Thursday, April 25, 2013

Extrinsic Motivation- (a trip to the dieting prize box)

Lately I've been posting mostly about dieting. I'm sorry to tell those of you who aren't diet and health enthusiasts that this post is also related to my diet! But never fear, today you are in luck because this method can be applied to help you reach a wide varieties of goals. Interested yet? Read on...

I have mentioned previously that before starting this intense diet program I was really worried that I wasn't going to stick with it. I did really want to lose the weight- but I knew in the past sometimes I'd choose the instant satisfaction of a hot yummy brownie over the eventual reward of weight loss and better health. I think to some extent all of us struggle with this concept. We have grown up in a society which constantly tells us to take instant gratification over long term gratification.

So somehow I needed to figure out how on earth I could break myself of this pattern of giving up my diet for an instant reward. What could I possibly tempt myself with that could help me say NO to that brownie?

Then my mind got going in teacher mode. In school, especially with younger children, getting them to learn and participate in your class is all about finding the right motivation. So you start with extrinsic motivators (motivation that comes from an external source). You offer stickers to the students whose behavior is excellent during class, you let the students who have turned in their homework all week take a trip to the prize box, or if the whole class remembers their recorders they get a class star that may eventually earn them a pizza party. --- In other words you bribe them. You find things that the students want and are interested in and you say if you do this ____ then you get this____. Child psychology tells us that extrinsic motivation does work well but that eventually as teachers we want the motivation to become intrinsic (motivation coming from the student). Instead of the student bringing their recorder to class to earn a star- they bring it to class because they want to play recorder.

So I decided all of us aren't really that much different than kids. When I diet- or do anything- I do much better with rewards along the way. So I created a plan for myself to go along with my diet and exercise program to essentially bribe myself to stay on the diet and not cheat! Just like in teaching I am hoping that after awhile my motivation for staying on the diet won't be because of prizes and rewards but because I will really be focused on being a healthier person- and eventually that will be enough to say no to a brownie- but for now? Let's be real, I need something a little more tangible to keep my eye on the prize and say no to all the yummy temptations along the way!

How did I manage to do this? Glad you asked. My mom and I developed a pretty complex rewards program to fit with our schedule on the diet! Here is what we came up with:

First we questioned what things should earn us rewards? 
Here are some of our ideas...
- Not cheating on the diet?
- Losing a set amount of weight?
- Exercising a certain number of days or a certain type of exercise?
- Drinking all of our water?

What we ended up going with: 
- Not cheating on the diet
- Exercising
(I'd recommend not setting a goal based on the # of pounds lost- because it's already frustrating enough when you don't lose weight while dieting- try to reward yourself for practicing healthier habits instead).

Next we questioned when should we receive the rewards? 
We took out a calendar and broke it down by cycle. We have both done this diet before and tried to remember which points in the diet do you start to feel extra pressure to cheat. Then from there we scheduled check points for the rewards- some only a few days apart- some a week apart or more. Our main concern was to keep these rewards frequent enough that it'd be easier to say no to the brownie because you knew that very soon you'd be earning a reward. 

The Timeline!

The days with a colored dot= A day that we would earn a reward for making it through. 

Example: on March 30th we earned a reward for making it through the first light blue dot (first 3 days).

The colored line represents which cycle you are in.

Light Green= Cleanse
Yellow= Cycle 1
Orange= Cycle 2
Pink= Cycle 3
(Cycle 4 isn't included since after cycle 3 you can repeat diet or proceed to cycle 4)

Of course then there's the dilemma of what the rewards would be...
We tried to come up with levels of rewards. Small, medium, and large. But the trick is the rewards need to be things that you really want, something you wouldn't just buy yourself in every day life, and rewards that have nothing to do with (bad) food! So we brainstormed rewards and here is what we ended coming up with:

Small Rewards ($1-$10): Examples: Craft Supplies, Makeup, Nail Polish, Summer Scarf, Sunglasses, New Jewelry, Hair Product, Movie on Demand, Thrift Store Purchase, Flip Flops, Flowers, Healthy Treat, New Small Plant, etc.

