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The target behavior that I tried to modify was my addiction to junk food. My selection of this behavior was arrived at as a result of back and knee problems that developed due to my weight. During the year prior to my decision to modify my behavior, I had encountered a change of lifestyle when I enrolled in college. The healthy eating that I was accustomed to back home was replaced by a series of junk foods and unhealthy drinks that dominated my diet every day. Now, one year and a few months down the road, I am struggling with my weight and persevering both back and knee problems as a result. In my quest to change the situation, I decided to first and foremost eliminate junk food from my diet and replace it with a healthy option while at the same time involve myself in daily physical exercises.
To meet the above, I came up with a daily goal of reducing my caloric intake to a maximum of 2500 calories as compared to my previous 3000 with no physical exercise of any sort. My weekly goal was to reduce my weight by 2 pounds each week. The daily and weekly goals were arrived at through research on the internet to establish how many calories an average adult requires each day when engaging in light physical exercises. The research also indicated the benefits on indulgence in such a regimen which included an average weekly weight loss of about 2 pounds.
To arrive at my daily and weekly enforcers, I made a list of all hobbies and items I like starting with the most valued which in my case is watching T.V every day after school and going hanging out with my friends over the weekend for ice cream or a movie. With this in mind, I set my daily reinforcement as watching T.V such that if I surpassed my daily caloric intake, there was no T.V for me. My weekly reinforce was an opportunity to enjoy some pleasantries with my friends over the weekend only if I had met the weekly goal. Failure to this meant that I could not enjoy anything over the weekend. These reinforcements were very essential to me and so I knew that if I failed to meet my targets, I would be miserable. Therefore, I motivated myself to keep working towards achieving the desired behaviors of eating healthy and reducing my daily caloric intake while exercising so as to meet both the daily and weekly goals for me to enjoy any rewards. The sole purpose of reinforcement is to encourage more indulgence in the desired behavior.
After eight weeks of the regimen, my self-management plan worked. I was able to eliminate junk food from my diet and replace it with healthy nutritious options. I was also able to remove unhealthy drinks from my diet and incorporate exercises that helped me lose even more weight. My plan was successful because I implemented the change gradually each week eliminating a specific set of junk food while replacing it with a healthy option. Gradually, I was able to replace all the junk food with healthy foods, fruits and drinks as opposed to me imposing a drastic change in the routine I had become accustomed to.
To make my plan more successful, I plan to get a gym membership so that I can make my exercising more intense so as to lose more weight as opposed to my daily light exercises that involve a few star jumps and stretches.
This project is very practical. The principles of operant conditioning can actually be implemented towards behavior modification successfully. In future, I will use these concepts because they have proven to be effective in attaining desired change.
Daily Caloric Requirements for Fat loss, Staying Lean, And Exercise/ Training (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rhinofitness.ca/articles/article_dailycaloric.html
O’ Heare, J. (2010). Operant Conditioning. Changing problem behavior-A systematic & Comprehensive Approach to Behavior Change Project Management (Chapter 1). Retrieved from http://www.dogwise.com/authpub/changingproblembehavior_excerpt.pdf