Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rewards for Weight Loss and Healthier Eating

If I told you to run a mile, would you? What if I said that if you’d do it, I’d give you a free trip? A real one...not some scam. Would you be more interested?

Rewards can be powerful motivators. That’s why two important strategies for forming healthier eating habits (and weight loss) are setting specific, reasonable goals and following through in giving yourself the reward when you meet the goal.

Rewards can be as small as a paying for a few songs on iTunes or as big as a new car. As short as a movie (maybe even without the kids) or as long as a week vacation. They can be one-time...or weekly. Free...or expensive. They’re your chance to make healthy eating and weight loss even more exciting and enjoyable while adjusting. So, ask yourself what is it in life that you really enjoy? Or what would you like? 

You can be creative in picking rewards, but it’s not a good idea to use food. For example, “If I go for a run tonight, I’ll reward myself with Starbucks in the morning.” You can see how that would be counterproductive. Yet saying, "If I go for a jog tonight, I'll treat myself to watching my favorite episode/show on hulu." Find what works for you and then commit to it.

In terms of changing your eating habits, you may set a goal to eat more fruit. Let's say, at least 3 servings a day 5 days of the week. Well, a serving can be half a banana, a piece of fruit the size of a tennis ball (1/2 cup), or 2 tablespoons dried fruit. So always make sure your goals are measurable. And if you don't meet your goal for that day/week/month, sigh it out with a big exhale, let it go, and move on. Although rewards are nice incentives, most of the time life is much more precious than focusing too much on what you did or didn't do. 

So, take some time to plan a few specific goals and then how you will reward yourself for accomplishing those goals. Don’t forget to also reward yourself along your journey for the positive things you’re doing. Keep plugging away and you'll get there. :)

Note: This exercise is meant to get you started, but giving yourself rewards is a tool you should use often when trying to make new habits. Some people feel silly rewarding themselves for eating healthier, especially if it's contributing to weight loss. They may think they should never have gained the weight in the first place, and losing weight is their duty. If that’s you, take a chill pill. Healthy eating is a big achievement; and I believe it’s definitely worth rewarding. :)

What are some rewards you've given to yourself? How did they work in motivating you? 

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