Motivation Articles

50 Non-Food Rewards for Fitness and Weight Loss

Healthy Ways to Celebrate Success!

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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

  • SFAGECKO, I guess the writer of the post just wanted to get us started. Her list probably has helped a lot of readers. But I admit I was not very motivated by it. Yours, however, has really movtivated me to create a list of things that I would look forward to for the weight that I lose. I love SparkPeople. Reading inspiring posts like yours is really helpful to me. - 5/27/2016 12:16:36 AM
  • A lot of the example rewards I am not interested in, I don't feel like it's an actual reward (I will paint my nails a different color just because, and if I need new clothes, those are a necessity, not a reward since I'm not a fan of shopping), or I already do regularly (I get a massage every month because I have back pain from sitting at a desk all day). If I have the ability to take a nap or sleep in, I'm not NOT going to do those things because I haven't "earned" them. I need sleep for my health. I feel like re sizing rings would be more of a necessity, not a reward, though you will feel happy about doing it. I already go out with my friends, etc.
    I had came up with a list that was definitely personal to me to keep me motivated. My rewards are weight loss related (not workout related) and things that I don't do regularly because I feel like it would be a splurge that I typically feel guilty about spending money on if I do it just because I want it. For every 5 pounds I lose, I will go to the Foot Spa. For every 10 pounds, I will add 30 minutes on to my monthly massage. When I hit 25 pounds, I will buy myself a new suitcase with the wheels that roll in any direction in my favorite color. When I hit 50 pounds, I will go on a weekend getaway with my husband (#44). 75 pounds - I'd like to go skydiving. 100 pounds - a trip to Puerto Rico or another new-to-me location if I have changed my mind by the time I hit my goal (#50)! I also keep a list of reasons why I want to lose weight and the benefits that I will have one I lose the weight. I also look at that list periodically to remind myself why I need to keep working at it. - 5/26/2016 11:09:21 AM
  • These are great ideas!!! - 5/25/2016 1:44:58 PM
  • Great ideas! Thanks. - 5/4/2016 12:06:34 PM
  • one thing that is fun, when you reach a certain number of pounds lost, like 15, a new pair of REALLY GOOD earrings, or an ankle bracelet. something like that. But I love the system of giving yourself stars for baby steps like taking the stairs or something. Great ideas - 4/15/2016 5:06:40 PM
  • so many great ideas, definitely bookmarking this page : ) - 4/7/2016 9:34:21 AM
  • I bought myself a 'quickpick' lottery ticket..I have a Vision Board and a number of things on it..

    My dream is to build a house with a full basement with 9 inch thick concrete walls with a built-in storm shelter. In my cellar with be a home gym with the equipment I will use to stay fit!

    I will also have a closed in pool as well as a greenhouse..fruit and veggies 27/7 365! - 3/30/2016 12:14:42 AM
  • I don't believe in rewarding myself for something I should be doing. That's like rewarding myself for cleaning the house, cooking meals, and doing the laundry. - 3/24/2016 10:46:24 AM
  • JMB369
    I've used this kind of reward system for over 10 years, and many of my rewards have become new habits. Losing weight and increasing fitness are about self care. I do a mani- pedi regularly and have a top notch hair stylist. But I am back to weight loss because I regained 15 of the 80 pounds I lost! Some of my current rewards: take a day trip to someplace I have never been; go to a live theater or music performance; buy an expensive perfume; buy some new art supplies: buy a new shrub or tree for the garden. As for "guy" rewards, many of these are not for women only. My guy likes cologne, a weekly massage, wood working tools, music, a new office chair for the home office. How about some clothes in smaller sizes? Smaller stuff? A man-size bath towel...a new coffee mug...a magazine
    sic downloads. Think Chrustmas, but all year round! Have fun with this one. - 3/24/2016 8:38:55 AM
  • Thought provoking article, but I agree that cleaning the closet isn't much of a reward unless it involves buying new clothes to replace the big ones I cleaned out. Incidentally, a new outfit is one of the suggested rewards. I like to reward myself for working out at least 3 times a week by downloading a new song. As I get stronger the number of days will increase. Interim, big goal is a new bike. Looking forward to riding outdoors again once I lose more and get stronger. Big goal, vacation to the coast. After I lose another 75 pound and get my new knees. Walks on the beach again? Woo-hoo! Not feeling it? How about a new fishing lure, a cooking class, trip to the shooting range, etc.? No silver charms? Mark each pound lost with a beautiful rock, a bead, button. Something visual. Get creative. Enjoy the journey! Godspeed. - 3/23/2016 4:09:26 PM
  • This was the *best* way for me to start on my healthy journey! Figuring out what I wanted to change and then seeing the streaks I was on made it so much fun. I had to add in rest day reward points tho- max of two per week, but I needed the incentive to STOP working out, lol.

    That was almost two years ago and I'm still going strong :) - 3/23/2016 4:06:15 PM
    Setting up a reward (and tracking) system has been extremely helpful and kept me focused on my New Year's resolution of being healthier this year. My goals are more activity-related (tracking what I'm eating, getting my 10K steps per day, etc.) and knowing I'll lose 50 points if I don't do them all has made all the difference. The rewards listed in the article don't appeal to me, but I think the idea is to get you thinking about what WOULD motivate you. - 3/23/2016 11:15:28 AM
  • I like the idea. I think one reward would be to give myself some quiet time to make a list of rewards that really would help motivate ME. - 3/21/2016 11:46:55 AM
  • My reward is a massage and spending time with a friend. - 3/7/2016 1:40:30 PM
  • I would have to agree with the comments that most of the rewards are geared to women BUT this is to give each of us ideas to come up with our own reward system. I wouldn't go for 90% of the ideas but there were a few that caught my eye. Like anything, routine can become boring so sometimes we need to switch it up or make a modification and that in itself can be a reward. It's thinking outside the box, creating something new to inspire us to continue our journey rather than to falter and fall back. - 3/1/2016 11:23:11 AM

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