The topic of rewarding yourself for working out has come up a few times in the last few weeks. The number one, run away, undisputed leader for exercise reward is food. We’ve probably all been there before or heard someone else say, “I deserve that cookie” or “I worked that off”.
Forget that – You are not a dog, you shouldn’t be rewarding yourself with food!
The problem with using food as a reward, especially when it relates to fitness is it’s usually something that takes away from your ultimate goal. Even paleo muffins go straight to your hips….
You know what really grinds my gears? [thanks Family Guy] When people reward kids for eating their vegetables with junk food!!! Does that make any sense what so ever? Hey Johnny, great job eating that delicious healthy broccoli, here’s the chocolate bar I promised you….
Regardless of the above paragraph, if you know me by now, you know I’m not a nutrition Nazi. I love food. I want you to enjoy food. But there are times when food is just fuel. However, I do love the concept of rewarding yourself for your hard work and dedication to a healthy and fit lifestyle. Here are my choices for the best ways to reward yourself for reaching your goals – whatever they may be.
Buy Yourself Something Nice
When I was younger I made a deal with myself that when I finally got a six pack I would buy a pair of Calvin Klein underwear. Ladies, you remember drooling over a young Marky Mark Wahlberg in his tighty whities.
After a dramatic weight loss or muscle gain go out and treat yourself to some new threads. Splurge on a new pair of yoga pants or those $200 trainers. Put some money a side [in a jar like the one pictured above] after every workout or after every milestone big or small along the way. Throw a dollar or two in every time someone tells you how amazing you look or asks you what you’re doing that has you looking so damn good! When you hit a new personal best stuff a bill in there…make it significant, because your accomplishments are!Plan a Trip Somewhere Fancy
Ooh La La. You’d have to hit a lot of PB’s to book a trip to Paris so treat this reward as the BIG ONE.
There are a couple ways to tackle this one. You can plan the trip first – this will give you a specific deadline to work towards. That kind of pressure can work for some but others may procrastinate if the trip is booked too far in advance.
The alternative would be to plan the trip once you have reached or surpassed all your goals for the year.
Everyone deserves to getaway even for a short duration. It doesn’t have to be a huge elaborate vacation either. A simple weekend getaway to a cottage, nearby city or a stay-cation work great.
Book a day at the spa
Hire someone to clean your house
Go to the movies during the day
Take a vacation day from work to do whatever you want!
Take a cooking class
Schedule a professional photoshoot
Plan an elaborate night out with friends
The benefits to adopting and then maintaining a healthy lifestyle should always be intrinsic. The fact remains that besides feeling better and reaching new goals, rewarding yourself will reinforce your new habits and inspire you to continue your journey.
If positive reinforcement isn’t your speed, you can always punish yourself! Researchers from the Washington University of Medicine found that punishment was far more effective than reward – two or three times more incentivizing, in fact. Because people generally fear the pain of having things taken away from them far more than they like the idea of gaining something they don’t yet have.
Jan Kubanek, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University School of Medicine, says “Regarding teaching strategies, our study suggests that negative feedback may be more effective than positive feedback at modifying behavior. From an evolutionary perspective, people tend to avoid punishments or dangerous situations. Rewards, on the other hand, have less of a life-threatening impact.”
Decide on something you’d hate to lose or lose out on – like watching your favourite TV show. No water cooler Scandal gossip for you on Friday.
But don’t use food or exercise! You don’t want to create an unhealthy association or become demoralized or discouraged.
For me the punishment is real simple; would I rather be strong, fit, healthy, positive role model, have the ability to play with my kids, athletic, good skin, good teeth, or the opposite? But I digress….