Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kids, A Cause, and Catfish

I like to reward myself.

No. Let me take that back.

I love to reward myself.

It's my way of patting myself on my back for accomplishing something.

Yesterday, I ran a 5K race along the beautiful Tennessee River in the Shoals area of Alabama to benefit St. Jude's Hospital for children. Well-over 200 people showed for the race, not counting those who came to support us on the sidelines.

When I run, I don't compete with others; I compete with myself. My goal was to knock off one to two minutes of my total run time. That may not seem like a lot, but when you are pounding the pavement on a hot, humid day, that's a very challenging goal. When I crossed the finish line, I found that I had knocked off two minutes and three seconds from the last 5K. Yes! Mission accomplished, and then some (hey, three seconds is a lot to a runner!). I also placed third in my age group (an added bonus!).

But it wasn't easy. To get me through, I thought about the kids in St. Jude's...and catfish.

So, today I rewarded myself with what I consider the best catfish in the South at Hagy's Catfish Hotel in Shiloh, Tennessee. Oh. My. God. Cat-fish-gasm.

If you are a catfish connoisseur like me, the fish must be crunchy on the outside and moist and flaky on the inside. It must be pond-raised and fresh, never frozen. And it's got to be accompanied by hushpuppies, what I call the french fries of the South. If you're not familiar with hushpuppies, they are deep-fried cornbread balls. Legend has it that hunters, fishermen, and cooks would fry this delectable cornmeal mixture and feed it to the dogs to "hush the puppies" during fish-fries. Legend also has it that Civil War soldiers used hushpuppies to quiet the barking of Confederate dogs.

But, I digress.

If given the choice of splurging on a rich, velvety, chocolate dessert or fresh catfish and savory hushpuppies, I'll take catfish hands down (or fins down!). Along with some homemade tartar sauce and sweet tea, thank you.

I ate it all!
Rewarding yourself for accomplishing a goal or a mini-goal deserves celebration. But rewards must be done correctly. That means they must have extrinsic and/or intrinsic value; that is, a reward can come from outer things (like catfish!), or the reward is in how our accomplishment (cutting two minutes and three seconds from my previous run time) makes us feel inwardly (victorious and proud).

While rewards that change our inner life are more important in the long run, outer rewards serve as important pats-on-the-back along the way. And it's important not to punish the slip-ups because they do happen on occasion.

Rewarding ourselves is about celebrating and loving the self. Rewards make us feel good about ourselves; they help build our self-esteem which gives us the courage and the motivation to keep moving forward. They are the fuel that keeps us going in the direction of our authentic self because they stimulate a positive cycle of change.

While fried catfish and hushpuppies aren't the healthiest reward, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it from time to time.

How do you reward yourself for your accomplishments? What other tips or insight can you offer about rewards?


  1. Where to start?? First, huge congrats on shaving off time on your 5k, huge accomplishment and placing 3rd in your age group. Serious celebrations merited for sure!! Second, I ADORE catfish and hush puppies, being from the south myself. Very hard to come by fried catfish or hushpuppies on the west coast, boo hoo. I am envious of that beautiful plate of fish. Finally, I really liked what you had to say about celebrations and rewards and the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic values and how both play an important role. Great story and love the message of this post.

    1. Thank you so much, Minette! I certainly appreciate your comments. If you ever find yourself in Shiloh, Tennessee, you'll know where to stop by for the best catfish! :)

  2. I'm not a runner, but I have friends who are and I know that besting your own time is a win! So congrats on that...And thank you for the history of hushpuppy - I never knew that.

    After reading this, I decided I need to set up a reward system of a sort for myself...gotta put some thought into a nice reward for finishing the project I am currently doing - it might help me finish faster.


    1. Thank you, Lynn! I don't know how accurate the legends are about hushpuppies, but it sure sounds like Southern ingenuity. Good luck in setting up your reward system...maybe you can blog about it!

  3. Hi Penny!!

    First off - huge congratulations for shaving that much time off your previous run. That's HUGE!

    Second - you made my mouth water with the delicious description of all that catfish and hushpuppy goodness. It's been forever since I had the yummy-ness (I lived down south for 12 years)

    And third - I'm a huge believer in giving myself a reward for achieving a goal. I remember when I received my certification to teach yoga that I promptly booked a weekend retreat at Kripalu (now I go once a year!) And I know this sounds like it negates the whole purpose, but the 5k races I run usually come with a free beer ticket...and yes, if I'm going to run 3.2 miles, I'm going to drink a beer after the race. Maybe two...

    Peggy (from UBC)
    Peggy Nolan

  4. Hi Peggy! Thanks for the congrats and comments. I've never been to a race where they offered a free beer ticket! Think they have any with free margarita tickets? Ha Ha!