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Punished by rewards?

Thursday, August 04, 2011

There is an education book out there called Punished By Rewards in which the author (Alfie Kohn) discusses the problems with giving out stickers and prizes for kids doing what they should be doing anyway (i.e. giving a sticker to a child because they raised their hand to answer a question). One of his arguments is that when people give stickers out, they are not necessarily changing the behavior of the child. In other words, if you give a child a sticker for raising their hand, it doesn't always mean that they are going to continue raising their hand after the sticker-giving has stopped. I find the whole idea very interesting.

But the whole thing got me thinking about my motivation, which has miraculously seemed to re-appear (knock on wood) for the month of August. For a long while, I wasn't giving myself any rewards - I was all high up thinking "I don't need rewards, I'm doing this for myself, blah blah blah." But the scale wasn't moving, and more importantly, my pants weren't fitting any better and my muscles weren't getting any more noticeable. So, a little sheepishly, I decided to restart my Spark program back at Stage One. I did the fast break thing, and... it didn't work. I thought it would be enough to just think about it. But really, I needed to go ALL THE WAY back to the beginning. What did I do when I started on Spark and saw awesome results? I did what any good elementary teacher would do.

I made a sticker chart.

My goals are simple. Eight hours of sleep, eight glasses of water, and ten minutes of exercise a day. I get a sticker for each goal met. So far, I have three stickers on each day in August. Yay!

So back to the opening paragraph in this blog. The argument against stickers is that I could theoretically stop drinking all my water or working out or sleeping when I don't get a sticker for them anymore. That most likely isn't going to happen, since I'm a little further along developmentally than an elementary age student. But the rewards don't go away, they just change. Already I'm seeing other "rewards." My posture is better, my self-esteem has gone up, my middle feels less jiggly... and that's only in four days! Imagine how it's going to feel in a few weeks!

I think the key (for me and for students) is to make the behavior worth doing even when the "sticker" goes away. I need to keep earning stickers until I see even better results. If I don't keep giving myself a sticker, I worry that I won't see results fast enough and will not keep doing what I'm doing. And besides, the whole water thing isn't second nature anymore. I used to drink tons of water, no problem. Not so much lately. I guess it doesn't hurt that I bought myself some awesome sparkly star stickers at the teacher store! My next set of star sticker goals will have a much more fun chart than the one I have now.

Tomorrow is a strength training day... one of my non-sticker goals is to get my gym time out of the way as early as possible. And it's funny - I really *like* to go to the gym, but I just have to go first thing!

Gooooooooo August!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KALIGIRL 8/5/2011 12:50PM

    So true - the 'reward' isn't the end - it's the means to the end.
Here's to your health!

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SEPPIESUSAN 8/5/2011 10:20AM

    Very interesting :) I think that a behavior plan should usually be a temporary measure just to get someone back on track. Eventually momentum will build up and like you said, the reward will come from more intrinsic/authentic sources.

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CALIDREAMER76 8/5/2011 8:41AM

    I've been using smily stickers for every day I get over 12,000 on my pedometer - on the calendar in the bathroom - Its the last place I am before bed- so that's when the pedometer is logged in on the calendar. I'm tickled on the days, weeks, and months that I get all my stickers. Sadly, I only have a couple months completely filled, but then I remind myself, I'm still a work in progress and not perfect.

Keep on going with the stickers!

I have streak stickies too - that for me is even more motivating - coming up on a year of strength training! Can't break the streak!

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BILLALEX70 8/5/2011 8:08AM

    Maybe I need to get some stickers!

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BARBIETEC 8/5/2011 5:06AM

    I use stickers when I have to make my son do something like stopping using diapers and that has worked!!!

We get login points here and awards for doing a lot of stuff like exercise and we do it!.

So it works! :)

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I missed you, pizza. I used to have dough at the ready, cheese in the fridge, and lots of yummy toppings ready to go. I got back into it last night. Brad made a pizza that was pretty tasty, and I was re-hooked. I stopped for some mozzarella last night and this evening I made a Margherita pizza with basil and tomatoes from the farm. I was out this afternoon and thought about getting a Boboli, but I held out. I got home, had a little potato salad, and whipped together some dough. (We have a book about bread where you learn to make bread without kneading. So freakin' simple.) It's whole-wheat dough with olive oil - PERFECT for pizza.

My pizza was SOOOOOOO amazing. The crust was perfectly crisp, the cheese was melty and delicious, and the tomatoes and basil were amazingly sweet. I didn't want my pizza to end. I can't wait to make another one soon.

