Houston teams compete to lose weight for cash

HOUSTON – If you were offered a fat check, would you be more motivated to trim down? A new study found cash for weight loss proves to be a great incentive.

With $10,000 on the line, Houstonians are meeting the challenge, hoping to take home the money.

A group of five educators from the Houston Independent School District's Robinson Elementary have been sweating it out for a 12-week challenge that promises cash for weight loss.

Apollo 20 Math Fellow Jennifer Harwell told Local 2, "I'm fitting into some of my old clothes, some of my high school clothes, so that's great!"

Team Xtreme is among 470 HISD employees who joined 1,400 Houston area workers for HealthyWage's Houston Matchup contest.

The teams are competing for the greatest percentage of weight loss over a three-month period.

At stake is $10,000 for the top team, $5,000 for second place and $3,000 for third place.

KPRC Local 2 asked Pre-Kindergarten teacher Deordre Adams, "What are you going to do with that money?"

She laughed, "Buy new clothes!"

Team Xtreme has a great shot at taking it all. They've already won mini-challenges, like best team photo and best healthy meal.

The concept of the contest stems from recent studies which show when money's on the line, people are more motivated to lose weight. Make it a team effort and the success rate is even higher.

Harwell explained, "If you're getting paid to lose weight and look better, it's a great experience. It was great to work with the people at school because then you had an accountability system built in."

Team Xtreme meets up after work to exercise and they keep tabs on each other while they're at work, too.

Harwell said, "I'm a snacker and they were like, 'Hey, don't do that. Grab some celery instead.' So it's been really great."

Adams has met her goal of becoming healthy enough to ditch her blood pressure medication after 15 years.

She said, "It's a lifestyle change for me, so now I'm drinking more water, exercising more and built a lot of friendships as well."

Collectively, Team Xtreme has lost more than 130 pounds.

To discourage unhealthy tactics, weight loss is limited to 16.7 percent of body weight.

For more information on the challenge, visit www.healthywage.com.