Medium Reward ($11-$20): Manicures, Summer Shirt, Magazine Subscription, New Book, New Plants, Panera Lunch, Sandals, Shoes, etc. 

Large Reward ($21-$30+): New Decor, Purse, Dress, Massage, Live Theatre Tickets, Ikea Trip, Whitening Strips, Exercise Equipment, Antique Purchase, etc. 

(Obviously we could change our minds as long as we are within the price range) 

We also designed a handy dandy small chart (to the side) to keep track of the rewards we have earned so far. Color of dot corresponds to level of reward- and color of line at top corresponds to which cycle it is earned in. 

This schedule and rewards levels covered exactly how and when we'd be rewarded for NOT CHEATING on the diet. Newt we had to factor in how we would reward ourselves for exercise! 
Here is what we decided: Each day we should be exercising at least 30 minutes. It could be at the gym, at home, outside, whatever. For every day that we exercised 30 minutes we will receive 1 "token" so to speak. You may collect the exercise tokens up until the end of one of the cycles. Then at the end you can use them to "buy" a certain level prize. 

*you have 17 days to collect tokens 
*you may only collect up to one token per day 
*1 token is earned after 30 minutes of purposeful exercise

13 tokens= A Large Reward Level
11 tokens= A Medium Reward Level
8 tokens= A Small Reward Level
6-7 tokens= 2 extra tokens for next cycle 
1-5 tokens= 1 extra token for next cycle

*Any tokens earned above 13 may be applied to the next cycle! 
*If you end up in the middle of reward levels you must opt for the smaller level. (ex. 12 tokens is still only a medium level). 

Soooo- for each cycle you actually have the opportunity to earn 2 large rewards between not cheating and exercising! 

As we were coming up with this awesome plan- we started to become concerned about what would happen if we did cheat! We didn't want to make this rewards program soooooooo intense that if you cheated once you blew it for that entire cycle! So we decided to create the "oops claus". 

Let me explain: The Oops Claus

We as previous dieters recognize that it is sometimes hard to avoid all forms of cheating while dieting. Holidays, special events, and other circumstances do occasionally arise and we want to make it possible to feel like we can be successful on this diet. 

If a cheat does occur you must rank it from a level 1-3. 
1= small cheat (ex. extra serving of carbs, specialty coffee, type of meat not allowed, etc) 
2= medium cheat (ex. that yummy brownie, other desserts, etc)
3= large cheat (ex. entire meal cheat, etc)

Since my mom and I are doing this together we both help decide how much a specific cheat is worth. 
Once you have committed the crime- in order for it to be erased from your record you have to "pay for it" with exercise tokens. 

Level 1= 1 token
Level 2= 2 tokens
Level 3= 3 tokens

Since we didn't want to let ourselves start abusing this cheat erasing feature we created some stipulations. 

*During a Cycle (17 day period) you may only use up to 5 tokens or up to 3 instances of cheating whichever comes first. 

This way if someone has a special dinner to attend they could enjoy the meal and a dessert and be able to pay it off with exercise tokens. But wouldn't be allowed to cheat anymore that cycle without disqualifying from the end of cycle reward. 

Another thing to remember is that the exercise tokens you use to pay off the cheats may not be counted towards your final exercise token count of that cycle. So, if you used 5 tokens to pay off your cheats- you could only at most earn 12 more for an exercise reward and that is if you exercise EVERY DAY of that cycle!

That pretty much sums up our entire rewards program to go along with the 17 day diet! If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask! 

Also I wanted to fill you in on how it's working...

We have been using this rewards program since March 27th and it's already April 25th! I can honestly say after a month of using this it is working like a freakin charm! I've managed to earn all of my rewards so far! And in the first cycle I only ended up with one cheat- a coffee at Dunkin- and I didn't feel bad because I knew I was exercising 30 minutes one day to make up for that treat. Plus I've managed to lose about 14 lbs so far! 

Since cycle 2 has started it's been a little harder to stay motivated and I've already had 2 level 1 cheats (this past weekend when I visited Mansfield). But looking back at that weekend I totally stayed on track with all of my food- I just decided to indulge in some beverages not included on the diet. And I really think, had I not been doing this program I totally would have fell prey to that whole "I'm on vacation it doesn't matter" mindset that so many of us use as an excuse to stuff our bodies with bad foods. 

