Motivation Articles

50 Non-Food Rewards for Fitness and Weight Loss

Healthy Ways to Celebrate Success!

Losing weight and maintaining healthy habits are both challenging, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't also be rewarding. Besides the intrinsic benefits that come from feeling better and reaching new goals, rewarding yourself for your healthy efforts will reinforce your new habits and inspire you to continue your journey.

There are lots of effective and motivating ways to reward yourself (both large and small), but first you need to come up with a system. One easy solution is to tie rewards to SparkPoints or fitness minutes rather than weight loss alone. Start by choosing a target that is challenging but not unreachable. For example, give yourself a reward if you reach 600 fitness minutes in a month or each time you earn 500 SparkPoints.

Before I discovered SparkPeople, I created my own reward system that had two components: one to reward healthy behaviors, which are the only things you can truly control, and another to mark weight-loss progress. It's very similar to earning SparkPoints, which you can add up by doing healthy tasks such as tracking your food, exercising or utilizing the supportive Community. But if you have some specific behaviors that SparkPoints don't cover, you can use this list for ideas and customize it however you wish to fit your own goals.

My Healthy Choices Reward System
1 star for going to the gym
1 star for going to the gym three times in one week
1 star for walking at least 30 minutes
1 star for walking outside in temperatures below 20 or above 80
1 star for drinking at least six cups of water per day
2 stars for drinking eight or more cups of water per day
2 stars for staying below my daily carb range
1 star for meeting my daily calorie goal
2 stars for not weighing myself more than once a week
100 stars = I got a reward from my list
To mark my weight-loss progress, I bought an old-fashioned silver charm bracelet and added a new charm for every 10 pounds I lost. I chose charms with symbolic meaning to remind me of my journey and all my hard work. For example, because walking helped me drop the first 10 pounds, I chose a silver sneaker. When I got halfway to my goal weight, I chose a tiny pair of scissors.

50 Non-Food Reward Ideas
Almost anything can work as a reward as long as it fits into your budget and doesn't undermine your efforts. Food does undermine your efforts, so always choose ways to reward yourself that don't involve eating. What works as a reward should be inspiring to you; otherwise, it won't compel you to stick to your program. Here are 50 ideas to get you started (arranged from least expensive or time-consuming to most):
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About The Author

Megan Patrick Megan Patrick
Megan Lane Patrick has been a professional writer and editor for the past 16 years, and was a chronic dieter for at least 30. A combination of weight-loss surgery, mindful eating and daily exercise finally allowed her to maintain a weight loss of more than 100 pounds. When she's not lifting weights at the gym, you can find her walking shelter dogs as a volunteer for the SPCA.

Member Comments

  • This is great! It's so much better than just rewarding weight loss! - 11/21/2014 11:27:35 PM
  • For the last several months, I have done something similar to the star system but I have aimed to try and get at least 80% of my goals daily. I've found that's really tough so I'm thinking of switching to the "total points" (e.g. 100 pts = reward) to help keep me motivated. I did meet my October goal and ordered myself a heart rate monitor as a reward!

    Some of the daily goals I've used (some work better than others) have been:
    * 10+ min of exercise
    * 8000+ steps
    * 7.5+ hours of sleep (I've found this to be my minimum productivity)
    * met calorie deficit
    * met fiber goal
    * 8+ cups of water
    * 5 fruits/vegs
    * no soda
    * floss (I got out of this habit)
    * 50 SparkPeople points
    * read a motivational book chapter - 11/3/2014 10:41:43 AM
    i like these the best

    Have a guilt-free home spa afternoon, Pick up a new plant for your garden, Treat yourself to a massage! - 10/28/2014 12:24:08 PM
  • Thanks a lot for this article!!! I too tend to associate the idea of 'reward' with that of 'food' (the unhealthier, the better, in fact)... But it doesn't work and it can only do harm! So I really loved your list of practical, easy-to-do/find rewards. I'm going to print it and stick it.... on the fridge! :) - 9/19/2014 9:44:40 AM
  • I like the thought of motivators/reward
    s. I am also thinking that I can use these motivators/reward
    s for other goals as well. I have also seen articles on spark regarding point systems where you pay yourself. Perhaps those will help you buy some of the rewards that involve cost. One of my first rewards will be a new blender or some cookware after I have stuck to or reached my goal of trying new recipes. I have to put a little thought into it but this certainly helps to get the ball rolling. - 8/19/2014 1:37:11 PM
  • ELLY2016
    Not using food as a reward is #1 and difficult since we associate it with celebrations. When I have a good week, that is my first reward thought - bake a cake, etc. Pretty sad. Not a few of the rewards listed in this article are things I already grant myself on a regular basis and I don't think of them as rewards, but as motivators, or as ways to get through modern reality w/o stuffing my face. - 8/18/2014 10:10:49 PM
  • good suggestions for rewards - 8/8/2014 7:11:02 AM
  • If rewards work for you, that's great! I look at exercising and eating right as something I should be doing. I do not reward myself for something I should do. Do I reward myself for cleaning, cooking, or laundry? No! So why reward myself for exercising and eating right? - 8/7/2014 11:17:36 AM
  • Love this article - what fantastic ideas! I'm going to try to think about my own rewards and get the ball rolling! - 8/6/2014 4:41:55 PM
  • Great ideas. Thank you
    I love the star point system . I will try it - 8/6/2014 1:27:45 PM
    Thank you for all the fantastic ideas! Will definitely be incorporating some of these. I love using mani-pedis as personal incentives. Lots of other great ideas here. - 8/6/2014 12:25:03 PM
  • I started the charm bracelet last year and it has been an incentive to stick with it. - 8/6/2014 10:44:49 AM
  • JEO4550
    Stealing the charm idea! Thanks! - 8/6/2014 9:36:37 AM
  • I started the charm bracelet idea last year. every time I complete a 5K I get a new charm. - 8/6/2014 12:34:07 AM
  • I did a few of these as motivation to get started on my journey and it really worked. I feel great in my jogging pants and sports bra and my headphones (earbuds that won't fall out) and a Spark activity tracker really make working out a lot more fun. I'm just about to my first 10 pounds lost and am going to get a great haircut this week and go to a wedding next weekend in a dress that makes me look like a bombshell :-)

    Not sure what the next 10 pound reward will be but I'm thinking about having my kids help me make congratulations cards/ribbons for each milestone in addition to doing something for myself. My son will definitely keep me on track by asking when we get to make another one ("Mommy, did you lose 10 more pounds yet?"). - 6/15/2014 11:31:50 AM

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