Weight loss is hard work and involves much more denial than most of us enjoy. If you’re determined to lose weight, having a reward waiting for you at the end of your efforts can make it all seem worthwhile. It will be easier to spend those days when you prefer a hot chocolate ice cream. A belly button ring is a great (and non-food) way to incentivize yourself and show off the hard work you’ve done to lose weight.

Losing weight is much more difficult than gaining weight. It certainly seems that losing 20 pounds requires a lot more “no” to your appetite than “yes” to get there. This is why having a reward or incentive for following the diet is so important. You need something to help you get through Monday when you are faced with a whole week of steamed fish and vegetables for dinner. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the calories add up when you’re only getting 1500 or more per day. Whether you choose a belly button ring or a trip to Paris, a preset pat on the back can keep you going in the right direction.

Here are three quick tips that can help you reach your weight loss goal:

1. Write down everything you eat. It is very important to be in touch with what actually goes into your mouth and how many calories it has. Last summer I hit a number that I hadn’t seen on the scale for a long time. I was hoping I had a thyroid problem, but after a few days of my food diary, it was quite apparent that it was a simple case of overeating.

2. Get moving. Plan a regular exercise routine or program, and then keep moving throughout the day. Every little bit counts and will start your metabolism burning more calories. Remember the way to get flat abs (don’t forget those belly button rings) is not to overdose on abs. You are exercising every part of your body, as well as your abs.

3. Plan your reward. This is the fun part. What will you do for yourself when you have reached the goal? Will it be a navel ring or a tattoo? Or maybe a new outfit (or two)? Whatever it is, keep the reward in front of you so you never lose sight of what you’re working for.