JMO-- I think one of the best things I've done is separate food from rewards. Studies have shown that people who use food as a reward end up eating far more calories than they burned off, during exercise. Like a pp suggested, set yourself up some goals and rewards that have nothing to do with food. Getting into a consistent routine for exercise was hard for me, so I set up a reward system based on days per week of exercise-- and rewarded myself with exercise-related stuff. New shoes, workout clothes, dumbbells, a resistance band etc.
Fitness Minutes: (15,508)
727 8/1/13 7:50 P
Why not get the stuff to make yourself a healthy version of a fast food breakfast sandwich at home after the gym? Toast up a whole wheat English muffin, scramble an egg with half a slice of reduced fat cheese and a slice of Canadian bacon. You can microwave a scrambled egg in a ramekin in less than the time it takes the muffin to toast, and you won't have to dirty a pan. Guilt free.
Fitness Minutes: (15,462)
150 8/1/13 6:06 P
Christina791 - that's a great idea about the flowers. Also the questions (to ourselves - lol). Such as: sure I deserve that treat, but don't I also deserve to be successful with my weight loss objectives?
Fitness Minutes: (42,043)
789 8/1/13 5:14 P
I used to be bad about doing that. I'm *still* bad at that some days. Food is such a natural reward/gift, especially if you feel like you've been depriving yourself of things you really enjoy. Why shouldn't you treat yourself occasionally?
What I had to do was separate the two concepts in my head. I'm allowed to treat myself (and I do!), but it has to be because I want the food itself for what it is. If I want food because I feel like I deserve it for some reason (good or bad - the same thing applies to comfort food), then I usually skip it.
I did a couple things for rewards as I was starting out. I didn't have a lot of fitness gear, so I rewarded myself with workout items once I'd 'earned' them. 50 gym sessions meant I could justify buying good running shoes, for example. It gave me something to build to, and the reward only made me more enthusiastic about what I'd done to earn it (who doesn't like to show off those new pants that make your butt look great).
As for the little impulse buys, I recognized I was running into problems when I was grocery shopping on days when I'd be feeling a little down and wanted something sweet to pick me up. It didn't feel like a proper grocery trip if I didn't buy a treat. So, I started stopping by the floral section and picking up inexpensive bouquets of flowers as my 'treat'. They were about the same price as a goodie from the bakery, and they made me smile a lot longer than a brownie would have. Is there something small that makes you smile that's not food?
When I started seriously trying to change my habits and my diet, I had a LOT of conversations with myself about my decisions. If you try this, make sure you do it IN your head, not out loud.
I spent time staring at menus and grocery shelves thinking, "is this what I REALLY want?" or "WHY AM I DOING THIS?" I tried to stop my old thought process of "one more bag of chips," and "I'll start tomorrow." With, "ok, I'll make the right choice this time." Rather than looking at it as something I had to do EVERY time.
"I'll eat the salad I packed today. If I still want McD's tomorrow, I'll go."
The thing is, once I started making the healthy choices I felt really really good about them. Way better than beating myself up over making a bad choice and then justifying the next unhealthy choice with the unhealthy choice before it. So when the next day came, I'd eat the healthy option again.
That isn't to say I don't ever eat less healthy foods. I do. I'm just WAY choosier about it. Is McD's really worth it? Or is it better to eat something healthy and wait for a better treat?
I actually had a bag of my all-time favorite, there is no better salty snack food this week - Zesty Cheese Doritos. this is the holy grail of snack food for me. Or it was.
It wasn't that good.
I added the calories to my tracker thinking, "wow. That wasn't worth it at all."
BUT It took me awhile to get here. And I still fall off the wagon. But I don't beat myself up over it anymore. Eating out is still a huge trap for me. I try to limit it to once a week for lunch with coworkers and 1-2x a week with my husband.
I try not to end up in a McDonald's (the McGriddle is a weakness) because I can't make a healthy choice there. And I really try hard to be prepared - pack a healthy lunch, eat breakfast before I leave home, have snacks because I WILL get hungry.