So here's how today went:

emoticon Lots of water and a super workout. Got my muscles workin' and my insides flushed out.

emoticon Ate not one, but two M&Ms ice cream cookie sandwiches. I just couldn't help myself. The good thing is that now they aren't in the house so I won't eat them. Ha!

emoticon Got lots done around the house. I bought some stuff for the bathroom today - a shower caddy and a shelf for behind the toilet - and I put both of them up when I came home. My new mantra "the only way to get it done is to do it" came in handy today. The bathroom isn't going to clean itself, the stuff isn't going to build itself, and library books won't magically appear in my house if I wish hard enough.

emoticon Bought some stuff at Borders - the going out of business sale. Everything was at least 20% off, and cards were 40% off. So I got some children's books for school, and the book Room for me. I have heard such wonderful things about it - I can't wait to read it. Don't give anything away!

emoticon I'm going to go get my books from the library - I borrowed Women, Food and God (or whatever it's called) and enjoy some Greek yogurt and strawberries for my after-dinner sweet.

August is starting out with a bang!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PAYANAR 8/4/2011 8:54PM

    MMM...I love pizza! That one sounds delicious. I am very interested to read Room also. I second the request for a book review when you are done!

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KALIGIRL 8/4/2011 12:35PM

    What a fabulous day! emoticon

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THE_JENCH 8/3/2011 11:43PM

    I have the same rationalization... once I eat it, it's gone and so I don't have to worry about it... and that is why I try and keep those things away from the house!

And you know, when not loaded with cheese or greasy meats, I think pizza is a very healthful option!

You had a great dinner!

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REDHEADMOM2U 8/3/2011 10:01PM

    Write a book review when you finish...I'm interested in that book too.

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Another three star day!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Brad had a day off from work - we had a really nice day together. It's nice to cook for two, instead of just me. We celebrated National Ice Cream Sandwich Day with M&M cookie ice cream sandwiches. Mmmm.

It's so hot and I think the heat is making me slightly sick. I have been so blah in this heat... even the AC was having trouble today.

Short one today... back to the couch!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAMROLA 8/2/2011 11:07PM

    This heat is killing me, too... sucks all the life out. Hang in there! Already August so cooler temps MUST be around the corner!


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A three-star day

Monday, August 01, 2011

emoticon Eight hours of sleep.

emoticon Ten minutes exercise. I did 30 minutes run/walk today. Yahoo!

emoticon (If you squint, kinda looks like a star) Eight glasses of water - which is really four really BIG glasses. I almost went through a whole pitcher! Yippee!

Yesterday i made some awesome zucchini bread and some really delicious potato salad. Neither of these foods are particularly healthy... sigh. I had them both for lunch. And there was a little part of me that thought "well, I'm not going to track them." I don't know why, I just thought "hey, I'm not going to track." But I did. I entered everything in, and I'm glad I did. Not so much to berate myself for eating the non-healthy stuff, but just to see what my daily calories are shaping up to be. It's very eye-opening, this tracking thing. I haven't done it consistently for a while... no wonder I wasn't losing any weight!

I read some motivational articles today, read some great blogs, and looked through my magazine with Brad to show him the muscles that inspire me. He's so nice - he told me how proud he is of me. He is really a wonderful husband.

Tonight I'm going to drop off my car (I have to get a sensor replaced), and I'm getting picked up by my bestie. We're going to have dinner at her house (her BF is grilling for us!) and then she's going to bring me home. I'm so excited! I love the grill.

Tomorrow is a day off for Brad - super excited about this. We get to go pick up our veggies together tomorrow evening! Yay!

Off to get ready to go!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KALIGIRL 8/2/2011 8:35AM

    Definitely a emoticon emoticon emoticon day!

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COOPSM 8/2/2011 5:58AM

    Enjoy the day with Brad!!! Tracking..I do it...but why am I not loosing?? Could it be because I go over all the time even though I track?? LOL..

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GONE2014 8/1/2011 11:49PM

    Tracking is so key for me too. And sometimes it's not as bad as I think its going to be which helps me track the next time.

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GRANLUND 8/1/2011 7:53PM

    I also am really bad about tracking food. It has been my goal for the past few weeks and amazingly enough, since I've been tracking I've managed to lose 3 pounds after not being able to budge the scale for the last several months!

When I eat something not so great for me I force myself to track it because it makes me really think about it the next time. I also like the abs diet idea where you have one meal per week that you don't track and eat what you want. This has been working for me!

I have some zucchini on my counter waiting to be turned into've inspired me!

Glad your hubby is supportive. It really does help!

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GOALIEGRANDMA3 8/1/2011 5:45PM

    I am glad you tracked. That was good feedback for you.

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    Okay...I'll be the first to admit that I've stunk at keeping up on Spark lately...but did I miss something?! Brad is your HUSBAND?! When did this happen?!

Either way...I'm glad that he's nice!! It's always helpful when they tell you they're proud of you! I held up a picture to my husband yesterday and told him that that was what I wanted to look like and all he said was, "So do it". Not negative, but not all that helpful, either!

I, too, need to get back into tracking my food. I just HATE doing it! I don't know why...they make it so easy to do, but it's just something I have to FORCE myself to do. But I guess there's a reason why we do I'm going to focus on making that more of a priority this month, too!

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bring it on, August.

By my calculations, there are four weeks left until the kiddos come back to school. The perfect amount of time to get good habits BURNED into my brain.

