Cold Hard Cash for Pounds

in All Posts

My mid-morning snack was Grape Nuts and milk. 🙂 I don’t think my oatmeal held me over as well as I would’ve liked.


And I’ve been CRAVING veggies since my booze-filled bachelorette party this weekend, so I made yet another big side salad to go with my lunch-time sammie.


Grilled cheese doesn’t have to be boring — you can put almost any veggie inside and make it special! I like tomatoes, sprouts, zuchinni…. and….


Celery! MMM Cheddar cheese and celery go so well together. 


Cold Hard Cash for Pounds?


Have you heard of companies sponsoring weight-loss contests at work, a la The Biggest Loser?  My BFF’s company does it and her boyfriend (also at the same company) always wins the final prize (apparently, he takes a poop and loses 5 pounds, so he holds it in for the first weigh in and always poops before the final weigh-in). LOL!


As summarized in this article, a recent study analyzed how cash incentives influenced weight loss among 57 people who were obese but otherwise healthy. One group of dieters was given $3 a day plus additional matching funds for meeting weight loss goals, meaning they could earn up to an extra $168 during a four-week period. A second group was eligible to compete in a cash lottery for $10 to $100 a day during the study period if they achieved weight loss goals. A third control group simply attended monthly weigh-in sessions.


At the end of 16 weeks, the dieters in the lottery group had lost an average of 13.1 pounds each, while those in the matching-funds group had lost an average of 14 pounds each, compared to just 3.9 pounds in the control group.


Several questions:


  • What do you think about employers getting involved in their employees’ health by sponsoring weight-loss competitions?  Do you think its productive? Do you think its fair to people who don’t have any weight to lose?
  • Does your company do something similar?  How does it work?
  • Do YOU give YOURSELF rewards for staying healthy? Is it the "Extra Push" you need to stay on track?


  • Erica December 10, 2008, 11:04 am


  • therunningaddict December 10, 2008, 11:15 am

    This stuff is totally not common in the EU so I can’t comment, but I do pretend I will give myself rewards if I keep healthy. I don’t think it really works for me though. At the end of the day, it all comes down to my will

  • Karen December 10, 2008, 11:16 am

    I agree with Erica – what about those of us who are already at a healthy weight? (My company doesn’t offer any such program, btw.)

    With the economy the way it is – and using the “every little bit helps” philosophy – wouldn’t some people attempt (in an unhealthy way) to lose weight just for the money?

  • Mrs. LC December 10, 2008, 11:16 am

    I don’t think it’s fair to people who don’t have weight to lose. At the same time, I do see how it could be a great support system and motivator for people who do need to lose weight. Maybe instead, a contest/ money motivator for making good fitness, nutrition, and overall healthy lifestyle choices?

  • Colleen December 10, 2008, 11:18 am

    My company did this, but we had two contests – one earned you points for activity and the other earned you points for eating fruits/veggies. I was on the honor code, but people really got into it! I think it helped me make the leap from a sometimes-exerciser to a 5-times-a-week exerciser! YAY!

  • Bridget December 10, 2008, 11:27 am

    My company sponsors a Biggest Loser competition and the winning teams get $50 gift cards. Last year, the dept I work in had several teams (I wasn’t on a team b/c I didn’t really have any weight to lose – I would’ve been ‘dead weight’- HA). It was very positive for a while- people were exercising together, walking at lunchtime, and when we had ‘food day’, it was ‘healthy food day’ and everyone brought fruit or healthier snacks than the usual cookies, brownies, etc. I was really really proud of everyone who worked so hard to lose weight, but I am VERY sad to report that by 6 months later almost all of them had gained it back. I hoped they were all learning to live a healthy lifestyle, but I think because there was a deadline, instead it was more of a ‘crash diet’. Also, a skinnier guy in the group was on a team because they needed one more person and he ended up losing 15 pounds, which he did not need to lose.

    All in all…I don’t think it’s a very good program. I applaud my company for trying to encourage people to be healthier, but I don’t think this program was very successful. (sorry so long…I have lots of opinions on this!)

