Reward Yourself!

Yesterday I hit it. 198. I haven’t been under 200 pounds since I was a teenager. I got close a couple years ago when I lost 17 pounds on a 7 day zero-calorie fast, down to 208. But even then I wasn’t confused about that being a real weight. I’m pretty sure I gained half of it back in the next two weeks, then the rest in the following one.

Back in September or so, when I decided that enough was enough, having gotten on the scale and weighed in at 242.2, I “knew” I was straight up fantasizing about getting down to 200 pounds.

As the scale groaned less and less with each passing week and having some TRULY shitty days/weeks/months (for instance, in April I actually gained a few pounds) I started thinking to myself, “Well, self? How are you going to mark the 200 pound threshold? What’s the reward?”

Oh, dear readers, my mind was alight with all the cool toys I was going to buy myself when I finally crossed into what they call on reddit “Onederland.”

Among the list of things my mind rotated around were the following:

  • A new bed.
  • A 2×72 belt grinder for knifemaking
  • A new desktop milling machine and basic tooling for machining.
  • A cabinet saw (a big boy tablesaw)
  • An oak roll-top writing desk and chair.

I never could quite settle. (I swear that’s gonna be written on my fucking gravestone. But more on that maybe never.)

So Tuesday I clocked in at 201.4 and realized that if I stuck to my guns I’d have no trouble crossing that final interim line (my actual goal weight is down at about 180 or so. I’m thinking “175 then I’ll see from there.”) Since it was a cigar lounge day I was able to keep myself on beam and away from the kitchen. Got up on Wednesday morning and sure as shit, 198.0.

I may have actually fist-pumped and said “FUCK yeah.” But then it was over. I went in and wrote it on the board in blue (the “new low weight” color), posted something on twitter about it, then admittedly pigged out a bit. I really don’t have any guilt about that. It was fun. I didn’t get crazy. But I was back up to 201 this morning. Fine. No biggie.

But I got to thinking last night that there are a couple/few reasons it’s important to reward yourself. Note: As usual when I try to artificially break things down like this, the borders are actually pretty fuzzy.

First: The straight up reward. You’ve got to make these deals with yourself to stay on track. Yeah yeah, maybe the result of accomplishing something should be its own reward. But I’m not that evolved a person. I still need prizes for shit.

Second: A thing to remind me, at times of darkness, what I’ve accomplished. This is the one that just occurred to me last night. I’m not always on top of my game. I’m in fact quite rarely on top of my game. I’m usually somewhere in the bell-curve middle. Having tangible reminders of thresholds crossed, goals accomplished, and difficulties overcome isn’t just important when we’re in the dumps. It can help keep us at the higher end of our game, so to speak.

Third: Fuck, I had a third one.

Fourth: Rewards as a contract with the future. Easy accomplishments are easy. (Woah there genius boy, slow down on the mind blowing wisdom.) But you (or, well, I anyway) need to be reminded that I keep the promises I make myself. It doesn’t just reassure me that things are possible, but that I can probably push the envelope. The more tactile, visual, concrete reminders I have of that, the harder it gets to deny that. Yeah this overlaps with #2 a bit.

As I said above, these all overlap a bit. The abstract notion is that you are not one identity, one person riding around in your skull operating your body. You contain multitudes and if you don’t give those sub-personalities their due, they won’t give you yours.

You have to be very intentional about the harmony of your mental and emotional guts. Otherwise they’ll just continue to fight each other for dominance, leaving you a chaotic mess of screaming demons in your head.

It’s too easy to fall in to the trap of thinking you can just force yourself into a good/productive mood through sheer force of will and it just isn’t so.

But I’m letting the reward for my accomplishment slide, and I know I shouldn’t be doing that.

Now, that I’m on the other side of the achievement I’m watching myself sell the accomplishment short. “Eh, it’s not really a big deal.” No man, it is. Forty Five pounds down because I woke up one day and decided to do it. It would have been an absolutely unthinkable idea if I’d suggested it even a month earlier.

It’d be so easy to let it pass; to sell myself short and not actually engage in some celebration.

So I think tomorrow I’m going to go down to the furniture store and have them make me the writing desk. (I can’t actually take one off the floor since the small ones are right-handed in a way that really matters and I’m, well…not. It’ll cost me…pretty dearly. But hell, a tool to help me create things that’ll be a constant reminder of something I’ve accomplished? That sure seems like the right way to go.