Granting rewards is a great way to stay motivated when dieting, until you pat yourself on the back with two giant scoops of rocky road. You definitely deserve kudos for dropping 5 pounds, but if your gift includes chowing down on an entire day's worth of saturated fat, you could be setting yourself back. "When it comes to weight loss, all of the gifts or rewards along the way should help you work toward your ultimate goal--not against it," says Michael Bronco, a personal trainer and owner of Bronco's Gym in Charlotte, SC. So here's a novel idea: Treat yourself to things that will help you hit another milestone. The fun that follows is calorie-free and will keep you motivated for the long haul.
Mastery of the microwave can get you only so much culinary clout, especially when it comes to preparing healthy meals. And if your menu du jour tends to include entrées from the freezer aisle, there's a good chance you're getting more sodium and saturated fat than you'd like. Not only will a cooking class help you learn the difference between sautéing and simmering, but also develop a skill that will become part of your continued success, says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, and author of The SuperFoods Rx Diet.
Pampering yourself doesn't have to put a huge hole in your pocket. Celebrate all your feet do for you--walk, run, hike, and bike--with a relaxing pedicure. You'll leave with sparkling toes, smoother skin, and even less pain and fatigue. Pedicures often include a mini foot massage that mimics techniques used in reflexology, a holistic treatment that involves applying pressure to the feet to improve health. Reflexology sessions can cost from $50 to $200, but when you have a pedicure you get a taste of the treatment for free.
Did you ever dream of strutting down the catwalk? Schedule a photo shoot for yourself 4, 5, or 6 months in the future and start getting ready for your close-up now. "Photo shoots can be a really great motivator," says Bronco. "When you buy that bathing suit ahead of the season and hang it on your closet door, you can't help but think, 'Oh my gosh, I'm going to be modeling that?'" The experience might sound scary at first, but it's actually the ultimate confidence booster, says Bronco. "We walk around feeling like the world sees us as fat, or gawky, or whatever. Then suddenly a photographer is telling you how great you look and it really changes your perception of who you are."
Tying a string around your finger to help jog your memory is so last century. Instead, treat yourself to a jeweled bracelet or fancy watch to serve as a reminder of your weight loss goal and the healthy behavior that it took to achieve it. "Every time you see the bangle that you bought for yourself after losing 5 pounds, or after completing a week of nutritious eating, it'll be like a little pat on the back," says Bazilian. "Keep it on your eating hand or the hand you gesture with often so you're less likely to forget and slip up." (And you can still use sparkle as a healthy eating cue even if you don't want to drop big bucks on bling. Opt for a manicure in a vibrant color and your shiny new nails will help you keep your hands out of the cookie jar.)
SEARCH: Simple ways to stop cravings
It takes two to tango and eleven to field a soccer team, so maybe working out is just more fun with friends. Seek a personal trainer or boot camp instructor to lead a special session for you and a buddy. (Sometimes a trainer will even coach two for the price of one!) Not only will you feed off of each other's energy, but also you might inspire your bestie to get started on his or her own health and wellness journey.
What's the ultimate gift to yourself? How about peace, serenity, and delicious portion-controlled spa food? Enjoy your own Eat, Pray, Love experience during a week that's truly all about you--and your wellness, of course! All-inclusive spas like Golden Door combine fitness, healthy gourmet food, spa treatments, rest, and renewal into one blissful getaway. It's a complete celebration of your health and your journey, says Bazilian.
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