Non-Food Rewards

The idea of food as punishment and reward has been reinforced over and over in the movies, and in families around the world.

When you were a kid, how often were you told you couldn’t have dessert until you cleaned your plate? How often were you taken out for ice cream at the end of a school year when your report card was excellent?

Each one of us has, or has heard or seen stories where food is the reward. Usually, sweets or candy. These paradigms get reinforced well into adulthood – the “just one more” cookie because you had a good day. The “quick glass of wine” because it was a stressful, busy one.

But, what if you changed that narrative, and started rewarding yourself with non-food treats? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy sweet desserts, or that glass of wine, but that should be in moderation. It shouldn’t be the go-to, especially if you’re cleaning up your health and fitness routine.

Here are a few ideas:

  • For every workout, put away a little money towards something bigger. A tough workout is NOT an excuse to eat all the things. Putting a little cash aside for every workout means you can but yourself something down the road. I usually put away a dollar per workout, and that goes towards running or workout gear as I reach my goals
  • A manicure or pedicure. It’s difficult to walk to the kitchen, or grab that bag of chips, if your nails are still drying, or you’re busy with some self care
  • A bit of time watching your favourite show or movie, and not snacking through it
  • Stickers! Seriously. I do this. For every workout, I put a sticker on the calendar. The visual motivation and reward activates the pleasure centre of my brain, and makes me satisfied
  • Books! I’m a sucker for a good fiction novel, or a new notebook. If I’m rewarding myself for something – fitness or non-fitness related, I’m likely to buy myself a new book (speaking of which, I should put that on pause for a bit… the stack is getting out of hand…)
  • I plan small adventures. I’ll go to my favourite vintage stores, or spend the day reading in the park with a cup of coffee

Those are just a few things that you could do as a non-food reward or celebration. I’m sure that by sitting down and thinking about it, you could also find rewards that make you just as happy.

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