Barney and the Four-Day Win

I’m Leanna, and I’m a four-day winner.

What? No, wait, that sounds weird.

Let me start over.

I’m Leanna, and I practice four-day wins, a habit- and sanity-building program advocated by Martha Beck, PhD, in her book, “The Four-Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace.” While her program is geared toward weight loss, it can be applied to any goal in mind. How this works is that you choose something “ridiculously easy” that you can commit to for four days. At the end of each successful day, you give yourself a small reward. At the end of four successful days, you give yourself a slightly larger reward. You string a few of these four-day wins together and, voilà, better habit built.

I like the idea of small rewards to reinforce good habits and choices. It seems like a great psychological tool to help my brain trust that life needn’t always be about deprivation, sacrifice, and guilt. My struggle has always been those stinkin’ rewards. It’s a common problem. Women, especially (although many men as well) are so used to being nurturers of others that it’s hard to conceive of ways to nurture ourselves. So, I did what any person with a computer does these days. I went online for ideas. I wanted to avoid the risk of rewarding myself with something that unravels any carefully woven progress I’ve made, so I searched “non-food rewards.” The first few sites I went to were a bust. They listed things such as “Go to the next Olympics” as a reward. Really? The Olympics?! Um…not really the realistic suggestion I was looking for. I did find good sites, though, some listing 100+ ideas, most of them even realistic for those of us who can’t afford to attend global sporting events.

Although I’ve been practicing four-day wins for several months now, this week I actually did the reward part of the equation. I got something just for me – something not on the shopping list, something not run by the other half first. I bought Barney, a scent warmer in the shape of a spotted owl. I have wanted a “barn owl” for quite some time and lately I’ve been thinking that the place could use a better scent than “Eau de Dog Hair.” So, meet Barney, my token of self-nourishment and reminder that I can rock the four-day win. It doesn’t hurt that he makes the barn smell like spiced sugar cookies, either.

Barney the Owl

“Who? Who?”

What do you do to reward yourself for the challenges you face head-on, the commitments to yourself that you keep, and the fact that, let’s face it, you’re just plain awesome sometimes? You need and deserve things that boost your happiness. Self-care is integral to a healthy mind and body. Whether you choose a luxurious bubble bath, an hour or so cuddled up with a book, or adding a token like Barney to your life, I hope that you’re showing yourself some love!



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3 Responses to Barney and the Four-Day Win

  1. Sherry says:

    Sadly ,spice gumdrops are my reward ,and an occasional kit-kat . Sigh ,that food reward is pretty tempting .Now if I can only remember why I need a reward ? What have I done lately ? ! Sometimes breathing in and out is enough ,just being ,is enough !Love your thought provoking blogs !

    • Leanna Widgren says:

      Mmmm! Gumdrops! I think there is a difference between rewards and treats, those things we give ourselves just because we’re still breathing, we need emotional encouragement, or just because we’re awesome (and you are!). If we’re using a reward system, I believe the underlying message is that we’re attempting to rewire our brains and improve on something. A treat is something that reinforces existing behavior, a reward reinforces new behavior.

  2. konrad anderson says:

    I do Running Shoes! What else?

    Actually I really like the 4 day idea. I’ve never understood how some people can just grind it out for days on end with out some kind of trinket or symbol to show for it. Even if it’s a chip in a jar.

    You’ve hit a trifecta. There’s now Barney, a better smelling house, and a little reminder every day that there are rewards for good behavior.

    Well done, Konrad