Harvesting Your Fitness Garden

Over the summer we’ve been using the metaphor of a garden to represent your fitness and health goals. In June we looked at how you “planted” the seeds of success, in August how you “weeded”, and now it’s time to harvest.

We reap what we sow. If I want a healthy life then I have to do something to get it. Too often I run into clients who tell me how much they want to be fit yet are not willing to make exercise and healthy eating a priority. They continue with the same ole same ole expecting it to be different. They spend a bunch of money buying the latest gear and don’t use it. They exercise sporadically or eat well some of the time but can’t seem to get it together enough to make a dent in their goals. Then they give up and blame age, location, work, family, friends, the weather … you get the picture.

If you decided to plant a fitness garden this summer it is time to harvest. Now is the time to take stock of how well you did, reward your efforts, and make plans for the next phase of your garden. According to my Aunt and Uncle (excellent gardeners) the work you do in the fall (after the harvest) is just as important as the spring (during planting). Here are some things to consider as you “harvest” your fitness garden.

First, how did you do? Did you reach your goals? Did you get close? Do you feel you gave it your best effort? Where could you have done better? This is a time to honestly, without judgment, evaluate your work. What worked for you and what didn’t?

Second, it’s time to take the answer from #1 to determine what you want to do differently. Did you do ok on certain days but struggle with your schedule on others? Did you get your diet right except for weekends? Did you find you could maintain with some friends and not others? Then determine what you will do differently to meet your goals.

Third, determine what you new goals are. Have you decided your original goal wasn’t what you really wanted? Have you decided to participate in an event, like a 5k or long kayak weekend? Is there a new sport or class you’d like to try? Write it down, find a buddy, get the gear you need, and get started with a new dose of motivation.

Once you have an idea of what worked, what didn’t, where you were successful, and what you’d like to change for the next round, it’s time for rewards! What did you decide you’d get if you made your goal? At what levels were you willing to reward yourself? Did you offer yourself a consolation for efforts that didn’t quite reach where you want to be? Allow yourself to savor and honor your efforts. You worked hard. In life it doesn’t always go well and isn’t always easy. It is your ability to make it through the ups and downs that determines success.

Enjoy the journey!

10 Rules of Motivational Rewards

Rewards can help keep you motivated to exercise. However there are 10 rules to think about when choosing how you will reward yourself for reaching your fitness goals – which we know you will!

  1. Choose something you really want and won’t need until you reach your goal. Not a good idea to reward yourself with new running shoes when you reach X weight but you’ll need them to run the race regardless.
  2. Don’t use food, candy, or other treat. This reinforces the specialness of the unhealthy food or eating behavior.
  3. Pick something that will keep you exercising after you’ve reached your goal. A new workout outfit, shoes, a new piece of equipment, or a new class.
  4. Pamper yourself – you’ve earned it!
  5. Enlist your workout buddy in a dual reward – take a trip together, try a new class, etc. Make both of your success part of the reward but only if both of you are really motivated to get the reward
  6. Choose a realistic reward and goal. An outfit or swimsuit size and style you wore 10 years ago may not be realistic anymore. Make sure your goal fits who you are now.
  7. Set smaller goals and smaller rewards for milestones along the way. For example if you goal is to lose 50lbs which should take about 25 weeks or 6 months. This may be too far in the future to be motivating. However setting a weekly workout goal and weekly reward for making it can keep you moving forward. Add in a monthly goal, too.
  8. Make sure to give yourself the reward. I am famous for this – I’ll say I’m going to get a new outfit from the money I’m saving by not drinking a cola a day however I forget to put the money aside each day/week and when the time comes for the reward I have no money in my outfit jar. Make sure to follow through with yourself!
  9. Record your feelings in your journal. Many are motivated by intrinsic things (the way they feel inside) rather than extrinsic (things outside of themselves). If you find prizes don’t do it for you recording how well you felt after a workout, better sleeping patterns, or less stress may be just what you need to see your progress and claim your reward.
  10. Don’t cheat and on the other hand don’t be too harsh on yourself. I know this sounds contradictory however the former will derail you again and again because by cheating you are telling yourself you aren’t serious about your goal and the latter derails you by creating inflexible parameters which don’t take into account all the positive changes you’ve made and circumstances that might be out of your control, like a life change or illness you didn’t see coming.