Marking the Real Rewards: February 26, 2019: Cross-Posted from SparkPeople.com

If you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning, you’ll remember that those first few posts concentrated heavily on rewards systems, but that I haven’t concentrated on it much this year. Simply put, my rewards stopped being motivating after a while.

“Who cares if I haven’t lost five pounds yet? There’s really nothing stopping me from having that white chocolate mocha at Starbucks.” 
“Who cares if I haven’t hit my 9-months-pregnant weight yet? I can order those books any time I want, so why push so hard?” 

My first reward system was very food-centric. I wanted to cut out EVERY vice I had completely and would reward myself every 5 lbs with a Starbucks drink, or a box (yes a whole box) of macaroni and cheese, or pizza, etc. The food-deprivation, though, made me antsy. Remember that whole food addiction thing I keep talking about? It’s real. You get withdrawal symptoms when you cut out your vices. And those 5 lbs I lost? I got myself a Starbucks, AND BLEW IT ALL TO BLOODY HELL. Goodbye, five pounds lost. Hello, 15 more pounds gained. 

The next reward system I set up was a little better. I could have anything I wanted, in moderation, saving sweet and high-calorie drinks for the weekends, and for every 5 lbs I lost I got to treat myself to a book, CD, coloring book, Webkinz, whatever off my Amazon wishlist; and for the big goals, I could treat myself to a mani-pedi, a new dress, or my ultimate, final-goal-met reward: a stand mixer for my kitchen. 

Well, with the library just down the road from where I work, I really don’t *need* a new book, and I have plenty of coloring books, and everything I want to listen to is probably on Spotify, and I got a Webkinz Deluxe membership for Christmas, and I have to buy new clothes when I *gain* weight, too, and Color Street and Incoco are WAY cheaper than a mani-pedi, and, well, Hubby bought me my stand mixer for my birthday last summer. 

So, about a year and a half ago I dropped the rewards system. 

Fast-forward to the present. I’ve re-set my Noom articles by two weeks, I’m catching up on the coursework, and here comes homework about – you guessed it – rewards. I’m looking at the title thinking, “Been there, done that, thank you, next.” 

Next thing you know I’m sending screen shots to myself and writing a blog post with a super long introduction. (It’s okay. I know you’re just skimming anyway.) 

Here’s what I learned: Rewards come in many shapes and sizes and rewards should be intermittent and a little bit random.

Say what now? I thought we only got a reward when we actually did something worthy of the reward, like, you know, losing weight at 5-lb intervals. But nope! The nerds at Noom have discovered that using rewards at regular intervals “can decrease those desired behaviors, because we become less motivated by the rewards over time” (Noom article “Choose Rewards to Keep You Going”). 

It’s also important to have a plan for your rewards when you decide to use them. So, my Noom homework is to come up with a Tangible Reward (clothes, books, CDs, etc.), a Self-Care Reward (mani-pedi, massage, micro-dermabrasion, etc.), a Social Reward (go to a party, host a dinner, etc.), and a Healthy Reward (new yoga class, reusable water bottle, new cookbook, etc.). And I’ve decided to be uber-super-helpful and share my current rewards system with all of you. (Are you feeling the love yet?) And, because I’m an over-achiever, I’m going to pick 3 things for each category, AND, because I’m a liiiiiiittle bit OCD, I’ll put them in alphabetical order. You know, for my readers. (I know you’re all thanking me in your heads.)

Healthy Rewards (I have to be honest, this one was the hardest for me. Going to the gym isn’t much a reward for me – yet. But I’m getting there.)
~ Join a once-per-week yoga class (preferably Saturdays) 
~ New water bottle (you can never really have too many large, colorful water bottles) 
~ One month of a HelloFresh subscription 

Self-Care Rewards 
~ Color Street manicure 
~ Fragrant Jewels bath bomb 
~ Spend one hour away from home, by myself, with a mug of hot tea and a book 

Social Rewards 
~ Find a friend and go see a movie at an actual theater 
~ Have a neighbor over for dinner 
~ Plan a grown-up playdate with one of my besties 

Tangible Rewards 
~ Book or book series, up to 3 books (at a time, that is; we’re all just kidding ourselves if I said I could only buy three books this year) 
~ Markers (the good fine-print ones for coloring) 
~ New Item of Clothing (NEW – thrift store doesn’t count [but TJ Maxx does!]) 

There, those are my things. So now, the next time my brain goes haywire and says, “Go ahead. You’ve earned it. Treat yourself to that macaroni and cheese,” I can say, “Thanks, but I got my treats already!” And even better, I’ll have all of you to remind me of it. 

Now, I’m gonna switch gears slightly and get serious for just a minute. What are my Real Rewards for this journey? This isn’t for my Noom homework, this is for me. Because my yesterday is not my today, and my today is not my tomorrow. 

But this is. This will be my tomorrow. This IS my tomorrow. My Real Rewards for keeping at this life-long, hard, sweat-and-tears change are these: 
~ Someday, I will reward myself by dancing around the living room with my son for longer than half of one song. 
~ Someday, I will be able to sit comfortably at a restaurant booth. 
~ Someday, I will be able to walk up a flight of stairs without having to take giant gasps of air. 
~ Someday, I will no longer need my asthma inhaler. 
~ Someday, I will reward myself with a photo shoot in the wedding dress I never got to wear. 
~ Someday, I will run again without crushing my joints under morbid obesity. 

Someday, I will be able to say goodbye to a “someday dream” because it will no longer be a dream, and it will no longer be some day. 

It will be my today. 

Originally posted on SparkPeople.com at https://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=6570778

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