Sometime ago, my acupuncturist and I were having a chat while he jabbed my very sore shoulder with needles (worked a treat by the way). He mentioned to me that he hadn’t had a glass of wine for over a year, after challenging himself to see how long he could go without it.
He said he realised he was rewarding himself every weekend with a glass of wine whilst reclining on his back veranda, and he had started to question the sense in a reward that was actually toxic to his body.
My first thought was: ‘a whole year – man that’s a long time’. Then I gave serious thought to how I reward myself.
What did I give to myself as a ‘treat’ – a reward – and by association, what did that say about the way I treat myself – how respectful was I to myself?
A glass of wine (or two) on the weekend to celebrate the end of the week. A coffee (or two) during the day to celebrate work achievements. A piece of chocolate (or two) at night to celebrate the end of a busy day.
All of my ‘treats’ were toxic or damaging to my body and health. They left me feeling lethargic, fat and off, which would make me snappy and unhappy.
This then begged another question – why was I treating myself so badly? I was rewarding myself, yet hurting myself in the process.
The sad fact is, most of us reward ourselves with rubbish.
We do it to kids too. All the kids ‘treats’ or rewards, are junk food.
Party time – whether it’s for kids or adults – the standard fare will include chips, sweets and an assortment of packaged foods. Fizzy drinks.
So while our conditioned-mind sees this as a reward or celebration, our body is actually being punished.
Changing your reward system
I’ve been through a process of trying to re-program my ideas of a treat. To switch my default to something that really is a treat to my system. That nourishes and uplifts me. To change my thoughts of celebration away from wine and coffee.
Society is not on my side, I know.
Coffee dates and catch ups are such a treat. A night out for a drink is a super treat. They’re the done things. They are how we celebrate life in Australian society.
This doesn’t mean I go without coffee, wine and chocolate, because I don’t.
I have a one coffee each morning. I have a wine on most weekends, but a two glass limit. And I’ll have some high quality chocolate whenever the mood strikes.
But I am mindful of my consumption and have learned to look for a treat elsewhere.
Doing some yoga – that’s a treat.
Lighting candles – that’s a treat.
Heading down to the beach for some time by the ocean – such a treat.
Having lunch with someone – a treat.
And of course, the healthy recipes we make at home are a sweet treat that is also OK by your body (like my breakfast loaf in the picture, because who doesn’t want cake for breakfast sometimes?)
There is joy in nourishing yourself with life, and not toxins. There is joy and reward in fresh food, love and togetherness. That is the celebration. Choosing to treat yourself with joy is to treat yourself with respect.
Conversely, we see going without coffee, wine and chocolate (and the rest) as deprivation – as punishment yet our mind and body thrives when we do it.
So, how different would you feel if you no longer ‘treated’ yourself badly? I know your body would feel better without the burden, but you might be surprised to see how your respect for yourself blossoms too when you treat yourself well.