Nationals or Bust Week 7: The Value of Rewards

Nationals or Bust, Healthy eating, diet challenge, RWA Nationals, writing, authors, exercise, sedentary job, weight loss, romance authors

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;).


11 thoughts on “Nationals or Bust Week 7: The Value of Rewards

  1. All righty. Comments are on. :s Sorry about that, y’all. You know how it is when everything gets hectic. Dani has an important meet with her editor today, and her mind was there, obviously. 🙂

    So, a quick update before I have to go to the eye doctor for new glasses: I’m down 10.5 pounds total! That’s another pound this week, I think, or pound and a half, something like that. And since September, I’ve lost 21 pounds, so I’m really happy. Also working very hard, but it looks like I get that trip to Soma this week. Woot!!!

    How about y’all? How’s it going this week?

  2. Congratulations, ladies! You’re going to look fabulous by National! I had major surgery a month ago and haven’t been able to diet or exercise until now so I envy you. With 6 pounds to go to get back to my goal weight, I’m dying to go shopping for my awards event dress.

    When I started losing weight almost 2 years ago, I’d reward myself for every 10 pounds off by going to Neimans or Saks or other elegant shops and try on designer clothes I couldn’t wear before. I didn’t buy anything because I knew it would be too big when I lost all my weight. By the time I got to goal weight, I knew exactly the pieces I wanted to splurge on (most were on sale by then) and bought a few spectacular garments as my reward. I love those clothes because I always feel great in them and they symbolize my achievement.

    Can’t wait to meet everyone in Atlanta and admire your new svelte figures!

  3. Maybe I should reward myself. With something other than food. {{sigh}} I’m holding steady at 5 pounds down, and even though there’s no loss this week I’m happy (well, not HAPPY, but not miserable, either) because I fell off this wagon this weekend. Got back on it Monday, so I ended up with no gain.

    I need to come up with an appropriate reward when I lose 10 pounds. A reward with no calories! 🙂

  4. Thanks, Ella! I can’t believe I’m such a ditz!

    And congrats on the pounds down. That’s wonderful! I’m going to weigh tonight and check in then (if I haven’t downed a carton of ice cream after my editor meeting).

  5. Lark, that’s a really cool idea! I need to keep that in mind.

    I’m an instant gratification kind of girl, so I think that’s why I reach for food most often to reward myself. Need to rethink that strategy and have some ideas in place.

  6. Lark, I so relate to the surgery issue. I’m glad to hear you are getting close to where you want to be. I have 9.5 pounds to go before Nationals, so I’m really hoping I can make it before then. Seem to be holding steady at about a pound down a week, so we’ll see. 🙂

    LJ, good for you still moving forward! You will get there, just keep doing what your body needs. I’m proud of you for not stopping, even if your weight isn’t down this week.

    Dani Annie, no ice cream! You will figure it out. Isn’t funny how all we want as unpubs is an editor, and then the editor becomes s source of stress, lol! But you’ll get the book figured out and you’ll get the weight figured out too. We just need to keep searching for what works for you.

  7. Great topic, Ella! And Lark, I love your idea of trying on stuff as you work your “weigh” down! I think I’ve found the perfect GH dress… now I just have to see which size I’ll fit into betta come July.

    Currently I’m down five pounds (FINALLY). I celebrated with five song downloads. Now I’ll need to come up with something cool for the ten-pound celebration.

  8. Awesome job, Bonnie! I weighed tonight and was down another pound, so I’ve hit the 5 pound mark too! Slow, but I’m getting there. I apologize for taking so long to get back on tonight! Work, then over an hour on the phone with my editor (but book is back on track, woohoo!), getting notes down before I forget, a few minutes with the family, then exercise (see, I did it, Ella!), shower, and catchup. I’m going to bed at 9:30! A must, since I was so tired today I spent my 30 min lunch sleeping in my car instead of eating. 😦 Tomorrow will be a better day!

  9. I’m sorry about the sleep, Dani, but at least you got to head to bed early, and now you have less stress after learning more about your editor’s “process.” (Oy, can we say “complicated” when you have to learn to work with new people?) I’m so proud of you for persisting. Great job!

Add to the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s