  • Halie December 10, 2008, 11:30 am

    Mmmm…veggies and celery! Am I weird because I love the smell celery leaves on my hands after I have cut it up? I’d rather have celery hands than have perfume-y lotion hands! (I hate perfume!)

    There’s nothing like this at my office – it’s a very small office, and I think it would be a little too personal and inappropriate if my bosses said “Hey, we’ll give you a bonus if you drop 10 pounds!”

    But my company promotes a very healthy lifestyle – none of us smoke and one of our benefits is a corporate gym membership. One of my bosses and I are there every morning! (no we don’t work out together *shudders*) It’s a great way to know if he’ll be in at work or not 🙂 My other boss tries to recruit me for Cycle Oregon every year! But I’m not a very strong bicycler so I always decline.

    But on a personal level and rewarding myself for being healthy: the being healthy part is the reward of my hard work!!! I think that is one of the differences having a healthy lifestyle opposed to only exercising/eating well to get a result or something. When I reward myself for anything, it’s usually a reward for having been extra frugal/savvy at the grocery store, or something similar to that. I didn’t grow up getting $20 for every ‘A’ that was on my report card – the reward system doesn’t do it for me.

  • Tami December 10, 2008, 11:33 am

    through our health insurance (husband has a great job with excellent benefits) i get to go t the gym for free, so long as i go 8 times per month

    i agree with what others said, what if they don’t want to/can’t participate and company funds are paying for these games-what do you get out of it?

    when i worked there were a bunch of smokers, like 10 and every hour it seems they went outside and smoked-what about those of us who don’t smoke, what would the company think if i left my desk once an hour to do something (like go for a walk)

  • Jess December 10, 2008, 12:00 pm

    My company has a Weight Watchers program that people can sign up for. I guess the big incentive being that if you do it through work it’s free.

  • Lacey Nicole December 10, 2008, 12:01 pm

    i am super interested in work-incentive programs that promote health. so many people work so it’s a great place to start targeting folks!!!!!!!!!!!! i think $$ is also a great place to start, including $$ for gym memberships, and competitions.

    omg i love the biggest loser. FINALE is so soon i can’t believe it!

  • Quinn December 10, 2008, 12:07 pm

    I’m on the fence about this, that while it does promote good health, it also isn’t directly related to work. Our health insurance plan offers a discounted rate if we complete a yearly survey in which we commit to exercise, healthy eating and an overall healthy lifestyle (ie: not smoking or drinking).

  • Anonymous December 10, 2008, 12:13 pm

    My work has a “biggest loser” competition as part of a Be Well iniative. We’ve seen some really exciting results, as part of this program we have more healthy options at lunch. I know I’m lucky to get a free lunch at work everyday! I don’t know if I feel it’s unfair to those who don’t need to lose weight. I have been so excited to see co-workers being more active. One of my good buddies at work has lost 40 lbs this year!

    My boss REALLY wanted a team so he (one of the thinnest guys in the office) made a team with the 3 smallest girls in the office (I’m included). We know we don’t have a shot in winning but I’ve enjoyed participating.

  • Amanda December 10, 2008, 12:14 pm

    I work for a big company with offices all over the world and it surprised me that they did not have a gym or some sort of offer like it.

    We do have a Healthy Rewards system where you can log your exercise, doctor checkups, etc. which lead to points to put toward gift cards (there is a monthly limit though, and I definitely work out more than the limit!)

    At my old job there were contests involving pedometers to see which group took the most steps .. I thought that was a good idea because it wasn’t directly related to weight-loss, just healthy living for everyone!

  • Meg December 10, 2008, 12:17 pm

    I think that I would support businesses awarding healthy behavior like exercising rather than number of pounds.

  • Annie December 10, 2008, 12:20 pm

    Hey Caitlin! I have a wedding question for you. I’m the Maid of Honor in my BFF’s upcoming May wedding and throwing her shower. Did you have favors at yours?

  • Caitlin (see bride run) December 10, 2008, 12:24 pm

    Annie –

    Well, I’ve had one of two showers. The first was a “working shower” where we did stuff like put together the wedding programs, etc. You can see a recap of the event on the left hand side of the blog under “Wedding Detailing”. I HIGHLY suggest the TP dress contest, it was so fun!

