Have you ever said something to the effect of, "After I hit my fat loss goal, I'm going to celebrate by going to *insert restaurant here*"?
Why This is a Bad Idea
For whatever reason, food is the reward of choice for almost every dieter in America. There are two problems with this.
1) It implies the foods you like should be off limits during a diet.
Contrary to what most nutrition gurus claim, there's no reason to cut any specific food out of your diet in order to lose fat and gain muscle. Calorie, protein, and fiber intake are far and away the most important factors for this. In order to get enough protein and fiber without consuming too many Calories, you will have to improve the quality of the foods you're eating by default; however, I have never and will never tell any of my clients that they have to eliminate any particular food from their diet in order to achieve their goals.
In fact, I encourage my clients to include their favorite foods in their diet in moderation in order to make it easier to stick to their diet. If you put foods off limits during a diet, you will constantly think of the foods you can't have and it will drain your willpower reserves until you can't take it anymore, at which point you will proceed to stuff your face until you severely set yourself back. This leads into my second point.
2) Using food as a reward practically guarantees you will set yourself back.
Even if you manage to muster up all of your willpower and make it to your goal, allowing yourself to have whatever food was banned after it has been off limits for a long period of time, will ensure you have a blowout of epic proportions. (Maybe I should say epic portions.) This will result in regaining some of the fat that was lost and will severely discourage you.
At this point, most people will either quit because of their discouragement or will go back on their diet and restrict even harder in order to lose the fat that was regained, wreaking havoc on their metabolism.
I know I've only talked about food rewards and fat loss so far but this isn't limited to food. Using any reward that is contrary to your goals will set you back. For example, a new TV, video game, or taking a week off from the gym would also all be bad rewards because each of these will work against the habit of regularly going to the gym.
A Better Way to Reward Yourself
You can and definitely should reward yourself for your fitness accomplishments, whether that be losing a certain number of pounds, increasing the size of your biceps, or setting a new personal record on an exercise. The good news is there's is only one rule for selecting a good reward. Ask yourself:
Will this reward reinforce my desire to continue getting results?
An effective reward will make you want to work even harder. Let me give you a few great examples:
- If your goal is to run a mile in a certain amount of time, a new pair of running shoes would be the perfect incentive.
- If your goal is to shed some fat, you might want to have new gym outfits as your reward.
- If your goal is to set a personal record on the deadlift, your reward could be a new lifting belt.
Alternatively, you could set yourself smaller milestone goals with smaller but more frequent rewards such as workout clothes that you find on sale. As you can see, all of these rewards involve the actual habit you're building. For example, if you have a brand new pair of running shoes, you'll want to go running.
The takeaway from this article is short, sweet, and something you should be able to easily take with you going forward. Whenever setting a reward for a fitness goal or any goal in life for that matter, remember to ask yourself, "Will this reward reinforce my desire to continue getting results?"
Thank you so much for reading! If you found this information helpful, share it with a friend. I would appreciate it and I know they will too. If you like what I have to say, sign up below to become a Treadaway Training insider and never miss a post or video. I will be back Tuesday with another fat loss topic on my YouTube channel. As always, God bless you AND your family and I'll see you Tuesday.