Monday, March 22, 2010

Reward Yourself!

About a year ago, I finally passed the ten-pound loss mark. It was an exciting milestone. Yes, it took me nearly 3 months to lose those 10 pounds, but it was the fastest 10 pounds I'd ever lost, and I know I can be a slow loser. I’ve even accepted that I can’t or won’t lose weight fast. In 2009, I was prepared to give it my all for a whole year to lose weight and accept whatever results came my way. I didn’t let how long it took me to lose those 10 pounds ruin my feelings of happiness at the accomplishment.

I wanted to acknowledge the achievement, celebrate the accomplishment and reward myself. In the past, I’d often used food as a reward. Going out for a nice dinner with friends did not feel like an appropriate way to celebrate losing weight. I also knew I needed to change some of the habits that had helped me gain and maintain my obese status. I needed to come up with another way besides food to reward myself.

I decided to go buy some new make-up. A year ago, I’d almost run out of it. I had a little bit of powder, a brown eyeliner, very old mascara and a couple of lipsticks left. In 2008 and perhaps even 2007, I’d really stopped caring so much about my appearance, and replacing make-up was not a priority. I’d stopped wearing it to work. In fact, it was getting so bad that I wasn’t bothering to put my contacts in half the time I went to my office. Given the fact that I always feel much, much less attractive or even worth acknowledging when I wear my glasses, I was really wallowing in some bad vibes about myself. I’d given up on my appearance in ways that were not healthy or any good for my self-confidence level.

Going to the mall to replace all my old make-up was a great way to celebrate this new effort in caring for myself. As I’ve continued to lose weight, I’ve started to pay more attention to my appearance. This has helped increase my self-confidence, and I’ve kept it from crossing the line into an unhealthy or harsh and judgmental obsession with how I look. Around the 15-pound loss mark, I started to shop for new clothes as a reward.

Over the long haul, I’ve found passing a 5-pound milestone (20, 25, 30 pounds down) or a 10-pound milestone such as getting into the 180s from the 190s was enough of a reward on its own. I then started to reserve the rewards for when I was feeling fat or discouraged about my journey to becoming a healthy writer. I’ve been known to go straight from a Weight Watchers meeting where I found out I had a gained a little to an Ann Taylor Loft to buy a new pair of pants that would not have fit a month prior.

Even just trying new clothes on at my favorite stores and getting into a smaller size could be a reward or a way to encourage myself. I don’t have to buy the clothes to get the thrill. Sometimes when I’m down about my last weigh in or feeling discouraged, I’ll walk over to Ann Taylor at lunch and try on some outfits that catch my eye. Yes, sometimes I buy them, but I often don’t, especially if it’s not a good price. I just admire myself in smaller clothes in the mirror and acknowledge all that I’ve accomplished and what I will continue to accomplish if I keep going.

I’ll also do this at home. I’ll go to my closet and pull out a favorite piece of new clothing or an outfit I’m still working on getting into. I’ll put it on and acknowledge how good it looks on or how much closer I am getting to it fitting. I’ll also hold it up and force myself to acknowledge how small the clothing looks and that I now can fit into it; therefore, I’m small.

It also helps to look at clothing in sizes that used to fit but are now too big. It is thrilling to put on a 12 or 14 that is very roomy. I've given away most of my too big clothing, so I have to go to the stores to find 16s or plus-sized clothing. Saturday I walked into a Lane Bryant, formerly one of my favorite stores, and hunted down a pair of size 20 plus cropped pants. I held it up to myself, and I was about half that size. I could wrap it around my body, and I do think I might have been able to step my entire body into one leg. I wore a pair of size 20 shorts for many years. It was kind of amazing stuff to think about as I looked at those now way too large pants.

These kinds of rewards really help me feel good about myself and keep moving forward.

Do you use rewards to keep you going on your journey to becoming a healthy writer?

8 comments:

Sally Kilpatrick on March 22, 2010 at 7:05 AM said...

Michelle,

You make a great point. Sometimes, when I feel myself slipping off the wagon, I remind myself that shopping is nowhere near as fun when you can't fit into things you think you'll fit into. I had the greatest time at the Lennox Macy's a few weekends back because I was fitting into smaller sizes. My Easter dress even came from the juniors department--I didn't even have time to treat myself with that peppermint mocha I was considering.

Michelle Butler on March 22, 2010 at 9:48 AM said...

Sally,

It sounds like you had a great time at Macy's shopping for an Easter dress. What fun!

Shaking it up this Saturday by looking at a size 20 plus really showed me how far I have come. I have caught myself looking at a 12 or 10 and thinking they were big a time or two lately. I knew I would have to work on my body image on this journey, and it feels very unhealthy to look at a 10 and think it was big. I needed to remind myself what a 20 plus looks like.

Diane Gaston on March 22, 2010 at 2:15 PM said...

What a great idea to go back to the size 20 and see how far you've come.
You've inspired me to get serious about losing weight again, Michelle. Because you look fabulous and, even better than that, you look HAPPY!

Michelle Butler on March 22, 2010 at 2:28 PM said...

Thanks, Diane! I try very hard to be happy, but I don't have to "try" as hard as I sometimes did.

I would say it's not just the weight. Losing weight won't automatically make an unhappy person happy - it's all aspects of my life. This post kind of addresses it:
http://healthywriter.blogspot.com/2009/12/new-years-resolutions-vs-goals.html

I'll also say that in my case some of the weight came from emotional baggage. Working that out and shedding it has been great. I'm thinner internally and externally. :)

Best wishes, Diane!

Elise Hayes on March 22, 2010 at 8:14 PM said...

I love that you have found alternative rewards for yourself--as well as alternative crutches to reach for when things aren't going so well.

I think the reminder of what a size 20 was like was a great way to re-contextualize the size 10s and 12s. Good strategy!

MaryC on March 22, 2010 at 8:38 PM said...

I live reading how you're rewarding yourself, Michelle. Your journey is so inspiring.

Michelle Butler on March 22, 2010 at 10:00 PM said...

Thanks, Elise! I'm trying. Being patient and not so judgmental of myself help too.

Michelle Butler on March 22, 2010 at 10:02 PM said...

Thanks, MaryC!

It really helps me to write about my journey. It forces me to be more positive, confront what could hold me back, construct narratives that are inspirational or triumphant and just be kind to myself.

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