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There’s a resent survey conducted by the Journal of Consumer Research that found people tend to make better health decisions when they are tired and run down.
Let’s put that another way…
When your health is at risk, you want to be healthy.
That actually makes sense doesn’t it. A friend of mine’s dad suffered a heart attack about three years ago. Before that exact moment in his life, he was not a healthy individual. He indulged in any foods he wanted… didn’t workout… and didn’t really seem to care either.
In fact for him it was a sign of manhood that he could eat unhealthy.
After his heart attack… it was a different story. That moment gave him a very real perspective. Since that time, he is a super healthy eater… he works out consistently… and he realized these are the most important decisions he makes, because they directly impact every other decision in his life.
We all think like this…
In a lot of ways, we are all very optimistic people. For the most part we all think of ourselves as invincible. Nothing bad will actually happen to us.
“I won’t suffer a heart attack… I’m healthy.”
“I won’t get in a car accident… I’m a safe driver.”
“I won’t get break any bones… I’m very careful.”
And even though I hate admitting it, things do happen to us. Things we never thought could happen… do happen.
And yet the way we treat our bodies is… until it happens, we never think it could happen.
Here’s what got me thinking about this…
All of the data and conclusions I’ll make are not 100%. They are all based on my own personal accounts and those of clients I have trained over the years.
When you have a big health victory… maybe it’s weight lost… maybe it’s 2 to 3 sizes lost…
You feel great. And you should feel great. It’s actually a perfect time for rewarding yourself.
And that’s typically where things go haywire.
For most women (and men) the reward for health victories (and most victories) is food. And of course, not healthy food, but cheat food. Desserts or big dinners with lots of wine.
It gets worse than that.
I’ve noticed both in myself and many of my clients that when you have success, you tend to step your foot off the achievement peddle to relax a little. Many times this can last for days.
For example, there have been times when I hit a new lifting record or just have a month of great training and I feel amazing.
Then I’ll be faced with a food temptation. I’ll immediately go something like this…
“You can totally have that. You deserve it. You’ve worked so hard, not to mention, you are going to hit it so hard again tomorrow. This won’t mean a thing.”
Maybe it stops there, maybe it doesn’t.
But that’s the danger.
The key is…
Eliminate food as a reward. It can’t be simpler, and yet more difficult than that.
It’s going to take practice, a building of your self control muscle, plus new options that can hopefully motivate you more.
What rewards can work?
Let’s stay in the food category for a second because I think if you’re smart about it, certain foods can work great as a reward.
For starters, don’t use a dinner out as a reward if you can help it. Eating out is so terrible for you it’s hardly worth it.
Rather try some of these options:
1. Expensive Food
Have an account (money account) so when you hit a bit health goal, you can buy a really really good bottle of wine or some other expensive drink/food. I’m talking something like $80 to $120 for wine (as an example).
Maybe it’s a cut of really expensive beef or some seafood delicacy. Either way it’s healthy(ish) and it’s very ooolala!
This will help you cherish your victory and cherish your reward.
When you’re indulging in your reward, you’ll tend to consume it much slower because you know how much money it is. Second, as you eat it, you’ll actually begin to reflect on what you did to deserve this.
That reflection time is really important because it helps to prepare you for the next goal you have set.
2. Good Fitness Clothing
Having an account setup so you build up a savings that you can spend on high quality fitness clothes is important. I’m not talking Walmart or Target brand stuff.
I’m talking Nike, Under Armour, Lululemon, or some brand that tends to make really good clothing. A great option if it’s available to you are outlet malls where you can get older versions of popular clothing at a deal.
This works as a great reward because it’s actually directly related to your goal of fitness and living healthy.
Plus you’re most likely buying smaller sizes so you not only get the fun of shopping for cool looking clothing, but you reap the rewards of your health victory by buying smaller clothes. That just motivates you more and more.
This can also work for normal clothes of course.
3. A Fitness Adventure
This is a reward system that I want to set up for myself this year.
When you hit a big health goal, do a fitness adventure. Something big… something scary… something that will make your adrenaline go crazy.
A lot of this depends on what you have available in your area, but here are some ideas.
I love to paddleboard, but as a reward, I would spend more on a good board rental and a better trip location. So here in Charleston, I may travel south to Florida and take a weekend trip centered around paddleboarding and discovery.
Think about that… you can do this with kayaking, white water rafting, hiking, and so much more. (I really want to do it with skydiving!)
Maybe you have to travel 3 to 5 hours for a great adventure, but as a reward it will be perfect.
Plus during this adventure you’ll be using your improved body and your new strength. That will help you reflect on your success and enjoy the fruits of that labor.
Whether it’s expensive wine or a killer fitness adventure, rewards that mean something… that take a little effort… and that help you to reflect on why your indulging will mean a lot more.
They will stoke your healthy living fire more.
If you go for fast and cheap foods as a reward for your hard work, you won’t appreciate the reward or the work you did. And you’ll start what could be a multiple day process of indulging in small meaningless stuff because you keep telling yourself you deserve it.
Rather propel your healthy living goals further by going big with your reward. I promise you’ll love it!