Late last summer, it got too hot to go outside, so my man, JP, and I stayed indoors and watched a lot of movies and shows. We had heard Orphan Black was really good, so we borrowed the DVD from the library to check it out.
The opening scene of the show marked the point of no return for the lead character, Sarah Manning, and it was the same for us. We were hooked. Each time we sat down to watch Orphan Black, we found ourselves in fight or flight mode — the experience was stressful, yet thrilling. We got so emotionally involved that it was nearly impossible to be in a neutral state before and after watching.
By the fifth episode, JP decided to de-stress by taking a relaxing walk to the gas station (the only nearby store) and he bought a bucket of our local dairy’s popular ice cream — a seemingly great way to soothe spikes in stress hormone levels. So it became our new thing to borrow the next DVD of Orphan Black and get a bucket of ice cream which, of course, was totally fine as it was ‘local.’
In the short time it took to watch the first three seasons of Orphan Black, I had gained nearly 10% in body weight. We had also developed a fiendish unstoppable appetite for that rich, addictive ice cream. The only thing that prevented me from eating more of it was a horrific blistery rash that erupted around my mouth — binge eating dairy had triggered an old lactose allergy I kicked years ago. It’s an understatement to say that I was a physical mess by the end of the summer.
Since then, I was never able to exercise myself fully back to my pre-Sarah Manning weight. I’m still considered to be at a healthy size and weight range for my age and height, but I know I could and should feel fitter and I really miss wearing a lot of my clothes, almost half of which have gotten too snug. I eat ice cream on rare occasions now, and I know I could be healthier by exercising more often and drinking less alcohol.
I read that people generally respond to incentives. People will be more successful at losing weight if they win money. I’m not competitive, and instead, I get this weird urge to shut down when I’m around competitive people. If you have to compete for victory, I’m the last person you want on your team. I always manage to convince myself it’s not worth the effort for the small chance of winning with or against others who want it more. However, I do hate losing something I already have (other than unwanted pounds), and that something is money, no matter how much it is. If you want to see hulk-like anger, watch what happens when I discover extra service charges in my bank account or on my bill.
So this week, I went on stickk.com and signed up for a weight loss challenge. On this site, you can set up any challenge you want for yourself and you have to give them your credit card number. I designed it so that my challenge is for me to lose a realistic number of pounds in two months. If I fail to reach my target weight by the end date, I have to pay them the amount I agreed to lose, which is $80. It’s not much to lose (some people have thousands on the line), but it’s enough to royally upset me. I also have to report and meet a gradual weight loss target each week. You can have a referee to report your progress to or you can report based on the honour system. Betting against yourself seems odd, but I see this as a way of investing in my health, which is a form of wealth, after all.
Where does the money go? When you set up your challenge, you can decide that the money goes to someone you don’t ever want to lose a bet to, which will really motivate you. Or you can lose to the StickK people and they will pay your money to a charity of THEIR choice, not yours. I never want to promote gambling, but this form of betting is not based on some random win, it’s based on your desire to make your life better. There is no randomness or limit to your will to achieve what you want.
Never underestimate the power of loss aversion. Just don’t let it prevent you from investing because you can reduce the risk with strategic asset allocation. Instead, use that aversion to loss to hit your goals if you want to lose weight or quit smoking–anything you’ve been struggling to achieve. In eight weeks, I will reveal whether I lost $80 to the StickK challenge or not. Wish me luck!
Thanks a lot for being the most binge-worthy show ever, Orphan Black! (I love you so much.)