Vista woman cashes in on weight loss

VISTA, Calif. - As New Years Day approaches, thousands of San Diegans will make that resolution to lose weight.

And those who succeed can pick up some extra bucks.

Vista resident Stephanie Miko has lost 100 pounds in the last two years. 

"I decided I didn't want to be fat and 50," she said. 

Miko did something about it. 

"I went from a size 22-24 to a four," she said. 

She took 10,000 steps a day and cut back on calories. Her weight is down about 100 pounds in the last two years. But that's not the only reward she’s reaping. She discovered the app Dietbet about a year and a half ago, and is now $1,600 richer.

"You win by losing," Miko said. 

Every six months, Miko and other competitors put down $100. Those who essentially lose 10 percent of their weight over that time split the pot, sweetened by those who didn't make the cut. 

It works like this: Every Dietbet competitor gets their own word. Miko's was cricket. She takes that word and puts it on the scale. She steps on the scale and takes her weight. Then she takes a cell phone photo of what the scale shows with that word on it, uploads it to Dietbet, along with the rest of the competitors, to show that she's still in the game.

Doctor Eduardo Grunvold, who runs UCSD’s weight management program, says diet programs with financial incentives could lead to people competing in an unhealthy way, like a crash diet.

But he says for others, the real issue is keeping the weight off once it's lost.

"You have to do something, whether it's diet, exercise, nutrition, behavior change, it has to be sustainable," he said. "If it's not sustainable long term, the weight usually comes back."

In addition to Dietbet, apps like Pact and HealthyWage have their own ways of helping people earn money by losing weight.

Miko says after one more round on Dietbet, she'll move to an upcoming version that helps her stay thin.

"I have a new granddaughter, I have a new home, I have a new lease on life," she said. 

And extra money to pay for new clothes.

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