Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is most notably used in the treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. But in truth, ALL children experience problem behaviors at some point in their lives - from the “terrible twos” to the rebellious teen years. This blog is designed to provide an overview of ABA and how it can be a useful tool for typically developing children, teenagers, and even your husband;)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Behavior Plan for Myself

I'm on a weight loss journey - one that I hope to be the ultimate success for me.  If ABA works for our kids, our husbands, and our pets, then why not for ourselves?  The key ingredients for my behavior plan include reinforcement and shaping.  First of all, I HATE exercise and I LOVE food!  I'm a tv watching, sugar/carb/fat consuming, self-proclaimed couch potato.  To make this work, I need to fix this love-hate relationship.  I need to make exercise fun and reward myself for participation.  I need to train myself to use food for nurishment and punish overindulgence.

I have learned from past attempts that I cannot use food as a reinforcer and I cannot use exercise as a punisher.  I used to reward myself for exercise and diet by indulging in favorite foods.  In order for that to work, I had to abstain for those foods until I met whatever requirement to earn it.  The problem with that is when I abstain from favorite foods, I tend to overindulge (once I start I can't stop).  Also, food reinforcement is notoriously bad news and often leads to weight gain - not the direction I need to go. 
I also used to use exercise as punishment for not exercising (i.e. instead of the planned 30 minutes I would do an hour).  The problem with using exercise as a punishment is that I will continue to view exercise as a punisher (i.e. aversive).  This is exactly the relationship I am trying to change!  I want to enjoy exercise not hate it.

So how will I change my relationship with food and exercise?  Starting with exercise - the key to enjoying something is to pair it with something you already enjoy.  For example, spending time with my daughter is enjoyable and she enjoys active activities (neighborhood walks, bike riding, dancing, and the playground).  My goal is to work in one of these activities on a daily basis.  I will also begin the Slim in 6 series, which uses shaping to get you exercising.  The series has "Start It Up", "Ramp It Up", and "Burn It Up".  The workouts get progressively longer, more involved, and higher intensity.  Hopefully starting slow will make it less likely for me to give up before I start seeing weight loss results.  My relationship with food is already changing.  I have made small changes to eat healthier for as many meals as possible during the day, indulging when I crave it but not overdoing it.  Keeping track of my calories and sugar intake on a food diary helps greatly!

I'm starting with small goals and will reward myself for meeting those goals.  My ultimate goal is to lose 30 pounds, engage in at least 1 hour of exercise daily, and eat 3 well balanced meals (and a small snack) including appropriate portions following the USDA food pyramid guidelines.  My initial goals are to eat healthier alternatives for at least one of three meals, exercise 30 minutes daily, and lose 5 lbs.

*Since April 2012 I have lost 10lbs by using a food diary to track my sugar and calorie intake.  I'm now commited and upping the ante to include an exercise program "Slim in 6" and an "eating clean" diet plan to lose 20lbs.  You can follow my journey here.


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