I’ve been thinking lately about the concept of rewarding or treating ourselves for staying on target and focused on weight management goals. Obviously food-based rewards are out, so there has to be something else. Our class this week was on this topic but the course content was so confused and wrong-headed on the topic that I just need to clear my mind and start over.
Obviously you don’t need to reward yourself for every little thing, and not everybody has a personality that even requires rewards much at all. I’m one of those types that doesn’t really need any extra reward – my reward is that I lost X pounds! And my clothes fit again! And I feel better! What else would the reward for working at a lifestyle change be?!
Some people need rewards all the time, and all people need rewards some of the time, particularly at the beginning when embarking on a new journey. The point is to reinforce positive behaviors, to help turn them into a habit, so it’s important to find small ways to reinforce the habit if you need them.
While I’m, personally, still trying to figure out how I can get a cash reward for every time I work out (I’d be ripped like Schwarzenegger if they were handing out money for it!), that’s pretty unlikely so I’ve needed to find other ways. Part of my challenge is that, in general, if I want something I get it. I’m a big girl, I earn my own money, and I tend not to withhold things that I want or need in order to create some sort of artificial rewarding environment. For example, if I want some new music, I’ll just get it. If I want a massage, I’ll go get it. There’s not really anything material that would be both a) small enough and b) significant enough, that I could reward myself with it every time I worked out and it would still motivate me to do it. Because if it’s small enough that I could afford to reward myself with it every time it wouldn’t be anything that would be significant enough to make me do a workout when I didn’t feel like it.
So what I’ve settled on is something that makes my husband laugh, but it works for me. Smugness. Honestly, I get a fabulous feeling of smugness every time I complete a run or a workout, and I completely allow myself to revel in it. I am so pleased with myself for doing the thing that needed to be done and that I didn’t want to do but that I had to do anyway. Yay me! Another one on the books – I did it!
I don’t remember ever needing a material thing, either, even when I was starting out. It’s always been about doing the thing that needs to be done and being proud of myself for taking care of business. Long-term, the good mental high I get from physical activity just feeds into feeling better and more confident about myself and my life in general.
So what do you use? What motivates you to do the things that need to be done to take care of your body? Is it a material thing, or is it an intangible?