Walnut Coaching | How to use rewards for weight loss motivation? | Weight loss, nutrition and fitness in Helsinki
By Roxanne Karppi

Woman with a reward

Sustainable weight loss is hard work. If you are overweight, losing those extra kilos and keeping them off requires changing the way you lived until now. You might want to get rid of bad habits you identified and replace them with healthier ones. You might want to try out new foods or new types of activities. You might find yourself trying to rearrange your daily schedule to make time for going to the gym or cooking at home.

All of this is not easy. To stay on track, you need to pay close attention to what you’re doing throughout the day. While you’re building up your new habits, you can’t simply go through your day on “autopilot”, as it’s precisely this “autopilot” that you’re trying to reprogram. This reprogramming won’t take forever. But as long as you’re still practicing your new habits, it’ll take some energy and time.

Add to this the difficult moments. The moments when you’d rather unwind in front of the TV than going for a run. When you crave foods you like, but decided to eat less often. When you struggle with people in your life who might not support you or even actively try to sabotage your goals. The moments when you really, really just want to go back to your old, familiar, comfy way of life. But you don’t. Because when you think of your life as the big picture, there’s something you want even more: Losing weight and getting fit.

Sustainable weight loss is hard work. One thing that can make it a little easier, are rewards. The dictionary defines a reward as “a thing given in recognition of service, effort, or achievement”. Staying on track with weight loss for more than just a couple of days takes considerable effort and is quite an achievement. So why not give yourself a little gift to celebrate that you have stayed strong?

Besides the appreciation of achievements, rewards can also serve two other purposes on a weight loss journey:

They can be something to look forward to. In difficult situations or when your motivation is low, knowing that you’ll soon get a reward might be all it takes to keep you on track. This knowledge might give you a nice little motivation boost. When you think of the next reward, you might want to prove yourself that you can make it to your next milestone and get it.

Furthermore, by planning in multiple rewards for milestones, you can break down the huge chunk of your weight loss journey into smaller parts. That makes them look much more manageable. On my own weight loss journey, I rewarded myself regularly and found it to be extremely helpful.

But what is a suitable reward?

The best reward is something you enjoy, but that the same time contributes to your progress. When I reached my first big milestone, I bought myself some nice running shoes. This made a lot of sense, as I had just started running a short while before. Other ideas could be for example a new gym outfit, if you go to the gym, or a short hiking trip with a friend.

But also other things that have nothing to do with weight loss or exercise can make for great rewards. For example a book, a movie night, a concert, a new shirt, a massage.

Rewards also don’t have to be expensive. If you don’t have or don’t want to spend a lot of money, you could for example reward yourself with an interesting book you borrow from the library or an outfit from the second-hand store. Or simply by allowing yourself to do nothing for once.

There are endless possibilities for rewarding yourself. Whatever you’re interested in.

The only thing you might want to consider with caution is food. Using food as a reward can contribute to emotional eating.

When I was still overweight, I often used to reward myself with food for even small accomplishments. This not only regularly added excess calories to my day that landed on my hips. It also eventually caused me to crave certain foods whenever I had accomplished a slightly challenging task. For losing the weight, I had to break this cycle.

For this reason, on a weight-loss journey, items and activities you enjoy make for the best rewards. If you spread milestones evenly on your journey and decide on rewards you get for reaching them, chances are you’ll find it a lot easier to stay on track, keep the motivation up and eventually reach your goal.


Eager to transform your life and turn into the most confident, healthy, best version of yourself? Book your appointment with Walnut Coaching.

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