I do really think this program is helping to change the way I'm dieting. I have been getting so much more exercise, I've been able to stick to my diet without serious or frequent cheating, and I'm getting some fun little things along the way!  

I can also feel myself getting stronger and developing more will power just for the sake of being healthier. I'm not saying that I'm totally ready to ditch my extrinsic motivators- but I'm thinking that I'm well on my way to being able to intrinsically motivate myself to live a healthier life! 

If you want any help in creating a program that suits you- let me know and I can help you think through all the details! And don't limit this approach just to sticking to a diet- it can really be applied to anything! Can't kick the awful habit of biting your nails? Set up a rewards system. Can't manage to force yourself to get in a practice room and practice? Set up a rewards system! Still procrastinating going through boxes in the basement? SET UP A REWARDS SYSTEM!! I'm telling you, it will work! 

Have an awesome day! I hope you can find some useable ideas for yourself in this post :) I'd love to hear your reactions to this crazy system my mom and I created! Thanks for reading! <3 p="">

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How I lost 13 lbs in 20 days

Hey all! I hope you are having a great day today. Right now I am loving the sunshine and warm weather outside. I feel like spring may finally be here! Today I wanted to write to you with more updates about my weight-loss journey. Last time I talked about a 3 day detox cleanse I tried, and I gave you tips and tricks about doing the cleanse, my results, and my overall review of doing the cleanse. This post today will offer you a similar format to review the completion of Cycle 1 of the 17 Day Diet. That's right, today is my first day on cycle 2- hooray carbs! (more on that later). In order to give you a better idea of what the 17 day diet is... check out this video about the diet covered by ABC News!! 

Now let's talk about my experience with this diet! 
For those of you who may not know, I did do the 17 day diet in it's entirety once before. I completed all 4 cycles and had lost a little over 20lbs! Needless to say when I found myself having gained a lot of weight during my past 2 years of college I finally decided I HAD to do something about it. I wasn't happy at all with how my body was. Not only was I a lot heavier than I wanted to be, but I certainly wasn't living a healthy lifestyle. So after some deliberation I decided to retackle this Diet for a second time to help me get some of this newly gained weight off- and fast! 

My Results: 
(These results are based off of my 3 Day Cleanse and Completing the First Cycle of the 17 day diet) 
aka 20 days of eating really healthy and getting regular exercise! 
Total Pounds Lost: 13.2
Total Inches off my body: 13.75
Total % if body weight lost: 7%

I added this picture below to show you the difference the weight-loss has already made in my face! :) Yay!

Now some quick positives and negatives in my opinion...

I'll start with positive things first! 
1. You really do lose weight quickly.
2. You won't be starving.
3. The food you eat can taste really good.
4. There are no calories to count- points to add up- or specific meals you must eat. Just a simple list of foods and some general guidelines about serving size. 
5. The book is straight forward, easy to understand and easy to follow.

Now to the negatives:
1. I really miss eating Carbs! 
2. It takes incredible will power to really stick to the diet and not cheat.
3. The first two cycles do limit you on certain fruits and veggies, which is a bummer. (has to do with higher sugar, starch, and fat content.. so it makes sense)
4. No fruit after 2 pm... seriously? 
5. The time to prepare the food is higher than throwing a sandwich together for lunch. 

This all being said it is a highly effective dieting tool. I've never been disappointed with my results when really following this diet plan. I mean I can't really complain about losing 13 lbs! 

If you are considering doing the 17 day diet here are some tips and tricks to think about before you start and during your diet. 

