Welcome back to our series on motivation and finding ways to keep your fitness regime from getting stale. We’ve already talked about ways to mix things up and keep it fresh as well as using goalsetting and progress tracking as motivation tools. Today’s topic is using rewards to keep you moving forward.
The temptation when working out is to “reward yourself” for workouts with food. “If I go to kickboxing, I can have a margarita tonight!” We’ve already talked about why that is a recipe for failure, and, in fact, in the example above, that margarita would pretty much completely wipe out an hour’s kickboxing class.
So, the goal in setting a reward system should always revolve around non-food rewards and forward progress. That’s not to say you can’t have a treat if you want one, but you should always look at it as just that—A treat that you’ve budgeted and accounted for, not “payback” for doing a workout. (And, for heaven’s sake, don’t call it CHEATING! I hate that word.)
And, remember, in order for rewards to work as motivation, you have to stay honest. Rewarding yourself with something you plan to buy anyhow won’t work. If you have to, ask a husband or friend to keep you honest.
Here are some reward scenarios that can keep you moving towards your goals:
– Give yourself a point for every workout you complete and each month reward yourself with that many fresh MP3s for your workout playlist
– Set up a mini-challenge with friends. Track weight-loss, total minutes on the treadmill, nights making dinner at home– whatever healthy-lifestyle metric you choose. At the end of the contest period, the winner treats the others to a mani-pedi or other (non-food!) reward
– Set mini-goals for yourself and treat yourself to new workout gear, workout DVDs or gadgets. Not only will working towards the goal keep you going, the prize itself will stoke your motivation!
– Experiential rewards are awesome and can also help further your lifestyle. Things like cooking classes, massages, special seminars or weekend getaways focused on the healthy pursuit of your choice make great rewards.
– Track your “rewards” real-time. If you are rewarding yourself for something like passing up the candy closet at work, make sure you keep your “reward tally” right there on your desk so that you can register your point right then. Keeping your reward tally on your smartphone is another great way to keep track.
– Remember, rewards don’t have to be monetary! Get your family and friends on board to create free rewards like an “afternoon off” from the kids or special outing.
I’d love to hear your favorite reward… what kind of rewards keep you on track?
Next time, in our final installment, we’ll talk about what to do if all else fails.
Heather Hawkins is a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach based in San Francisco, CA, who works with clients over the internet through FitLifeSF Coaching and blogs at FitLifeSF.com. Please send your fitness and nutrition questions to Smurf@FitLifeSF.com for use in future blogs.