Fitness trends and fad diets come and go. But through these changes, a few things remain constant. One of these constants is the fact that people tend to reach their goals more often when they reward themselves for small milestones along the way. Rewards can be a great thing. They help you look at all the progress you’ve already made, rather than the progress you’ve yet to achieve.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you take on a big challenge like shedding unwanted weight. Rewards along the way help keep you focused and keep you motivated. But for a reward to be a true benefit rather than a potential pitfall, they have to be done right. This is, unfortunately, an often overlooked fact. When people reach a certain weight loss or fitness goal, they want to reward themselves with things they feel deprived of. And when it comes to weight loss, that tends to be junk food.
A little junk food isn’t the end of the world. And it might keep you from overeating on the stuff at the next party you attend or holiday you celebrate. But giving yourself junk food as a reward makes it hard to develop a healthy and balanced relationship with food. So instead of reaching for candy or doughnuts the next time you reach a milestone, consider one of the alternatives below. Not only will they make you feel good, but they’ll support your goals in their own ways so that even your rewards are part of the journey.
Go Somewhere New
You put a lot of hard work into every goal that you reach.
Reaching fitness and weight loss goals mean that you put in hours exercising. They mean that you took a good look at your diet and made a few (or more) necessary changes. And they mean that you had to say no to a lot of things you’d rather be spending your time or energy on.
When you reach a milestone, treat yourself by going somewhere new. A restaurant might be the first place that springs to mind, but there are so many other options!
You’ve probably driven by a few local shops that you’ve always wanted to wander into. Now is the perfect time!
Or maybe your town has a local history museum that you’ve always been vaguely curious about. Wandering through it might not be the thrill of a lifetime, but you’ll be supporting your community and indulging your sense of curiosity.
Humans are naturally curious creatures. It’s why babies are fascinated by every new thing they encounter, and many adults tend to seek out new people and new information when they feel bored.
Driving to a nearby town you’ve never visited, perusing a new museum, or even visiting a new park can all feed your curiosity. This makes them an ideal reward for any milestone!
And the bigger the milestone, the “bigger” the new location can be! You can start small with local attractions and work your way up to events, cities, and locations you’ve always wanted to visit.
Try Something Unexpected
We’ve all got “The List”: a catalog of things that look interesting but we “could never do” or “could never try.”
But the truth is that we could do those things and we could try those things. We just need the right motivation and a little courage.
If you’ve never gone hiking because it’s “way too hard for me,” find an easy local trail, or go on a nature walk through a local park. You’ve been working hard to reach your fitness goals. And to do that, you’ve probably put more work into your physical fitness than you’re giving yourself credit for.
That hike or that nature walk is nothing compared to what you’ve already done!
And, yes, using food as a reward is less than ideal. But if you’ve got foods on your list that you want to try, now might be a good time to taste-test a few of the healthier options.
Kombucha, for example, is something a lot of people have seen or heard of, but never tried for themselves.
Up until a few months ago, I was one of those people! Then I learned about the health benefits of kombucha and decided to give it a try. Now I’m hooked!
Just be sure you try a couple of flavors before you make your final decision, since each kombucha flavor is wildly different.
You might find that you don’t like the new activity or food. And that’s okay!
The point is that you tried something new and came away with a story to tell. More importantly, you did something you once said you could never do. Now there’s no telling what you can accomplish!
Tend to Other Needs
This reward might not sound exciting on the surface. After all, who wants to slog down to the bank and talk about their financial balance as a reward for other hard work you’ve already done?
Or clean out the attic after you’ve been putting it off for months in favor of trips to the gym? Neither of those sound much like a reward.
And that’s because they’re not. Yes, getting those things crossed off of your list will more than likely leave you with a huge sense of relief. But they’re not exactly fun or relaxing.
So when I say “tend to other needs,” I mean things that are more personal.
Schedule a day out with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Or, if you’re the type that occasionally enjoys spa trips, go get your nails done or your brows threaded.
You might even look into getting a massage so your muscles feel pampered after all of the work you’ve put them through.
Milestones are a great time to reward yourself with things you want to—and have been meaning to do—but just couldn’t make time for. Whether it’s spending time with a loved one, reading a book, watching a long-awaited movie, or getting a new haircut, all of these things will help you relax and celebrate.
They’ll also give you a boost of motivation to reach your next goal, so you can do it again!
There are so many ways to reward yourself without reaching for junk food. And though it might take time to unlearn the idea of candy as a reward, it’s more than worth the effort.
Rewards are great on their own. But you’ll find that they’re even better when they support you, your health, and your overall goals.
Before your next milestone, sit down with a list. It can be the list of things you thought you’d “never do,” or it can be a list of things you’ve always wanted to try. Whichever it is, choose something specific that will help motivate you toward your next goal.
Having a specific reward in mind will get you to the gym when you don’t want to go and help you stick to your new dietary structure. And when it comes to goals like these, every little bit of motivation helps!