It's that time of year that gyms are packed with people trying to keep their New Year's resolutions to lose weight.
Now a growing number of websites promise to help you win hundreds, and possibly even thousands of dollars, betting on your weight loss.
A year ago, Bruce Laughlin of Canton began hitting the gym, making good on a bet on HealthyWage.com that he would reach his weight loss goals.
"Jan. 1 of last year, I was 219 pounds," he said. "Today, I'm 174."
Laughlin tripled his money by losing 45 pounds, taking home a $1,000 check, plus another $300.
"You put a little bit of your money up front and if you achieve your goals, specific goals, in the end you get more of your money back than what you put in," he said.
"It actually isn't gambling because you're in total control over your outcome," explained Jim Thomson, Product Director at HealthyWage.com.
On that site, you can win up to $10,000. Meanwhile, on DietBetter.com, you can bet on losing 4 percent of your body weight in four weeks.
Studies show wagering on weight loss works.
"These financial incentives make people three to five times more likely to achieve their weight loss goals than if they're trying to lose weight without a financial incentive," Thomson said.
Sue Johnston, 59, took diet betting to a whole new level.
"I love money and I loved betting on myself," she said.
She cut her weight in half and doubled her money by wagering on both websites. "$600 in a year that, just for fun. And it was great incentive."
Johnston did it the healthy way with exercise and Weight Watchers. But dietician Page Love says these websites aren't for everyone, and worries they may encourage people to slim down in an unhealthy way.
"I'd be careful about your goals being realistic with these kinds of plans," Love said. "For a lot of women, the numbers become very competitive and they take it to the extreme, so I try to help people not judge their body by a number, not focus on numbers, not be doing too rapid of a weight loss."
Now at a healthy 135 pounds, Johnston is able to go places with her family she never could before.
If you do decide to bet on your weight loss, Love recommends combining it with another healthy program, like Johnston did with Weight Watchers. And keep in mind, one-half pound to one pound per week is generally a safe amount of weight for one to lose.
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