You’ve been going strong with your workouts. You’re so focused and committed to your goals that you even start to feel results. To applaud your hard work, you decide to reward yourself with a tasty treat. You indulge in every bite and think to yourself, “I’ve earned this.”
If these are your post-workout plans, then you might need a helpful lesson in mindful eating. Stop rewarding yourself with food after a workout. Practicing mindful eating and knowing the difference between rewards and incentives will allow you to be fully engaged in your fitness journey. Keep reading for ways to transform your post-workout experience.
Bringing Mindfulness to Your Eating Experiences
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of the present moment. By being mindful, you are acknowledging all of your emotions without judgment. Conscious breathing exercises and guided meditations are a few ways to practice mindfulness.
Bringing mindfulness to your eating experiences allows you to explore your relationship with food in a healthy manner. You should consider food as a source of energy, not a reward for your achievements after a workout. When you reward yourself with food, you are also allowing yourself to indulge in food.
Indulging in food may seem harmless, especially if that food is considered a healthy option. But an occasional indulgence in food can lead to overeating. Mindful eating encourages a healthy connection between your brain and your body. This connection will allow you to view food as the energy source that it is. On your fitness journey, this may look like:
- eating when your body feels hungry (paying attention to stomach growls, weakness)
- you stop eating when your body feels full
- not multitasking when eating--just eating
- eating for nutritional purposes, not for emotional comfort
Try practicing some of these mindful eating habits with your next meal. And remember that food is not a reward after a workout. Although, there are alternative ways to keep you motivated on your fitness journey.
Rewards vs. Incentives
Your fitness journey is simply that--a journey. You may have end goals to reach, like a certain number of pounds or inches to lose, but overall, improving your health should be something you strive for every day of your life. This is why incentives are the best thing to keep you motivated along your journey, not rewards.
No doubt, rewards are for a job well done. But after a workout, they can give a false sense of what you’ve accomplished and distract you from the fact that your fitness journey is a lifelong commitment. Incentives do the complete opposite. They offer you hope and a push to keep going. They are the small things that help you achieve the big things on this journey.
If you reward yourself with food after a workout, read below for a list of non-food related incentives you can offer yourself instead:
- a full body massage
- a new pair of running shoes
- new fitness equipment (dumbbells, stretch bands, medicine balls, etc.)
- new workout attire
Your fitness journey will take you on many highs and lows. And you may be tempted to indulge in food for validation of a job well done. Practicing mindful eating allows you to consider food as a source of energy instead of a reward. After a workout, consider treating yourself to one of the incentives outlined above. And remember, the real reward in your fitness journey is the overall improvement of your health and quality of life.