Do you reward yourself for being consistent with workouts and eating well? At the end of a hectic week (be it work, school, exercise) how do you give thanks to your body, your self, and your mind? For some, it’s buying a new piece of decor for the house, maybe some new gym gear for motivation, or maybe you’re like me and once a week reward yourself with FOOD!
Okay..maybe I don’t take it that far, but I have no qualms with food rewards despite many people’s attitudes that “food rewards are for dogs.” So be it. I look forward to my once a week “Fun Food.” I call it my “fun food” because it is usually something I NEVER eat on a regular basis! Most times it’s Pad Thai, maybe pizza, or I’ll give in to my chocolate urges for a Reese Bar or Chocolate Almonds. Whatever it is, I eat it, I savor it, and the next day I move on with my regular eating routine. But here’s the thing:
It’s the moving on part that people can struggle with…..and I once did as well. Working hard and then rewarding myself for it (with food) was difficult for a few reasons:
A) I worried all my hard work would be ruined from my “cheat”
B) I would feel guilty for the “cheat” and squash any enjoyment I got from it
C) I referred to that reward as a “cheat.”
Let’s make a new cardinal rule: call your treat anything you want…but never call it a CHEAT. There is nothing wrong with deviating from your regular eating habits once a week/month for something you desire. Calling it a cheat gives the sense that you’re doing something wrong, negative, or forbidden…and this is not the case! Numerous articles are available which outline how these little rewards help us stay on track because we aren’t restricting ourselves of anything. Instead of saying “I’m going to exercise ALL the time and NEVER eat (insert favorite foods here) AGAIN!” say “I’m going to work hard all week and THEN have (insert ONE favorite food here) to celebrate myself.” One healthy meal will not make you fit, just like one unhealthy meal won’t make you fat. My belief is that a day of rest from exercise is just as important to my body and mind as a day where I let myself eat something totally unconventional from the rest of my diet.
Another important thing to remember is that your treat meal should not turn into a treat DAY. Yes you have worked hard and deserve a reward, but that does not mean you should have chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner….the rule of moderation still applies! And maybe this type of reward isn’t for you. That’s totally fine! If you are not comfortable with this type of system, find what you are comfortable with! Maybe you’re just starting a weight loss journey and it’s a little early in the game to have a food reward. Or maybe you would just prefer doing something else….DO IT! Personally, when I spend a week getting up a 5 am to workout, and then do a 20K run at the end of my week….I am more then comfortable cozying up with a (portioned) fun snack.
Here are some more tips for rewarding yourself and staying on track:
* PLAN FOR IT: Look at the week ahead of you, is there a birthday celebration? A family dinner? If you know there will be food you’ll want to enjoy, plan the rest of your meals around it and have your reward there.
* USE MODERATION: If chips is your treat, buy a small bag…not the family sized one! The point is to enjoy without binging.
* GET OVER IT: If you think you deserve a treat, have it and move on. DO NOT beat yourself up about it…even if you had a little more then you should have 😉 It’s one meal (or dessert), not the end of the world. Tomorrow is a new day full of opportunities for you to work a little harder.
* KNOW YOUR TENDENCIES: I mentioned earlier that food rewards are not for everyone, so find what YOU want. I went a long time with no food rewards, but it was for the wrong reasons (guilt, shame,etc). Once I knew food could be enjoyed without binging, without feeling remorse, and without completely derailing my progress, I was able to start a once-a-week fun food routine which actually helped keep me on track with something to look forward to on the weekend when I was most likely to be tempted.
Do you agree with food rewards? What is your favorite reward (food or not)? Tell me what keeps you on track!!
Much love, you deserve it 🙂