    My 2nd bridal shower is the Tuesday before the wedding and it will be a real bridal shower. i think we’ll have favors, but i’m not sure. this is a great site for favors, though:

  • Andrea (Off Her Cork) December 10, 2008, 12:52 pm

    I don’t think those contests are a good idea. If a company wants to get involved regarding their employees health, I say sponsor a gym membership and start having healthier food/snack options available. Instead of free chips make it fruit instead, for example. Or sponsor a monthly get together where everyone makes a healthy dish to bring plus recipes to pass out. And then they can share any tips or advice they have on staying healthy and making positive choices. 🙂

  • Bridget December 10, 2008, 12:58 pm

    I kind of agree with Erica, I think its awesome to get people to loose weight, but dammit I want soem money too!! I really think my “reward” is just feeling better about how I am looking and feeling because when I get off track I HATE the feeling, so its worth it in that respect to keep fit!

  • Anne P December 10, 2008, 1:08 pm

    Tami, I was always annoyed by that at my old office too – all the smokers would get the equivalent of basically another whole hour off every day just b/c they would take frequent smoke breaks! Not really fair, right?!

  • Jen - ucf December 10, 2008, 1:14 pm

    I don’t think its a good idea. For one it isnt fair to those who dont need to lose weight and two I think it was just people to crash diet and lose weight in unheathly ways. Instead they could have some kind of point system where you could earn points for exercise or good food choices (fruits/veggies/grains/water) They good take the points awarded even further and award points for healthy cholesterol levels, blood pressure, not smoking, and being at a healthy weight. They could tally the points once or twice a year and awarded money/prizes to the top 5 or something. I don’t know just idea that sounds better than just who can lose the most weight the fastest.

  • tfh December 10, 2008, 1:19 pm

    I think focusing on the weight aspect alone is fun but problematic healthwise. (For instance, a number of the people I work with who are thin are also smokers.) Personally, I would love a payout for my healthy behaviors, but have to be content hoping that they will pay off ultimately in lower healthcare costs and a better quality of life.

  • RhodeyGirl/Sabrina December 10, 2008, 2:02 pm

    just wanted to say, happy your dress fitting went well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mica December 10, 2008, 2:27 pm

    Eh…I like the idea of companies trying to motivate their employees to lead healthier lifestyles, but like you bring up, it might not be fair to people who are already doing just that. I like the idea of a challenge that’s not based on solely on weight loss.

    …my Department doesn’t do anything like this because the university is already strapped for funding, aha!

  • Mica December 10, 2008, 2:32 pm

    Also, the boyfriend and I just spent a long time saying, “Eewww!” at the thought of someone losing a 5-lb poopoo.

  • Anonymous December 10, 2008, 4:10 pm

    hi, I like weight loss competitions.. it helps me stay on track more because I don’t want to lose… Actually right now, my mom and I are having a biggest loser challenge! We are seeing who can lose the most body fat % this month, through the holidays. We each put $100 in an envelope and whoever wins in the end gets $200! .. It’s definately helping me stay away from the dessert tray and fast food line at college

  • Becca December 10, 2008, 4:49 pm

    Hi Caitlin!!! I saw your shout out on Meghanns Blog! I read both of your blogs religiously! You crack me up! Hope your holiday isn’t too stressful with last minute planning! Good luck!

  • imadedinner December 10, 2008, 7:12 pm

    I think its an interesting concept, but I also think that, like Erica said her former company did, things like gym incentives would work just as well!

  • Caitlin (see bride run) December 10, 2008, 8:06 pm

    i liked reading everyone’s opinions!

    anon – i am the SAME WAY. its great to have a motivation! congrats on getting healthy and staying that way 🙂

  • BOBBI McCORMICK December 10, 2008, 8:07 pm

    I have heard of others doing these challenges and I am excited for all the peeps that do them and do well!!!!

  • Elina December 11, 2008, 8:28 am

    Hmm, I think it would be kind of weird to have this competition at my work. I mean, I would love be get paid for losing weight (since I am in fact trying to lose weight) and I think it would add incentive, but I still think it would be weird (and yes, unfair to those who don’t need to lose weight). 🙂

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point