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):
  1. Give yourself permission to take a nap.
  2. Visit the library or bookstore all by yourself.
  3. Have a guilt-free home spa afternoon.
  4. Sleep in!
  5. Take a selfie to celebrate your progress.
  6. Spend an hour away from your phone or computer.
  7. Eat lunch outside or at least away from your desk.
  8. Clean out your closet and donate all your too-big clothes to charity.
  9. Post your progress on social media (or SparkPeople) so your friends can celebrate with you.
  10. Take a bubble bath.
  11. Drive to a beautiful neighborhood or park to walk instead of taking your usual walking route.
  12. Use smiley face or star stickers to note milestones on a wall calendar hung in a prominent place.
  13. Make your own ribbon or trophy.
  14. Make or buy a refrigerator magnet with a motivational quote.
  15. Take a vacation day from work to do whatever you want!
  16. Unwind with a movie of your choice.
  17. Plan a night out with your friends.
  18. Buy a lottery ticket.
  19. Subscribe to a fitness or healthy cooking magazine.
  20. Get a new driver's license photo. (Don't lie about your weight.)
  21. Download a new fitness app for your phone.
  22. Buy a new workout song.
  23. Get yourself a bottle of fancy shower gel or lotion.
  24. Pick up a new plant for your garden.
  25. Invest in some moisture-wicking workout socks.
  26. Get fitted for a new sports bra.
  27. Try a new shade of nail polish.
  28. Get some new shades for outdoor exercise.
  29. Come home with a bouquet of flowers.
  30. Try a fresh hair color.
  31. Buy a small personal blender for smoothies and protein shakes.
  32. Order a pair of high-end wireless headphones.
  33. Invest is a fitness tracker to motivate you even more.
  34. Sign up for a charity walk or running event.
  35. Splurge on some nice yoga pants.
  36. Go for a mani/pedi.
  37. Treat yourself to a massage!
  38. Take a cooking class to up your game.
  39. Get a new hairstyle.
  40. Get fitted for workout shoes at a running store.
  41. Go for a flashy piercing or tattoo!
  42. Start a charm bracelet.
  43. Get your rings resized to fit your smaller fingers.
  44. Plan a weekend getaway with your significant other.
  45. Adopt a dog so you'll always have a walking buddy.
  46. Hire someone to clean your house so you have more time to hit the gym.
  47. Try a fun exercise class like Zumba or pole fitness.
  48. Book a session with a personal trainer.
  49. Schedule a professional portrait shoot.
  50. Two words: Dream vacation!
There are countless ways to reward yourself, and while it may seem trivial, research shows that rewards that are personal to us do in fact help us stay motivated and establish long-term habits. It's worth the time to come up with a system and a list of rewards for your own milestones!

What are your favorite ways to reward yourself for healthy habits or weight loss?

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Member Comments

  • my reward is knitting time
  • I found this article very thought provoking. First, in thinking about what should be rewarded, I realized that I enjoy anticipating a worthy reward rather than receiving rewards frequently and plan to select several reachable goals that will take a while but end with something rewarding in addition to meeting the goal. Second, I recognized that I am pretty fussy and not pleased with any little reward that could be available for practically nothing, and so I will also take time in selecting appropriate non-food rewards or possibly a food award that is healthy, unusual, and nearly impossible for me to prepare so it would involve a very special meal out or shopping, studying recipes, and practicing prior to serving it to appreciative friends. This project can be ongoing, as over time I select other worthy goals and rewards.
  • I like the idea of a charm bracelet and may use that for every 10 lbs. Perhaps treating myself to a nice facial treatment would be a good treat/reward also!
  • My reward is to do something with or for a grandchild
  • There are some very good ideas here. Some don't appeal to me, such as the ones that are for girls. But it's a good start for my own list. I think the biggest reward is to learn to stop rewarding myself with food.
  • i love to read!!! and learn! thanks Sparkland!!
    i love making kind choices in my bodt and thoughts!
    those are my rewards!!!! they never go out of style or get boring!
    keep SPARKING!
  • i love to read!!! and learn! thanks Sparkland!!
  • Great Article! Gave me some non food ideas to treat myself...Thanks!
  • Cannot believe no one has posted here since I rejoined this challenge. Same comment. Too many of these rewards (the stars) are juvenile. The other list can get pricey quickly. Does SP review the articles that pop up - if you've been with the program and dedicated even a short time it seems to get repetitious pretty quickly. I've been reading some of the side articles but they are also very dated.
  • Love the idea of non-food rewards but the ideas seem pretty juvenile since most of the group is adult+... many of these things I have always done in my life. The stars - well, too too over the top.
  • Thank you for the suggestions for rewards. I will implement some because I have reached a plateau and need some motivation.
  • these ideas are good!
  • Personally, my rewards are that I wake up feeling energetic and well rested every morning and look forward to a day of nutritious meals. I am happy to be changing my lifestyle with more exercise and a better knowledge of the carbs, proteins, etc. that are essential to a good nutritious meal. I am willing to do an intense, 30 minute workout every day and add extra video's as I find new fitness areas that interest me. In fact, i am happiest when I can do at least two strong workouts a day. I am on my 18th day and I feel great, have lost 8 lbs. and my body is firming up and getting toned with the exercise. I am fortunate to have found a good plan that works for me and everything I've found has been part of the SPARK program. No matter what your goals, and the process does take some work to fit individual needs, it's worth the effort to be able to feel good about yourself and your life. Good luck to everyone and enjoy the process!
  • I like this idea, thank you for sharing.
  • I think we all deserve rewards and if we give ourselves little rewards regularly, we are happy and less likely to eat too much in the first place.

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.

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