Bet Dieting: If You Lose You Pay Guns, God, & Gays!

This man is going to make a commitment to lose 10 pounds in the next six weeks.  He's going to have to close the frig door, of course, so he can head to the computer and make a bet.  He needs motivation, a real inspiration... not just those pants he could zip up a few years ago.  He's going to bet 25 bucks that he can lose the weight.  If this man, who happens to believe that only men and women should marry, doesn't achieve his goal, a gay rights group like Freedom to Marry will get his $25 "donation."

Bet dieting is the newest rage and there are a few websites that enable it, but stickK has an extra ploy:  the "anti-charity."  Choosing the most politically controversial non-profit charities to motivate someone to achieve their goals is a great idea.  Science and the stock market know that risk is a much more powerful motivator than reward.  Figure that if the fat guy were to commit his $25 to the American Cancer Society, he would not be nearly as motivated to lose that 10 pounds as he would if the money were going to Freedom To Marry.

Of course, Freedom To Marry is not the only charity on stickK's list.  stickK includes charities on the political left and the right of the three dividers: Guns, God, and Gays.  The charities now include:

  • Americans United for Life
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation
  • Nature Conservancy
  • The National Center for Public Policy Research
  • Freedom to Marry
  • Institute for Marriage and Public Policy
  • Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence
  • NRA Foundation
  • George W. Bush Presidential Library
  • William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library

Though you can bet on any goal you want to achieve, most participants list diet, exercise, or general health goals. The stickK site is a social site. You can pick up friends an supporters and post notes about your progress.  When you enroll, which is free, you state your goal, a timeline for completion, choose a referee to determine that you've actually met your goal, and then set the amount of money you're willing to bet.  Though you can choose a charity you actually support, 85 percent of stickK members choose the anti-charities, including Peter Orzag, President Obama's budget director, though he doesn't tell which charity it is, of course.

The site gives you lots of general support.  There are several different communities related to the goals members might construct:

  • Smoking Cessation
  • Weight Loss
  • Diet & Healthy Eating
  • Family & Relationships
  • Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation
  • Money & Finance
  • Career
  • Health & Lifestyle
  • Education & Knowledge

There are always links to useful articles from recent press related to to all of the above communities, so signing up will provide you with quite a profitable learning experience. I joined up today.  My goal is to do 30 minutes of aerobics five days a week for 30 days.  I've got an anti-motivator that's not-not-not going to get my $25. 

If you sign up, let us know how you do!


Sources:  NYTimes, New Yorker, stickK, via BBC News