Celebrate small wins with these 25 non-food rewards

  • 2 Minutes Read
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RDN, CDCES, BC-ADM, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Celebrating small wins will help you reach your bigger goals, but using food as an incentive can sabotage weight loss. We have 25 easy, inexpensive non-food rewards you can use instead!

Non-food rewards

Why choose non-food rewards

Rewards help create a positive connection with the desired behavior, reinforcing the habits you want to develop. Let's face it, the intrinsic rewards of healthy habits, such as more energy and increased strength, are motivating but don't give instant gratification. However, choosing small non-food rewards along the way provides immediate incentives and can increase your confidence as you move toward your larger goals.

Perhaps you grew up with food as your main reward, such as candy for good behavior at school or an ice cream sundae for a good test grade. Using food to reward healthy behaviors could defeat your weight-loss efforts. After all, will you really choose celery stalks or hard-boiled eggs over chocolate as your prize? Food rewards could even foster an unhealthy emotional connection with food, potentially turning you to food for comfort. Using food as a reward also detracts from mindful eating when it disconnects you from your hunger cues.

Small wins deserve a celebration

First, avoid the common mistake of postponing rewards until reaching a significant milestone, such as losing 10 pounds. Instead, nurture the small habits that pave the way to your success! The feeling of pride will help you keep the momentum going. Next, remember timing matters-well deserved non-food rewards work best when you enjoy them as soon as possible after accomplishing the desired behavior, creating a connection in your brain between a new habit and a pleasurable feeling.

Reward the behaviors that lead to your weight loss, not necessarily the number on the scale. After all, weight loss takes time. Examples of small healthy lifestyle wins that support weight loss might include trying a healthy recipe, going for a walk after work, logging your food for the day, meeting your water goal, or choosing a piece of fruit for a snack.

Try one of these 25 non-food rewards

  1. Put on your favorite song and dance or sing out loud.
  2. Look in the mirror and do a fist pump or give yourself a "high five."
  3. Watch your favorite mindless TV show (with no judgment).
  4. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers.
  5. Bask in some well deserved sunshine.
  6. Soak in a bubble bath.
  7. Share your accomplishment with social media or a supportive friend.
  8. Visit a local nursery and pick out a new plant.
  9. Buy a pair of fuzzy socks.
  10. Paint your fingernails.
  11. Pick up a new book or magazine.
  12. Put a sticker on a chart or wall calendar to mark your achievement.
  13. Place a small stone in a glass jar to represent how small actions add up.
  14. Start planning your next vacation.
  15. Make a cup of tea and allow yourself the time to sip and enjoy it.
  16. Listen to a favorite podcast.
  17. Watch a funny video on YouTube.
  18. Light a scented candle.
  19. Transfer a few dollars to a savings account to fund a bigger reward.
  20. Play with your pet.
  21. Doodle or color in an adult coloring book.
  22. Take a long stretch.
  23. Record your accomplishment in the Notes section of MyNetDiary.
  24. Upgrade to MyNetDiary Premium to enjoy additional features such as Premium Recipes.
  25. Share your small wins on MyNetDiary's Community Forum-we'd love to cheer you on!

Keep celebrating small wins. Before long, they will add up to big accomplishments!

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Nov 21, 2022

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