The carrot or the stick?

What motivates you, the carrot or the stick?

Are you more encouraged by a reward or does the fear of punishment drive you forward towards a desire or goal?

I wrote a little funny about cheating a while back, and realized I’ve never really liked the idea of having a “cheat day” when it comes to dieting. I felt like I was doing something wrong, and therefore had guilt feelings about it.

So when I started this new diet I was happy to see that one day each week, I get a “reset” day. On that day, I get three reward meals. Yes!

It got me thinking about reward verses punishment.

I am definitely the reward-motivated person. I don’t know if it is because my Mom doled out punishment like it was the only option, or if I just naturally operate that way.

My Mom used to whack me on the head with the brush if I didn’t hold still while she was pulling my hair back into the tightest ponytail possible. She also knew exactly how to make a flip-flop sting like nobody’s business when she was upset with whatever it was I was doing wrong.

I could give you a bunch more examples, but I’ll leave it at that.

My parents didn’t hand out compliments or at-a-girl’s much either. I actually don’t remember any, but that could just be my memory, not the facts.

So I can see why I’m motivated by reward.

If I do a good job, I want recognition for it. That spills over into way more than food for me too, but that’s another blog post.

I had my reward day on Saturday’s and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I had no trouble whatsoever getting back on the diet on Sunday, (which is actually more like a normal way of eating).

What motivates you? The carrot or the stick?

For me, this is working. And, it is so nice to figure out what works. I feel great and it’s easy. I’m cooking at home way more, which reminded me how much I like to cook….especially carrots.

What works for you? Have you figured it out yet?

Reader Comments

  1. Cindy Scurry

    I think I was raised the same way! My parents didn’t hand out a lot of affection. We lived by rules and expectations. And they were “backed up” if not met. I guess I am who I am because of them – but I chose to raise my son with so much love and affection, compliments and positive reinforcement. And he turned out great.

    Keep up the motivation and eating right for this new way of life. I’ve approached it the same way. It really is – the other foods don’t agree with my system (sugar, some carbs, and now red wine I’ve discovered). We are getting wise!

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      It does sound like we had the same experience. I like how you worded it “And they were ‘backed up’ if not met.”

      I too raised my sons differently – never once hitting them.

      And, thanks Cindy for the encouragement. It really helps!!

  2. littlemissw

    I’m a bit of a people-pleaser, which I think is a carrot/stick hybrid. I love it when people say well done and I’m terrified of letting people down (even if, in reality, it’s just in my head that they’re let down).

    I’m trying to stick to an exercise routine at the moment and I find that really hard. Maybe if there was someone else relying on me I’d find it easier?

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      I think it’s easy, at times, as a woman to be a people pleaser. A lot of us were raised that way.

      It does help to be accountable, even if just to an app, to keep up with an exercise routine. It is so easy to find other things that “need” to be done, besides putting ourselves first and exercising.

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