Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Accidentally Gaming the System

Because I work in an awesome place that doesn't want me to die of a preventable illness while still on their insurance, they offer free biometric screenings once a year, and if they think you need it, they refer you to a free program to help you with whatever your problem is. They pay you to do the screening, and they pay you for the programs you complete. It is a pretty sweet deal . . . which I accidentally discovered how to maximize.

Part of the screening is testing your BMI. However, I forgot about that part when they weighed me. At the doctor's office, if you take off your winter coat and your shoes and your purse in order to get a reading that is within ten pounds of being accurate, they laugh at you, as if you're vain. (Another reason to leave my doctor? Yes.) So, having been socially conditioned to get weighed with everything on, I just hopped on that scale and rolled my eyes when a number came up that was definitely ten pounds higher than normal.

When the nurse was done testing me for everything, she looked up my BMI, and it was a tenth of a point into the overweight category. A tenth of a point, with ten pounds of extra non-bodyweight-stuff on me. This means two things. First, I'm eligible for a free program where someone will encourage me to exercise by saying nice things to me over the phone, and second, I got a ten-minute lecture on keeping to "best practices" regarding my eating habits, not to eat prepackaged food, and to have lots of fiber. I did not mind being eligible for the program because the numbers are what they are, as far as she knows. But I was somewhat affronted by the lecture. I wanted to say, "By prepackaged food, are you talking about the plastic bag that the celery comes in?" But I am not rude, so I let her go on and on about the dangers of heart disease, while I thought about how I had been noticing how loose all my pants were. (And in fact, when I went home and weighed myself, I did came in even lower than I thought I would. So there!)

She sent me off, steaming gently, with a little form to fill out about which programs I would like to take advantage of. And that's when I remembered, hey! I get paid for this farce! I will essentially get a hundred dollars to take off my coat. While this was entirely inadvertent and I would give up the hundred dollars not to have been lectured about not doing things that I never do, I am now tempted to put weights in my pockets next time, because eating unhealthy pays more. Then when I lose sixty pounds in a week, and I can tell the person on the phone IT'S A MIRACLE, LADY!!! I'M CURED!!

It is also tempting to do absolutely nothing and take the money as payment for emotional damages, but I figure if I'm in the program anyway, I might as well let them encourage me to lose another eight pounds. Then I'll be smack in the middle of the healthy range . . . and I'll get half or a third of the amount of money I could if I was less healthy. There is something about this system of rewards that isn't quite right.

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