Weight loss wagering: Does money matter?

7:40 AM, Feb 27, 2013   |    comments
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 PDF Document: Healthy Weight Loss Tips

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- Most of us are not completely happy with our weight, but dropping a few pounds is often easier said than done. What would motivate you to shed some pounds?

"Money is a motivator for me," says Tayler Roby a sales representative at KARE 11.

It's a fact, cash can make things move and it's the impetus behind the latest diet craze. Weight wagering is a concept that combines a little gambling, if you will, with diet and exercise. Websites like www.dietbet.com ask you to put up some cash, and if you make your goal, you get a piece of the pot.

But money doesn't work for everyone. For some, a support network is the only thing that will keep them on track.

"I think knowing other people are counting on me will increase my motivation," says Jessica Petron, also in sales at KARE.

So, which works best? Money or friendship? We had KARE 11 employees choose sides and we put it to the test. From faces you're used to seeing on T.V. to those behind the scenes.

The challenge? Lose 4 percent of your body weight in four weeks. Those in the money group placed a $25 bet. Hit your goal and you could share in the $400 pot. Miss it, and you lose your cash. Those who chose the friendship group are just going for the goal, and of course, the glory.

"To lose weight, it's all mental. It's the six inches between the head," says Tim Kilow, a trainer at Calhoun Beach Club.

Since there is no set diet or exercise program, we decided to bring in some expert advice to help the group out. Tim says cardio and resistance training are important, but that it comes down to what you put in your body.

"I think the main thing about any fitness program is the diet. That's usually about 80% of accomplishing that goal," says Kilow.

And with that, they were off...and we followed them...for four weeks.

"Just watching what I eat is a huge thing. My problem is portion control," says Panhia Yang our 6pm News Producer.

We watched as they changed their habits.

" Strawberries and snap peas," that's what Weekend Executive producer Scott Beedy says he brought in as his snack.

From what they did at work, to what they did at home, they took it very seriously. Assignment Editor Cassie Bostrom started running outside more with her dog.

"I actually run about a minute to a minute and a half faster with him than without him because he has energy," she says.

But as the weeks went on, we started to notice something.

"I'm actually in the money group, but I found the accountability in the newsroom is actually what is keeping me going, not the money," says reporter Dave Berggren.

They all started bonding over the experience, working together, in a different way.

Justine Zirbes, who produces the 4pm News and is in the friendship group, started a boot camp at the station. Twice a week she held classes and anyone could come, and they did.

"I think connecting with people and talking about it, the fun parts, the struggles, exercising together, all of that I think is really helpful," says Suzanne Dresdner, a licensed therapist who deals with eating issues and disorders. She agrees with our trainer that dieting and losing weight is mental.

"The real helpful piece is whether each person internally really wants to make a switch and is really dedicated to taking care of themselves and really looking at their relationship with food," says Dresdner.

So money might motivate someone to start the weight loss process, but long-term, real change comes from, well, really changing. But, how did money weigh against friendship in our test?

There were 16 people vying for the cash. Nine of them made or exceeded their goal of 4 percent weight loss. On the flip side, only two of the eight people in the friendship group made their goal. But, don't forget, at some point the line between the two groups got blurred.

Even those who didn't win cash or lose big, say they still came out winners.

"I feel like I'm probably definitely healthier than I was a month ago and if $25 is the cost of that, then I'm healthier that I lost 25 bucks," says Producer Eram Cowles.

The total amount of weight lost between both groups was 127.5 pounds. The biggest loser? Our photojournalist Bill Middeke who shot and edited the story. He lost 14 pounds.

More good news? Justine's boot camp was such a hit that they've decided to continue to do it twice a week.


(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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