Hi I’m Kris Stokes from Custom Fitness Personal Training Studio.  Today we’re talking goals and rewards. Are you getting it all wrong?

Countless people have found success in their health & fitness endeavors by setting up a reward system for themselves. 

Others have found much failure in the same reward system.

Way back, in my first years working with people I had a client named Lily who worked out with me 3 times a week and was fairly active on her days off playing with her kids and tending to her home garden.

I had been working with Lily for 8 months towards her weight loss goals. At this time, I was only allowed to provide very basic nutrition advice on an infrequent basis to the clients per my employer so nutrition was something we had touched on but wasn’t the focus of our relationship at the time.

Lily had been doing quite well with her goal for the first 6 months but over months 7 and 8, I began to notice that things weren’t going so well. She was still claiming to follow the basic nutrition formula and was still working out regularly. After an assessment, I invited her into my office for a quick chat.

It was during this chat that I found out that Lily had felt so great with all of her progress made so far, that a couple of months ago, she began rewarding herself after every workout with a special coffee drink. 

It was a reward she felt she’d earned after such a hard workout and since she had already lost ⅔ of the weight she intended to lose. And so 3 times per week she would “treat” herself to this drink.

What she didn’t realize was that these drinks had about 500 calories in them! That’s 1500 extra calories per week that held next to no nutritional value and weren’t doing her any favors in the weight loss department.

Nowadays, when I first meet a new client, one of the things I discuss is the difference between outcome and behavioral goals.

Outcome goals are a specific outcome, like losing 30 lbs that you want to reach.

Behavior goals are a specific behavior or action that when done consistently, will lead you to an outcome, goal, and beyond.

Most often, people look at the short term. They look at “I did a good job at my workout today, I earned XXX reward”.

It’s important when considering your health that we begin to look at the bigger picture, at the long game. 

I highly encourage people to set up reward systems for themselves throughout the journey of reaching their goals (no matter what those goals are). But I take a different approach than most people do.

When setting up rewards, focus on the behavior / action side rather than the outcome.

When you reward your success of  losing 10 lbs, you almost always will end up undoing some or all of the progress you’ve made for 2 reasons:

  1. Most Americans reward themselves with some type of food or drink
  2. Your mind will understand your reward as success rather than a step of the journey and will try very hard to convince you that you’re done and can return to “life as you once knew it”

When you instead reward your progress of making 25 of your 30 workouts this month:

  1. Your mind will see it as progress rather than completion and you’ll be more likely to continue making more progress and eventually reach your goal
  2. With the idea of progress made, but not yet complete, you’ll be more likely to reward yourself with better options.
  3. Now those workouts are a part of your week. You’ve felt the difference and know that you are feeling better when you do them than when you don’t

What are some better ways to reward your progress?

  1. A night alone, at home or in a hotel
  2. A new outfit
  3. A new pair of shoes
  4. A movie night with a friend
  5. A day trip to Palo Duro Canyon or some other place you can hike and climb
  6. A spa day
  7. A mani/pedi
  8. Or anything else that you might not usually do for yourself

So what happened to Lily?

We had a long talk about her new habit and Lily decided to give up the drinks on a weekly basis and only have 1 per month at the most. In future months, she even found a better way to reward herself by saving up for a trip she’d wanted to go on. She began losing the weight again and was able to not only reach her goal, but to find a new understanding of better ways to reward herself.

Sometimes, as humans we need something to push us, to motivate us and that’s just fine. Just make sure that the thing driving you forward isn’t actually holding you back. 

And FYI, having a coach in your back corner to see what you aren’t seeing, is one of the best tools you can have in your tool box. We would love to help you.  Feel free to call us at 806-322-3188.