How many times have you said “It’s the weekend and I’m going to reward myself for eating healthy all week by treating myself to foods that are considered off limits.” Before you know it, Monday morning rolls around and you’re not feeling well mentally or physically. You’re shaming yourself for making poor food choices over the weekend and justify it by saying, “I earned that dessert I had Friday and Saturday night.”
This is a very common theme in many people’s life. We want to reward ourselves on the weekend by eating food that might be considered “off limits” during the week. A successful weight loss plan has no food that’s off limits. You just eat the “off limits” foods on occasion. Instead of binging on these foods on the weekend, you learn how to reward yourself for making healthy choices during the work week with non-food choices.
This can be easier said than done! We live in a society that loves to celebrate with food. You got a promotion? Let’s go out and eat! Birthday coming up? I’ll bring the cake! A tasty meal with friends and family is a truly enjoyable thing and we love these times to connect. But it can reinforce the idea that food is a way to reward yourself. Perhaps food was used as an incentive when you were growing up, whether it was dessert after you finished your dinner or ice cream when you got As on your report card. It is easy to connect eating with feeling good, and it can be hard to break the habit of rewarding or distracting yourself with treats on the weekend.
The first step is to understand what you are doing by paying attention to your mood and thoughts. Do you feel deprived during the week? Do you feel worn out on the weekend? Are you bored? Do you feel like you deserve a treat? Pause before you eat and make note of what you are thinking and feeling. Slow down and pay attention to what your body needs. It is hungry?Thirsty? Tired? Anxious?
Stop Labeling Foods “Good” and “Bad”
If you have been eating “good” food all week, you may feel deprived and want to reward yourself with something off limits and “bad”. It can leave you with a love-hate relationship with food. Removing the labels can help get you back to neutral territory.
Think of Other Ways to Feel Good
Changing habits can be hard! One way to move away from food as a reward is to replace it with other activities that you enjoy. If you know that certain times are harder for you, like Saturday mornings or Friday nights, schedule something else during those times instead. Here are some ideas.
Go to the Movies
Going to the movies can be a real treat especially if you see a movie that looks amazing on the big screen such as an action movie. When my husband and I go see a movie, we make sure to eat a healthy meal before we go to the movies so we’re not tempted to eat theater food. This makes it much easier to walk right by the snack bar straight to the theater where the movie is showing. After going to the movies several times and consistently not eating theater food we simply stopped craving it.
Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Going to the spa can be an incredibly relaxing time. You can go for just one service such as a manicure or pedicure or make a day of it and throw in a massage and facial as well. Enjoying a spa day with girlfriends is a wonderful way to spend quality time with them. Another idea is to get a couples massage with your significant other.
Go for a Long Hike
If you don’t have much time to workout during the week going on a long hike on the weekend can be a healthy reward. This is something my husband and I do whenever we have a Saturday or Sunday available. It’s a fun family activity to do together where you can enjoy the fresh air and nature. It’s also a great opportunity to check out new trails in your community.
Spend the Day at the Park
One of my favorite things to do on a day where I don’t need to be anywhere at a certain time is ride my bike to the park, sit under a tree, and read a book. It’s so relaxing to be out in nature enjoying a good book. You could also gather some friends and play a game of volleyball or frisbee. Just spend the day playing at the park and enjoying the company of people who are part of your tribe.
Start a New Hobby
What is it that you’ve always wanted to learn how to do? Do you want to learn how to play an instrument or learn how to knit? We get so caught up in our daily routine that we put off learning new skills. Why not reward yourself for making healthy lifestyle choices during the week by spending your weekend learning a new skill.
Now its your turn: What is your favorite non-food way to reward yourself? Tell us in the comments below.