Use Smart Incentives on Your Health Journey

Use Smart Incentives on Your Health Journey

On your health and fitness journey, the best way to reward good behavior is not with a cupcake. Bummer. (Although, sure, sometimes cupcake-eating is totally appropriate and necessary.)

cutting cupcakes with birthday cake

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When it comes to rewards, particularly as they relate to weight loss or other health goals, proceed with caution, habits and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin says. Oftentimes, a reward can be a get-out-of-a-good-habit-free card.

One day of sleeping through the alarm leads to a whole week of it. Skipping a reward, such as Friday night happy hour with friends, can be a license to skip the healthy habit, too. For the super intrinsically motivated among us, knowing that eating well and exercising can lead to a healthier, longer life might be enough. But for the rest of us, some system of incentives can really help you along your health journey.

Rubin writes on her website, as a general guideline for your incentive system:

The one kind of reward that does work? A reward that takes you deeper into the habit. Doing lots of yoga? Splurge on a new yoga mat. Bringing lunch to work every day? Buy that expensive set of great knives. One company had a smart policy: any employee who exercised at least 75 times in one year in the company gym was rewarded with…the next year’s gym membership free. The reward for exercise was more exercise.”

vegetables and protein for healthy cooking

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How does this apply to your life? Are there any things you can add to your routine that will supplement your healthy habits, rather than interrupt them?

Great Ways To Incentivize Yourself

  • Splurge on a real-life yoga class rather than an online streamed video at home
  • Invest in a new pair of workouts pants or walking shoes
  • Buy that certain spice or healthy ingredient that’s a little more expensive than you’d like to normally spend at the store. It will make healthy cooking more exciting that day
  • Ask the HR department at work to add to their healthy living incentives. Maybe you can get a discount on the programs you already use or find new motivation to be healthy at work with the support of coworkers
  • On nice days, skip the gym to walk outside, and then congratulate yourself for taking advantage of seasonal weather
  • Meet up with a friend for a walk rather than a drink or lunch out. By buddying up, you’re more likely to stay motivated. By trying an active activity, you’re not only saving calories, but also cash
  • Treat yourself to an hour of downtime every few days. We all need space to decompress — whether it’s time with a good book, an hour at the nail salon or an episode of your favorite show, it’s okay to sit back and relax. It can make staying active easier over the long run

Using incentives that reinforce positive habits, such as walking more, cooking at home and seeking support for your healthy journey can reap benefits in the long run.

How do you reward yourself for healthy behavior? Share in the comments below.

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