Fiddle Fit Middle

Become the star of your own fitness story

Fiddle Fit Middle

Become the star of your own fitness story

A reward after exercise is part of life

There is no better carrot for getting you going than the promise of a reward after exercise. But it doesn't always have to be a sugar-coated or alcoholic treat.
Reward after exercise

A reward after exercise is human nature. Don’t fight it, work with it!

You know how it goes; you do a Davina McCall DVD exercise session and then you decide you’ve earned a reward for getting through it.

So you eat cake.  And sometimes that feels great, but other times you feel guilty.  Then you decide there’s no point doing exercise, because it makes you eat cake.  So the Davina McCall DVD sits there and gathers dust for a year.

This is a tried and trusted cycle that I’m sure we’ve all been through more than once.  I certainly have. The fact that we “gave in” to the reward does more damage than not exercising in the first place, because now our mental health is affected as well as our physical health.

Over time I have learnt that reward is actually an integral part and parcel of exercise and we need to stop trying to resist it.

Passionate long distance runners look forward to rewards after runs which they enjoy for their own sake. This is one thing we can learn from them.

I know both from personal experience and from listening to lots of others that the desire to reward yourself is there even if you looked forward to the exercise for its own sake and enjoyed it while you were doing it!  

What is a reward?

What is definitely not a given is that the reward must always be in the form of processed food, fizzy pop and alcohol.

That doesn't mean never - not by a long chalk. But if you’re starting out on a regular exercise programme, a daily portion of chocolate cake added to your new morning walk isn’t going to be what the doctor ordered.  

Because reward goes hand in glove with exercise, we need to be varying the rewards as much as we vary the exercise.

Alternatives really don’t come automatically and it takes a while before your brain remembers to visualise different types of rewards.  There are already plenty of articles out there telling you to replace sugary stuff with bubble bath. It’s one of those pieces of advice which bring up the “no shit, Sherlock!” Reflex.

Still, the intention is good.  Highly processed food, fizzy pop and alcohol are not good regular rewards and bubble bath does not have that many downsides.  

Get a plan

To widen your range of rewards that you'll actually look forward to, you do need to train yourself to a long term plan; visualise yourself enjoying rewards that don’t involve an intake of excess processed food or alcohol.  

This training has two aspects: learning to enjoy your new, healthier reward mindfully and doing what you can to lower the barrier against turning it into a habit.  

One way to give ourselves a leg up in trying to change our approach to rewards is to prepare the reward before you start to exercise.  So let’s say you love a nice hot bath.

Now picture yourself reclining in one after a pant round the block.  
Close your eyes for a second and imagine how good it feels to get clean again with some nice warm water after your sweaty session.  Brilliant, isn’t it? You know it is...
So, get ready.  

Lay out a nice fluffy towel and set your bottle of smelliest on the side of the bath ready.  Put the immersion heater on if applicable. Find an errand for your husband to run so he won’t be anywhere near the bathroom when you get in.  

Build such a ritual around that luxury until you pretty much have to do some exercise first.

Here are 3 more ways you could look forward to rewarding yourself.

Get a luxurious body lotion

Something in a really pretty bottle, perhaps.  Just think of that nice, smooth feeling as it goes on.  And how nice it smells. Take your time to apply it (if you have the time to spare). And don’t skimp.  It’s a reward and a luxury - you deserve it.

Some cute lounging gear

If you have a little cash to splash, how about a shopping trip for a soft, velvety staying in outfit that just feels great next to your skin.

Blow your own trumpet as hard as you can

Big yourself up on Facebook, put a selfie on Instagram and don’t forget to log your effort on your activity or sports watch, if you have one.   Your exercise is worth as much as that of any Olympic champion and you deserve to record your success for posterity as much as the next person.

And if you can’t think of anywhere that will understand, give yourself a shoutout right here on Fiddle Fit Middle! There’s no doubt that we all need rewards to keep ourselves going.  The best rewards are things celebrates your progress and even enhance it.  So instead of reaching for the sugary stuff, go for some warm water to bathe in, some nice-smelling skincare, some purple velour and a bit of bragging….

…. most of the time 🙂


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I take your health and wellbeing very seriously, so this comes from the heart - it's not just covering my backside legally: I'm not a mental or physical health professional of any kind, as I stress in my disclaimer. If you have any doubts about the state of your health, please get an appointment with an appropriate professional. Here's to your best possible health!


Me biting a medal
A few years ago, I got scared that I won't be able to tie my own shoelaces when I’m 70, so I started to work on my fitness.

All the advice I found made me feel I was on the outside looking in. I needed something a lot more me-centric.

Now I feel I have more control and hope for the future.

I’m sharing what I’ve learned so that you can star in your own fitness story.
More about me

Lack of confidence holding you back?

Sign up for my newsletter and get my free list of 3 baby steps towards an exercise habit

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I take your privacy seriously. No spam. Unsubscribe any time. See my privacy policy.

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