Adults struggling to lose weight are finding new motivation in a website called HealthyWage that offers cash to shed the pounds.
New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and make more money can go hand in hand with a new method to incentivize weight loss. Healthywage is one of the new sites popping up all over the net to take a behavioral approach to weight loss. The pay-off can be high with participants earning as much as $10,000 for dropping the excess weight.
Are you considering a budget diet? Check out our step by step guide to our no spending challenge here.
How many times do you tell yourself that this will be the year you will finally lose weight? It seems the hardest commitments to keep can be the ones we make to ourselves. If you look in the mirror and don’t like the shape you see you are definitely not alone. In fact, almost three quarters (71.4 percent) of American adults over 20 are considered to be either overweight or obese and these numbers are climbing.
Why are We Getting Fatter?
From 1960 to 2004 the rate of obesity climbed from 13 percent to 31. With this rise, obesity is ranking just behind smoking as the number one reason for premature death. While there is no lack of knowledge about the dangers of being overweight, there is a need to address this growing issue. This issue is not only affecting the state of health of the average American adult. It is also bogging down an already overworked health care system.
Not Thinking Clearly
According to a 2008 study by the American Medical Association, one of the reasons that more Americans are becoming overweight is a set of behaviors that are leading to an increased emphasis on the short-term pleasures of eating and a decreased emphasis on the health benefits of eating. This means we don’t care if the food we eat is bad for us. We care that we enjoy eating it.
Not only are Americans focusing on eating for pleasure, but they are also eating more. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American was consuming 20 percent more calories in the year 2000 as compared to 1983. We are also eating more meat. The average U.S. citizen eats about 195 lbs of meat each year compared to only 138 lbs in 1950. The consumption of grains has also skyrocketed 45 percent since 1970 and added fats have increased by two-thirds.
It’s not only the amount of food we eat but also the types of foods we choose to consume. Fast food is now making up roughly 11 percent of the American diet. The World Health Organization has produced research that shows a direct correlation between an increase in fast food sales and an increase in American’s Body Mass Index (BMI). The more we enjoy fast food, the bigger we get. The bigger we get, the sicker we become.
It’s not only what we eat that is hurting us. We are also drinking our calories. Along with an increase in fast food consumption also comes an increase in soda, which sugars are negatively affecting American waistlines.
The Diet Industry
With the average American spending more time at work and less time in the kitchen, food is often seen as something that needs to prepared quickly. This is in part responsible for the increased consumption of fast food and processed foods. Healthy meals can require much longer preparation and even an increased cost to purchase.
When it comes to the diet industry, many are looking for the next ‘miracle diet.’ Not only are many Americans willing to try fad diets in order to quickly drop weight, but many are also willing to resort to higher risk options such as diet pills, liposuction, and weight loss surgery. What many are not considering is a nutritional shift to more whole foods and fruits and vegetables. In truth, the only long term weight loss solution is a shift toward a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.
In addition to taking more calories in, Americans are burning an average of 120-140 fewer calories daily than they were 50 years ago.
As we have transitioned to a sedentary lifestyle, our waistlines have increased. While America made have been built by people working in the fields and factory floors, many people now spend their workday sitting in a chair or doing minimal physical activity.
We also love to drive our cars to get around rather than walk or ride a bike as a means of transportation. In fact, according to the CDC, about 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough exercise.
So we know that we eating too much of the wrong thing and exercising too little, but why are we doing it? What can we do to finally lose the weight? Money may just be the answer.
According to clinical trials, those who were offered a financial incentive to lose weight were more successful than those who tried to lose weight simply for health benefits or vanity reasons. That’s where sites like Healthywage come in to offer financial incentives for reaching weight loss goals. In their team challenge members of the first-place team share a prize of $10,000.
What is HealthyWage?
HealthyWage was formed as a means for people to use their own money to bet on themselves to reach their weight loss goals. It was formed after research proved that even a small financial wager can increase the effectiveness of weight loss efforts by as much as three times. It also uses social networks as a means to increase accountability.
While HealthyWage may attract its users with the opportunity to make money while losing weight, it also offers online support, a team building community and access to a HealthyWage support coach.
HealthyWage has been featured on such programs as Good Morning America, CNN, and Fox News.
Two Ways to Play
HealthyWage offers two different ways to bet on your weight loss journey. You can compete in a team challenge or an individual challenge, called “healthywager.” You can compete in one or both at the same time.
The Team Challenge
The team challenge is a three-month challenge where teams of five compete against each other to see who can lose the most weight. Weight loss is measured as a percentage of body weight lost. A motivated team member with a small amount to lose can be just as valuable as a less motivated person with a larger amount of excess weight.
Teams of Five
You can choose to form a team or search for a team that needs extra members. All teams must have five members. The only exception to this rule is if a member becomes pregnant more than one month into the competition. In this instance, the team can consist of four members.
In this challenge, you will need to do weekly weigh-ins in order to keep the challenge competitive with an accurate leaderboard. While weekly weigh-ins are necessary to keep your team informed and motivated, you can weigh in at home. Each team will be ranked according to their weight loss accomplishments to date.
No Team Stacking/Poaching
In order to keep the challenge fair for all participants, there are a few rules in place to keep gameplay fair. Active and responsive members cannot be removed from their team because they are not losing weight. Teams are also not allowed to recruit members on to their teams in order to try and form a “super team.” After 14 days, your team will be locked in so members cannot be added or removed without contacting Healthywage.