Before you start: 
1. Buy the book- and read the first few chapters. Know what you are getting into before you start. 
2. Really evaluate your desire to lose weight. Yah almost everyone in America wants to lose a few pounds, but there is a huge difference in someone wanting to lose a few pounds to fit into a pair of jeans, and someone who is feeling totally fed up with themselves and ready to make a life change. (if you are closer to the latter example then this is the diet for you.) If you only are half-a** about losing the weight I wouldn't recommend this diet to you- you'll just waste your time. 
3. Weigh yourself! And take ALL of your measurements! I know it can be scary to face the hard numbers- but don't worry soon enough those numbers will get smaller- and it's important to know where you are starting from. 
4. Plan, Plan, Plan! Bust out a calendar and look at exactly where the cycles will fall. If you know you have a wedding to attend during cycle 2 and it will be impossible to not go off your diet- add an extra day or two to that cycle. 
5. Make an extensive shopping list and get all the food you will need for the first few days. If you live alone I'd suggest throwing away or locking up the foods in your house you can't have!
6. Talk to the people close to you and explain that you'll need their support in this diet. I'm not gonna lie- it's really hard not to cheat. But if you can manage to get your roommate to agree not to offer you cookies all the time it will help out immensely! 
7. If you struggle with not cheating on diets set up a rewards system for yourself at certain check points. (I'll do an entire post about the rewards program my mom and I created. But I know that without that reward system I made I probably would have cheated a lot and not done hardly any exercise!) ((make sure the rewards you set for yourself are NOT food!))

During the Diet: 
1. Plan out all the meals you are going to eat that day. It's helpful to plan ahead- it will be a lot less stress at mealtime and you can budget out your servings of the things you love. For me it's greek yogurt and fruit. I almost always eat my allotted two servings everyday! 
2. You know that pesky rule about not eating fruit or starches after 2 pm? If that's hard for you- then just ditch it. There isn't a lot of scientific proof to back up that rule. So if you feel like eating a cup of grapes after dinner will help you avoid the ice cream in the freezer then GO FOR IT! (I know I do...and I still lost plenty of weight). 
3. Get some exercise! During the first cycle he doesn't really harp on you to do a lot of strenuous exercise- but forming a habit of regular exercise in the first cycle will be WAY more helpful in the later cycles when it's more important to your success. This way instead of trying to start out exercising in cycle 3 doing intense cardio... you can just take your regular workouts that you are used to and ramp them up a bit. 
4. Stay strong! Really try so hard to not cheat on the diet. It's worth it to follow his rules- because the only person you are hurting when you cheat is yourself! 

After the Diet: 
1. Once you have made it through all 4 cycles- or have achieved a good amount of weight-loss you will most likely want to go back to eating whatever you want whenever you want. You can't do that! Remember how I said this is a lifestyle change? Yah, that means it's for life. Don't worry too much- he offers the 4th cycle as the plan that you should stick to in order to maintain your weight where it is. And that cycle does incorporate eating your favorite foods but helps you learn to restrict them. I am living proof that if after the diet you just stop caring again you'll put back on the weight plus some. So really think about how committed you can be to making a forever change before you start this diet. 

Where is my health journey headed now that I am done with cycle 1?
I'm so glad you asked. I am diving head first into cycle 2! Which means I can start eating some slower processing carbs(YAY) every other day! You can look forward to another health update in about 17 days. 

If you have any questions about the diet, please do not hesitate to ask! My results are pretty typical of what you can expect. I know many other people who have tried this diet and experienced similar success! Good luck! And please send me a comment or message if you are going to start. I'll be glad to cheer you on!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

3 Days- 9 Smoothies- 6lbs Gone!

Hello All!

I realize it's been awhile since I've really talked about anything other than my accident and my recovery. Knowing that you must be bored stiff with tales of me using a walker and having to sit all day I'm here to share another kind of post! A while ago I have allowed my blog to center around health and weight-loss and I'm thinking it's about to take a turn in that direction again. (Don't worry I'll still have posts about other things too!)

Today I want to give my own personal review of the: Dr. Oz 3 Day Detox Cleanse. This cleanse is 3 intense days of eating drinking mostly fruits and veggies. The entire time you only drink smoothies made out of specific ingredients. It's easy to follow, costs roughly $16 a day for food supplies, and provides the results it brags. Here is what the 3 days look like:
Now let's talk about my experience with this cleanse, the good and the bad. 

