Food Isn’t A Reward


I heard it again the other day… it makes me twitch… it makes me feel sorry for people… it makes me wanna shake them… I refrain.

What is it you ask that evokes such emotion in me? I shall tell you.

Hearing someone say…. “well, I ate to much yesterday so I really need to put in some extra work out time”

Maybe around the holidays you start seeing these cheesy meme’s pop up with various treats on them and if you ate whatever treat you have to do so many specific exercises to work it off. Often there’s the slogan “Negate what you ate!” over it.


These thoughts make me nuts.

First of all, you cannot work off what you did the day before. You can get up and start over and keep moving forward.

OR do you flip it with thoughts like this… ” I worked out really hard today I deserve this!” or “it’s been a hard day, it’s my reward”

We have to stop looking at food as a punishment and reward system. We need to stop treating exercise as a punishment for our bad eating behavior, like it’s a necessary chore to be done so we can eat or so we can reward ourselves with food.

Do you see how twisted it all is?

Food shouldn’t be used as a reward and we shouldn’t have a view that exercise is punishment for us.

Yet, it is a common thought for way to many people today.

Food should be used to nurture and fuel our bodies. It should be enjoyed and savored in a reasonable way.

When we over eat or binge there can be a tendency to maybe think we can alter or change what we’ve taken in. We feel bad about what we’ve done so we do things like extra hard or extra long workouts to balance it out. Or we excessively cut our food intake.

Or we THINK we are balancing it out.

We have a distorted view of exercise that it’s a punishment we must endure ( ok, in all fairness, in the beginning you might feel that way 😉

But it shouldn’t be something you churn out to feel ok about having food.

You don’t have to make apologies for having food to nourish your body.

You don’t need to punish your body if you’ve eaten more than you think you should have.

You don’t have to resort to extreme restrictions of food if you over did it at a meal.

Do you see how binging/over indulging/ followed by “must do” exercise to feel better about our choices can become a vicious cycle?

Let’s face it. Food emotionally comforts us. For some of you it’s wine/alcohol or soda. Regardless, we have to stop using it as a reason to comfort ourselves.. or as a reward system.

Whatever the thing is we medicate ourselves with.

You may have never thought of it like that, did you? That “thing” we reach for when we’re stressed, overwhelmed, feeling lost or having a bad day. It medicates our hurts, anxieties and emotions. It calms our stress. It feeds whatever is in us that hurts, is angry, tired etc

Becoming aware of the pattern in your life is the first step to successfully altering your behaviors around it.

Abusing yourself with to much food or drink and then seeking to “atone” for what you’ve done by killing yourself with exercise is disjointed thinking at best.

Nor, is it nurturing to your body.

Practicing a moderate approach in our lives brings health and wellness, but it’s not without some work and discipline.

Learn to develop the practice of viewing exercise as movement for your body that brings health, wellness, and mental clarity. If you have goals beyond that, you will obviously need to increase your game.

Learn to approach all foods in balance and moderation . If you feel the need to over indulge or you are heading to the pantry for a feeding frenzy, try and remove yourself from the situation, that often can break the plans you have. It let’s you regroup and refocus. Or try calling a friend, going for a walk,  or any activity to distract you.

Perhaps have some goals written out that are easily accessible will make you stop and ask yourself if it’s really going to be worth it… because after the rewards or indulgence… we will always mentally feel bad for allowing ourselves to go there.

With practice, mental awareness and a bit of stubborn determination,  you can break the cycle of over eating/rewarding with foods and abusing exercise.

Have you ever found yourself in this cycle? What tips or ideas helped you break away from it?



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8 years ago I began what I now refer to as my "journey into lifestyle fitness". After a yearly check in with my Dr he said I looked "really good on paper, but I might consider losing a few pounds" I wasn't offended... I knew I needed to but it seemed like to much work at the time. In that year we had adopted 2 girls out of foster care, plus caring for my 3 sons & husband sort of left me on the back burner taking care of "me". I told him I "used to" walk & he encouraged me to at least get back to that. I left his office that day, started, & never quit. As time moved on my walks increased in length & speed. I started mingling some jogging into it...then after more time some short sprints. One day I realized I was doing more running than anything else. I learned to run longer and farther. I constantly challenged myself to do more. I realized I had turned into a runner & was loving it. I have since run 6 half marathons, 2 full marathons, and my first 50K scheduled for March 1,2015. Not bad for a girl who just started off walking not quite 2 miles! My body was now beginning to show the results of my work as weight & inches dropped off. I began to add in boxing & weights on days I wasn't running. Over time as the fat left, my new muscles were waiting underneath =) Obviously, I also made some food changes. Nothing drastic..just started eating less and trying to eat better.. I hated diets and how they made me feel....deprived & left out of all the adjusting & eating less of what I liked and moving more.. I found myself getting in decent physical shape. It began my thinking of lifestyle and not "dieting". As I got stronger,healthier & more fit it was an easier process to "let go" of some of the foods I had enjoyed. I had more energy, strength and confidence in what I could do. It was empowering. It made me realize that I probably wasn't the only one who wanted to lose weight, be healthy & strong but not always be on some sort of "diet". Maybe my journey & what I had learned & been doing might possibly help others to success in their lives... I consider myself to be rather normal and ordinary ( meaning I haven't always been into fitness and healthy eating) it has been a steady, daily, learned process with good days and bad days and my hope is that you too, will see the greatness in you, and that you have the ability and power to change and do anything you put your mind to. If you want change, you can make it happen. It's just one day at a time, making smart moves and better choices, and before you know it, things are happening. Get started on your journey, really, what do you have to lose ? And yet, so much to gain =)

2 thoughts on “Food Isn’t A Reward”

  1. I’ve totally found myself doing this from time to time. I remember my goals and remember that eating poorly {not including a cheat meal for my sanity} consistently won’t help. I try to reward myself with new fit clothes, make up, etc!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Totally agreed. If you stop rewarding yourself with food, then eventually your mind slowly stops associating food with reward. The best diet/lifestyle is the one that is enjoyable by itself.

    Liked by 1 person

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