Why (Some) Rewards don’t work…
The idea of a food reward for doing exercise is inherently flawed because the crux of a reward is that you are rewarding yourself for something you wouldn’t otherwise be doing!
This is counterproductive as you want to create healthy long lasting habits, habits that are ingrained in your everyday life.
Do you reward yourself for washing your teeth? Do you reward yourself for taking a shower? Do you reward yourself for wearing your seatbelt? Making it to work on time? Or remembering to wear underwear?!
Of course not, because these are habits that form part of your day to day existence. These habits keep you clean, safe and healthy. So why should you reward yourself for going for a walk? Or making it to the gym?
✨Try and break free from the reward mentality!✨
However, if you are struggling to create healthful habits and are someone that simply cannot operate without some reward system then focus on rewards that come from or are produced by the habit.
Think about the sense of calm after yoga, the pump after weight training or DOMS* the day after a tough gym session. If you are still struggling then use rewards to reinforce the habit for example buy a yoga mat, pay for a weight training or coaching session, buy yourself weightlifting gloves/shoes etc
You need to be proactive and determine what makes you tick. What will encourage you to make it to the gym or go for a walk- if it’s the thought of the chocolate you are going to ‘reward’ yourself with after then I’m afraid you are on the wrong path.
Find something inherent in the act of exercising itself that feels like a reward- the sense of accomplishment after a heavy squat session, or clarity after a long run. Find your ‘feel good’ and focus on that!
BUT DO NOT reward yourself with food- you’re not a dog
Naomi McArdle MSc
(*DOMS refers to delayed onset of muscle soreness that typically occurs 12-72 hours after a gym session. New exercises, eccentric movements and plyometrics all increase your chances of DOMS and trust me there is something very satisfying about this feeling- knowing that you have pushed or worked your body in a new way!)