Losing weight and maintaining healthy habits are both challenging, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't also be rewarding. Besides the intrinsic benefits that come from feeling better and reaching new goals, rewarding yourself for your healthy efforts will reinforce your new habits and inspire you to continue your journey.
There are lots of effective and motivating ways to reward yourself (both large and small), but first you need to come up with a system. Start by choosing a target that is challenging but not unreachable.
Try this reward system made up of two components: One to reward healthy behaviors, which are the only things you can truly control, and another to mark weight-loss progress. You can use this list for ideas and customize it however you wish to fit your own goals.
Example Healthy Choices Reward System:
1 point for going to the gym
1 point for going to the gym three times in one week
1 point for walking at least 30 minutes
1 point for walking outside in temperatures below 20 or above 80
1 point for drinking at least six cups of water per day
1 point for meeting daily calorie goal
2 points for drinking eight or more cups of water per day
2 points for staying below your daily carb range
2 points for not weighing yourself more than once a week
100 stars = A reward from your list
Non-Food Reward Ideas
Almost anything can work as a reward as long as it fits into your budget and doesn't undermine your efforts. Food does undermine your efforts, so always choose ways to reward yourself that don't involve eating. What works as a reward should be inspiring to you; otherwise, it won't compel you to stick to your program. Here are some ideas to get you.
Buy yourself something:
- Bouquet of flowers
- Clothes (shirt, shorts, skirt, jacket, jeans, etc.)
- Exercise clothes
- Healthy cookbook
- iPod or mp3 player
- iPod, iPhone, or iPad accessory
- Item for a collection or hobby
- Kitchen gadget
- Magazine subscription
- Membership (to a website, club, museum, etc.)
- Pair of shoes
- Picture frame
- Piece of exercise equipment (ball, weights, resistance bands, yoga mat, etc.)
- Piece of jewelry
- Purse or wallet
- Wall art
- Workout music
Rewards don’t have to be expensive. You can buy books from a used bookstore and clothes from a second hand store (especially if you’re planning to drop more sizes). You can find almost any item on eBay or Craigslist, or trade items with friends.
- Computer game
- Exercise video
- Kindle book (e-book)
- Date night with your significant other
- Day off from doing the dishes or other household task
- Day off work (Take a personal/vacation day)
- Massage from your significant other
- Night off from cooking
- Night off from giving the kids a bath
These reward ideas will obviously take the cooperation of others (significant other, family members, roommates, etc.) who are willing to support you and pitch in.
Spend time alone:
- Do nothing
- Enjoy peace and quiet
- Lay down for a nap
- Play a game
- Read a book or magazine
- Sip coffee or tea
- Take a bath
- Watch your favorite TV show (reserve the TV)
- Work a crossword puzzle, jigsaw puzzle, Sudoku puzzle, etc.
Spend time doing anything you enjoy but don’t typically take the time to do.
- Batting cage
- Bowling alley
- Comedy club
- Golf course (or mini golf course)
- Play or musical
- Pool or beach
- Sporting event
- Bath products
- New make-up
- Spray tan
- Teeth whitening
Put money towards:
- A Gift card for your favorite store
- Hiring a maid
- Horse back riding
- Hot air balloon ride
- Personal training sessions
- Sky diving
- Smaller wardrobe
- Spa day
- Weekend trip
Set up a reward system where you earn money for achieving daily or weekly goals. Save the money in a jar or bank account and spend it on a large reward once you’ve earned enough.
You could even start a matching program (dollar for dollar) if you have the cooperation from a significant other, friend, or family member.
- Fancy car
- Jet ski
- Paddle board
Take a class:
- A foreign language
- Art (drawing, painting, pottery)
- Dance (Ballroom, Swing, Hip Hop, etc.)
- Jewelry/bead making
- Rock climbing
- Sewing or crocheting
The possibilities are endless, so get creative. Get help from your friends and family to offers suggestions to come up with new ideas, or create your own reward calendar. Just remember to make sure those rewards are what you truly want so you’ll work hard to reach your goals.