I'll start with positive things first! 
1. After only 3 days of following this cleanse I lost 6 lbs! I also lost 1 inch off my waist and 1.5 inches off my stomach. 
2. This diet introduced me to new foods and interesting combinations that I may use again.
3. Overall the smoothies were pretty good. (Breakfast was my favorite!)
4. I wasn't really hungry often while on this cleanse. The smoothies are filling and most days I didn't even have room for the snack smoothie!
5. Trying a new weight-loss technique can be fun and interesting.
6. It's really easy to make the smoothies and follow the straight forward recipes.
7. Even though your not consuming meat, carbs, or dairy I still had energy from the smoothies.
8. I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment when I finished all 3 days!

Now to the negatives:
1. After the first day was over I started to dread drinking the lunch smoothie because I knew I didn't really like it.
2. I felt kind of horrible during the cleanse (head aches, constipation, nausea, bloating, etc.)
3. I was only able to take one of the Ultra Detox Baths since it made me feel really sick afterward. (My mom took all 3 and she only felt nauseous one night)
4. Since the diet repeats exactly for 3 days the novelty wears off after the first day.
5. It was hard to locate the foods in the grocery store.
6. It was expensive to purchase all of the food for the diet- especially things like Almond Butter, Coconut Oil, and certain fruits.
7. You get really sick of drinking cold smoothies really fast. (You'll be surprised at how much you miss chewing)
8. If you are a coffee drinker or drink a lot of caffeine you can expect a pretty horrible withdrawal headache.  (this goes for most detox cleanses).

This all being said I am still glad that I tried it. The results were highly effective and I felt so accomplished after completing it! I can't say though that I would repeat this exact detox cleanse again. Next time I think I'd be happier doing one that allows you to chew some of your food and that I could vary my food in hot or cold temperatures.

If you decide that you'd like to try this detox I'd totally support you! Here are a few tips that My mom and I picked up in the 3 days we did it.

1. The cost is estimated at $16 a day for food but it may be more if your grocery store only sells one size of some items like ground flax seed, or almond butter. That can really jack the price up so be ready for the shopping bill and bring some coupons!
2. When locating the food in the store I'd advise starting in the gluten free section. They had a lot of the things we needed to buy (didn't know this until the very end of our shopping trip, figures)
3. When buying the fruit and veggies try to make sure they will be ripe when you are starting the cleanse. I can promise you the smoothies will taste SO MUCH better with more ripe fruit- (example bananas will be much sweeter when ripe- which will make the smoothie much sweeter).
4. Do research ahead of time or bring your smartphone to look up how to tell when certain fruits or vegetables were ripe. This helped us out a lot in the store! I previously had no idea how to tell which avocado was ripe!
5. The Shopping list doesn't account for the snack smoothie you choose- so factor that in when buying foods. (I recommend the Breakfast one- also we were too full for the snack some days).
6. Do yourself a favor and don't go to super walmart for shopping- go to a real grocery store, your life will be so much easier in trying to find all of the weird things!

Smoothie Making: 
1. Storing the foods in the fridge will help the smoothie be colder.
2. Buying frozen berries or fruit can add a nice cold blast to the smoothies.
3. Adding ice to them helps make them colder and a little thicker (I suggest it)
4. You may want to tweak a smoothie recipe to your personal tastes. (ie. Lunch Smoothie we cut down on the amount of celery significantly the 2nd and 3rd day)
5. Peeling things like cucumber, apple, mango, etc will help cut out some bitterness in the smoothies.
6. When making the Dinner smoothie you might want to cut down a bit on the cayenne pepper! It was pretty spicy when made with the suggested amount!

Before & After:
1. Weigh yourself, take measurements of waist, stomach, and hips.
2. Do your research on detox cleanses and make sure you're ready for the commitment
3. Take the list and go shopping! (you make have to stop a few places)
1. Retake weight and measurements- and admire your success
2. Start thanking your lucky stars you can stop drinking smoothies for a while
3. Re introduce regular foods back into your body slowly! aka don't go binge on fast food otherwise you have totally defeated the purpose of your detox!

Where has my health journey gone since the end of this cleanse?
I'm so glad you asked. I have started the 17 day diet again! (click link to view previous post about it)
I am only about 4 days into the first cycle but it's going well. More health and diet updates to come!