Last year, the staff at Stephens College accepted the unorthodox challenge from an alum – a woman in her 80s who is committed to fitness and eating well – to lose a collective 250 pounds by January 1st with the promise to pledge $1 million to the women’s college. And with a payout like that, of course they did it! According to Chris Smith, director of marketing and public relations at the college, of the 107 employees who signed up for the challenge, those who weighed in right before Christmas had lost a total of 302 pounds, exceeding the donor’s requirement ahead of schedule.
How’d they do it? The school played a major role in helping employees meet the goal, Stephens offered free yoga, Pilates and other exercise classes during lunchtime and after work, and started a blog with low-fat, nutritious recipes and health tips. According to the Chronicle, Brenda K. McSherry, director of health services, said the employees were also permitted to take up to an hour of paid time to exercise…after all, the school did have $1 million on the line. In addition to the $1 million donation, the anonymous donor will add another $100,000 if Dianne M. Lynch, Stephens’s president, loses 25 pounds herself. Ms. Lynch, who was not given a specific deadline, told the Columbia Daily Tribune, that she was more than halfway to the goal, with about 10 pounds to go. But what do you think, is it wrong to award money based on numbers on a scale or is cold hard cash the right incentive to get people to lose weight?