As someone who genuinely loves to work out and will hop at the chance to give the latest up-and-coming exercises a go, I’m well aware that I am a rare breed of human. Despite what health and wellness bloggers want you to think, not every routine is all fun and games, and a lot of people genuinely hate working out for that reason. The key to working out is to find programs you actually like, stick to them, and establish how to reward yourself after a workout, because a little TLC to look forward to is the best form of motivation.
Refinery29 recently reported on the results of a survey conducted by fitness equipment reviewers Fit Rated, which found that a lot of people simply do not like to work out, and need a serious boost of motivation to do so, mostly in the form of what the researchers called “indulgent incentives.” In other words, there better be something delicious in the fridge after a miles-long run or several intervals of split squats.
Ever since fitness became a trend worthy of Instagram likes, there aren’t many social media influencers out there who will outwardly admit working out just isn’t their thing, or that it's not always that much fun. But, I’m here to tell you this idea that every workout is a good workout is a façade, and that not every trendy routine is going to be the right fit for you. Like anything else, it takes a decent amount of trial and error to find what lifestyle blogger Simply Taralynn likes to call a “fitness happy” — aka what programs and workout schedules work for you and make you smile.
So, while you work out what exercise routines work for you, here are a few ways to reward yourself after you train, no matter what it is that gets your body moving.
1. Don't Wait Until After The Workout To Reward Yourself
A common misconception about rewarding yourself for exercising is that the prize can only come post-workout, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. For health expert and author of The Happiness Diet Rachel Kelly, the reward is in the workout itself.
Rather than force herself to endure some form of grueling routine in order to earn a materialistic post-workout treat, Kelly says going for a run and doing some sort of body-weight training surrounded by nature is incentive enough. "Simply stretching and looking up at the vastness of the sky somehow helps dissipate strong emotions and my unwillingness to work out," she tells Elite Daily. "My negative thoughts seem to slide down the back of my head and evaporate into the air, and I can concentrate on my exercise instead."
2. Put Money On It
Everybody has their price, right? If someone told me they'd pay me $1000 to do 100 burpees, you better believe I'd take the deal. Even though it may sound a little shallow, putting a dollar amount to your workouts is definitely one way to reward yourself for working up a sweat.
Nutritionist and leading national fitness guru Sloane Davis of Pancakes and Push Ups suggests tossing a dollar or five into a jar after every workout. Once you've earned $100, treat yourself to some pretty gear, like new running sneakers or durable leggings.
"Not only will you look [good] in your new workout gear, but you'll feel so much better too," Davis told Elite Daily. "Every time you wear this particular something new, it will remind you that if you did it once, you can do it again!"
3. Do Literally Nothing At All
The simple things really are the sweetest in life, so if you're on the hunt for the epitome of exercise rewards, how does a an hour or two that's unapologetically yours sound? Sweet, right?
Stacy Kaiser, Live Happy editor at large and licensed psychotherapist, tells Elite Daily that a little rest and relaxation is the perfect way to reward yourself for your hard work. Allot yourself a certain amount of time to "watch television, read a magazine, or simply do nothing at all."
If you're anything like me, there's a good chance you feel super energized after a workout and, as a result, are struck with the urge to do a million different things (housework, putting clothes away, rearranging your kitchen cabinets for the millionth time). As tempting as this may be, letting yourself unwind on the couch in your pajamas with a cup of tea will prove to be more rewarding in the long run.
4. Take A Nap
Personally, I usually feel wired after a workout, and when my heart rate's up and the adrenaline's flowing, the last thing I want to do is sleep it off. However, Reebok trainer Denise Thomas tells Elite Daily that napping is one of the simplest ways to reward yourself after training.
In fact, Greatist reports that taking a nap two hours post-workout is an excellent trick to enhance your muscles' recovery process. So after your body's calmed down a bit, it might be beneficial to catch some Zs if you can.
5. Document Your Accomplishments, No Matter How Small
Rewarding yourself after a workout with material things and delicious food is definitely an option, but sometimes all the incentive you need to keep on keepin' on is to acknowledge even the smallest of milestones, and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.
When you set a goal that's a little overreaching, or that takes more time to achieve, it can be disheartening if you're not seeing dramatic results after a few weeks of putting in the work. A good way to track your progress is to keep a journal to jot down notes after every workout. Record the weight you used in each exercise, how many reps you completed without breaking form, and, most importantly, how each routine makes you feel physically and mentally.
Behavioral scientist Clarissa Silva tells Elite Daily that by documenting your efforts, it provides you with a visual reference of how you're progressing, creating a sort of "cognitive conditioning that will associate your new behavior with your ideal version of yourself."
6. Indulge In Something Sweet (Or Savory!)
It's a shame that somewhere along the line, food seemingly became the enemy of fitness. It doesn't matter if you run five miles every day, or the extent of your physical activity is walking to the mailbox on your lunch break. Food is fuel, food is necessary, and food is meant to be enjoyed, regardless of how many sit-ups you can do in 30 seconds.
That being said, when you begin to work out more, you're going to be hungrier. Reward yourself by fueling your body with delicious, healthy foods, but also treating yourself to your favorite cookie from time to time.
Ben Williamson, creator and founder of Crush Fitness, tells Elite Daily that if you go into a workout with a negative mindset and assumptions of what's right and wrong, "you're never going to succeed." The key, he says, is to remember that fitness is, above all things, about discipline and accountability. In other words, should you be eating an entire sleeve of Oreos after every workout? Probably not, but you should absolutely treat yourself to one (or a few).