Our guest blogger today is Just _Kelly. She blogs over at Choosing Losing, where she is "documenting her slow and sustainable (or staggering and stumbling, depending on the day) journey to a healthier life!"
As ya’ll can tell I like charts and graphs. I also like makeup. And jewelry. And luxe spa treatments and gadgets. Combine these loves and you get reward charts! I think a little extra motivation for getting healthier never hurt anyone. Sure having good blood pressure and healthy BMI and low triglyceride levels are all good and dandy, but sometimes having something tangible to reach for can help put weight loss losers over the brink.
Most of us are extremely motivated by rewards, and rewards can be beneficial to your weight loss and fitness success. Looking at the big picture can often be intimidating. If you have a lot of weight to lose, realistically, it could be a long road to hoe until your reach your goal weight. It is important to reward yourself throughout your weight loss journey to stay motivated.
Long Term Goals
If you have over 10 lbs to lose I suggest setting up long-term and short-term goals. These goals should be personal and can be utilized to focus on the things you need the most improvement on. Long-term goals focus on the big picture. You should have a vision of your final goals. How much can you bench? What will you run a 5k in? What is your goal weight or size? What will your daily eating habits look like? What will it feel like when you reach this goal?
- Long-term goals and rewards are fun to think up because they are BIG! Examples of possible rewards for your long term goals:
- Weekend vacation or cruise.
- New wardrobe.
- Salon makeover.
- Large piece of workout equipment.
- Pretty piece of jewelry.
Your big ticket reward items should correlate with your big goals. Let’s take this out of the weight loss realm a minute. One of my goals is to get a higher paying job. Once I hit a certain salary number, I will buy myself a new car. That is dang good motivation for me to either earn a promotion or scout for a different, higher paying position. Your goal in itself should mean so much to you, should be something you want so bad, that you’d go after it just for its own sake. By adding some frosting on top though you might give yourself the little edge you need to get their sooner!
So you know your big, long term goal. You’ve visualized reaching it. What it looks like, how it feels. Now you just need to get there. Daunting, huh? Let’s slice and dice that into miniature, bite-size (can you tell Halloween candy is on my mind), less overwhelming pieces, shall we?
Short-term goals are the bits and pieces that collectively bring you to your long-term goal. They can be related to weigh loss, food, exercise, water intake and other areas of personal improvement.
The key with short-term goals is to set small, achievable goals and reward yourself frequently. Create a simple chart to track your progress and watch as your rewards quickly add up, giving you another reason to stay on track.
Some examples of short-term goals are:
- Reaching a weekly cardio limit.
- Staying within your daily calorie range for so many days in a row.
- Drinking 8 or more cups of water per day.
- Reaching a certain weight loss.
- Exercising so 15/20/25 days out of the month.
Using Rewards for Motivation
Often, people on weight loss journeys have difficulty staying on track because they feel deprived. Depravation often occurs when people cut back on calories and increase their exercise while working on lifestyle changes.
The hardest struggle for many overweight people: you have to break the habit of rewarding yourself with food. It will be easier to adapt if you put something else in its place.
Try using small rewards to stay motivated. The reward should be pre-determined and something you are willing to work for. Rewards should not consist of food. Rewards should also not be something you would need to buy eventually anyways. For example, I don’t think new running shoes are a good reward. Why? Because, if you are running, you’ll eventually need new shoes anyways. This inevitability of having to buy your reward gives you a mental excuse to not reach your goal to achieve it. So choose decadent rewards! Things you don’t need but want! Also, make them specific! Look up actual spa treatments/gadgets/books/thingamabobs and list them by name.
Examples of small rewards include:
- A massage.
- A manicure/pedicure.
- A book, CD or DVD.
- Dumbbells, medicine ball or resistance bands.
- Inexpensive jewelry.
- Moderately priced exercise gadgets.
Soon you will work harder and stay on track because you will look forward to treating yourself to these rewards as you work towards your long term weight loss goal.
Some final helpful hints:
- Make sure you think of your goal and reward chart is a living, breathing document. Change it as necessary! Add new goals for yourself as they become relevant! Make it a document that grows and changes as you grow and change.
- Post it somewhere you’ll see it regularly, whether it be your personal blog, on your mirror in your bathroom, on your iGoogle homepage, on your refrigerator.
- Embellish it with pictures of your rewards. Seeing the image will be that much more of a trigger.
- Don’t cheat! Reward yourself for your accomplishments. If you are struggling between small goals, maybe add an intermediate goal and a small reward to go with it. Look at your journey as an adventure; the harder you work the more rewarding it’ll be in the end!