We are now 6 weeks into our family weight loss challenge. Most of my sisters, sister-in-law and Mom have adopted a slow and steady strategy. We’re all making progress, trying to eat sensibly, and some are becoming more active.
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that while I am definitely Unfit, I have been a loyal devotee of the YMCA for about 2-1/2 years. (See posts Throwing In the Towel, and Public Enemy #1 Eludes Fitness Police for some drivel about the Y.)
People say that exercise is its own reward, that it gives you a natural high. Time at the gym is a gift to yourself; quality me-time. That’s what they say.
Not for me. Sorry.
The endorphins just don’t kick in. For me it’s at best a boring habit that you have to do, like brushing your teeth. At worst, it’s a punishment. I work out because I’m getting old. I don’t want to wake up one day and find my bones snap like twigs, my heart is feebly fluttering and I can’t force my muscles to move my mammothness out of bed.
This was my workout routine in the bad old days before the family weight loss challenge:
- Do time on the resistance machines and treadmill
- Stagger out of the Y, bathed in sweat and righteousness
- Head over to the Dairy Queen and undo all of the hard work (and then some), by cooling off with my favorite Cappuccino Heath Blizzard.
If I’m voluntarily subjecting myself to the punishment of ½ hour on the treadmill, I want a reward.
I never do anything to be nice, or for personal satisfaction. I demand recompense. That’s who I am; it’s the ugly, unvarnished truth. Like a small child or a dog, I work best when I’m rewarded. I’m Pavlov’s puppy who salivates for Cappuccino Heath Blizzards instead of Milk Bones.
The sweet/fat food category once formed the backbone of my reward system, but I’ve had to make other arrangements now that I am being a good girl.
My new self-reward system takes a two-pronged approach.
- Food. I know this is how I got into this flabby mess in the first place, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to shuck off the habits of ½ a century. I need acceptable substitutes and I think I’ve found them in a surprising place: under the golden arches. My new go-to treat after a workout is a McDonald’s small Sugar-Free Vanilla Iced Coffee. It’s a real deal for the waistline at a skinny 60 calories.
I also just learned that their child-size vanilla cone has only 45 calories. That’s what it says on their website – really! And they only cost 52 cents. I feel a bit cheap going through the drive-thru for that amount, but I drop the rest of the $1 in the Ronald McDonald House donation box and get a double reward: something sweet to eat, and the sweet feeling of being a tycoon/philanthropist.
- Retail therapy. This can be problematic when one is on a budget. Luckily, (spoiler alert for those on my Christmas gift list) we have a truly excellent Goodwill store in our town. They have great stuff!
I’ve shopped resale and thrift stores ever since college. Long before reuse and recycle became cool, “green” buzzwords, I loved the idea of finding new life and new uses from other people’s stuff. One man’s trash, etc.
Instead of going out for lunch, I spend the time doing a little shopping. Each week, I treat myself to a new (to me) purse for $4.99, or a couple of paperbacks for 50 cents each, or some much needed bric-a-brac to add to my dusty collection.
This kind of retail therapy also helps when you’re changing sizes relatively rapidly. You don’t want to spend beaucoup $$ on something that you hope won’t fit in a month. At $3.99 each, one can afford a new pair of jeans every couple of weeks. I consider it a rental fee, because I’ll donate the clothes back again when I shrink out of them.
There you have my strategy for surviving weight-loss deprivation. Feel free to borrow these hints, especially my dear sisters; my fellow travelers on the journey to good health. But you may prefer McDonald’s extra-large, Triple-Thick Chocolate Shake. I hear that’s low cal, too.