 14:35

    This competition will really be a motivational factor for those who want to lose weight.The fora and conference calls too are also great ways to be in a community with people who share in your goals.The only problem I have is that it could lead to fast weight loss as people would try unapproved weight loss techniques.Anyway all the best!

  44. Micah says 21 May 2010 at 16:05

    Good luck guys.
    Heather- I like sparkpeople.com too.
    Another free online tool is thintopia.com you can host free weight loss competitions. I made the site almost 4 years ago for my family to use and it has slowly grown to over 4000 users

  45. Micheline Mital says 08 January 2013 at 12:21

    I heard a couple of people talking about https://www.getrichslowly.org/getting-paid-to-lose-weight-with-healthywage/ on the subway today. I love it!

  46. Lacresha Hemeyer says 26 January 2013 at 01:07

    So very very cool! I am thrilled I found this site! Most points I completely agree with and knew about, but few ideas I had not thought about! Thanks!

  47. Jessica J says 29 March 2013 at 03:45

    One will definitely take the stand to loose weight if he/she is getting paid for it.

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