Imagine this, you have just worked your butt off at the spin class you signed up for. You’re feeling great and your friends says, lets go for ice cream we deserve it.
Now, if you’re like me, you hop in the car and don’t think twice about it. If your attitude is such that “I’ve earned ice cream and I’m getting a double scoop”. Stop and think. Did you really earn the ice cream or did you earn the workout?
You earned the workout and your body is grateful to be put through the paces and to flush away some of the stress and inactivity of the day.
It’s time to stop justifying poor habits like ice cream after a workout. Here are some ways that you can set yourself up to be successful in achieving your personal health goals.
1- If you are going for a workout with a friend, let them know ahead of time that you’d prefer not going out afterward for a sugary reward. This way you can avoid the uncomfortable conversation, especially if your friend is prone to going out for “something social” after the class.
2- If you do want a treat/“reward” afterward, choose wisely. Have something small, like 1 scoop of ice cream in a bowl, instead of the double scoop in a waffle cone.
3- Or If you can take a few minutes before you head out for your workout, pack some food. Consider carrots, grapes or homemade granola with yogurt. So if you do want extra time with your friend and you don’t want ice cream, you’ll have something to snack on. Don’t get yourself in a situation where you’re relying on willpower when you’re inside an ice cream shop (especially, if it’s been a particularly stressful day).
Other ways to reward yourself for a great workout
Pay yourself for working out. We invest in our future, why not invest in your workouts. Make a game out of it. If the workout was great, pay yourself a $1.00, but it was awful and you stuck it out, then give yourself $5.00. Label the jar, with whatever reward the money is going towards. For example: A new outfit, a concert or something bigger like a vacation.
Earn a movie, or couch time. Count your workout minutes for the week and for every minute you exercise earns you a minute of couch time. For example, if there is a movie you want to watch on Friday night and it’s 150 minutes long, get those 150 minutes of exercise in throughout the week before you go to the movie. (modify as desired).
Make a deal with your spouse or friend, once you’ve hit some many workouts in a month you get a date night. Why not make it an activity date, like bowling or a hike. Or have them to go to a workout class with you.
Do you love your morning smoothies and is your blender is on it’s last leg? Set a goal to reach so many minutes of activity before you can buy a new blender. For example, if you typically get 150 minutes in a week reward yourself once you get 900 total minutes (That should take you about 6 weeks). While the appropriate goal length can vary by individual, it's important to make sure the goal you set takes long enough for positive change to take effect while not being so far away as to feel unattainable.
Did you get all of your workouts in this week? Reward yourself with a new song.
At the end of the day remember to keep your exercise fun and your fitness goals realistic and attainable. Exercise should never be a punishment for food eaten or a life lived. Instead, remember that even if you need additional positive rewards to motivate you to exercise, that's okay, because you will still experience exercise itself as a great reward.
We all slip now and again, be willing to pick yourself up and continue working towards your goal.