Calorie free rewards and penalties.
When you have spent 40+ years being rewarded with food, celebrating with food, commiserating with food and punished through a withholding of food (or maybe required to eat something you did not want/like)…..it’s a real game changer to figure out other things to substitute on a regular basis that are not edible.
Big night out? Normally meant a rich/heavy/decadent meal.
Major promotion? Engagement? Mom’s night out? Friend in from out of town? Bought a new home? Got a new haircut? On a fabulous vacation? See above.
Even something as simple and cake and ice cream to celebrate a birthday were initially a struggle for me. Because I was still figuring out what made sense, what was worth it, and it continued to reinforce to me that food was the thing being celebrated when really…isn’t it the actual anniversary of the person you love coming into this world that you are celebrating?
So yes…now there are times I will make the choice to have some cake or ice cream or flan or whatever. But it is because I chose to have them and did not feel guilted into the bites in order to celebrate and had planned in advance what my strategy was going to be with the celebratory food items.
In the beginning it was simple, though expensive, to reward and celebrate changes in myself with clothing, shoes (I went from a W to a M shoe…still a whopping 13 in most cases though) and handbags. Okay, and some jewelry. But there are only so many such items you can buy before it’s all just too much and begins to feel like a different kind of weight in your life.
There are as many ways to reward or console a person as there are minutes in the day times the number of people on the planet. It is absolutely mind boggling when I think of the ways I could be happily rewarded and when I talk to others about what drives them and makes them feel noticed/appreciated/celebrated I found that for the most part, it was the same for them. Soooooo many options, but we tend towards those that are yummiest. Because they are easy. They are festive. They are expected by so many.
How I celebrated achievements, calorie-free
When I was promoted to Vice President, something I had long worked towards earning, I celebrated by going on a 10 mile run all by myself on a favorite route and I thought about the work I’d done to get there and started setting my sights on what I’d need to do to step it up for an SVP in the next 5-7 years. When a good friend achieved something they had long been working towards, I had a small silver disk engraved with the date for use as a necklace or bracelet charm and she felt it was too much, but it was almost exactly what I had spent taking another friend to cake and coffee, plus tip, a few months prior at a nice restaurant. A bike ride with my husband is a great way to celebrate an amazing presentation I made in SF and wanted to tell him all about. A few hours in a cozy corner at the local bookshop with a friend I enjoy spending time with is delightful to no end.
There are many possibilities for rewards in the universe. Reprogramming my brain to receive things through senses other than taste as a celebration of accomplishment wasn’t easy. Not at all. But as I shared yesterday, getting those last 20 pounds off was no easy feat, either.
Not going to sabotage myself with food I don’t need to call it a celebration. To feel celebrated. To celebrate others. I will tell you that while I cannot begin to recall what flavor cake I ate for my 45th birthday…I know exactly what I did for a celebration of 46, 47 and 48 and the meaning of the lasting moments shared with those celebrating in a calorie-free way are very much in my mind and appreciated deeply. The old adage of a moment on the lips and forever on the hips might be over simplifying things a bit, but the basic truth is there.
I’d love to hear what your top ways of calorie free celebrating are—new ideas always welcome here!
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