We’re working hard to slim down before RWA Nationals in July through healthy eating, exercise, sharing information, and accountability. Join us any time along the way, introduce yourself and post goals, or just contribute to the conversation! We’re here to share!
Welcome Ella Sheridan, who is sharing with us about rewarding ourselves this week!
When B. F. Skinner coined the term “operant conditioning,” we finally had a scientific name for a concept that has been around since the beginning of time: our behavior is modified by its consequences. Call it reward and punishment, reinforce and punisher, whatever; the truth is, rewards make us do more of an action and punishments make us do less. When it comes to losing weight, rewards are key.
I used to reward myself with food—stupid, I know. I’m trying to get away from food, not use it to feed my addiction. Now I give myself a free meal once a week, including dessert, not because I need a reward but because I understand that deprivation leads to bingeing. If I don’t allow myself to have something on a limited schedule, I’m guaranteed to break at some point and gorge myself on all the things I keep away from myself the rest of the time. That’s a safety net, not a reward.
So what do I reward myself with? Some of you have heard me talk about gold stars. I decided I needed immediate feedback on my daily efforts. I couldn’t reward myself with food, so what did I use? Well, I took a page out of my childhood book and put a gold start beside every day on my food diary where I have fulfilled ALL of my goals for that day. When I get seven of those stars, I give myself a non-food-related treat. A new shirt. An album off iTunes. A trip to the dollar movie theater. I’m not certain it matters what you reward yourself with as long as it makes you feel good. Make yourself a list; check it when you are doing well and boost that good feeling with some positive reinforcement.
I also give myself a number-related reward. Every five pounds. Every ten pounds. Every two pounds, doesn’t matter as long as you have a set schedule and stick to it. Knowing when you hit that five-pound mark and you get that new pair of jeans to replace the ones that are too big for you right now might just be the incentive you need to get through the week of hormone-related, I-can’t-get-enough-chocolate-to-save-my-life cravings from he**. My next incentive, when I hit the ten-pound loss mark, is a new bra and panty set from Soma. It’s been so long since I felt beautiful in my underwear, none of which is pretty. I can’t wait to go pick out something I can enjoy every time I put clothes over it—or when I take them off. c;
Challenge: So what’s your reward list? How often do you reward yourself? Do you need to do it more often? Let’s throw out some ideas to help each other build our list of “operant conditioning reinforcers”—and yes, cabana boys and chocolates count, if they’re real, not virtual (Bonnie! c;).