Check me and my two posts in one day. I check Slate every week for Dear Prudence, no namby pamby advice in that column. Today I have a lot of time to kill so I wandered around and found this, the story of an Italian Mayor paying his neighbors to lose weight. It's a really interesting article about behavior above and beyond the government cash incentive to lose weight and keep it off.
The most interesting part to me was when they discuss how addicts see the future. According to the article, a non-addict when asked to think about the future thinks a few years ahead and an addict thinks only a few weeks. That was the part that went clicketty click in my brain. Somedays I can look ahead and be happy with what will come if I work hard and take care of myself, other days I can't see past the next snack. I think it might be helpful to identify that behavior as part of an addiction, rather than loss of willpower.
The article also discusses how helpful financial incentives are to people trying to lose weight or quit smoking. It makes me think of all the folks out there with a defined set of goals and rewards. I never had the money to do that, not really. I had to buy new clothes as the old ones fell off but I never had something really decadent like a massage for ten pounds lost. I sometimes wonder if I should have done something like that, if I would have been more focused. They go on to say that eventually cash rewards are usurped by physical rewards like not being winded going up flight of stairs. The author contends that those type of rewards are, in the long run, the things that keep people on track. I have to agree. Health, in the end, is it's own reward.
It's a reward for our employers and our insurance companies too. My employer offers cash for fitness products and gym fees which in the end save them money caring for healthier employees. To that end they also offer cash rewards for choosing high deductible health plans and participating in health programs. I know I'm always going on about the high deductible health plan like it's made of gold. Living in a country without national healthcare you have to be savvy, atleast as savvy as the businesses providing you healthcare and insurance. I think our government could learn a lot from that chubby Italian mayor and private business, if you put money into preventative care you save in the long run. That's what I tell myself when I don't want to shell out 5 more cents for organic produce, it's a small price to pay for a healthier future.