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Reward or not to Reward?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

So, I just finished reading 1PeaceBunny's latest blog about mini-goal rewards and why she doesn't have any:

and I started to write a comment to her blog -- but my comment got longer and longer and longer...and then I realized I should probably just turn this into a blog myself.

(It's kinda like back in the day when a rapper would put out a song and a second rapper would come along with a "response" rap -- except this ain't no rap battle, cuz I heart Bunny and respect her opinion, and she's awesome. Plus, I.Can't.Rap.)

For those of you who have read me yammering on and on about my damn new shoes, you know that I believe in mini-goal rewards. For me, rewards are part of my re-training myself to be a healthier person, but they're also a part of re-training my idea of what the word "reward" means.

In the past, I've always rewarded myself with food. Well, cigarettes and food:

"Clean the kitchen and you can have a granola bar."
"Finish this script and you can have a smoke."

When I quit smoking ten years ago, my reward system narrowed down to all food, all the time. In fact, the last time I was on Spark, I didn't reward myself at all -- not because I was opposed to rewards, but because I couldn't think of anything to reward myself with other than food.

Let me say that once again, and loudly:

I mean, seriously.
That's some kind of crap when you realize that NOTHING makes you happier than food!

That's why, this go-around, I decided that I needed to address this particular perverse little corner of my effed-up-edness. This time, honest-to-god rewards were in order, both to give myself "atta girls" for reaching milestones, but also to reinforce the idea that a real reward isn't a snack (or a cigarette, for that matter). But what would be an appropriate reward?


Clothes were out. As we've already discussed in this blog, I wouldn't drop a size (and therefore need new clothes) until I was 30-40# lighter. I'd need a reward well before then!

In theory, pedicures and massages and that sort of thing were viable rewards, but both come with a little tension for me. I've never had a massage, and I'm afraid paying someone to press on my fat would make me totally self-conscious about my flabbitude. Pedicures I like, but they're always sort of awkward because I have psoriasis and I have to go to the place and tell them what my deal is, and that always makes me feel like a leper. So, while pedicures and massages are still technically on the table, they probably shouldn't be engaged until later in my weight loss efforts, when my flabbitude has lessened and when the dieting has calmed my psoriasis a bit.

So, what do I need/want? I puzzled over it for a week.

Then I pulled on my tattered New Balances for the very second run of my C25K program, and I realized that my first reward should be for really good shoes. It was something I needed and something that would support my weight loss efforts. Then I found out about Big Peach Running Co. and I was intrigued and it was a done deal. Shoes would be my first reward (and as you know, I got 'em last night and they ROCK!)

I'm now toying with the idea of making all my rewards somehow center around fitness -- cool gadget-y things like shoes and watches and tech shirts, running skirts and the like, in some sort of attempt to help me "fake it 'til I make it".

My freakish logic is like this: while I may not look like a runner, I can at least be equipped like one while I work my way into this sport and into fitness. But -- and here's the key -- I have to *earn* every piece of my gear!

There was this Auto Mechanics School that used to advertise on TV when I was a kid, it was, like, a two-year vocational program where you were given an empty toolbox on your first day of class. As you learned how to use each tool, you were given one to put in your toolbox -- the idea being that at the end of the program, you left with a degree *and* a fully-equipped toolbox with which to start your career.

I kind of feel like this is what I'm doing with my rewards.

And while I know eventually, I'll run out of gear to reward myself with -- running is, of course, fairly minimalist -- I guess I'll just have to puzzle my way into new, non-fitness centered rewards. Like massages and pedicures and clothes and whatever else comes my way!

So, Mini-Goal Reward or not to Mini-Goal Reward? I say yes to rewards -- but YMMV! We've all got to find our own way with this challenge, and I, for one, am gonna need all the incentive I can get!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • KATYDID412
    I just think -- each to her or his own. We all need to figure out the ways we can work this, for ourselves. There's no right way or wrong way.

    Hugs all around!
    2215 days ago
    I love rewards. As for food being a reward - as a psychologist, I can honestly tell you, food is THE most powerful reward. We reward our rats with food pellets! It is something that has always been highly rewarding to our ancestors - otherwise, they wouldn't have eaten so much, and they would have died.


    Rewards are very helpful! They might not be the *only* thing that helps you to a goal, but you might be trying to decide one day "should I go for a run, or should I sit here and eat some ice cream?" and that little reward dangling over your head could be what gets you out the door - then it's worth it!

    I reward myself with slash marks for healthy behaviors, which I think I'm mentioned before, and those slash marks count toward money (for example, each glass of water is worth $.10. Still, I hate drinking it... it's not working!). I have a Pandora bracelet, and those slashes count toward Pandora beads.

    And there is lots of equipment runners can use:
    -GPS watch w/ heart rate monitor
    -And foot pod for when you run in the winter indoors
    -More new shoes
    -Tech shirts (tanks, t's, long-sleeved)
    -Winter running gear
    -Runner's World Magazine
    -Signing up for races - it's usually $20-$30 for a 5k
    -Good socks - I like Balgo or Balgo. I also have Pumas, but I don't like them as much.

    Or other rewards:
    -New hair cut or color
    -Some new clothes that are not necessarily smaller, but make you feel better about yourself. And make you feel damn sexy! It helps!
    -New nail polish or other make-up
    -Having someone clean and detail your car

    Good luck!
    2215 days ago
    Yes to rewards! One of my favorite Spark rewards I've given myself is my food scale.

    What are your hobbies and interests? Maybe you can figure out more rewards that way. You could buy yourself a magazine subscription so you have a monthly reminder of accomplishing a goal. Do you like to knit or paint? You could get some new supplies.
    2215 days ago
    But is this really a reward or a necessity. I like that you did a blog post, gives me more room to wiggle. I love that you think I'm awesome when you know I heart you. Still I would say the shoes are a necessity, you are running and no offense but we are overweight, which in itself is alot but running is harder with extra weight as is everything else. Most runners need proper shoes to get the maximum results without injury from their run. Yes, you could have done it in the busted ones but eventually it would have led to all sorts of injuries. SO I say the shoes were a necessity to keep you in the best form you can be to continue weight loss the way you're doing it.

    I don't question the validity of others needing rewards for motivation but I don't. I have bought myself eveything that I can think of except for my health. The 100 pounds seems daunting to most that I want to lose that they think I need an incentive, why should I? Isn't my gut hanging over, or the risk of high blood pressure or diabetes that runs prominent in my family incentive enough. Should I not use the motivation from my mom and siblings taking medications from food induced diagnoses to keep at it or better yet all the yells I get when I do accomplish a loss or an achievement from you guys my SP cheering section as a reward or incentives. That said we all have to do what we do to get there to weight loss paradise. Yours was the super motivating do everything and spin you into stratosphere shoes, mine is me walking in sunshine in pum pum shorts with no gut and strong thighs. Whatever makes you do it then GET SOME!

    1peacebunny out!
    PS - I am also inspired when my blog inspires thoughts in others...mean I am doing my SP lets get IT!
    2215 days ago
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