Q: Should we rewards ourselves for hitting weight loss related milestones?
My A: If rewards motivate you, then by all means do what you’ve got to do! However, please consider the following words of wisdom:
- Set and celebrate behavior goals, NOT outcomes – Let’s do a quick little exercise. Close your eyes and imagine the happier, healthier person you strive to be. Hone in on all the details of who this person is, what this person enjoys, how good this person looks/feels, and what behaviors this person posses in order to maintain such a lifestyle. Now open your eyes and live your life as if you already are that person! Focus on practicing those behaviors every single day, REGARDLESS of what the outcome may bring. If you reward yourself, do so because you’ve consistently practiced behaviors that will help you establish healthy habits! There is a HUGE difference between working out TO lose weight (an outcome) and working out simply for the sake of working out (a behavior), or BECAUSE it’s good for our bodies, spirits and minds, because what happens when we don’t get the outcome we expect? We get discouraged! I used to workout TO lose weight, step on the scale, and give up because I didn’t see the results I wanted quick enough. Now I pat myself on the back simply for showing up! Because of this shift in mindset, working out has turned into a positive in my life when previously it felt like torture, and was sometimes even used as punishment for eating something indulgent, or to “earn” a cookie. Trust the process, your desired outcomes will come AS A RESULT of your commitment to daily healthy habits (behaviors), and you won’t even need a scale to validate this. You’ll soon be rewarded just by being in a healthier positive headspace, feeling better with and about yourself, and noticing new non-scale victories such as doing a pull-up for the first time, or being able to cross your legs (something that so many people take for granted!) Start small by setting behavior goals and rewarding yourself for that, such as drinking 40 ounces of water every day for a week, and perhaps 50 the following week. Or let’s go for a 10 minute walk 3 days a week, and then add another day the following week. If that all still seems to be too much, let’s drill it back to focus on making one healthier decision at a time. Overtime, the accumulation of these decisions WILL add up and it’ll be way easier for you to stay encouraged, be motivated, and stick to your established healthy habits.
- Don’t reward yourself with food – Let’s do another exercise. Pull out a piece of paper and write down ideas, activities, and perhaps even things that bring you joy and are not related to food. Feel free to list as many ideas as you can, from simple pleasures (free) to more elaborate ones too ($$$). Some ideas could be: Get a facial, get a manicure, go to the beach, buy a new workout outfit, buy a hydraflask (water bottle), go to the movies, take a bubble bath, buy yourself a new plant baby, etc. How do you nurture yourself (without food)? Get creative and have fun with this! For a more tangible experience, put each idea on its own piece of paper to pull out of a “reward box”. Of course with your budget in mind, pull a reward from this box for successfully accomplishing your behavior-driven goal (like hitting your daily steps). You set the rules, so feel free to pull one every week or even every day! Give yourself permission to self-indulge… you deserve it! This tip is especially important for those of us who emotionally eat because it’ll help to separate any emotions or feelings (good or bad) from food! Think of the following questions: 1) Why do would we “treat” ourselves with food? We are not dogs! 2) Why do we treat ourselves with something indulgent for being “good”, then feel guilt for eating that said indulgent item because we fear it may undo our hard work? This is a sick mental cycle… stop it!
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