Non-Food Rewards for Added Motivation


I think many of us get into the habit of rewarding ourselves with food.  At least, I certainly used to.  Had a hard day at work/school but made it through?  Definitely need some chocolate.  Stuck to a diet and lost 5 lbs?  Better treat myself to ice cream.  You get the idea.

Never mind all of the “special occasion” treating that went on.  Hey, I’m out for dinner with friends, so I’d better have something fatty and delicious, PLUS dessert.  I’m on vacation, so I don’t want to think about what I’m eating – better indulge at meals, with dessert, plus extra snacks, and don’t forget about the drinks!  Mudslides are sure good, though, aren’t they?

Last summer I read The Beck Diet Solution, and I think it started the shift in how I view food.  As part of the exercises in the book, I had to put together a list of non-food rewards.  Thinking back, I was like, “What?  But food is the BEST reward.  How can I possibly reward myself withOUT food?”  Still, I dutifully put together a list of non-food rewards, and I did start making use of it.

So, today I’m sharing a my list.  I use it when I need a little help sticking to a healthful diet, getting all my workouts in, or crossing off everything I have on my to do list (particularly for those tasks that I’ve been putting off or dread doing).  I posted here about my rewards for sticking to my healthy meal plan for a week.  The sizes and types of rewards vary, so I pick and choose depending on the goal.

  • reading a book
  • a new magazine
  • watching a favourite show or movie
  • going out to a movie
  • a new piece of workout gear (shirt, socks, shorts, etc.)
  • spending time on a “guilty pleasure” website (for me, definitely
  • getting a pedicure
  • getting a facial
  • taking a bubble bath (with the door locked so the kids stay out of the tub!)
  • getting a massage
  • downloading a new song from iTunes
  • taking a nap
  • a new lip gloss, eye shadow, eye liner, etc.
  • going for a walk

What’s your favourite non-food reward?  Do you choose something that gives you alone time (like I do), or are you more of an extrovert?  When do you use rewards?

11 thoughts on “Non-Food Rewards for Added Motivation

  1. Melissa says:

    You know…now that I think of it, I’ve been rewarding myself with food. I weigh in on Saturday mornings, and usually, at some point during the weekend, I end up rewarding myself with a cheat dinner. Probably the reason I don’t lose a half a pound more during the week, eh? I love your list!


  2. Laury @thefitnessdish says:

    I agree that we all need to stop rewarding with food..its something that we always got as kids, and need to stop doing it with them too!! My favorite reward is a new outfit or a book!! Clothes are a great reward when you are sticking to an exercise plan…as far as kids go, rewarding them by going rock climbing, or to a baseball game, or a fun family activity, not with ice crea, all the time is the key to us not feeling like we need to reward ourselves with food as an adult!!

    Great topic!!


  3. Karen says:

    I love the post! My favorite reward to myself is to go shopping! Even if it is just to pick up a new pair of shoelaces or something small, I enjoy the process.

    I also like to plan a social activity with a friend, which can include food but is not an immediate eating situation. For example, I will text my BFF and plan to go to my favorite Japanese seafood grill the next night. That way I have a fun activity to look forward to and can still be healthy while doing it 🙂


  4. eatmovewrite says:

    Taking a bath, for sure. It feels like such a treat to me after years of living with a roommate and refusing to soak in a tub they shower in. 🙂 I love getting in the tub, a cup of hot tea beside me and a magazine.


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