It helps that you actually recognize that this is sabotaging yourself and it's something you don't want to do. For a long time I also would say "I exercised and I feel good, I deserve to eat this pint of ice cream!" and didn't recognize that burning 100 calories doesn't mean I can eat 500 calories of ice cream and lose weight. I just didn't know why that was a problem (but also got frustrated that I was not losing weight).
First - I would use your tracker, and track food ahead of time. If I buy a piece of fish and some salad I have no problem saying "meh, maybe I'll eat it tomorrow and have something else instead" - but if I add it to my tracker 8 hours before, I don't feel good about removing it from my tracker and replacing it with McDonalds. I'm much more likely to eat what I planned to eat, because that's what my tracker says I ate, and seeing a balanced 500 calorie meal getting replaced with an unbalanced 900 calorie meal is jarring.
Secondly - pick some non-food treats that you would like to get. Leave the weight loss out of it at first, but just make a list and say "I want that purple nail polish I've been coveting, those neon shoelaces, a foot massage, a new candle", and once you make your list, start assigning what you have to achieve to earn those things! It doesn't even have to be a major goal, it can be "I'm going to stay in my ranges every day for a week, and that gets me a new nail polish", or "I will avoid fast food for a month, and that gets me new sheets." It can be much easier to talk yourself out of an indulgence when you're so close to earning something you want, and it puts that reward on the line.
Did you watch the most recent season of Biggest Loser?
I don't usually watch it, but for some reason, I got hooked on to the last season. At any rate, one of the girls on that show had a very similar issue. She'd go to the gym and work with a personal trainer, which she then thought gave her the right to go to a fast food drive thru and eat a ton of crap.
You might be able to find video of her on YouTube or something. At any rate, eventually things In her head just sort of clicked...and she saw how crazy that behavior was.
I know reality TV isn't everyone's cup of tea (it certainly isn't mine), but maybe seeing her story can help you get some clarity about your situation.
Edited by: LILLIPUTIANNA at: 8/1/2013 (12:42)
Fitness Minutes: (105,516)
13,256 8/1/13 12:37 P
Have a list of non-food rewards. I used to have fast food breakfast after going to the gym too, but there are some lower calorie options, or you could prepare something fabulous the night before.
Fitness Minutes: (214,000)
20,982 8/1/13 12:31 P
this is something every single member of spark has struggled with at one time or another. I give all new members one piece of advice and it's this,"Don't look at good health or weight loss with an all or nothing mentality". If the only healthy thing you did for yourself today was drink 8 glasses of water, that's still a step in the right direction.
Remember, you're trying to change habits learned over a life time, that's not going to happen overnight, a week, a month or even a year ! change takes time. that's why Spark People encourages its members to start with simple changes. No one ever became a healthy eater, overnight. it's impossible.
what to do ? set some simple goals. Example, if you're not eating 6-9 servings of fruit and veggies, set a goal to eat 2-3 servings each day for one week. if you're not drinking 8 glasses of water, set a goal to drink 2-4 glasses each day for one week. if you're not exercising, don't try to do an hour a day, set a goal to take a 30 minute walk each day for one week. Once you've achieved these goals, then you set new ones.
And that's how good health starts. It doesn't start with "all or nothing". It starts with a few simple changes. that's what will help you break the cycle of rewards. Start by setting some simple goals. don't worry about anything else. just concentrate on those goals. Each week, you set new ones. With time, those goals will become HABIT. But that really does take time.
So, let me ask you, what simple goals are you willing to set for this week ? And it's not too late. It's never too late or too early to improve your health.
Be kind to yourself as you would to others.
Fitness Minutes: (15,462)
150 8/1/13 12:20 P
I'm probably not the best to reply to this. My rewards to myself are often food, too, even though most articles on SP warn against that. However, mine comes at the end of the day and fit into my calorie range. I plan for an ice cream sandwich after my last meal of the day. If I've let something slip before that time, I scurry back to the nutrition tracker and see if it still fits, or what I can adjust to keep in my target range. If it's a big slip, the ice cream sandwich is usually the victim. It's great motivation for me. In your case, maybe you could find a lower calorie snack that will still satisfy you. I will be following the other replies with interest since I haven't figured out how to reward myself without food, either. Best of luck! I know you don't want to completely undo all the benefits of your exercise.
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