Chocolate After Workouts and Other Self-Bribes

Motivating myself to work out has been a challenge every week, even though I’ve managed to stick to it for longer than I thought. (Come mid-June, I will have been doing Zumba for a year!)

But Thursday afternoons before 6:30 are still a tug-of-war in my mind–laziness and pain fighting against the twin desires to be healthier and fitter. Worries that “tonight’s the night I’m going to overdo it and really hate myself tomorrow” share brain space with “but I can’t miss tonight, I don’t want to break my two-month streak of perfect attendance!”

Luckily, I’ve found a brain trick that works to motivate me…and it has less to do with the workout than what I earn afterwards.

My Workout Self-Bribe: Spa Night + CHOCOLATE 😀

For every Thursday night that I attend Zumba, I reward myself with a “spa night” afterwards–a long, relaxing shower to unwind my muscles and pamper myself. Deep hair conditioning, exfoliating and moisturizing mini-facial…anything and everything I can do to make myself feel pretty and relaxed, I do for myself after my workout. And after I get out of the shower? One piece of chocolate of my choosing. (Most recently, my choice has been Dove’s peanut butter + chocolate combination…epic NOM NOM NOM)

The most important part of this motivation? If I don’t go to Zumba, I don’t get any of the rewards–no long soothing shower, no pampering, no relaxing water massage, and no chocolate. (And I’ve been surprisingly good about not sneaking a piece or two out of the bag after unsuccessful Thursdays or any other day of the week–it’s strictly for rewarding myself after a good workout.) The luxury does not have to be included; if I don’t Zumba, I get a fairly utilitarian shower on Friday morning instead of a Thursday evening pampering session.

Why Does This Work?

Because nothing in this plan involves negativity and punishment. I’m not punishing myself for not going to Zumba–it’s just that if I go, I do something extra-special for myself. I don’t starve myself on Fridays if I choose to spend Thursday night in bed resting my ankle, nor do I force myself to go to another workout later in the week that I won’t enjoy as much. It’s just positive reinforcement…and it has worked for me, as overly simple as it seems. Now I look forward to the workout not only because of the rewards afterwards, but because the moves are becoming easier and I’m seeing real changes in my body.

Trying The Self-Bribe Trick for Yourself

If you’re trying to stay motivated to do something, whether it’s working out, learning a new skill, eating right, etc., you can try this “self-bribe” positive reinforcement for yourself. All it takes is these 3 simple steps:

  1. Pick something that you would normally have to do in order to complete your chosen activity.
    • For me, that was showering after my workout, ’cause it’s kinda necessary.
    • If you’re trying to eat healthy, it might be cooking more meals at home.
    • If you’re trying to learn a new skill, it might be spending more time on instructional websites.
  2. For that necessary activity, add a touch of luxury to it as a reward.
    • Do like I did and turn the post-workout shower into a pampering spa experience, for instance.
    • If you’re cooking healthy, learn how to make a favorite dessert or treat, and make it once a week for every week you manage to eat healthy.
    • For every hour you spend learning a new skill, reward yourself with a 15-minute visit to favorite websites.
  3. If you don’t end up doing the thing you’re trying to stay motivated on, simply don’t include the luxury. You’d be surprised how well this works. 😛

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.