Before releasing the final manuscript of The Wine Diet, a number of people agreed to read the book and provide feedback. It was very interesting to see what people found important about the philosophy of The Wine Diet. Several reviewers were interested in the idea that the amount of effort you put into dieting has to equal the reward you get out of dieting. Now it seems pretty obvious that this statement would have to be true. If what you get out of something isn't worth the effort, then you wouldn't do it. Like standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you didn't have to do it to keep your drivers license, why would you ever go to the DMV.
Applying this idea to diet and weight loss is a little more difficult than standing in line at the DMV. The reward you get for dieting comes a long time later. For example, if I have 10 pounds to lose and I lose 2.5 pounds per week, then it will take at least 4 weeks assuming I don't fall off the diet wagon. Seems easy enough. But life isn't that easy. Every diet decision you make is on a meal to meal and day to day basis. In the context of dieting, just like with overall health, when the rewards and penalties are moved far away from actual decisions, people tend to make bad choices. Think about going to the dentist. Right after you get back from the dentist, you might be okay with skipping an occasional brushing and flossing. But as your next dentist appointment comes around, you might be much more likely to brush and floss. Same with dieting. When your goal of losing weight is far away, it is much more tempting to make bad choices today.
This is where (e)ffort < (r)eward comes into to play. When you have to do something for a long period of time, it is important that the amount of effort you put into an activity has a meaningful reward. Not just a reward in the future, but a reward every day. Each time you make a good decision you are expending effort. After all, a good decision means eating less pizza and dessert (and I mean less not none). To offset this effort, you need a daily reward that is equal to the amount of effort you have expended. The reward can occur along with each meal but it is also sufficient to have a reward at the end of every day. So at the end of the day, if you do eat the right amount of calories, you need to give yourself a reward. I know it seems tough, but you just have to do it. When you eat a dish of ice cream every night or drink two glasses of wine, it is pretty hard to convince yourself you are on a diet and makes all of the good decisions worth it. So eat right and reward!