Weight Loss Beyond 16.59 % Does not Count
In order to encourage all team members to lose a healthy amount of weight, any weight loss beyond 16.59 is not counted for any member. While you will not be disqualified for losing additional weight, any additional loss will not be counted towards your goal.
Members who do not complete their verified weigh in at the completion of the challenge will have their weight loss counted as zero and added to their team’s total.
Yo-yo is a No-no
Everyone knows someone whose weight is constantly going up and down. They slim down and blow up only to repeat the process over and over. While this behavior is not only bad for your health, it is also not allowed as part of the team challenge.
HealthyWage wants to discourage yo-yo dieting (a contestant gaining and losing a large amount of weight) as a strategy to win either a healthywager or the team challenge. If any participant has won $200 or more in a previous challenge they must start a new challenge at their previous end weight. This is to discourage people from gaining weight after the end of a challenge to make it easier to lose more.
Teams must also take a team photo although this can comprise of individual pictures rather than a group shot.
How to Win
Ribbons are earned along the challenge through weekly weigh-ins. These ribbons are important because, in the event of a tie, where two teams have lost the same percentage of body weight, the winner will go to the team with the most ribbons. In the event that two teams are tied with weight loss and ribbons, the first and second prize will be added together and split 10 ways.
For those who prefer to rely on their own hard work, you can choose to do an individual challenge called a “healthywager.” In this challenge, you can win up to 10k for your efforts and not have to rely on others to pull their weight.
For this challenge you simply put your goal weight, timeline and amount you want to bet each month into the calculator and you will find out how much you are playing for. The amount is calculated based on an algorithm.
This is a nice option because you are able to determine whether or not you will reach your goals by how hard you work and how realistic your goals are. You may be able to win big money by losing 100 lbs in 6 months, but it is a realistic goal? Set your sights on achievable results so you and your health will both win.
For your first and last weigh-ins, you will need to do what is called a verified weigh-in. This basically means that you need to prove your starting and ending weights are honest and correct. There are several ways to do this easily.
- Participants can use the healthywage app which will record your weigh-in.
- Individuals can send a video of your weigh-in. Check out this how-to video to make sure you complete all the required shots including a copy of a daily newspaper or new program with a date stamp.
- You can get your weight verified by a licensed health professional such as a doctor or pharmacist. Simply print your Verifyme! Page from your challenge dashboard and bring it with you to be signed. Once completed you can take a picture or scan to upload.
- Team members can get your weight verified at a Weight Watchers location. This is an option for members only and while many healthywage members are members of Weight Watchers there is no direct affiliation.
Remember to try and schedule your weigh-in for the same time of day to get an accurate measurement of how you’re moving toward your weight loss goal. The earlier in the day, the better.
How Does HealthyWage Make Money?
HealthyWage makes money in a few different ways. Firstly, they get financial support from many different institutions that are searching for a creative way to encourage people to lose weight. These include HMOs, the government and insurance companies. It makes sense for these sectors to invest in weight loss as it helps to lower the cost of healthcare related to obesity.
Secondly, sadly not all those who sign up will reach their goals. If you fail to reach your healthywager goal, you forfeit your bet. If your team does not win the team challenge, you will lose your entry fee ($33 each month for three months).
Does HealthyWage work?
While there are studies that show when people risk their own money to lose weight there is a significantly higher chance of success, these types of programs are not shown to work long-term. While a ‘diet bet’ may be a great motivator to start a weight loss journey, it does not necessarily give the user the tools to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. In fact, one could argue that since participants are under pressure to lose a large amount of weight in a small time frame they could resort to unhealthy methods in order to achieve those results in the short term. Sadly many people who lose weight in an unhealthy way cannot maintain their weight loss.
Time for New Habits
On the other hand, HealthyWage does discourage excessive weight loss. They do this by capping out the amount of weight that can be lost at 16.59 percent of the total body weight. This is used to prevent one member from carrying the rest of the team in the team challenge. It also prevents the whole team relying on unhealthy methods to achieve their weight loss goals.
It should also be noted that while the team challenge lasts for 90 days, it is the amount of time shown to develop new habits. The individual healthywager challenge can last up to a year. So while you do not get long term support, you are set up to start a new habit. Are you ready to start a new habit this year? Check out our tips for starting a new habit here.
Positive Peer Pressure
By choosing to lose weight with a team, members are subject to positive peer pressure. This type of peer pressure can provide a good amount of encouragement. It also provides an atmosphere of team spirit. This can help to motivate members to continue to work hard. Many find it easier to keep a commitment made to their team, rather than one made to themselves.
HealthyWage also has 100,000 fans on their Facebook page. The page shares motivational quotes, healthy recipes, success stories and before and after photos.
So if weight loss is on your goal list for 2019, why not consider a method that would award your efforts with some cold hard cash? While some may be motivated by a smaller clothing size or number on the scale, we all like the idea of more cash in our pockets. So whether you want to go it alone or team up for a fierce competition, putting your money where your mouth is could really pay off.
While betting on your own weight loss efforts can seem like a total win-win, not everyone has money to gamble. Losing weight doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out our tips to lose weight on a budget.