Non Food Rewards

One of the sure fire ways to sabotage the hard work put into losing weight is treating yourself with a sinful food reward like chocolate cake, candy, even a few martinis.  In the past I did reward myself with food. I mostly did it when I dieted in college. I would eat well and workout all week, then go out with the girls and drink that weekend.

I also used to use food as a cheer-me up for a stressful day or bad week. In my head savoring a “love it” sundae from Cold Stone Creamery once in a while seemed to melt away anything plaguing my mind. Problem was when I got stressed out or depressed I started to crave sweets. Breaking this cycle is a real challenge.

Right before I started my DietBet challenge I noticed that I started to crave candy and chocolate after a meal, when I was feeling some stress, and when I was feeling blue. I had to really think back to my habits and find out how I got stuck in that food reward rut.

On a typical day with the kids I eat on the go even if I am at home. A preschooler and a toddler make meals feel like a marathon. This one wants this, that one wants that. This one won’t eat this, that one needs that. Meals take about an hour and a half around here. This includes prepping 2 separate meals (since 9 times out of 10 they don’t want to eat the same thing), feeding the kids (cutting and dishing out food for one strapped in a highchair and the other running around the living room), cleaning up (my OCD will not allow dirty dishes to pile up, lol), then finally getting around to feeding myself (often times while standing up at the counter doing dishes or refilling sippy cups). Meals for me aren’t relaxing, they aren’t even enjoyable. Many times after I eat I realize its time to start the bedtime routine/baths for the kids and I. When all is said and done by the time I sit and relax for the night is 10pm. I watch TV, catch up on emails, FB/Twitter, blog, and relax… with a snack and maybe a glass of wine/beer. Even if I eat well or light all day I end up de-stressing with food at the end of the day. I know this isn’t good and I know I need to break this habit.

My divorce can be classified as a nasty one. To spare a long story, my ex seems to want to fight and battle over every little issues and non-issue. Needless to say our lawyers get involved every step of the way. Its been an expensive and stressful process that has been dragging on for 2 years now (and its still not even over and done with). This stress drove up my anxiety. When my anxiety went up I lost my appetite. Most of the first year of my divorce I had anxiety attacks like this left and right; I barely ate. Now I have an anxiety attacks like this once in a while. The result is the same. I de-stress over a food treat like candy or beer.   The only exception to this was when my unemployment first ran out and I could barely pay my bills.  I stopped paying my mortgage and only paid the utilities. I paid all other bills if I had the money. The phone calls from collections were unnerving and spun my anxiety out of control. It would take days to get up the courage to check my checking account balance. (To this day when I hear the phone ring I get a mini-panic attack. I also have to psyche myself up to check my bank account). I was just too scared to see a negative balance again and knowing the bills were sitting there unpaid. I barely ate. I snacked only when I felt lethargic. I cutout all drinking. When I did eat it was only after I fed the kids, I ate what they left on their plates. I couldn’t afford to feed myself, so I ate everyone’s left overs, a bowl of cereal or a PBJ. When I did have a spare dollar or two I found myself treating myself to take-out. In my mind I barely ate all week so I “deserved” a nice “treat” like Chinese, Sushi, or cheesesteak. I am sure I lost some weight during that ordeal, but gained it back with these “rewards”.

Dating has had its ups and downs. More downs than ups. Every time I met a guy I really liked he either disappeared or broke things off with me. When dating was good I ate out (sometimes when I was too poor to feed myself these date meals served as a meal that night and tomorrow’s dinner… I always took home left overs), and even had a few drinks. When I was date-free and feeling lonely it hurt. Nothing is as depressing sitting home alone on a Friday or Saturday night with no where to go, no one to talk to, with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a glass of wine.

I know I need to break this food reward cycle. I know it has been sabotaging my efforts all along, and maybe even adding a few pounds here or there.

I have come up with a plan.

Last year for my birthday I treated myself to a pin-up photo shoot. It boosted my self esteem exponentially. Yes, I was heavy, but looking at my photos I could see I was still beautiful. I felt beautiful.  I told myself I wanted to do another photo shoot again, that is IF I lost 100-pounds or more. This is still the case, but this time I am putting a goal date on it. In my initial DietBet post I talked about my goal of getting off the 70 pounds in a year. Well, I want to take that a step further. My birthday is in April, so if I make a goal to get off 100-pounds by April 2013 I am going to do another pin-up photo shoot. My last shoot I wore a vintage-inspired dress and a Betty Paige inspired bathing suit.

When I lose the 100-pounds I would love to wear something really sexy like…

This is my ultimate goal. I want this. I need this. I want to feel this.

I also do realize I need some smaller goals along the way. Maybe monthly, weekly, or after each 10-pound weightloss? I know I need to come up with some ideas. Going clothes shopping seems like something you have to do after you lose 10-25 pounds anyway, so not sure if I want to do that.  My budget is tight, so maybe a mani-pedi or mini spa day?

For this DietBet challenge I was thinking of using the cash for voice lessons. Singing makes me feel good, but I cannot carry a tune. I’d love to get some lessons, in fact I always wanted to learn how to sing. I found a place that does $50/lesson. With my DietBet winnings I wonder how many lessons I could get. If I combine the winnings with a special b-day gift to myself this year it could be a great reward…. although I had my eye on a kindle or nook for a while…..hmmmm.


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