Have you ever considered that your rewards could potentially be your own self-inflicted punishment?
When you are beginning to make changes, and you are succeeding, when you get a new job, on your anniversary, for vacations, after your kids dance recital or sporting event — we celebrate. And, typically, we celebrate with food. We had Valentine’s day and the token gifts are a fancy dinner, a box of chocolate, and flowers. With Thanksgiving, our celebration is centered around food and family. With Christmas, with have all of the traditional cakes, cookies, pies and parties. For Independence Day we fire up the grill and cook out. For Mother’s Day it is breakfast in bed. For Halloween, we steal our children’s candy.
So food has often become a reward for good and a band-aid for bad. We turn to it to calm and congratulate us. But what if food wasn’t the first thing involved when we succeed or celebrate? What if we started to use non-food rewards?
If we went to the mountains when we got the new promotion, or got a massage when established those healthy behaviors. Maybe we get a new toy, a girl’s night out, a personal photo shoot, a guys night at the shooting range, or any number of things. By association these acts now become the reward.
Here are some tips for various rewards you could try.
1. Go out
Comedy Club — Fishing — Favorite Band — Spa Day
2. Learn something
Dance Class — Photography Lessons — Crafting — Art — Meditation — Yoga
3. Get Away
Go to your favorite near by town — Go for a hike — Go for a relaxing drive
4. Physical Rewards
A new outfit — Sessions with a personal trainer or dietitian — Gear for a hobby
5. Peace and Quiet
Award yourself a “stay-cation” — Sleep in — Get a new book
It can be freeing to realize that food doesn’t have to be your go to. Once we take those blinders off we can start to see the possibility of ways that you can reward yourself.
I will say, that it is okay to have food at celebrations. It is okay to have cake on your wedding day or go out to dinner on a date.
But if you challenge your thoughts before the decisions present themselves, you realize that you can do so much more. So ask, “how can we encourage celebration and not make it about food?”