Non-Food Rewards: How Important? Real important!
Monday, February 01, 2016
This idea is something that has been around for some time but not always utilized in the same way by each person. The idea behind it is rather than 'reward' ourselves with a 'treat' (a special food of some kind) when we have been 'good', we choose instead to reward ourselves with something that removes that food association that so many of us who are food-oriented seem to have.
In the past I remember 'rewarding' myself with eating out at a favorite buffet restaurant when I had a 'bad day at work'. The problem with that is the work environment was so toxic that I was going to that buffet restaurant more and more often, sabotaging my diet at the time as well as making me feel a whole lot worse in the process.
Another scenario was when I was in a 'frigid' marriage (lack of emotional intimacy) and the only connection that I felt with my then spouse was to go out to eat as much as 4x a week. It was the only time that we shared alone or looked at each other in the eyes. As I gained more and more weight, I was told by my Mom (of all people) that my spouse was going around behind my back saying that if I didn't lose the weight he would divorce me. Well, I saved him the trouble. I told him to leave and I entered psychotherapy to figure out why I kept hurting myself.
Even while I professed that I was 'dieting' I would jump at opportunities to abandon my 'diet' so I could have my favorite food or even 'celebrate' losing some weight. I would wonder why I couldn't bend the rules and have 'just one' (that wasn't one cookie that was one package of 24 cookies by the way).
Then, I read about rewarding yourself with non-food rewards as an incentive to keep working at your weight loss goals and to 'pat yourself on the back'. There is quite a bit of psychology behind this but the main thing is that I just plain wasn't very nice to myself for so very long. I hated my weakness when it came to food and I hated that I felt like a failure in this area when I felt so competent in so many other areas.
After decades of not treating myself very nicely it felt uncomfortable to begin to reward myself. At first, I wanted to fly under the radar because I didn't want anyone to even know that I thought well of myself. That sounds crazy but I thought healthy self-love was the same as being vain or arrogant. It is not. It started out by not putting myself down. Which then progressed to asking for what I needed. Soon, I began taking care of myself physically in ways that I had neglected myself before. It seems like one thing does lead to another.
Now, I consider it my responsibility to take care of myself on all levels. I still feel sometimes like I am embarrassed to admit just how neglectful I had been of myself but with each new step I become stronger and less willing to take abuse from myself or anyone else. There are still areas that I need to work on but I am learning as the opportunity presents itself and when I do assert myself I feel my self-worth rise a little bit higher each time.
My most recent non-food reward is a visual aid. I like to put post its on my computer monitor to remind myself to exercise or some other goal I am pursuing so I wanted something that would be one image reminders of what I am attempting to accomplish with this weight loss. So, I decided upon a charm bracelet. My Mom had one many years ago (she is now deceased) and I know how much she enjoyed having reminders of her own life worn on her wrist. Also, this is not a new concept since charm bracelets abound everywhere at this time. I just wanted to make mine related to my weight loss.
See my separate entry "My Weight Loss Charm Bracelet" for explanation of what each charm means. [I want to keep these entries from becoming too long].
Again, really powerful things can happen out of loving yourself including losing weight.