It’s been a long day, but you can finally kick back and put your feet up.
The voice in your head tempts you to find a treat from the freezer or wine cabinet.
Go ahead, you deserve it.
Waiting to see the results of your hard work is excruciating. And in those moments of temptation, it can be easy to lose focus on the bigger goals ahead.
Unfortunately we live in a society where is a reward and the focus of every special occasion.
(Especially the super yummy kind that makes us overeat and ruins our health.)
Happy birthday! Here’s a cake.
Just married. Have some cake.
A promotion! How would you like your steak?
The truth is changing your body takes time, but a better reward system can help keep your fitness journey on track.
SHOULD You Reward Yourself?
Before we go any further, are rewards even a good idea?
Some people don’t need rewards to keep going…
Jessica Love – I don’t reward myself. If I want something I buy it. The journey and experience or feeling of accomplishment is the “reward” for me.
Ev A – I tell myself I am not a dog – I do not deserve a treat for being a good girl
Shelly Gauvreau – The fact that I feel better is reward.
Carolyn Slocum – “I love that I am 52 and can rock some booty shorts so that’s truly all the reward I need!”
That’s cool for them, but what about Katie?
Rewards help her stay disciplined.
Katie Turner – … Maybe some people can get through on nothing but the idea of looking and feeling better, but listen, there are some days that knowing a mini vacation is on the line keeps me more disciplined than just thinking I might one day look good in a bikini.
(And I don’t think this means I need to reassess why I’m doing this…) This reward both keeps me on track AND means I’ll get to look good in that bikini somewhere fun.
If you’re more like Katie, keep reading.
By setting up a reward system that isn’t edible, you will re-wire unhealthy habits.
This is critical because let’s face it;
Exercise isn’t as fun as having sex, and veggies don’t taste as good as brownies.
By having something to look forward to, rewards keep you coming back for more.
This helps you stay consistent enough to build strong habits that are hard to break.
Good rewards don’t have to be edible (and they don’t have to suck), but they do need some creative thought.
What Makes A Reward A GOOD Reward?
Your perfect reward has 4 key ingredients:
- You gotta earn it
- It’s gotta mean something
- It’s gotta provide instant gratification
- It’s gotta support your goal (or at least not derail it like a delicious plate of cookies)
A reward must be deserved.
Few things feel as good as that deep sense of satisfaction you get from truly earning a reward.
Like when you dig out your best effort and do something you never thought you would – like your very first chin up or handstand.
“Nothing tastes as good as strong feels.”
A reward must be deserved, so use them like checkpoints along your journey.
For example, reward yourself for every 10lbs of fat lost or every 30lbs you put on your deadlift.
A reward must actually feel rewarding.
It should be a special treat. If you get a massage every day, it’s no longer a reward or treat and loses its value. Or say your wife loves massages but you don’t, then that’s not a great reward for you.
A reward must provide instant gratification.
Saying “no” to all those brownies will pay off eventually.
But temptation is looming, so enjoy the instant gratification of a good reward to keep you in the game.
A reward should support your goal.
Jordan Spalding – workout clothing, sports massage, new gym equipment. Something that encourages my goal, and not derail it!
A supportive reward will make the path even easier. Like buying a new pair of jeans you can’t QUITE fit into just yet.
4 Ways To Reward Yourself (WITHOUT FOOD)
If you’re not sure how to reward yourself, I’ve got you covered. I asked hundreds of people on Facebook the following question:
“How do you reward / pamper yourself without food or drink?”
Responses ranged far and wide, from the obvious “take a bubble bath” to the curious suggestion to “cuddle a chicken!”
As I counted the results, a pattern emerged. People chose to reward themselves based on what they valued in four general categories:
1. Get yourself some NEW STUFF
We all love playing with new things, so it’s a bonus when they help make your healthy habits easier.
Maybe you love getting new toys in the kitchen or gym.
I remember being obsessed with my first food processor.
Who knew grating carrots or making fresh hummus could be so easy?
Or maybe you love the feeling of having a fresh outfit.
Get yourself some new (smaller) workout clothes so you can feel motivated while working towards a fabulous new dress and shoes to match.
Are you a homebody?
Get some fuzzy socks and slippers for #4!
Need to spruce up the ol’ homestead?
Splurge on some new candles and fresh flowers.
Not your style?
Buy yourself a new book or the latest Call of Duty.
Treat yourself to a new pair of headphones or music subscription.
(I still regret passing up the Eve6 and Michelle Branch CDs I stumbled upon last year.)
If you can’t decide, maybe you should just go out shopping!
Hit the mall, make a Target run, and stop by the Goodwill on your way home. You’re bound to find something you like.
…and if not, you can always make a deposit into The Rainy Day Fund.
- New clothes / workout gear (especially smaller sizes!)
- New books / audiobooks
- New shoes / bags / makeup
- New toys / water bottles / equipment for the kitchen (or gym)
- Just going shopping
2. Have a NEW EXPERIENCE
The grind in the gym and kitchen can get boring, but there’s no reason the rest of your life should be!
Why not start learning something you always wanted to try, like painting or improv?
There’s no shortage of wonder in nature.
Plan a camping trip, or visit a foreign land.
Or keep it simple and let nature come to you by visiting the zoo.
Life is an adventure, if you allow it to be…
- Go to the movies / Netflix
- Have a travel adventure or weekend getaway
- Go to the local zoo / museum / art gallery / etc.
- Go to a sporting event / concert / musical / comedy show / etc.
- Take a class (art, dance, cooking, improv, etc.)
3. Slow down with a little SELF-CARE.
Ever feel like you can’t keep up?
Maybe the greatest reward is giving yourself permission to enjoy a moment of peace and quiet, all to yourself.
The world will still be there when you get back, I promise.
- Get a massage
- Get a mani/pedi or have your nails / hair done
- Take a snoozy snooze
- Take a hot bath (candles, bath products, and essential oils optional)
- Have tea time with a nice book and fuzzy socks
4. Share the wealth and embrace the people in your life.
Sometimes treating yourself might be as simple as inviting more love and connection into your life.
One of my favorite suggestions was to buy something nice as a gift for someone else – maybe someone you love, maybe a stranger!
- Play with your pets
- Go on a date night with your partner
- Meet or call a good friend
- Cuddle up with your significant other and turn up the Barry White
- Buy something for someone else as a gift
We all reward ourselves in different ways, but a good reward still fits the same basic criteria:
A good reward should bring you joy and connection, make your life easier, or give it a little bit of fun.
It’s time to ditch the edible indulgences that derail your fat loss and leave you feeling empty and unhappy.
Start rewarding yourself with things that nourish your soul and support your journey!
If you’d like to share an awesome idea for a reward we didn’t cover (that isn’t food/drink), leave it in a comment below!