Setting goals helps us achieve success. It gives us something specific to strive for. Attaching rewards to those goals helps us stay motivated, which is the real key to successful weight loss. Too often, however, people set themselves up for failure because of the rewards they choose. Setting realistic, appropriate weight loss rewards can help you achieve and maintain your goals.
Why food goals don’t work
You may feel that you can deprive yourself of that dish of ice cream or put off making that batch of cookies you love for a while. But since it’s something you are looking forward to, you might be tempted to allow yourself those goodies at a certain weight loss goal. But depriving yourself completely and then using unhealthy food as weight loss incentive sends your brain and body the wrong message. Sweets and other unhealthy foods and behaviors are things that should be indulged in occasionally, just not as a regular habit. Using them as rewards reinforces the idea that they are the things you should crave, the best things you can receive. Non-food weight loss rewards are more helpful for long-term behavioral changes.
Clothes are a great choice for a weight loss goal because they involve so many positive thoughts and activities. For one thing, shopping is an activity that you can now create (or re-create) that doesn’t revolve around food. Enjoy the hunt for something you can feel more attractive in. Therein is another positive aspect. Feeling good about how you look adds fuel to the fire that has helped you achieve your weight loss goals so far, and new clothes typically increase that good self-image.
A trip somewhere can be a wonderful weight loss reward as long as you choose the destination carefully. If you have time and money you can spend, think of someplace you have wanted to go or something you’ve wanted to do for a long time. It needs to be someplace that has meaning in order for it to work; it can’t just be the monthly weekend to the casino. Just think about the eating and activity choices associated with the destination. A cruise might not be the best choice, for instance, unless you feel you are in enough control to avoid the huge food spreads typically available.
Many overweight people, particularly women, don’t spend much time and money on themselves. This is your chance to do some self-pampering. You might choose something big for a major weight loss goal, like a week at a spa; something less expensive, like a massage; or something really cheap like a haircut or color, perfume, a pair of earrings, and so on. You don’t need to spend lavishly in order to have weight loss goals that are effective-you just need them to be things you look forward to. Making yourself feel good about yourself again sends that positive spin that can keep you on your healthy track.
Make a list of the rewards you want and when you feel you should achieve them. Be sure to include rewards for behavioral goals, not just pounds lost. Don’t be afraid to spend some money on yourself; you’ve earned it.