Well, after about 5 or 6 days of 1500 calories and walking every day I kind of fell off the wagon. Who wants to be on a wagon anyway. There’s nothing to look forward to on the wagon. The entering of calories became cumbersome when we were cooking. My husband made some really awesome Paleo Crabcakes (I would link but I don’t know where he got the recipe). I just didn’t feel like entering each one of the 20 ingredients into an app to figure the calories…so I put it off…and put it off…and before you know it 3 days have passed and my Lose It! app is neglected.
Ok, so that didn’t work for me. If I’m not willing to do it, it doesn’t work for me.
It occurs to me that I should start looking at this the way a behavior analyst would. This is what I do, after all. When I write a behavior plan with the intention of increasing the frequency of a desirable behavior I arrange for the consequences of that behavior to be reinforcing (a.k.a. rewarding). Behavior is lawful. People tend to repeat behavior that result in rewards and don’t repeat behaviors that provide unwanted results. If I analyzed my own behavior with regard to counting calories over the past week, I’d say the reinforcement schedule was too thin (i.e., there wasn’t a powerful enough or frequent enough reward to make it worth doing). Sure, it was nice to see the scale move…but apparently that delayed gratification – that moment in the morning when the scale gave me good news – was only enough to keep me on plan for 5 or 6 days…it was not powerful or immediate enough to motivate me to enter 20 crabcake ingredients, and then the slippery slope began.
So what I need to do is manipulate the consequences of the behaviors that make up my plan so the rewards are more powerful and/or more frequent…so I don’t fall off the wagon again.
So what am I willing to work for?
Let’s do a reinforcer assessment first. This is basically a list of crap I’m willing to work for. Ideally, they’re things that can be provided quickly and in high frequency, so not too expensive or too difficult to come by/organize. You can use bigger or more expensive rewards too, and use tokens for the little steps toward the big reward. Here we go, off the top of my head – a list of things I don’t typically allow myself very often because I’m pretty stingy with money these days. I think I’ll have to do a token system since almost everything I like costs $.
- Music downloads (2 tokens per song)
- Time at a coffee shop alone (10 tokens)
- A movie alone (15 tokens)
- Clothes (20 tokens for $10 worth of clothing)
- Pedicure (40 tokens)
- A new book (20 tokens for $10 book)
- Sushi (50 tokens for sushi takeout)
- A night out with David (100 tokens)
- A lab test (e.g., lipids, Vit D) (150 tokens for $75 test)
So here are the tasks I’m going to reward myself for. The number of tokens I can earn is directly proportionate to the difficulty and/or importance of the task for me right now:
- 30 minutes of exercise (walking or other constant movement) – 1 tokens
- 15 minutes of yoga – 5 tokens
- Logging all food for the day – 1 tokens
- Drinking no alcohol – 2 tokens
- Staying under 1500 net calories for the day (meaning, if I burn off calories exercising I can eat that much more) – 3 tokens
- Taking all of my supplements – 1 token
So starting tomorrow: ABA Program – Day 1.