Non food rewards after working out?

In order for me to stay motivated to workout I need a reward but don't want it to be food related. Does anyone know of some weekly non food rewards I can use to keep my momentum of exercise up? If so please let me know, the more the better. Thanks!


  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 25,756 Member
    Exercise I enjoy so much I'd do it even if it weren't good for me is what works best for me, to stay motivated. Staying tuned up for that exercise (on-water rowing) even keeps me semi-motivated to do other things I don't enjoy nearly as much (machine rowing in Winter, even strength training and sometimes swimming, the latter two of which I really don't enjoy.) But that's not what you asked.

    Non-food rewards for exercise: Do you have other hobbies? If so, hobby supplies. See a movie or play or musical performance? Get a sports/therapeutic massage from a professional with good credentials? Your name makes me think you're female, so if I'm wrong, details could differ: Item of clothing, make-up, jewelry, fragrance, or any other little indulgence that appeals to you? Fresh flowers, or a houseplant, if you like that sort of thing? Steam bath or sauna, if you like things like that?

    But really, exercise doesn't have to be miserable or punitive to be effective, and different types appeal to different people. Have you tried other types, looking for things that might be more enjoyable, or at least more tolerable, in themselves?
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,967 Member
    Like Ann, the exercise is its own reward. I do it because I love it, wish I had more time to play on skis, bikes, go hiking with friends, swim in lakes, and things like that.
  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,836 Member
    Like Ann, the exercise is its own reward. I do it because I love it, wish I had more time to play on skis, bikes, go hiking with friends, swim in lakes, and things like that.

    And beautiful pictures of those activities!

    OP - I've never found a reward system that worked for exercise getting motivated to do it.
    While doing it I've rarely thought about quitting early (endurance cardio type exercise), and the meal plans I wanted needed the longer workout, so it motivated me to stick to the plan.

    If you have great forward thinking ability and can really picture the changes in the future as a result of the exercise now - that can be a reward system. That's a really hard one to use though.
    Gotta make it fun to start.
    Then other motivators to make it as long or as hard as desired may be required.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,079 Member
    I think to a certain extent you can look at things like a new pair of runners or workout clothes, etc. But ultimately, that will really only get you so far in regards to making regular exercise just a routine part of your life, as "motivation" is really just an emotion...and a fleeting one. Most of the really fit and healthy people I know don't actually do much in the way of an actual "workout"...they're just physically active people who are out doing things that are physically active that they enjoy. I would put myself in that camp as an avid cycling enthusiast and mountain biker...hiker...rock climber, skier, golfer, etc. Most of my regular exercise is just physical activity that I enjoy recreationally that also happens to be very good exercise and in some cases can feel like an exhausting workout. The only thing I really do that I consider to be a "workout" is my 2x per week in the weight room...the rest is good exercise and good fun and I don't really need a ton of motivation to go out and's play time.

    This wasn't always the case. When I first started getting back into fitness and exercise I had a pretty myopic view of things. Either that it had to be some kind of sufferfest...or droning away on stationary cardio equipment...or running on a treadmill...or jumping around my living room to some workout DVD, etc. In a way, you could say I used food as a motivation, but not necessarily a reward. The one thing I learned very early on with MFP was that the more you moved, the more you could and should eat to properly fuel the body for additional activity beyond your daily hum drum.

    When I figured out that without exercise I could lose about 1 Lb per week on 1900 calories per day vs losing 1 Lb per week on 2300-2400 calories per day with regular exercise, I was all in and food was most definitely a meant I could have a little more at dinner or lunch or a snack or bit of desert, etc. I never really looked at it as "reward" though...more from the perspective of the biological necessity of needing more calories if you're more active...and also from the perspective that I wasn't going to stick with anything diet wise to lose weight if all I could eat was 1900 exercise I did.

