In the weight loss and fitness scene, the term “Negative Reinforcement” is often used incorrectly. Negative Reinforcement is defined by the American Psychological Association as “the removal, prevention, or postponement of an aversive stimulus as a consequence of a response, which, in turn, increases the probability of that response.”
What About For Weight Loss and Fitness?
In the world of Weight Loss and Fitness, Negative Reinforcement is heavily, and incorrectly, used to refer to a methodology that when you mess up, miss the mark, eat something you shouldn’t have, etc., then you punish yourself in some way. This fits more closely with the definition of Positive Punishment in that you add in a variable which punishes you for stepping out of your dietary lane.
The Required Actions Necessary
We know that one of the major pitfalls of any punishment is that when a behavior is punished, it’s simply suppressed, not changed. When we take away the threat of punishment, then the bad or undesirable behavior returns. With Positive Reinforcement, you are able to add in rewards for good behavior.
In weight loss, this is something like setting a substantial budget aside for a new summer wardrobe, if and only if, you maintain your overall dietary improvements, get down to a certain weight, reach a desired goal, etc.
As you can imagine, this way has wider appeal and is way more successful at changing your mindset.