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Rewarding Your Just Desserts

Calculate calories to lose weight – How many times have you heard diet pundits advise, “Never reward yourself with food”?  How ridiculous is that?  The phrase “comfort food” wouldn’t have any meaning if we didn’t get an emotional boost from our favorite foods.  Besides, from the time we’re toddlers, we get the clear message that when we endure something bad, we get a sweet treat as a reward.  No?  Didn’t you get a lollipop from your doctor after you got a shot?  From a medical professional, no less.

On the other hand, those same diet gurus will tell you to find something else that makes you happy, like buying shoes, and they’ll recommend you reward yourself for sticking to your diet by treating yourself to shoes.  Congratulations, you’ve dropped two dress sizes, but you can’t buy a new wardrobe because your credit cards are maxed out from buying all those shoes.  You simply substituted one compulsion, overeating, with another, impulse buying.  You traded one problem for another.

There are two lessons here.  First, we need to embrace the concept of an earned reward.  We worked for it.  The doctor didn’t give us a lollipop to make our arm hurt less, he did it to reward how brave we (hopefully) were.  If you are sad, and you eat in the hope that it will make you happier, you will be a depressed size 22 in no time.  If, however, you do an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill, you have earned the calories you burned just as surely as you earn your paycheck by going to a job every day.  And just as, once the essentials are covered, you are free to spend your money on anything you want, you are free to spend those earned calories on a hot fudge sundae if you want to.  Of course, the prudent thing is to put the extra money in savings, and use the calories to pay down some of your calorie debt (i.e., your fat), but sometimes it’s nice to have that pair of shoes.  And that hot fudge sundae.

The second lesson is to match currency. 

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