    But even that only provided motivation for a pretty limited amount of time. I didn't really like what I was doing. I was mostly running, primarily because I saw a lot of fit and healthy people out running and figured that's what fit and healthy people must do. Hated it really...and then started just mixing in a bunch of random cardio work on stationary equipment or a class or whatever...nothing really took in terms of the whole, "I can dig this" factor.

    I pretty much accidentally discovered a love for all things bike. As a bucket list kind of thing, my mother had decided to do a sprint triathlon and in solidarity I signed up with her. I ended up with an injury a couple of weeks before the event, so I never ended up doing it...but I did discover that I really enjoyed riding my bike and took up biking as my primary form of exercise. In this case, I also did give myself a reward. I was riding an old beater MTB that I had bought at Wal-Mart at some point in the distant past and decided to go to a bike shop to look at some "real" bikes...I didn't really realize how much they cost so I decided that I'd make a pact with myself...I had 4 months until my birthday and decided that if for that 4 month period I road 5x per week and still enjoyed it, I'd buy myself a nice bike...and that's what I did and bought myself a nice CX bike.

    This was also pretty much the point where I started to look at regular exercise through a different lens that was not quite so myopic and realized that a lot of the fun, play things I liked doing, were in-fact really good exercise and they kept me healthy and kept me fit and active...all without actually "working out". It may take some time and trial and error to find physical activity that you enjoy, but it is well worth it and will undoubtedly lead to much greater adherence to regular physical activity than trying to buy motivation.

  • positiveyou1
    positiveyou1 Posts: 9 Member
    food rewards are not great anyway, as it builds a structure that makes people have issues with food in the first place, fitness equipment is one reward, but so are small things like a day to go cinema or spend time with family or friends, rewards can be anything, but they always have to drive you, small goals are always better to reach a bigger goal, than just one end goal - But make it fun, challenging and Actually a goal you want to achieve, so it tells the brain to stop telling the body to quit because it wants that reward feeling.
  • bethann551
    bethann551 Posts: 5 Member
    There's some psychology out there that says a reward isn't as powerful as is associating a new or challenging habit with something positive--a subtle, but important difference. By now I have a couple of those outside of just enjoying the exercise itself because . . . . even if you love running and swimming, sometimes it takes a little extra to get out the door at 4:45 in the morning to do it. In my mind, I associate exercise with the quiet drive to the gym in the morning and first peek at the day's weather; with the welcoming smile at the front desk; with the slightly cheesy chick-lit I listen to while I run; the big cup of warm coffee I drink on my way to work afterward; and the little buzz I get from logging my exercise on my computer before I start my work day. I don't consciously think about all those things, but as a bundle they motivate me when I need it. What could you associate your exercise with that would be a positive for you?
  • hesn92
    hesn92 Posts: 5,971 Member
    edited March 9
    I would say a new workout outfit, shoes, or some type of gear would be a good reward. But that wouldn't work as an ongoing reward, more of just a one time thing. If you want a weekly reward, maybe a massage, pedicure, tanning, or something like that? I don't know, most of that stuff is too expensive for me lol. the reward could be something small, like getting to take a warm shower after and drink some good coffee.
  • pridesabtch
    pridesabtch Posts: 1,730 Member
    edited March 9
    I agree find something you love and do it. Like @cwolfman13 said it doesn't have to be a sufferfest. Don't take something you love and make it awful because you think it has to hurt to work. Enjoy it. You don't even have to be good at it, you'll get there in time.

    I'm not saying not to push yourself, I love a good hard workout, but I almost destroyed my love for biking because every time I rode I thought I had to go harder and faster. It became unrealistic. Sometimes harder and faster is what life calls for. Other days, it's enough to ride (run, swim, skip, whatever) with good friends and enjoy the day.

    I've learned to love my bike again, but in a way that is much less all or nothing. Have fun out there, make it a habit. I bought myself some cool purple mountain bike shoes to match my purple bike when I started riding again. Not necessarily a reward, more a new toy that makes riding a tad more fun.