Hello, My name is Kate. Aaaand, I’m a food-a-holic.
(here’s the part where you say Hello back.)
I like food. Pretty much all of it. Like so many people, I, too, struggle with healthy eating and healthy lifestyle. Thankfully, 8 years ago, I managed to lose about 30 pounds, and have since kept it off.
But I have seen the wheels of time ticking away at my youthful metabolism; and a desk job has also lead back to a “softness” in my body. And so Dave and I are planning to kick our health up a notch.
We are preparing to follow a strict plan of no sugars, no coffee, no white flours, etc. And I wanted to share with you one of our tools that we think just might help!
And this isn’t limited to only healthy eating. Whatever your goal is – to eat differently; to get to the gym; to cut back on smoking; to work on a big project daily – hopefully this idea can be tweaked to your needs, to help you succeed!
Goals Need To Be Measurable – and Baby Steps are Great!
I originally made up a “time line” so to speak, with rewards for various mile markers. I wasn’t sure at first what was going to work best, so I made steps in various categories. Rewards for each week I followed my eating “rules”; rewards for every 5 pounds lost (or drop in % body fat); rewards for achievements such as holding a difficult yoga pose for 30 seconds or running a certain distance or speed… So think what kinds of milestones you have, and how you’ll be able to MEASURE you’re changes.
To me, it was important to have weekly goals. Because I knew that, even if the scale didn’t budge or the clothes feel looser, that I was STILL doing something good for myself by eating such a healthy diet – and I didn’t want those other factors to cause me to feel discouraged and turn back to unhealthy foods.
So I made my little measurable milestones, brainstormed reward ideas, and paired the rewards with the milestones. I started with smaller rewards at first, then would throw a bigger one in here and there to keep things going! This was then posted on the refrigerator, where I could be reminded daily of my goals and rewards.
What Will Motivate You?
The trick is to come up with rewards that you want, but that don’t break the bank! When I asked around, so many people would reward themselves with “new shoes” or “facial.” And these are fun rewards, but when I’m trying to make weekly baby steps, I knew I had to do something more affordable!
There are definitely some more costly rewards on my list, but I tried to keep the majority of them $5 or less.
Some of my smaller rewards:
- time to sit and watch Good Eats episodes on YouTube
- visit the free cultural centers around the island
- day at the beach with a fiction book (I’ve had my head buried in non-fiction nutrition since we got here, a break from it is a huge reward!)
- buy a watermelon and juice it
- iTunes song for my next run
- put money into a “reward jar” to save for a later, more expensive reward
- favorite tea from Teavana
And so on! Take some time to think of things you’d like to do.
But these are my small-step goals. Since I rewarded myself every single Sunday evening (only AFTER staying on track during the whole weekend!) I didn’t want to do anything huge. So also set bigger rewards for your bigger landmarks that don’t come quite so often.
Some of my bigger rewards:
- new yoga shorts ($5-15)
- picnic on Managaha island (we have to rent jet skis to get there, so a little pricier)
- Windsurfing lessons
- Favorite dress tailored to new size
Brainstorm! And I hope people will share reward ideas here!
Do NOT make your rewards FOOD unless it is to treat yourself to an expensive but STILL HEALTHY food. Maybe you’ve been dying to try adding goji berries to your Ants on a Log; or you thought it’d be fun to try hemp seeds for a coating of your favorite healthy truffle; or those fancy dehydrated kale chips from the store on a movie weekend; or an exotic tea… these are food rewards that are okay. If you are trying to break a food addiction, I do not feel that giving in to that addiction as a “reward” is helpful. For some people, it may be okay, but for me, it often will undo what I’ve been working towards, re-triggers the cravings, and makes it that much harder to get back on track the next day. Be honest with yourself and decide what will be best for you.
Ok! So that’s part one of motivating yourself!
But what do you do when you’re standing there, looking at that ice cream in the freezer or grocery store display, biting your fingernail as you have the internal fight? You see your reward list on the fridge, but that next reward just seems so darn far away!
And that ice cream is so close!
May I present: The Motivation Box!
You don’t have to have a fancy box – any container will do. I had this large white box, and so had fun decorating it. I think it’s good for the box to be pleasing to look at – this little guy is going to be your best friend and support on your journey! My hardest times are the 8pm night craves, so my box sits on my fridge at home. But if you have more trouble when traveling – parties, work lunches, etc – you may want a smaller, more portable version of this. Something you can tuck in your car or purse.
And what, pray tell, is in this mysterious box? I’m glad you asked!
Little slips of paper that can motivate and remind you of your goals, mini rewards for conquering your cravings, or ideas for distraction to get you away from the junk food!
I cut up a few index cards, and started to write down some inspiring quotes and some reward ideas…
But I felt so happy to have this arsenal of anticipation! It almost made me want to go home and have a craving so I’d have a reason for pulling one of these guys out!
Instead, I calmly tucked them into the motivation box and stuck them on the fridge. They are now there waiting until the dire time when junk food calls.
What’s in mine? Here are a few examples.
- “RESPECT. LOVE. HEAL: You have to Respect yourself and Love yourself enough to let yourself Heal.”
- “Food is fuel. What will fuel you best right now?”
- “Nothing Tastes as Good as Healthy Feels”
- “Relax! You are STRONG and can conquer this craving!”
- Take 30 minutes to check out blogs/website of people that inspire you to be healthy!
- Go look up 3 healthy new recipes to make later
- Flip through a magazine and cut out things for a vision board
- Watch a TED talk on health, or a video from Medical Missionaries
- Do research for VK blog. You gotta walk the walk!
- Work on FlipSideAdventures game ideas
- Drag your hubs out for a walk, hold hands, and enjoy the sun!
- Play hacky sack!
- Take 20 minutes to do a yoga class – you know you’ll feel better!
- TIME OUT! 15 minutes of (insert activity here) then enjoy a fresh coconut water instead!
- Go play a video game!
- Sunny out? Take a book to the beach! Dreary out? Take a book to bed, and curl up with some hot tea
- BIG BREATH! Feel better? Good! Go get hugs from your man. Don’t stress eat.
- Go do chores – it may not feel like a reward, but you’ll be glad you stayed away from food, and feel fulfilled for being productive!
- Let’s get PRIMAL! Have fun gathering fruit from your yard!
- Stop thinking of YOU: write to family or friends; or gather up items to donate
- Rent a movie and binge on steamed broccoli (I know, gross to many – but we love it! Find your own health binge!)
- How much is this craving worth to you? Put ($1-$5) in the reward jar for a later reward!
- Ask hubby for a quick, soothing massage
- Sleep! You often crave because you’re too tired – go take a quick power nap
Now, admittedly, some of those rewards or reminders may not work for that specific time or craving. That’s okay! Just stick it in the box and pull out another one! I find that, just in the simple act of picking out a little slip of paper, it gave my head time to ask, “do you really want that bad food?” and the reward itself wasn’t all that important. It was just another way to keep me in balance, and in control of my self.
What are some of your favorite mini rewards? How do you keep yourself on track? What makes it hard to stick to your goals? Share your thoughts, struggles, and successes! Together, we can make our goals a reality