Yesterday I went shopping - I LOVE shopping. And yesterday, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. I tried on some pants and there was a little roll hanging over the top. My face was SO sad in the fitting room. These were pants that should have fit no problem! Ugh.

Summer has a weird effect on me. Instead of being uber-careful about eating and exercising, I get lax. My shorts are a size too big so they don't ride up - this is not a good thing. I "grow into" my shorts and don't even know it. Tank tops? They are very forgiving. Arms get a little flabby? No problem. The tank top doesn't even *have* arms! Pants? What pants? Give me a good skirt any day over the summer.

So when fall rolls back around, I find myself not fitting into things I should fit into.


But I have been really making an effort to get back in the game. I've been spending more time on Spark, reading blogs and articles, and I've been more conscious about what I eat. Which means making real meals instead of just eating random food. And I know that you all know this, but it's funny how the snowball effect works in positive ways. Once I start sleeping better, I get up earlier to work out. When I work out, I eat better. When I eat better, I feel better. When I feel better, I stand up straighter. When I stand up straighter, I look slimmer. When I look slimmer, I want to work out more. Huh.

My new background picture is Beth Phoenix. She is absolutely beautiful and amazing and I would LOVE some arms like hers. I had her as my background before, and then I changed it for some reason. I think I am back to having a goal. I didn't really have any kind of goal in mind... but now it's to be strong and have some great muscle definition. Not to mention fitting into pants again.

The star stickers in the picture (see beginning of blog) are to mark on my calendar when I do my fast break goals. I decided I'm going to stick with my three Spark-suggested goals for August - a great way to get those habits in my brain.

1) Drink 8 glasses of water a day
2) Get 10 minutes of exercise a day
3) Get 8 hours of sleep each night - this one is a challenge in the summer. I don't set my alarm, so some days I get up before eight hours, and some days after eight hours.

I'm off to read my magazine! Yahoo!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARYHOLMAN 8/1/2011 3:51PM

    Understand first that I do respect the efforts you are making and support you.

Sizes from company to company can vary a lot.

Beth is a model used by the publication industry to sell magazines. We are influence by these pictures of "ideal women" when we are girls and then begin striving to look like them. All of this leads to poor self-esteem and a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.

Don't be fooled by magazine covers and just try to be a healthier you, regardless of your pants size.

If you do really want to look like Beth, 10 minutes a day exercise is not going to get you there. Fitness is a full time occupation for these fitness models--gyms, cross-training, etc.

Set some realistic goals for yourself.


Sorry if I was to frank. I'm only trying to help emoticon

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    Great goals for August,Carrie! and I know you will do awesome on reaching them!!!

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TORTUETOO 8/1/2011 10:38AM

    I loooove stickers. There are some grade school incentives that you just never grow out of, huh? emoticon

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LYNNANN43 8/1/2011 9:32AM

    One word... STICKERS!!!!!!

You go and kick August's butt!!! emoticon

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CFMOSS 8/1/2011 9:17AM

    I'm right there with you.

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NCREMEENS 8/1/2011 8:39AM

    I just finished my first year teaching and thought "oh, I'll have so much time to lose weight in the summer!" Well, it doesn't work out that way. I have no routine, there are always cook-outs and junk food, etc. I lost weight, but it was much easier and came off faster when I was working at school. I have a little more than two weeks left and I can't wait! I want my routine back!

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ETTEZEUS 8/1/2011 7:19AM

    Woo Hoo Carrie, you can do it!

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BILLALEX70 8/1/2011 6:53AM

    I think we all tend to do this. We get to vacation and think "I've got all this time and I'm going to make the most of it," but in actuality we end up enjoying some relaxing time. Problem with being a teacher you've got 3 months off in a row!

Find the balance and kick August's A$$!

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THE_JENCH 7/31/2011 10:00PM

    Do you find too that summer can be misleading? Where you might feel like you should be slimmer almost just because it's summer so you grab the pair of pants that you know should be fine but still hope that you'll have to go back for a size smaller? Frustrating when that's not quite what happens. But it sounds like with your plan you'll be out shopping again soon!

My shopping is a bit out of control right now too... I went on Friday (though still waiting for my online order to come in) but when I got home noticed I had to return a top because the front pocket was becoming unstitched (and I wasn't about to fix it myself!). I went back to the store today but there were no more of those tops in my size so they had to order one more in... and that stopped me from shopping more but... I have the feeling when I go back I might just have to see if I can find a cute cardigan or blazer to go over the top when I'm working... and that way I can wear it into the winter too. Smart shopping, right?

I love the sparkly stars!
You are starting it off right!

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MOMTO2TOO 7/31/2011 9:30PM

    You go, girl!!! emoticon

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CAMROLA 7/31/2011 8:36PM

    Great goals, totally doable, and if anyone an do it, I know you can!


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KALIGIRL 7/31/2011 8:34PM

    Great goals for super habits!

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