“It’s been a hard week. I deserve it.”
How often have you said this to yourself to justify something you know you shouldn’t do?
Whether it’s eating a giant ice cream sundae or a vat of cheese fries, drinking another glass of wine, or spending money on a pedicure or a new dress that you can’t afford, we’ve all done it. We’ve all justified a behavior we know isn’t healthy by couching it as a “treat” that we “deserve.”
But there’s always a flip side to this “deserving,” this “earning.”
Do we deserve a bloated belly or a couple extra pounds? Do we deserve to wake up on Saturday morning hungover and sluggish? Do we deserve to be in debt and constantly stressed about money?
In one of her Go! podcasts, Susan Hyatt recommends this: before you eat or drink anything, ask yourself, How do I want to feel in an hour? In an hour, do I want to be beating myself up for eating this dessert? Do I want to be face-first in a dozen chicken wings because I drank this third glass of wine and I always overeat when I’m tipsy? Do I want to feel tired and fuzzy?
You deserve to be kind to yourself.
Let’s say your best friend came to you and said, “Hey – I’m trying to drink less wine. Can you encourage me to stop after one glass?”
After one glass, you’d probably say, “Hey, good job. Why don’t we leave the bar and do something else so we’re not tempted to drink more?” You wouldn’t say, “Have another glass! You deserve it!” (And if you would – you’re not being a very supportive friend.)
Do the same thing for yourself. Set limits that you know will make you feel good, and stick to them. Enlist help where you need to. Be supportive of yourself. Don’t sabotage yourself in the name of treating yourself.
Which brings me to my challenge for you: Only consider something a treat if its result is a net positive.
If an episode of Nashville feels super decadent and enjoyable after a long work day, that’s a net positive. If two or three episodes make you feel sluggish, fuzzy, or stupefied, that’s a net negative.
If an ice cream cone every weekend in the summer makes you feel like a little kid again and you enjoy every bite and you can stop after one serving, that’s a net positive. If keeping a half-gallon of ice cream in your freezer makes you feel crazy, because you’re constantly thinking about when you can eat ice cream and whether you’ve earned your treat, that’s probably a net negative.
If a treat brings up any feelings of remorse or guilt, it’s a net negative. If a treat makes you feel worse than you did before indulging, it’s a net negative.
Here are ten non-food treats that for me are net-positive:
1. Lying in the hammock reading for fifteen minutes after work.
2. Lighting a candle after my son goes to bed. Everything feels cozier by candlelight, even if I’m folding laundry.
3. Getting a pedicure.
4. Reading a magazine while I eat lunch, instead of staring at my phone or computer screen.
5. Doing yoga in the morning on our deck.
6. Doing a 7-minute workout on my phone when I think I don’t have time to work out.
7. Going for a walk and calling a friend.
8. Buying a new book that hasn’t hit the library yet.
9. Saving up for a massage.
10. Sitting by any kind of water I can find – a river, a pond, the Sound, the ocean.
What treats are net positive for you? What net negative treats do you want to let go of?
September 3, 2017