Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Taking Hostages to Create New Habits

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

I’ve had a lifelong problem with overeating. I like food, I hate exercise, it’s a bad combination. I have started many, many, many diets. Only twice have I succeeded in losing significant weight. Once was when I had a specific goal to walk towards. The second time was when I joined Weight Watchers.
All the other times I’ve crashed and burned, ninety percent of the time in the first week of effort. Changing your habits is hard. Once those first few weeks are past, then not only do new habits have a chance to form, but there is the built-in reward of seeing those scale numbers go down.
Weight Watchers is great, but it takes time and money I don’t want to spend. So I decided to give going it alone one last try. To get myself past those first days of struggle, I needed to think creatively. How did I do it? I took some hostages.

Reading is my passion. It’s something I do for at least two hours every day. I knew I couldn’t give up reading entirely, but I could hold off reading a few books that I REALLY wanted to read. So I wrapped them up and wrote up their release conditions. 
I'm happy to report that the hostages/rewards worked.  A thin layer of paper and some tape kept me from cheating. I’ve now followed my diet for five weeks, and it’s getting a bit easier now that I have a little momentum.
Obviously, everyone is motivated by different things. I encourage you to set customized rewards--perhaps renting a movie, or visiting a favourite person/spot/store, etc. (Just don’t use a food reward!) But if you’re trying to start a diet or just a new habit, consider taking a hostage and rewarding yourself, not just at the end goal, but for tiny increments along the way.
My next goal is to add some daily exercise to my routine. I hate exercise (except swimming which costs $$ and travel time) in part because I find it boring. However, I’ve discovered that I can read while walking (NOT recommended if you become motion sick). So this week, I’m letting myself read a book that I really want to read ONLY while exercising, one or two chapters at a go. By week’s end, I’ll let myself finish it and pick a new book for week two.
Or at least that’s the plan. Wish me luck!


  1. Nicole, this is AWESOME! I've been inspired to create some hostages myself!


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