Saw an ad for Healthywage.com on TV last night, this thing where you make bets on your weight loss and win pretty big payouts if you lose the weight, so I researched the heck out of it.
I'm not asking "if it works" or "do they pay out". I'm satisfied that it's legit. For those not familiar with it, the payouts can be decent play-money if you've already got your weight weight loss system down and proven and you already know, realistically, how many pounds you lose per month. For instance, you'd win about $800 for losing 40 pounds in 10 months.
My question is, is there a non-trivial possibility that introducing a financial angle to the mix could upset the delicate balance of incentives and motivations that are already in place, such that the risks goes up of things going off course? I know that my focus is always on health and self-improvement; I wonder if introducing $ would skew things better or worse (better because now there's a fun-money prize waiting for me - an extra bonus for losing weight!, or worse because the $ is a distraction from the simple, clarifying goal of bettering your health, also the potential to lose your wager could add stress when you least need it because you're doing well).