Fringe Benefits

I love fresh flowers – the scent, the beauty, the happiness I feel when I walk into a room and see them. They have always seemed reserved for women in relationships, flowers appearing at the office on holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. As a perpetually single gal, the only time I had received flowers was when my mom sent them. One day, while pushing my cart through Whole Foods, I was passing the floral department and stopped, literally, to smell the flowers. Then it occurred to me… why not? I’d had a great week the week before – lost a few pounds, eaten healthy and hit the gym right on schedule – why shouldn’t I get some flowers? Thus began a new tradition.

I certainly didn’t come up with the concept of rewarding myself for my success; however, I am a big supporter of the idea. Some would argue that weight loss, increased fitness, improved health are all their own rewards and those people would be right. Personally, I feel adding more tangible “lagniappe” takes nothing away from one’s achievements. If your child studies all week and aces a difficult algebra test, you could argue that excelling in mathematics is its own reward when it serves them later in life. Or, you could reward your child with additional praise and perhaps a treat. Which is more likely to encourage your child when it comes time for the next test? We are all just big children at heart and the actual still feels more real than the abstract notion of future wellbeing. I work very hard to keep on track, avoid temptation and put myself first – I certainly deserve to treat myself with love and encouragement, to celebrate my victories. And so, I buy myself flowers.

The specific milestones and efforts you choose to reward are totally up to you. I reward myself for two types of accomplishments. First is simply small, inexpensive somethin’-somethin’ that brings me joy at the end of a good week of hard work and dedication. This is when I would buy affordable grocery store flowers or, another favorite of mine, Lush brand bubble bars to add to my weekly recovery Epsom soak. Manicures, pedicures and spa days are great little indulgences to make you feel special after doing so many great things for your body. Maybe downloading new music to power your workouts is the best treat for you. Perhaps taking yourself out to the movies (but skip the snack bar!) is just what you need to honor your achievement. The one thing I never recommend is rewarding yourself with food. Cupcakes are delicious but most likely counter-productive to achieving goals. Furthermore, a huge part of having success in a healthy lifestyle change is divorcing oneself from food motivation thought patterns.

My second reward comes after achieving a bigger pre-set goal. I love setting short term, challenging but achievable goals along the path to my ultimate goal – examples of my short term goals have been training for a 10k, fitting into a too-small blouse and meeting a certain weight goal by a certain event or date. For meeting these bigger goals, the rewards are a bit bigger as well, but they are also geared towards further encouraging my new lifestyle. This is when I treat myself to new workout clothes, a great new vegan cookbook or training equipment. My most recent goal and reward was fulfilling the promise I made to myself that when I reached my lowest adult weight I would treat myself to personal training sessions and reinvigorate and revive my workout routine.

For some reason, we seem to live in a world that wants our successes to go unnoticed. So afraid of appearing immodest or being accused of flaunting our triumphs, we let them pass quietly and obscurely. We treat the truly remarkable as unremarkable and pedestrian. We think we should just be happy with doing well and not seek to celebrate that. We don’t “toot our own horn.” Personally, I think that is absurd. By all means, celebrate! We are amazing people, doing amazing things – we are doing things we probably thought unimaginable at one point in our lives. Enjoy the process, by all means, but feel free to honor your progress with experiences and tokens that bring you joy and remind you of just how awesome you are and how far you have come.

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