We all function off a reward system. Most everything we do is intrinsically or extrinsically, positively or negatively rewarding to us. We work hard and thrive off positive accolades from our bosses, professors, and parents. We do nice things, sure for the sake of paying it forward, but also for that warm fuzzy feeling we get (let’s call it a “reward”). I saw a “Friends” episode once where one of the characters set out to perform a selfless act, and for the entire show we saw her fumble around doing all the “right” things, but somehow every single one ended up leading to some positive gain in her life (ah karma…glad “Friends” supports the idea).
Why do we function so well off this positive/negative feedback system, and yet fight against it SO vehemently when it comes to making changes and improvements in our own personal lives? Why must we feel guilty if we eat a piece of cheesecake after a long day at work? Why feel like a failure if you miss a day of exercise? I was this person. I still am this person some of the time, but lately I’m trying this new system where I reward myself for positive changes, and forgive myself for anything society would deem as a shortcoming.
Example: Diets are a fun little fad of an idea, but in reality, dieting is no way to live. Let’s look at the definition of diet according to dictionary.com:
a :food and drink regularly provided or consumed
b :habitual nourishment
d : a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight <going on a diet>
Why does our society immediately equate the word “diet” with the last definition listed? A diet is what you eat everyday, “regularly”, “habitually” and should not be some 30 day solution to all your problems. Your diet is a way of life. So when I came to the point of saying “hm, I could lose a few pounds,” rather than drop all the yumminess and count out my calories, I opted to make simple small changes. I have a healthy, low calorie breakfast and lunch (don’t know the exact counts but totaling between 700-1000 calories), and then reward myself with whatever dinner I feel like. Granted, my dinners are not typically a giant pizza and a couple beers, but it’s also not structured or set. In this sense, dinner is my “reward.” Maybe eventually I’ll have a couple dinners structured as well, but for now, I’m making small changes and rewarding myself for them.
So take a leaf out of my book guys…reward yourself! I’m not endorsing a starve, starve, gorge principle on your 3 daily meals, but rather a plan, plan, enjoy. Or, if you are starting from scratch, plan, enjoy, enjoy. I’m a foodie at heart and want to enjoy my meals. I hope you all find ways to reward yourselves as well. Apply this to anything outside of nutrition as well–run a good run? Don’t skip a frozen yogurt now and then…..get a good grade? Go out with a friend……..
Reward yourselves for the small steps you take in whatever form you enjoy rewards best. I promise it makes the journey much more enjoyable (and rewarding)! 🙂