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Motivation Articles  ›  Goal-Setting Techniques

50 Non-Food Rewards for Fitness and Weight Loss

Healthy Ways to Celebrate Success!

-- By Megan Patrick, Staff Writer
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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

  • 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
  • Oh now I'm going to set me up reward. Put a map on the wall of way to a State Park, I want to go camping. I walk the miles to the camp and then I can Go. - 6/15/2014 10:10:18 AM
  • I absolutely LOVE the charm bracelet idea! I think that is one I'll have to "borrow", thank you!! - 6/15/2014 6:36:08 AM
    I really like the concept. We each have to come up with what rewards work to motivate us. I think my reward will be a mani/pedi for summer! - 4/11/2014 11:27:03 AM
  • Take a selfie???? NO THANKS!!! - 4/11/2014 9:37:57 AM
  • I wish any of these were rewards! When you are 74 and work 4 or 5 days a week, try to get the shopping in, and try to get in bed early enough to get 7 or 8 hours a week, there is NO time left for exercise. - 4/10/2014 9:54:26 PM
  • I love these ideas, especially the "spa at home" idea. I also love the idea in the comments about your friends money to buy you something small. I might try that! - 4/10/2014 1:44:35 PM
    Great article. Some great ideas there. I love the idea of a plant for every milestone.
    - 4/10/2014 11:54:32 AM
  • LEENY10
    @Maurizia, I really love your idea! A small surprise at each milestone is a great idea. And how lucky you are to have friends who care enough to help you by picking out, getting and wrapping you something they think you'll enjoy and that will help keep you motivated. Sounds like you have a good group of supporters. :)

    I may have to ask my husband and sisters to do the same for me. - 3/15/2014 1:17:35 PM
  • How wonderful!
    To those concerned about adopting a dog as a walking buddy -- don't worry about the wording of the suggestion. All that was suggested was adopting a dog as a walking buddy -- not necessarily adopting a dog into one's home. There are several ways to do this! Walk a friend's dog! Or -- I think it is a LOVELY idea to volunteer at an animal shelter as a dog walker. You'll get the exercise, get to meet more people, and also get all the benefits of doing good for those less fortunate (and there are many!).

    My favorites of your ideas are the charm bracelet and the new sports bra ones. Here are my ideas:
    1. reward yourself with gardening -- flowers or vegetables, even if only in a big pot -- will lift the spirits.
    2. Dress up (yes, really -- heels and make-up!) and go to your nicest shopping center, mall, or favorite gathering spot and strut your stuff -- a la "Pretty Woman", when we watched Julia Roberts saunter down the street after her shopping trip. Window shop, power walk, shop for real, or be one of the ladies who lunch (on a nice salad!). Just let yourself feel pretty and worthy and special for awhile!
    3. Get yourself a play toy. Mmm-hmm! Something active. I got myself a soccer ball, frisbee, hula hoop, and a pogo-stick! And I go to the park and have FUN! - 3/15/2014 1:06:17 PM
  • CHRISTINATODAY is right on. The tip to adopt a dog as a reward is way off. This is a living creature that will depend on you for its life - food, shelter, medical aid, love - every day, 24/7, for the rest of its life. Please adopt for the right reasons - to give another living creature a loving home - NOT to give yourself a walking buddy. - 3/14/2014 11:54:38 PM
  • Love these ideas! I've been trying to think of small rewards and was coming up short!
    Thanks! - 3/14/2014 2:07:34 PM
    Love this idea!!! going to start right away!!! - 3/13/2014 8:26:39 AM
  • People are so different. I respond well to rewards (or punishments), but for some reason it has NEVER applied to weight control. I have enough years of failure with this to fill a small book. For instance, I tried many times when I was working full time to join coworkers in pooling money to be given to the biggest weight loser. No matter how much it cost me, I always gained 10 lbs instead of lost lol!!! For me what works is just establishing healthy eating as a habit. It is hard, but I have been making significant changes at this late stage of my life! - 3/12/2014 5:17:48 AM
  • Do NOT get a dog because you want to walk more or lose weight. This is an ANIMAL, a living creature you are talking about. A dog gets 12-18 years old and ALL THAT TIME you will need to not only walk it, but also feed it, train it, love and cuddle it, and pay the vets bills.

    The other ideas are good but this one - NO! - 3/11/2014 12:48:33 PM