Wealth For Health: Why Bribes May be a Great Way to Improve Health, Lower Costs

Jodi Davis

| 4 min read

Bribe yourself to lose weight; it’s a plan that may just work for you! I’ve been reading some articles about creative weight loss ideas and was surprised to find that studies have shown that those people who bribe themselves to lose weight actually achieve great success. But this isn’t the only type of bribing that works… bribing a colleague seems to help drop the weight too — a bunch, with an average 97 percent success rate!

Pay It Forward

These sound like great ideas to me. I really like the bribing yourself idea. Here is my personal suggestion: get a couple glass jars (may I suggest a Mason jar) and label each one “WEALTH for HEALTH.” One jar stays in your kitchen at home, the other in a place at work where you will see it numerous times during the day. Why not find a colleague who is willing to do the same, compete with them and see whose jar fills up first?
Now here comes the part I love: Schedule a daily walk, preferably during your lunch hour, and pay yourself for each walk that you take. I think it would be perfectly fine to walk with your competing colleague too, but maybe you can earn an extra buck if you walk alone during break time also. Remember it is a competition, but the real goal for everyone is to lose weight and become healthier.
If you avoided the elevator at work and took the stairs instead — pay yourself. Rode your bicycle to work or used it to run errands and left the car in the garage? Pay yourself! You get the idea: more physical activity means more cash in your “Wealth for Health” jars.
Do the same for healthy snacking and your daily meals. When you avoid that candy jar at work and reach for a crunchy apple or some delicious raw almonds instead, pay yourself! When you prepare a healthy meal at home instead of ordering fast food, pay yourself. Maybe even write yourself a check for the amount of money you would have spent on the unhealthy fast food; or make up an I.O.U. note and drop it in the jar.
Don’t total up the bribe money for an entire month. After a month passes, open the jar and pour out the contents, adding up every single dollar. The contents will allow you to see that your efforts are truly worth something… at so many levels! Each dollar represents attempts you’ve made to become healthier and happier. It’s surely something to celebrate. And I know that you will strive for a few dollars more the following month.
After three months, purchase something that you will appreciate and deserve. An amazing pair of walking shoes perhaps, or maybe a new outfit — a smaller size than what you would have wore three months ago, I just know it. And if you are really feeling generous, buy a small gift for the competing colleague. After all, they did keep you motivated, right?

Employers Do It

Now I wonder: can companies bribe their employees to lose weight and focus on healthier habits? I checked some sites on the Internet and found that many employers offer cash incentives for those employees who lose weight and keep it off. There are also cash prizes awarded in contests held for the best healthy recipes and exercise tips. Okay, I love this idea too! Incentives not only bribe the employees to get started towards healthier behavior, but they keep them going.
I would assume that all of this would help keep health costs lower; in fact, paying yourself or the employees of a company to change unhealthy behaviors could put a big dent in health care expenses. I’m wondering how many companies out there now offer financial incentives for participating in wellness programs? We must realize that paying small amounts of money — now — could push people into healthier habits in the future, creating savings in health care and a healthier Michigan.
“Wealth for health” — It’s a great concept, don’t you think? I do!
Does your company offer financial incentives to become healthier? Have you ever bribed yourself?

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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